Sh-Boom” – 1954

“Sh-Boom” (sometimes referred to as “Life Could Be a Dream”) is an early doo-wop song. It was written by James Keyes, Claude Feaster, Carl Feaster, Floyd F. McRae, and James Edwards, members of the R&B vocal group the Chords and published in 1954. It was a U.S. top ten hit that year for both the Chords (who first recorded the song) and the Crew-Cuts.

The song was first recorded on Atlantic Records’ subsidiary label Cat Records by the Chords on March 15, 1954 and would be their only hit song. “Sh-Boom” reached #2 on the Billboard R&B charts and peaked at #9 on the pop charts. It is sometimes considered to be the first doo-wop or rock ‘n’ roll record to reach the top ten on the pop charts (as opposed to the R&B charts). This version was ranked #215 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and is the group’s only song on the list.

A more traditional version was made by the Crew-Cuts (with the David Carroll Orchestra) for Mercury Records and was #1 on the Billboard charts in for nine weeks during August and September 1954. The single first entered the charts on July 30, 1954 and stayed for 20 weeks. The Crew-Cuts performed the song on Ed Sullivan’s Toast of the Town on December 12, 1954. On the Cash Box magazine best-selling record charts, where both versions were combined, the song reached #1.

The Billy Williams Quartet released a version in 1954 on Coral Records which reached #21 on the Billboard Hot 100, with orchestra directed by Jack Pleis. A recording by Ken Mackintosh and His Orchestra (vocalists: the Mackpies) was made in London on April 7, 1954. It was released by EMI on the His Master’s Voice label as catalog number B 10698.

The record for most recordings of “Sh-Boom” by a single group probably belongs to the Harvard Din & Tonics, an a cappella men’s singing group that has featured the song on 12 of their 13 albums. Their 1979 Crew-Cuts-style arrangement was so popular that the group began performing “Sh-Boom” as their signature song at all their concerts, bringing all their alumni onstage to perform it across the United States and through ten world tours.

The British Doo-Wop revivalists, Darts, recorded “Sh-Boom” in the late 1970s, this time at a slower tempo. It was released as the B-side of the band’s last charting single, reaching #48 in the UK charts in 1980.

The reggae crooner Alton Ellis recorded a cover entitled “She Boom” for Studio One some time in the 1970s; the EP has been pressed at various times by various distributors.

In the 1980s a parody of the song entitled “Dubuque” was featured in the Dubuque ham TV commercial, a midwestern-based meat packing company.

The Fleetwoods released a cover version of the song. Children’s entertainers Sharon, Lois & Bram covered the song on their 1995 album release titled Let’s Dance!. Watkin Tudor Jones covered the song on his 2001 album, Memoirs Of A Clone. British doo-wop act the Overtones covered the song on their 2010 album Good Ol’ Fashioned Love.[citation needed] The song was covered in 1955 by Enoch Light And His Light Brigade Orchestra, released in the UK on His Master’s Voice, and appears on their album ‘Little Things Mean A Lot’ from Jasmine Records.