Our series devoted to preserving the legacy of the London American label moves ever forward (before it starts to move backwards – see below) as we find ourselves arriving at 1962. Not always regarded as a vintage year for music – somewhat unfairly perhaps – ’62 offered a diversity of sounds and styles that acknowledged previous years and anticipated new developments in American music, such as the emergent sound of soul. London’s releases in ’62 demonstrated that the USA still led where other followed, as it would for the foreseeable future. (At least, that was how it looked as the year dawned.)
As ever, we’ve gone to great lengths to chronicle a year in the life of London American without using more than a handful of tracks that are already available on Ace CD. Even without them we still had a wealth of fantastic, often highly eclectic repertoire from which to choose. Those who make buying Ace CDs a habit will be glad to note that most of the cuts are new to the label. In keeping with our promise to bring you the music exactly as you heard it on London, we have been able to utilise original tapes from the Decca vaults on 22 of the 28 tracks, all of which are presented in 100% guaranteed mono, just as they were 48 years ago.
For London, ’62 was the year when the label said goodbye to Liberty and hello to Philles, replacing at a stroke one source of important repertoire with another. London also still had the likes of Atlantic, Dot, Monument and Big Top to keep the hits coming and a not unreasonable 33 of its 166 single releases in 1962 made the UK Top 40. Seven of those came to rest at #2 on our charts.
As with previous volumes, you’ll find London’s big guns well represented (Fats Domino, Del Shannon, Roy Orbison, Pat Boone, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Coasters) as well as new names whose greatest fame was still ahead of them (Charlie Rich, Carole King) and some whose greatest fame was behind them. There are also a number of the typical oddities and rarities that make London so beloved of those who collect it (Lloyd George, Dennis Turner) and some huge US hits that didn’t even dent our charts. Together they show that the label still had little to fear from the winds of change that would soon blow through pop from a seaport on England’s west coast.
The next volume of “The London American Label Year By Year” will be later this year. For that we will backtrack to 1959, with 1958 and 1963 following in 2011. The series has done just what we hoped it would by provoking healthy discussion among long-time collectors and bringing back nostalgic memories for those of us whose love of the label will never flag (no matter how many Roger Williams singles it may have released during its lifetime).
By Tony Rounce