Warning: This post contains language that might be offensive to some readers.
Hey there folks and Welcome to Retro Dee Reviews!
It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a CD. (Yes, there are still people who buy CDs) I decided that this next one should be a simple compilation of Oldies, (no more than 20 songs) for someone who might be looking to add to their oldies collection without having to by the whole “Time Life Presents” library.
So let’s begin the review on a 20 song compilation called The Fifties: A Decade to Remember “Do You Wanna Dance?”
Disclaimer: These reviews are my personal, independent opinions. I do not get paid or compensated in any way to endorse anything.
The Fifties – A Decade to Remember: Do You Wanna Dance?
This compilation was distributed by K-Tel Classics. This is a very basic CD, both in concept and in design. The front features a kind of “blah” shot of a generic classic vehicle and a simple letter design spelling out the title.
The album title, of course, is also the title of one of the songs featured, “Do You Wanna Dance” by Bobby Freeman. One thing you’ll notice is that there is no mention on either the front or the back of the CD of who the artists are. It doesn’t boast that it features hits by Bobby Freeman and Little Richard– rather, it just says “various artists” and lists the songs. I believe that all the songs (except for possibly one) are original artist recordings, so I found it unusual that the CD cover doesn’t mention that. But keep in mind that I know zilch about how the Music Industry works. Good thing I didn’t inherit a song catalog. Ha… Anyway, you have the front and the back of the case with merely the song titles alone.
The inside has the same red checkered pattern on a small insert and on the CD itself. The insert lists the songs. When you open it up, it shows the other CDs by that company. There is no other information.
..1 “Good Golly Miss Molly” (Little Richard, 1956) We start off with a great classic, by the late, legendary Little Richard. This is a fun way to start off any retro dance album. 2. “Do You Wanna Dance” (Bobby Freeman, 1958) Next up is the title track which ranks up there in the Top 40 or so of my favorite songs from that era. I can listen to this one over and over and never get tired of it. 3. “The Girl Can’t Help It” (Little Richard, 1956) Then we hear from Little Richard again, so soon, which is kind of a lousy way to order the songs, but it’s Little Richard none-the-less with an original recording. The girl can’t help it, and I can’t complain.
4. “There Goes My Baby” (The Drifters, 1959) Now you have the smooth sounds of a pre-Motown classic by The Drifters, which I thought was a 60’s song, but nope! 5. “Hey Little Girl” (Dee Clark, 1959) I have this one on my Juke Box Giants CD set. It’s a lot of fun and a welcome addition to any compilation. 6. “Personality” (Lloyd Price, 1959) This song seems to follow me everywhere. No matter what station, show or CD I listen to, there it is. Good thing I like it. However! This is a different version from the original recording. I can definitely tell, because I’ve heard the original hundreds of times. It’s still Lloyd Price, but with an alt. version.
7. “Willie and the Hand Jive” (probably Johnny Otis, 1958) This might be the Johnny Otis version, that makes the best sense since it was the most popular one in the 50’s. But don’t take my word for it, since it doesn’t say on the CD. 8. “Western Movies” (The Olympics, 1958) This one’s also on Juke Box Giants. Maybe they’re in the same royalties package or something. It’s a good homage to how much everyone liked Westerns back then. 9. “Honky Tonk” (Bill Doggett, 1956) Here’s the first of three instrumentals on this CD. This is a great one, with a fantastic guitar solo.
10. “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay” This is supposed to be by Danny and The Juniors, but this definitely is not the original recording, and after hearing it a few times, I’m fairly certain it’s not Danny and The Juniors at all. I don’t know who’s doing this version of it, and one thing I abhor is when no-name groups do classic songs. That’s worse than the worse legitimate cover times ten. Fortunately, I think this is the only track on this CD that falls under that God-forsaken “generic” cover category.
