The London American Label, Year by Year: 1957

Various Artists

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The London American Label, Year by Year: 1957 Review

by Richie Unterberger

These 28 tracks don't have too much in common besides having all been issued in the U.K. on the London American label, and usually having some kind of relationship (if sometimes pretty tenuous) with the rock & roll overtaking the world in 1957. It gives you a pretty good cross section of what you might have been likely to hear on the radio that year, though it should be cautioned that, like the other volumes in this series, this is by no means the best cross section that could have been devised, even when limiting the selections to London American titles. Instead, it's kind of all over the map, stylistically and quality-wise. There are classics by Fats Domino ("Blue Monday"), Eddie Cochran ("Twenty Flight Rock"), Johnny Cash ("I Walk the Line"), Jerry Lee Lewis ("Great Balls of Fire"), Chuck Berry ("You Can't Catch Me"), Bill Haley (whose 1952 single "Rock the Joint," the prototype for "Rock Around the Clock," is included here as it wasn't released in the U.K. until 1957), and Little Richard ("Keep a Knockin'"). There are more R&B-oriented cuts by Chuck Willis, Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, Clyde McPhatter, and Roy Brown (an odd cover of Buddy Knox's "Party Doll") that are in no way their most popular or best. There's mild teen idol-oriented rock by Pat Boone ("Why Baby Why") and George Hamilton IV, though in the latter case, you get something of a rarity -- a different version of his hit "A Rose and a Baby Ruth," amended for the U.K. market to "A Rose and a Candy Bar." There are some other rarities of interest to collectors, if rather slightly so, like Patience and Prudence's surprisingly forthrightly self-descriptive "We Can't Sing Rhythm & Blues"; a novelty ("The Bullfrog Hop") by Nervous Norvus, who was far more famous for his hit "Transfusion"; and the sped-up version of Carl Perkins' "Your True Love" that was used for the original 45. Whether you've heard them or not, however (and it's hard to imagine that anyone interested in a compilation like this hasn't heard the classic hits), the value's enhanced by detailed liner notes that might tell you something you don't know about even the most familiar of these recordings.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Fats Domino 02:20 Amazon
2 Chuck Berry 02:43 Amazon
3 Johnny Cash 02:45 Amazon
4 Little Richard 02:16 Amazon
5 Pat Boone 01:58 Amazon
6 Eddie Cochran 01:44 Amazon
7 Charlie Gracie 02:28 Amazon
8 George Hamilton IV 01:59 Amazon
9 Peggy Ann Powers / Andy Williams 02:28 Amazon
10 Johnny Olenn 02:24 Amazon
11 Bill Haley & His Comets 02:15 Amazon
12 Mac Wiseman 01:45 Amazon
13 Don Rondo 02:42 Amazon
14 Merle Kilgore 01:46 Amazon
15 Roy Brown 02:14 Amazon
16 Carl Perkins 02:46 Amazon
17 Tab Hunter 01:46 Amazon
18 Clyde McPhatter 02:16 Amazon
19 The Moonglows 02:05 Amazon
20 Patience and Prudence 02:09 Amazon
21 Dean Beard & the Crew Cats 02:18 Amazon
22 Chuck Willis 02:52 Amazon
23 Joe Turner 02:30 Amazon
24 Nervous Norvus 01:50 Amazon
25 Ruth Brown 02:39 Amazon
26 Ernie Chaffin 02:34 Amazon
27 Nino Tempo 02:32 Amazon
28 Jerry Lee Lewis 01:52 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick