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The Lion Sleeps Tonight
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  • Recorded between July 21, 1961 and December 16, 1963.
  • Compilation producer: Paul Williams.
  • The Tokens hit big in 1962 with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)," a recasting of a South African tune that had been an earlier hit for the Weavers (the song had actually been written by Zulu songwriter Solomon Linda and was originally entitled "Mbude"). Infectious and full of a kind of vaguely eerie and ominous wisdom, the song has been a hit many times over in various hands. The Tokens, for their part, tried to repeat the trick several times (although without the lions) in such songs as "A Tale of Two Lovers," "B'wanina," and "Monkey Vendor," all of which are included here in this brief collection from RCA Victor. None of these songs captured the allure of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," however, although "Water Prayer" is certainly intriguing and "A Bird Flies out of Sight (Felicidad)" demonstrates a succinct poetic lyric that is certainly a rarity in pop music. There are also two sort of mildly interesting hot rod tunes here, "Little Hot Rod Susie" and "Little Snow White Coupe," that are no more ridiculous than most of the other songs in the genre, and "Little Snow White Coupe" actually affords the listener a unintentionally fascinating study in the psychology of loving inanimate objects. This collection is far too brief to be the essential Tokens purchase, but as an exercise in how a group tries to follow up a huge hit, it is instructive and surprisingly listenable. ~ Steve Leggett
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