A common myth among latter-day rock critics is that the Beatles were revolutionary merely for writing their own songs, but Joe Bennett & The Sparkletones were a remarkable group of teenagers who wrote and played almost all their own material in the late '50s. They scored only a few hits -- the biggest of which was "Black Slacks," an infectious cut with an arresting vocal gimmick -- but their material was consistently fun and accomplished. Black Slacks contains the group's ABC-Paramount and Paris recordings from 1957-60, covering such can't-miss topics as homemade rockets ("Rocket") and dance crazes ("Do the Stop"). "What the Heck" has a hilarious vocal arrangement reminiscent of Sid King & The Five Strings, while "Number One on My List" pairs vocal gymnastics with an unusual descending chord progression that again points up this group's level of musicianship and inventiveness. This excellent and energetic music is highly recommended to collectors of '50s rock & roll.
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