Whatcha Gonna Do - the Drifters


A lot of people think the Drifters began in 1959 with the classic "There goes my Baby", Ben E King's first lead vocal with them. But this, the greatest of all the doo-wop / soul outfits began much earlier - in 1953 - and finished up having its last new pop hit in Britain in 1976.

It all came about when one Clyde McPhatter left the legendary r&b group Billy Ward and his Dominoes because he wasn't being paid enough and was snapped up by Ahmet Ertegun, owner of Atlantic Records, who knew a good thing when he heard it. The Drifters was the group he formed around McPhatter and they had a series of memorable hits in the primordial soup that was the beginnings of rock and roll.

This is one of them, circa 1954, maybe their best, and you can get the point:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvG0ONYlg0w

Incidentally, although McPhatter sang lead on most of the Billy Ward and his Dominoes tracks, it was the bass who led on their 1951 hit, "Sixty Minute Man" which many claim to be the first rock and roll record. Suffice to say "Watcha Gonna Do" with Clyde and co laying down a template for Elvis and the rest later in the decade is not far off either. If you don't believe me, listen to the sensual inflection in McPhatter's voice in the "do" in the first "Whatcha gonna do" of the song. Then take in his superb laid back, yet totally charged vocal. And then get a load of the smouldering sax solo later on.