It’s Now Or Never – Elvis Presley
Why? – Anthony Newley
Starry Eyed – Michael Holliday
El Paso – Marty Robbins
Poor Me – Adam Faith
Running Bear – Johnny Preston
My Old Man’s A Dustman – Lonnie Donegan
Theme From “A Summer Place” – Percy Faith
Wild One – Bobby Rydell
Stuck On You – Elvis Presley
Do You Mind? – Anthony Newley
Cathy’s Clown – The Everly Brothers
Sweet Nothin’s – Brenda Lee
Mama – Connie Francis
He’ll Have To Go – Jim Reeves
Three Steps To Heaven – Eddie Cochran
Good Timin’ – Jimmy Jones
Please Don’t Tease – Cliff Richard
Shakin’ All Over – Johnny Kidd
A Mess Of Blues – Elvis Presley
I’m Sorry – Brenda Lee
Apache – The Shadows
Tell Laura I Love Her – Ricky Valance
Only The Lonely – Roy Orbison
Walk, Don’t Run – The Ventures
I Love You – Cliff Richard
Georgia On My Mind – Ray Charles
Stay – Maurice Williams
The Twist – Chubby Checker
Save The Last Dance For Me – The Drifters
This label has already put out similar compilation discs covering the years 1957-59, so it’s natural to reach the 60s. The powerhouse performers are all American but there are some British acolytes, men hankering after rock ‘n’ roll and purveying it to their own audiences with a certain amount of creditable swagger. You would expect Elvis - It’s Now Or Never actually starts the disc, and we also get Stuck On You - though you might not be too familiar with a B side of his called A Mess Of Blues.
Anthony Newley parades his insinuating charm in a couple of tracks; a truly multi-talented performer taken too young. Michael Holliday was another British performer of talent, though the life of Norman Milne (his real name) ended with his suicide at the age of 38. I never knew that the backing band for Adam Faith’s Poor Me belonged to John Barry whose perky pizzicatos gave the track so much of its sassy vitality. In fact a number of Light Music bands back these singers – Norrie Paramor did the honours for Holliday, for example. Percy Faith unfolds The Themes from ‘A Summer Place’, written by Max Steiner.
Most of the great and good are here. So too is the fabulous kitsch of Johnny Preston’s Running Bear, and the Music Hall jokes of My Old Man’s A Dustman (Donegan could really tell ‘em). Running through so many of these tracks is the figure of Floyd Cramer, the great pianist from Nashville. He played on many of Presley’s best records and his presence here, with that unmistakeable slip-sliding attack, is always a barometer of great things. Tenor sax player Boots Randolph turns up a bit as well, often in tandem with Cramer – they both back Brenda Lee for instance.
I can’t say I go a bundle on Connie Francis and her horribly twee portamenti on Mama – this is, and should stay, Gigli territory. But I can take the falsetto camp of Good Timin’, eked out by Jimmy Jones. Meanwhile Ricky Valance (born David Spencer, in Wales) covered Ray Peterson’s big US hit, Tell Laura I Love Her. I wish I could say I knew all this before, but I didn’t. I thought he was the Real Deal. There are two superb instrumentals. The Shadows parade their evergreen Apache, but just as good are The Ventures with Walk, Don’t Run. Don’t overlook the hysterical doo-wop of Maurice Williams, and, jazz fanciers, please note that Bucky Pizzarelli is one of the guitar players backing The Drifters on Save the Last Dance for Me.
Roll on ’61.