Album Chart of 1956

<1955 1957>

  • This chart features albums released in 1956 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • Elsewhere, the Albums released in 1956 page shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1956-a-fats-domino.jpg

FATS RULES THE ROOST

With his first three LPs all making my Top 5 for 1956, there's little doubt as to my top dog in this years album chart. Pictured in November 1956, the great man looks quite pleased with himself.

In this years chart, the piano-playing blues legend has genre company from Piano Red.

On the Rock n Roll front Bill Haley had some album company at last. As well as his own there were true Rock n Roll albums in this year from Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent and Johnny Burnette. Unfortunately, I don't own them all. Hopefully I will, in the fullness of time.

Old school swinger Louis Prima plays a big part in what shapes up as quite an exciting Top 10.

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Oct-2015

TJR says:

8.13 “Excellent”

Released March 1956 (Imperial LP-9004) and issued in the UK on London Records as “Carry On Rockin’”. The Imperial Label was started by Lew Chudd in 1946 in Los Angeles, California, originally concentrating on local Mexican groups and ethnic folk artists. Two years later, Lew began tapping into the rhythm and blues artists in New Orleans, which had been largely ignored by the major record companies. His most significant discovery was Fats Domino, a 22 year old piano player who sang with a Creole accent. In 1949 he recorded a song called “The Fat Man” which became a million selling R&B hit in early 1950. The irresistible template was laid down straight away and the signing of Fats Domino would prove to be the greatest bit of business that Lew ever did. The debut LP serves as an excellent round up of 12 original Imperial sides released between 1950-55. With its healthy share of slow, urban sax grooves it was the sexiest LP that he’d ever make…

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Jan-2012


TJR says:

7.97 “Brilliant”

Released December 1956 (Imperial LP-9028). Fats was buzzin’ on his a-game in 1956 – this was his third LP of the year and it kept up the level of brilliance. Mostly current material with a few sides from the previous years thrown in to make up the numbers. There are two covers on this one – he delivers his classic rendition of “Blueberry Hill” (Sammy Kaye with Tommy Ryan, 1940) and a perky interpretation of “What’s The Reason (I’m Not Pleasing You)” (The Six Swingers, 1934). The mournful “Blue Monday” simply slays and “So Long” is yet another Fats classic. Tricky third album? Not a bit of it. The big man’s got hard hitters lurking in every corner…

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jan-2012


TJR says:

7.51 “Brilliant”

Let’s go cat” encourages Elvis… Scotty Moore on guitar rises to the challenge on the exciting album opener… “aw, walk the dog” says Elvis in appreciation. Tuned right in to the mood of the day, Elvis was talking the talk and walking the walk. The core group of Elvis, Scotty, Bill Black (bass) and D. J. Fontana (drums) may not have had the dynamism of Little Richard’s Specialty crew but they were rhythmic, had a great natural chemistry, and, in Elvis, there was a front man who had an electrifying magnetism rarely seen on the world stage. As with many albums of the period, the assembly of the material is a bit hodgepodge, although in Elvis case it can at least partly be explained by his recent switch from Sun Records to RCA. The rights to the Sun Studio tapes had transferred to RCA with the sale of his contract, so five previously unreleased Sun songs, “I Love You Because”, “Just Because”, “Tryin' to Get to You”, “I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')”, and “Blue Moon” were added to seven new RCA sessions tracks to bring the runtime up to an acceptable length. For my money, there’s not a bad track on the album, although “Blue Suede Shoes” and the aforementioned “Trying To Get To You” are out in a class of their own. Elvis’ acrobatic vocal on the latter is truly a wondrous thing. “Blue Moon” is next best of the Sun oldies as Elvis delivers a Rock n Roll Ballad in a way that had never done before – tender and gentle but with a syncopated rhythm from Scotty’s imaginative high neck and Bill’s pinkie-plucked bass. These were cool cats, and this was a brilliant debut, rightfully becoming the first rock and roll album ever to make it to the top of the Billboard Pop Charts.

The Jukebox Rebel
03-Aug-2008


TJR says:

7.34 “Really good”

Ever since the trumpeter / singer / songwriter began away back in the mid-1930s he had been re-inventing himself, moving with the times and was always on the lookout for something new and interesting. In 1954 Prima was offered to stay at The Sahara in Las Vegas to open his new act with Keely Smith, his new wife. He called up New Orleans saxophonist, Sam Butera. With Butera came his background musicians, “The Witnesses”. They were talented musicians who Prima tweaked to his liking. On vocal duets, Keely would play it straight while Louis would act up as a bit of a wild-cat. The act was visually appealing – and the band were smoking hot. Capitol Records came calling in 1955 – they could smell success. “The Wildest!” was recorded in April 1956. There were two back album reworks – “The Lip” (Play Pretty For The People, 1947) and “Oh Marie” (An Hour Of Italian American Songs, 1952). As well as these, there was a remake for one of his old 1950 singles, “Buona Sera”. It was only right that he did so – they were great tracks and merited the “Butera” treatment. In every case, definitive versions were laid down right here in this set. Who can resist getting wrapped up in Louis Prima’s craziness? From beginning to end, this is some well-serious kick-ass swing knowingly delivered with an assured wry grin…

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Oct-2015


TJR says:

7.31 “Really good”

Released August 1956 (Imperial LP-9009). Fats second LP in 5 months is led by his recent pop smash “I’m In Love Again” and is supported by a varied and vibrant set of piano driven brilliance which flirts in and out of blues, rock n roll, jive and swing territories. There are 9 originals and 3 covers on this one – “Careless Love” (Ruth Johnson, 1921), “When My Dreamboat Comes Home” (Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, 1936) and “My Blue Heaven” (Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra, 1927). Good as they are, it’s the originals which steal my affections – on “Swanee River Hop” (ok, not 100% original but he's claiming it anyway) Fats tinkles and rolls his fingers all over that piano like he’s deeply in love with the thing. Jerry Lee move over… let Fats take over! The album closer is equally fantastic – if ever a song was aptly titled then “Fat’s Frenzy” was surely it… with its’ pumping piano and raucous sax it was a suitably dynamic finale to the terrific second album…

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jan-2012


TJR says:

6.04 “Decent enough”

Following “Elvis Presley” in March came “Elvis” in October. This time it was a clean, straight-forward, affair with all 11 of the 12 tracks still hot from the recording tapes just a few short weeks earlier. Again Elvis is joined with his trusty touring band of Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass) and D. J. Fontana (drums). Notable additions to team Elvis are The Jordanaires on harmonies. Their appearance shifts the mood a tad to the centre and, as a result, the album is often a whole lot less sexy than the debut. The cover version of Arthur Crudup’s “So Glad You’re Mine” is the album’s saving grace – serving up some of that good old stop-start, hip-swivelling excitement that, unfortunately, seems to be rationed. Another massive success, “Elvis” spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Pop Albums chart, making Presley the first recording artist to have two albums go straight to number one in the same year.

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Aug-2008


TJR says:

5.77 “Average”

A quick scan of the cover versions on the debut LP from the supposed wild man of Rock n Roll leaves me bemused, and a little disappointed. On-board are versions of “Jezebel” (Frankie Laine, 1951), “Ain’t She Sweet” (Lou Gold and his Orchestra, 1927), “Waltz Of The Wind” (Roy Acuff and His Smoky Mountain Boys, 1947), “That Old Gang Of Mine” (Sammy Fain, 1929), “Up A Lazy River” (Hoagy Carmichael and his Orchestra, 1931) and “Peg O’ My Heart” (Jose Collins, 1913). Don’t get me wrong – they’re not bad versions (and they probably improve on the originals) but I’m craving more of the bad-ass lip-snarlers like “Bluejean Bop”, “Who Slapped John”, “Jump Back, Honey, Jump Back” and less of the tea-dance orchestra stylings of “Waltz of the Wind” and “That Old Gang Of Mine”. Where was “Be-Bop-A-Lula” by the way? A patchy affair…

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Aug-2015


TJR says:

5.71 “Average”

Probably somewhere around late 1953 RCA decided that they would make a stab at breaking into the R n B market in a bigger way by launching a new subsidiary label with the hep sounding name “Groove”. The launch was trailed in “Billboard” in early January 1954 and on the 8th February Groove issued its first 45 sides. The first LP was scheduled a couple of years later. It was set to be LG-1001, Piano Red’s “Jump Man Jump”. However, for reasons unknown (probably economic) the album’s proposed 12 tracks were shelved. It was decided that LG-1002 (“Piano Red In Concert”) would be Grooves first LP instead. Somewhat confusingly, LG-1002 turned out to be a hybrid, with 6 live tracks (runtime 20:47) on side 1 (recorded at a concert in Atlanta, Georgia, March 1956) and 8 of the studio tracks (runtime 19:29) from the shelved LG-1001 project making up side 2! Even more confusingly, many online sources seem to be under the impression that both LPs exist in separate form… just as well my inner Columbo enjoys the challenge of unravelling a good mystery…

The Jukebox Rebel
03-Dec-2009


TJR says:

5.34 “Below average”

A full 21 years before The Sex Pistols, “Team Ellington” had pulled off the great Jazz ‘n’ Swing Swindle. Live albums were rather desirable, arguably even preferable, back in the day. This critically acclaimed masterpiece was, in actual fact, a great fake. The concert took place on Saturday 7th July but Ellington felt the under-rehearsed “Festival Junction” had not been performed up to recording release standards, and he wished to have a better version on tape if it was to be issued on record. Producer George Avakian did as Ellington asked and the band entered the studio on Monday 9th July to re-enact the concert. Avakian mixed in the studio version with portions of the live performance. The applause was dubbed onto the original release to cover up the fact that tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves had been playing into the wrong microphone and was often completely inaudible. Only the final piece, “Diminuendo And Crescendo In Blue” is genuinely live from Newport. They should have just told the truth – the album, which can be compared with the original concert via excavated tapes, was close enough to the concert anyway and could have easily been described as such in the liner notes. 3 of the albums 5 “sections” were new pieces especially created for the Newport Jazz Festival. It was a concert which was very well received by the fans and critics. Jazz promoter George Wein describes the 1956 concert as “the greatest performance of Ellington’s career… It stood for everything that jazz had been and could be.” Those Jazz hounds do get carried away. Of the 3 new pieces I quite like “Blues To Be There”, mainly just because I’m biased towards the blues. The last 2 pieces (or Side 2 in old money) are best – and both of these were oldies revisited. “Jeep’s Blues” was a sensual smoker that had originally been recorded by Ellington in 1938 for ARC-Brunswick. This was the debut LP appearance for the track. The album’s crowning glory is delivered right at the end – with the only genuine “live at Newport” number. The feature “Diminuendo And Crescendo In Blue” comprised two tunes that had been in the band’s book since 1937 but largely forgotten until Ellington, who had abruptly ended the band’s scheduled set because of the late arrival of four key players, called the two tunes as the time was approaching midnight. Announcing that the two pieces would be separated by an “interlude” played by tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, Ellington proceeded to lead the band through the two pieces, with Gonsalves’ 27-chorus marathon solo whipping the crowd into a frenzy, leading the maestro to play way beyond the curfew time despite urgent pleas from Festive organizer George Wein to bring the program to an end. It’s a crazy performance – no matter what you’re into it you can get into the spirit of the moment. You could probably even forgive the marketing swindle…

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Jun-2012


TJR says:

4.93 “Poor”

Released in October, “Tragic Songs Of Life” was critically acclaimed from the off and has been held in high regard by country aficionados ever since. Ira (high-tenor vocals and mandolin) and Charlie (guitar and baritone vocals) are accompanied by Paul Yaldell on guitar and a nameless bassist and snare drummer for their debut album – a conceptual affair with the majority of the songs dealing with tragic heartbreak and general misfortune, with some good old classic murder ballads thrown for added impact. Quite good in places, but the set never grips me as much as the likes of the Blue Sky Boys (one of their influences) or the Everly Brothers (one of their influenced). Best of the bunch is “Mary of The Wild Moor”, a traditional which has been dated back to the early 19th century in England. It was first recorded and released by the Blue Sky Boys in 1940, a popular and influential duo from North Carolina. The song treats a topic well known from literature and song: the girl with child - sometimes illegitimate - is betrayed and left by her husband or lover, she wants to return home but her father despises her and in the end she and the child will die. Now that’s what I call a song of tragedy…

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Oct-2015


TJR says:

4.79 “Poor”

Gentleman Jim settled into his new home at RCA with a typically dependable set for which he would become famous over the next several years. He’s rarely what you’d call exciting but I admit to a soft-spot for the richly baritoned one, a regular on my Nanna’s old gramophone player (I’ve inherited his LPs!) Two of these selections are from his own pen, including a paean to Ichabod Crane, who was the protagonist in Washington Irving's short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, first published in 1820. Bet the Jim Reeves fans wish they had Wikipedia in 1956 ; - )

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Aug-2008


TJR says:

3.70 “Terrible”

The tenth “A-lister” from the recently turned 40 year-old arrived in March 1956 and was an altogether snazzier, more up-tempo affair than its predecessor, the maudlin “In The Wee Small Hours”. If it was conceptualized as a soap opera then he’s now over the break up, there’s a new love in his life, and spring has sprung. Nelson Riddle’s arrangements are fantastic, the musicianship is top drawer and ol’ blue eyes is sparkling. I just can’t get over the fact that this middle of the road fare was ever deemed hip. Some say sophisticated… I say square.

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Oct-2015

chart first published 26 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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