Album Chart of 1947

<1946 1948>

  • This chart features albums released in 1947 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • Elsewhere, the Albums released in 1947 page shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.


The era of the 78 album sets was just about to come to a dramatic and sudden end, and this coincided with the last year in which Woody Guthrie was productive in the grown ups album market. It was a busy year for the artist, pictured here in a March session for CBS Radio. He issued two album sets in ’47 – and there really should have been a third, but, alas, his January recordings which came to be known as “Ballads Of Sacco And Vanzetti” were mysteriously (and criminally) shelved until we were well into the LP era some 13 years later.

The beguiling Édith Piaf had her name on an album for the first time this year, but the material on her compilation “Édith Piaf Sings (In French) La Rue Pigalle” was simply far too old to be considered as an “A-lister”.

Also making her album debut was Billie Holiday, with sets on both Commodore (June) and Columbia (September). The former can just about scrape by as a new music album, with 6 of the 8 songs having been recorded fairly recently in 1944.

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

7.50 “Brilliant”

An April ‘47 PR stint at the behest of the Bonneville Power Administration (telling the people of Washington through song that dams and electricity were good for them and their agriculture) set Moe and Woody to thinking about a previous engagement with said organisation. Between them, they decided that some of the old commercially inaccessible recordings from earlier in the decade would be revisited. Back in May of 1941, Guthrie had travelled to the Pacific Northwest to write songs for a Gunther von Fritsch documentary about the BPA. The fruitful trip yielded more than two dozen new compositions; five of which were re-born here on this new album set for DISC. For this release, Woody insisted that he concentrate on songs from the migrant’s perspective – hence the “Dust Bowl” reference, a theme which was often at the background of his Columbia River songs. They were quite right to produce this set – these songs were far too good to be buried away. In that regard, Woody’s frustration had obviously been there at the back of his mind for a long time. In a December ’41 letter to Alan Lomax (who had overseen the 1941 recordings) Woody asks: “why in the hell don’t you send us some of them blank disc records like you was talking about?… Uncle Sam ain’t run out of aluminium, has he?”

Complicating matters for Woody Guthrie by this time was the fact that he had already started to show symptoms of his (yet unidentified) Huntingdon's disease - but it's nowhere near enough to be so debilitating as to hamper performance, as can be witnessed on this brilliant set of new recordings; man, guitar and harmonica in perfect harmony.

The revisions are terrific throughout and “Pastures Of Plenty” and “Talking Columbia” could well be described as definitive. On “Pastures”, Woody had originally written some 10 verses – he was a man with plenty to say. None more beautifully championed the working man than verse 3: “California, Arizona, I harvest your crops, Well its North up to Oregon to gather your hops, Dig the beets from your ground, cut the grapes from your vine, To set on your table your light sparkling wine”

There was scant popular recognition for his great body of work throughout the decade and, by the late 1940s, Woody's career as a serious folk artist was pretty much in the doldrums. Moe’s DISC label went bust later in 1947 and by the decade's end, he and Woody had a falling out over copyright issues. However, one way or the other, the artist was on top of my album charts for 7 years out of 8, 1940 to 1947. For me, the man's work continues to reverberate with a purposeful intensity, several decades on. Hands down, he was, for me, thee greatest artist of the 1940s.

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

4.75 “Poor”

Thought to have been recorded circa Feb-Mar 1946 at the same sessions which produced “Nursery Days”, the second set of the series is very much cut from the same cloth – Woody, with his guitar and harmonica, is charming, rhythmic, and repetitious with a great turn of phrase.

The whole set has an underlying theme – reaping rewards and having fun while working together. “Build My House” (“we'll build a house that'll be so strong the winds'll sing my baby a song”); “Pretty and Shiny-O” (“got to bed, close my eyes and rest my head, sleepy-sleepy-tight, sleepy-tight to make eyes pretty and shiny-o”); “Needle Sing” (knitting for my daddy, needle sing… stitching for my brother, needle sing… the kitten got my button, needle sing… mamma don’t you hear my needle sing); “Pick It Up” (I dropped my apple pick-it-up pick-it-up and wash it clean in the water… I dropped my head pick-it-up pick-it-up put it back on my shoulders); “My Little Seed” (the rain it come and it worst my ground and I thought my little seed was a-going to drown, and I waded and I splashed and carried’d my seed and I planted it again on some higher ground… let’s all dance ‘round and see my little seed grow… the sun got hot my ground got dry and I thought my little seed would burn and die, I carried some water from a watering mill and I said ‘little seed you can drink your fill’… all dance ‘round and see my little seed grow). “All Work Together” (my mammy said and my teacher too there’s all kinds of work that I can do, dry my dishes, sweep my floor, but if we all work together then it won’t take long, so we all work together with a wiggle and a giggle, we all work together with a giggle and a grin).

Said Woody: “I really did try hard to slant these songs at all of your citizens from four to six, but I spilled over a little on every side, because all of us sang and danced these songs and all of us got about the same kick out of them”. These songs were considered children’s classics and won him success and recognition as an innovative writer of the genre. On the strength of the positive reaction, Moe Asch set up Cub Records on which there were a string of singles released for the littlest tots over 1948-49.

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

4.49 “Lame”

Often listed as a 1946 issue with some discographers, but can clearly be dated to June 1947 due to its’ review then in the new releases section of Billboard Magazine. A compilation, it consists of 8 of her single sides, 6 of which date to 1944 and 2 of which were as far back as 1939, requiring my discretion to label it as it her “A-list” debut. All eight songs are covers, mostly trawling stage productions published between 1928 and 1938 for material. It’s a set of tepid tinklers and easy-listening light-swingers, only occasionally saved by the attractive vocalisations from the smoky-voiced sultry one.

The Jukebox Rebel

chart first published 23 Sep 2015; last edited 6 Dec 2015

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