Cold War: Nothing to Do But Duck, Cover and Sing

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The tune is peppy: bouncing on a sing-song cadence, it almost bleeds Brylcreem. But what's with the lyrics? "She's a redheaded atom-bomb baby/A fortified block-busting gal..." And that jazzy, '50s love song—did the singer really ooze "Want to hug and kiss you and give you a squeeze/You make me radioactive all in my knees"?

That's how you listen to "Atomic Platters: Cold War Music From the Golden Age of Homeland Security"—in stunned, can-you-believe-this-is-real silence. Out last week to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, the compilation includes more than 100 songs and public-service announcements from the first half of the cold war. The tracks range from upbeat novelties ("Atomic Cocktail" by the Slim Gaillard Quartette) to acid satires (Sheldon Allman's "Crawl Out Through the Fallout"). Taken together, they show a society constantly reminded about annihilation. "We wanted to capture the cultural fallout from the bomb," says co-producer Bill Geerhart.

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