This sixth installment of Capitol records' label retrospective -- Capitol From the Vaults -- concentrates on the transitional and influential music released in 1956, as rock & roll began to show continual staying power on the pop music charts. However, as the 25 tracks on this volume illustrate, adults and even young people were still buying and listening to traditional popular music, and that is exactly what "the tower" was releasing. The set kicks off with a chart-topping entry from Tennessee Ernie Ford singing "Sixteen Tons" -- which had also been recorded by Merle Travis, who not only wrote the song, but was also a fellow Capitol recording artist. Although it had been a regional hit for Travis, it is Ford's version that became most memorable. There were several other notable male vocalists who also climbed the charts for Capitol in 1956. As Dean Martin's popularity continued to soar, "Memories Are Made of This" -- featuring the Terry Gilkyson-led Easy Riders -- was not only his first Top 40, but also first number-one hit. The disc ushered in 1956 firmly atop most pop-music and jukebox charts. Although not a number one, the show tune "Standing on the Corner" was another hit for Martin during March of that year, and is likewise featured on this collection. Another male vocalist who dominated the upper echelons of the pop singles chart during 1956 was newcomer Sonny James. The catchy "Young Love" -- James' entrée into pop music -- became one of his signature tunes and racked up hit singles on Capitol's country charts well into the 1970s. Jazz vocal fans continued as huge proponents of the label. Nat "King" Cole -- whose "Too Young to Go Steady," "Never Let Me Go," and "That's All There Is to That" are featured here -- was one reason. Another are Stan Kenton alumni the Four Freshmen -- heard here on their Top 20 hit "Graduation Day." Other notable inclusions on Capitol From the Vaults, Vol. 6: The Best of '56 are the novelty "The Happy Whistler" -- a Top Ten hit for one-hit wonder Don Robertson. Also worth noting is the biting, satirical view of Stan Freberg as he disassembles Elvis on his decidedly derogatory rendition of "Heartbreak Hotel." Recording engineer Bob Norberg lovingly remastered this entire series from the best possible source materials, and the results are uniformly spectacular. Music historian and musician Billy Vera produced Capitol From the Vaults and likewise penned some highly informative and entertaining liner notes for each volume.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer