Various Artists

The London American Label, Year by Year: 1962

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The 1962 volume of this series, like its other volumes, collects a bounty of American rock & roll, R&B, and pop singles that found U.K. release on the London American label. It's not the greatest way to survey the state of rock circa 1962, or even connected by anything like a house or regional sound, since these were issued from a slew of unrelated U.S. labels (albeit some very important ones, like Atlantic, Stax, Imperial, Monument, and Sun). Still, it's a fairly good listen with some classics and many notable performers, though interrupted by some rather inexplicably weak choices (and rarities that, alas, are usually not in the same league as the more familiar of the 28 tracks). Classics? You have Little Eva's "The Loco-Motion," Booker T. & the MG's' "Green Onions," and Carole King's "It Might as Well Rain Until September," the only hit she scored as a performer in the 1960s. Cool minor hits and flops by greats? Plenty of those -- the Coasters' romping "(Ain't That) Just Like Me," the Drifters' vocal version of "Stranger on the Shore," Jerry Lee Lewis' rocking twist tune "I've Been Twistin'," Fats Domino's "Jambalaya," and Roy Orbison's typically melodramatic "The Crowd." One-shot novelty? Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash" was one of the definitive such things. Dull or unremarkable outings? There are some of those, unfortunately, like Bobby Darin's pedestrian cover of "What'd I Say," and Sandy Nelson's instrumental "Drums Are My Beat." As for the items you're not likely to hear on oldies radio, however, just one is of much note: Dennis Turner's "Lover Please," the little-known original of the song covered for a big hit by Clyde McPhatter. Anita Wood's "I'll Wait Forever" holds some curiosity as a Sun single by one of Elvis Presley's most serious girlfriends, but it's an inconsequential country-pop number; Jerry Wallace's "Shutters and Boards," though a Top 30 hit, is ill-fitting sentimental pop in such a rock-oriented compilation.

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