The year 1955 is remembered as the beginning of the rock era, as marked by the success of Bill Haley & His Comets' "(We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock." The omission of that song from an album purporting to present the biggest hits of the year is both a major flaw and an ominous choice. Time-Life Music's Your Hit Parade series begins in 1940 and runs through 1959, and there seems to have been a deliberate decision to ignore the rise of rock & roll in the second half of the '50s. This becomes a big problem in later albums, but on this one it is a minor irritant because 1955's hit music was characterized not so much by a lot of rock as by white covers of R&B songs and a lot of standard-issue pop. In fact, among the 24 selections here are 17 of the year's most successful songs -- 16 of them in their most popular versions. (The exception is the use of Al Hibbler's rendition of "Unchained Melody" instead of the one by the Les Baxter Chorus that scored higher in the charts.) As much as it was the year of "Rock Around the Clock," 1955 was also the year when Pérez Prado's instrumental "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White," the McGuire Sisters' "Sincerely," and Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" all had long runs at the top of the charts, and they are all here, along with such major hits as the Four Aces' "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," the Mitch Miller Chorus' "The Yellow Rose of Texas," and Bill Hayes' rendition of "The Ballad of Davy Crockett." No doubt unable to license Frank Sinatra's recordings for the compilation, the compilers have ignored his biggest hit of the year, "Learnin' the Blues," and used Dinah Shore's version of "Love and Marriage," which was also a hit, if not as big as Sinatra's recording. It's hard to argue with the omission of Pat Boone's embarrassing performance of "Ain't That a Shame," or with the inclusion of the Platters' memorable "Only You (And You Alone)," even though the former was a bigger hit than the latter. Nor can one claim that Johnny Maddox's novelty "The Crazy Otto" is much missed when you get to hear Sarah Vaughan's steamy performance of "Whatever Lola Wants." The year 1955 was not the best in the history of pop music by any means, which was part of the reason that rock & roll was able to take over so quickly. There are occasional hints of the coming revolution in songs like Georgia Gibbs' cover of Etta James' "Dance with Me Henry (Wallflower)," but not the Bill Haley call to arms that ushered it in and was one of the year's biggest hits.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann