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Laverne & Shirley Sing

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Album Review

Several months after making their first guest appearance on the hit television show Happy Days, the characters of Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney — as portrayed by Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, respectively — got their own prime-time network series. Laverne & Shirley became the first Happy Days spin-off [aside: Joni Loves Chachi...hello...anyone?] and in short order was more popular than the original. The show's unexpected success yielded, among other things, Laverne & Shirley Sing (1976). While the actresses are prominently featured on the LP jacket, their contributions seem to have been primarily in spirit rather than in voice. This dozen-song long-player was the brainchild of promo man Pete Bennett. After a few legal snafus, he was able to assemble some of the best session musicians, including Wrecking Crew stalwarts Hal Blaine (drums), Plas Johnson (tenor sax), and Steve Douglas (baritone sax). The female vocal leads, for the most part, were also handled by some of the best in the biz. These include the likes of Melissa Manchester, Diana Canova, and the soulful Waters Family. The musicians were under the direction of famed pop music arranger Jimmie Haskell and the project's music coordinator, Michael McKean — who played Lenny of "Lenny & Sqiggy" fame — was also the author of the tune "Oh Gee," one of only two original compositions on the album. In keeping with the show's late-'50s/early-'60s backdrop, the vast majority of the material covered on Laverne & Shirley Sing consists of slightly modernized arrangements of early rock & roll classics. Among the notable covers are Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin'," the Essex's "Easier Said Than Done," the Crystals' "Da Do Run Run," the Four Freshmen's "Graduation Day," and the Everly Brothers' "All I Have to Do Is Dream." Decidedly more maudlin is the dialogue "More From Our Yearbook," which does feature the actresses reading corny and scripted entries from a mock high-school yearbook. A careful listen will reveal that the names mentioned are actually folks involved with the production. While these stacks of wax might not get props from a musical vantage point, as a timepiece of a much simpler era — both in music as well as television — few can fault the unbridled schmaltz of Laverne & Shirley Sing.

Laverne & Shirley Sing, Laverne & Shirley
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