Various Artists

High School Caesar

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This is a pretty uneven collection, which is not surprising given the fact that the title track by Reggie Perkins is one of the coolest things here and it's from a juvenile delinquency B-movie of the same name. The Jays' "Panic Stricken" is pretty fair rock & roll, but "Jitterbug Joe" is one of those minor embarrassments of the genre, a silly novelty tune. Ronnie Allen's "High School Love" sets the middle-range here, a pleasant, serviceable but undistinguished piece of rock & roll that doesn't quite come off, missing the cues that would make it a good record. Jerry Parsons' "Undecided" represents the more countrified sound well enough, and Lee Dresser's "Thinking 'bout Your Love" is a good piece of mainstream rock & roll, with a full band (with sax). Bill James' "School's Out" sounds a lot like a later Cadillacs' number (specifically "Please Mr. Johnson"), a comic novelty piece complete with basso-voice commentary; it isn't bad, but it's not what you pay your money for. "Drink Wine" by Earl Reed is one of dozens of renditions of "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee," and is raunchier than some but a little cold and lacking in the style needed to make it stand out from the best of the others (starting with Sticks McGhee's). Bob Calloway's sax-driven "What's the Matter with Me" is an exercise in teenage angst that falls flat, and Walt Benton's "Summer School Blues" is similarly weak, suffering in comparison with, say, Eddie Cochran's far more clever "Summertime Blues." Ron Berry's "Remember Me" is a passable piece of R&B crooning, unusual in this series. At the center of this disc are the best rock & roll tracks, "Pretty Little Woman" by the always reliable Frank Triolo, "Rock-A-Bayou Baby" by the Moonlighters, and the Raiders' lunatic-paced "Hocus Pocus." The rest is also pretty fair: Danny & the Galaxis ("I Want You to Be My Baby"), Jack Day ("Little Joe"), Jerry Siefert ("Dirty White Bucks"), Melvin Blake ("Judy"), and Larry Kirk, who sings "Been Cheated" like a cross between Elvis Presley and Jackie Wilson. These are balanced by several bummer tracks, including Charlie Gore's "Sock Hop," a pathetic attempt by someone several years past school age to reach out to that audience.

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