How Great is K-tel’s 20 Rock & Roll Greats?

This 20 track compilation features many of rock & roll’s true pioneers along with one gigantic exception.

“20 Rock & Roll Greats” was released before the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame was established in Cleveland, Ohio. I must admit K-tel did a pretty good job of picking the selections on this album as fifteen of the twenty artists currently reside in the Hall Of Fame – Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Gene Vincent, The Coasters, Dion, Carl Perkins, The Platters, Bobby Darin, The Drifters, Gene Pitney and Wanda Jackson. All of these rock & roll legends are well-represented by one of their major hits. So far so good.

Other worthy inclusions are “Kansas City” by Wilbert Harrison, “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” by Larry Williams, “To Know Him Is To Love Him” by The Teddy Bears and “Red River Rock” by Johnny & The Hurricanes. There are a couple one-hit-wonders in this grouping but their hits were huge and influential. Hard to argue.

Track 20 is the head-scratcher – “Poor Boy” by The Lords. That’s right – “Poor Boy” by The Lords! It would be somewhere between a million years and forever before anyone would say The Lords belong in this illustrious mix.

This is just Wrong, Wrong, Wrong:

  1. Wrong Country – All the artists on this package are American. The Lords were a German group.
  2. Wrong Time Period – Every artist on this collection experienced their first success in the fifties, long before the mid-sixties when “Poor Boy” charted.
  3. Wrong Song – “Poor Boy” was a poor selection. Every song on this collection is a rock ‘n’ roll classic making “Poor Boy” stick out even more.

Curious why a track like this was included – A favor?  – Someone needed to slap a 20th track on to meet a deadline? – One of The Lords was dating a K-tel employee?

Nothing against The Lords – they just belong on a German “One Hit Wonders” package, not this one.

I give “20 Rock & Roll Greats” 19 out of 20 stars. What do you think?

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3 Responses to How Great is K-tel’s 20 Rock & Roll Greats?

  1. Tony C says:

    I totally agree. Any album that has The Everly Brothers and Wanda Jackson does it for me. As far as The Lords are concerned, they shouldn’t be on that album.

    One of The Lords was dating a K-tel employee? This should be investigated for real. Anyway, a thumbs up to “20 Rock & Roll Greats” keep it coming….

  2. Spencer says:

    Great post! I love it when I come across head-scratchers like these when it comes to certain compilation album inclusions.

    One of favorites actually involved a Ronco compilation from 1979, which was called “Breakdance, Vol. 1″ and promised the “All Time Greatest Breakdance Music”. Here’s the tracklist:

    A1 Little River Band – Lady
    A2 Cheryl Lynn – Got To Be Real
    A3 England Dan & John Ford Coley – Love Is The Answer
    A4 Instant Funk – I Got My Mind Made Up
    A5 Wet Willie – Weekend
    A6 Arpeggio (2) – Love And Desire
    A7 Bob Welch – Precious Love
    A8 Jacksons, The – Shake Your Body
    B1 Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me
    B2 Blondie – Heart Of Glass
    B3 Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
    B4 Eddie Money – Maybe I’m A Fool
    B5 Karen Young – Hot Shot
    B6 Walter Egan – Magnet & Steel
    B7 Sylvester – Dance (Disco Heat)
    B8 Peaches & Herb – Shake Your Groove Thing
    B9 Sister Sledge – He’s The Greatest Dancer

    Ok, maybe some of them are passable, but is it even possible to breakdance to the Little River Band, Cheap Trick, Walter Egan, or England Dan & John Ford Coley??

    Here’s the Discogs link with more details:

    Funny thing is that this exact same compilation was already previously released by Ronco as “Star Time” – which definitely was more appropriate…but I am baffled by the fact that someone from Ronco decided that this tracklist was MUCH too “breakdancey” to be held back by the title “Star Time” :P

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