Your Hit Parade: 1957

Pop music in 1957, the year following {$Elvis Presley}'s commercial breakthrough, was again dominated by the hip-shaking troubadour from Memphis. He had three of the top four songs on {~Billboard} magazine's Hot 100 for the year. Many rock & roll stars did well in 1957: {$Fats Domino}, {$Little Richard}, and {$the Everly Brothers}; others, such as {$Jerry Lee Lewis} and {$Buddy Holly}, scored their first hits. Yet not one of these artists is heard on {^Your Hit Parade: 1957}. {@Time-Life Music}'s {^Your Hit Parade} series (borrowing the name and nothing else from the old radio show, which had gone off the air by 1957), with an album for each year of the 1940s and '50s, focuses on pre- or non-rock music, which means that the albums for the late '50s no longer reflect what were actually the biggest hits of the year. There are 24 selections on the 1957 disc, only seven of which were among the 24 most popular recordings of 1957. Instead of presenting the real "hit parade" winners of the year, the album traces the decline of pre-rock performers desperately trying to make an end-run around the rock maelstrom by trying other sounds, such as folk, country, and calypso, which they treat as novelties in true pop-music fashion. {$Jimmie Rodgers} (not the old country star, of course) turns {$the Weavers}' {&"Kisses Sweeter than Wine"} into an expression of teenage libido; {$Frankie Laine} teams up with {$the Easy Riders} for the folky {&"Love Is a Golden Ring"}; and {$Terry Gilkyson} also works with them on the Caribbean-flavored {&"Marianne."} {$Harry Belafonte}, who has some claim to authenticity with regard to the islands, does {&"Banana Boat (Day-O)"} and {&"Jamaica Farewell."} {$Andy Williams} tries for a {$Presley} tone on {&"Butterfly,"} while the likes of {$Perry Como} ({&"Round and Round"}), {$Patti Page} ({&"Old Cape Cod"}), {$Nat King Cole} ({&"Send for Me"}), {$Tony Bennett} ({&"In the Middle of an Island"}), and {$Kay Starr} ({&"My Heart Reminds Me"}) pretend that rock & roll never happened. {$Pat Boone} ({&"Love Letters in the Sand,"} {&"April Love"}), {$Debbie Reynolds} ({&"Tammy"}), and {$Victor Young} ({&"Around the World"}) score with movie songs. Every track on the album made at least the Top 15 of the singles chart, and a few were among the year's most popular. To be sure, there was more to the hit parade than rock & roll in 1957, and this album allows the listener to discover those old-fashioned alternatives. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi

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