Everyone knows that Elvis Presley is the King of Rock & Roll and Patti Page is the Singing Rage, but what is Cathy Carroll's lofty title? Her histrionic vocal style is so over the top, so melodramatic, it demands the respect and canonization that an official honorific would confer. Carroll was one of the premier drama queens of the early '60s, emoting her way through teen records that should have found a much wider audience. The Cathy Carroll Story compiles 24 recordings, some so obscure they aren't listed in specialty record guides. Her two hits are included, but "hit" is a relative term in this case: "Poor Little Puppet" peaked at number 91 in 1962, and the teen tragedy classic "Jimmy Love" failed to register in Billboard at all but was a minor entry on the Cash Box chart. The latter song tells an irony-free story about a girl whose boyfriend is killed when a tree falls on him during a storm. Commercially speaking, Carroll's other records were even less successful, from the oblique Elvis tribute of "He's Famous" to the intense pathos of "Every Leaf That Falls," certainly one of the most dramatic teen records ever waxed. It is worth noting that Carroll was able to cover Johnnie Ray's "Cry" and arguably outdo him in the drama department. Carroll's recordings from the mid- and late '60s experimented with chipper country-pop and the girl group style and, although none ever broke out, her apparent dedication and persistence in trying to establish a career in music is admirable. The Cathy Carroll Story is mastered from vinyl sources originally released on a myriad of mostly independent labels, so the sound quality is mixed but acceptable. The handful of listeners who fondly remember and appreciate Carroll's unique talent will gladly weather a few rough patches for the opportunity to hear so much of her music in one place.
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