Various Artists

Hot Rod Box Set

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The automobile became a dominant force in post-World War II culture in America, and along with the primary transfer of goods moving from trains to trucks, being "on the road" became a metaphor for a state of mind, a kind of transitional freedom. What one drove became a huge part of one's individual definition of self. So it comes as no surprise that the pop music of the time filled up with references to fast cars and long haul truckers just as trains filled the songs that were popular earlier in the century. This five-disc Hot Rod Box Set collects albums Hot Rod: Hot Rod Rebels, Hot Rod: Rev It Up, Hot Rod: Back Seat Movers, Hot Rod: Hot Rod Cowboys and Hot Rod: Big Boss Instrumentals, previously available as separate entities, each dealing with a specific aspect of being "on the road," and while each is interesting in its own right, placed together like this they make a sweeping survey of the impact of the internal combustion engine on American pop culture in the 1950s and early '60s. From surf-tinged hot rod instrumentals to drag racing, the culture of trucking, and even the role of the car in modern romance, this collection, through sheer accumulation, makes a tremendous impression. Not only that, it rocks and hums along like a well-tuned engine, so even as this box set makes a perhaps unintentional statement about the roll of personal transportation in the latter stages of the 20th century, it is also a whole lot of fun, a bit like coming off the light with the top down on a beautiful and sunny day and then cleanly hitting all the gears on the straight-away.

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