Various Artists

The London American Label, Year by Year: 1959

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Like the other volumes in this series, this 28-track anthology has an assortment of American rock & roll, R&B, and pop (though usually rock-oriented) records that were released in the U.K. on the London American label. The resulting strange hybrid is a grab-bag of big hits, small hits, and items that missed the charts entirely, running the gamut from classics to efforts that many would feel have been justly forgotten. In the classic category, we have such goodies as Fats Domino's "I'm Ready," Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife," Ray Charles' "I'm Moving On," the Coasters' "Charlie Brown," Bo Diddley's "Say Man," Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA," and Johnny Cash's "Luther Played the Boogie" (though the last song didn't make either the U.S. or U.K. charts as a single). There are also a bunch of cuts by significant artists like Eddie Cochran, Ruth Brown, Dee Clark, Clyde McPhatter, Neil Sedaka, Chuck Willis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and LaVern Baker that don't rank at (or sometimes near) the level of their best work. Also present are worthy instrumental hits by Duane Eddy and Johnny & the Hurricanes, as well as Jerry Keller's curious one-shot "Here Comes Summer," which was a solid hit in the U.S., but a chart-topper in the U.K. Of the obscure or relatively obscure selections, only Larry Williams' "She Said 'Yeah'" (covered in the mid-'60s by the Rolling Stones) and Della Reese's "Sermonette" are of much interest. Some of the milder, poppier tracks by non-stars make little impression whatsoever; Jimmy Clanton's "A Letter to an Angel" is a blatant reworking of Johnny Ace's "Pledging My Love," and Wink Martindale's maudlin "Deck of Cards," though a huge hit, sits most uncomfortably in these surroundings.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:03
2 2:22
3 2:26
4 2:09
5 2:04
6 2:22
7 2:21
8 2:13
9 2:30
10 2:28
11 2:56
12 2:06
13 2:08
14 2:25
15 2:54
16 3:06
17 1:58
18 2:28
19 2:19
21 1:48
22 3:14
23 1:51
24 2:16
25 2:14
26 2:10
28 2:19
blue highlight denotes track pick