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on November 17, 2001
The 20th Century Masters series is an excellent anthology series. The sound quality of the remastered CD is excellent. I would recommend this CD just on the remarkable sound quality. You can hear the instruments and studio sounds that were not available on the poor quality phonograph records. The musicianship of Bill Haley, who played a Gibson hollow-body electric, and Fran Beecher, the lead guitarist, is remarkable. Bill Haley the vocalist also shines on this remastered CD. You can hear that Haley was an excellent vocalist.
The songs selected to represent Haley's 1950s musical output is adequate. There could have been more selections but the series is one where only a small representative sample is chosen. FROM THE MASTER TAPES album is also excellent but that CD leaves off a Haley classic, "Skinny Minnie" (1958), Haley's last top 40 hit in the 1950s. So this CD is worth it just for the new remastered sound and the addition of "Skinny Minnie".
As noted in the liner notes, the term "rock and roll" was coined by Bill Haley in his songs "Rock-a-Beatin' Boogie", which is included on the CD, and "Two Hound Dogs", not included on this CD. Alan Freed always said that he got the term "rock and roll" from Bill Haley. "Rock Around the Clock" (1954) was the first no.1 rock and roll record. Billboard bases its charts on that event. The Rock and Roll Era began when Haley hit no.1. People forget about all this today. But more than anyone else, Bill Haley is actually the man who invented rock and roll, before Elvis Presley, before Little Richard, before Jerry Lee Lewis, before Chuck Berry, before Buddy Holly. Haley was doing it YEARS before any of them. In fact, Bill Haley had an earlier rock and roll career not even covered on this CD! In April, 1953, Bill Haley had the first rock and roll hit on the national and Billboard charts, "Crazy, man, crazy" which had all the rock and roll elements, the "go go go go" chorus, youth rebellion, going to a party, the appeal to the "younger generation", the lead guitar break, drums, all of it! The song was the first REAL rock and roll record. Haley was the first rock and roll star. He had many rock records on Holiday/Essex records before Decca. The point to remember is this: Bill Haley did not stumble into rock and roll by accident or chance or by "stealing" his stuff from others. Haley planned it all out, he had an artistic vision. In every Haley song, there is a guitar solo, sometimes a drum solo, and sax soloing. This is not by accident. With regard to Elvis Presley, the King was a close friend of Haley and was in fact an opening act for Haley. Elvis respected Haley as an innovator and pioneer, as did his other friends and associates Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley. Unfortunately, the rock critics and music fans have not been as appreciative. This is because not everything on this CD stands up well. Haley was a songwriter but he did COVERS that tended to destroy his reputation as an innovator. He didn't have a hit making machine like Little Richard at Specialty who had Bump Blackwell and John Marascalco to write songs for him. So not everything on the CD stands the test of time.
This music should be judged by its own criteria and standards. Bill Haley had a style that was different from the usual combo set up. Haley had a sax and a dance style orientation for his band. Judging his style with Elvis or Little Richard is like judging apples and oranges. Haley had his own style which was unique and remarkable. He had stuff that Elvis did not. This is therefore a unique listening experience.
This is the man who really invented rock and roll. The Rock Era began when "Rock Around the Clock" became the no.1. record for 8 weeks in 1955. Critics falsify these facts and engage in historical revision when it comes to Haley. But Haley got the last laugh. His vision endures. Rock and roll, a music idiom he invented, is still what we listen to, is still what we consider the greatest musical achievement of the 20th century. Buy this CD. You will enjoy the experience. And while only a very tiny selection of Haley's output, it gives the listener enough to appreciate the achievement of Bill Haley. Haley sang: "You gotta jump, you gotta jive, you gotta dance, to stay alive...rock...rock...rock...rock...everybody...go....go...go....go." It ain't Shakespeare, but it is rock and roll, man!
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on April 19, 2001
Nobody will ever mistake Bill Haley for Elvis Presley. In the 1950s, Presley was about 20 years younger and 50 pounds lighter than Haley, for starters.
But "Rock Around The Clock" is easily one of the greatest records ever made. Period. End of argument.
What's interesting to me is the way Haley mixed a big band sound with early rock sounds. The drums, bass and horns on this LP are straight out of Glen Miller. The deciding factor, in labeling "Rock Around The Clock" and "Shake Rattle & Roll" are Haley's throaty vocals and some hot electric guitar.
Some of the lesser known tunes here, especially "Thirteen Women" and the great "Burn That Candle," make this LP a fun listen from start to finish.
The production here is fantastic. An awful lot of these oldies repackagings are second, third and fourth generation re-recordings of the original tapes, or bad reproductions re-recorded in the mid-1970s--I have spent too much money trying to find a CD version of Chubby Checker's original "Let's Twist Again" to ever be tempted by that one again--but this is crystal clear and heavy duty hi fidelity.
Sounds just like it did when you used to spin the 45 on your Mickey Mouse Close-n-Play, sans scratches and skips.
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on July 29, 2003
What was Decca records doing that no other company could duplicate them quality-wise?? This album is unbelievably crisp and clean for the era. Compare with RCA Elvis recordings through the same period and RCA falls way behind. 'Rock Around The Clock' was my passport to Rock music and I still love it. The bass on this album is tight, sax and guitars well placed up front and centre and all in all a truly magnificient album for it's day. Good remastering by MCA. Well worth the bargain price.
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on July 10, 2000
Bill's music is great. He will always be remembered as the man who started it all, the "father of Rock'n'Roll". But to drag out only 12 songs from the archives to put on this CD is a joke. That's about 30 minutes of music. Ridiculous! 20 or 24 of his best recordings could have fitted on one CD. So don't buy this one, there are better compilations around (i.e. "From The Original Master Tapes").
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on July 4, 1999
This recording is a delight to listen to. You can dance to the music or just listen to the clear, happy voice of Bill Haley. You can understand every word.
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on October 5, 2015
I just finished listening to this CD for the 1st time today. I purchased this for the well known songs; Rock around the Clock, Shake Rattle, and Roll, and See You Later Alligator. Most of the other songs on this CD that I hadn't heard before were great also, Rudy's Rock, Skinny Minnie, and Rock a Beatin' Boogie. The Bass, and Drums are very present in the mix, and they're not buried in the mix like on a lot of old recordings. There's some great Guitar playing throughout the CD. I'm glad I purchased this CD.
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20th Century Masters: The Best Of Bill Haley & His Comets truly undervalues the contributions to the arts and music by Bill Haley & His Comets. There are pitifully few tracks on this CD even if it is a lower priced CD; this disappoints me but then again I never liked that this series always limits the track sets to eleven or so even if there's plenty of room for more music. Sigh. However, the quality of this music is high and the sound quality is also very good.

