Bear Family released a monumental box set called Atomic Platters: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security back in 2005. It was a wild, wonderful collection of artifacts from the Atomic Age and the Cold War but it was six discs, which is a bit long for anyone who isn't either a historian or just a bit nuts. The 2014 compilation Atomic Platters: Single Warhead Edition solves that problem by condensing that box to 32 tracks of highlights. Five of these songs make their Atomic Platters debut on this single-disc set -- Peter Scott Peters' "Fallout Shelter," Lew Tobin's "Uranium Lou," Mark Spoelstra's "The Civil Defense Sign," Melvin Gayle's "Khrushchev Twist," Thelma Farmer's "Atomic Love," all good but not necessarily worth a secondary purchase by those who already own the big bomb box -- but the attraction of this set is all the novelties and oddities recorded between 1950 and 1964. This single disc illustrates just how weird it would get -- sometimes intentionally, as when a bunch of fratboys sang "Love That Bomb" under the name Dr. Strangelove & the Fallouts, sometimes less so, as when Johnny Cash was recorded civil defense spots. While there are a couple of rockabilly or country cuts, most of this is swinging jazz and pop, which makes sense as that was a style that could withstand just the right amount of irony -- and plenty of singers and songwriters did indulge in black humor back then. The best of these are still potent, the worst are wonderful cultural artifacts, and the whole disc is something of an odd delight.
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