Wednesday, 30 September 2015

"The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll: Hard-To-Get Hot 100 Hits From 1954-63" by VARIOUS ARTISTS [Volume 1] (1991 Ace Records CD – Duncan Cowell Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...



 "..Since I Don't Have You..."

Volume 1 in this rather cool Ace Records CD reissue series ("The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll") concentrates on two things really – original master tapes and rarity. You might think that the first would be fairly obvious for a reissue company (original master tapes) - but Ace of the UK assure us in their extensive liner notes that even as far back as 1991 - getting the real deal seemed to be a real problem. Even well known tracks were essentially needle–drops on the CD issues of the time (dubbed from disc).

The second draw for collectors and music lovers is 'rarity' – one look at the 30-title track list on the rear shows that only six of these songs actually charted in the UK while a few of those American originals barely even scraped their top 50. Having said that you get lots of Number 2s and 3s (Top 10 too) and all in the best sound quality available at the time. Two cuts - "Cindy's Birthday" by Johnny Crawford and "Since I Don’t Have You" by The Skyliners are here in glorious Stereo because the mono cuts are embellished with strings and these are the best takes available. The full 18 volumes in Ace's "The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll" CD Series to 2015 are listed below. Here are the poppermost of the toppermost for Volume 1...

UK released November 1991 (December 1991 in the USA) - "The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll: Hard-To-Get Hot 100 Hits From 1954-63" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace Records CDCHD 289 (Barcode 029667128926) is a 30-track CD and breaks down as follows (78:22 minutes):

1. Denise – RANDY & THE RAINBOWS
July 1963 US 7" single on Rust 5059 (peaked at 10)
August 1963 UK 7" single on Stateside SS 214 (didn't chart)
England's BLONDIE took a cover of this song credited as "Denis (Denee)" to Number 2 in February 1978 on Chrysalis CHS 2204

2. Sally, Go 'Round The Roses – THE JAYNETTS
August 1963 USA 7” single on Tuff 369 (peaked at 2)
October 1963 UK 7" single on Stateside SS 227 (didn’t chart)

3. Mule Skinner Blues – THE FENDERMEN
June 1960 US 7" single on Soma 1137 (peaked at 5)
August 1960 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 395 (peaked at 32)

4. Sixteen Candles – THE CRESTS
December 1958 US 7" single on Coed 506 (peaked at 2)
January 1959 UK 7" single on London HL 8974 (didn’t chart)
Featured Johnny Maestro on Lead Vocals

5. Pretty Little Angel Eyes – CURTIS LEE
July 1961 US 7" single on Dunes 2007 (peaked at 7)
July 1961 UK 7" single on London HLX 9397 (peaked at 47)
A Phil Spector Production. Showaddywaddy – a British Rock 'n' Roll Revival band - charted a cover version of it in November 1978 at No. 5 on Arista ARIST 222

6. I Love How You Love Me – THE PARIS SISTERS
September 1961 USA 7" single on Gregmark 6 (peaked at 5)
October 1961 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 588 (didn't chart)

7. The Big Hurt – MISS TONY FISHER
November 1959 USA 7" single on Signet 275 (peaked at 3)
December 1959 UK 7" single on Top rank JAR 261 (peaked at 30)

8. A Thousand Stars – KATHY YOUNG with THE INNOCENTS
October 1960 USA 7" single on Indigo 108 (peaked at 3)
January 1961 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 534 (didn't chart)

9. Rockin' Robin – BOBBY DAY
November 1958 USA 7" single on Class 229 (peaked at 2)
December 1958 UK 7" single on London HL 8726 (peaked at 29)
Real name Robert Byrd

10. Earth Angel – THE PENGUINS
December 1954 USA 7" single on DooTone 348 (peaked at 8)
January 1955 UK 7" single on London HL 8114 (didn’t chart)
A million-seller - No. 1 on the US R&B Charts

11. Bongo Rock – PRESTON EPPS
May 1959 USA 7" single on Original Sound 4 (peaked at 14)
June 1959 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 140 (didn't chart)

12. Tossin' And Turnin' – BOBBY LEWIS
May 1961 USA 7" single on Beltone 1002 (peaked at No.1)
June 1961 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 4794 (didn’t chart)

13. My True Story – THE JIVE FIVE
August 1961 USA 7" single on Beltone 1006 (peaked at 3)
September 1961 UK 7" single on Parlophone R 4822 (didn't chart)

14. Stranded In The Jungle – THE CADETS
July 1956 USA 7" single on Modern 994 (peaked at 15)
October 1966 UK 7" single on London HLU 8313 (didn't chart)
Originally released by The Jayhawks (aka The Vibrations) who charted their 7" single on Flash 109 in the 'same month' as The Cadets version – The Jayhawks version peaked at 18 on USA R&B

