Rock Around The Clock (2004 Reissue)

Bill Haley & The Comets

Geffen, 2004


REVIEW BY: David Bowling


Many music historians consider Rock Around The Clock the first rock & roll album and its title track the first true rock song. “Rock Around The Clock” was recorded April 12, 1954 and only made a minor dent on the charts, but in 1955 this song was included on the soundtrack of the film Blackboard Jungle and became the first rock & roll hit, staying at number 1 on the pop charts for eight weeks.

In retrospect, Bill Haley may seem like an odd person to have achieved rock immortality. As frontman for a country swing band in the late 1940s, he began covering rhythm & blues hits of the day. This country and R&B fusion, complete with sax breaks, thumping stand-up bass and guitars up-front, would land Haley right in the center of the early rock & roll movement.

The infamous “Rock Around The Clock” is now over half-a-century old, but the opening line “my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 1-2-3 o’clock, 4 o’clock rock” will still catch any listener’s attention. Follow that track with “Shake, Rattle & Roll,” and you have some serious toe-tapping going on. The third song, “ABC Boogie,” contains some of the earliest guitar solos in music history, while “Two Hound Dogs” makes use of a dual sax sound that takes over and dominates the song.

Possibly the single song that would characterize Haley’s new sound best was “Birth Of The Boogie.” Here, Haley combines drums, guitars, and saxophone together into one explosive sound, and what may seem so elementary today was groundbreaking in 1954.

This Geffen label CD reissue is probably the best way to be introduced to Bill Haley’s career; it contains the original Rock Around The Clock album in order, including liner notes, as well as a short Bill Haley biography, and notes about each song. Geffen also had access to the original tapes, so the sound, in addition to being faithful to the original, is cleaned up through modern technology so it is crystal clear. Earlier Bill Haley releases, to contrast, are of inferior quality due to a mushy sound or having been re-recorded over the years, an issue that has been resolved nicely on this album.

Bonus tracks on Rock Around The Clock inclue “R-O-C-K” and “See You Later Alligator,” both up-tempo hits for Bill Haley & The Comets that fit in well with the rest of the music contained on this album.

Bill Haley established the basics of rock & roll, and within a couple of years, such artists as Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and numerous others would appropriate his groundwork and take it in directions that that could not have been guessed at in early 1955. Nevertheless, Haley quickly faded from the public eye and toured as an oldie act for the rest of his life; it would turned out that his creative vision was limited and never changed, and the Bill Haley of 1955 was still the same Bill Haley even fifteen years later.

Today, Rock Around The Clock remains as an important historical footnote in the history of rock & roll. It’s a testament to Bill Haley’s unique vision and should be required listening even fifty-plus years later.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Geffen, and is used for informational purposes only.