Various Artists

Rock & Rolls Classic Love Songs

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This collection from the always-reliable Varese Sarabande label compiles 18 chart hits that appeared roughly between 1959 and 1967. Each song appears in its original charting version; the liners include label, arrangement, songwriting, and production credits, as well as the songs' highest charting position. The set isn't chock-full of smash hits, but that's exactly what makes it entertaining. Rock & Roll Classic Love Songs is kind of a misleading title, since these songs recall the last gasp of 1950s vocal pop, before rock & roll really took over with the British Invasion. It possesses a time-capsule quality that's a bit nostalgic, sure, but also emblematic of the strong production and songwriting behind these numbers. While the biggest hits chart-wise here are "Chapel of Love" (Dixie Cups, Pop Number One, 1964), and "Hey Paula" (Paul & Paula, Pop Number One, 1962), the real standout -- and standard-bearer for the collection -- is the fabulous Phil Spector production "I Love How You Love Me," which the Paris Sisters took to Number Five in 1961 behind Priscilla Paris' alluring vocal. The song's dreamlike quality pervades much of Rock & Roll Classic Love Songs, making it a solid purchase not only for collectors, but anyone with a soft spot for one of pop music's bygone eras.

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