Compilations that dig into the vaults of relatively minor rock & roll independent labels are like digging your fist into a Halloween trick-or-treat bag. Whatever you come up with, you know that it's going to be varied and that not all of it will be to your taste. If this 25-track assortment of 1957-1962 singles on the Fraternity label, with a half-dozen previously unissued tracks thrown in, doesn't yield many delicacies, at least there aren't any candy-coated razor blades. Just two names here made it big: Bobby Bare, who recorded the hit Elvis Presley satire "All American Boy" for Fraternity in 1958 (though Bill Parsons got the credit on the label), and Jackie DeShannon, who was going by the name Jackie Shannon when she recorded for the company. DeShannon's 1959 single "Just Another Lie," done with the Cajuns when she was a teenager, is one of the best cuts, with a smoky sax and equally smoky, unmistakably DeShannon vocal on a reasonably gutsy, bluesy grinder. Bare is heard on a tamer, less-impressive previously unissued take of "All American Boy" and also via his 1959 single "I'm Hangin' up My Rifle" (an unsuccessful sequel to "All American Boy," following Elvis on his return from the army) and the previously unissued mediocre rocker "Whatcha' Gonna Do," complete with King Curtis-styled sax. There are issued and unissued cuts by Parsons -- the real Parsons, not Bare under Parsons' name -- with more novelties that try to recapture the talking-rock & roll flair of "All American Boy" without success. Otherwise, this is a pretty generic cross section of early rock & roll, slanted toward instrumentals to rockabilly pop. Undoubtedly the best of the lot is Sparkle Moore's 1957 single, "Skull & Crossbones," whose exaggerated yelping vocal qualifies it as one of the best female rockabilly records. Oddly, one of the better cuts, the Elvis Presley-styled reverbed rockabilly of "Knock Me Out" is credited to "Unknown," as it's not known for sure who the singer was.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger