Rockin' the Oldies

by: Bill Haley

This wasn't a bad idea for a concept album (maybe the first in rock & roll), getting Haley to record a brace of songs dating as far back as the 1920s, but half of the songs were terrible choices played not too interestingly, and the LP's very existence also showed that as of March of 1957, Haley and his band had lost the ear of the teenage audience and had no fresh songs or ideas ready to go. This was an album that Bill Haley and the Saddlemen -- as they were known in the early '50s -- could have done in 1953, bringing their country approach to numbers like "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself a Letter)" and "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone," as well as Tommy Dorsey's 1930s hit "The Dipsy Doodle," which gets a tame but lively small-band treatment. And some of it is a waste of time and space, such as "(I'll Be With You In) Apple Blossom Time" and "Carolina in the Morning," which aren't even rescued by their respective guitar breaks. The basic problem with Rockin' the Oldies (which isn't a difficulty 50 years on, but was lethal in 1957) was it didn't rock, not like Haley's earlier LPs -- especially with the absence of Rudy Pompilli (replaced on these sessions by Frank Scott, who blows a much tamer tenor sax) -- had rocked, and not like Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly were playing rock & roll in 1957. At times it's a fun (albeit flawed) record as a country record, but nothing more than a space-filler on the discography for anyone looking for another "Rock Around the Clock" or "Shake, Rattle & Roll." ~ Bruce Eder

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.