Album Chart of 1949

<1948 1950>

  • This chart features albums released in 1949 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • Elsewhere, the Albums released in 1949 page shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.


The flag of France flies at the top of my album chart for the second year running - her most beloved export was winning hearts and minds across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, for album fans in general, there was one major talking point in 1949 - the great speed war between the industry giants, Columbia and RCA!

Columbia's microgroove LP launch of 1948 rattled RCA into upping their research game; they retaliated with their own microgroove vinyl offering - considerably smaller at just 7", but spinning at 45RPM. The top secret news leaked in December 1948, and the new RCA 7" catalogue was launched in March 1949 with some 25 albums and a whole host of singles being made available straight from the off.

RCA executives were adamant that their solution was best sonically and in terms of space-saving and that it would become the new album standard format. By May 1949, phono manufacturers were having to turn out machines with three speeds; 33, 45 and 78 RPM. Broken meetings and pompous executives were the order of the day behind the scenes – no side was willing to cede battle ground in the great speed war of 1949 - in the end it was the record buyers who decided what would be what.

In the January 7, 1950 issue of Billboard, [page 21], RCA came out with a new policy that henceforth, they would issue LPs on 33⅓ rpm. This was an admission that their idea of albums being a collection of 45s wasn't going well relative to Columbia's 10" and 12" albums. The war continued on a more subtle level with sly digs and attempts at one-upmanship. RCA were reluctant to publically give credit to Columbia’s product and, rather than simply admit defeat, inferred they could improve upon it: “To serve those music lovers who wish to play certain classical selections on long-playing records, RCA Victor will introduce on or about March 1, a new and improved, unbreakable long-playing record.”

Teenagers and the Rock n Roll singles revolution would save RCA’s 45 – its’ best days were yet to come.

It was the 33⅓ LP which prevailed as the definitive album format. Good choice record buyers.

The Jukebox Rebel

n.b. In his excellent book "Perfecting Sound Forever: The Story of Recorded Music", Greg Milner gets right in to the heart of the fascinating battle. A battle which would shape the musical lives of countless millions worldwide for decades to come…

TJR says:

5.38 “Below average”

Having wowed American G.I.’s during wartime performances in Paris, Edith was in a good position in the years that followed; following her triumphant debut in New York in 1947, her reputation as a soul-stirring songstress was going from strength to strength and her act was in demand Stateside. She returned in 1948 to play far and wide in Boston, Chicago, Hollywood and New York.

Already, “Chansons Parisiennes” was the fourth album in total to be made available in the world’s biggest marketplace. It was a landmark release in the Edith Piaf catalogue – not only did it include her infamous standard “La Vie En Rose”, it was her first release on the super new LP format. 24 minutes worth of music and you only have to get up once to turn it over. C'est merveilleux, n'est-ce pas? Columbia, who were dominating the market with their patented “microgroove LP” trademark were on the case for this one. The set was issued as a 10” LP, Columbia FL-9501. Essentially a compile, it rounds up 78s recorded and issued between 1946 and 1948, although all songs were being newly introduced to her album discography thus far. As with last years’ “Chansons Des Cafes De Paris”, I’m enchanted but not bowled over. I adore her when she, and the orchestra, are driven with a bold sense of national identity – cabaret is cabaret, but French cabaret is something else. In short, I’d love every song to be stirring, to have accordions, a marching beat, and maybe a lyrical sense that there’s been a murder or some such tragedy. Serving this fantasy best is “Le Chant Du Pirate” – a certainty for a decent placing in my songs of the year chart (1946) when I finally get around to publishing it. Alas, the artist has other ideas – by and large she just wants to croon in the grand traditions of all Broadway singers.

The LP liner notes give an excellent summary of content: For this collection Edith Piaf has chosen eight characteristic songs of the Paris streets and cabarets, each one of which tells a story or sets a rueful or sometimes happy mood. “Les amants de Paris” is an appealing picture of the sweethearts of Paris. “Monsieur Lenoble” tells the pathetic story of a man who dies for love. In “II pleut” the singer finds her own melancholy mirrored in a rainy day. “Un refrain courait dans la rue” expresses regret for a love that is lost. “La Vie En Rose” and “C’est merveilluex” are rapturous love songs. The rousing “Chant du Pirate” and the plaintive “Adieu Mon Coeur” are from the Piaf film “Etoile san lumiere”.

The Jukebox Rebel

chart first published 25 Sep 2015; last edited 6 Dec 2015

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