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Best of Bill Haley and His Comets 1951-1954
     

The Best of Bill Haley and His Comets 1951-1954

5.0 2
by Bill Haley
 
Bill Haley usually gets his due for helping to kick off the rock & roll era with "Rock Around the Clock" in 1954, but as it happens, Haley had been cutting solid rock sides several years before that. Haley covered Jackie Brenston's epochal "Rocket '88'" within a few months of its 1951 release with his Western swing outfit, Bill Haley &

Overview

Bill Haley usually gets his due for helping to kick off the rock & roll era with "Rock Around the Clock" in 1954, but as it happens, Haley had been cutting solid rock sides several years before that. Haley covered Jackie Brenston's epochal "Rocket '88'" within a few months of its 1951 release with his Western swing outfit, Bill Haley & the Saddlemen, and after that it didn't take long for Haley and his bandmates to make with the boogie and add some strong proto-rockabilly material to their set. The result was a string of regional hits for the Essex label that eventually led to Haley's signing to Decca Records and the recording of the song that became both his greatest triumph and the millstone he could never escape. The Best of Bill Haley and His Comets 1951-1954 is hardly the first album to skim the cream off Haley's pre-Decca hits (pick up Rock the Joint for a more complete picture of this era), but it's more concise and better sounding than most collections of Haley's Essex sides, and leaves his lukewarm hillbilly material by the wayside in favor of straight-ahead rock & roll (though Billy Williamson's blazing steel guitar solos point to the band's country roots). These recordings prove that Haley's showy style had fully evolved long before "Rock Around the Clock" made him an international star, and if anything this material makes for a more satisfying listen than the vast majority of Haley compilations on the market, with "Rock the Joint," "Real Rock Drive," and "Crazy Man, Crazy" standing alongside his very finest work. The Best of Bill Haley and His Comets is a well-considered tribute to the formative years of one of rock's more neglected pioneers, and it's plenty of fun to boot.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/30/2004
Label:
Varese Sarabande
UPC:
0030206654929
catalogNumber:
066549
Rank:
191820

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bill Haley   Primary Artist
Johnny Grande   Group Member
Marshall Lytle   Group Member
Billy Williamson   Group Member

Technical Credits

Harry "Fats" Crafton   Composer
Bill Haley   Arranger,Composer
Sy Oliver   Composer
Jackie Brenston   Composer
Mack Gordon   Composer
Harry Warren   Composer
Billy Williamson   Composer
Bill Dahl   Liner Notes
Doc Bagby   Composer
William McLemore   Composer
Jesse Rogers   Composer
Terry Shand   Composer
Bill Haley & His Comets   Contributor
Bill Pitzonka   Art Direction
Marty Wekser   Producer
Mickey Leader   Composer
Clay Bolland   Composer
Jim Eaton   Composer
Bickley S. Reichmer   Composer

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The Best of Bill Haley and His Comets 1951-1954 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
although most people believe rock and roll was started with it's anthem rock around the clock, Bill Haley was recording some good swingin' records like sundown boogie from 1951 to 1954. A lot of the hits on this CD were penned by haley himself, including crazy man crazy and real rock drive. Bill was born in 1925 and died in 1981.
Guest More than 1 year ago
For many artists, the public's perception of their career begins with a watershed moment. For Haley, that moment was the 1954 recording of "Rock Around the Clock," magnified by the song's re-appearance in the 1955 film "Blackboard Jungle." But also like many artists, Haley's career - nor what he was really famous for - was born in that seemingly single moment of inspiration. This collection shows off the years before the public's light bulb switched on, as Haley and His Comets transitioned from a western swing band to one of the (if not "the") earliest of rock 'n' roll acts. // Throughout the 40s Haley had made his way as a western swing artist. But when he signed with Essex Records in the early 50s, he began to cross-pollinate his country influences with beat-oriented R&B. The seeds of 1954's "Rock Around the Clock" can be heard loud and clear across the sixteen tracks anthologized here. What's particularly fine about these sides is their transitional nature - they're not country or R&B, nor are they yet fully transformed into rock 'n' roll. They're a hybrid in the making with slap bass and fine stick/rim work on the drums, but also featuring pedal steel guitar. There are danceable backbeats, but they often swing towards a western two-step rather than the more freestyle rhythms heard on the race chart. The sax and guitar clearly begin to define rock 'n' roll conventions, borrowing pieces from R&B, country and blues and fusing them into something entirely new. Danny Cedrone's iconic 6-string solo from "Rock Around the Clock," for example, was lifted from his own performance on 1952's "Rock the Joint." Imagine what that sounded like on Alan Freed's Cleveland radio show at the time! // Haley was unfairly reduced to a footnote for many years, obscured by the large shadows of Berry, Presley and others. What these tracks show ever so clearly is that he was fusing country and R&B into rock 'n' roll before the other "founders" were on the scene. So too was he writing prototypical rock 'n' roll songs, leaning on teen slang for "Crazy, Man, Crazy" and delving into his own imagination for "Rockin' Chair on the Moon." // This is a most welcome release in celebration of Rock 'n' Roll's 50th anniversary!