Dr. J's Blog
Rock and Roll History, News & Views
Growing up, I was a big fan of Dick Clark and American Bandstand. I’ve always liked Clark’s famous quote: “Music is the soundtrack of your life”. From the start of 8th grade all the way through my senior year at St. Joseph High School, Bobby Rydell was an important part of my soundtrack. During that time period, Rydell charted 28 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, 19 of which were Top 40 hits. Smashes like “We Got Love”, “Wild One”, “Swingin’ School”, “Volare”, “Good Time Baby”, and “Forget Him” were constantly played at school dances, house parties, and on the transistor radios tuned to the local AM radio stations that spun the hits of the day.
This is the second part of the MRRL review of "The Michigan Box: 1950s & 1960s Oddball Labels", the massive 10 CD collection of obscure Michigan recordings that were released on small independent labels from around the state during rock and roll's first two decades. Part 1 dealt with the first five CDs in the set, and Pt. 2 covers the songs, artists, and labels found on CDs 6 through 10. Many of the songs have YouTube links so that you can hear the original recordings.
“The Michigan Box: 1950s & 1960s Oddball Labels” offers a unique look at many of the state’s independent music labels at the dawn of the rock and roll era. The set has over 330 recordings on ten full length CDs containing over 12 hours of music; along with a 200 page hard cover book filled with photos, biographical information, and recording data. You won’t find any Top 40 hits, but you will discover some obscure early recordings by significant Michigan artists such as Tommy James, Andre Williams, Dick Wagner, Nolan Strong & The Diablos, Brian Holland, and The Falcons.
The box set mostly concentrates on lesser known musicians who often recorded their rockabilly, country, R&B songs and instrumentals in primitive one man (or woman) studios often outfitted in the front room, back room, garage, or basement. The 45s and 78s were pressed in Michigan plants and issued in limited numbers on tiny labels found in cities all around the state.