Album Chart of 1939


  • This chart features albums released in 1939 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • Elsewhere, the Albums released in 1939 page shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records, although there are none more than Lead Belly at the time of writing, 18 June 2015.


The 51 year old folk singer with a chequered past sits proudly in 1939 with a great album to his name; the first of two that he would record for the Musicraft label out of New York.

The highly prolific artist would go on to deliver several albums of work in the first half of the 1940s - no mean feat in that era.

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

7.77 “Brilliant”

What a year it was for Mr Ledbetter, good, bad and ugly. He stabbed a man in a violent altercation, apprehended a bank robber and recorded an album – a suitably unusual occurrence for a highly unusual character. The album was, in fact, especially arranged by Alan Lomax to aid with the legal costs incurred with his recent “skirmishes”. Unfortunate background aside, Lead Belly was on his A-game for this set, an album of works which firmly established him as a major player on the folk scene. Highlights are many and varied. His delivery of “Frankie and Albert” is soul-stirring. The rough and tough “Fannin’ Street” is an education – it was the red light district of political boss Mr Tom Hughes' town, Shreveport, Louisiana. He sings of “the chippies” (prostitutes), working the streets. Conversely, his rendition of “The Boll Weevil” demonstrates the softer side of the man, able to find joy playing ditties for children’s parties, as he often did many years previously. There are many sides of the character shown with these equally fantastic pieces. The major highlight of “Negro Sinful Songs” arrives with “The Bourgeois Blues”, as our man tackles the political hot-potato of the day. Lead Belly recorded the Bourgeois Blues numerous times, firstly on 26th December 1938, accompanied, as usual, by himself on his 12-string guitar. My big problem with all post-1938 versions is that the original line “The White folks is in Washington and they know how, to chuck you a nickle, just to see a nigger bow” was altered to “give a coloured man a nickel just to see him bow”, presumably to avoid causing offence. Despite this disappointing concession, the version re-recorded in April 1939 for this album was nearly as powerful. The song was originally written after Lead Belly went to Washington, D.C. at the request of Alan Lomax, to record a number of songs for the Library of Congress. After they had finished, they decided to go out with their wives to celebrate, but were thrown out of numerous establishments for being an interracial party. The song rails against racism, classism, and discrimination in general, with such verses as “The home of the Brave / The land of the Free / I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie”. The song has been recorded by many other artists, including Pete Seeger and Ry Cooder. It was reworked by Billy Bragg as “Bush War Blues”, and by Mark E. Smith as “Bourgeois Town” on The Fall's “Are You Are Missing Winner” album. It has also been sung by Odetta, most recently on her 2008 tour. These folks ken the score - it’s a true classic of the era and stands as a great reminder of the western world’s disgraceful past. Sinful indeed.

The Jukebox Rebel

chart first published 18 Jun 2015; last edited 6 Dec 2015

Album Charts

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1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016