Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Various Artists: Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection

From 1953 to 1966, Chicago-based Vee-Jay records bridged the gap between Chess and Motown, releasing R&B and doo-wop singles that sounded traditional on the surface, yet were driven by a proto-rock beat. The four-CD set Vee-Jay: The Definitive Collection doesn't feature any songs by the label's biggest act, The Beatles (which had early two singles distributed by Vee-Jay), but seminal recordings by the likes of Jimmy Reed and The El Dorados more than tell the story. Songs like Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would"—later memorably covered by The Yardbirds—show Vee-Jay's influence on the pop music to come a decade later, much of which copied the label's telltale rhythmic pump, which sounded like an el train chugging toward the platform.

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