Various Artists

Cruisin' 1964

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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' 1964 stars Johnny Holiday of WHK in Cleveland, OH, whose genial, almost avuncular delivery makes him sound almost anachronistic, a '50s throwback set in the pivotal year of 1964. Though the album contains no British Invasion hits (oddly, there's not a single British artist on any volume of the Cruisin' series), it's still a varied and exciting program, from the proto-funk of Bob and Earl's classic "Harlem Shuffle" to Roger Miller's country novelty "Dang Me" to the bossa nova slinkiness of Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto's "The Girl From Ipanema." Oddball ads, like a commercial for the American Lamb Council starring Jane Wyatt, and a weird station promo featuring a child's voice make this one of the more interesting entries in the series in terms of its audio ephemera.

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