The Bottom Line
The appeal of Ace UK's fantastic "Golden Age" series of reissues gets more limited as the scope narrows, but as an alternate rock and roll universe of sorts, the thirty songs here can prove fascinating, campy, or even revelatory. You have to expect hits and misses with a concept like this, however: for serious music fans only.
- This is a completely unique idea in compilations, and a fun one.
- These near-forgotten oldies have been completely remastered.
- Though not everything works, this can be a fascinating look into the early business of rock.
- Some of these can be counted as legitimate follow-up hits, but many can not.
- Likewise, there are a lot of cheap knockoffs.
- Release date: March 11, 2008
- Ace CDCHD 1190
- Studio (1954-1963)
- Single disc
Guide Review - Various Artists: The Golden Age of American Rock 'n' Roll: The Follow-Up Hits
After country, novelty, and even a "bubbling under" disc, Ace UK's excellent Golden Age of American Rock and Roll series of single-disc releases doesn't have much gas left in the tank. Yet somehow, they keep finding fresh approaches to the subject -- and this, a disc dedicated to two-hit wonders and their lesser-known chartbusting followups, is perhaps the coolest move yet. The very nature of the record business in the 50s and 60s encouraged artists lucky enough to score a hit to replicate the original as closely as possible, leading to Bobby Day's "The Bluebird, the Buzzard and the Oriole," which, you may have guessed, is little more than a cheap knockoff of his own "Rockin' Robin." But when dealing with a powerhouse scene (like the New Orleans' R&B factory of Cosimo's Recording Studio), you can also get slight variations that match the original (in this case, Shirley and Lee's "I Feel Good," which is every bit as infectious as "Let The Good Times Roll," not to mention Ernie K-Doe's "Te-Ta-Te-Ta-Ta," which sounds like Sam Cooke merging "Chain Gang" with K-Doe's own "Mother-In-Law"). Of course, airing this premise out all the way to the bottom of the Hot 100 can make for some selections that will stay forgotten -- most folks don't remember the Rocky Fellers or Six Teens' first hits -- but it also gives the very casual Ritchie Valens, Skyliners, or Jody Reynolds fan a chance to discover why their names still get bandied about today. And some artists, then as now, get shortchanged by their destiny: witness Sammy Turner's "Always" (sax by King Curtis) or the Velvets' "Laugh" (written by Roy Orbison), both of which better showcase the talent than "Lavender Blue" and "Tonight (Could Be the Night)," respectively. Ever wonder how Santo and Johnny could come up with the glorious "Sleep Walk" and fail to make that magic again? They did ("Tear Drop").