Saturday, 3 October 2015

"The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 4" by VARIOUS (1994 Ace Records CD Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...Tears On My Pillow..."

The fourth instalment of Ace's "The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll" CD Series follows the same route as Volumes 1 to 3 – 30 cleverly sequenced Mono US 7" singles (no Stereo this time) with a nice combo of the obvious and the obscure (only 3 of these US releases charted in the UK). And all of it is presented to fans by a record company that gives a damn and has a hard-won reputation to maintain (best tape sources used – no needle drops). The full 18 volumes up to late 2015 are listed below. So lets 'Do The Mashed Potatoes' and the 'Rama Lama Ding Dong' (if we may be so rude)...

UK and USA released October 1994 - "The Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll Volume 4: Hot 100 Hits From 1954-1963" by VARIOUS ARTISTS on Ace Records CDCHD 500 (Barcode 029667150026) is a 30-track CD and breaks down as follows (73:49 minutes):

1. Linda Lu – RAY SHARPE
June 1959 US 7" single on Jamie 1128 (peaked at 46)
September 1959 UK 7" single on London HLW 8932 (didn’t chart)
Produced by Lee Hazelwood – Johnny Kidd & The Pirates took their version of the Ray Sharpe penned song to no. 41 on the UK charts in April 1961 on HMV POP 853

2. Little By Little – NAPPY BROWN
November 1956 USA 7” single on Savoy 1506 (peaked at 57 in January 1957)
March 1957 UK 7" single on London HLC 8384 (didn’t chart)

3. Rama Lama Ding Dong – THE EDSELS
May 1961 US 7" single on Twin 700 (peaked at 21)
June 1961 UK 7" single on Pye International 7N.25086 (didn’t chart)

4. Flamingo Express – THE ROYALTONES
January 1961 US 7" single on Goldisc 3011 (peaked at 82)
February 1961 UK 7" single on London HL 9296 (didn’t chart)
An instrumental

5. New Orleans – U.S. BONDS
October 1960 US 7" single on Legrand 1003 (peaked at 6 Pop, 5 R&B)
November 1960 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 527 (peaked at 16)
Garry Anderson (real name) was credited as 'U.S. BONDS' on this and his second hit "Quarter To Three" in May 1961 – but thereafter was known as GARY U.S. BONDS. He had collaborative hits written for him by Bruce Springsteen on two later solo albums "Dedication" (1981) and "On The Line" (1982). See also backing vocals for Tommy Facenda (Track 13)

6. Maybe – THE CHANTELS
January 1958 USA 7" single on End 1005 (peaked at 15)
February 1958 UK 7" single on London HLU 8561 (didn't chart)
Highly rated New York Female Vocal Group – written by Richard Barrett of The Valentines

7. Drip Drop – DION DI MUCI
November 1963 USA 7" single on Columbia 42917 (peaked at 6)
November 1963 UK 7" single on CBS Records AAG 177 (didn’t chart)
Credited to DION DI MUCI when he’s more commonly known as DION – the song was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for The Drifters and originally released May 1958 on Atlantic 1187

8. Start Movin' (In My Direction) – SAL MINEO
May 1957 USA 7" single on Epic 9216 (peaked at 9)
July 1957 UK 7" single on Philips PB 707 (peaked at 16)
The 18-year old famously starred alongside James Dean in "Rebel Without A Cause" in 1956

9. Lonely Saturday Night – DON FRENCH
March 1959 USA 7" single on Lancer 104 (peaked at 72)
June 1959 UK 7” single on London HLW 8884 (didn’t chart)
Later discovered and recorded Soul Diva Millie Jackson

10. Don't Let Go – ROY HAMILTON
January 1958 USA 7" single on Epic 9257 (peaked at 13)
March 1958 UK 7" single on Fontana 45-H 113 (didn’t chart)
Features The Jesse Stone Orchestra

