It is hard to believe, but the story of The Crystalairs began thirty years ago! In creating BIG BOYS STILL SINGING, their eleventh album, the group has returned to its doowop roots. Twenty of the tracks were recently written by the guys and done in classic Crystalairs’ style. One of the two great remakes is STRANGER GIRL from the 1979 movie The Wanderers — a film and soundtrack that heavily influenced the guys in their young teens.
The other is directly related to the night The Crystalairs were formed. The story sounds like something straight out of a doowop movie! Ralf zur Linde and Claus-Peter Niem were close friends who had attended THE SAME SCHOOL. While attending a party at a dance hall in late 1988 they heard some guys singing and followed the sound. They found brothers Jens and Daniel Franke and another guy and knew immediately why the three were singing in that spot. People at the party would not let them sing, so they had gone into the restroom and were LOOKING FOR AN ECHO (WIR SUCHTEN NUR EIN ECHO). Ralf and Claus jumped right in to fill-up the harmonies, and the Crystalairs’ sound was born! The guys will always remember how they were SINGING THE NIGHT AWAY.
Initially calling themselves the Del Romans, they sang at Ralf’s nineteenth birthday party. After a couple of months the group decided they’d WANNABE known as The Crystalairs. In the summer of 1989 they visited New York City and met many singers and other people who were doowop lovers. Highlights included appearances on radio shows such as The Doowop Shop with Don K Reed, and Ronnie I’s Just for You. It was as though they had tapped KNICK KNOCK and passed thru HEAVEN’S DOOR.
They really thought they were BIG BOYS on-air, on the rooftop looking down at 42nd St, and singing to the girls under the city’s bright lights. Oh, The Crystalairs had it all! In the title track of this album, the lyrics reveal that in spite of what the BIG BOYS thought then, they really did not yet know what the life was all about. It was just the naivety of youth that made them think so. The telephone not ringing (the subject of the group’s very first song) may have signaled the end of one of Ralf’s romances, but in retrospect was not the end of the world after all.
Experiences the guys have had over the years form the basis for other songs on this album, as well. Though it was a long time ago, there are memories of learning THE ABCs OF LOVE, MY VERY LAST HIGH SCHOOL LOVE AFFAIR, and crowning the QUEEN OF THE HOP. Looking back it seems that in many ways, LOVE IS LIKE A HIGH SCHOOL PROM.
A simple HI to a girl might be ignored, or could be answered with HELLO, MY NAME IS SUSAN. Chance encounters might lead to love in the spring (known in the Romance Languages as PRIMAVERA) or possibly become a complicated CIRCLE OF LOVE. In real life, and in an old Crystalairs’ song, love can be like an elevator with its ups and downs. To put it differently, up and down go the TIDES OF LOVE. A few relationships have been long lasting, but with others it became clear after awhile it was time to admit that IT’S ALL OVER BUT THE CRYING. Sometimes the puzzle that is love just cannot be completed because of THE MISSING TILE.
The Crystalairs are BIG BOYS now and have learned a lot about life. There have been happy and sad times, marriages, divorces, births, and deaths. Years ago they sang about Martha and also little Laura, who lost her parents. Though she is still sad sometimes, it is comforting to her that LAURA’S STARS (are) STILL SHINING. As expressed in THE FOUR CANDLES, there is still love and hope.
Even though Ralf, Claus, Jens, and Daniel are BIG BOYS, they still feel those old times deep within themselves. In some ways, they are still those young guys who were singing doowops to the walls of the restroom thirty years ago. With this album the Crystalairs continue to keep the doowop sound alive, and they also introduce us to the next generation of doowop singers. Ralf’s little boy, Roy, is the inspiration for THE DOOWOP BABY MELODY and the guest vocalist joining the group on that song!
Joe Conroy (DJ BRAD on DOOWOP RADIO - doowopradio.com)