Album Chart of 1963

<1962 1964>

  • This chart features albums released in 1963 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • The Top 30 albums are profiled, and the full chart (Top 35) is summarised, in sortable table form, on the Albums released in 1963 page, which shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1963-a-bob-dylan.jpg

AN EARTHQUAKE IS ERUPTING

Just last year, American artists accounted for the entirety of my Top 30 “A-list” albums chart.

In 1963, from Kingston Jamaica to Liverpool England there were clear signs that, at last, there could well be a challenge to America’s musical dominance, in terms of all that was good and exciting in the world of music albums.

That said, it's Bob Dylan who reigns supreme, fulfilling all that potential from '62, this time with an album penned, typed and scored entirely by his own hands.

Prince Buster and The Maytals fly the flag of Jamaican independence, as the world starts to become aware of the super-exciting new sound of Ska.

Sam Cooke and Johnny Cash are on their A-game, and the unbelievably consistent Fats Domino registers an EIGHTH consecutive Top 10 entry in my year-end album chart.

The Beach Boys seem to be getting stronger, and The Beatles give hope that there might just be an English group capable of delivering decent albums, with two chart-topping sets released by the fourpiece in this year.

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Dec-2015

revised 17-Feb-2016

TJR says:

9.01 “A masterpiece”

He may have kept his cards close to his chest on last year’s debut album, but here he laid down his winning hand (12 of his own) and, holy shmoly, he was ace of spades and king o’ diamonds all in one. The musical template remains very much the same – century old folk traditions upheld via one man and his all–round agility on guitar picks and strums, vocal phrasings hitherto unheard, and a harmonica laced with a winning warmth. Lyrically, it’s a whole new ball game. Although he retains the personal relationship themes and an appealing sprinkle of surrealism and dry humour, there’s a new character developing – this is Bob Dylan, political activist, social agitator, news commentator. Bob gets stuck into topics many and varied, with no holding back – “tin pan alley folk music”, “warmongers” and “racists” are all confronted, sometimes head-on from an angry Bob, sometimes from a sarcastic, scornful Bob. Always, he knows his topics well before he starts singing. “Masters of War” is the album’s highlight for me – a bullshit free, stare it out, shout it down condemnation of War, an event which seemed almost inevitable at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The song’s incessant melody line was adapted from Jean Ritchie’s 1957 arrangement of the traditional “Nottamun Town”, and Bob uses it to underline his verbal assault, as he takes on the power brokers at their own aggressive game: “I think you will find, when your death takes its toll, all the money you made will never buy back your soul”. Of the song, Dylan himself said: “I’ve never written anything like that before. I don’t sing songs which hope people will die, but I couldn’t help it with this one. The song is a sort of striking out… a feeling of what can you do?” As if to remind that he’s not gonna be an earnest bore “Bob Dylan’s Blues” has a great sense of fun, more of that sing-talk style as groupies and playboys get the short shrift with lines like “All you five and ten cent women, with nothin’ in your heads, I got a real gal I’m in love” and “I don’t have no sports car, and I don’t even care to have one, I can walk anytime around the block”. It’s not long ‘til he’s back on the serious topics of the day via “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”. With the very real threat of war hanging over the country, Dylan protests that we should beware propaganda and seek out the truth for ourselves, (“the pellets of poison are flooding the waters”) and warns of the consequences of escalation (“I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways, I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests, I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans”). In his album notes, Bob explained a little of the background to his epic 5 verse q & a masterpiece: “Every line in it is actually the start of a whole song, but when I wrote it, I thought I wouldn’t have enough time alive to write all those songs so I put all I could into this one.” There’s absolutely no doubt we were witnessing a genius at work – with its jaw dropping insight, this album stops you dead in your tracks one minute, then breaks the tension with irreverent craziness the next. You don’t whether to laugh or cry. What a player. What a wordsmith. What soul. What an album…

The Jukebox Rebel
25-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.46 “Really good”