15. Angel Baby – ROSIE & THE ORIGINALS
December 1960 USA 7" single on Highland 10011 (peaked at 5)
January 1961 UK 7" single on London HLU 9266 (didn't chart)
This CD uses the American original, which apparently has an extra verse the British version doesn't

16. Party Lights – CLAUDINE CLARK
July 1962 USA 7" single on Chancellor 1113 (peaked at 5)
August 1962 UK 7" single on Pye International 7N.25157 (didn’t chart)

17. When We Get Married – THE DREAMLOVERS
August 1961 USA 7" single on Heritage 102 (peaked at No. 10)
September 1961 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 4711 (didn't chart)

18. Cindy's Birthday – JOHNNY CRAWFORD
May 1962 USA 7" single on Del-Fi 4178 (peaked at 8)
June 1962 UK 7" single on Pye International 7N.25145 (didn't chart)

19. Let's Dance – CHRIS MONTEZ
September 1962 USA 7" single on Monogram 505 (peaked at 4)
September 1962 UK 7" single on London HL 9596 (peaked at 2)

20. Who's That Knocking – THE GENIES
January 1959 USA 7" single on Shad 5002 (peaked at 71)
Not released in the UK

21. Love You So – RON HOLDEN
April 1960 USA 7” single on Donna 1315 (peaked at 7)
May 1960 UK 7" single on London HLU 9116 (didn’t chart)
The USA record label ‘Donna’ was named after the Richie Valens hit

22. Cherry Pie – SKIP & FLIP
April 1960 USA 7" single on Brent 7010 (peaked at 11)
April 1960 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 358 (didn’t chart)
Gary "Flip" Paxton and Clyde "Skip" Battin. "Cherry Pie" is a cover version of a 1954 Marvin and Johnny B-side on Modern 933 ("Tick Tock" is the A-side). Gary "Flip" Paxton later formed The Hollywood Argyles (see Volume 2, Track 29, "Alley Oop") and started the Garpax label (see my review for "Keep A Hold On Him: More Garpax Girls"). "Skip" Battin was an original member of The Byrds, New Riders Of The Purple Sage and The Flying Burrito Brothers. The first 1959 Skip & Flip hit "It Was You" is Track 17 on Volume 3. 

23. Since I Don't Have You – THE SKYLINERS
March 1959 USA 7" single on Calico 103 (peaked at 12)
March 1959 UK 7" single on London HLB 8829 (didn't chart)

24. Louie Louie – THE KINGSMEN
August 1963 USA 7" single on Wand 143 (peaked at 2)
December 1963 UK 7" single on Pye International 7N.25231 (peaked at 26)

25. Since I Fell For You – LENNY WELCH
July 1963 USA 7" single on Cadence 1439 (peaked at 4)
November 1963 UK 7" single on London HLA 9810 (didn't chart)

26. Image Of A Girl – THE SAFARIS
July 1960 USA 7" single on Eldo 101 (peaked at 6)
August 1960 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 424 (didn't chart)

27. Smoky Places – THE CORSAIRS featuring Jay "Bird" Uzzell
January 1962 USA 7" single on Tuff 1808 (peaked at 12)
Not released in the UK

28. Gee Whizz – THE INNOCENTS
January 1961 USA 7" single on Indigo 111 (peaked at 28)
February 1961 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 541 (didn’t chart)

29. A Little Bit Of Love – THE JARMELS
August 1961 USA 7” single on Laurie 3098 (peaked at 12)
September 1961 UK 7” single on Top Rank JAR 580 (didn’t chart)

30. Eddie My Love – THE TEEN QUEENS
March 1956 USA 7” single on RPM Records RPM 453 (peaked at 14)
April 1956 UK 7” single on R&B Records MRB 5000 (didn’t chart)
Betty and Rosie Collins (The Teen Queens) were the sisters of Aaron Collins of the Vocal Groups The Cadets/The Jacks (see entry 14)

NOTES: all tracks are in MONO except "Cindy's Birthday" (18) and "Since I Don't Have You" (23) - which are in STEREO

As this was the first CD in a near 20-disc series released way back in the mists of a 1991 winter – the 12-page booklet (written by ROB FINNIS in September 1991) now seems like a rather slight affair compared to the regular 24-page feast Ace treats its fans to in 2015. In fact my 1991 copy has typo errors galore – several of the artist names supposed to be in colour amidst the black and white text are completely missing – white gaps in their place! On the upside there’s a centre two-page collage of all those gorgeous British 45s in their funky Top Rank, Stateside, Columbia and London label bags. Finnis has also sequenced the disc and it plays like an old jukebox.

The DUNCAN COWELL Remasters do the best with what he’s got. For instance the audio on The Jaynetts popular "Sally, Go 'Round The Roses" is so far back in the echo'd mix as to be hard to actually hear (its not great but that's just the nature of the original recording) - while "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen comes at you like an Animal House soundtrack to 60ts America – a frat party ready to explode. Ace explains that lip-smacking in front of microphones can sound like clicks – as if its been dubbed from discs – but they assure us that these transfers are about 'real tapes' aimed at collectors who want the best and I have to say they've done an impressive job – especially given the wild and varying nature of each recording.

It’s decidedly odd for a guy who went through Punk and New Wave to hear "Denise" done by anyone other than Blondie – but here it is in its 1963 Vocal Group glory by the delightfully titled Randy & The Rainbows. The audio on the oddity "Mule Skinner Blues" is superlative even if the yicky-eye-aye nature of the song is painful to listen to. Vocal group magic crops up a lot – "Sixteen Candles" by The Crests, "I Love How You Love Me" by The Paris Sisters (a bit hissy), "Earth Angel" by The Penguins and the wonderful "Since I Don't Have You" by The Skyliners. Boppers come in the shape of the infectious "Rockin' Robin" by Bobby Day (re-charted by The Jackson 5 with Michael Jackson in the early 70ts), the swivel-hips sensation of "Let's Dance" by Chris Montez and the do-the-frat-until-the-early-hours drunken fun of "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen preceded by a wicked "Tossin' And Turnin'" from Bobby Lewis.

But what is great about these Ace compilations is the oddities – a fabulous and wild drum fandango from Preston Epps on his "Bongo Rock" – a girl group bopper from a Millie-sounding Claudine Clark where she longs for the "Party Lights" but mama won’t let her go – and the R&B Vocal Group "...boom boom boom...bang bang bang..." of "Who's That Knocking" by The Genies. Teenage longing and innocence surfaces on "Cindy's Birthday" by the 14-year old Johnny Crawford while the tick-tock "Image Of A Girl" by The Surfaris is full of choir boys with longing loins. There's beautiful audio quality on "When We Get Married" by the smooching vocal group The Dreamlovers - while the strings and crooner feel of Lenny Welch's "Since I Feel For You" comes over as more Ole Blue Eyes Sinatra than Chuck Berry Rock 'n' Roll. It ends on the lone chart entry by The Teen Queens - the impossibly evocative "Eddie My Love" – a song that practically sums up the teenage experience of the period.

It won't all be to everyone's tastes of course and in truth you'd be hard-pressed to find what most of us call 'actual' Rock 'n' Roll – but like all great compilations – it's evocative, cleverly sequenced and great fun to listen too (stirring up so many fond memories). But most of all you get a real sense of why UK fans in the 50ts and 60ts looked to the USA with such awe. The Yanks had it all – the cool - the cars - the girls - the film stars and best of all - the music. And there are seventeen more volumes where that came from...

PS: Titles in "The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll" CD Series are:

1. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll: Hard-To-Get Hot 100 Hits From 1954-63 (Ace CDCHD 289, November 1991)
2. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 2: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 445, March 1993)
3. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 3: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 497, January 1994)
4. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 4: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 500, October 1994)
5. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 5: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 600, October 1995)
6. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 6: 30 Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 650, January 1997)
7. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 7: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 700, November 1998)
8. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 8: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 750, November 1999)
9. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 9: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 800, February 2001)
10. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 10: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 850, September 2002)
11. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 11: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 1200, September 2007)
12. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 12: 30 Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963 (Ace CDCHD 1280, February 2011)

13. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll: Special Country Edition (Ace CDCHD 845, April 2002)
14. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll: Special Novelty Edition (Ace CDCHD 890, November 2003)
15. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll: Special Doo Wop Edition 1953-1963 (Ace CDCHD 1000, May 2004)
16. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll: Special "Bubbling Under" Edition – Regional Hits That Just Missed The Hot 100 1959-1963 (Ace CDCHD 1050, March 2006)
17. The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll – The Follow-Up Hits: Hard-To-Get Hot 100 Hits (Ace CDCHD 1190, January 2008)
18.  The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll: Special Doo Wop Edition Volume 2 1956-1963 (Ace CDCHD 1230, May 2009)

This review and hundreds like it are part of my SOUNDS GOOD Music Books Series - avialable to buy/download in BLUES, VOCAL GROUPS, RHYTHM 'n' BLUES and ROCK 'n' ROLL - Exceptional CD Remasters...


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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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