Under the Boardwalk (The Drifters)

I always liked the Drifters, as who didn’t? Like most vocal group fans, I particularly liked the original line-up featuring Clyde McPhatter, a defining lead vocalist of the early Rhythm and Blues era, and I’ve paid tribute already with a version of their early hit, “Money Honey” — not that I do it justice. But I must admit that I actually know more songs by the second iteration: by the late 1950s McPhatter had gone solo, the group’s fortunes had declined, and their manager fired the remaining singers and replaced them with another group, which until then had been known as the Five Crowns.

Version 1.0.0

The second Drifters originally featured Ben E. King, who sang lead on their defining hits, “There Goes My Baby” — the first major R&B hit to use a string section and the Brazilian baion rhythm that their producers, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller made a trademark — and “Save the Last Dance for Me” (which I should probably do in a future post). King then went solo, and their next big hits featured Rudy Lewis, who was in turn replaced by Johnny Moore, who had previously replaced McPhatter as lead in the first group, and that brings us to “Under the Boardwalk,” their last top ten hit…

…which is probably more than most people care to know, but I’m currently writing a short history of rock ‘n’ roll, so am deep in these weeds.

I have no memory of learning this song — or rather, I have a vague memory of learning it while I was living in Seville, Spain, in a small apartment with ten other foreigners, most of us street musicians, but can’t think of how or why I would have learned it there. In any case, I’ve known it for well over forty years, but only began fooling around with a guitar part when I considered putting it up here, at which point I realized it was yet another opportunity to play around with the semi-African approach I worked out for “Iko Iko” and “Jamaica Farewell” (as well as “Margaritaville,” which I suppose I’ll have to put up here at some point). Meanwhile, summer is right around the corner, and I’m playing this a lot.