Fuelled with the independence spirit, and brimming with national pride, Jamaica’s music scene exploded in the early 60s as their rhythmic-boogie brand of R n B morphed into something altogether more idiosyncratic – by 1963 the sound of Jamaica was wholly and completely recognised as the sound of Ska. Following on from a slew of exciting hit singles in this new genre, the first LPs weren’t too far behind. With their finger right on the pulse, London’s Blue Beat were straight on the case, even going so far as to have their own in-house studio / touring band ready to support their “Blue Beat” vision. When Prince Buster signed to the label, it marked the first exclusive licensing arrangement ever launched between a Jamaican artist and a British label. Since the late Forties, considerable numbers of Afro-Caribbean immigrants, the majority from Jamaica, had been arriving in Britain. Add to these, the style-obsessed white youths who loved black music and it’s perhaps not too difficult to see why this was a great idea. Oh – and the fact that the music was scorching hot on the dance floor helped some! Brother Bustamente sings Hallelujah on the opening title-track. The congregation is immediately filled with gladness. Next up, the killer “Madness” single from ’62 sends the temperature through the roof. Nice n easy trombone licks save the ballad “Don’t Make Me Cry” from oblivion. “They Got To Come” is the second single from ’62 to get an airing. The stylishly lazy backbeats of “All Alone” keep the quality high. Rico Rodriguez gets a chance to shine on the cool instrumental “Soul Of Africa” – it takes great musicians to put some soul into the lounge vibe, and it’s an intriguing ending to side 1 of the LP. In 1963, Buster was often looking to fuse a Soul Stirrers vibe with the new world of Ska… the harmonies with the girls on “Wash All Your Troubles Away” works a treat as the opening track on the album’s flipside. “Babalicious you are” exclaims the Prince on the fantastic “Jealous”. I still have no idea what he’s banging on about, but I’m happy to flow with the sheer deliciousness of the thing. There’s a mock-racism shock on “Black Head Chinaman” – declare yourself Derrick Morgan! Where you come from? Morgan had left Buster’s stable to make recordings with rival producer, Leslie Kong, whose parents were from Hong Kong. Buster felt that he had taken many new song licks with him: “You done stole my belongings and give to your China man, God in heaven knows, He knows that you are wrong. Are you a China man are you a black man, It don't need no eye glass to see that your skin is black, Do you prefer your China man to your fellow blackman?” Ouch! The fued was subsequently played out via answer singles in the sound system arenas – and it proved to be good for business as the island was gripped by the soap opera. It’s often been said that they were actually having a laugh with each other behind the scenes – but I’m not so sure about that! The vibe is happy on “Beggars Are No Choosers”… the hills are alive with the sound of 200BPM Ska records… I find myself singing “Enjoy Yourself” along with this! On “Run Man Run” Buster’s been cuckolded… someone’s gonna get mashed up! Buster’s debut album finishes with “Just You” – another quality instrumental from his British boys. For his debut LP, the best that England or Jamaica could offer were in Buster’s camp…

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Jan-2012


TJR says:

7.43 “Really good”

Sam Cooke’s second LP of 1963, released in August. Boy oh boy, he’s cooking the gas right about now. Opens with the classic “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen”, originally recorded (as far as I can tell) by The Tuskegee Institute Singers in 1917. The song is a traditional spiritual of African American slaves, first collected in the 1867 book “Slave Songs of the United States”. He’s moving deeper into roots and deeper into my affections. Sam rearranges his own “Mean Old World”, a song he’d written and previously recorded whilst still a member of the Soul Stirrers. This is bona–fide life-affirming soul music. Taking on Howlin’ Wolf’s “Little Red Rooster” is a big surprise – and a big success. Billy Preston’s organ is a hoot, imitating the sounds of a Rooster crowing, dogs barking and hounds howling. There’s not a weak track anywhere on this album. “Night Beat” stands as the best new music album he ever made…

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Jul-2008


TJR says:

7.39 “Really good”

The world’s finest exponent of the soulful tremor returns with a stronger, more consistent set than last years “Crying”, packing outright classics such as “In Dreams” and “No One Will Ever Know”. Wherever he delves into the songwriter’s book, the results here are devoid of cheese – “Shahdaroba” has lovely shades of the Middle East, and the reading of “Beautiful Dreamer” is exquisite. Another sophisticated winner…

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Oct-2007


TJR says:

7.23 “Really good”

This is another in Johnny Cash’s string of terrific concept albums, digging deep into Appalachian and Negro folklore for inspiration. The album’s title is inspired by a quote from Winston Churchill, in which he says he can offer “nothing but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.” The album’s epic opener, “The Legend Of John Henry’s Hammer”, sets the tone. John Henry’s heroism is associated with several elements: his strength and grit as a working-class common man, his status as a hero to African American labourers, and his allegorical depiction of “the tragedy of man versus machine” and other aspects of modernization. “35c a day for drivin’ steel”. John Henry is a black man of exceptional physical gifts, a former slave, possibly born in Tennessee. Henry becomes the greatest “steel-driver” in the mid-nineteenth-century push to expand railroads from the East Coast of the United States, across and through the mountains, to the frontier West. However, the owner of the railroad buys a steam-powered hammer to do the work of his mostly black steel-driving crew. To save his job and the jobs of his men, John Henry challenges the owner to a contest: Henry will race the steam–powered hammer. Henry won the race. However, as the result of pushing himself to beat the machine, he collapsed and died. This is Johnny Cash the socialist, Johnny Cash the humanist, Johnny Cash, for the American underdog. For the men who make sacrifices for others, with empathy for the chain gang, and the farmer who’s hen won’t lay. This is Johnny Cash with his heart on his sleeve. This is Johnny Cash at his storytelling best…

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.22 “Really good”

The U.S. got the scoop on this one, with London Records able to get their issue into the shops in time for the Christmas market, a couple of months ahead of Decca in the UK. The album, painstakingly created over the course of many months in ‘63, was released by Decca/London as part of their “Phase 4” series, showcasing the “exciting stereo revolution”. “Westorama” is my favourite on the LP – there's never a dull moment in the whole 6½ minute stereophonic extravaganza. In all, there are nine extroverted orchestral compositions, playfully egging the film score creators for cartoons, westerns and sci-fi to name but three. The liner notes from the UK Decca issue promise much and, despite being a tad OTT, sum up the album very well: “This album is an emotional experience. It creates vision for inner eye as well as being music to the ear. It is music that forms a picture, as lucidly as though it were projected on to a screen in front of you. It is indeed, literally THE SOUND OF SIGHT. Sight as well as sound creates emotions in us. Were it not for this psychological truth, Hollywood’s motion picture empire would never have come to exist. It is an acknowledged fact that the vast majority of films ever made would be bland and flat without the especially created music and effects which trigger emotions and consequently reflexes, by identifying orchestral texture colours and phraseology, used so successfully ever since sound motion picture came to be. In this album we release, through music and effects, emotions and reflexes without of course actually showing a picture. However, we are certain that the listener will indeed SEE a picture nonetheless. We have taken the Pavlovian concept of reflexes a step further and applied to the inner eye. This then becomes a matter of stimulated visual imagination. Music and effects will stimulate your emotions. The emotions will stimulate reflexes upon your imagination, which in turn will create the visual picture in your mind’s eye. We believe to have created here the first DOCUMENTARY on a stereo disc. Months of patient research and study, plus thousands of feet of tape, a near scientific method of composition and arranging have gone into the making of this album, in order to produce these results in superb stereo sound, plus a psychological video-reaction upon the listener. This album also has great humour, never raucous, but always subtle and by innuendo. Some of the purposely used “cliché” phrases are poking delicious fun at their originators. However, since impersonation is the greatest form of flattery, the periodic use of these passages and colours are intended to be complimentary as well as amusing. Ray believes that an “obvious” musical passage is only “obvious” because it so damn right in the first place. We agree wholeheartedly.”

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.16 “Really good”

This January 1963 release was an all–new album, although it was mostly culled from unreleased 50s recordings. Those who’ve followed Fats album discography carefully will easily spot the stylistic difference from the preceding early 60s fare. Despite the old nature of the source recordings, the only track which had appeared before was the smash single from 1960, the exquisite “Walkin’ To New Orleans”, which had also appeared on “A Lot Of Dominos”. “Oh Wee” is a real Rock n Roll monster – it’s unbelievable to think they’ve held this one back for the best part of 6 years. This is the first of three new Fats albums in 1963 – 2 from Imperial and 1 from his new label, ABC. Here, the Imperial vaults clearance sale is now on. The first mining shimmers with some nice pieces of silver and gold…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Jan-2012


TJR says:

6.82 “Good”

Fed up with Sun Records endless string of “greatest hits”, Columbia decided they’d release one of their own. And it was very smartly compiled for the LP market, with only 1 track repeating from the album discography thus far – “I Still Miss Someone” (The Fabulous Johnny Cash, 1959). All 12 tracks pool from singles, b-sides and EP tracks, from “What Do I Care” (September 1958) all the way through to “Ring Of Fire” (April 1963), highlighting some hidden gems like “Remember The Alamo” (Johnny Yuma EP, 1959). But it is, of course, the title track which steals the show. The song was originally recorded by June’s sister, Anita Carter, on her Mercury Records album “Folk Songs Old and New” (1963) as “(Love’s) Ring of Fire”. Mercury released Anita’s version as a single and it was a featured “pick hit” in Billboard magazine. After hearing Anita’s version, Cash claimed he had a dream where he heard the song accompanied by “Mexican horns”. Cash stated, “I’ll give you about five or six more months, and if you don’t hit with it, I’m gonna record it the way I feel it.” When the song failed to become a major hit for Anita, Cash recorded it his own way, adding the mariachi–style horns. Mother Maybelle and the Carter sisters are prominently featured in the Cash recording, singing harmony – a wonderful piece of musical history. The biggest hit single of Johnny Cash’s career, “Ring Of Fire” stayed at number one on the charts for seven weeks.

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Jun-2007


TJR says:

6.71 “Good”

Five Surf instrumentals (including the WELL neat “Surfer Jam” and “Misirlou”), four Surf / Sea lyrics songs, one about drag racing and two about girls. That’s the winning formula on Album # 2! Music wise, it’s a tad grittier than the debut, whilst the vocal harmonies are much fuller and richer. It’s the title track which gives the album it’s “must have” status, of course. The adaption tree for “Surfin’ USA” started with the marvellous “Route 90” written and performed by Clarence Garlow in 1954, which was adapted into “Sweet Little Sixteen” by Chuck Berry in 1958, then further adapted lyrically and musically by Brian Wilson for The Beach Boys 1963 megahit. Berry received co-writing credit for composing the song – but only after litigation! What about poor old Clarence? It’s a shady old business…

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Jan-2013


TJR says:

6.64 “Good”

John Lee continues to experiment with his blues music, this time opting for a real soulful brand of the genre. The set is characterised throughout by a notable presence for an extremely cool (unknown) organist, a phat sax from Hank Cosby and a quartet of Motown female vocalists including Marlene Barrow, Louvain Demps and Jackie Hicks (all from The Andantes) and (soon to be international superstar with the Supremes) Mary Wilson. The band is very fine indeed – this is effortlessly cool stuff, and it seems to me the front man knows it – the evidence is there with every intonation; man’s EXPRESSIN’. I register a slight disappointment at the needless rereading of motifs such as “Boom Boom” in “She Shot Me Down” – this does the man a dis-service. Press on John, don’t look back I can’t help but think to myself. “I Love Her” is a rare miss-step on the album – far too poppy, we don’t need that on a JLH set thank you very much. “Good Rockin’ Mama” sees John Lee continue with his rework policy, although it’s a fresh and vital uptempo treatment that’s handed out to his 1952 single “Rock Me Mama” (Modern 862). “Onions” is another side 2 highlight, flirting outrageously with Booker T’s mega-tune, despite the writing credits been wholly claimed by John Lee. “No One Told Me” goes against popular wisdom by finishing the album with filler, but overall this experimental set has worked out well.

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Jun-2012


TJR says:

6.37 “Decent enough”

The first Maytals LP was released without their say so. Like so many Jamaican singers, the trio were seeing very little of the proceeds of their work. Producer Coxsone Dodd was the man cashing in, even going so far as to take extreme liberties by licensing titles to Island UK under pseudonyms such as The Flames and The Vikings. “Never Grow Old”, the album, was all the doing of the bolshie Dodd. Unfortunate background aside, the album does a fine job of rounding up Maytals hit sides of 1962 and 1963. The title-track serves as a simply joyous opener… the harmonies are ace and the Skatalites are razor sharp. The swinging “My Destination” is another first-side highlight; again all ingredients are terrific from harmonies to trombone to the tough back beat. Not so great throughout the album are the ventures into western pop territories; “True Love” and “Don’t Let” are the worst of the offenders. These probably sound better to Jamaican ears – Americans or Brits probably heard them as the second-class derivatives that they were. Lead singer Frederick Hibbert and producer Dodd share the song-writing credits throughout, excepting the politically inspired “War No More”, a traditional which was originally recorded (as far as anyone knows) as “I Ain’t Goin’ to Study War No More” by Fisk University Jubilee Singers away back in December 1920. It stands as a nice statement on the album and leads nicely into the soul stirring Ska finale of “Tell Me You Love Me”. A patchy set all in all – but with enough worthwhile selections to merit a decent rating.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Feb-2012


TJR says:

6.36 “Decent enough”

The Beach Boys message continues loud and clear on their second LP of 1963… “Catch a wave you’ll be sittin’ on top of the world”… I wonder if they sold many in Rochdale? Brian Wilson takes full control at the production helm – as he would do for the next 8 albums. Notably, “Surfer Moon” becomes the first Beach Boys tune to add strings. As the phrase goes, “today’s small acorns are tomorrow’s mighty oaks”. The highlights are the rollicking rollers – Stephen Foster’s “Old Folks at Home” (also known as “Swanee Ribber” or “Suwannee River”) gets reinvented as a hand-clapping honky-tonk stomper in “South Bay Surfer”, whilst “Little Deuce Coupe” encapsulates all that they’ve building towards thus far – R n B with delicious vocal harmonizing resulting in an all new, all pure Beach-Boys-if-ication. Elsewhere, the band continue to pull at the emo strings with quite a few ballads, even getting a little introspective with (the well received by many) “In My Room”.

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Jan-2013


TJR says:

6.29 “Decent enough”

Arriving in September, this set was following on from “The Big Soul of John Lee Hooker”, and continued in a not too dis-similar vein, retaining the female backing singers and the sax, with the organ making way for the piano. “I Want To Ramble” sees John Lee up to his old tricks by messin’ around with the whole Boogie Chillun / Walkin The Boogie theme; I’m a sucker for it every time. To be fair, it’s pretty cool; the upfront focus is on acoustic guitar and drums and it has a real swingin’ beat. All in all this is another consistently decent offering, but less vital than the preceding LP.

The Jukebox Rebel
18-Jun-2012


TJR says:

6.25 “Decent enough”

As far as I’m concerned yer man was underachieving on his first two LP’s. Too much goofing around on the vocals here and not enough rip roaring guitar instrumentals. Also, there are only two Dick Dale originals on this one, which is a bit disappointing. At least the set is a bit more cohesive than the debut – all recorded in the studio in March-April 1963 and issued a couple of months later in June. Opener “King Of The Surf Guitar” seems to want to challenge Duane Eddy’s “Dance To The Guitar Man”, what with its mean twang playing set against the female chorus ensemble. It’s a good start and side 1 goes on to be consistently decent without ever being overly dynamic. Side 2 gets the rate-o-meter bouncing all over the shop – the croon covers of “You Are My Sunshine” (originally done by Jimmie Davis with Charles Mitchell’s Orchestra in 1931) and “If I Never Get To Heaven” (originally done by Eddy Arnold in 1953) are as perplexing as they are frustrating. It’s so blatantly obvious that the album is at its best when Dick simply opens up the throttle and lets that guitar rip. The blistering instrumental covers of “Hava Nagila” and “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky” are testament. Great cherries to pick though…

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Mar-2012


TJR says:

6.21 “Decent enough”

