Rockin' platters from the mid- to late '50s based on hipster clothing is the name of the game on this entertaining 24-track CD, even if it's one that's rather limited by the parameters of the songs' subject matter. It's also true that the quality is highly variable, from the absolute classic -- you can't get much more classic than Carl Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes," which is here -- to the rather routine, not to mention silly. Still, more often than not these sides hit the mark musically as well as thematically. Usually they're in the rockabilly vein, though there's room for rockin' R&B, too. A few, though not many, of these songs almost match "Blue Suede Shoes" as ace rockers, most notably Gene Vincent's "Red Blue Jeans and a Pony Tail" and, in a nice contrast, the Clovers' doo wop ballad "Blue Velvet," made into a number one pop hit by Bobby Vinton in 1963. Also represented are some of the great early rockabilly artists and one-shot acts, though the tracks on this disc by Eddie Cochran, Jody Reynolds, the Bell Notes, and Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones aren't on par with their famous smashes. Still, some of the obscure cuts have merits above and beyond their novelty status, like the Delroys' infectiously goofy regional doo wop hit "Bermuda Shorts" and Mel Smith & the Nite Riders' unhinged 1959 single "Pretty Plaid Skirt (And Long Black Sox)," one of countless recordings giving the lie to the too often repeated assertion that rock & roll died in the late '50s. As always, Ace's thorough annotation brings to light all sorts of odd stories and connections behind these obscurities, like the Shades' "Sun Glasses," actually performed by the songwriting team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, and Boogaloo & His Gallant Crew's "Clothes Line (Wrap It Up)," which was similar enough to the Coasters' more famous subsequent recording "Shoppin' for Clothes" that songwriter Kent Harris eventually got to share songwriting credits with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller for the latter tune.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger