Motorvatin' Past Rock 'n' Roll's Early Legends, in Forward and Reverse

Oldies stations shove "fun" down your throat as a matter of course, even when you've heard the hits a billion times already. But you can't say that for the truly fun triple-disc The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll, which trounces its Golden Age companion box partly because you've seen American Graffiti, partly because triangulating the Orioles, Hank Williams, and the "5" Royales is too much fun to leave to the history books, and partly because Louis Jordan kicks Dion's ass.

Obscurity-mongering kicks nobody's ass, which is why Ace's spiffy new collection of car-songs surrounds garage-sale discoveries with the more commonplace likes of Nelson Riddle's "Route 66 Theme," Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me," and Vince Taylor's Clash-covered "Brand New Cadillac." These anchor Ronny & the Daytonas' manic doo-wop "Bucket T" and the Rally Packs' "Move Out, Little Mustang" and Bruce & Terry's "Custom Machine," which are not just Beach Boys ripoffs—they're Jan & Dean ripoffs, which is even better.

 
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