11. Pop Pop Pop-Pie – THE SHERRYS
October 1962 USA 7" single on Guyden 2068 (peaked at 35)
November 1962 UK 7" single on London HLW 9625 (didn't chart)
Little Joe Cook of Little Joe and The Thrillers had a hit with "Peanuts" on Okeh 7088 in October 1957 (see Track 15 on this compilation) – the Philadelphia Girl Vocal Group The Sherrys feature his daughters Dinnel and Delphine Cook

12. Life's Too Short – THE LAFAYETTES
June 1962 USA 7" single on RCA Victor 47-8044 (peaked at 87)
July 1962 UK 7" single on RCA Records RCA 1299 (didn’t chart)

13. High School U.S.A. [City]  – TOMMY FACENDA
November 1959 USA 7" single on Atlantic 51 to 78 (peaked at 28)
Not released in the UK
Originally released as "High School U.S.A Virginia" on Legrand 1001 in September 1959 – Atlantic Records picked up on the hit and re-released it in October 1959 with 28 different 'city' titles in the name – hence the catalogue numbers range from Atlantic 51 to 78 (Virginia through to Oklahoma). The song also features Gary U.S. Bonds on backing vocals.

14. Glory Of Love – THE ROOMMATES
June 1961 USA 7" single on Valmor 008 (peaked at 49)
Not released in the UK
A cover version of a July 1951 hit for The Five Keys on Aladdin 3099

15. Peanuts – LITTLE JOE and THE THRILLERS
October 1957 USA 7" single on Okeh 7088 (peaked at 22)
November 1957 UK 7" single on Phillips PB 759 (didn’t chart)
See also a Little Joe Cook connection with The Sherrys (Track 11 on this compilation)

16. Need You – DONNIE OWENS
October 1958 USA 7" single on Guyden 2001 (peaked at 25)
November 1958 UK 7" single on London HLU 8747 (didn’t chart)
Written by Bobby Wheeler (who plays Bass on it) and features Duane Eddy on Guitar with The Ben Denton Singers on Backing Vocals

17. Party Doll – BUDDY KNOX with The Rhythm Orchids
February 1957 USA 7" single on Roulette 4002 (peaked at 1)
March 1957 UK 7" single on Columbia DB 3914 (peaked at 29)
Originally issued on a small private label Triple-D 797 in the summer of 1956 – the February 1957 reissue on Roulette 4002 became the hit

18. Could This Be Magic – THE DUBS
November 1957 USA 7" single on Gone 5011 (peaked at 23)
December 1957 UK 7" single on London HLU 8526 (didn't chart)

19. Killer – THE ROCKY FELLERS
April 1963 USA 7" single on Scepter 1246 (peaked at 16)
April 1963 UK 7" single on Stateside SS 175 (didn’t chart)
Philippine family – Pop Feller and his four sons - Eddie, Albert, Tony & Junior

20. Barbara – THE TEMPTATIONS
May 1960 USA 7" single on Goldisc 3001 (peaked at 29)
June 1960 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 384 (didn't chart)
A white Vocal group from New York (not the Motown group)

21. Peek-A-Boo – THE CADILLACS
January 1959 USA 7” single on Josie 846 (peaked at 28)
January 1959 UK 7" single on London HLJ 8786 (didn't chart)
Features the Osie Johnson Orchestra – the song features Jesse "Speedo" Carroll who later joined The Coasters

22. You’ll Lose A Good Thing – BARBARA LYNN
July 1962 USA 7" single on Jamie 1220 (peaked at 8 Pop, 1 R&B)
July 1962 UK 7" single on Sue WI 4038 (didn’t chart)

23. Lucky Ladybug – BILLIE & LAURIE
December 1958 USA 7" single on Swan 4020 (peaked at 14)
January 1959 UK 7" single on London HLU 8795 (didn’t chart)
Billy Ford and Lillie Bryant – their first US hit "La Dee Dah" from January 1958 on Swan 4002 is Track 12 on Volume 3

24. Tears On My Pillow – LITTLE ANTHONY & THE IMPERIALS
August 1958 USA 7" single on End 1027 (peaked at 4)
September 1958 UK 7" single on London HLH 8704 (didn’t chart)
Lead Vocals by Anthony Gourdine – a million-seller single

