Album Chart of 1951

<1950 1952>

  • This chart features albums released in 1951 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • Elsewhere, the Albums released in 1951 page shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.


By 1951, the LP still had a long road to travel as it strove to find its place as the foremost outlet for an artists recorded works.

In July, DJ and music promoter Alan Freed broadcast his first Rhythm and blues radio programme from station WJW in Cleveland, Ohio. He used the term rock and roll to describe R&B, in an effort to introduce the music to a broader white audience – but there would no sign of an actual Rock n Roll LP for quite a few years yet.

Hank Williams, at the peak of his considerable popularity in 1951, had an album with his name on it – but many regarded it as a second class affair. Producer Fred Rose took songs from previous single releases (1946-1949) that did not sell well at the moment of their release. As Williams’ biographer Colin Escott put it:

“Rose used Hank's first album as a dump site for oddball tracks that hadn't sold elsewhere. With the exception of 'Wedding Bells,' the tracks were the dogs of Hank's catalog, like 'I've Just Told Mama Goodbye,' 'Wealth Won't Save Your Soul,' and 'Six More Miles.'”

Harsh words – not entirely justified for the very decent “Hank Williams Sings” offering – but he has a point of sorts. The days where the new LP would routinely showcase an artist’s brand new recordings were still far off in 1951.

“Hank Williams Sings” also demonstrated that the rival formats were still clinging on for dear life – the album was released on ten-inch LP, a four 45rpm packaged set and a four 78rpm set.

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

6.04 “Decent enough”

Strategically issued in November to coincide with Hank’s appearance on The Perry Como Chesterfield Show, Hank’s debut LP must have disappointed the MGM executives when it failed to chart. Hank’s loyal fans already had the songs – they had been released as sides in the closing years of the 1940s – and casual buyers were not tempted to part with their hard-earned. Billboard theorized that the label had decided not to release an album with new sides because it “would only spread jockey and juke plays too thinly instead of getting the concentrated push on a single record”.

Whilst there’s nothing to get overly excited about, there’s not a bad track on the set, which includes 5 Hank originals and 3 cover versions, most notably his famous rendition of Leon Payne’s “Lost Highway” which opens up proceedings on Side 1. For me, the highlight track is his version of “Wedding Bells”, first done by Bill Carlisle in 1947. Hank’s confident but mournful timbre is perfectly suited to the age old “should’ve been me” tragi-song. Best of his own is “Mansion on the Hill” (although producer Fred Rose had a hand in some of the lyrics), where Hank bemoans the cold heart of an old flame: “I know you’re alone with your pride dear, in your loveless mansion on the hill” – his hit from 1948 portraying atypical Hankisms.

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

5.08 “Below average”

The second of three new music albums from Édith Piaf in 1951 – all tracks were new to her LP discography, and were recorded between 1949 and 1951. The lady herself has a hand in three of the compositions, including two of the better tracks, with the film-esque drama of “La P’tite Marie” and the Dietrich-esque “Don’t Cry”, which is sassily sung in English and very much gets away with it. “No use to regret” advises our leading lady. A recurring theme in her repertoire…

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

4.65 “Poor”

The first of three new Édith Piaf LPs to be issued in 1951, and the first which could perhaps be deemed as a true new music album, with all songs having been recorded in 1950. The set opens with “Hymn To Love” where, shock-horror, Édith resorts to the English language. Schmaltz uncovered – it’s not a good look. The tone of the album is too nice and pretty for me – “Le Chevalier De Paris” emerges as the only selection which stirs me any.

The Jukebox Rebel

TJR says:

4.04 “Lame”

All recorded and released in 1951 – how refreshing. “La P’tite Lili” (The Maid Lili) was a short film directed by French Alberto Cavalcanti in 1927, set to music for the audio version of 1930 by Darius Milhaud. I speculate that Édith chose to record this themed set as some sort of connection with her own past experiences. Piaf's mother abandoned her at birth, and she lived for a short time with her maternal grandmother, Emma (Aïcha). When her father enlisted with the French Army in 1916 to fight in World War I, he took her to his mother, who ran a brothel in Normandy. There, prostitutes helped look after Piaf. Synopsis: Little Miss Lili, a pretty girl of 16 years is cast as a prostitute in the bad neighbourhoods of Paris. Her only friend is a pimp rogue, a little punk with no soul. On a dark day filled with mist, she tries to flee. She can’t escape her destiny however… pimp takes revenge and stabs her brutally. All of which promises much for a gritty piece of musical art but, alas, it’s not forthcoming. The album never captivates, and when squaresome croonster Eddie Constantine appears for two duets at the end of side 2, I’m actually left disgusted.

The Jukebox Rebel

chart first published 21 Oct 2015; last edited 6 Dec 2015

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