As the “Golden Age Of American Rock’n’Roll” series progresses it’s noticeable, and most agreeably so, that the booklets increase in size. Bigger booklets allow more text and the stories behind the tracks to be told in more detail, and Volume 6 has some great stories to tell. Who, for example, knew that Bobby “Boris” Pickett of ‘Monster Mash’ fame was a member of the Stompers whose ‘Quarter To Four Stomp’ was a surf-orientated take on the Gary US Bonds “Norfolk” sound? And who knew why the Royal Teens’ career went down the tubes soon after their massive ‘Short Shorts’ hit, or who Ruby of Ronald & Ruby really was? Certainly not the girl pictured promoting the original of ‘Lollipop’ before the Chordettes got hold of it. These stories and many more illuminate the tracks and add greatly to the enjoyment.
There are some fine rockin' inclusions in this volume, including ‘Black Slacks’ from Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones, Jimmy Edwards’ ‘Love Bug Crawl’, Ivan’s ‘Real Wild Child’ and ‘I’m Walkin’’ from the ever-reliable Ricky Nelson, whose work was lifted by the guitar work of Barney Kessel in this instance. There’s also a really greasy sax-led instrumental from Noble “Thin Man” Watts & His Rhythm Sparks with ‘Hard Times (The Slop)’, a fine example of how the “Golden Age” series reaches parts inferior comps never do. Group fans are served well with the Dell-Vikings’ ‘Come Go With Me’, the Elegants’ ‘Little Star’ and the neo-doo wop of ‘Imagination’ from the Quotations. Then there’s ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’ from the Rivingtons; although the record only just made the Top 50, the song, in barely altered form, went Top 5 soon after as ‘Surfin’ Bird’ by the Trashmen. Credit for the invention of this nonsense number correctly lies with the Rivingtons.
There are several examples of how crudely recorded decks can be really effective. Among these are ‘You’re So Fine’ from the Falcons, ‘Don’t You Just Know It’ from Huey “Piano” Smith & the Clowns and Johnny Ace’s recording of ‘Pledging My Love’, issued posthumously in 1955. Pride of place in the rawness stakes goes to Bunker Hillwith ‘Hide And Seek’, effectively defining the thumpy sound producers Feldman-Goldstein-Gottehrer used so well a few years later as the Strangeloves.
Long-standing influential records come from Clyde McPhatter with ‘Lover Please’, ‘Do You Want To Dance’ by Bobby Freeman and ‘Tall Cool One’ from the Wailers. And there’s even a mystery record in ‘Charlena’ by the Sevilles, who may or may not have been some of the Olympics filling in a couple of hours one day. Someone out there knows. Or not.