Good overview, but missing major entries
Varese's second volume in this series focuses on the years 1960-63, a time when rock 'n' roll was in transition between its '50s blues, R&B and country roots and the coming reinvention of the British Invasion. What's captured here includes the softer, poppier work of harmony groups and teen idols like The Four Seasons and Ricky Nelson, a smattering of '50s holdovers like The Everly Brothers, Duane Eddy and Hank Ballard, and neo-soul sides from the likes of Ben E. King and Dee Clark. At a single disc of 25-tracks, this collection covers a lot of ground, including Brill Building hits, girl groups, soul, teen idols, pop, and adult contemporary - many of the threads that formed the fabric of early 60s radio. Though many of the tracks have been anthologized elsewhere (for good reason!), a few have been less overexposed, including The Little Dippers' superb choral-harmony-meets-country-lounge hit "Forever," Ernie Maresca's swinging' '50s throwback "Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)," and Billy Bland's fine soul side, "Let the Little Girl Dance." Though several important aspects of the early 60s are missing (e.g., Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, Elvis' post-army hits, surf music, the folk revival), what's here is solid gold. Particularly interesting is the view of pop record production that hadn't yet gravitated completely to the coasts (NY/LA), with hits coming from New Mexico ("Sugar Shack"), Nashville ("Poetry in Motion" "Forever"), Chicago ("Raindrops") and Pittsburgh ("Two Face Have I"). True stereo on all cuts except 1-3, 6, 11, 13, 19, 20, 23, 24, and when you hear how much action is packed into Freddy Canon's "Palisades Park," you'll wonder if two tracks was ever really necessary!
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