Greatest Hits: The Original ABC-Paramount Recordings

by: Lloyd Price

Lloyd Price's recordings of ABC-Paramount were bigger and glossier than his recordings for Specialty, complete with female backing vocals, strings, and pop production. This, of course, means that certain audiences don't consider them as real as his raw, gritty Specialty recordings, and if that's what you're looking for from Price, turn to their excellent compilation, Lawdy!. But, if you want to hear the second, hitmaking half of Price's career, this is the collection to get, and it provides numerous pleasures. First among those, of course, is the phenomenal "Stagger Lee," a storming version of the classic folk ballad that brought the tale of a murdering outlaw into the pop charts, creating enormous controversy and producing an absurdly sanitized version (known as the Bandstand Version, since it was initially recorded for use on American Bandstand). Both versions of the song are here, both terrific (with the original version getting the obvious edge), along with other hits like the yearning "Just Because," the giddy stroll "Personality," the galloping "Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)?," and a tamer re-recording of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," along with 12 other sides that might not have been hits, but most are very enjoyable. True, this isn't gutsy R&B like the Specialty sides, but these were meant to be rock & roll hits, and they not only were, they're among the best of their kind from the late '50s. Essential music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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