The year 1955 is generally regarded as the line of demarcation in popular music, before which the charts were dominated by traditional pop vocal music, and after which rock & roll became an increasingly dominant force. But as the 25 songs on the CD remind listeners, the transformation wasn't overnight, nor was it complete -- 17 of the 25 tracks here have no real connection to rock & roll, and of the others, one is a watered-down version of an R&B classic of the period. That said, when "Rock Around the Clock" does show up at the eighth spot on this CD, it's a pretty scintillating moment, no matter how many times (or even how recently) one might have heard the song, and that's because what surrounds it (as well as Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" and the Penguins' "Earth Angel") is mostly so far removed from rock & roll or R&B. There really were at least two Americas then (or perhaps two and a half, if not three), and that's pretty plain from this CD: there were people who thought "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" or "That's All I Want from You" were all that music had to aspire to, or to do -- and then there were people who not only resonated to "Rock Around the Clock" but understood it on several levels. Beyond the sociological implications of the disc, the listening is good, sometimes because the artists or the songs are worthwhile, or, occasionally, because they're not -- "Let Me Go Lover" by Joan Weber is the kind of record that all but invited rock & roll to explode over the airwaves, and it's so sappy as to be worth hearing on that basis alone, for contrast with everything around it. The sound is very good throughout, and the graphics on this volume are fun, too. As with other volumes in the series, there is no annotation.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder