In his notes for the initial volume of the “Golden Age” series, Rob Finnis points out that the arrival of the Beatles drew a distinct line under the era of American pop music that gave us so many memorable records, many of which fuelled the British Invasion of the US charts. The period of 1954-1963 gave us pure rock’n’roll hits, doo wop, country, exciting instrumentals and the evolution of R&B music into soul; all of these riches underscore the development of the series.
The first volume features 14 US Top 5 hits and several from the Top 10. With “Volume 2” the series begins to dig a little deeper to reveal a smorgasbord of harder-to-find gems. Lonnie Mack’s ‘Memphis’ immediately puts you in a receptive frame of mind for what is to follow: the raw Blue belles’ hit ‘I Sold My Heart To The Junkman’, the ultra-smooth Duprees’ ‘You Belong To Me’ and the less polished but exciting ‘Rockin’ In The Jungle’ from the Eternals. Classic 50s doo wop comes from the Silhouettes’ chart-topper ‘Get A Job’, the Willows and the Five Satins. The early 60s saw the Paradons with ‘Diamonds And Pearls’ delivered in the classic 50s style, while neo-doo woppers include the Capris, the Videls and the wonderful ‘Nag’ from the Halos, who maintained the Coasters-styled humour tradition. (Ace founder Ted Carroll had a box of mint UK London label issues of ‘Nag’ at hisGolborne Roadstall which he would delight in offering to customers he deemed likely to be appreciative.) Barbara George’s ‘I Know’ was a track on the famed “Sue Story” LP so beloved of early clubbers in the UK, making it another evocative and key sound from our collective past. And then there were solo acts Kenny Dino, Jimmy Charles, Harold Dorman and Bobby Comstock, and rare groups such as the Aquatones, the Bell Notes and the quaint Gabriel & the Angels. Not sure what their hits were? This is the place to hear them and find out their background stories in the booklet.
Of the 30 tracks, the majority were issued in the UK. Due to the our lack of adventurous radio at the time, only five became hits here, with Sandy Nelson, Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs and Billy Bland making it into the Top 20 and the Hollywood Argyles coming close with ‘Alley-Oop’. One that did get played here was theRivieras’ infectious ‘CaliforniaSun’ which somehow encapsulates the worth of the series.