Along with proto-doo wop groups like the Orioles and Sun Records' many early-'50s blues artists, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters helped create rock & roll. And as Ray Charles' gospel and R&B blend would later lay the foundation for soul artists like Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, Ballard's mixing of jump blues and holy-roller vocal intensity helped the likes of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry become rock & roll's first stars. While at Detroit's Dunbar High, Ballard formed the Midnighters (originally the Royals) and eventually signed to King in 1953. The Midnighters' many chart hits for both King and its subsidiary Federal label are included on this solid retrospective of the group's '50s and early-'60s prime. Along with several Ballard originals like "Work With Me Annie," "Annie Had a Baby," "Finger Poppin' Time," and "The Twist" (later turned into a dance phenomenon by Chubby Checker), the album also finds the band ably handling Leiber & Stoller's evergreen "Kansas City" and Don Covay's "Twist"-wannabe "The Switch-A-Roo." A great introduction to Hank Ballard & the Midnighters' classic hits.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook