Various Artists

Cruisin' 1961

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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' 1961 features Arnie "Woo Woo" Ginsburg of Boston's WMEX. As the nickname implies, Ginsburg was one of those "wacky" DJs, complete with noisemakers and weird voices. Although this style of DJ is most often associated with frantic teenybopper stations, the play list for Cruisin' 1961 is heavy on the cool R&B tunes, including Shep and the Limelites' sublime "Daddy's Home," one of the all-time great doo wop ballads. Other highlights include Clarence "Frogman" Henry's "But I Do," Little Caesar and the Romans' "Those Oldies But Goodies (Remind Me of You)," and the great "My True Story" by the Jive Five. The commercials and promos are a rather disappointing lot this time around, other than some terrifically weird station jingles, but this is one of the meatier volumes in the Cruisin' series musically.

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