If jazz musicians can honor the past and be called "classicist" instead of "dated," is there any reason why rock and R&B artists cannot do the same? Of course not. And Kenny Vance & the Planotones honor the past with consistently worthwhile results on Countdown to Love, a 49-minute CD that came out in 2007 but generally salutes '50s doo wop. Countdown to Love is not the work of doo wop purists; a few of the tracks are more '60s-sounding than '50s-sounding. Vance offers a big dose of doo wop (including performances of the Drifters' "There Goes My Baby" and Rosie & the Originals' "Angel Baby"), but he also embraces the Burt Bacharach/Hal David favorite "Anyone Who Had a Heart" (which was a major hit for Dionne Warwick in 1963). The alliance of Bacharach/David and Warwick became profitable a few years after the heyday of doo wop, not before. Nonetheless, doo wop is the album's primary focus -- and besides, "Anyone Who Had a Heart" climbed the charts at a time when the '60s still felt a lot like the '50s. Historians equate the '60s with social, political, and artistic upheaval, but it was during the late '60s (as opposed to the early to mid-'60s) that the most dramatic upheaval came about in the United States and Canada as well as Great Britain. The Beatles, let's not forget, started out performing Little Richard and Chuck Berry songs but ended up becoming major contributors to psychedelic rock, and Countdown to Love is an album that celebrates the pre-psychedelic days of rock and R&B. There is a lot to enjoy on Vance's inspired homage to the '50s and -- to a lesser degree -- the early to mid-'60s.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson