SONG: Little Darlin’
ARTIST: The Diamonds
Listen to it here:
Little Darlin’ was written by Maurice Williams and recorded by the Gladiolas in 1957. The group didn’t have very wide distribution so the song didn’t do that well, and the group changed their name to Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs in 1959. The Diamonds recorded and released their cover a month later and it reached number 2 on the Billboard hot 100. The Diamonds’ cover version is often considered the superior version of the song.
The Diamonds were formed by three Canadian gents from the Hamilton and Toronto areas of Ontario in the 1950s. The group debuted in the basement of the St Thomas Aquinas Church in Toronto and the audience reaction was so good that they decided to turn pro. They then won a singing contest, one of the prizes being a recording contract which they used to record 4 songs and move on to their next audition in Cleveland. They signed a recording contract with Mercury which saw wider distribution and a broader audience. In 1957 they released their biggest hit, Little Darlin’ and sang it in television shows and movies. The end of the 1950s saw some personnel turnover, and the original founder left the group in 1961 after which there were no more hit records. There were many many more turnovers through the 70s, 80s and 90s and an incarnation of the Diamonds still performs today.
The song is quoted in the Elton John hit Crocodile Rock.
Ok, this song is a whole bunch of goofy shit stuck together and I have to say – I like it. First of all, I didn’t realize until I did the research that the Diamonds were a few white kids from the GTA. But we start out strong with some clickity-clacking castanets, joined by what I imagine was an empty tin can in lieu of a cowbell. Now that the mood has been set, they hit us with a harp glissando! Then the voices – beautiful doo wop falsetto, followed by a pretty standard sounding man voice until he mixes it up. Instead of singing “you” normally, he chops it up into a “a-hoo a-hoo a-hoo a-hoo a well-a” which totally reminds me of my dad because I’m pretty sure I’ve heard him sing along to this number a few times. We then get one of my favourite 50s doo woo and 90s slow jam tropes – the bass baritone singer talks through a verse. Falsetto guy peppers in some light “lalalala” for a bit of extra flavour, then we repeat the first verse, to end it all on a decisive cha cha cha. It’s so cheesy. I don’t even know what the song is about. But again – I like it.
Ok, this song is definitely cheesy and of an era, but there’s something super catchy about it. I like that it sounds so very much like it emerged from a soda shop scene in a movie, with just all that clacky metal whatever-it-is as percussion. I think the very beginning is my favourite part with the spoons as well. The Diamonds as a group have good voices, not distinctive or impactful really, but they sing well together and have everything from that high “lalalalalala” guy, and the spoken word baritone, and they all seem to gel well. The balance is also great on this recording which is nice. This song is about as bubblegum as it gets, with very little substance, but when bubblegum is done well, I do enjoy it. This is definitely one of those cases. I just wish they’d done ANYTHING different than the cha cha cha ending they went with. So, all in all, this was a fun listen that will not impact my life in any meaningful way.
Average mark out of 10:
Other notable versions of this song:
The original version by the Gladiolas:
Big fat Elvis
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