With his good looks, energetic stage presence, and intense love of electric guitar (not to mention the talent to use it as more than a prop), Eddie Cochran was the prototypical early rocker in the mid- to late '50s, and he foreshadowed, perhaps even more than Elvis Presley, the shape and form the nascent rock genre would take in the following decade. His recording career was brief, lasting only a little over four years, and his life was tragically short as well -- he died in 1960 and was only 21 years old -- but his legacy is a large one, topped by his near-perfect rock teen anthem “Summertime Blues,” a song that continues to resonate and ring true 50 years after its original release in 1958. This fine 35-track single-disc sampler set from Bear Family Records collects the best rockers from Cochran's stay at Sylvester Cross' Crest Records and his later run at Liberty Records, covering Cochran's complete studio career from 1956 to 1960. These sides crackle with joy and energy, even if some of them, particularly the early Crest ones, are really little more than song demos. That Cochran loved what he was doing is obvious in tracks like “Skinny Jim,” “Am I Blue,” “Twenty-Flight Rock” (his second studio version is presented here), the immortal “Summertime Blues” (in the U.S. single version), and his final studio recording, “Cut Across Shorty,” which is presented here at its original and intended speed -- for some reason the 1960 single was speeded up, raising everything nearly a full pitch. Simply put, in the parlance of the day, this guy was a cool cat -- the evidence for that is here.
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