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Best of Bill Haley 1951-1954


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Audio CD, March 30, 2004
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Best of Bill Haley 1951-1954 + The Best Of Bill Haley & His Comets: 20th Century Masters-(Millennium Collection)
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 30, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Varese Sarabande
  • ASIN: B0001MZ7SW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,521 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Rocket 88
2. Green Tree Boogie
3. Sundown Boogie
4. Rock The Joint
5. Dance With A Dolly
6. Rockin' Chair On The Moon
7. Stop Beatin' Round The Mulberry Bush
8. Real Rock Drive
9. Crazy Man, Crazy
10. What'cha Gonna Do?
11. Pat-A-Cake
12. Fractured
13. Live It Up
14. Farewell, So Long, Goodbye
15. I'll Be True
16. Ten Little Indians
17. Chattanooga Choo Choo
18. Yes Indeed!

Editorial Reviews

18 tracks from Bill and the Comets' early recordings for Essex Records, where they scored arguably the first rock 'n' roll hit ever, Crazy, Man, Crazy !

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Daniel J. Hamlow HALL OF FAME on June 23, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Before Bill Haley began rocking around the clock tonight, he released singles with his group the Saddlemen. So what to call this new brand of music? Western swing mixed with polka? A fusion of country-western and 40's R&B set to a steady beat? Country boogie? Call it what you will, but this collection consists of A and B-sides of his singles on Holiday and later Essex Records, which veers closely to his later chart-toppers.
Clearly, Haley saw this R&B style music as his fugure, given by his own cover of Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88", which is considered by some to be the first R&R song and not "Rock Around the Clock," and Jimmy Preston's #6 R&B hit, "Rock This Joint," both included here. The latter definitely predicts his later style, with some piercing steel guitar reflecting the country roots, but it was also the song Alan Freed played over and over and yelling "rock and roll, everybody!" on the King of the Moondogs show.
Songs like "Green Tree Boogie" would have rhythms repeated in their later material as well as stuff done by Little Richard but more raucously. The steel guitar and loudly pronounced bass enhances the beat. The brisk "Dance With A Dolly" sounds like early Louis Jordan material, especially with the piano boogie solo in the middle, with a kind of nursery rhyme-like beat.
One day, Bill Haley asked some kids how they liked his music. One responded, "crazy man, crazy," which Haley wrote down on a napkin. This standout song which reached #12 on the charts in 1953, was the first blip he made before he exploded with "Rock Around The Clock.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 17, 2005
Format: Audio CD
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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By hyperbolium on April 29, 2004
Format: Audio CD
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!
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