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A Rock 'N' Roll Dance Party [Ace]
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  • In 1957, Modern Records put out a rock & roll sampler LP of sorts on its Crown subsidiary, with the catalog number 5001. Confusingly, in the early '60s, it reissued the LP with a different catalog number, 5001-J, and different tracks, taking off five cuts and adding six others. The 2006 CD reissue on Ace includes all 18 songs that appeared on one or both versions of the LP, adding eight bonus tracks from the Modern vaults that weren't on either original album, but fit in stylistically with the mid-'50s rock & roll/R&B/blues style of the other selections. It's a kind of haphazard way to sample either the Modern mid-'50s catalog in particular, or the time when R&B was changing into rock & roll in general. For what it is, however, it's pretty good, though its mixture of hits and well-known performers with rarities and little-known artists means it's something for pretty specialized collectors, even those for whom this stuff is a passion. There's doo wop (Marvin & Johnny, the Cadets), sax-honkin' R&B (Joe Houston's "All Night Long"), bluesmen making a stab at rock & roll (B.B. King's "Bad Case of Love"), Fats Domino-styled rock & roll (Jimmy Beasley), Little Richard-styled rock & roll (Artie Wilson), a blatant imitation of Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" (Jesse Belvin's "By My Side"), and, to tempt the completist, a couple of previously unissued alternate takes (Richard Berry's "Mad About You" and take three of Long Tall Marvin's "Have Mercy Miss Percy"). There are also a few actual hits in the Teen Queens' doo wop classic "Eddie My Love" and Marvin & Johnny's "Cherry Pie" (the latter covered for a bigger pop hit by Skip & Flip in 1960), and Oscar McLollie's outstanding R&B ballad "Convicted" was a regional hit in 1955. Note, incidentally, that some of the song titles that look like "hits" aren't the original versions. Etta James' "Dance with Me, Henry" is a rock & roll-oriented 1957 remake, Joe Turner's "Roll 'Em Pete (I Got a Gal Who Lives on a Hill)" overdubs a '50s tenor sax onto a live late-'40s recording, and "A Casual Look" is not the original by the Six Teens, but a cover by Little Clydie & Teens -- Little Clydie being Clydie King, later to become a top session vocalist. The CD also includes extensive reissues that clarify the original release dates of the songs, and which of the tracks originally appeared (or didn't) on what original LP version of the album. ~ Richie Unterberger
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