Murray "The K" Kaufman was the leading New York disc jockey of the early '60s, back in the days when disc jockeys could be stars nearly as big in their own right as the musicians whose records they played. After Alan Freed, whose status fell rapidly following the so-called payola scandals of the late '50s, Kaufman was probably the biggest of them all, and, like Freed, he organized and hosted rock & roll revues featuring many of the top recording acts of the period (no Beatles or Stones, but the Who did participate in one of the last of these). During the mid-'60s, he recorded some of the shows he hosted at the Brooklyn Fox Theater. This CD contains 25 songs (72 minutes) recorded on-stage in December of 1964, by acts including the Miracles ("Shop Around"), Jan & Dean ("Linda," "Surf City"), the Ronettes ("Be My Baby"), Gene Pitney ("Town Without Pity"), the Dovells ("You Can't Sit Down"), the Shangri-La's ("Leader of the Pack"), the Drifters ("Under the Boardwalk," "Saturday Night at the Movies"), Ben E. King ("Stand by Me"), Jay & the Americans ("She Cried"), the Tymes ("So in Love"), Chuck Jackson ("Any Day Now," "Since I Don't Have You"), and the Shirelles ("Boys," "Baby It's You"). The performances are all lively if sometimes a little perfunctory -- of course, that was the scene back then, as these acts rushed on, ran through three or four of their best-known songs, and rushed off to make room for the next group. Jan & Dean prove themselves nowhere near as meticulous on-stage as the Beach Boys of the same era (check out Beach Boys Concert), although most of the R&B outfits (the Tymes, the Shirelles, the Miracles, etc.) come off extremely well, as do Jay & the Americans. The drums are the most prominent part of the backing band, and there is occasional sound leakage, so that a word or two of "Be My Baby"'s opening verse gets lost, but that's routine for this period. Kaufman's personality is a little overbearing, especially his long free-association rap about relations between the sexes (picture a longer version of John Drew Barrymore's hipster classroom rap from High School Confidential), a pure 1950s pseudo-hipster struggling to stay afloat in the 1960s. Magnum's source for this release seems to be vinyl, to judge from the periodic surface noise, but this CD sounds significantly better than any LP copy you are likely to encountered. Worthwhile for fans of any of these groups, or those who just want to get a glimpse of what one aspect of live performance was like in those days.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder