1958 as documented by the releases of the UK’s most famous source for US rock’n’roll, pop and R&B.
Our “London American Label Year By Year” series has been among the most popular we’ve come up with since we opened for business. A lot of work goes into producing three of these projects a year, but the acclaim we’ve had more than justifies the effort that goes into their creation.
This year we’ve already presented a selection of true delights from London’s 1963 release schedule, and there are still many more years from the Swinging 60s that we have designs on anthologising. For the rest of this year, however, we’re in reverse. 1957 will be our October offering, and most of its contents are already licensed and ready to sequence. This month it’s the turn of 1958 to show us just some of the many goodies that London brought us in order to further Great Britain’s musical education.
London released 242 singles in ’58 – a staggering total that was difficult to reduce to just 28 representative examples. Fortunately, other Ace series have previously done London proud, and you can find many of the label’s classic releases on “Golden Age”, “Teen Beat” and suchlike. However, there many gems that you can’t yet find elsewhere on Ace, and 27 of our inclusions are making their catalogue premiere here. More than 20 are brought to you directly from the mono tapes used to manufacture the stampers for the original London 45s and 78s over 50 years ago. It’s hard to imagine how we could get any more authentic, really.
As with all the other volumes, 1958 offers a splendid mix of proven classics and arcane obscurities. For every Eddie Cochran and Duane Eddy, there’s a Ganim’s Asia Minors or Frank DeRosa that have seemingly been reissued nowhere at all, until now. It would have been easy to just pull together London’s biggest hits to represent the label for the year, but that would have failed to show the full range of what could be bought by anyone with a spare 7/6 in their pocket, and an urge to connect with an America that was so far beyond the physical reach – and the affordability – of most UK teens of the time, that it might as well have been on Mars.
As always, the booklet features a label shot for every track – not all of which were easy to locate, but you know us when it comes to completism! – and a 7000+ word essay featuring individual annotation for all 28. The 1958 foreword is written by John Broven, who won’t mind me saying that his appreciation of London was already bordering on an obsession even then.
On a personal note, ’58 was the year in which I saved enough pocket money to buy my first London 45. Naturally, it’s included here, but you’ll have to buy a copy to find out what it was.
By Tony Rounce