Various Artists

Cruisin' 1955

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An instantly recognizable bargain bin staple since the late '70s, thanks to their colorful comic book covers tracing the romantic life of an Everycouple named Peg and Eddie, the Cruisin' series of discs are built on a brilliant concept: each disc is devoted to a single year, with hit songs, local commercials, station jingles, and news headlines, all presided over by a noted DJ from the era, for a near-perfect re-creation of that year's AM radio experience. Cruisin' 1955 is hosted by Jumpin' George Oxford of KSAN in San Francisco. True to its year, the ten songs included are stone R&B classics, from hits like Chuck Berry's "Maybelline," Bo Diddley's "Bo Diddley," and the Platters' "Only You" to more obscure but equally excellent choices like the Eldorados' manic stomper "Crazy Little Mama (At My Front Door)," Little Walter's "My Babe," and the Nutmegs' "Story Untold." The commercials include pitches for a local barbecue joint, furniture store, record shop, and auto dealer, all of them -- as was most common in those early days of rock & roll radio -- read by the always-enthusiastic Oxford instead of appearing on tape. The most solidly R&B-oriented entry in the entire series, Cruisin' 1955 is also one of the most entertaining.

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