Various Artists

Hard to Find 45's on CD, Vol. 9: 1957-1959

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Another outstanding entry in Eric Records' Hard to Find 45's on CD series, Vol. 9: 1957-1959 mixes the good with the great and serves to enlighten as well as entertain. From the tale of Tommy Facenda's "strike while the iron is hot" move to create a regional hit (all over the United States) with his "High School U.S.A." by overdubbing the names of specific high schools from the regions in which the song was marketed, to the revelation that Santo & Johnny's "Tear Drop" (the follow-up to their mega-hit instrumental "Sleepwalk") was, like its predecessor, penned with help from the boys' mom, Hard to Find 45's on CD not only serves up obscuro hits, but also fascinating trivia. Everything here is worthwhile and good, but there are some standouts that rise above even this high-caliber stuff. Billy & Lillie's "Lucky Ladybug" got a bit of a second, third, and fourth wind when the Four Seasons covered it in 1963, Vanity Fare in 1968, and Guv'ner in 1999, but none of those versions come close to capturing the cute, sexy, and sassy delivery Lillie Bryant masterfully (and playfully) offers up on the original. Ray Smith stopped runnin' Kentucky moonshine long enough to record his fantastic 1959 tune "Rockin' Little Angel"; Bill Haley's Comets turned in a raucously fun "Everybody Out'ta the Pool" (under the alias of the Lifeguards); Middletown, OH's Shepherd Sisters redefined "cute" with "Alone (Why Must I Be Alone)"; and Art & Dotty Todd's Fren-glish "Chanson d'Amour" delights with its "lat da-dat da-dat" injections. All of the tunes have been lovingly fussed over in the remastering department (arguably the best-sounding versions available), and the liner notes are extensive, informative, and fun. Just like the rest of Eric Records' releases, Hard to Find '45s on CD, Vol. 9: 1957-1959 is not only a great collection, it's an indispensable one -- loads of fun and utterly irresistible.

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