Various Artists

Rock All Night!

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Rock All Night! was a quickie, little-seen and little-remembered Roger Corman-directed 1957 crime film. There was some rock & roll on the soundtrack, though, and even a rare soundtrack album on Mercury. This 28-song CD is not a reissue of that soundtrack LP; it's more a collection built around the film, boosting the quantity by throwing on some additional cuts by acts featured in the movie, then throwing on some more cuts by artists with connections to acts featuring the movie. Everything was produced by Buck Ram, who was most famous for overseeing the Platters, who had a couple of tunes on the soundtrack LP that are not included on this CD. Sound confusing? It is, especially since the liner notes don't make it precisely clear what was in the film and what wasn't. (What's more, the four songs on the soundtrack LP credited to the Blockbusters were actually by two totally separate, unrelated bands who did two Blockbusters songs apiece.) It's best to think of this as a collection of obscure Buck Ram productions, many of which have some connection of some sort to Rock All Night! Much of this -- particularly the dozen or so numbers that have some kind of Blockbusters connection -- is cheap, exploitative, yet surprisingly fun early rock, the performances transcending the hastily tossed-off songwriting with a sort of knowing silliness. The Blockbusters, unsurprisingly, sound like different bands on different numbers. At times they play like a rawer Bill Haley & the Comets, at others like a cheap Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps; "Full Time Baby" has an unabashedly exaggerated son-of-"Be Bop a Lula" vocal. Even when it's not the Blockbusters, the music is somewhat all over the late-'50s map: up-tempo jump jazz-blues from Eddie Beal, jazz-pop-blues balladry from Nora Hayes, fairly raw and decent straightforward R&B/rock by Ray Scott, Jerry Lee Lewis-type rockabilly on Benny Joy's "Bundle of Love" (a previously unissued alternate take), the Teen Queens' previously unissued 1961 remake of their doo wop smash "Eddie My Love," and even a chronologically misplaced 1964 pop-soul single by Linda Cardinale. Pity the poor marketing person who has to figure out a way to coherently pitch this to distributors or describe it in one paragraph in the sales catalog. But as such miscellaneous throw-in-the-kitchen-sink anthologies of '50s rock go, it's above average in the enjoyable department.

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