BILL HALEY: HALEY'S JUKE BOX (1960)
1) Singing The Blues; 2) Candy Kisses; 3) No Letter Today; 4) This Is The Thanks I Get; 5) Bouquet Of Roses; 6) There's A New Moon Over My Shoulder; 7) Cold Cold Heart; 8) The Wild Side Of Life; 9) Anytime; 10) Afraid; 11) I Don't Hurt Anymore; 12) Detour.
Perhaps they thought the move would be fresh — go back to the old country roots, but still making use of their rockabilly experience, not to mention advances in recording and producing technology. But the country-western market, although far from «dead» in 1960 (the day the market for country-western dies is when they cut off electricity support for everything south of the Mason-Dixon line), had closed for Haley five years earlier, and since he never was that big a fixture on it in the first place, the commercial strategy behind this venture remains fuzzy. Perhaps — who knows? — it was simply a nostalgia fit on Bill's part. After all, the man loved country-western, as hard as it is to believe for us slick city dwellers who might think that, once you have turned your back on cowboy music, you can only return to it at gunpoint.
Anyway, there are two good points about this record. First, not all of these tunes suck. Some are taken at fast tempos, reminding the forgetful that country-western does indeed lie at the heart of rockabilly; and some have been chosen from the limited tasteful sectors of the pool, e. g. 'Cold Cold Heart', which is, after all, Hank Williams, and thus somewhat exempt from contempt. Second, the Comets are still a well-oiled band that has not lost its brawny energy behind all the seasoned professionalism, and they give these tunes all they've got. Predictably, the show is very much stolen away by Billy Williamson, the steel guitarist, but on the uptempo numbers they also find plenty of space for Beecher and Pompilli's solos.
However, the only song that I could see making it onto a best-of collection is Paul Westmoreland's 'Detour': fast, singalong-ish, distinguished by a great soloing duet between Williamson and Beecher, where the first one plays an almost psychedelic pedal steel part, and the latter swiftly undercuts it with sharp boogie-woogie licks. A fabulous performance, unfortunately, buried at the end of an album that, overall, made no impression on anyone — and, unsurprisingly, heralded the end of Haley's short and sweet relationship with Warner Bros., and, subsequently, a swift drift towards total oblivion.