Album Chart of 1942

<1941 1943>

  • This chart features albums released in 1942 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • Elsewhere, the Albums released in 1942 page shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records, although there are none more than the 3 shown in this chart as at 17 September 2015.


Having been filed under “Gramophone Records of a Seditious Nature” by the F.B.I., America’s, ahem, “public enemy no.1” had one last glorious hurrah before succumbing to the hostile press and calling it quits for the Almanac Singers brand.

The collective (pictured here in 1942) were six for “Dear Mr President” – (L to R): Woody Guthrie (vocals, guitar), Millard Lampell (vocals), Bess Hawes (vocals, mandolin), Pete Seeger (banjo, vocals), Arthur Stern (vocals) and Agnes ‘Sis’ Cunningham (accordion, vocals).

They were only going for 2 years – but topped my album chart in both 1941 and 1942.

What a wonderful hullabaloo.

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

8.78 “A classic”

Within 2 months of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor in late 1941, the Almanac Singers went into the studio to record a set of songs supporting the American entry into World War 2. Around about the same time they played at Madison Square Garden for a CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) rally, finding common cause with issues pertaining to the unions and to the imminent war effort. In February, they performed for millions on the CBS radio show, “This Is War”. Despite striking the popular chord, the group could not free themselves from the continued hostility from the press which still reverberated from their debut album “John Doe” from several months earlier. Shortly after their performance on “This Is War”, articles continued to focus on the group’s earlier views, and, continued to raise allegations of Communist affiliations. The group’s commercial aspirations never stood a chance and “Dear Mr. President” would prove to be their fifth and final album. But what a way to go! This was a classic in every way. It was highly entertaining and lyrically potent with it. Not only did the album call for unity and positivity in the fight against Hitler, it sought to further human rights issues on the domestic front. “Dear Mr. President”, the title track, laid down the manifesto to a tee. Consider the Jim Crow Laws for one. “Jump Jim Crow” is a song and dance from 1828 that was done in blackface by white comedian Thomas Dartmouth (T.D.) “Daddy” Rice. The song was a key initial step in a tradition of popular music in the United States that was based on the mockery of African-Americans. Within a couple of decades, the mockery genre exploded in popularity with the rise of the minstrel show. The tune became very well-known not only in the United States but internationally; in 1841 the US ambassador to Central America, John Lloyd Stephens, wrote that upon his arrival in Mérida, Mexico, the local brass band played “Jump Jim Crow” under the mistaken impression that it was the US national anthem. As a result of Rice’s fame, Jim Crow had become a pejorative meaning African American by 1838 and from this the laws of racial segregation became known as Jim Crow laws. In “Dear Mr. President” Seeger raps for his cause: “I’m fightin’ because I want a better America, and better laws, And better homes, and jobs, and schools, And no more Jim Crow, and no more rules like “You can’t ride on this train ’cause you’re a Negro,” “You can’t live here ’cause you’re a Jew,” “You can’t work here ’cause you’re a union man.” So, Mr. President, We got this one big job to do, that’s lick Mr. Hitler and when we’re through, Let no one else ever take his place, to trample down the human race. So what I want is you to give me a gun, so we can hurry up and get the job done.” Pete Seeger received his draft notice in June 1942, and Woody Guthrie shipped off with the Merchant Marines about a year later. Commies in the U.S. Army? Crikey, what WILL the FBI say?

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

6.32 “Decent enough”

Consists of three shellac 78s all recorded in January 1942 and issued a couple of months later. Here, Lead Belly delivers six songs of the working man. As far as I see it, this is Lead Belly’s fourth consecutive album to be themed. Don’t be telling me about no first concept albums in the 60s or otherwise! In the liner notes, each song came with a background introduction. Of “Old Man” they read: “Shanties sung at the levee are about the rivers and seas on which the boats travel. Many longshoremen find it easier to carry their loads from the dock to the boat with the aid of a song” The album features the rhythms of manual labour, with lyrics often addressing the relations of workers to bosses, and blacks to whites. His natural audience, the poor working class, were unlikely to have heard the songs – Moe Asch’s invoice records tell there were 304 copies shifted during the whole year. Sales did not match reviews - a familiar old tale. Critic Charles Edward Smith gave “Work Songs of the U.S.A.” a highly favorable review in Jazz magazine, calling the record “superbly done.” The world’s still listening several decades later – in the final analysis, good art prevails over the greenbacks every time.

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

4.75 “Poor”

Having been seduced by her magnificent reading of “Stormy Weather” in the 1943 movie of the same name, I was intrigued enough to digitally re-assemble a copy of her debut album from a year earlier (recorded in December 1941) which included her first recording of the song. Unsurprisingly, it’s the stand out track here, with not too much to get excited about apart from that. As with “Stormy Weather”, the album delves into past movie soundtracks from the 20s and 30s for material, featuring the so-called “best of the best” songwriters from the American songbook such as Harold Arlen, Ted Koehler, George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers and Cole Porter. I'm yawning even typing that out, to be honest. Still, I won’t deny that Ms Horne has a certain je ne sais quoi which is not entirely unpalatable to Rebel ears, and she is a level above many of her contemporaries in my eyes. To boot, she was clearly a good person; a civil rights activist hampered professionally in "the land of the free" by her skin tone and left-leaning political view. You don’t have to love all of her music to appreciate this fine lady.

The Jukebox Rebel

chart first published 17 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