The year that Elvis Presley broke through nationally and brought rock & roll to the fore with him, 1956, was a transitional period in pop music. To accurately represent the year's biggest hits, a 24-track compilation would have to feature five Presley recordings. This 24-track compilation has one -- "Love Me Tender," a Presley ballad far removed from the missing "Don't Be Cruel" (the year's top hit) and "Hound Dog" (the runner up). Since the compilation also excludes such other best-selling rock & roll records as Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes" and Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk," you'd have to say there's an anti-rock bias at work here. That said, the collection does include 17 of the most popular songs of the year, 16 of them in their most popular recordings. Major stars like Pat Boone, the Platters, Perry Como, and the Four Lads are featured, sometimes more than once. Although rock & roll was the year's major news, most of the hits were still pop songs, among them novelties like "Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)" and movie themes such as "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)." Exotic instrumentals like "The Poor People of Paris" and "Lisbon Antigua" scored, as did folk- and country-tinged tunes like "Singing the Blues," "The Wayward Wind," and "Memories Are Made of This." By ignoring rock & roll, the compilers have allowed room for Broadway hits such as "Standing on the Corner" and "On the Street Where You Live." The world of pop music was wildly diverse in 1956, but it rocked a lot harder than this album would indicate.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann