Album Chart of 1961

<1960 1962>

  • This chart features albums released in 1961 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • Elsewhere, the Albums released in 1961 page shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1961-a-roy-orbison.jpg

WORLD ACCLAIM FOR THE BIG O

The seismic musical shift from the 1950s to the 1960s was never more perfectly encapsulated than with the work of Roy Orbison, as those wide-eyed 12 bar shooby-doo-wops gave way to something altogether more elegiac, melodramatic and sophisticated. Pop music was growing up right before your eyes. Producers everywhere were experimenting with new techniques and ideas – the close-mike vocals and the lush pop strings of the “Nashville Sound”, showcased this year in the albums of both Roy Orbison and Patsty Cline, was one shining example of innovative studios at work.

Scepter maintain their winning formula with the Shirelles sound, whilst Berry Gordy’s Tamla label responds with their Marvelettes.

Immune to such fashionable trends is Ivor Cutler who launches his debut full-length, keeping things wonderfully surreal.

Top blues LPs appear from Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker, and the ever-reliable Fats Domino places two sets in my Top 10 of the year.

There are new albums from Jacques Brel and Édith Piaf, who deliver chansons of fine quality, keeping the mix interesting for those with a cosmopolitan outlook.

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Dec-2015

TJR says:

8.54 “A classic”

The awesome “Up Town” single had promised much in the way of a possible new direction and with this lush, stereophonic extravaganza, Roy Orbison firmly underlined that his ten-a-penny Sun rockers were now a thing of the past, an era away. He told Rolling Stone in 1988: “I liked the sound of [my voice]. I liked making it sing, making the voice ring, and I just kept doing it. And I think that somewhere between the time of “Ooby Dooby” and “Only the Lonely”, it kind of turned into a good voice.” “Lonely And Blue” was a giant of an album, towering about the contemporaries and quite unlike anything which had went before. Sure there were touchstones of pop crooner, of country heartbreak, of the rock n roll ballad, of soulful blues; but the sum of the parts was unmistakably a new trademark; the Roy Orbison sound, with enough emotional resonance to shatter all but men with steel hearts. With the orchestration, the subtle doo-wop, THAT voice and the arrangements – the set just oozes class at every turn. Album of the year, and one of the very best of the decade.

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Jul-2007


TJR says:

7.71 “Brilliant”

Following his brilliant EP of 1959, “Ivor Cutler Of Y’Hup”, Ivor cut a deal with Decca Records for a full length LP, and “Who Tore Your Trousers?” didn’t disappoint. This time around, the absurd set comprises a mixture of both songs (of which there are six) and stories (of which there are nine). The album is full of major Cutler classics – “A Red Flower” (story), “Are You Alright Jack” (song) and “Steady Job” (story). It’s of no matter to me which form he chooses – his engaging delivery guarantees satisfaction in any event. “Who Tore Your Trousers” was a solid foundation stone in a legendary story…

The Jukebox Rebel
03-May-2007


TJR says:

7.65 “Brilliant”

THIS IS NOT A LIVE ALBUM, despite Vee-Jay’s curveball title. It’s a double studio album, with the 11 tracks on the first record being all-new material, and the second being a “greatest hits” to date. It seems that Vee Jay were always trying to add (what was thought to be at the time) some desirable “spin” to the marketing (live being desirable back in the day). Also, the liner notes say that Record 2 “celebrates” Record 1’s “concert” by re-recording the big Reed hits thus far – it has subsequently been verified that they are, in fact, all originals. All that when all they had to do was say “here’s the new Jimmy Reed album with a bonus greatest hits disc”. Those crazy bad stars. My rating is based on the new album only i.e. the 11 tracks on Record 1.

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Dec-2010


TJR says:

7.14 “Really good”

1961 goes down as one of the better years for Jerry Lee. Having been followed by a cloud of doubt since 1958, there were clear signs that the public were slowly coming round to accepting the marriage to his young teenage cousin. Of the career-threatening furore, Myra herself later opined: “They were looking for a place to stick the knife into rock n roll. And Jerry gave it to them—well, I did, I opened my mouth. That’s exactly what it was.” On February 9, 1961, Jerry Lee was the first of the Sun artists to record in Sam Phillips' new studio in Nashville. For the last song of the session that night, they decided to have another crack at Ray Charles’s “What'd I Say”, following on from previous attempts in January 1960 and again in June 1960. There was a great feeling that they had captured something new and quite special – Jerry Lee’s adrenalin fuelled piano hammering was still in evidence, but the overall group and vocal was much more modern, stylish and soulful. In April, Jerry Lee Lewis was back in the Billboard Pop Chart for the first time in 3 years. His Top 30 hit re-elevated his status overnight; bigger touring venues were back on the agenda and a tour with Jackie Wilson was booked. Suitably encouraged that the market was ready for it, Sun got around to issuing a new-ish Jerry Lee Lewis LP in December. 5 of the tracks were appearing for the first time; of these, all bar the newly recorded “Hello Josephine” stemmed from sessions in 1958 and 1959. Of the previously unreleased tracks, the raunchy “Hello Hello Baby” was a real gem just begging to be unleashed. Of the 7 single sides which were included, “Great Balls of Fire” (1957), “Break Up” (1958) and “Let’s Talk About Us” were the “oldies”. Only “Great Balls of Fire” had appeared in his back-album catalogue thus far. The other 4 were pooled from this year’s successful sides; “What’d I Say” (the big comeback hit from February), “Cold, Cold Heart” (a thoroughly excellent Hank Williams cover which was the follow up single in May, hitting #22 hit on the Billboard Country Chart), “As Long As I Live” (b-side to “Save The Last Dance For Me” in September) and “Money (That’s What I Want)” (the current single, issued in November, following in his new Ray Charles style). By years' end, Jerry Lee was back where he belonged – on the big stage, rockin' and rollin'.

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Nov-2009


TJR says:

6.99 “Good”

“The Shirelles Sing To Trumpets and Strings” arrived in March, although there weren’t too many trumpets and strings were kept to a minimum. Not that I’m complaining – the breezy “Mama Said” opens the set in fine style – it’s a tune penned by the producer Luther Dixon and it's clear that we have a trademark Scepter sound on our hands. Goffin & King chip-in with “What A Sweet Thing That Was” and it’s another soar-away killer production made in heaven. Right there and then, the Shirelles were on top of the world – this thrilling sound would propel a whole host of imitators all the way into the middle of the decade. “It’s Mine” provides the first blast of trumpet, as the classy R n B flavoured pop continues to flow. Shirley gets to sing one of her own with the magical “I Saw A Tear”, with an infectious round of doo-doo-wops which steadfastly refuse to believe that the 60s now exist. The album is heading for “classic” status after these 4 tracks but the pace is too hot to handle from thereon, occasionally taking some wrong turns towards the dreaded American songbook vibe – these are R n B girls at heart and should be nowhere near the likes of “The Willow Tree” or “What’s Mine Is Yours” (although they’re not bad). All in all, not quite to the standard of last years “Tonight’s The Night” – but it’s not far off…

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Oct-2008


TJR says:

6.74 “Good”

It was the strangest darn thing that Patsy Cline had released almost 20 singles between 1955 and 1960 but had only ever charted, in either of the Country or Billboard charts, with 1957’s “Walkin’ After Midnight”. Things had to change. In 1959 Cline met Randy Hughes, a session guitarist and promotion man. Hughes became her manager and helped her change labels. When her Four Star contract expired in 1960, she signed with Decca Records-Nashville, directly under the direction of legendary female-singer country music producer Owen Bradley, who had been previously been “sub-contracted” in for her debut LP way back in 1957. He was responsible for much of Cline’s success from hereon and positively influenced the careers of both Brenda Lee and Loretta Lynn. Even though she was still scared of the lush Nashville Sound arrangements, Bradley considered Cline’s voice best-suited for country pop-crossover songs. Bradley’s direction and arrangements helped smooth her voice into the silky, torch song style for which she won fame. By a strange co-incidence, it would, once again, be a “reject song” (following in the storyline footsteps of 1957’s “Walkin’ After Midnight”) which would kick-start Patsy’s career, this time with the sublime, career defining “I Fall To Pieces”. Harlan Howard pitched the song to Bradley, who tried to find the right artist to record it. His first preference had been for Brenda Lee, but she found the song “too country” for her pop style. Bradley then asked rising country star Roy Drusky to record it, but he turned it down stating that “it’s not a man’s song”. Patsy Cline, who overheard Drusky’s argument with Bradley about the song, asked if she could record it instead. Bradley accepted her offer. When Cline began recording the song in November 1960, she had second thoughts after she discovered popular Nashville session group, The Jordanaires would serve as the background vocalists. Cline was afraid the Jordanaires would drown her sound out and as a result, she was not very friendly upon meeting them. Cline also felt that the Pop ballad style Bradley wanted it recorded in didn’t suit her own style. Bradley was trying to make the song appeal to the Pop market, an idea that was not well liked by Cline. She had several arguments with Bradley, however the end result was that Cline went along with the producer’s wishes. After listening to the playback of “I Fall To Pieces”, she had fully came around to his way of thinking, later stating that “with “I Fall To Pieces” I felt that I had finally found my own identity”. The song was well promoted and won success on both country and pop music stations. On the country charts, the song slowly climbed to the top, garnering her first Number One ranking. In a major feat for country singers at the time, the song hit No. 12 on the pop and No. 6 on the adult contemporary charts, making her a household name and demonstrating that women could indeed achieve as much crossover success as men. This would be the first of 7 Billboard Pop hits in a row, including the follow up smash hit “Crazy”, written for her by Willie Nelson. Both songs were included here on “Showcase”, released in time for the lucrative Christmas market in November 1961. The album generally played safe and included many cover versions of previously recorded hits on the country and pop charts including pop singer Gogi Grant’s “The Wayward Wind”, Bonnie Lou’s “Seven Lonely Days”, Cole Porter’s “True Love” and Bob Wills’s “San Antonio Rose”. In addition, Cline recorded remakes of her 1957 hit sides, “Walkin’ After Midnight” and “A Poor Man’s Roses (Or a Rich Man’s Gold)”, the former of which pales in comparison to its 1957 original. Label pressure compromise doesn’t always work out…

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Jul-2008


TJR says:

6.54 “Good”

Opens with a mesmerizing, low-key acoustic rendition of “Tupelo”, recorded live at Newport Festival in the summer of the previous year. The track had previously featured on “The Country Blues” album in 1959. It’s one of two “reworks” from his back albums, the other being “Wednesday Evening Blues” (“That’s My Story”, 1960). Following on from “Tupelo” is “I’m Mad Again” which carries on the theme of “Leave My Wife Alone” (’51 single) / “Gonna Use My Rod” (“That’s My Story”, 1960) – this time the Hook means business! It’s a fantastic start. Another getting reworked is “The Hobo”, the second track from his June ’60 Newport set; he had first recorded this one as “Hobo Blues” back in ’49. It’s followed by a lively full-on band number, “Hard Headed Woman”, which certainly breaks up the intimate solo vibe which dominates the album. “You’re Looking Good Tonight”, with Johnny, electric down-low, tapping his feet away and hum-mmm-mmm-ing his way to the end, makes for a decent finish to a somewhat un-engaging side 2.

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Jun-2012


TJR says:

6.52 “Good”

Fats tenth new music album was released in June 1961. He continues where he left off on his January LP by cutting down on his own compositions – there were 3 originals and 9 covers on this one. It was quite an experimental set by Fats standards, touching on blues, r n b, country, crooner, pop as well as a bit of rock n roll. The rockabilly stomp of “Let The Four Winds Blow” can do nothing other than get my fingers tapping surfaces, whilst his cover of Charles Browns’ “Trouble Blues” sees the big man reinvent himself as a bluesy Ray Charles. It’s serious Fats – and boy oh boy, how I wish that he did that more often…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Jan-2012


TJR says:

6.51 “Good”

“N°5” represents the end of chapter one for Brel – his fifth and final album of new music for Philips Records. It’s a solid follow-up to “N°4” album, perhaps lacking the dynamic killer-classics, but plenty spirited all the same. The opening “Marieke” is a strong starter and sees Brel singing in both French and Flemish for the one and only time. Album highlight “Le Moribond” is a tale of a dying man that includes sarcasm and references to his wife’s infidelity. It would be tamely reinterpreted by Rod McKuen as “Seasons In The Sun”. Une tragédie pour musique!

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Jul-2008


TJR says:

6.51 “Good”

Released in France in 1961, “Récital 1961” was recorded from a concert at L'Olympia on the 30th of December 1960. This was the 4th of 5 LP’s that Edith Piaf recorded live in the intimate 19th century Parisian music hall. This one was particularly notable for a few reasons. For one, it was part of a series of 1960/1961 concerts promised by Piaf in an effort to save the venue from bankruptcy. Also, it showcased her brand new song, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” her undoubted pièce de résistance. Unlike her other Olympia albums, all of the material here was new to her LP discography.

The Jukebox Rebel
29-May-2012


TJR says:

6.47 “Decent enough”

Released January 1961. Unusually for Fats there are only 5 of his originals and 7 covers on this one. Many of the covers continue to dig deep into the showtune well that he’s so fond of with “I Miss You So” (The Cats and The Fiddle, 1939), “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman” (Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five, 1946), “Once In A While” (Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, 1937), “I Hear You Knockin’” (Smiley Lewis, 1955), “Isle Of Capri” (Lew Stone and his Band, 1934), “Easter Parade” (Marilyn Miller and Clifton Webb in stage production As Thousands Cheer, 1933), and “I’ll Always Be In Love With You” (Morton Downey, 1929). None of the covers are a patch on his own tunes – the enchanting “It Keeps Rainin’” steals the show and a couple in the Rock n Roll ballad style shine brightly – “What A Price” (fantastic) and “Fell In Love On Monday” (really good). He’s still got it… but I wish he’d cut down on the Broadway angle…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Jan-2012


TJR says:

6.36 “Decent enough”

Released in January 1961. Another straight ahead rockabilly set from Wanda, solid if unspectacular. The LP is dominated by cover versions with “Lonely Weekends” (Charlie Rich, 1960), “Kansas City” (Little Willie Littlefield, 1952) and “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” (Buddy Holly, 1959) being amongst the most famous. Album highlight is her version of “Hard Headed Woman” (Elvis Presley with The Jordanaires, 1958) where she (with the help of her rocking band) gives her ex a run for his money. Next best is actually an original, “Tongue Tied”, which is in keeping with the high-energy good-time party feeling of the album.

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Aug-2015


TJR says:

6.31 “Decent enough”

Jim Reeves unleashes his inner Luke The Drifter on this fine LP of recitations. On “The Gun” he catches up with the man who stole his wife and son 3 years earlier. Consumed with guilt, the cad offers Jim his gun and offers himself up for the death sentence. “As I gave the weapon back I said what’s done is done, just be kind to Jenny and my son”. Ooft! “Old Tige” is a great story and Jim Reeves is just the man with the tone to deliver it – a real tear jerker / laugh a minute depending on what sort of mood you’re in. The opening verse sets the tone: “Three years of Army Service done and I was headin' home at last, I got to thinking 'bout my dog and things long gone and past, how old Tige pulled me from the creek when I had no pulse or breath, and how he had saved me from the chargin' bull that gored my Dad to death.” A lively past! Tige has one last deed to perform and the twist at the end is the making of an unforgettable classic. I’m reminded of Johnny Cash’s “Ride This Train” LP of last year when Jim delivers his paean to the Yukon, a reading of Robert Service’s 1907 poem, “The Spell of the Yukon”. It’s a beautiful thing. Root-source inspirations are revealed near the close of play as Jim tackles “Men With Broken Hearts” and “Two Many Parties and Too Many Pals”, both of which were recorded by Hank Williams under his Luke the Drifter guise some 10 years earlier. Jim manages to squeeze in one of his own, “Seven Days” right at the tail end of the set. It’s a love-story gone wrong and Jim finds himself on death-row. It’s a strong way to close the best Jim Reeves album ever. Not that there’s much competition ; – )

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Aug-2008


TJR says:

6.27 “Decent enough”

