At first glance, this entry in K-Tel's Ultimate History of Rock & Roll Collection looks like a very good introduction to the some great early rock, surf, and soul instrumentals. The disc's lineup is an interesting mix of rock legends (the Ventures, Duane Eddy, Sandy Nelson), one-hit wonders (the Chantays, the Routers), and innovators (Lonnie Mack, the Tornadoes), and the songs range from out-and-out classics to forgotten, yet worthy, obscurities. The main problem with the disc is that all but one of the songs (Lonnie Mack's "Memphis") are re-recordings. While on the one hand it is scarily impressive that they were able to round up so many re-recordings of classic '50s songs (and that so many of the artists were game to do the re-recordings at some low point in their career), on the other it is hard to believe that anyone would actually want to listen to them instead of the original recordings. In fact it is hard to imagine what K-Tel was thinking when it put this series together. Did the label think it could fool enough people in to thinking these were original recordings to make some money? The fine print on the back of the CD is pretty small, and you might not see it unless you were looking for it. Did they just figure people wouldn't care one way or the other about when the recordings were made, just as long as their favorite songs were there? Probably this is true in many cases but that doesn't lend any validity to the series, because the whole project simply reeks of disregard for the music-buying public and for the music itself. Please do not even think about buying this, or any other volume of this awful series.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra