Album Chart of 1954

<1953 1955>

  • This chart features albums released in 1954 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • Elsewhere, the Albums released in 1954 page shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1954-a-jacques-brel.jpg

BONJOUR DE BELGIQUE

It’s an indisputable fact that the United States dominated the album releases from the 1930s to the 1950s but there were one or two exceptional talents who made sure there was some sort of European representation on the world stage – at least retrospectively if not immediately apparent at the time. Brussels-born Jacques Brel was one such talent and the confident debut from the 25 year old singer-songwriter is the stand out for 1954, according to Rebel sensibilities.

Elsewhere, there are debut albums for Ella Mae Morse (who delivered my song of the year in 1942) and Bill Haley and his Comets (the first ever Rock n Roll LP).

Jean Ritchie maintains her good form and MGM continue to find enough material for a fourth “A-list” album for the Hank Williams discography.

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Oct-2015

TJR says:

7.14 “Really good”

“Jacques Brel Et Ses Chansons” was the aptly titled debut album from the talented 25 year old, a relatively late starter, who’d been writing his own songs and performing them at family gatherings and in Brussels’ cabaret circuit since 1952. His family and friends were not supportive of his stark lyrics and violent, emotional performances. Philips Records saw something however, and it was they who released his first 78 in March 1953. The talent scout and artistic director at the record company, Jacques Canetti, invited Brel to move to Paris. Brel left Brussels for Paris in the fall of 1953. In Paris, he worked hard to get his career off the ground. He stayed at the Hotel Stevens and gave guitar lessons to artist-dancer Francesco Frediani to pay his rent. This nine-song 10-inch LP debut was recorded 15th February 1954 - all in a day’s work - and was released by Philips in March 1954. Things were moving fast for Jacques - Juliette Gréco would select one of the album’s songs, “Là Va Le Diable” (There Goes The Devil), at her summer concert at the prestigious Olympia music-hall. It was a sign of the interest to come - at home and abroad. In July 1954, Brel made his first appearance at the prestigious Olympia Theatre in Paris. This was a stellar debut… passionate French hearts were stirred… and, despite only selling 2,000 copies in 1954, a new star was born…

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Jul-2008


TJR says:

6.44 “Decent enough”

”We're gonna tear down the mailbox, rip up the floors, Smash out the windows and knock down the doors, We're gonna rock, rock this joint, We're gonna rock, rock this joint, We're gonna rock, rock this joint, We're gonna rock this joint tonight”. So starts the world’s first ever Rock n Roll LP! Mind you, if Bill Haley had his way it wouldn’t exist at all. The LP, compiling his single sides from 1952 to 1953, was issued by Essex in 1954; disappointed at losing his star group to Decca, label-boss Dave miller was out to soften the financial blow. Haley would later react by attempting to put legal blocks in the way of further distribution of material which, in his eyes, would only serve to confuse buyers and dilute sales of the new recordings. Double bass player Marshall Lytle recalled the night DJ Allen Freed played the album’s opening tune back in 1952. He and his bandmates were there in Freed’s Cleveland studio specifically to promote “Rock the Joint”. The DJ left the mike open during the song, and began pounding on the table and screaming “rock n roll, rock n roll” for all his radio listeners to hear. Lytle tells: ”After it ended the people kept calling up and saying, 'Will you play that rock n roll song again?' He played it 12 times. That's the night rock n roll was invented.” As a popular phrase in the nation’s consciousness, there is a truth in there. They might not have invented Rock n Roll but they played an important role in fusing western swing and rhythm n blues with a tougher backbeat and a bit of pzazz. And they were a band of many firsts. “Crazy Man, Crazy” (track 4 on this LP) entered the American Billboard chart on 23rd May 1953 and reached No. 12, becoming the first song generally recognised as rock and roll to be a pop hit. This was also Haley's first national success and his first major success with an original song (prior to this he had had regional success with cover versions of “Rocket 88” and “Rock the Joint”). In the summer, the song became the first rock and roll song to be heard on national television in the United States when it was used on the soundtrack of “Glory in the Flower”, an instalment of the CBS anthology series, “Omnibus”. This live production featured James Dean and was a predecessor to his later “Rebel Without a Cause”. The Paley Center for Media maintains a copy of this production in its archives. Bill Haley’s gang were solid, reliable purveyors of the exciting new genre and this was terrific Saturday night party music for teenagers lookin’ for a good time: “Live It Up! Live It Up! Live It Up! Live It Up! No Room For The Blues At All” was the upbeat message at all times. The playing and the production was smooth, crisp and powerful – it’s easy to hear why they were considered one of the best in the biz. Marshall Lytle’s slappy, percussive bass was so rhythmic that they could afford to perform without drums on three of these numbers, whilst Danny Cedrone on lead guitar provided some of the most memorable licks this side of Chuck Berry. Shakin’ and a quakin’, rompin’ and a stompin’, Bill’s gang in 52-53 were laying down a credible template – and Gene Vincent’s boys were definitely listening in. My only criticism would be of their tendency to play around with those blasted nursery rhymes for two minutes at a time. Why on earth they thought that would be a cool thing to do is beyond me. It’s these little things can make the difference between a decent debut album and a really good one…

