Bill Haley Essex and Decca Discography

Bill Haley's Essex and Decca Records period covers 1952-1959 (1951 if you count Essex' "Rocket 88" b/w "Green Tree Boogie" single, which was a reissue of tracks originally released with Holiday Records). Although the best-known Haley material is concentrated in the 1952-1955 period, the later Decca period is interesting as well, especially for the four theme albums, which are: Rocklin' the Oldies (1957), Rockin' Around the World (1958), Bill Haley's Chicks (1959), and Strictly Instrumental (also 1959). We have reviews of all of the Haley LP's here, including the four theme LP's.

This discography avoids compilation and reissue albums, and focuses on the original albums, singles, and sessions to 1) keep things simple and easy to understand, and 2) allow the music to tell its own story. The annotations are here to help you follow what happened and familiarize yourself with the songs as you go.

We also add mentions of some home demos, some 1964 Decca singles that were part of a failed Bill Haley comeback, and some recordings for the German film Hier Bin Ich, Hier Bleib Ich (1958) that were from the Decca period but not recorded with Decca.

All of the material here is available on CD. The "Available on" column will let you know what songs are available on what compilations, and the compilaitons themselves are discussed in depth in our advice article "Collecting Bill Haley." They are as follows:

BO – The Best of Bill Haley and His Comets, 1951-1954 (Essex material)
RC – Rock Around the Clock remaster
BR – Bill Rocks
VB – The Very Best of Bill Haley
UC – The Ultimate Collection
PB – Proper box (From Western Swing to Rock)
BF – Bear Family Box (The Decca Years and More)

(Update June 3, 2017: In the years since we compiled this discography in 2011, international [non-US] copyright laws put pre-1962 music in the public domain, which has led to a flood of reissues that made much of the material in this discography even more widely available. Real Gone Music UK, for example, released a budget compilation entitled 7 Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles that reissued the four Decca theme albums in their entirety. We hope to bring some updates to the CD availabilty of the Bill Haley discography in time, as the songs in this discography are far more widely available today.)

The sources used to compile this discography were Chris Gardner’s Comprehensive Bill Haley Discography, the Haley discography at Rockin' Country Style, and the booklet in The Decca Years and More Bear Family box; big thanks to all these folks for documenting the Haley discography as obsessively was they did.

—Bill Haley on Essex Records—



Serial No.



Release Date

Available on:

“Icy Heart” b/w “Rock the Joint”



c. 3-1952



“Rock the Joint” was a cover of the 1948 jump blues hit by Jimmy Preston.  Haley’s version is important in that it actually had an important role on how “Rock n’ Roll” got its name.  Here the story according to original Comets’ bass player Marshall Lytle:

"I was there when (disc jockey) Alan Freed coined the phrase 'rock'n'roll,'" [Comets’ bass player Marshall Lytle] says. It was 1952 and the Comets were in Cleveland to promote "Rock the Joint" on Freed's show." The seminal verse went:

We're gonna tear down the mailbox, rip up the floors / Smash out the windows and knock down the doors / We're gonna rock, rock this joint / We're gonna rock, rock this joint / We're gonna rock, rock this joint / We're gonna rock this joint tonight.

Lytle says Freed, who had left the studio mike open during the song, began pounding on the table and screaming "rock'n'roll, rock'n'roll" for all his radio listeners to hear. After it ended, he adds, "the people kept calling up and saying, 'Will you play that rock'n'roll song again?' He played it 12 times. That's the night rock'n'roll was invented." (Source:

“Rock the Joint” is very much a dry run for “Rock Around the Clock”; it's hard to miss that Haley repeated a number of things on “Rock Around the Clock” that he did originally with “Rock the Joint”.  The famous guitar solo in “Rock Around the Clock” is a note-for-note remake of the solo on this version “Rock the Joint”.   Atop that, “Rock the Joint” is in the same key, has a similar outro, and its chorus sounds a LOT like “Rock Around the Clock’s” chorus. 

“Rock the Joint” shares a couple of other odd similarities with “Rock Around the Clock”.  I’m not sure why “Rock the Joint” was a B-side at first, but “Rock Around the Clock” also started its life as a B-side.  The single “Rock the Joint” was on Haley’s first single for Essex Records; likewise, the single “Rock Around the Clock” was Haley’s first single for Decca.  

“Rock the Joint” was remade in 1957 and is the opening track of a Bill Haley album released that year called Rockin’ the Joint; see below for a more detailed write-up on that album. 

“Dance With a Dolly (With a Hole in Her Stocking)” b/w “Rockin’ Chair to the Moon”



c. 6-1952



“Stop Beatin’ Around the Mulberry Bush” b/w “Real Rock Drive”



c. 8-1952



“Crazy Man Crazy” b/w Whatcha Gonna do”



c. 3-1953



“Crazy Man Crazy” was the next break for Haley and the Comets.  Supposedly Haley asked a fan what he thought of the band’s music and he said, “Crazy, Man, Crazy”, and so Bill used that as the base material for this song.  It reached #12 on the US charts.  The plot thickens…

“Pat-A-Cake” b/w “Fractured”



c. 3-1953



“Live It Up” b/w “Farewell, So Long, Goodbye”



c. 7-1953



“I’ll Be True” b/w “Ten Little Indians”



c. 11-1953



“Yes Indeed”



c. 12-1953



 “Yes Indeed” (alternate version)



c. 12-1953



“Yes Indeed” was left in vaults for some unknown reason, but finally made it onto a single on Trans World Records released on an unknown date in 1956 (serial # TW 718), and then on a London Records LP compilation released in January 1957 (HL 8371).  An alternate take of the same song from the same session also surfaced and received an official release.

“Chattanooga Choo-Choo” b/w “Straight Jacket”



c. 1-1954



 “Jukebox Cannonball” b/w “Sundown Boogie”



c. 1-1952



This was a reissue of Holiday single 113 (originally released 2-23-1952).  When Haley left Essex and signed to Decca, Essex licensed two of the older Haley singles from his previous label, Holiday Records, and reissued them as Essex 374 and 381 Haley’s reputation as Decca continued to grow.

“Rocket ‘88’” b/w “Green Tree Boogie”



A: 6-14-1951
B: c. 7-1951

c. 12-1954


This was a reissue of the A-sides of Holiday singles 105 and 108 respectively (both originally released 1951). 

“Rock the Joint” b/w “Farewell, So Long, Goodbye”



A: c. 3-1952
B: c. 7-1953



Essex 399 is a reissue of “Rock the Joint”, which was originally a B-side. This single puts "Rock the Joint" in its deserved place as an A-side, along with “Farewell, So Long, Goodbye,” which was the B-side of Essex single 332 (“Live It Up” was the A-side). 


Essex also released long-play compilations of Haley material such as For Your Dance Party and Rock with Bill Haley and His Comets.  Essex would continue to repackage and license out the Haley Essex recordings in typical “don’t let go the coattails” fashion for a long time after this.


—Bill Haley on Decca Records—



Serial No.


Release Date

Available on:

Note: All songs in Bill Haley’s Decca catalogue were recorded at the Pythian Temple in New York City, with Milt Gabler producing.

“Thirteen Women” b/w “Rock Around the Clock” 
(aka “Thirteen Women (and Only One Man in Town”) b/w “(We’re Gonna) Rock Around the Clock”)




(See below for more info)


The Shot Heard ‘Round The World. Initially, “Thirteen Women” was the A-side and “Rock Around the Clock” was the B-side of this legendary single.  It was released in May 10, 1954, and sold modestly but well.  Then, the teen movie Blackboard Jungle featured “Rock Around the Clock” in its opening credits; the movie was released in March 1955 and quickly became a hit. This inclusion in a movie and the subsequent demand for the song prompted Decca to re-release and re-promote the single, with “Rock Around the Clock” as the A-side and “Thirteen Women” as the B-side.  The song became a #1 hit in June 5, 1955 and a massive hit all over the world. Check out for the full story on “Rock Around the Clock”.

“Shake, Rattle and Roll” b/w “ABC Boogie”





A & B: RC, BR, VB, UC, PB, BF

“Dim, Dim the Lights (I Want Some Atmosphere)” (aka “Dim, Dim the Lights”) b/w “Happy Baby”






“Birth of the Boogie” b/w “Mambo Rock”





A & B: RC, BR, VB, UC, PB, BF

“Two Hound Dogs” b/w “Razzle Dazzle”





A & B: RC, BR, VB, UC, PB, BF

“Burn That Candle” b/w “Rock-a-Beatin’ Boogie”



A: 9-23-1955
B: 9-22-1955




Rock Around the Clock (1955)

12” LP: Rock Around the Clock

(Decca DL 8225, released 12-19-1955)


Track List:
1. Rock Around the Clock
2. Shake, Rattle, and Roll
3. ABC Boogie
4. Thirteen Women
5. Razzle-Dazzle
6. Two Hound Dogs

7. Dim, Dim the Lights 
8. Happy Baby
9. Birth of the Boogie
10. Mambo Rock 
11. Burn the Candle
12. Rock-a-Beatin’ Boogie

2004 CD Remaster Bonus Tracks:

13: R-O-C-K
14: The Saints Rock ‘n’ Roll
15: See You Later, Alligator


See 45 listings for recording and availability information.


This 12” LP collects the first six singles in one place. 

The 2004 CD remaster of this LP is a great intro to Bill Haley, and comes highly recommended as a starting point for getting into the world of Bill Haley. The 2004 CD remaster adds “See You Later, Alligator” and then both sides of the next single, “R-O-C-K” b/w “The Saints Rock ‘n’ Roll”, as bonus tracks. “See You Later Alligator” was, at the time of the original LP’s release, a non-LP single that was released later in the month (December 31, 1955 to be exact). It would be released later on an LP entitled Rockin’ the Joint. 

“See You Later, Alligator” b/w “The Paper Boy (From Main Street USA)”






“R-O-C-K” b/w “The Saints Rock ‘n’ Roll”



A: 9-22-1955
B: 9-23-1955


A & B: RC, BR, VB, UC, BF

Initially a non-LP single. “The Saints Rock and Roll” was later reissued on the LP Rockin’ the Joint.

“Hot Dog Buddy Buddy” b/w “Rockin Through the Rye”





A & B: BR, VB, UC, PB, BF

“Rip It Up” b/w “Teenager’s Mother”






Initially a non-LP single. “Rip It Up” was also reissued on the LP Rockin’ the Joint.

“Rip It Up” (take without overdubbed handclaps)







Rock 'N Roll Stage Show (1956)

12” LP: Rock n’ Roll Stage Show

(Decca DL 8345, released 8-13-1956)


Track List:
1. Calling All Comets**
2. Rockin' Thru the Rye†
3. A Rockin' Little Tune
4. Hide and Seek*
5. Hey Then, There Now*
6. Goofin' Around*

 7. Hook, Line and Sinker*
8. Rudy's Rock*
9. Choo Choo Ch'Boogie**
10. Blue Comet Blues**
11. Hot Dog Buddy Buddy†
12. Tonight's the Night*

* Recorded 3-23-1956
** Recorded 3-27-1956
† Recorded 3-30-1956

Italics denote LP-only song.

“Hot Dog Buddy Buddy” and “Rockin Through the Rye” released as Decca single 29948
“Rudy’s Rock” and “Blue Comet Blues” released as Decca single 30085
“Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” released as B-side to non-LP single “Don’t Knock the Rock”; released as Decca single 30148
“Hook, Line, and Sinker” released as B-side to the (at the time) non-LP single “Forty Cups of Coffee”; released as Decca single 30214


“Rudy’s Rock”, “Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie”, “Hot Dog Buddy Buddy” on BR, VB, UC, PB, BF
“Calling All Comets”, “Rockin’ Through the Rye”, and “Hook, Line, and Sinker” on VB, UC, PB, BF
“A Rockin’ Little Tune” on VB, UC, BF
“Hide and Seek” on VB, PB, BF
“Goofin’ Around” and “Blue Comet Blues” on UC, PB, BF
“Hey Then There Now” on PB, BF
“Tonight’s the Night” on BF


We start getting into LP-only material here.  The album cover and title suggest that this is going to be a live album, but it’s not.  It was released right around the time the movie Don’t Knock the Rock came out, and features four of the songs that were featured in that movie ("Hot Dog Buddy Buddy", "Goofin' Around", "Hook, Line And Sinker", and "Calling All Comets").  The songs are a pretty even mixture of instrumentals, songs with Haley on vocals, and songs with the other band members on vocals.

I think the idea of this album was to get across the idea of what the set list of a live Haley concert would be like. But, if they were going do that, my thought is that they should just go ahead and release a live record.   I think it would have been a smarter move to release the album under the name “Don’t Knock the Rock” to coincide with the movie of that name, start it with “Calling All Comets” or one of the other stronger instrumentals, and then go into “Don’t Knock the Rock” and then “Hot Dog Buddy Buddy”—that would be a much stronger opening.  Why leave a track as strong as “Hot Dog Buddy Buddy” to the end of the album?  But hey, at least you get a cover of Louis Jordan’s “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie”!  (Haley recorded “Caldonia,” another Louis Jordan standard, in 1959 at the end of his “Chicks” period; that’s listed later in this discography.)

My two favorite tunes on here are the two that Haley doesn’t sing on, which are “Hide and Seek” and “Hey, Then, There, Now.”  I like them because they add some variety and they’re both catchy and fun to dance to.  “Hide and Seek” features The Comets’ steel guitar player Billy Williamson on lead vocal.  “Hey, Then, There, Now” hearkens back to the swing era strongly in the way the song sounds, and also because it has three-part vocal group harmonies. 

“Tonight’s the Night” is a third song featuring vocals from the band instead of Bill Haley.  It has a mixture of the qualities of both of the former songs.  It has gang vocals that veer into three-part harmonies briefly, with a little singing from Billy Williamson thrown in. It’s another nice tune that adds a little variation.

“Rudy’s Rock” b/w “Blue Comet Blues”



A: 3-23-1956
B: 3-27-1956



“Don’t Knock the Rock” b/w “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie”



A: 10-4-1956
B: 3-23-1956


A & B: UC, VB, BR

“Don’t Knock the Rock” (take without overdubbed handclaps)






 “Don’t Knock the Rock” is title track of Columbia B-movie Don’t Knock the Rock, which was released in 1956 and features Bill Haley and the Comets in the cast.   Other Haley songs that appeared in the movie were "Hot Dog Buddy Buddy", "Goofin' Around", "Hook, Line And Sinker", "Calling All Comets," and "Rip It Up". 

“Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” (Louis Jordan cover) was previously released on the LP Rock n’ Roll Stage Show (1957).  The version of “Don’t Knock the Rock” without the handclaps was a vault find that Bear Family graciously included in the Decca Years and More box set.

“Forty Cups of Coffee” b/w “Hook, Line, and Sinker”



A: 10-4-1956
B: 3-27-1956



Initially non-LP A-side; “Forty Cups of Coffee” was reissued on the LP Rockin’ the Joint. “Hook, Line, and Sinker” was previously released on the LP Rock n’ Roll Stage Show (1957).

“(You Hit The Wrong Note) Billy Goat” b/w “Rockin’ Rollin’ Rover”





A & B: UC, BF

“Miss You” b/w “The Dipsy Doodle”



A: 3-22-1957
B: 3-29-1957


A & B: BF

Rockin' The Oldies (1957)


12” LP: Rockin’ the “Oldies”!

(Decca DL 8569, released 8-12-1957)


Track List:
1. The Dipsy Doodle †
2. You Can't Stop Me from Dreaming **
3. Apple Blossom Time ††
4. Moon Over Miami ††
5. Is it True What They Say About Dixie?
6. Carolina in the Morning

 7. Miss You *
8. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone **
9. Ain't Misbehavin'
10. One Sweet Letter from You ††
11. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter **
12. Somebody Else is Taking My Place ††


Italics denote LP-only song.


* Recorded 3-22-1957
** Recorded 3-25-1957
† Recorded 3-29-1957
†† Recorded 4-3-1957

“Miss You” and “The Dipsy Doodle” released as Decca single 30394


All songs only available on BF


The first of Haley’s four theme albums for Decca, Rockin’ the Oldies attempts to do rock and roll style updates of older pop tunes from country, 1920’s jazz, and 1930’s and 1940’s pop, swing and big band.  The results vary, but overall they are just “there”; not terrible, and not great either.

I really love the cover of this album, with the hep 1957 jive dancer swaggering up to the little 1923 flapper girl to ask for a dance.  It’s all at once like a time machine and an open invitation to be part of the gang ala Gary Glitter’s “I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am)” (British natives will get that reference pretty quick).  This open, “Do you wanna be in my gang?” invitation is a thread that plays throughout Bill Haley’s material from the time, and the cover of Rockin’ the Oldies fits this theme very well.  It runs counter to early rock and roll’s general no-grownups-allowed teen “clubhouse” attitude that you would see in places like the American International Beach Party movies, for example.  Now, of course, rock and roll is such a well-absorbed pop culture phenomenon that it spans many ages in its appeal, but when you consider its time and place, this open attitude coming from a rock and roll performer is quite an anomaly, not to mention refreshing.

“Rock the Joint” (re-recording) b/w “How Many?”