Sam’s 4th LP for RCA, released in October 1961. This is much more palatable for me. He continues to mine the American Songbook, but this time with a bluesy inflection from the band, very much in the great tradition of Jimmie Lunceford. The set includes 11 covers and 1 original, “You’re Always On My Mind”, a classy soul n roll ballad penned in-house by long-time pal and work colleague J.W. Alexander. The album’s intriguing liner notes, penned once again by producers Hugo and Luigi, shine some light into the Sam Cooke psyche: “When we decided to do a “blues” album with Sam Cooke, we got together dozens of publishers’ folders containing the old blues runes that have become semi-classics of the business. As we pored over these one evening with Sam, we could see something troubling him. To our question, Sam answered, “these songs are all right, I guess, but they’re not my kinda blues.” Straight from the off, Sam delves into the Ink Spots tune from 1942, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”. It’s immediately clear we won’t be digging on Waters, Wolf or Sonny Boy. But that’s ok. Sam’s kinda blues is kinda classy. “Since I Met You Baby” (Ivory Joe Hunter, 1956) shows what this boy is made of… “Love me in the morning, love me late at night”. The blood is pumping. To boot, the band are cool in that lazy but sexy way which only the blues can truly deliver. In the Sam Cooke story, things are starting to hot up right about now…

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Jul-2008


TJR says:

6.23 “Decent enough”

Released October 1961 (Imperial LP-9164). Fats 3rd LP of the year sees him reverse the trend for covers, with 9 of his own originals taking precedent in the track selection process. Ironically, it’s a cover that takes my fancy most, with Fats excellent moody blue rendition of “Trouble In Mind” (originally done by Thelma La Vizzo in 1924) effortlessly hitting my sweet spot. His own “Bad Luck And Trouble” is cut from the same cloth – I can’t help but thinking how I’d love a full on Fats album in this authentic mean blues style…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Jan-2012


TJR says:

6.17 “Decent enough”

“New Juke-Box Hits” would be the last new-material Chuck Berry LP for quite some time, as he’d be locked up for an 18 month stretch in early 1962. The album was unusual in his catalogue in that every single track was brand new to the market with no preceding singles. Relatively speaking, it was his weakest material to date, although his performance on “Run Around” is quite fantastic – man, guitar and voice in perfect harmony. It was a case of so long Chuck, we’ll see you in a few years…

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Feb-2008


TJR says:

6.14 “Decent enough”

Leads off with the title track, an original country-tinged Rock n Roll ballad which had given Wanda her second hit single in the Billboard Pop Charts in the summer of ‘61. Significantly, the single also hit the Country Top 10 and, although it wasn’t immediately evident on this LP, would come to be regarded as Wanda’s “comeback” into mainstream country music – it’s where her heart always lay. Why people can’t enjoy different styles is a great shame – this is especially true when it comes to country music I feel. In her book “Finding Her Voice: Women in Country Music” Wanda stated: “Then country music began comin' back, and I had written a ballad called 'Right or Wrong' and it became a big hit…I think that when I went back to country I lost my rock and roll fans.” Immediately after the opener, a good version of Stonewall Jackson’s “Why I’m Walkin’” goes full-on country and the tone for the first half of the LP is set. Her cover of George Jones’s “The Window Up Above”, which closes side 1, is the third strong track on the LP. The phrase “two sides of Wanda” is oft-used when describing her music and, again, this is apparent on this LP, as Side 2 reverts to an accessible brand of R n B – a style to which she is very well suited. The second half of the set features covers all the way, with the likes of “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” (Chuck Berry and his combo, 1956) and “My Baby Left Me” (Arthur Crudup, 1950) getting the Wanda treatment. Not so cool is her fancy for “Stupid Cupid” (Connie Francis, 1958). I forgive her – “Slippin and Slidin’” (Little Richard, 1956) more than makes amends. As for losing her Rock n Roll fans? Their loss Wanda, their loss…

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Aug-2015


TJR says:

5.84 “Average”

The murky old world of the music biz ensured that, due to a fall out with Wesley Rose, their manager and publisher, the brothers were unable to release any of their own compositions and were blocked from using the Bryant’s material, since they too were a part of the Acuff-Rose stable. Quite why they decided to delve into the world of the broadway musical for material seems to be an absurd reaction. Having said that, it’s to their eternal credit that nothing stinks – the Everly Brothers are one of those rare phenomena’s that can stamp a certain quality mark on anything that they touch – even their vaudevillian quirks are entertaining although probably baffling for their teenage fanbase. Fourteen songs were laid down for the set – an album in two clear halves with the first side marked “For dancing”, and the second marked “For dreaming”. Best of Side A is “Chloe”, as they turn Neil Moret / Gus Kahn’s tune from the 1920s into a bit of a bluesy ballad. The version of “The Wayward Wind” is very well done and fits its dreamy concept tag, as does their pseudo-mariachi rendition of “Love Is Where You Find It”. A certain smash with kissing bandits everywhere. Unfortunately for the Everlys (and for Warner Bros) the days of the film dreamers were a decade or two past…

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Apr-2008


TJR says:

5.82 “Average”

The full session for this album was recorded on August 24th, 1960, with the blind Reverend taking just three hours to lay down his acoustic finger-pickin’ licks and impassioned vocal spirituals that range from the mournful to the joyous. The album was released early in 1961 on Prestige Bluesville (re-issued a few years later as “Pure Religion” – and not to be confused with “Pure Religion and Bad Company”!) 10 of the 12 songs were making their album debut, with only “Samson And Delilah” (essentially a version of Blind Willie Johnson’s “If I Had My Way I’d Tear That Building Down”) and “Twelve Gates To The City” (another reinterpreted traditional) having appeared on his LP discography before – both on his “American Street Songs” LP in 1956. At least 3 of the others were re-recordings of songs that he’d previously recorded in the 1930s. Never completely thrilling – but the 64 year old was in pretty good shape on this crisp and cleanly recorded set…

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Sep-2009


TJR says:

5.71 “Average”

Tom and Jack offer the auld scotch sangs with an authentic delivery and I approve. Given their “shortbread tin” image I’m surprised at how well some of these songs rated with me… proof that The Alexander Brothers are a better listen than they are a watch.

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Sep-2005


TJR says:

5.65 “Average”

Not as earthy as my beloved Dubliners, but The Clancy Brothers have their moments – “Brennan On The Moor” and “Haul Away Joe” stand up well here.

The Jukebox Rebel
03-May-2007


TJR says:

5.61 “Average”

I don’t know what got into Jim in 1961 but both of his LPs from this year took an amazing turn for the better; sweetly sung love songs were eschewed for darker tales of death and tragedy. “Tall Tales and Short Tempers” was the first to arrive in February. Our first victim dies in “The Blizzard” which opens the set. Although he’s looking forward to his “biscuits in the pan”, our man can’t bear to abandon his lame hoss, and struggles to get them both home to the warmth of the barn. They both perish as “he was just a 100 yards from Mary Ann”. Damn! There have been many fine versions of the traditional “The Streets Of Laredo”, but none finer than Jim’s proud and manly reading: “Beat the drum slowly, and play the pipe lowly, play the death march as you carry me along, take me to the green valley, there lay the sod o'er me, for I'm a young cowboy and know I've done wrong” On “Rodger Young” Jim immortalizes a young private who died in battle less than 18 years ago. A feature of Jim’s two LPs of ’61 was his direct spoken-word approach, occasionally on show on this LP. With guitar playing, he introduces the song thus: “On July 31st 1943 a bloody round in the battle for the Solomon Islands was being fought in the tangled jungle of the island of New Georgia. This is the story of one of the young men who fought and died there. This song is respectfully dedicated to those heroic infantrymen who, like Rodger Young have sacrificed their lives, that their nation might remain forever free”. Jim’s at his career-best on the first half of this set (for me) but he doesn’t maintain this edge in the second half, with the likes of “Danny Boy” being a bit too sugary in comparison to the first. The overall effect of the album still merits the pass marks – and that’s quite an achievement for a Jim Reeves record heard through the ears of a punker.

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Aug-2008


TJR says:

5.38 “Below average”

His second LP for Prestige Blueville in 1961. “You Got To Move” and “Motherless Children” had been done on his debut LP “The Singing Reverend” in 1954 – apart from these two this was all newly recorded material by the 65 year old, who was invited back to record his second set for Prestige Records, 12 months after the first. This one was recorded in a single day (as normal) in New York on August 10th, 1961, with Rudy Van Gelder at the helm once again to ensure a clean take. Davis pick playing and earthy vocal continues to be easy on the ear – but, as with many virtuosos, he never threatens transcendence and rarely varies tempo or tone.

