Artist: Various Artists

Date Released: 1994

Label: Rhino

Produced By:


  1. Little Richard - The Girl Can't Help It
  2. The Coasters - Young Blood
  3. Jackie Wilson - Reet Petite (The Finest Girl You Ever Want to Meet)
  4. Thurston Harris & The Sharps - Little Bitty Pretty One
  5. The Chantels - Maybe
  6. Huey "Piano" Smith & The Clowns - Don't You Just Know It
  7. Jerry Butler & The Impressions - For Your Precious Love
  8. Clyde McPhatter - A Lover's Question
  9. Wilbert Harrison - Kansas City
  10. The Flamingos - I Only Have Eyes for You
  11. Dee Clark - Hey Little Girl
  12. Carla Thomas - Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)
  13. Etta James - At Last
  14. Ben E. King - Spanish Harlem
  15. Gladys Knight & The Pips - Every Beat of My Heart
  16. Bobby "Blue" Bland - I Pity the Fool
  17. Ernie K-Doe - Mother-in-Law
  18. The Marcels - Blue Moon


By 1956, R&B was an established and immensely popular genre whose only real competition for radio airplay was the burgeoning style derived from R&B itself, rock and roll. During the latter half of the 50s, doo wop in particular was garnishing the most attention thanks to the countless American teenagers forming their own a cappella groups and buying up 45s by the truckload. Elements of blues, gospel, rockabilly and stride piano still are prominent within the sound, but R&B is quickly coming into its own during this period and developing numerous geographically dependent styles. With socially conscious soul music on the horizon, this was the beginning of the end for innocent love ballads and naïve outlooks on life. This compilation takes a look at popular R&B from 1956 to 1961, and Rhino manages to present a pretty diverse collection. While all the songs were hits in their own right, a few stick out in particular, especially Etta James’ classic ballad At Last, Ben E. King’s boardwalk hit Spanish Harlem and Blue Moon, The Marcels’ ode to onomatopoeia. Rhino also does a good job of picking artists from different sides of the R&B spectrum, from the blues of Bobby "Blue" Bland and Wilbert Harrison to the doo wop of Clyde McPhatter and Thurston Harris to the early rock of Little Richard and Huey “Piano” Smith. There is nothing rare or unheralded here, but works sufficiently as a vague overview of R&B during the late 50s. Mpardaiolo

Further readingEdit

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