The 45 rpm single is the supreme medium for delivering music — rock ‘n’ roll music, especially, but also its myriad descendent and antecedent forms, from rock-a-billy and punk to doo-wop and R&B to garage and surf. Understand this: It is perfection, and it shall never be bested. An artist is given one chance to make a listener jump, scream, shout, or even weep. And then it’s over. Yes, there are technically two sides, and you might even have some success on the flip, but the point is you better be packing TNT if you’re releasing a 45 rpm record.
They’re still out there, but darling, you and I both know things just ain’t what they use to be. There’s a whole host of reasons why that is, and any and all have been dissected, by the lowliest bloggers to the most highfalutin gasbags alike. Whether the folks at Norton have read any of them is tough to say, but the label has happened on a pretty hip idea to counter this most unfortunate and persistent trend.
Now in its second volume, Norton Records’ I Hate CDs series (here titled I Still Hate CDs) offers a heap of 45s from the Norton vault in digital-only form. This is itself a monumental happening given Norton’s tireless work on behalf of the peerless platter and the label’s general reluctance to embrace the digital revolution for any reason beyond absolute necessity. But all that aside, these collections are stuffed with utterly brilliant music, volume two being no exception. Forty-five songs clustered into three sets, I Still Hate CDs brings to light such dead and buried obscurities as C.J. and the Casuals’ “Study Hall,” Del Tino’s “Go Go Go,” Gene Summer’s “Fancy Dan,” and Little Johnny and the Silvertones “Rock Til the End of Time.” The set also tips the cap to more contemporary acts that have helped keep the torch lit for genuine unhinged stomp, King Khan (“It’s a Lie”), the Dictators (“16 Forever”), and the Hentchmen (“So Many Girls”) among them.
Even Team Norton would agree that the I Hate CDs sets aren’t exactly the way God intended it, but it takes a serious crate digger to amass all of these cuts in 7-inch form, whether the originals or just the Norton reissues. The 45 rpm record is the height of cool — that’s a given — but of course it is the music that matters in the end. That Norton keeps this sublime trash out there is a service to us all.