The track set starts off with what is probably the best known hit for Bill Haley & His Comets, "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock." This song really rocks especially for a `50s tune and I always love to listen to this song; there's so much positive energy going on here. Bill sings very well and the guitar work is brilliant. "Shake, Rattle And Roll" has an incredibly infectious beat that is so relentlessly happy and energetic that I can't resist loving this tune! They sing this well and the best is awesome!

"Thirteen Women (And Only One Man In Town)" follows; Bill sings this out strong without a flaw and the brass really sounds great. The percussion helps the melody along; and Bill's excellent diction bolsters his performance. "Razzle Dazzle" rocks hard and Bill Haley & His Comets never let up--this tune is electric and I dare you not to enjoy it! The backup vocals work very well for "Razzle Dazzle," too.

"The Saints Rock `N Roll" features Bill Haley & His Comets doing a very creative cover of "When The Saints Go Marching In;" but of course some of the words have been changed. However, this still is an awesome number with a great beat. The electric guitars work wonders for "The Saints Rock `N Roll." "R-O-C-K" is another hot rockin' number that proves beyond doubt that Bill Haley & His Comets were geniuses and some of the best musicians of the entire twentieth century! Good backup vocals on "R-O-C-K," too.

The CD ends with the strong hit entitled "See You Later, Alligator." "See You Later, Alligator" features all of the men singing and harmonizing very strongly. The song has an excellent beat and the music fits perfectly with the lyrics.

Overall, casual fans of Bill Haley & His Comets will be most impressed with this album. Diehard fans will want more--they may want to even consider saving up for one of those very expensive box sets that are still for sale on this website.
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on February 23, 2015
Bought this also for our friend along with Bill Haley and the Comets Rock the Joint. As I said in review for that one-he was very pleased to receive these both. Would recommend to all Bill Haley and the Comets fans.
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on September 14, 2012
BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS-THE BEST OF: He may not have had ELVIS' good looks, CHUCK BERRY's songwriting talent, or LITTLE RICHARD's explosive energy...and he certainly didn't invent rock & roll...but BILL HALEY had ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK, one of the most recognized and revered anthems of the fifties. His euphoric blend of western swing, rockabilly and "daddy-o" pop also punctuated rollicking remakes of RNB chestnuts like BOBBY CHARLES' SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR and a sanitized version of BIG JOE TURNER's ribald smash SHAKE, RATTLE & ROLL. Although HALEY tended to repeat himself (half of the dozen song titles here contain the word "ROCK") and he often skirted towards novelties like SKINNY MINNIE and THIRTEEN WOMEN (AND ONLY ONE MAN IN TOWN), the COMETS' irresistible rock-a-beatin' boogie beat...lickety split guitar work, blasting sax and group-hollered backing vocals...made every number a solid invitation to cut a rug or at least tap your foot. Unlike far too many HALEY compilations of questionable virtue, THE BEST is a solid crash course in the carefree, celebratory vibe that made early rock and roll such a crazy gas.

RATING: FOUR SPIT-CURLS
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on April 7, 2015
Rock and roll began with Bill Haley and the Comets, and all their hits are here! This is not just great music but also a piece of American history. Well worth a listen. Tracks are the original recordings and remastered to sound great. I highly recommend this CD.
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