Neil Sedaka never gets the respect that he deserves because he's a man out of time. His heyday was in the early '60s, when rock & roll was in recession and before the Beatles came across the Atlantic and changed everything, and in a way, he epitomized the era -- he wasn't rock & roll, he was informed by it, but he was at his heart a pop tunesmith, and his best songs, whether performed by him or not, were in the Tin Pan Alley tradition but given a contemporary polish to appeal to the kids. This means some of his recordings are inextricably tied to their era, but he was such a savvy songwriter that the best of his work -- such as "Oh Carol," "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen," "Calendar Girl," and "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do," which is his greatest song -- has stood the test of the time, while still standing as the sound of the early '60s. That doesn't necessarily mean that his work lends itself to the exhaustive Bear Family box set treatment, though. Pop was his medium, whether it was 45s or individual songs, and when they're collected as a body of work as they are on Bear Family's eight-disc Oh Carol: The Complete Recordings 1956-1966, the result is a little exhausting. There are two problems: the first is that his non-hit material is simply not as strong as his hits, but that's not the big problem -- no, the big problem is that half of this set is dedicated to non-English recordings, which is solely the province of archivists and completists. Those listeners will surely enjoy this set since, after all, it is produced with the same love and care as any Bear Family set, and it does contain the complete recordings of Sedaka at his peak. If they know what they're getting into, Oh Carol is worth the investment, but most listeners will find that concise single-disc hits collections will give them what they need.