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The Very Best Of

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Album Review

Mild-mannered British teen idol Craig Douglas topped the U.K. charts in 1959 with "Only Sixteen," a cover of a Sam Cooke song that spent 15 weeks in the top spot. He had nearly a dozen hits between 1959-1963, all of which were featherweight cover versions of songs by American acts such as the Drifters, Gene McDaniels, Steve Lawrence and Dion. One of his hits, "Our Favourite Melodies," is a cover of an excellent regional hit by Gary Criss that didn't reach the national charts in the United States, but reached the Top Ten in England via Douglas' recording. The Very Best of Craig Douglas is a 30-song anthology of his original Top Rank and Columbia recordings from his hit period that expands upon and replaces the out of print collection, Only Sixteen. Despite the omission of two charting singles Douglas waxed for Decca in 1963, this is as exhaustive a collection as most consumers would want. In addition to the hits, Douglas sings teen-oriented arrangements of pop standards ("On the Sunny Side of the Street"), a rewrite of Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans" told from the British perspective, additional covers of American pop hits, and a few songs by British composers. One of the latter, "Ring-A-Ding," is Douglas' hardest rocker, and is such a stylistic outlier that it is sequenced at the very end of the program. Douglas' delicate, precious teen sound is far more sugary than Ricky Nelson or Bobby Vee, and is more akin to the Fleetwoods minus the girl singers (in fact, his first Top Rank single was a non-charting rendition of the Fleetwoods' "Come Softly to Me.") One drawback to The Very Best of Craig Douglas is that it was manufactured using the controversial Copy Control technology that EMI abandoned in 2006.


Born: 12 August 1941 in Newport, Isle Of Wight, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s

England during the late '50s had its equivalents to Frankie Avalon and Fabian, teenage boy singers whose sounds were specifically tailored to appeal to the most romantic sides of the young female psyche and not offend their parents. Craig Douglas was one of the better of these and has proved one of the most enduring, still performing more than 40 years after cutting his first record. Born Terry Perkins on the Isle of Wight, he was one of a pair of twins (and those twins were one of three sets among...
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