Shirley & Co., “Shame, Shame, Shame” (03/19/75)

If you don’t listen to Top 40 or KDIA you may not have heard Shirley & Co.’s “Shame Shame Shame,” the best record of the year so far. Shirley was half of Shirley & Lee, and this is her first time on the charts since “Let the Good Times Roll” rocked the country 20 years ago; the tune was written and produced by Sylvia Robinson, formerly half of Mickey & Sylvia. The all-time disco disc: a beat halfway between Bo Diddley and reggae, constant twists and turns powered by the most inspired scream-singing in many years, plus crazed lyrics: “I got my sunroof down, I got my diamond in the back—keep on shakin’ woman, or I ain’t comin’ back!” A well-spent buck at the record store, a dime on your local jukebox, free on the radio, a prize any old way you choose it… What are “Young Americans”? A new fascist youth movement? The latest version of the Pepsi generation? Well, in truth they’re the subject of David Bowie’s new single, made disco-style in an obvious bid for the across-the-board stardom that’s eluded him the past few years. A lot of people think this is the next number one, but it sounds like a curio to me; too diffuse for discos, too fey for Top 40… On the flipside of “Philadelphia Freedom,” Elton John’s odd new 45, is John Lennon wailing a fabulous version of “I Saw Her Standing There,” cut at Madison Square Garden a short while back. Cluttered with horns and a band that couldn’t play Beatles music anymore than they could play Little Richard, there’s more life in this side than in the whole of Lennon’s new oldies album. However, that’s not the point. In ten years this record will be worth $100.

City, March 19, 1975


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