Sam’s 6th album for RCA and it seems, at last, like he has found a style which can appease his own desire to croon with the songbook, yet remain palatable to the likes of me, the more adventurous left field music lover. The album highlight, “Nothing Can Change My Love For You”, is a beautiful strings-laden ballad which has grip, passion and miles of style. It’s the only self–penned song on the album which begs the question; why only the one? The bluesy, orchestral take of “Chains Of Love” (Joe Turner, 1951) is another classy highlight. For the album closer, Sam puts a fresh spin on “These Foolish Things” (Leslie Hutchinson, 1936). Helpfully, Hugo and Luigi are on the back cover to help us with our understanding of soul: “You know it when you hear it. It’s abandoning the formalities of music and going to the truth as the performer feels it. If he wants to hold a note longer, he holds it; if he wants to wave on it, he waves on it; if he feels a beat, they put it in whether it is written in the music or not. “Soul” is just the natural emotional flow of the singer. That’s the way this album was done and that’s why we call it MR. SOUL.” The candle lights remain on the corner tables, but this time Hugo and Luigi are spot on. This guy’s got soul. With every passing album, I’m compelled to linger longer and listen closer…

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Jul-2008


TJR says:

6.16 “Decent enough”

8 originals and 6 covers were presented on The Beatles debut record, showcasing the group’s ability to put a pop spin on an R n B template and remain credible. “Love Me Do” and “Please Please Me” had created such a buzz that the pressure for an album was intense. Both sides of the 2 singles were used, with an extra 10 tracks duly bashed out – all in a day’s work. It wasn’t a bad effort all considered, kinda like The Everly Brothers with an edge. The British record buying public thought it was even better than that, and proceeded to keep the album at Number One for an incredible 30 weeks…

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Oct-2009


TJR says:

6.03 “Decent enough”

His first non–Imperial album and doesn’t it show – with none of the notorious Imperial vault–digging, it’s an all-new, shiny-pop sound for 1963. Wikipedia takes up the ABC story: “The label dictated that he record in Nashville rather than New Orleans. He was assigned a new producer (Felton Jarvis) and a new arranger (Bill Justis); Domino’s long-term collaboration with producer/arranger/frequent co-writer Dave Bartholomew, who oversaw virtually all of his Imperial hits, was seemingly at an end. Jarvis and Justis changed the Domino sound somewhat, notably by adding the backing of a countrypolitan–style vocal chorus to most of his new recordings.” There are a few great tracks here, but there’s no doubt I preferred the Imperial vault-digging…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Jan-2012


TJR says:

5.92 “Average”

Another semi-decent set from the unlikeliest character ever to find his way into Rebel affections. When he steps away from the pop restraints of the countrypolitan sound, and just delves headlong into the bona-fide raw Nashville tearjerkers, he’s an altogether different proposition, and such is the case on this LP. Forsaken love is the story on the country boogie number, “Little Ole Dime”, the best track on Side 1: “Little ole dime, you're the last of a pocket full, I put all the others in this telephone, I've called all over town for a lost love, let this last number be the right one” In a similar boogie style, “Lonely Music” is terrific on side 2, man got the lonely music jukebox blues: “An empty glass, another coin in the jukebox, this pain inside, keeps hurtin' on and on”. The blues drive our man to the album’s major highlight, “Bottle, Take Effect”: “You've took away my fortune, while I drank away my pride, humiliation's my misfortune, and there's no place left to hide. The best place is the gutter, there I won't need respect, 'Cause when in Rome, you'll do as the Romans do, oh bottle, take effect” Ooft! Good n Country, ser. Good n Country.

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Aug-2008


TJR says:

5.89 “Average”

Calculatingly released in late November to coincide with the declining sales of “Please Please Me”, which was duly and predictably displaced at the top of the charts by “With The Beatles”. The tactical delay had created advance orders of 270,000 copies, and the LP topped a half–million albums sold in one week. The album would go on to spend 21 weeks at the top of the UK charts, meaning that the first 2 Beatles albums had kept the band at the top of the album charts uninterrupted just one week short of an entire year. As with the debut, there were 8 originals and 6 covers on the album – were they working to a set formula? Lennon’s take on Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got A Hold On Me” is indicative of the bands strongest weapon at this time – John’s rasp!

