Music Review: Big Hits of Middle America

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

The big hits produced in the Midwest during the ’60s are back on this two-CD set. All of those teen bands with such clever names are here: Dudley and the Doo-Rytes, The Trashmen, and, of course, The Unbelievable Uglies! In fact, no band on this album has a name without the word “the” in it. And that’s not the only good thing about the CD.

A lot of the songs provide a beat that you could dance to. Many of them follow a blues pattern that was used excessively in older songs. An example of a song you have probably heard that has used this pattern is “Johnny B. Goode,” but it is not on these CDs.

Most of the lyrics have original thought put into them, but as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, many used that blues chord pattern. This is why many of the songs from that era sound so similar.

At the risk of labeling this music and suffering a fate worse than death, I will not refer to these songs as oldies, but many younger people vow that they absolutely detest oldies. What they do not know is that many of the songs they listen to now are based on songs written a long time ago. Not all of these songs are originals, but some of them are.

Some adults will know most of these songs from their childhood, where hot cars and even hotter music reigned. Teens would cruise while listening to classics by The Trashmen such as “Surfin’ Bird” and — or “The Bird Dance Beat,” both containing the scratchy throat vocals of Tony Anderson.

Seriously now, many of these songs are enjoyable. Some could even be making a comeback. My dad took this CD to the school where he teaches and while he was listening to a certain song, some kid asked him if the song was a remake. it wasn’t the original, but it certainly wasn’t the one he knew.

Many of these bands had their starts at school dances or local garages, as The Trashmen, or Lou Riegart and the Troops did. And you can tell that they weren’t in it for the money; they played to have fun. That is a factor in how enjoyable the music is.

You might call me a “Liar, Liar,” but I say you should get in your “OldsMo-William,” “Run, Run, Run” to the music store and “Let the Good Times Roll,” “Papa-oo-mau-mau!”


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