Due to high download numbers and general interest and requests from SHA NA NA fanatics like myself, here are a few more classic, out-of-print LPs that need revisiting.
ROCK & ROLL IS HERE TO STAY (Kama Sutra 1969)
The debut SHA NA NA album was released in 1969 after their appearance at the Woodstock Festival. It is a very different band to the famous TV show lineup with only four members, Donald York, Scott Powell, Jocko Marcellino and Denny Greene, on this LP that made it to the hit syndicated television series a few years later.
"Rock & Roll Is Here To Stay" features the original 12 member lineup with musical director/rhythm guitarist Elliot Cahn (who later went on to manage Green Day) and lead guitarist Henry Gross, who in 1976 had a huge radio hit with the Beach Boys-inspired "Shannon." Sparing no expense with a deluxe gatefold cover and fold-out with reprints, photos and even song lyrics, it seems Kama Sutra Records co-founder and producer Artie Ripp had big plans for Sha Na Na's debut album. Musically, the album has a primitive sound not unlike the rock & roll records that the band are imitating (all tracks are arranged and performed by Sha Na Na). It plays like a low budget oldies compilation and even has a spoken message from Alan Freed. Every member gets a chance at their best suited lead vocal. Standouts for me are Donny's "Book Of Love" and the debut of Scott "Santini" Powell's heavy reverb'd Elvis-ish voice on "Heartbreak Hotel". Reissued in 1973 with completely different cover artwork (with a photo featuring later members Johnny, Lennie and even Bowzer's arm!), "Rock & Roll Is Here To Stay" is just a glimpse of the Sha Na Na vision and success to come.
SHA NA NA (Kama Sutra 1971)
The second album is simply titled "SHA NA NA" and Eddie Kramer (of Hendrix and Kiss fame) produces. The band's lineup features new and improved members like bass singer Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, tenor Johnny Contardo (his "Tell Laura I Love Her" was a showstopper), sax giant Lennie Baker and the great Screamin' Scott Simon on piano, who writes five of the six original songs on side two. Side one is recorded LIVE at Columbia University in New York on March 1, 1971 and the band plays tight with a punk attitude. The background vocals shine and Lennie's sax sounds strong and gives the band an authentic sound. The studio side (recorded at Electric Lady Studios in May 1971) is musically genuine and interesting but these soulful pop A.M. ready rockers have more in common with Three Dog Night and The Jaggerz than they do with 50's oldies.
FROM THE STREETS OF NEW YORK (Kama Sutra 1973)
Following 1972's all-original "The Night Is Still Young" (produced by Jeff Barry) and "The Golden Age Of Rock 'N' Roll," the double live 'oldies' album spectacular from 1973 (both LPs can be found elsewhere on this blog), Kama Sutra released another Sha Na Na live set entitled "From The Streets Of New York." Though the cover says it was recorded in Central Park in August 1973, some of the segues and intros do sound "live" (as does the 'Dance Contest'), but the songs sound like STUDIO creations to these ears. Highlights include "Tossing And Turning" and "Earth Angel" as well as versions of "Get A Job" and "Goodnight Sweetheart" which became signatures tunes on their TV program. And Johnny even gets to do his Johnny Mathis. Featuring most of the well-known TV series personnel (the only exception being the excellent lead guitarist Vinnie Taylor, who overdosed in a Holiday Inn hotel room in Virginia in 1974 and was replaced by Dirty Dan), this is a strong and confident album and arguably the strongest lineup of Sha Na Na if anyone cares enough to argue.