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Sep-2009


TJR says:

5.25 “Below average”

Debut LP from the Shirelles-inspired quintet, issued to capitalize on their fairy-tale debut single which was in the middle of climbing the charts as the album was released in November. By December, the single had climbed all the way to the very summit of the American Pop Chart – duly securing their place in history as the first Motown act to do so. There’s nothing too bad on the album, but nothing exceptional. Three tracks seem pretty decent to me. “Please Mr. Postman”, featuring 22 year-old Marvin Gaye on drums, is the first to shine; long before text and e-mail, postmen were the no.1 source of teen angst. The down-to-earth lead vocals of Gladys Horton are part of the charm. By contrast, Wanda Young took the vocal range one octave beyond, with “So Long” being the best of her 5 leads. It puts me in mind of The Chantel’s “Maybe”. It’s another Rock n Roll ballad which catches my ear at the very end of the LP – “Oh, I Apologize” which finds all 5 of the girls in fine voice, with some neat “Telstar organ” and piano keeping things interesting. On the liner notes the girls invite you to write in and tell them which track they should release as the next single. “Why not give Mr Postman your letter today?” I vote for “Oh, I Apologize”. Well, better late than never : – )

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Dec-2008


TJR says:

5.11 “Below average”

Far too tame, far too often is the story on the latest Elvis album, only occasionally saved by some decent R n B offerings. There’s no doubting his ability to caress and serenade – if that’s your bag then you’ll love it. “Gently” sums up all that’s wrong with much of Elvis 60s catalogue – pathetic lyrics, timid playing, general all round squaredom. The rocking rhythms of “I’m Coming Home”, sequenced immediately afterwards, almost seems to serve as an apology. The brilliance of “Elvis Is Back!” is a long-distant memory just 14 months later.

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Aug-2008


TJR says:

3.76 “Terrible”

Released February, 1961. A side track jazz album, tending towards the instrumental, recorded with several members of the Count Basie Orchestra. Phillip Guilbeau is featured extensively on trumpet, and Ray plays the Hammond organ for the first time on a recording. “One Mint Julep” became Ray’s first instrumental hit, reaching #1 on the R&B charts and #8 on the pop charts. The jazz hounds will love it… for me it’s average at best, occasionally sinking into the dire…

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jul-2008


TJR says:

3.51 “Terrible”

The tenth Elvis Presley new music album cannot be saved from a lowly Rebel rating, despite the greatness of “Rock-a-Hula Baby”. But heck, what do I know? The Blue Hawaii soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1961 in the category of “Best Sound Track Album or Recording of Original Cast from a Motion Picture or Television”. This was bad news for fans of Elvis as a genuine and credible Rock n Roller, as Wikipedia tells: “The success of this soundtrack and its predecessor “G. I. Blues”, both of which sold in much greater quantity than Presley's two regular releases of the time, “Elvis Is Back!” and “Something for Everybody”, set the pace for the rest of the decade. Colonel Parker and Presley would focus on Elvis' film career, non-soundtrack albums taking a back seat with only six during the 1960s against sixteen full-length soundtrack albums among 27 movies and the comeback special.”

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Aug-2008


TJR says:

2.68 “Dire”

The album was recorded during a gig-a-thon on June 25, 1961 at the Village Vanguard in New York City which saw the trio play 2 daytime sessions and 3 in the evening. The marathon men were: Bill Evans (Piano), Scott LaFaro (Bass) and Paul Motian (Drums). Tragically, LaFaro was killed in a car accident ten days after the recording and his name was subsequently elevated to billing status in time for the album’s release 4 months later. This seems doubly fair enough since he wrote 2 of the pieces and there were actually no Bill Evans compositions on board. The LP is revered as one of the finest jazz albums of all-time, with critics universally acknowledging the relaxed beauty and the uncanny synergy that exists between all players, most notably between Evans and LaFaro. Whatever. Excepting the album’s closer, there’s a bloke going tinkle-plinkle on the ebony and ivories and another giving it the big bandy-bendy on the upright. They play tunes written by George Gershwin and Cole Porter. The drummer deserves a medal for hanging in there. The ordeal lasts 38 minutes and is broken only by La Faro’s moody blue finale, “Jade Visions”, a thrown lifeline which arrives far too late.

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Nov-2015

chart first published 9 Dec 2015; last edited 11 Dec 2015

Album Charts

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