Tommy Steele

Rock with the Caveman

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Believe it or not, this 43-song Tommy Steele collection isn't the most full-packed compilation you can get on England's first home-grown rock & roll singer -- but it's probably enough for most dedicated fans, covering bases that the two single-CD collections from Universal don't manage to embrace with their 20- and 21-track lineups. This set follows chronological order and demonstrates that fairly early on, Steele and his manager were already pointing his work toward a more general entertainment career and away from rock & roll. But when he rocked, he did do a pretty good job of it -- and better than anyone else that any record label in England was going to take a chance on. "Rock with the Caveman," "Come on, Let's Go," "Tallahassee Lassie," etc. are all credible efforts, though perhaps played a little more smoothly than most American rock & rollers of the time might've approached them. He also managed to embrace songs by Woody Guthrie as well as the Isley Brothers, even as he filled up the pop side of his music ledger. A major part of Steele's output is represented here, in excellent sound, in a rich cross-section of his range.

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