Why is The Coasters’ The Coasters on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Smooth, sexy, doo wop-y, rocking late 1950s vibes that project energy and fun.
What does The Coasters’ The Coasters mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
Probably similar to many people of my generation, I first encountered The Coasters by way of School Ties, a very solid, highly watchable movie of the type that rarely gets released as big budget features these days. Which is to say that it’s not a superhero movie and the “action” is limited to the occasional high school football scene.
It’s a “small” story but one that’s highly effective due to great writing and performances that make the emotional stakes feel real. The cast is a ridiculous collection of future stars and superstars, including Brendan Fraser, Chris O’Donnell, Matt Damon (in perhaps the most purely evil character he’s ever portrayed), and Ben Affleck.
You might note that the main cast is all white dudes. The reason being that School Ties is the story about how an all white, (mostly) all WASP, super fancy prep school in 1950s Pennsylvania recruits a “ringer” of a highly talented football quarterback – played by Fraser – to join the team and the school. The twist? Fraser’s character is Jewish. Conflict and compelling drama ensues.
In the best of times, these kids don’t get a lot of opportunity to blow off steam, so you can totally relate to the part where they throw on an absolutely sizzling Coasters song (you knew I’d get to this eventually!) called “Smokey Joe’s Café.” The song’s smooth, sexy, doo wop-y, rocking late 1950s vibe metaphorically screams rebellion from the stuck up white bread institution these kids are stuck in.
And so then it’s all the more jarring and upsetting when a teacher and house warden type – played by fabulous character actor Zeljko Ivanek – comes in and not only shuts down the very innocent party (though you’ll note casual anti-Semitism going on here as Fraser’s character’s background has not yet been revealed), but gets super racist, referring to The Coasters as “jungle music.”
In any event, this is a tremendous example of the effective use of a great song to elevate a movie scene, and I’ve been interested in The Coasters ever since.
“Searchin’” is another Coasters number that finds a similar groove, if a somewhat mellower one versus “Smokey Joe’s Café.”
Some of you may recognize that song from the really fun Beatles cover of it on the first edition of their Anthology set.
More than anything, The Coasters at their best convey such a feeling of energy and fun by deploying fantastic vocal harmonies and great bouncing r&b and rock rhythms. One more example: “I Must Be Dreamin’.”
This album also sounds like
Many artists you could point to here, but I hear some nice elements from the likes of The Cadillacs, The Drifters, and Jackie Wilson.
Some stats & info about The Coasters – The Coasters
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Oldies, Rock, Doo Wop, R&B, Pop
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
- When was The Coasters released? 1958 (w/ re-release in 2005)
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #976 out of 1,000
The Coasters’ The Coasters on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.