Tracks from Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys are featured on Rock 'n' Roll at 50: A Galaxy of Hits From Rock's First Decade, a three-disc, sixty-song, three-disc set from Shout Factory Records.
Richard Foos, the label's CEO, assembled the compilation using a formula similar to the one he employed at the other company he started, Rhino Records. "The secret for what we did at Rhino and what I did here is we put a lot of obvious ones and then find what we feel are songs that were popular but aren't played on oldies radio," says Foos. "Songs that people have forgotten about but still are great songs. Jack Scott, for example from this package, he came out right around the time of early Elvis. He had a number of hits but for some reason he faded from the public eye."
The Motown songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland placed three songs on the compilation, "Baby I Need Your Loving" (recorded by the Four Tops), "Come See About Me" (the Supremes) and "This Old Heart of Mine" (the Isley Brothers). The Isleys' track was also originally intended for the Four Tops but the group elected to extend a European tour instead of returning to the States to record it.
"The Isley Brothers had been pestering us about doing something and we thought Ronnie Isley's voice would lend itself very well to the track," says Lamont Dozier. "It was just a riff that I had on the piano. It used to be a warm-up exercise for me. I used to write down little ideas on brown shopping bag paper, not having any money hardly at all. A lot of the songs started that way, thinking about a girl called Bernadette. 'This Old Heart of Mine' had to be something about Bernadette, because just about everything I wrote in the Sixties was about her."
Foos credits such unlikely songwriting processes and accidental collaborations for rock & roll's early unpredictable sound. "You had a combination of great songwriters and great singers, but nobody knew what was supposed to be a hit record," he says. "Many of the songs were creating new territory and there was a freshness and vibrancy you don't hear today. Rock is very calculated today -- that's the opposite of what this music was."
Rock 'n' Roll at 50 track listing:
Disc One: "BMG"
Carl Perkins, "Blue Suede Shoes"
Little Richard, "Tutti Frutti"
Elvis Presley, "Heartbreak Hotel"
The Coasters, "Charlie Brown"
Fats Domino, "Ain't That a Shame"
Gene Chandler, "Duke of Earl"
Jerry Lee Lewis, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On"
Manfred Mann, "Do Wah Diddy Diddy"
Mickey and Sylvia, "Love Is Strange"
Dion and the Belmonts, "A Teenager in Love"
Lulu, "To Sir With Love"
Ricky Nelson, "Hello Mary Lou"
Wilbert Harrison, "Kansas City"
The Five Satins, "In the Still of the Night"
The Turbans, "When You Dance"
Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, "Lady Willpower"
Los Bravos, "Black Is Black"
Petula Clark, "Downtown"
Bobby Darin, "Dream Lover"
The Cookies, "Chains
Disc Two: "Universal"
Danny and the Juniors, "Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay"
Bill Haley and His Comets, "Shake, Rattle and Roll"
The Crickets, "That'll Be the Day"
The Isley Brothers, "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)"
Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, "Game of Love"
Bo Diddley, "Bo Diddley"
Brenda Lee, "Sweet Nothin's"
Mary Wells, "My Guy"
Tom Jones, "It's Not Unusual"
The Supremes, "Come See About Me"
The Angels, "'Til"
Brian Hyland, "Sealed With a Kiss"
Chuck Berry, "Johnny B. Goode"
The Temptations, "The Way You Do the Things You Do"
Roger Miller, "King of the Road"
Lesley Gore, "You Don't Own Me"
The Miracles, "Shop Around"
Four Tops, "Baby I Need Your Loving"
The Shangri-Las, "Remember (Walkin' in the Sand)"
Dusty Springfield, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me
Disc Three: "Shout!"
Lou Christie, "The Gypsy Cried"
The Four Seasons, "Sherry"
Jewel Akens, "The Birds and the Bees"
The Newbeats, "Bread and Butter"
Roy Head, "Treat Her Right"
The Zombies, "She's Not There"
The Everly Brothers, "Let It Be Me"
Gerry and the Pacemakers, "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying"
The Drifters, "Save the Last Dance for Me"
Frankie Ford, "Sea Cruise"
The Beach Boys, "Fun, Fun, Fun"
The Essex, "Easier Said Than Done"
Paul and Paula, "Hey Paula"
Dobie Gray, "The 'In' Crowd"
Jay and the Americans, "This Magic Moment"
Johnny Tillotson, "Poetry In Motion"
Jack Scott, "My True Love"
Jan and Dean, "Dead Man's Curve"
Gene Pitney, "It Hurts to Be In Love"
Roy Orbison, "Oh, Pretty Woman