Rerecording of the 1952 Essex hit “Rock the Joint”, which before that was a hit for jump blues performer Jimmy Preston on the R&B charts in 1949.  This is an attempt at revisiting his initial 1952 hit for Essex, but it flopped miserably and didn’t chart at all.   Why they didn’t also try “Crazy Man Crazy?”  Well, one could speculate that trying to get “Rock the Joint” back on the charts was a way of tying to tap into the familiarity with “Rock Around the Clock” without being too obvious about it since “Rock the Joint” and “Rock Around the Clock” sound somewhat similar. 

Whereas the original version of "Rock the Joint" still has somewhat of a Western Swing feel to it yet (complete with a steel guitar solo), the new version is all out rock and roll.  Haley’s 1952 version differs a lot from Jimmy Preston’s 1948 version, but this 1957 version is quite simply an update/improvement on Haley’s previous version.  Haley adds the outro of the Jimmy Preston version as the intro to this new version, adds a couple of new verses, changes his 1952 lyrics up slightly, and adds a completely different guitar solo where the “Rock around the Clock” solo once was.

The new “Rock the Joint’s” flip side, “How Many?” is a “Blueberry Hill”-style song with rather clever lyrics about a fella who suspects that his social-butterfly girlfriend is social in more ways than one, and is starting to wonder if he’s just another notch on her lipstick case.

With this new “Rock the Joint”, you can start to see desperation setting in.  On the African-American side of things, intense R&B acts like Chuck Berry and Little Richard were taking over with teenage audiences.  On the Caucasian side, rock and roll had moved down South and gotten harder and meaner ala rockabilly sensations like Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and that other guy from “Mumphus”. Bill Haley was already becoming a has-been and was starting to sound mellow, even though he was but two years away from firing The Shot Heard ‘Round the World that was "Rock Around the Clock."  It’s no wonder Decca thought rock and roll was going to be a fad what would last a couple of years tops, ala the Mambo craze of the period. Considering the downward spiral Bill was taking at this point, we can say that in a sense they were right.

“It’s a Sin” b/w “Mary, Mary Lou”






“It’s a Sin” was a remake of a 1947 hit by Eddy Arnold.  Haley’s version didn’t chart.  “It’s A Sin” was reissued on the LP Rockin’ the Joint; “Mary, Mary Lou” was reissued on Bill Haley’s Chicks.

“Skinny Minnie” b/w “Sway With Me”






See notes below.

“The Walkin’ Beat”






“Skinny Minnie” was Bill Haley’s last major hit.  From the Bear Family Box liner notes: “Returning to the studio in February 1958, Haley tried a real change of direction. ‘The Walkin Beat’ was withheld from release, probably because someone realized that it was plagiarized from ‘At the Hop’ and they [could get] sued.  However, ‘Skinny Minnie’ was a true departure with a guitar lick lifted from Bo Diddley.  The entire performance was delivered in a slow bluesy grind…Haley turned in his most aggressive vocal performance in years, and the song became a sizeable hit, peaking at Number 22 on the Hot 100.”  This would be the last time Haley would crack the Top 40 in America or the UK with something that wasn’t “Rock Around the Clock” related (although 1959’s “Joey’s Song” would come close at #46).

Unfortunately, instead of moving on and inventing new ideas, Haley continued to flog this idea, creating more songs named after girls.  The next “Chicks” hit for Haley would be “Lean Jean”, which would make the Hot 100 for one week before dropping off the charts.  This “Chicks” theme would soon lead to another theme album, Bill Haley’s Chicks, which would be released in 1959.  In the meantime, Decca were getting ready to unleash another theme LP that easily counts as one of the worst records of the rock and roll era.  Move over The Transformed Man, sebastian cabot, actor. bob dylan, poet., and Self Portrait, here comes…

Rockin' Around the World (1958)



12” LP: Rockin’ Around the World

(Decca DL 8692, released 3-17-1958)


Track List:
1. Pretty Alouette** (Canada)
2. Me Rock-a-Hula* (Hawaii)
3. Wooden Shoe Rock § (Holland)
4. Vive le Rock and Roll † (France)
5. Come Rock With Me †† (Italy)
6. Jamaica D.J.* (Jamaica)

7. Piccadilly Rock** (England)
8. Rockin' Matilda † (Australia)
9. Rockin' Rollin' Schnitzelbank** (Germany)
10. Rockin' Rita* (Mexico)
11. Oriental Rock § (The Middle East and East Asia)
12. El Rocko †† (South America)


* Recorded 11-11-1957
** Recorded 11-12-1957
† Recorded 11-15-1957
†† Recorded 11-19-1957
§ Recorded 11-21-1957

All songs LP only


(“Vive La Rock and Roll” was rerecorded the following year for the German film Bill Haley appeared in entitled Hier bin ich, Hier blieb ich)

All songs only available on BF


Oh, my word. Rockin’ Around the World, the second of Haley’s four theme albums for Decca Records, takes us around the world in thirty minutes with rock and roll versions of clichéd international children’s folk songs.  And after the first minute or two, you’ll be screaming, “Stop the ride, I want to get off!”  I don’t know what’s more torturous, going to Disneyland and hearing “It’s a Small World After All” ringing in your ears for the rest of the day, or listening to this embarrassing album. 

Two years prior to the release of this LP, Bill recorded a decent rock and roll take on the Irish folk song “Comin’ Through the Rye” entitled “Rockin Through the Rye” as the B-side of “Hot Dog Buddy Buddy”.  So that concept continues for two sides of a 12” LP here, and sadly, “Rockin’ Through the Rye” (which was actually pretty good) isn’t even included.  As a result, Rockin’ Around the World is evidence that you can swing (or rock) about anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be good. 

As time went by and Bill Haley became a has-been in America, he relied on his international following more and more to keep him afloat.  And after hearing Haley insult the entire world in one go on Rockin’ Around the World, it seems like a miracle that Bill’s international audience would even have him.  If you think the idea of rock and roll versions of “London Bridge is Falling Down”, “La Cucaracha”, and "Frère Jacques" sounds embarrassing, don’t worry—it is. (And yes, all of those songs get rock and roll treatments here.)  And like any classic Ed Wood movie, the album full of laughable quips like:


There was an Oriental chick
Who couldn’t get a felluh
The gal had loot and charm to boot
But man, she wasn’t melluh
– “Oriental Rock”

The tune is bad and the words are wrong
[In fake British accent] Oh, by jove, it’s a smahshing song!
– “Piccadilly Rock”

(To “London Bridge”:)
Mama, I won’t be home for tea, home for tea, home for tea
Found a chick to rock with me
Tea me later, I’m ready, crater
– “Piccadilly Rock”

(To “Frère Jacques”):
Take me dancing, take me dancing,
Si’l vous plait, si’l vous plait
Look at Brother Jacques now, rockin’ ‘round the clock now
Night and day, night and day
– “Viva La Rock and Roll”

Do they love to dance all night?
(Jah, they love to dance all night!)
To they hold their baby tight?
(Jah, they hold their baby tight!)…
Do we dig this crazy song?
(Jah, we dig this crazy song!)
Could we sing it all night long?
(Jah, we sing it all night long!)…
–“Rockin’ Rollin’ Schnitzelbank”

It’s a wacky rockeroo…
Eyah-eyah! Rrr, rrr, rrr! Uhh, uhh!
– “Me Rock-a-Hula”

Rockin’ Around the World is a great find for schlock collectors everywhere; I’m really amazed that it hasn’t made one of the volumes of Incredibly Strange Music.


“Lean Jean” b/w “Don’t Nobody Move”






As mentioned previously, this was Bill Haley’s follow-up to the Top 20 hit “Skinny Minnie”.  However, this follow-up didn’t do so well, spending one week on the charts before disappearing (it made it to #67).  The B-side, “Don’t Nobody Move”, is a fun dance song where the dancers are supposed to freeze in place when the music stops, hence the title.

Rockin' the Joint (1958)


12” LP: Rockin’ the Joint!

(Decca DL 8775, released 8-11-1958)


Track List:
1. Rock the Joint (1957 rerecording; entitled “New Rock the Joint”) §
2. Move It On Over §
3.How Many?§
4. See You Later Alligator **
5. The Beak Speaks †††
6. Forty Cups of Coffee †

7. The Saints Rock and Roll *
8. Sway with Me §§§
9. It's a Sin §§
10. Burn That Candle *
11. Rock Lomond ††
12. Rip it Up ***

* Recorded 9-23-1955
** Recorded 12-12-1955
*** Recorded 7-12-1956
† Recorded 10-4-1956
†† Recorded 3-25-1957
††† Recorded 3-29-1957
§ Recorded 7-15-1957
§§ Recorded 11-19-1957
§§§ Recorded 2-6-1958


Italics denote LP-only tracks.


“(New) Rock the Joint” and “How Many?” released as single 30461
“See You Later, Alligator” released as A-side to Decca single 29791
“40 Cups of Coffee” released as A-side to Decca single 30214
“The Saints Rock and Roll” released as B-side to single “R-O-C-K” as Decca single 29870
“Sway With Me” released as B-side to single “Skinny Minnie” as Decca single 30592
“It’s a Sin” released as A-side to Decca single 30530
“Burn That Candle” released as A-side to Decca single 29713
“Rip it Up” released as A-side to Decca single 30028


“Burn That Candle” and “See You Later, Alligator” on RC, BR, VB, UC, PB, BF
“The Saints Rock and Roll” on RC, BR, VB, UC, BF
“Rip It Up” on VB, BR, UC, PB, BF
“Forty Cups of Coffee” on “BR, UC, BF
“Sway With Me” on VB, UC, BF
“(New) Rock the Joint” and “Move It On Over” on UC, BF
“How Many?”, “It’s a Sin”, and “Rock Lomond” on BF


This LP compiles a bunch of previously released singles that had not yet received an LP release with a few new songs that were unavailable elsewhere.  The new rerecording of “Rock the Joint” was the centerpiece here, obviously because the original was a previous hit that people would have been familiar with.

“Rock Lomond” is a rock and roll version of the Scottish folk song “Loch Lomond”, which was recorded during the Rockin’ the Oldies sessions (on the same day as “Apple Blossom Time”, “Moon Over Miami”, and “One Sweet Letter From You”, in fact) but left off of the album.  It’s about the same quality as “Rockin’ Through the Rye” and definitely better than everything on Rockin’ Around the World, and they left BOTH tracks off of Rockin’ Around the World in favor of tripe like “Rockin’ Rollin’ Schnitzelbank” and “Piccadilly Rock”?!  What were they thinking?

“The Beak Speaks” is a bopping mid-tempo instrumental track.  It is another Rockin’ the Oldies outtake recorded the same day as that album’s “The Dipsy Doodle”.  “Move It On Over” is a cover of the famous Hank Williams song, but done Bill Haley style; it was recorded in the same session as “(New) Rock the Joint” and “How Many?” but was only available as an album track on this record.

“Whoa, Mabel” b/w “Chiquita Linda”



A: 6-12-1958
B: 6-3-1958


A & B: BF

“Whoa, Mabel” has to be one of the fastest Bill Haley songs there are—definitely the fastest in his Decca catalogue.  “Chiquita Linda” has a fun Latin beat and it’s all instrumental except for gang vocals that shout “Chiquita Linda”.  “Chiquita Linda” would not make Bill Haley’s Chicks, but it would be reissued on the album Strictly Instrumental (see below).

