It seems hard to fathom in the 21st century, but through much of the 1950s, Pat Boone was one of America's biggest rock & roll stars; at a time when radio and television were still deciding what to make of the loud and rebellious music that had captured the minds of America's youth, Boone was one artist who could make with the Big Beat (well, sort of) but was too clean-cut and well-mannered to offend anyone. While Boone's covers of R&B hits like "Tutti Frutti," "Ain't That a Shame," and "Long Tall Sally" sound ridiculously stiff decades after the fact, Boone was a talented pop singer who was well served with romantic numbers and upbeat novelty numbers, and in his heyday Elvis Presley
was the only American pop singer who enjoyed greater commercial success. The Complete US & UK Singles As & Bs 1953-62
is a three-disc collection that, just as the title says, collects all of the 83 songs that Boone released on singles in the United States and Great Britain during his biggest years as a hitmaker. While time hasn't been kind to many of these songs -- Boone may have been willing to sing rock & roll, but he never truly sounded comfortable with it, almost as if it was something he'd learned phonetically -- the truth is he got better with the passage of time, and he had a gift for polished love songs like "Love Letters in the Sand" and sounded more than credible on teen-centric weepers such as "Gee, But It's Lonely." And Boone was merging rock & roll and gospel long before it was fashionable on "A Wonderful Time Up There," one of his strongest and most emphatic beat numbers. The Complete US & UK Singles As & Bs 1953-62
is the most comprehensive collection of Pat Boone's music from his commercial heyday as anyone has released to date, and if you want a grand-scale overview of his days as the most wholesome rock & roller on Earth, this all you could ask for and more.