Off Topic Messages

Bill Haley & the Comets cds

Tue Apr 11, 2006 6:21 pm

The recent Rock Around The Clock thread has reminded me that I'm long overdue to get some Haley/Comets stuff. I've done some homework on allmusicguide and I'm leaning towards getting Rock This Joint (a compilation of 51-54 material) and From The Original Master Tapes (the Decca hits). I'm not interested in exhaustive, pricey box sets and figure these 2 sets will cover the big picture. Am I right, or are there better collections?

Tue Apr 11, 2006 7:23 pm

Buy "From the Original Master Tapes" The cd was mastered by Steve Hoffman and the sound is amazing. Highly recommended. Unfortunately it's out-of-print but you can find it cheap used on ebay or Amazon Marketplace.

Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:04 pm

Pete -

Reference the thread header, not to be pedantic, but the group were actually billed as: Bill Haley & His Comets.

Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:16 pm

There are a couple of box sets on the bear family label for the hardcore collector, that must sound good too.

Javier

Wed Apr 12, 2006 12:10 am

Claus wrote:Buy "From the Original Master Tapes" The cd was mastered by Steve Hoffman and the sound is amazing. Highly recommended. Unfortunately it's out-of-print but you can find it cheap used on ebay or Amazon Marketplace.

I'm not a fan of Bill Haley & His Comets but this CD actually sounds terrific. It's worth having just for this reason. Together with his Buddy Holly "Mastertapes"-CD this is the role model for what people like Kevan Budd and Sebastian Jeansson are doing toray - but then again it's twenty years old and a brilliant proofe for what can be achieved by using PCM when you have the best source available, the eqpuipment and the knowledge.

Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:33 am

Varese has a nice collection of Haley's early stuff that is fairly easy to get. It's just called "Best of". His Decca stuff is available really cheap on the Millenium Collection and on a reprint of his album "Rock Around the Clock" which came about a year or so ago. Both of these albums can be had for under $10 in many outlets. "Rock Around the Clock" has a few more titles so it may be a better buy. Also, the best of his stuff is often anthologized on multi-artists comps if you're not willing to go whole hog. Make sure you're getting original masters as Haley did re-records. Still, the Varese stuff, the Schoolkids album and the Decca stuff are all the real deal.

Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:36 pm

I went on ahead and ordered the 2 cds I mentioned in my first post. But thanks for everyone's input. In about a week I'll be jump-jivin' with the rest of you Haley hepcats!

Fri Apr 21, 2006 4:24 pm

I've received the 2 Haley/Comets cd's, and I've listened to them repeatedly over the past several days. I'm extremely impressed! I was familiar with some of the Decca hits, but I never realized what a great band the comets were. They must have been an outstanding show band. And although Haley didn't possess Elvis' vocal color and passion, he was by no means a slouch or a Pat Boone fish-out-of-water when it came to singing this r&b based music.

But it's the pre-Rock Around The Clock material that is the biggest revelation for me. As early as 1951 Bill Haley recorded tunes with a musical synthesis of r&b, jump blues, boogie-woogie, and country swing that is for all practical purposes rock & roll. He covered the r&b tune Rocket 88 (considered by many the first rock & roll performance in Jackie Brenston's version) in '51. There is also a number called Whatcha Gonna Do that opens with "Well it's one for the money, two for the show," and is clearly the template for Perkin's Blue Suede Shoes. Other primitive rock & roll tracks are Green Tree Boogie; Sundown Boogie; and the great Rock This Joint. Most surprising to me is that Haley sings some of these tunes with a raucous edge to his voice.

I can now understand why guys like Colin and Maurice are so quick to defend Haley when he comes up on this mb. He may not have invented rock & roll, but he can (and should) be considered the architect of the musical synthesis that became rock & roll. He did it first! It's an injustice that he is hardly even remembered, let alone spoken of in the same breath as Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, and Jerry Lee Lewis.

Granted he was a bit of a one trick pony as far as rock & roll, but he and the Comets did that trick extremely well, and Haley did it before anyone else!

Thanks for rock & roll Bill.

Fri Apr 21, 2006 4:41 pm

Pete Dube wrote:I can now understand why guys like Colin and Maurice are so quick to defend Haley when he comes up on this mb.
He may not have invented rock & roll, but he can (and should) be considered the architect of the musical synthesis that became rock & roll.
He did it first!
Granted he was a bit of a one trick pony as far as rock & roll, but he and the Comets did that trick extremely well, and Haley did it before anyone else!
Thanks for rock & roll Bill.


Why thanks for the mention, Pete !

So nice to hear someone from 'after-the-event' giving Bill his due !

And yes, before Elvis, Bill ruled in the world of rock 'n' roll !

I always refer to Bill as an early r 'n' r pioneer, who first brought the new music to the attention of the masses and made it popular.

He soon lost his crown to the younger, better-looking, sexier, more-charismatic southern boy, but just for a while there...............

A fall from grace has seldom been so fast or so far !

Sat Apr 22, 2006 12:05 am

Colin -
When I listened to the cd's I kept thinking how 1rst generation rock & roll fans like yourself must've been knocked out at the time by this new music. But this brings up a question. In the U.K. was there a strong rhythm & blues tradition prior to the arrival of rock & roll as there was here?

Sat Apr 22, 2006 12:51 am

Pete Dube wrote:In the U.K. was there a strong rhythm & blues tradition prior to the arrival of rock & roll as there was here?


Well, I was only a lad then !

From my memory, most singers were 'featured vocalists' in big bands.

Everything was kinda MOR easy-listening stuff.

The Ted Heath Big Band, Dickie Valentine, Lita Roza, Rosemary Clooney, Perry Como, Alma Cogan, Guy Mitchell, The Stargazers are some of the names that come to mind.

The most 'exciting' act around was good old Johnnie Ray !

R 'n' R came like bolt out of the blue !

Sun Apr 23, 2006 5:47 am

Ahhhhhhhhhh..........Colin.

You should count yourself very fortunate to be there when it all started. A golden era indeed, and probably won't ever be repeated !

Sun Apr 23, 2006 11:07 am

Pete- I think the main reason he is not listed with Berry, Richard, Elvis etc. is that so few performers took him as their model. You can hear Chuck Berry chord progressions in rock songs throughout the era. Stars like Ricky Nelson, Gene Vincent etc based their entire sounds on Elvis. Otis Redding used Little Richad as his model and acts like the Beatles emulated his screams in their sound. That just isn't there for Haley. And if you look at the rock and roll that came out of the '50s it's not his sound.

And as you know from previous posts I simply do not believe that he was as talented as even a second tier performer like Vincent. There's not enough aggression, not enough sex, not enough speed, not enough personality. Gene Vincent for instance even though so much of his style was modelled on Elvis was into his own thing- more incoherent, more primitive, more tasteless than Elvis.

That being said he did make music that deserves to be heard and he most certainly deserves credit for seeking out a country R&B synthesis years before it became the vogue.

BTW- There's a new book out on Fats Domino who I believe is the 50s rocker who gets the most undeserved short-shrift.

Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:41 pm

likethebike wrote: [about Bill Haley]..... I simply do not believe that he was as talented as even a second tier performer like Vincent. There's not enough aggression, not enough sex, not enough speed, not enough personality.


You're right on every point !

But when r 'n' r first hit us [late '55/early '56 in the UK] Bill was all there was !

We soon wised up as to his many faults [which you list] and moved on.

But his star really shone brightly for a short while !