Wednesday, August 10, 2005

V/A Cameo Parkway 1957-1967 4-CD box set (ABKCO)

Cameo-Parkway’s vaults have been closed for so long, they’re like the pop equivalent of the Valley of the Kings. But instead of mummies, unguents and gold, C-P’s depths held pop gems, genre-hopping, mad, gorgeous and many. The Philly-based labels walked on whatever side of the street bore the hits, so this long-awaited (and all-mono) box is packed with doo wop, teen pop, novelty discs and answer songs, Bobby and Chubby, exquisite soul and goofball dance tunes, raunchy girl groups and tap dancing percussion, and, when Neil Bogart came on board, garage classics by the likes of the Ohio Express. ? and the Mysterians and a young, clean-shaven and utterly brilliant Bob Seger. The kids like English bands, god knows why, so the Kinks and the Ivy League make brief appearances before spinning off to parts known. And country’s hot, so let’s have some hillbillies. Over four discs and 115 tracks, pop music mutates with a fluid, playful grace we seem to have lost. Not everything here will thrill everyone, but as a clean cut through one of the more fertile trees in pop’s early forest, it’s a fascinating trip. On cool, black-vinyl-look CDs.

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