The Tokens

The All Time Greatest Hits

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There are other hits collections out on the Tokens, but this release, a compact 35 minutes long but covering the proper bases, has virtues lacking in some of the competition. For one thing, it covers three decades of material, from the 1959 Warwick Records hit "Tonight I Fell in Love" through their 1970 cover of "Don't Worry Baby." In between are the shoulda-been-a-big-hit "When I Go to Sleep at Night," the requisite "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," the failed follow-ups "B'Wa Nina" and "La Bamba," their minimally successful attempt at a folk crossover, "Hear the Bells (Ringing Bells)," attempts at car songs ("Let's Go to the Drag Strip"), the middling mid-'60s single hits "I Hear Trumpets Blow" and "Portrait of My Love," and their re-recording of the Clairol jingle "She Lets Her Hair Down." The sound quality on most of this release rivals the best work done on the Beach Boys' classic Capitol CDs: not only clear and close (in glittering stereo on all but the first track), but loud; the only exceptions are the two late-'60s Warner Bros. tracks, which are merely clean and sharp, not awesome. The disc covers a wide range of styles as the group sought to adapt to changing public tastes. They weren't suited to car songs, singing well enough on "Let's Go to the Drag Strip" but sounding a bit too elegant, but they did capture the festive mood of the mid-'60s (in a manner similar to their West Coast rivals the Association) on numbers like "I Hear Trumpets Blow." The notes by Colin Escott explain a great deal about the group's history, although they have some minor holes. It's as much of the Tokens as anyone will ever want, but hardcore fans will need this disc, which restores some deserving recordings to the catalog.

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