Bill Haley

Mister Rock 'N' Roll

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The 12 songs on this album are of surprising interest, though you'd have to look hard to see why amid the plethora of latter-day Bill Haley material on the market. Later in his career, Haley cut any number of live and studio recordings, re-creating his '50s hits which have been repackaged countless times, but Mister Rock 'N' Roll is made up of a dozen of the sides that he cut for Mexico's Orfeon label during the mid-'60s, when he and his band were still arguably near their prime and before they were relegated to the oldies circuit. These tracks have also been little heard in the United States (they're not even represented on either of the two Bill Haley boxes from Bear Family Records), and completists have every reason to at least hear them. The band here is pretty solid; in addition to Haley on vocals and rhythm guitar, Frannie Beecher is present on lead guitar, Johnny Grande on accordion, Billy Williamson on steel guitar, and Rudy Pompilli on saxophone. Beecher's lead playing is always interesting and is particularly worthwhile on "ABC Boogie," where he takes off on a brief jazz flight on what is otherwise one of Haley's more lugubrious numbers. A horn section is present on a few of the tracks, but mostly not obtrusively so, and most of this record is just the band playing what amounts to a pretty tight set. The sound has been processed through the CEDAR noise-reduction system and the result is a clean CD, and one at least worth consideration by serious fans (though the ready availability of Haley's classic Decca sides makes Mister Rock 'N' Roll sort of superfluous).

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