“Joey’s Song (Stereo version)”


Initially unreleased


Initially unreleased


From The Bear Family box notes: “[This] session appears to be the first stereo (3-track) session for Bill Haley.  Unfortunately a lot of the stereo masters were distorted since the original tape-machine was faulty.  Other 3-tracks are lost [and they list which masters have stereo versions that appear to be lost].”  With that in mind, it’s fortunate that this stereo version of “Joey’s Song” survives at all.  This particular session yielded “Joey’s Song” (mono), “Joey’s Song” (stereo), and “Chiquita Linda”; the mono version of “Joey Song” was released as single 30956 initially in August of 1959 (over a year later) and that single is listed below in its numerical order.  “Joey’s Song” and “Chiquita Linda” would both appear on Bill’s fantastic 1959 Bachelor Pad record Strictly Instrumental, which is also listed and reviewed below.

“Corrine, Corrina” b/w “B.B. Betty”



A: 6-12-1958
B: 6-18-1958



“Corrine, Corrina” (take without overdubbed handclaps)


Initially unreleased


Initially unreleased


“Corrine, Corrina” was a Big Joe Turner cover.  Like “Rock the Joint” (which was a Jimmy Preston cover), Bill Haley really made his song this own to the point that you would never know it was a cover.  The single failed to chart.

“B.B. Betty” features band member Billy Williamson on vocal duties. Williamson sang occasionally on previous Haley tracks like the excellent “Hide and Seek” (on Rock and Roll Stage Show). His vocal adds a good bit of feisty attitude to the proceedings that was never really part of Haley’s oeuvre.  “B.B. Betty” is a twist-style song about a short, feisty fireball of a girl, and how badly the singer is smitten by her. The song uses the same humorous exaggeration “Skinny Minnie” does to get the point across.

Bill Haley's Chicks (1959)


12” LP: Bill Haley’s Chicks

(Decca DL 8821, released 1-5-1959)


Track List:
1. Whoa, Mabel! ††
2. Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider †
3. Eloise ††
4. Dinah †
5. Skinny Minnie**
6. Mary Mary Lou*

7. Sweet Sue Just You §
8. B.B. Betty §
9. Charmaine §
10. Corrine, Corrina ††
11. Marie ††
12. Lean Jean***

* Recorded 11-19-1957
** Recorded 2-6-1958
*** Recorded 2-7-1957
† Recorded 11-19-1957
†† Recorded 6-12-1958
§ Recorded 6-18-1958


Italics denote LP-only tracks.


“Mary, Mary Lou” released as B-side to single “It’s a Sin” as Decca single 30530
“Skinny Minnie” released as A-side of Decca single 30592
“Lean Jean” released as A-side of Decca single 30681
“Whoa, Mabel!” released as A-side of Decca single 30741
“Corrine, Corrina” and “B.B. Betty” released as Decca single 30781
“Charmaine” released as B-side to single “I Got a Woman” as Decca single 30844


“Skinny Minnie” is available on UC, VB, BR, BF (it’s also available on 20th Century Masters)
“Lean Jean” is available on UC, BR, BF
“Corrine, Corrina” is available on UC, BF
All other tracks only available on BF


This is the third of Bill Haley’s four theme albums. It’s all about girls, and features songs with titles named after the ladies that songs are about.  Most of the tunes are about how much Bill digs the lady namesake of the song, but “Mary Mary Lou” and “Charmaine” are about love gone wrong.  Oh well, ten out of twelve ain’t a bad run, Bill!

“Skinny Minnie” marked a creative second wind for Bill Haley and gave him a comeback hit that peaked at #22. The band mined this new stroke of luck into the ground too, although this time at least they were making inspired music that was a slight departure from the usual Bill Haley sound.  Bill and the gang followed “Skinny Minnie” with the very similar “Lean Jean”, which made it to #67 on the charts before disappearing.  After that came the EXCELLENT quick-tempo jumper “Whoa Mabel” and the Big Joe Turner cover “Corrine, Corrina”, both of which failed to chart.   Bill Haley’s Chicks included all four of these single A-sides, plus “Corrine, Corrina”’s twist-style b-side “B.B. Betty”.  They also threw in the previously released “Mary, Mary Lou”, which was the B-side of “It’s a Sin”, the single that came out right before “Skinny Minnie”.  The other six tracks were recorded especially for this album.

Overall, the quality of this album is a marked improvement from the previous two theme LP’s.  The tracks vary in tempo and feel, and flow together relatively well.  There are some typical Bill Haley-sounding tracks like “Dinah” and “Corrine, Corrina”, and then there are others like “Whoa Mabel”, “Eloise”, “Sweet Sue, Just You”, and “B.B. Betty” that suggest that Bill might be picking up the pace and/or moving forward a bit.  The only thing that I think they should have done was add “Whoa Mabel”’s b-side “Chiquita Linda” to the end of the album—“Lean Jean” doesn’t work that great as an album closer but “Chiquita Linda” right after that would have been perfect.  However, they did release “Chiquita Linda” on the Strictly Instrumental album (see below) later in the year.

Oh, and we’ve got another minimalistic but cute album cover here. Gotta love the broken eggshell with the little gal standing in one of the shells like a 1950’s version of the Birth of Venus painting, and the two dancing girls with off-camera male dance partners swinging away in front of the eggshells.  “Chicks”, get it?  Peep peep!

“Dragon Rock”, “A.B.C. Rock”,


Initially unreleased


Initially unreleased


“Dragon Rock”, “A.B.C. Rock”, “The Catwalk” (full session reel with alternate takes)


Initially unreleased


Initially unreleased


“Dragon Rock” and “A.B.C. Boogie” went unreleased, but “The Catwalk” ended up an album track on Strictly Instrumental.  Bear Family found the full session reel complete with alternate takes, false starts, chatter and everything, and released the full session tape on Disc 5 of their The Decca Years and More box set.

By the way, “A.B.C. Rock” is a completely different song from “A.B.C. Boogie”, the latter of which is from the “Rock Around the Clock” period and is on a bunch of compilations. “A.B.C. Rock” isn’t as good as “A.B.C. Boogie” either.

