Before Disco defined banality with monotonous thumping beats, overproduced gloss and the insane urge to grasp every musical style into its claws (“Disco Italiano” and “Disco Polka”?), it was actually a great extention of funk, soul, and, when integrated, rock and roll. “Shame, Shame, Shame” is a classic dance tune from 1974 using a funky guitar laying down a “Bo Diddley” beat with a strong soul-style drum backbeat. Top it off with the great vocals of Shirley Goodman and All-Platinum Records artist Jesus Alvarez and you have the makings of a song that still sounds as fresh today as 33 years ago.
Shirley Goodman was half of the legendary rock & roll duet “Shirley & Lee,” recording the hugely-influencial 1956 hit song “Let the Good Times Roll.” Her famous voice, described once as a combination of sexual ecstacy and gothic chill, landed her recording sessions long after the duet’s break-up in 1962. Those records include “Exile on Main Street” for The Rolling Stones and “Gris Gris” and “Gumbo” for Dr. John. Jesus Alvarez, providing the screaming blue-eyed soul vocals in “Shame, Shame, Shame” was one of two lead singers in a late 60’s psychadelic rock band called The Helium Bubble before being signed on to Sylvia Robinson’s All Platinum record label as a soloist.
At Robinson’s urging, Goodman actually came out of music retirement to record the song (she had left the business in 1972 and became a switchboard operator for Playboy). The hit record helped produce a great album, made even greater by the caricature of Shirley “shaming” Richard Nixon on the cover. However, she wasn’t able to capitalize on her success and by the late 1970’s retired from the music biz for good. She died in 2005.
One year after the success of the hit, Jesus Alvarez recorded the disco song “Delicious” as the lead of The Duprees, the famous doo-wop group which was trying to cash in on the changing times. By 1981, Alvarez changed his first name to Jason, swore off the ‘evils’ of show biz and became a TV minister. His ministry is still active in Orange, NJ.