Various Artists

Cruisin' 1963

(CD - Increase Records #INCD 1963)

Review by

An instantly recognizable bargain-bin staple since the late '70s, thanks to their colorful comic book covers tracing the romantic life of an Everycouple named Peg and Eddie, the Cruisin' series of discs is built on a brilliant concept: Each disc is devoted to a single year, with hit songs, local commercials, station jingles, and news headlines, all presided over by a noted DJ from the era, for a near-perfect recreation of that year's AM radio experience. One of the absolute highlights of the entire series, Cruisin' 1963 features the immortal B. Mitchell Reed, one of the "Good Guys" from WMCA in New York City and one of the definitive disc jockeys of the '60s. Possibly the fastest of the fast talkers, Reed avoided the manic screaming and groan-inducing wackiness of many DJs of the period, instead working in a friendly, conversational style. The disc is filled with tons of vintage WMCA jingles and promos, but the songs are the real attraction, since 1963 was one of the all-time great AM radio years. Among this disc's many highlights are the mysterious "Sally Go Round the Roses" by the Jaynettes, Lesley Gore's "It's My Party," the Chiffons' "He's So Fine," Randy & the Rainbows' brilliant "Denise," and, of course, our national anthem, the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie." This disc is what AM radio was all about.

blue highlight denotes track pick