Various Artists

The Heart of Rock 'N' Roll: 1962

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The 1962 entry in Time-Life Music's soft rock series The Heart of Rock 'n' Roll is a reasonable representation of the romantic pop hits of that year. Every one of the 20 selections made the Top 20, and the only big omissions from a list of the year's big smoochy hits are Ray Charles' "I Can't Stop Loving You" and Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love," neither of which, presumably, was available for licensing. But 19 different record labels of the day are represented, and the collection gives a good sense of the important trends in pop in 1962, a year that saw the emergence of Burt Bacharach as a major songwriter ("Only Love Can Break a Heart," "Baby It's You"); a lot of sappy, greeting-card lyrics aimed at swooning high school students ("Sealed With a Kiss," "Roses Are Red [My Love]"); several country crossover performers (Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, the Everly Brothers); and numerous revivals of songs that had been popular in the 1940s and '50s ("You Belong to Me," "I Remember You," "Love Letters," "'Til," "When I Fall in Love"). This was, of course, the year that the Beatles released their first single in the U.K. (with their initially unnoticed American debut to follow early the next year), and one can hear portents of the British Invasion here and there on this album. Englishmen Frank Ifield and Asker Bilk check in with then-rare transatlantic hits. It's hard to hear the Shirelles' original hit version of "Baby It's You" and not think of the Beatles' cover. And Ketty Lester's version of "Love Letters" has an arrangement that clearly was the inspiration for John Lennon's 1970 solo recording "God."

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