“Charmaine” b/w “I Got a Woman”



A: 1-29-1959
B: 6-18-1958



“Charmaine” was released as a single to promote Bill Haley’s Chicks. It’s one of the mellower songs and a rather odd choice with there being so many stronger tracks on that album. 

“I Got a Woman” is a cover of the Ray Charles tune, and another entry in Haley’s now beat-to-a-pulp “Chicks” theme.   The full reel of the session that produced “I Got a Woman” has been found and released on Disc 5 of Bear Family’s The Decca Years and More box set as mentioned below. It took the band nine tries to get a satisfactory take of ”I Got a Woman”, and you get to hear every bit of the action on the Bear Family box set. 

“Where’d You Go Last Night?”  b/w “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I”






“Be By Me”


Initially unreleased


Initially unreleased


“I Got a Woman”, “Be By Me, “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I”, “Where’d You Go Last Night?” (full session reel with alternate takes)


Initially unreleased


Initially unreleased


This is a second full session reel where we get to hear Bill Haley and the band work out the tracks with producer Milt Gabler.  This time they actually did release three of the four tracks from this session, although “Be By Me” went unreleased.  This entire studio reel is included on Disc 5 of Bear Family’s The Decca Years and More.

“Caldonia” b/w “Shaky”






Another “Chicks” song.  Some womanizers never die—good grief.  “Caldonia” is a cover of the great Louis Jordan’s signature song.  This was the second time Haley covered a Louis Jordan song; “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” (from Rock and Roll Stage Show) was the first.  “Shaky” would be reissued on the album Strictly Instrumental.

“Joey’s Song” (mono) b/w “Ooh!  Look-a-There, Ain’t She Pretty”



A: 6-3-1958
B: 6-19-1959



I LOOOVE “Joey’s Song”!  It’s definitely one my favorite Bill Haley songs, if not my very favorite.  The song is built on a really bouncy beat and a fluid melody, undergirded with the sound of a guitar being strummed with the strings muted.  The muted “wika-wika, wika-wika” of the rhythm guitar gives it a mildly suspenseful atmosphere, therefore giving the song its own identity and lifting it above your average instrumental tune. If you’ve ever seen the early Bip Bippadotta or Mah Nà Mah Nà sketches on the Muppets (do a YouTube search for either of those to see what I mean), they use the same sense of suspense and minimalism.  Definitely off-kilter for what you’d expect for Bill Haley, and evidence that he still had his share of tricks up his sleeve.

After Bill and the gang had spent the “Chicks” theme, Decca released the instrumental “Joey’s Song” which had been sitting in the vaults for over a year, and as a result got a minor hit out of it (it reached #46 on the charts).  This was encouragement enough that the band agreed to record an instrumental album called Strictly Instrumental, which we will be discussing below.

“(Thanks for the) Summer Souvenir”


Initially unreleased


Initially unreleased


“Ooh!  Look-a-There, Ain’t She Pretty” and “(Thanks for the) Summer Souvenir” were recorded in the same session.  “Ooh!  Look-a-There, Ain’t She Pretty” is the final installment in Haley’s run of “Chicks” tunes, and it was released as the B-side to “Joey’s Song.”  It’s a decent mid-tempo rocker that comes complete with catcalls after Haley sings the title phrase—can’t go wrong there.  I’m not for sure why “(Thanks for the) Summer Souvenir” wasn’t released initially, but it wasn’t. It’s another pleasant little “Blueberry Hill” style tune done Haley style and without the four-part doo-wop vocals, but with some instrumentation that hints of the swanky atmosphere that was to come in Strictly Instrumental.

Strictly Instrumental (1959)



12” LP: Strictly Instrumental

(Decca DL 8964, released 12-14-1959)


Track List:
1. Joey's Song *
2. (Put Another Nickel In) Music! Music! Music! ††
3. Mack the Knife §§
4. In a Little Spanish Town §§
5. Two Shadows §§

6. Shaky **

7. Strictly Instrumental §§
8. Skokiaan (South African Song) §
9. Puerto Rican Peddler ††
10. Drowsy Waters §
11. Chiquita Linda *
12. The Catwalk †


 Italics denote LP-only tracks.

* Recorded 6-3-1958
** Recorded 4-27-1959
† Recorded 1-7-1959
†† Recorded 9-17-1959
§ Recorded 9-23-1959
§§ Recorded 9-24-1959

“Chiquita Linda” released as B-side to single “Whoa, Mabel!” as Decca single 30741
“Shaky” released as B-side to single “Caldonia” as Decca single 30926
“Joey’s Song” released as A-side of Decca single 30956
“Skokiaan” and “Puerto Rican Peddler” released as Decca single 31030
“Strictly Instrumental” and “(Put Another Nickel In) Music! Music! Music!” released as Decca single 31080


“Joey’s Song” on VB, UC, BF
“Skokiaan (South African Song)” on UC, BF
All other tracks only on BF


Strictly Instrumental is the fourth and last of Bill Haley’s four theme albums for Decca, and in my opinion it’s also the best of them.  With “Joey’s Song” making the Top 50 (#46 to be exact) as a non-LP single, Decca dusted off a couple of B-sides and an unreleased track in the vault, had the band record eight new tunes, and released what turned out to be a diversion for Haley and the gang away from Rock and Roll and into Bachelor Pad Music.  And what a diversion it is!  Get out the vodka, vermouth, olives, and cocktail shaker, folks; it’s Martini Time at the swank bachelor pad! 

“Joey’s Song” opens the album up, so off to a great start, but then “(Put Another Nickel In) Music! Music! Music!” flubs a little by sounding a bit too much like “Joey’s Song”. (And it comes right after “Joey’s Song” too—come on now, fellas!)  But from “Mack the Knife” on, it’s smooth sailing, complete with a lot of the touches that make Bachelor Pad Music the wonderful genre it is.  Smooth, sensual, “easy rhythms” dominate the album, complimented with the exotica, twist, and Latin diversions that were so popular at the time—and even “Ooo” locals on the track “Two Shadows”!  The four previously recorded tracks (“Joey’s Song”, “Shaky”, “Chiquita Linda”, and “The Catwalk”) all rock a little harder than the eight newly recorded tunes, but not enough to be jarring. 

