Lyrical is a word sometimes used to describe Cozy Cole's drumming style because his melodious technique goes far beyond mere beat-keeping. The recordings that appeared under his name in the late '50s and '60s are mostly big-band jazz instrumentals that emphasize the drums. "Topsy II," a remake of an old Benny Goodman tune, became a left-field hit on the pop and R&B charts in 1958, introducing the veteran Cole to a new generation of listeners and presaging the rise of rock & roll drummers such as Sandy Nelson and Preston Epps. Cozy Cole Hits assembles 24 of Cole's recordings for the Love and Coral labels from 1958-1965, including all of his chart hits from the period. In addition to "Topsy II" and its many sequels, Cole steps behind the microphone to sing "Ol' Man Mose," covers Sandy Nelson's "Let There Be Drums," and is joined by a girl group that sings the praises of the "Rockin' Drummer." Most of the music follows in the big-band style of "Topsy II," but several of Cole's later recordings are clearly aimed at the rock & roll audience. Love Records is still in operation and owns Cole's masters, so Cozy Cole Hits is a legitimate release created from the original tapes. However, because it was produced in small quantities, it is available only as a CD-R with poor-quality inserts. The cheap appearance may lead some buyers to assume that their copy of Cozy Cole Hits is a counterfeit or a bootleg, when actually it is the official product as sold through major retailers and directly from Love Records.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Adams