Where the Action Is: The Very Best, 1964-1981

Freddy Cannon

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Where the Action Is: The Very Best, 1964-1981 Review

by Richie Unterberger

Most of Cannon's best-known, and best, hits were done for Swan Records in the late '50s and early '60s. This CD can't help but suffer in comparison, focusing on his post-Swan career, a period that saw him land just two big hits ("Abigail Beecher" and "Action," both here naturally). All but two of these 18 tracks came out between 1964-1970, a time in which Cannon's brand of everyman teen idol rock became increasingly irrelevant. This compilation's chief drawback is not so much its unfashionability as the general running-in-place mediocrity of its mainstream pop/rock, though Cannon did attack everything with his customary let's-have-a-good-wholesome-time energy. "Abigail Beecher," though, was about as good as it got, the songs often sounding unmemorably similar to each other in their slick teen rock production. Some slight surf/hot rod influences impinge on songs like "All American Girl," "Let Me Show You Where It's At," and "Beachwood City"; "In My Wildest Dreams" sounded like Gary Lewis, perhaps unsurprisingly, as Leon Russell (who also worked with Lewis) arranged. By the late '60s the ideas were getting more contrived, like a remake of "Rock Around the Clock," "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" (based around a running joke on the Laugh-In TV show), and the medley of some his old hits that passed for "Charged-Up, Turned-Up Rock-n-Roll Singer"; the 1974 single "Rock & Roll ABC's" wasn't any improvement. Three of the songs, including a 1967 remake of "Rockin' Robin," were previously unreleased.

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