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Monday, September 5, 2011

Bill Haley: Rockin' The Oldies


1) The Dipsy Doodle; 2) You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming; 3) Apple Blossom Time; 4) Moon Over Miami; 5) Is It True What They Say About Dixie?; 6) Carolina In The Morning; 7) Miss You; 8) Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone; 9) Ain't Misbehavin'; 10) One Sweet Letter From You; 11) I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter; 12) Somebody Else Is Taking My Place.

Conceptual! This might not have been the very first time that The Comets tried to mine the gol­den oldies territory for inspiration, but it certainly was the very first time they — or, for that mat­ter, anybody, gaining the band an extra point for innovation — attempted to «rock the oldies» over the course of an entire LP. Twelve rusty old standarts from the Songbook here, dusted off and polished late Fifties style, for your pleasure and mine.

Overall, it is not the finest moment in Bill Haley's story. The album yielded no hits (although 'The Dipsy Doodle' was released as a single): teen fans must not have been particularly happy about dancing to all these titles they knew (and abhorred) from their parents' records, and the parents, predictably, would not be thrilled to hear their old favorites transformed into the Devil's music. If the original idea was to offer some sort of a compromise, it was doomed from the start. But now, in retrospect, when titles like 'Apple Blossom Time' and 'Carolina In The Morning' no longer pro­voke the kind of allergies that they used to, and Bill Haley's brand of rock'n'roll is, in itself, an an­tique as quaint as the swing movement that it was meant to replace, Rockin' The Oldies is, once again, a fun, and instructive, thing to behold.

With The Comets in top instrumental form, and all the standards revved up properly, these songs are hardly that much worse than the band's original hits. It is true that most of them get very simi­lar arrangements, the original melodies are drastically simplified, and the overall atmosphere is too lightweight even for Haley's standards. The one true rocking number on the record is not even 'Dipsy Doodle', it is the even faster 'You Can't Stop Me From Dreaming', depending for its life on Beecher's one-note guitar «shots» and boogie solos. All the other oldies do seem to be «rocked» indeed, but that doesn't really make them rock, if you know what I mean. Some of this is quite si­milar in tone and mood to Carl Perkins' early brand of country-bop, except that The Comets are far more fluent and professional than Carl's backing band. Forgettable overall, but, like I said, a fairly interesting, non-trivial move at the time.

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