Val Shively’s R&B Annal in Upper Darby is a three-story bop-shoo-bop shrine, ample attic to beam with four actor records, mostly 45s by ’50s and aboriginal ’60s one-hit and no-hit doo-wop groups admired by the 72-year-old guy with the four-part-harmony affection built-in in a threadbare chair.
Stormy and Feisty, the bodies who rendered the armchair threadbare, cruise the attenuated aisles amid alpine walls of big-hole singles, a area of best CDs, and one of LPs.
Shively is adulatory his 50th year in the almanac business, but don’t apprehend activity at “the Oldies Capitol of the World.” And don’t apprehend to adhere out. Browser-phobic, he has a red-and-white artery assurance on the advanced aperture admonishing “DO NOT ENTER,” with a tiny, handwritten exception: “unless you apperceive what you want.”
If that’s not bright clear, there’s additionally a “5 Minutes and you’re gone!” sign. Similar warnings in the bewilderment of aisles allay any angle that he’ll comedy bout adviser for babyish boomers on cornball journeys through the complete advance of their youth.
Shively’s abundance is a massive mail-order business accouterment to a shrinking bandage of collectors as bedeviled as he is with abstruse group-harmony 45s. But he additionally serves New Yorkers gluttonous beat-heavy funk, Europeans into ’70s rock, locals attractive for age-old pop hits.
His prices, from a few bucks to a few hundred, are scarcity-driven. ” ‘At the Hop,’ a 1957 Philadelphia almanac by Danny & the Juniors, is $500 on the aboriginal Singular label,” he said. “I’ve got one.”
After the accumulation sang it on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, “At the Hop” became a hit on the ABC Paramount label. “That’s $30,” he said. “I’ve got 10 or 15. And it’s $5 on the MCA Annal reissue.”
Another Philly-based 1957 hit, “Get a Job” by the Silhouettes, is $500 on the attenuate aboriginal Junior label, $30 on its civic Ember label, and $5 for a reissue.
Shively is adored with a Sherlock Holmes academician that instantly recalls long-forgotten 45s, but he relies on his Dr. Watson, Chuck Dabagian – abundance administrator for 40 years – to backbone a requested disc from the millions. Shively schmoozes with collectors and does the bookkeeping.
Before he apparent ’50s and ’60s accumulation doo-wop, Shively was a Drexel Hill kid accession stamps, coins, trolley schedules, and monster-movie pictures. Suddenly, in 1956, Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel” rocked his world.
“That almanac put me in a trance,” he said. “We had this little RCA almanac amateur that played through the TV speakers. The TV was accessible in the back, so I’d ascend in there and comedy ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ over and over again, loud.”
When Shively got a azure Emerson transistor radio for Christmas 1959, his rock-and-roll attraction became portable. “It’s beneath my pillow at night,” he said. “In school, I biconcave out a big, blubbery book, The Activity and Times of Samuel Johnson, whoever he was. Punched holes for the transistor speaker. ‘Blueberry Hill’ by Fats Domino. ‘Keep a-Knockin’ ‘ by Little Richard.”
Then, Shively’s transistor best up Jerry “the Geator” Blavat broadcasting doo-wop from WCAM in Camden on a 1,000-watt arresting that almost fabricated it to Delaware County.
“I went crazy,” he said.
Shively absent himself in four-part, high-tenor-to-deep-bass harmony, white groups, atramentous groups, a apple he had never accustomed – and still inhabits 50 years later.
His activity became an adrenaline blitz of buying, selling, swapping, accession 45s by the thousands.
He treasures a photo of himself captivation his aboriginal admired record. “It’s ‘Miss You’ by the Crows on Rama red wax,” he said. “I paid $30 for it in 1964, a ton of money aback then.”
His amount today: $800.
Shively was so into abstruse doo-wop groups that “when the Beatles came out,” he said, “I asked a friend, ‘Are they like Vito & the Salutations? Is there a bass accompanist in the group?’ There had to be a bass for me to care.”
His alone apple was breached in 1975 by the Civic Enquirer, which ran a photo of him captivation two 45s: the Hide-a-Ways’ “Can’t Help Loving That Girl of Mine,” apparent $1,000, and the Encores’ “When I Look at You,” for $700. The adventure appropriate that he’d fabricated millions award rare, old records, and that readers could, too, if they scoured their attics.
He was deluged with bags of belletrist from Enquirer readers, absent his account of admired oldies.
That ticked Shively off. He accompanying to animated 45s geeks like himself, not the masses, who wouldn’t apperceive Billy and the Essentials (“Maybe You’ll Be There”) from Tiko and the Triumphs (“Motorcycle,” with a young, bearding Paul Simon singing lead).
“I accept no patience,” Shively said with a thousand-yard beam into the arid apple of those who will never get doo-wop.
And the vinyl revival? “They’re attractive for LPs of ’70s and ’80s crap,” he said. “We’ve got them, but Chuck handles all that.”
In the 1990s, as doo-wop achromatic into age-old history, Shively grew depressed. “Many of my barter who calm that music were either asleep or on activity support,” he said.
The anguish abashed him. “I had a admirable wife, Patty, one of two bodies in my activity who kept me from activity nuts. The added person’s Chuck,” he said. “But I was miserable. I anticipation I was activity to die.”
One day in 1999, he looked beyond Garrett Road from his boutique and saw two guys disturbing in the wind to adhere a banderole at a storefront church, “Expect a Miracle.”
“I airing into a bald allowance with folding chairs,” he said. “I’m thinking, ‘Where’s Jesus nailed on a cross?’ I apprehend he ain’t in actuality ’cause he ain’t dead.”
Shively said he angled his head, bankrupt his eyes, recited the Sinner’s Prayer, accustomed Jesus Christ, and begin accord of mind.
“That,” he said, “was my miracle.”
Potter’s Abode Christian Abbey has back confused aing aperture to Shively’s store. He’s a regular.
Shively believes he has the world’s better accumulating of abstruse doo-wop accumulation 45s. But he’s not sure. “An old beneficiary died a brace of weeks ago,” he said. “His accomplished activity was bags of records. You go into his bathroom, there’s records. You accessible his refrigerator, there’s records.
“Maybe there’s a almanac in there that I didn’t apperceive about,” he said. “My wife told me, ‘If you buy one added record, I’m affairs a Shore house.’ She wants me to about-face this off. I can’t about-face this off.”
Published: May 15, 2016 — 3:01 AM EDT The Philadelphia Inquirer
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