January 09, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST
We gave it an A

It was the advent of the Cold War, only 50 short years ago, when the notion of global annihilation ceased to be a morbid abstraction. And if our grandparents never quite learned how to stop worrying and love the bomb, they found novel ways to confront their anxieties. Atomic Platters: Cold War Music From the Golden Age of Homeland Security is compiled with scholarly care on five CDs (plus a DVD and handsome companion book), with more than 100 songs, comedy bits, and public service announcements that defined those uneasy times. From the playful blues of Sam Hinton’s ”Old Man Atom” to the appalling agitprop of Groucho Marx selling the survivability of a nuclear blast, these pieces — by turns jovial, haunting, and chilling — form an unforgettable mosaic of anxious Americana.

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