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Daily Record 2/10/11: Dick Clark, 20 Years of Rock n’ Roll-various artists (1973)

In 1950s, 1960s, compilations, pop, record collecting, records, rock'n'roll on February 10, 2011 at 11:00 pm

I think Grandma French was responsible for bring today’s Daily Record, Dick Clark, 20 Years of Rock n’Roll, into my life. I believe Grandma gave me this two-record compilation for Christmas the year it was released and I’ve had it ever since. That’s how I remember this, but later I’ve seen examples of my memory being not exactly correct, so who knows?

I should make it clear that this is not an album of Dick Clark making rock’n’roll music, but various artists collection of tunes released between 1953 and 1972. Beginning with “Crying in the Chapel” by Orioles and ending with “Nice To Be With You,” by Gallery. Smack dab in the middle, you’ll find “Louie, Louie” by the Kingsmen.

This would be exactly the kind of musical present Grandma would give me. She liked that I enjoyed music but she was concerned about all those glam rockers like Ringo Starr (whose single, “No No Song” was one of the first 45s I bought myself) who might lead me down the path to drugs and whatnot with their provocative song lyrics and platform shoes.

But Dick Clark was a known quantity and Grandma could trust an album that Clark put his stamp of approval on. There would be no songs about cocaine on this collection, although, of course, Congress did investigate that aforementioned Kingsmen song for quite some time.

From the consistent crackle in the grooves of these two albums, I get the impression that 20 Years of Rock’n’Roll was often on my stereo when I was a kid. The way that the flow of songs, particularly on side one, makes a sort of deep, intuitive sense to me, also indicates that I spent a decent chunk of time soaking up the songs of Johnny Cash, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Duane Eddy and more, in just the order, chronological way Clark chose to present them.

But that was me as a kid and that’s me now: I’m constantly absorbing music, both that which has long been familiar to me and that which is brand new to me (like the Philip Glass Meets Blondie mash-up Brian played for me last night. Hypnotic and cool.). I guess the major difference between me now and then is that as a kid, I was taking in, for the first time, much of the history of popular music. That history is mostly known to me now, though there is always much to learn (in music and everywhere else, of course.).

As for this specific compilation, it is by no means definitive. Elvis and the Beatles are not to be found, probably due to licensing issues, more any attempt at historic revisionism on the part of Clark and his minions. There are, in fact, no British Invasion artists represented at all. And a couple of the more “modern” selections, like Melanie “Candles In The Rain” and Gallery’s “Nice To Be With You,” actually seem more date-stamped to me than the 50s and many of the 60s classics on the set.

Of course, these days, I have many of these songs, like Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes,” Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” on fancy digital compilations. But I probably heard many of these songs for the first time on Dick Clark, 20 Years of Rock n’Roll, and this album would still probably be the first place I’d turn when I need to hear Joey Dee’s “Peppermint Twist,” which actually happens more often that you’d think. Or at least, ought to, because “Peppermint Twist” rocks.

Thanks for the education, Grandma!

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