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Oct-2009


TJR says:

5.88 “Average”

Since the Blue Caps disbanded in a blaze of acrimony, Gene had spent much of his time in Europe, especially the UK where he even applied for British citizenship. His UK tours were always well attended. That his “new” LP for 1963 would turn out to be a whole lot of unreleased session tracks from 1958 to 1961 might, therefore, be deemed a bit of a disappointing artistic statement. This must have confused people – 50s boogie beats were on the way out, but the perception would be that Gene Vincent was determined to hang on in there. What with his tax problems, drinking problems and health problems, Gene’s career was not turning out as well as he might have hoped. “Crazy Beat”, recorded in January 1961, is the one track which pointed towards a possible new snazzy direction for the star but, alas, it stands alone in this, by and large, unremarkable set.

The Jukebox Rebel
30-Aug-2015


TJR says:

5.83 “Average”

Ray and his Cherokee Cowboys are knockin' on your record player once more as the man himself tells in his spoken word introduction to the album, spoken over an instrumental bed which leads into the bluesy title-track. As if playing live in your living room Ray informs: “tonight we've chosen some of the songs that we sing and play on our dancers across the country. Songs that reflect the emotion of the people that live in the night life. Songs of happiness sadness heartbreak songs of the night life.” It’s a full-on country set from thereon. A terrific cover of Carl Belew’s “Lonely Street” immediately maintains the concept: “Maybe on this lonely street, there's someone such as I, who came to bury broken dreams, and watch an old love die” Album highlight “A Girl In The Night” arrives at the close of play on Side 1. It’s poetically quite beautiful: “She lives her life in honky tonks and the crowded backstreet bar, a world of make believe that knows no sun, no moon or stars, just a glitter of the great white way and the glare of city lights, where the music's loud, she's in the crowd, a lonely girl in the night.” There are a fair few highlights on this album, and very little that grates. This is a solid, hard-hitting band, and Ray’s an old-school front-man who’s well equipped for these wild side of life warning shots.

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Nov-2015


TJR says:

5.74 “Average”

For this LP, Wanda turned her hand to a full set devoted to cover versions of love ballads. Not the most appealing prospect on paper it has to be said, but if anyone can, Wanda can. She makes a very decent fist of it, with more than a few pass marks and some moments of brilliance. “Since I Met You Baby” (Ivory Joe Hunter, 1956) is a first-half stunner; she reinvents the edgy blues original with a soft and gentle country treatment which works surprisingly well. “Little Things Mean A Lot” (Kitty Kallen, 1954) is a highlight from side 2. Kitty’s original will always have my heart, but Wanda’s vocal feels it beautifully. “What Am I Living For” (Chuck Willis, 1958) steals the show – old habits die hard and hearing Wanda sing the blues does it best for me. This lady sure is tasteful.

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Aug-2015


TJR says:

5.70 “Average”

“One of the greatest achievements in orchestration by any composer in jazz history” said Steve Huey at All Music. The hyperbole is ratcheted up to the max for this one! I’m not the world’s biggest Jazz fan but I like to have a go, and occasionally there are works which have a certain amount of appeal to my tastes. On this evidence, the upright bassist, Charles Mingus, is one artist who doesn’t seem to rile me as much as some of the other legends from his peer group. There are underlying bluesy and folky elements to the works on this set – I get a sense that I share some sort of an eclectic kindred spirit within the mind of this artist. Mingus himself has referred to the album's orchestral style as “ethnic folk-dance music”. Jazz critics have this one down as one of the finest sets that the genre has to offer. Richard Cook and Brian Morton, writers of “The Penguin Guide to Jazz”, awarded the album a “Crown” token, the publication's highest accolade, in addition to the highest four-star rating. “Noot noot” said Pingu, with a playful show of solidarity.

