on June 17, 2000
This is one of the most unusual group of songs ever committed to a single collection. There is no single musical theme apparent here, as the 20 cuts cross all genres of popular music from the turbulant 1960s. There is the classic Elvis Presley cut "It's Now or Never", Ann-Margret's surprisingly effective mainstream pop cut "I Just Don't Understand", and the tremendously popular doowop-styled offering "The Lion Sleeps Tonite."
From the country side comes Bobby Bare's "500 Miles from Home," which was covered so many times it disappeared in the confusion. Al Hirt's lively "Java" represents the jazz genre, and Glenn Yarbrough adds a folk perspective with the wonderful "Baby, the Rain Must Fall."
In order to mention every good cut on this disc, I'd have to recite the song list. Just look to the top of this listing and you'll see what I'm talking about. Everyone from Sam Cooke to Henry Mancini to Jefferson Airplane is included. There simply aren't enough superlatives to go around.
If you loved the music of the magical 60's, this disc needs to be in your collection. An absolute gold mine of hits!
on March 21, 2000
The 60s were a transitional, catacylsmic time in society, in music, and for RCA Records. The label, represented here by a selection of its top 1960s hits, sandwiched the innocent rock of the early 60s and the socially-concious rock of its end with a series of adult-contemporary and one-hit wonders.
It was a producer-driven decade, and the label's two most notable producers, Chet Atkins (he produced Floyd Cramer's #2 hit , Skeeter Davis, and Eddy Arnold) and and the team of Hugo and Luigi (producing Elvis, Sam Cooke, and the Tokens #1), take up most of the disc's first half. Ann-Margaret's lone Top 40 hit is also worth mentioning because the Beatles covered it on their "BBC Sessions" album.
The cut-off point is Al Hirt's 1964 Top 5 "Java," written by Allen Toussaint and which peaked the same week the Beatles hit America. The British Invasion pushed the label into a slump with only Elvis and Eddy Arnold reaching the Top 10 in 1965. But Arnold's mellow "Make The World Go Away" crashes headfirst into "Somebody To Love" by Jefferson Airplane, unleashing the label's late-60s run of hits by Canada's Guess Who, Jose Feliciano (1969's flamenco "Light My Fire") and Henry Mancini's #1 movie theme.
This set holds little of the camp value of similar "Nipper" decade sets, but entertains and educates about the decade without relying on its usual touchstones (Dylan, Beatles, Stones). Recommended, with the essential tracks best heard on performers' full albums.