Thursday, October 6, 2016
SHG: The Orlons: "The Wah-Watusi"
The Orlons: “The Wah-Watusi”
Entered the chart on: 6/23/62
Peaked on: 7/21/62
Weeks at #2: 2
Song at #1: “Roses Are Red” by Bobby Vinton
Well, I expected I’d need to go back to the Cameo-Parkway dance-craze well eventually, but so soon? And from a group named for a synthetic fabric, no less! The Orlons are actually historically important, not for this song, but for a 1963 follow-up single called “South Street,” which was the first chart hit to use the term “hippies.”
As I’ve already made abundantly clear in my Dee Dee Sharp review, these 60s dance fads are an utter cipher to me. How is the Watusi any different from the Frug? This is all cultural knowledge that hasn’t been passed on to my generation, and has been swept away like thistledown in the wind. I think all this would have been utterly forgotten if there weren’t people like me to chronicle such things.
And again, I’m focusing on the instrumental track. I love the way the piano part bounces around and ties the whole thing together. And whoever the drummer is that played on this is amazing! Some of the fills he lays down here are just too tasty to be believed. Simon Phillips, eat your heart out.
The male Orlon, Stephen Caldwell, gets some cute little solo interjections, but really this is all about lead singer Rosetta Hightower. As much as I liked Dee Dee Sharp’s voice in the last edition, I love Rosetta’s here! She’s both clear and oh so full of soul. Even more than the good things I already mentioned, she makes this worth listening to.
The lyrics? Bah! Your usual dance fad inanity. It doesn’t warrant deep analysis. Nor should it. This should be enjoyed in the spirit it was intended: ephemeral fun.