Fourteen-year-old Laurie London was as successful as a one-hit wonder could be -- his debut single and only hit, a rendition of the spiritual "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," made it all the way to the top of the charts in the United States. He was also a one-hit wonder in his native England, but a less spectacular one because the song missed the Top Ten there. Like Larry Collins and Frankie Lymon, London was pegged as a child act and found it difficult to sustain his career after the onset of adulthood. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands is a 31-track anthology that rounds up nearly all of London's recordings, most of which fall into one of two categories: upbeat gospel and folk songs performed in a post-skiffle style, or novelty rock & roll tunes like "The Cradle Rock" and "(She Sells) Sea Shells" that play up his young age. London's voice changed in 1960, so the dozen or so cuts dating from that time onward feature his mature vocal sound on songs mostly in keeping with his established repertoire. Although the lush pop of "Roll on Spring" suggests a promising new direction, his later recordings are mostly faint echoes of his former glory. London composed a few of his songs and was a popular live entertainer, but for some reason was never able to click again with record buyers after his first smash. It's tempting to attribute his commercial decline to his loss of youth, but his record sales fell off immediately after his first hit while he was still in his early teens. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands is an interesting look at the career of one of the only British acts to hit the top spot in America before the arrival of the Beatles, but most of his recordings are too marginal or derivative of his debut single to generate much excitement.
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