25. Baby Talk – JAN & DEAN
August 1959 USA 7" single on Dore 522 (peaked at 10)
September 1959 UK 7" single on London HLN 8936 (didn’t chart)
Jan Berry and Dean Torrence – see also their first May 1958 hit "Jennie Lee" on Arwin 108 credited to Jan & Arnie (Track 4, Volume 3)

26. Here I Stand – THE RIP CHORDS
February 1963 USA 7" single on Columbia 4-42687 (peaked at 51)
April 1963 UK 7" single on CBS Records AAG 143 (didn't chart)
The band featured Terry Melcher (Doris Day’s son) and Bruce Johnston who would form The Beach Boys with Brian Wilson. Melcher produced the single and Jack Nitzsche did the Arrangements

27. (Do The) Mashed Potatoes (Part 1) – NAT KENDRICK and THE SWANS
February 1960 USA 7" single on Dade 1804 (peaked at 84)
April 1960 UK 7" single on Top Rank JAR 351 (didn't chart)
Features an uncredited James Brown on the vocals

28. Why Don’t You Write Me? – THE JACKS
November 1955 USA 7" single on RPM Records 428 (peaked at 82)
Not released in the UK
Originally sung by the Vocal group The Feathers in 1954 on Showtime 1105. The Jacks would also be known as The Cadets – see my reviews for both Ace CD compilations for these Vocal Groups – "Stranded In The Jungle" (1994) and "Why Don't You Write Me?" (1995)

29. Barbara-Ann – THE REGENTS
May 1961 USA 7” single on Gee 1065 (peaked at 13)
June 1961 UK 7” single on Columbia DB 4666 (didn’t chart)
New York Vocal Group

30. Those Oldies But Goodies (Remind Me Of You) – LITTLE CAESAR and THE ROMANS
May 1961 USA 7” single on Del-Fi 4158 (peaked at 9)
Not released in the UK
Featured Carl "Little Caesar" Burnett on Lead Vocals

NOTES: all tracks are in MONO

The first two volumes featured only 12-pages in each booklet (written by ROB FINNIS) that were indepth but felt just a tad slight for such a prestigious line. So for Volume 3 and 4 the British label has pushed it to 16-pages and spruced up the presentation - the results are fab. You get quality publicity photos of forgotten names like Little Joe, The Dubs, The Lafayettes and the white-boy one-hit-wonder Vocal Group The Temptations (no relation to Motown’s hit-making machine). These run alongside rare Trade Adverts for Donnie Owens, Sal Mineo, The Rocky Fellers and the oddball duo of Billy and Lillie. In between all this are tightly packed factoids collectors hoover up - Finnis connecting all the musical and historical dots. There is a two-page centerspread – a colour collage of all those gorgeous British 45s in their funky Top Rank, London (Tri-Centres), Stateside, Fontana and mottled CBS label bags. Finnis has also sequenced the disc and it plays like an old jukebox – and as you can see above – the playing time is more than generous.

The DUNCAN COWELL Remasters are what makes collectors itch with pleasure - blindingly good Audio quality on rarities like the fun of "Little By Little" by Nappy Brown who seems to be channelling the sheer exuberance of Jackie Wilson – the drum wallop of the 'everybody take a trip with me' as Gary U.S. Bonds wants us to a stroll down to "New Orleans" - or the full-on girly fest that is "Pop Pop Pop-Pie" by The Sherrys. 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. There's only one dubbed from mint 45s because the tapes no longer exist but they leave us to guess which one it is.

Volume 4 opens with the finger-clicking cool of Ray Sharpe repeating phrases like a hiccup in an incredibly clean transfer of "Linda Lu". Both Nappy Brown and The Edsels bring up the R&B dancer rear with two infectious dancefloor fillers – "Little By Little" and the brill sounding  "Rama Lama Ding Dong". Not unlike a Sandy Nelson drums and brass bopper – "Flamingo Express" by the obscure Royaltones is one of those sax-and-guitar driven instrumentals that is naturally joyful (doesn't feel forced). It's also cool to hear Gary U.S. Bonds represented by "New Orleans" instead of the more common "Quarter To Three" - and those trouser-splitting high notes hit on "Maybe" by The Chantels still impress.

Dion's slowed down cover version of The Drifters classic "Drip Drop" builds and builds to a convincing end (great sound quality) and easily outclasses the clinging teen balladry of Sal Mineo who wants his girl 'to start our loving tonight' (good luck with that). Genius inclusion goes to Don French who is seeking his inner Elvis Presley as he Sun Records the life out of "Lonely Saturday Night" (fab eerie echo too). But best audio has to be Roy Hamilton's brilliant "Don't Let Go" which I reviewed on the Roy Hamilton CD compilation "Dark End Of The Street 1963-1969" (released on Raven CD in 2009). It's the kind of 60ts Charlie Rich/Elvis Presley bopper that will have you reaching for the liner notes  wanting to know more about Hamilton's fab yet relatively forgotten voice.

As I said of Volumes 1 to 3 – what is wicked about these Ace compilations is the oddities – finding gems you just don’t know. The girl-naming song "Life's Too Short" by The Lafayettes tells us that Sally is 'tough' but Emmy is 'cool enough' (thank Gawd for that). The Tommy Facenda bop tune "High School U.S.A." was released in 27 versions – each name-checking American cities in the Atlantic Records title (catalogue numbers 51 to 78) - and the Vocal Group bopper "Peanuts" has Little Joe and The Thrillers doing a vocal gymnast impression as he reaches for notes that will do his larynx and his undercarriage damage. And I swear I can hear someone hitting a cardboard box instead of a drum (Buddy Holly style) on Buddy Knox's hugely popular Rockabilly "Party Doll" (a No. 1 in 1957).

But genius choices for this Volume has to go to the hugely romantic "Need You" by Donnie Owens which should be cheesy with its 'our flame of love will never die' lyrics but somehow avoids it and comes on as wonderfully endearing. More swooning follows with the lovely "Could This Be Magic" by The Dubs - but the white-boy "Barbara" by The Temptations (not the Motown hit machine) is saccharine pap we could probably live without. Far better is the "Yakety Yak" soundalike "Peek-A-Boo" by the R&B combo The Cadillacs where they go after The Coasters marketplace and win (what a great little tune). And how lovely is the Barbara Lynn smoocher "You'll Lose A Good Thing" where her vocals and the song arrangements straddle the borders of Vocal Groups and Soul.

And there can't be any true music lovers out there who don't have a 'thing' for the wonderful ache in Little Anthony's "Tears On My Pillow" – a song he re-recorded in the 60ts (Ace uses the original unlike other compilations). There's tremendous audio on "Baby Talk" by Jan & Dean (even if the tune doesn't appeal to me that much) and the same Audio excellence applies to the busy "Here I Stand" by The Rip Chords where you can almost hear Brian Johnston's Beach Boys sound emerging already (with a little help from Brian and Dennis). But my crave is the Frat Party jerk of "(Do The) Mashed Potatoes (Part 1)" which is everything a fun and cool 60ts 45 record should be.

Both Volumes 2 and 3 felt like a huge improvement over Volume 1 (which is a wee gem anyway). Volume 4 is the same - adventurous, massively evocative of the period and cleverly paced too. But most important of all – it’s blindingly great fun to listen to - stirring up so many fond memories. So even if you weren't there - you will feel all "American Graffiti" after a night in with this CD compilation. 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 this 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 W*p 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 W*p Edition Volume 2 1956-1963 (Ace CDCHD 1230, May 2009)

This review and hundreds more like it can be found in my SOUNDS GOOD Music Book Series - BLUES, GOSPEL, RHYTHM 'n' BLUES and ROCK 'n' ROLL - Exceptional CD Remasters is available to buy/download at Amazon at the following link...

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc