The Best of Bill Haley and His Comets, Bill Haley and The Comets, MCA Records, 1999
I want to take you to back to the Stone Age of communications in the 1950’s. In those days there was a thing called a transistor radio. For those who do not know what this is it was a small battery-powered radio that you could fit in your shirt or pants pocket or for girls- a purse or some such bag. No, no downloading then, sorry. Why do I need to mention this as a prelude to discussing Bill Haley? Well, let us keep this quiet, okay. Bill and his Comets could be listened to on that little radio. No big deal, you say. Fair enough.
But what if I told you that he played Rock and Roll music and that such music was the ‘devils work’ in many households. And what if I told you that this ‘devil’s work’ was much easier to listen too if you had one of those little transistors that could be hidden away from snooping parents. And this was not in some “Iron Curtain” country but right here in America. Now you get the drift. Some, including this writer, may say that America has since gone to the dogs but, hell; it was great music to listen to after hearing the likes of Patti Page singing about How Much Was That Doggie In The Window.
Bill Haley actually represented something of a transition into Rock and Roll. He had a regular standard band of the day with a big ‘sax’ sound and all. He and his Comets were all dressed up for the country club youth dance or school dance so mother and father would certainly have approved of such nice young men. Then they came out with the jump Rock Around The Clock at you. Then covered Big Joe Turner’s classic Shake, Rattle and Roll (better than Elvis, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee by the way). Take a breather with a little Mambo-type ditty to take advantage of the then current craze. Then back to the sneakily sensuous Skinny Minnie. And close out with a rock classic like See You Later, Alligator. Yes, this was maybe not the very best that Rock and Roll had to offer but these guys were serious. Just make sure to get some batteries for those little radios and things will be fine.