11. “Party Doll” (Buddy Knox, 1957) Next up is the infamous “Party Doll”, a song whose lyrics confuse me since they’re a little too direct for the 1950’s era. I guess the folks back then were too naive to pick up on it, or maybe in 1957 “make love to you” just meant holding her hand. (Jesus, really?) At any rate, here’s the original recording of “Party Doll”, complete with the guitar riff that the other Buddy (Buddy Holly) was rumored to have been inspired by.
12. “Dance With Me” (Ben E. King with The Drifters, 1959) I hate this song. What a shitter of a song. No, seriously, it’s not that bad, I’m just messing. 🙂 However, they do play it way too much on Direct TV Music Choices, and it’s become mundane at this point. Kind of a waste of a slot on the CD. (Original recording though.)
13. “The Happy Organ” (Dave “Baby” Cortez, 1958) This song title sounds dirty, but not direct-dirty like the words in Buddy Knox’s song. This is more of an innuendo. I don’t think it actually is, though. People were too innocent back then to get it. It’s an instrumental, one of three on on this CD. The tune itself reminds me of The Happy Days gang on a weekend getaway: Richie, Pots, Malph and whatever girls they happen to meet. Joanie, Mr. and Mrs. C and Al go along too, but the only one who gets some is The Fonz. That’s implied. 14. “The Freeze” (Tony and Joe, 1958) Here’s a dance craze song, one of the first in Pop history. It’s kind of a crappy song, and I can only imagine the dance. 15. “La Dee Dah” (Billy & Lillie, 1958) I like the care-free innocent 1950’s sound of this song, but in the year 2020, having it stuck in my head all day has me like: “La Dee Dah, oh boy, I’m gonna fuck-ing slap some-one…” Kidding, of course! It’s cute song. I like it. Sometimes.
16. “Go Jimmy Go” (Jimmy Clanton, 1959) Next up we have Jimmy Clanton, certainly not a favorite of mine, but a good example of cheesy teen pop from that era. 17. “You Got What It Takes” (Marv Johnson, 1959) I joke that this is a song about me. LOL. Ahem… Well, it’s a nice upbeat tune at any rate. I thought it was a 60’s hit, but it’s actually from November of ’59. 18. “Teen Beat” (Sandy Nelson, 1959) I wasn’t familiar with this piece until I got this CD. I guess I need to study up on my instrumentals. It’s a good one, worth having in your collection. This is the third of the three instrumentals on this compilation.
19. “Come and Go With Me” (The Del-Vikings, 1957) Thank goodness this is the original recording, otherwise I’d have launched the CD out the window and used it for skeet shooting practice. This is one of my favorite songs of ALL time, (and that includes Buddy Holly and the Everly boys) so to have it not be original would have been pure blasphemy. Owning this song on CD is a must-have when you love The Del-Vikings as much as I do.
Finally we get to the last song on this album,
20. “The Stroll” (The Diamonds, 1958) Here’s a low-key classic dance hit of which I actually know the dance to! And as simple as it is, I still can’t do it. But I love the song. It conjures up images of a simpler time where Dick Clark called the shots and teenagers listened. It’s a good way to end the album.
Despite the fact that this CD looks like it might be cheap, it’s actually very decent quality and fun to listen to. If you’re looking for the Big Pioneers of Rock N Roll, this CD only has one (Little Richard). No Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck, Eddie, Gene or Jerry Lee. But that’s alright. I personally chose this to add to my collection because of the title track and “Come and Go With Me” PLUS the fact that there are some songs on this that you don’t hear constantly, particularly the instrumentals. For the price point on Amazon, it’s worth checking out if you like these songs.
Retro Dee unofficial rating: 4 out of 5 stars
If you liked this review, please check out my previous reviews of other CD albums featuring music from the same era.
Til next time,
– Retro Dee
Disclaimer: I DO NOT get paid or compensated in any way for endorsing any companies or products, nor am I affiliated with any companies or products. All logos, names, titles, lyrics image copyrights etc.. etc.. are retained by their original owners.