It's been a while since the last volume of this popular (and populist) series came out and to all intents and purposes, this sparkling, new instalment constitutes something of a re-launch masterminded by the team behind our "Golden Age Of American Rock'n'Roll" line, Rob Finnis and John Broven, (Ace's very own Batman and Robin, though we're never sure who is who), with Trevor Churchill, who normally plays the role of Gotham City's police commissioner, keeping a watchful eye in the background.
In fact, it has virtually had the same attention to detail lavished upon it as "The Golden Age", and differs from that series, only in the slant of its contents which veer towards the international radio favourites of yesteryear, songs that have become standards either in their original form (as is mostly the case here), or as cover versions - for example, Jackie De Shannon's original Needles And Pins was only a minor hit in 1963 but an international smash when covered by the Searchers in 1964. It is De Shannon's fab original, which is heard here. Similarly, Lover Please, a US hit for Clyde McPhatter, was eclipsed in the UK by the Vernons Girls' scouse-accented version but it is the McPhatter cut which appears on this CD.
Chuck Berry's Promised Land is another early rock standard, which makes the line-up. Elvis' version and even Johnnie Allan's, come to mind more readily today than Berry's original Top 40 hit of 1964. The Contours' original of Do You Love Me was overshadowed by a spate of UK cover versions during the early days of the beat boom, none of which came close to matching its frenetic energy.
Summertime Blues, Blueberry Hill, Because They're Young, Up On The Roof, Shout!, I Put A Spell On You, Remember Then, The Story Of My Life...one classic follows another in a relentless whirl of memory-invoking nostalgia. But rather than take our word for it, simply check out the goodies in the adjacent track listing and bear in mind that the visuals are as enticing as the music in what is becoming a popular companion line to the "Golden Age Of American Rock 'n' Roll".
By Crawford Anderson