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Oct-2015


TJR says:

6.37 “Decent enough”

Another enchanting set from the talented Jean Ritchie, steeped in the ancient ballads of the British Isles and mainland Europe. Album highlight “Nottamun Town” is an English folk song which possibly dates from the late medieval period, possibly brought to America from England. On hearing Jean’s excellent version, Bob Dylan borrowed the melody for his 1963 song “Masters of War”, found on his LP “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”. The song is fairly popular in the English Midlands, particularly in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Southern Yorkshire and Northamptonshire, which lends credence to the theory that the Nottamun in the song is a corruption of Nottingham. Theories abound as to the meaning of the song, but two are generally accepted as probable: 1. That it derives from the Feast of Fools or Mummers’ Plays and their absurd topsy-turvy worlds. 2. That it refers to the English Civil War. In this war, Charles I of England raised his first army around Nottingham and it may be a corruption of that city’s name that gives the song its title. On “The Hangman Song”, Mum and Dad turn up to see their son hang. They bring no gold, much to the son’s dismay. True love turns up, pays the hangman in gold. Son’s price to pay? He must marry. There’s always a price to pay son… Jean’s a Capella reading of the several centuries-old ballad “False Sir John” is another highlight – he’s a dastardly character that one – beware pretty fair maids.

n.b. I had tried to digitally assemble this old album from the 2004 compilation CD “Mountain, Hearth And Home” which had claimed to include all the necessary material. Alas, it was a cruel trick, not as low-down as False Sir John granted, but, still, pretty annoying all the same. Turns out 2 tracks are missing – “The Girl I Left Behind” and “Lonesome Dove”. Rating is therefore limited to 12 tracks in the meantime, and the album runtime remains unknown. Help!!!

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Aug-2013


TJR says:

6.07 “Decent enough”

These recordings, made in 1953 and 1954, were mostly made in the studio, although a few were taken from live sessions at San Francisco's Tin Angel bar. This is an interesting and occasionally powerful collaboration album featuring traditional spirituals with blues covers. It’s usually at its best when the powerful and soulful timbre of Odetta is allowed to let rip, although it's Larry who edges it for top song with his terrific version of “Payday At Coal Creek”, a great old workers song first recorded by Pete Steele back in 1938. Odetta shines best on “John Henry” and “Water Boy” – she can sure holler some. I might add that, as good as it is here, she would make better, more dramatic, versions of “Water Boy” in later recordings. Odetta Holmes and Lawrence B. Mohr met at a bar called “The Lamp” on Kearney Street in North Beach, San Francisco in 1953, the area that was soon to become Beatnik central. Odetta was in San Francisco because she was travelling with the chorus of Finian's Rainbow. Larry had just finished college at the University of Chicago, and travelled to San Francisco with his best friend who was shipping overseas into the Navy. “The Lamp” was famous for its musical environment. People would spend evenings there jamming with guitars, banjos, and other musical instruments. On one fateful evening in the summer of 1953, Larry began playing a Lead Belly song and Odetta joined in harmony. They jammed together, and that was the beginning. Odetta was becoming known around North Beach, San Francisco and stayed in town after Finian’s Rainbow left. She was hired to sing at a club called The Purple Onion, which made her well known in the club-arena. Shortly thereafter, Odetta was hired by Peggy Tolk-Watkins, owner of the Tin Angel, to sing most evenings at the club. When she saw how well Odetta grooved with Larry, Peggy hired Larry too. Most evenings, the pair would each do a solo set and then a set together. On a typical evening, the audience numbered 30-40 persons. Max and Sol Weiss, the owners of Fantasy Records, asked Odetta and Larry to make an album which they titled “Odetta and Larry”. They recorded over several evenings. The songs that appeared on the album were chosen based on how well Odetta, Larry, the Weisses, and the audience liked each song. Altogether, Odetta and Larry performed at the Tin Angel for about 8 months. Odetta went on to spend her life performing and recording. Larry abandoned the musician's life to get a real job and raise a family; both of his children are involved in folk music and dance activities to this day.

n.b. The above information was provided by Larry himself in a 2012 interview by blogger, Emily Duffield. I was hoping to perform one of my favourite tricks and digitally re-assemble this old 1954 LP but, alas, I was misled into believing that the reissues included the original LP with bonus tracks. As it turns out, two of the original eleven tracks were omitted and cannot be purchased on MP3 anywhere. My rating is therefore limited to 9 of the 11 tracks and I’m unable to confirm the album’s runtime. If any kind soul could oblige me with details of where I can find “I'll Tickle Nancy” or “The Tailor Boy” I’d be much obliged.

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Dec-2008


TJR says:

5.76 “Average”

Recorded by Kenneth Goldstein in NYC in April, 1954. Although Stinson SLP56 is widely agreed as Gary Davis debut LP, the actual year of release seems to be debatable. The first issue 10” LP (with the blue background front cover) was initially released in the mid-50s… the majority of reports seem to conflict between 1954 and 1956. I finally plumped for the 1954 release date as this was given in the deeply authoritative discography section (page 51) in “Oh What a Beautiful City: A Tribute to Reverend Gary Davis” by Rev Gary Davis, Robert Tilling. The album was later re-issued as a 12” LP in 1963 (using the same cat. no!) All songs written by Rev. Gary Davis. His guitar and vocals are accompanied throughout by Sonny Terry on harmonica.

The Jukebox Rebel
22-May-2012


TJR says:

5.54 “Average”

After hearing 1942s “Cow Cow Boogie” I completely flipped for Ella Mae and splashed out on her 1997 boxset “Barrelhouse, Boogie and the Blues (1942-1957)” from which I was able to digitally re-assemble her debut album of the same name. Talk about a hammer to crack a nut! During this phase in her prolific recording career, the classy chanteuse was ably backed by Big Dave and his orchestra, most adept in the art of fusing jump blues and pop with early sprinklings of rock and roll. I’m not exactly raving on top of the speakers but they’re with it and she’s got it. Not too bad.

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Aug-2011


TJR says:

5.50 “Average”

The fourth and final “A-lister” in the Hank Williams story, featuring 8 cuts recorded between 1947-1952, and all previously issued as single sides between 1948-1953. I give pass marks to the title-track, but the rest is all just a bit too honky-tonky dum-de-dum for my tastebuds…

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Jun-2015


TJR says:

3.58 “Terrible”

For the last release in Capitol’s “Classics in Jazz” 10” LP series, Miles Davis was the featured artist and tunes from his 1949-1950 sessions were gathered on a single album, much to the delight of many collectors. The album was also released as a double EP set. Four of the tunes had never been released previously – “Moon Dreams” (the album’s best track), “Deception”, “Rocker” and “Rouge”. “Jeru”, “Venus de Milo”, “Godchild”, and “Israel” had been issued previously on 78 singles. All 8 of these tracks would be recompiled on the more famous 1957 LP “The Birth Of The Cool”, together with another 3 from the same sessions. Although the arrangements are complex, the tempo is relaxed and the tone light. It’s the style which would soon come to be known commonly as “cool jazz”. Whether that’s an apt description is, of course, is a matter of opinion…

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Oct-2015


TJR says:

2.14 “Dire”

A joyless 21 minutes, during which the outstanding technical proficiency of the jazz guitar wizard leaves me stone-cold sober. Wikipedia tells: Moore was an integral part of the Nat King Cole Trio for a decade, from 1937 to 1947, appearing on most of Cole's records during that period. A superb and influential guitarist, Moore was himself influenced by Charlie Christian. Barney Kessel once said that Moore practically created the role of the jazz guitarist in small combos. He also recorded with Lionel Hampton, Art Tatum (1941), the Capitol Jazzmen, and Lester Young. Moore was voted top guitarist of 1945, 1946, and 1947 in the Down Beat readers' poll. Unfortunately, Moore's post-Cole career was not very successful. He played with his brother Johnny Moore in the Three Blazers from 1947 to the mid-1950s, after which the group declined in popularity following the departure of pianist/singer Charles Brown. Moore also recorded three records for the Verve and Tampa labels during 1953 and 1954. After that he was outside of music with the exception of one Cole tribute album in 1965. Eventually he left music altogether and settled in Los Angeles, where he worked as a bricklayer.

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jan-2012

chart first published 24 Oct 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

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