Various Artists

The Rock 'N' Roll Era: Street Corner Serenade

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For some listeners, the '50s and early '60s will always be about doo wop and the serenade, the sort of songs epitomized by Sha Na Na's television show and movies like Stand by Me. For these folks, songs like "Little Darlin'" and "Just to Be with You" (never mind who sang them) are golden nuggets from a simpler time of sock hops, drive-ins, and soda shops. Street Corner Serenade includes 22 such songs, stretching between the mid-'50s and early '60s. There's the lovely "Mio Amore (More Love, 'Till the End of Time)" by the Flamingos, and the slow-rolling "Till Then" by the Classics. More than one of these songs concerns itself with marriage (including "I Wish That We Were Married"), and one can only guess as to why these teens -- in this more innocent time -- were in such a hurry to tie the knot. The Excellents' "Coney Island Baby" shows that crooning and swooning survived at least until 1962 (and perhaps planted a seed for the title of a '70s Lou Reed album). Lyrically speaking, these songs never get very heavy, which, fans will say, is part of their charm. Just guys and gals falling in love with one another and then falling in love some more. Life in the United States, its seems, would seldom be this innocent in the future, making Street Corner Serenade something of a time capsule to an ideal/idealized time.

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