Another complaint: “The Catwalk” is not the best closer for the album.  Maybe if they had flipped “The Catwalk” and “Music! Music! Music!” around it would have worked a little better, because “Music! Music! Music!” would act as a “Joey’s Song” reprise and bring the album full-circle, and “The Catwalk” would follow up “Joey’s Song” well with its slow-rocking blues runs before taking us into the 1960’s Bachelor Party Deluxe with “Mack the Knife”.  Oh well, these days all you have to do is make those changes in an iTunes playlist and problem solved.

And hey, if it was still 1960, you could get the Stereo version of Strictly Instrumental and play it on the Hi-Fi player!  According to the Bear Family discography, the June 3, 1958 session that yielded “Joey’s Song” and “Chiquita Linda,” quote, “appears to be the first stereo (3-track) session for Bill Haley.  Unfortunately a lot of the stereo masters are distorted since the original tape machine was faulty.”  For this reason the Bear Family box set only offers the Stereo version of “Joey’s Song”, and the rest of Strictly Instrumental is presented in mono.  So you have to get the original vinyl if you want to hear the other stereo versions.

“Skokiaan (South African Song)” and “Strictly Instrumental” would be released as singles to promote the album; “Skokiaan” would go to #70 on the charts and would be Haley’s last Stateside hit of any kind until the 1974 revival of “Rock Around the Clock” brought about by the movie American Graffiti If you see Strictly Instrumental on vinyl somewhere and it’s affordable, it’s definitely a worthwhile purchase, although be aware that the album has more in common with Esquivel and Martin Denny than it does with Buddy Holly or Carl Perkins.

“Skokiaan (South African Song)” b/w “Puerto Rican Peddler”



A: 9-23-1959
B: 9-17-1959



“Strictly Instrumental” b/w “(Put Another Nickel In) Music! Music! Music!”



A: 9-24-1959
B: 9-17-1959



At this point, Bill Haley and the Comets’ contract with Decca Records was up for renewal, and they left Decca Records with their longtime producer Milt Gabler’s blessing to what they thought would be greener shores at the newly-formed Warner Brothers Records.  Warner Brothers’ guarantee and advance was too good to refuse and more than Decca could offer, and it looked like an opportunity to start anew.  Sadly, the Warner Brothers contract turned out to be a dismal failure, and domestically Haley would jump from label to label for the rest of the decade.

“The Green Door” b/w “Yeah, She’s Evil”






“Skinnie Minnie” b/w “Lean Jean”



A: 2-6-1958



Bill Haley and His Comets would return to Decca in 1964 to record and release one more single with them, “The Green Door” b/w “Yeah, She’s Evil”.  Haley’s then-current lineup of The Comets recorded the single in the Pythian Temple with Milt Gabler producing again, which is exactly the way everything Bill Haley released for Decca was recorded. Decca tried unsuccessfully to draw attention to Haley’s return to Decca by reissuing “Skinny Minnie” and “Lean Jean”, the two “Chicks” songs that had charted previously, as the A and B sides of a single. Decca had high hopes for this experiment, but when it proved to be a failure, Bill Haley and the Comets would leave Decca for good, marking the end of an era.

 “The Green Door” is a cover of a song that was a #1 US hit for Jim Lowe in 1956 (#8 in the UK).  It’s a nice improvement on the original—it adds some punch and of course the Bill Haley personality to the song.  If you get the Ultimate Collection compilation, you’ll get to hear it—it’s worth seeking out.

You may be wondering what the “And More” material is in the Bear family The Decca Years and More Box Set.  It’s two of Haley’s home demos, and two songs recorded for a German movie.  The details are listed here:

“Football Rock and Roll”, “Six Year Olds Can Rock and roll”

home demo

Initially unreleased

c. 1958

Initially unreleased


These are simple demonstration recordings with vocals, guitar, handclaps, and commentary that were only meant to be heard by the producers, but now can be heard by anyone who comes in contact with the Bear Family box.  “Football Rock and Roll” is supposed to be a gimmicky song that connects rock and roll to college football (and that’s by Haley’s own admission in the demo recording itself).  In my opinion, half of it works really well, and half of it gets into Rockin’ Around The World cheesiness.  “Six Year Olds Can Rock and Roll” sounds a lot more like Western Swing than it does like rock and roll as a demo.  Lyrically it continues Haley’s “Do you wanna be in my gang?” open invitation to rock and roll that we discussed in the commentary to Rockin’ the Oldies.  “A.B.C. Boogie” and “A.B.C. Rock” cover the subject matter already, and the song likely would have been another competent entry in that theme had they chosen to record it. 

“Vive La Rock and Roll”, “Hot Dog Buddy Buddy”

Con-stantin Film

Initially unreleased

Late 10-58

Initially unreleased


Bill Haley and His Comets appeared in the 1958 German film Hier Bin Ich, Hier Bleib Ich (Here I Am, Here I’ll Stay), which starred the famous French actress Caterina Valente.  These two songs appear to be taken directly from the film itself.  According to the Internet Movie Database, “Bill Haley and the Comets originally performed three songs in the film, but footage of them performing ‘Whoa Mabel’ was cut (the song can still be heard in the background). Photos exist showing the band filming the song, with sax player Rudy Pompilli dressed in drag. The footage and soundtrack recording seem to be missing.”  Rats.

Valente sings a duet with Haley on this version of “Vive La Rock and Roll”.  A French actress singing on the embarrassing, unintentionally-insulting-to-the-French rock and roll remake of “Frère Jacques” from Rockin’ Around the World—hey, the Germans don’t mind a good jab at the French every now and then. 

There are several releases of Hier Bin Ich, Hier Bleib Ich availableon DVD as European imports at