“Rock With Bill Haley And The Comets” by Bill Haley and his Comets - album review

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TJR says

“We're gonna tear down the mailbox, rip up the floors, Smash out the windows and knock down the doors, We're gonna rock, rock this joint, We're gonna rock, rock this joint, We're gonna rock, rock this joint, We're gonna rock this joint tonight”. So starts the world’s first ever Rock n Roll LP! Mind you, if Bill Haley had his way it wouldn’t exist at all. The LP, compiling his single sides from 1952 to 1953, was issued by Essex in 1954; disappointed at losing his star group to Decca, label-boss Dave miller was out to soften the financial blow. Haley would later react by attempting to put legal blocks in the way of further distribution of material which, in his eyes, would only serve to confuse buyers and dilute sales of the new recordings.

Double bass player Marshall Lytle recalled the night DJ Allen Freed played the album’s opening tune back in 1952. He and his bandmates were there in Freed’s Cleveland studio specifically to promote “Rock the Joint”. The DJ left the mike open during the song, and began pounding on the table and screaming “rock n roll, rock n roll” for all his radio listeners to hear. Lytle tells: “After it ended the people kept calling up and saying, 'Will you play that rock n roll song again?' He played it 12 times. That's the night rock n roll was invented.” As a popular phrase in the nation’s consciousness, there is a truth in there.

They might not have invented Rock n Roll but they played an important role in fusing western swing and rhythm n blues with a tougher backbeat and a bit of pzazz. And they were a band of many firsts. “Crazy Man, Crazy” entered the American Billboard chart on 23rd May 1953 and reached No. 12, becoming the first song generally recognised as rock and roll to be a pop hit. This was also Haley's first national success and his first major success with an original song (prior to this he had had regional success with cover versions of “Rocket 88” and “Rock the Joint”). In the summer, the song became the first rock and roll song to be heard on national television in the United States when it was used on the soundtrack of “Glory in the Flower”, an instalment of the CBS anthology series, “Omnibus”. This live production featured James Dean and was a predecessor to his later “Rebel Without a Cause”. The Paley Center for Media maintains a copy of this production in its archives.

Bill Haley’s gang were solid, reliable purveyors of the exciting new genre and this was terrific Saturday night party music for teenagers lookin’ for a good time: “Live It Up! Live It Up! Live It Up! Live It Up! No Room For The Blues At All” was the upbeat message at all times. The playing and the production was smooth, crisp and powerful – it’s easy to hear why they were considered one of the best in the biz. Marshall Lytle’s slappy, percussive bass was so rhythmic that they could afford to perform without drums on three of these numbers, whilst Danny Cedrone on lead guitar provided some of the most memorable licks this side of Chuck Berry.

Shakin’ and a quakin’, rompin’ and a stompin’, Bill’s gang in 52-53 were laying down a credible template – and Gene Vincent’s boys were definitely listening in. My only criticism would be of their tendency to play around with those blasted nursery rhymes for two minutes at a time. Why on earth they thought that would be a cool thing to do is beyond me. It’s these little things can make the difference between a decent debut album and a really good one…

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Oct-2015


A1 [02:13] 7.2.png Bill Haley with The Saddlemen - Rock The Joint [single version '52] (Harry Crafton, Wendell Keane, Harry Bagby) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
A2 [02:53] 6.0.png Bill Haley with The Saddlemen - Rocking Chair On The Moon (Bill Haley, Harry Broomall) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
A3 [02:18] 6.1.png Bill Haley and Haley's Comets - Farewell, So Long, Goodbye (Bill Haley) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
A4 [02:20] 7.3.png Bill Haley and Haley's Comets - Real Rock Drive (Bill Haley) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
A5 [02:11] 6.7.png Bill Haley and Haley's Comets - Fractured (Bill Haley, Marshall Lytle) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
A6 [02:25] 5.4.png Bill Haley and Haley's Comets - Stop Beatin’ Round The Mulberry Bush (Bickley Reichner, Clay Boland) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
B1 [02:40] 6.8.png Bill Haley and Haley's Comets - Crazy Man, Crazy (Bill Haley) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
B2 [02:20] 5.7.png Bill Haley and Haley's Comets - Pat-A-Cake (Billy Williamson, Bill Haley) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
B3 [02:53] 6.8.png Bill Haley and Haley's Comets - Live It Up! (Bill Haley) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
B4 [02:30] 6.5.png Bill Haley and Haley's Comets - Whatcha Gonna Do (Bill Haley) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
B5 [02:04] 7.0.png Bill Haley and his Comets - I’ll Be True (William McLemore) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly
B6 [02:34] 5.8.png Bill Haley with The Saddlemen - Dance With A Dolly (With A Hole In Her Stockin’) (Terry Shand, Jimmy Eaton, Mickey Leader) Rock n Roll / Rockabilly




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