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Hits of ’59: Only Sixteen – 25 million sellers! 25 number ones!

Re–issues of recordings made in 1956, 1958 and 1959

Purchase from MusicWeb for £7 post-free World-wide

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Paul ANKA (Lonely Boy); Frankie AVALON (Venus); Shirley BASSEY (As I Love); The BROWNS (The Three Bells); The COASTERS (Charlie Brown); Russ CONWAY (Roulette and Side Saddle); Bobby DARIN (Dream Lover and Mack the Knife); Craig DOUGLAS (Only Sixteen); The EVERLY BROTHERS (’Til I Kissed You); Adam FAITH (What Do You Want?); The FLEETWOODS (Come Softly to Me); Emile FORD (What do you want to make those eyes at me for?); Connie FRANCIS (My Happiness); Buddy HOLLY (It Doesn’t Matter Anymore); Johnny and the HURRICANES (Red River Rock); Johnny HORTON (The Battle of New Orleans); Jerry KELLER (Here Comes Summer); Guy MITCHELL (Heartaches By The Number); Jane MORGAN (The Day the Rains Came); Ricky NELSON (It’s Late); The PLATTERS (Smoke Gets in your Eyes); Elvis PRESLEY (A Big Hunk o’ Love, One Night and A Fool Such as I); Lloyd PRICE (Stagger Lee); Cliff RICHARD (Living Doll and Travellin’ Light); SANTO and JOHNNY (Sleep Walk); Monty SUNSHINE and the Chris Barber band (Petite Fleur); Marty WILDE (A Teenager in love)

I love this selection because it serves to remind one of just how simple things were, not that long ago, in popular music. It would be impossible, today, to issue a record as simply enjoyable and funny as Charlie Brown (he’s a clown, why’s everybody always pickin’ on me?) Just to read those words brings back the great upbeat Lieber and Stoller tune – and, by the way, it seems that the song has nothing whatsoever to do with the cartoon character, it’s just a name that was chosen for a kid who is always getting into trouble.
There’s a fabulous variety of material here and from both sides of the pond. The English offerings are rather more raw and simple than their American counterparts – perhaps we didn’t believe in anything that followed skiffle! Thus Russ Conway’s Side Saddle – remember him on TV turning to the right and smiling at the camera as he played? – sounds wonderfully archaic following two big American hitters Bobby Darin and The Platters. But it’s the English which get things going, with Craig Douglas singing Sam Cooke’s lovely Only Sixteen.
She was only sixteen, only sixteen
I loved her so
But she was too young to fall in love
And I was too young to know

Things really were simpler then. I found that the most enjoyable songs here were the ballads or, at least, the not overtly rockin’ ones. Thus Frankie Avalon’s delivery of Venus, although a somewhat maudlin song, is preferable to Bobby Darin’s more forced approach. Marty Wilde’s agony as a Teenager in Love is so much easier to relate to
each night I ask the stars up above,
Why must I be a teenager in love.

than the more overt
I got a wishbone in my pocket
I got a rabbit's foot 'round my wrist
You know I'd have all the things these lucky charms could bring
If you'd give me just one sweet kiss, no no no no no no no
Baby, I ain't askin' much of you
Just a big-a big-a hunk o' love will do

Perhaps this says too much about my youth!
Overall, this music is still very much, despite what some of the lyrics might say, filled with a naivety and a bright eyed optimism for the future, where I’m gonna love her ’til I die and so on. Who could believe from what we can hear here that the band which would transform popular music, The Beatles, would be formed in the next year. That the bad boys of rock, The Rolling Stones, would burst forth in 1962, and two years after that the band which was to lift rock onto a higher plain, The Who, was formed. In less than 5 years on 18 and 19 May 1964, thousands of mods would descend on Margate, Broadstairs and Brighton to find a large number of Rockers already there. How quickly times changed! The music of this time complements the social change. The music of 1959 now seems to be of an earlier age in so many ways with little by way of any change in the air, so unlike reality.
This is a woderful remembrance of times past, where the music and lyrics didn’t extol the glory of sex and drugs, and rock’n’roll was just about to explode into the world’s consciousness in a way that it hadn’t before. As with the previous two issues in this series this is very enjoyable. It’s also the first year of which I have strong musical memories, so it has a special resonance for me. If you only want the remembrance of the year this is the perfect disk.
The transfers are very good, if a little hard on occasion, but this is the fault of the originals not of the re–mastering crew. The notes are very good too. Go on, treat yourself, you deserve it!

Bob Briggs
Go on, treat yourself, you deserve it! ... see Full Review

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