The 50-year copyright limit on recordings in Europe has led to a flood of low-quality releases on fly-by-night labels containing classic recordings by major vintage artists now suddenly in the public domain. That has diluted many discographies, but the law also makes possible collections drawing together music from various labels that would not otherwise be attempted, and Original Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers is a good example. Disregarding who recorded what for whom, this budget-priced British compilation assembles an amazing group of early, pre-rock & roll tracks from the genres of pop, R&B, and country to demonstrate that the music that would become known as rock & roll was being made by many different musicians years before the onset of "the Rock Era" in 1955. With the exception of Hank Williams' "Rootie Tootie," recorded in 1947, all the tracks here were made in 1949, 1950, or 1951. There is jump blues from Louis Jordan ("Saturday Night Fish Fry"), New Orleans second line from Professor Longhair ("Mardi Gras in New Orleans"), gospel from Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers ("Jesus Gave Me the Water"), honky tonk from Hank Snow ("I'm Movin' On"), and hit-parade pop from Les Paul & Mary Ford ("How High the Moon") and Johnnie Ray ("Cry"), but the beat and fervor of all these performances suggest rock & roll. And there are early performances by some major rock and blues figures at early stages of their careers, including Fats Domino, Little Richard, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Bill Haley, as well as songs that would go on to become rock & roll standards, such as Tiny Bradshaw's "The Train Kept On A'Rollin'" (better known in renditions by the Rock & Roll Trio and the Yardbirds). The result is an outstanding album of music tracing the conception of rock & roll.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann