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Monday, August 29, 2011

Bill Haley: Rock'n'Roll Stage Show


BILL HALEY: ROCK'N'ROLL STAGE SHOW (1956)

1) Calling All Comets; 2) Rockin' Thru The Rye; 3) A Rockin' Little Tune; 4) Hide And Seek; 5) Hey Then, There Now; 6) Goofin' Around; 7) Hook, Line And Sinker; 8) Rudy's Rock; 9) Choo Choo Ch'Boogie; 10) Blue Comet Blues; 11) Hot Dog Buddy Buddy; 12) Tonight's The Night.

This one puts together a few more singles, but also adds some LP-only tracks, a first for Bill. In addition, to reflect the burgeoning democratic spirit, the emphasis is more on The Comets than on Bill Haley. A few of the numbers are complete instrumentals, and plenty of lead vocal time is gi­ven to guitarists Franny Beecher and Billy Williamson, so that Bill himself only handles the lead on four numbers in toto.

Of these, 'Rockin' Thru The Rye' is the obvious highlight, not least because it is the first attempt to adapt a classic old bit of poetry to the newly emerged rockabilly genre — Robert Burns' 'Co­min' Thro' The Rye' is given an unexpected twist, but, since the latter had originally been written in the style of a party folk tune, it would make perfect sense to adapt it to contemporary folk va­lues, and the band does fine, placing another early rockabilly classic under their belt.

Some of the new tunes sound a little silly and hoedown-ish (even in 1956, it would be a little dis­tasteful to start a song called 'A Rockin' Little Tune' with the sound of an accordeon, no matter how well played). But in general, the instrumentals are fine. Rudy Pompilli's sax has rarely ven­tured on a wilder spree than on 'Calling All Comets', and it sounds particularly delicious when punctuated by wild-west-style twang-twangs from Beecher's guitar. Beecher himself gets to rip it up on 'Goofin' Around', playing sped-up jazzy licks like a maniac schoolboy (presaging a similar, if much more progressive, attitude from Ten Years After's Alvin Lee), and on 'Blue Comet Blues', one of those compositions that lies at the foundations of «blues rock» as a genre, even if no one would probably remember this, what with «blues rock» always being associated with the likes of John Mayall and Canned Heat.

Overall, this LP does not pack nearly as much punch as its predecessor — mostly due to the fact of already incorporating bits of the «early LP spirit», which presupposed and demanded a certain amount of filler — but the material shows that the band was still moving forward, all excited about these new sonic perspectives and dying to try out different approaches, even if not all of them seemed to work. Still an essential listen for anyone who takes 1950s pop music seriously — thumbs up without a single doubt.

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