Album Chart of 1941

<1940 1942>

  • This chart features albums released in 1941 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • Elsewhere, the Albums released in 1941 page shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records, although there are none more than the 6 albums shown in this chart, as at 15 September 2015.
1941-a-the-almanac-singers.jpg

THE YEAR OF THE ALMANACS

Pictured are 4 of The Almanac Singers in 1941. L-R: Woody Gurthrie, Lee Hays, Millard Lampell and Pete Seeger.

The collective dominate this year's chart, and somewhat amazingly for the time, released 4 albums in this one year.

According to the FBI they were a terrifying ensemble, and the biggest danger to western civilisation since the discovery of the neutron in 1932. I mean, you’ve only got to look at them to know…

Meanwhile, Victor Records further enhance their street cred by putting out a truly great set from Lead Belly.

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Sep-2015

TJR says:

7.78 “Brilliant”

“Now, boys, you've come to the hardest time, The boss will try to bust your picket line, He'll call out the police, the National Guard, They'll tell you it's a crime to have a union card, They'll raid your meetin', they'll hit you on the head, They'll call every one of you a goddam red, Unpatriotic, Japanese spies, sabotaging national defense, But out at Ford, here's what they found, And out at Vultee, here's what they found, And out at Allis-Chalmers, here's what they found, And down at Bethlehem, here's what they found, That if you don't let red-baiting break you up, And if you don't let stoolpigeons break you up, And if you don't let vigilantes break you up, And if you don't let race hatred break you up, You'll win. What I mean, take it easy, but take it”

So sang Pete Seeger on Album # 2 as he addressed the proletariat on “Talking Union”, a belter of an album which did exactly what it said on the tin, laying down a reasoned argument for better pay and improved conditions for the working man. It was, unashamedly, a party political broadcast for the left and, perhaps inevitably, the group continued to receive press criticism in their homeland which had little to do with music. Time Magazine wryly noted: “The three discs of Talking Union, on sale last week under the Keynote label, lay off the isolationist business now that the Russians are laying it on the Germans.” Ever get the feeling that big brother’s watching you?

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Jun-2012


TJR says:

7.75 “Brilliant”

The mistreatment blues as recognised by slaves and prisoners the world over; hell yeah, these are the sacred songs of the jubilee quartets! Whoever came up with the idea of pairing Lead Belly with the popular Golden Gate Quartet was inspired. His rough n ready inflection to their velvet croon made for a terrific set, whether a capella or musically accompanied. I could well imagine that this appealed to folks who otherwise may not have appreciated one or the other. The six tracks were laid down over the course of two days in June 1940 and first issued as an album set in January 1941. Here, Lead Belly revels in his roots, and in the older folk songs like “Pick A Bale Of Cotton” and “Midnight Special” he's in full songster glory.

Tiny Robinson, Lead Belly's niece, tells: “He sang spiritual because when he was child that was all he knew. His family was very religious and quite a bit of still exist in Lead Belly. He remembers old spiritual tune his mother and father sang at church and around home. Lead Belly sang quite a few of them. He say they give him courage and expand his memory from long hot days on the small farm. He could see his mother and himself working side by side harmonizing those tune.”

After having brought Woody Guthrie to the fore a couple of months earlier, RCA produced another winner here, so fair play to them. Let’s just hope they paid the men their proper dues…

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Jun-2012


TJR says:

6.83 “Good”

The second of two Almanac Singers albums produced by Alan Lomax. As with the preceding “Deep Sea Chanteys and Whaling Ballads”, the songs featured on “Sod Buster Ballads” were all recorded on 7th July 1941 and issued on John Green’s General label. Again, it was all traditional folk with no overtly political content. There were four of them on this occasion; Woody Guthrie, Millard Lampell, Lee Hays and Pete Seeger.

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Jun-2012


TJR says:

6.42 “Decent enough”

The line-up of the group for album # 3 was Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. “Deep Sea Chanteys and Whaling Ballads” had no political content and reverted back to traditional folk themes. Co-incidentally, and somewhat ironically, it was quite a well-known fact at the time that sea chanteys were Franklin Roosevelt’s favourite kind of song. This was the first of two albums produced by Alan Lomax for General Records, for which the group received a $250 advance. Dazzled with their new-found riches, they invested in a Buick for a cross country tour. Blimey. None of your Ford mobiles for these folk stars! Luxury brand motoring? Investing in the American economy? Singing songs with presidential approval? The hacks must have been gutted…

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Jun-2012


TJR says:

6.39 “Decent enough”

Recorded and released in springtime 1941 at a time when World War II was raging but the United States remained neutral. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were still at peace, and the Almanacs generally followed the anti-interventionist stance dictated by the Soviet Union through the Comintern (an alliance that included leftist political groups from all over the world including the UK). The anti-war songs on the album rankled with many at the time and in the years to come would often be “used in evidence” by opponents of the group’s (supposedly) “un-american” viewpoints. However, on June 22 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The Almanacs changed direction and began agitating for U.S. intervention in Europe. Such was the sensitivity of the issue, Keynote Records quickly pulled “Songs for John Doe” from distribution, destroying all unsold copies. There’s a famous old Spanish proverb that says “a wise man changes his mind, a fool never will”. Me, I’m just delighted that there were artists prepared to sing about how they really felt about issues of the day. Life never was no cabaret show…

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Jun-2012


TJR says:

5.30 “Below average”

“Play Parties In Song And Dance”, recorded in May 1941, was the first of many Lead Belly releases on Moe Asch’s label. At the time, columnist Walter Winchell was not impressed: “How could anyone make a children’s record with a convicted murderer? His harsh judgement belied the reality of the situation – Lead Belly and the kids got on like a house on fire. Moe Asch (in his 1962 introduction on the Lead Belly songbook) recalled: “One Christmas Lead Belly gave a concert for children at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was jam-packed, children all over the place, frantic parents. But the moment he started to play and sing, the audience hushed and the children grouped around him as if it was grandfather singing for them; some sang with him, others danced. The parents were bewitched.” At least 5 of these are party dances, and the original album of 78s included photographs of children doing the moves. “You can’t lose-a-me, Cholly, You can’t lose-a-me, boy” sings Led Belly on the best track, a dance tune he learned in his youth. It borrows some of the verses from an old folk song found all over the South, “Down at Widow Johnson’s.” It sure beats Black Lace. Carlsberg don’t do 5 year olds’ birthday parties. But if they did…

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Jun-2012

chart first published 15 Sep 2015; last edited 6 Dec 2015

Album Charts

by year…

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

Comments…