Always guaranteed - that's the official "Golden Age" promise. The continuing popularity of this series is partly due to the fact that we have never allowed complacency to creep in. Each new volume in the series is treated as though it were the first, with all the enthusiasm and concentration of resources that this entails. Of course, this being the Ace web site, you'd half expect us to wax lyrical, but if ever there was a case of putting our money where our mouths are, then this is it. The "Golden Age" series is built-to-last and no expense is spared in refining the standards of visual and sonic presentation that purchasers have come to expect. The booklet, a 24-page jewel-case buster, is crammed with mouthwatering pics and ephemera, bringing to life the stories behind the hits.
With agonised deliberation, each track has to pass muster on a number of counts that collectively beg one question - 'is it a "Golden Age" record?' One glance at the track listing will tell you all you need to know. There is the usual liberal sprinkling of doo wop classics, Trevor Churchill's golden rule of pop being that it's all doo wop! The earliest track Ling Ting Tong by the 5 Keys (from 1954), surely one of the first rock'n'roll records, has a very advanced production for its time. Dale Hawkins' Susie-Q has never sounded better. We located a raw master which is a few seconds longer than the original single and breaks down rather than fades. Caterpillar Crawl by the Strangers, a 1959 instrumental featuring the futuristic guitar playing of cult hero Joel Scott Hill, makes its CD debut here and also has a longer ending than the original release. Most re-issues of Jimmy Clanton's 1958 smash Just A Dream are enhanced with echo and EQ. Here is the unadulterated original. As for Vito & The Salutations' absurd rendition of Unchained Melody, this will either have you jumping for joy or running for cover!
A few days after we'd closed the book on Volume 7, we learned that Sonny Knight, whose 1956 hit, Confidential, is one of the key tracks, had died at the age of 64. Sonny, who lived in Hawaii, had been in a coma for the last two years following a stroke and we dedicate Golden Age 7 to his memory.
by Rob Finnis