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Nov-2015


TJR says:

5.59 “Average”

Released in May 1963. Qualifies as a new album, although it is a bit of a hodge-podge release from Imperial Records. Changes are afoot at the company as they gear up for a sale and they continue to clear the vaults. This is the last of their Fats offerings that could remotely be classed as a new “A–list” release. By this time, Fats himself has actually signed for ABC Records. This LP is half new / half compiled from singles and b sides from the last few years, although only 1 track repeats from the previous LP’s – “Aint It A Shame” which had first appeared on the debut LP way back in 1956. This new version has backing vocals “muzak-girls style” overdubbed onto the original 1955 recording. Their vocals were recorded last minute on 23rd May 1963. It’s got curiosity value, but ultimately it takes a big edge off the original. The “zu–zu” girls appear dubbed onto quite a few of the tracks here – it’s not what I’m looking for on my Fats albums! Four of the recordings are kinda dire session pop jams and indeed unterfurtner.com notes that Fats didn’t even play on them at all – now that’s what I call filler! The 4 pieces of shame are: “I Don’t Want To Walk Without You”, “Someday”, “When You’re Smiling” and “Just A Little While (To Stay Here)”. A shoddy affair – if I was the big man I’d be raging…

The Jukebox Rebel
27-Jan-2012


TJR says:

4.95 “Poor”

Every so often when I feel the need to check the well-being of my neurotransmitters I stick “The Pink Panther Theme” on – those endogenous opioid peptides are in my brain cells in an instant every time! 30 seconds of the Pink Panther theme = 6 Lager Tops.

The Jukebox Rebel
31-Jan-2012


TJR says:

4.83 “Poor”

Recorded in Paris, at the 163 year old Bobino Music Hall on 21st February 1963, with a small orchestra under the direction of Noël Commaret, who also plays piano. The core musicians were Marc Ronel (accordion), Jacques Liebrard (guitar), Tony Cossu (drums) and Fred Ermelin (bass). Édith Piaf and her husband Théo Sarapo performed their own sets on the evening, with side 1 here being reserved for 6 performances by Édith. “C’Était Pas Moi” (“It wasn’t me”) is the best of these; there’s plenty of spirit on show from the leading lady. Nothing from the Théo Sarapo side grips me – his brand of cabaret comes across as a bit cheesy on occasions. Much to the squealing delight of the audience, Édith calls “Théo” for an onstage duet. Their ironic performance of “A Quoi Ça Sert L’Amour” (“What’s the point of love?”) closes the LP and turns out to be one of the worst songs on-board – very cheesy.

The Jukebox Rebel
29-May-2012


TJR says:

4.75 “Poor”

Released in August, 1963. The artist formerly known as a soulful blues dude continues along his croon-some way with 10 song picks dipping into both American songbook and Country catalogues. All of the song’s characters seem to have the blues. That’s about as close as you’ll get to roots. Digging for highlights, I can find some worth when Ray treads away down an unexpected path; the humour within “Busted” (Burl Ives, 1962) goes down well, “Over The Rainbow” (Judy Garland, 1938) works simply because it’s so wildly unlikely and “That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Aound Heaven)” (Frankie Laine, 1949) at least has a bit of dramatic adventure in it.

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jul-2008


TJR says:

4.63 “Poor”

I class this as a new album since only 1 track – the medley “The Other Woman / Cotton Eyed Joe” – had appeared before, each having been aired individually on the “Nina at Newport” LP back in 1960. Once again, Nina’s new album of works was presented via the live concert setting, this time on the 12th April 1963 at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall. She had appeared at the venue before – notably on 21st May 1961 when she shared the stage with her great friend and fellow civil rights activist Miriam Makeba. But this time was different; she would be the headline act – little girl blue in that big ol’ place, imagine. The great hall officially opened in May 1891, with a concert conducted in person by none other than the esteemed Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Over the next 70 years, the hall had showcased world premieres of several of the world’s best orchestras, including works from Dvořák, Strauss, Gershwin and Ellington. Singers such as Judy Garland and Billie Holiday had graced the stages. Writing in his 2005 picture book, Andy Stroud (Nina's husband from 1961-1970) spoke about the background to this LP: “In 1963, Nina was adamant about making a solo appearance at Carnegie Hall in fulfillment of her childhood dream as the first black female classical pianist. None of the concert promoters would undertake such a presentation because they did not believe she could carry off a solo concert. Therefore, when I resigned from the NYPD [New York Police Department], I took my pension rebate and, on the advice of experts in the music industry, hired Felix Gerstman, New York City's premier concertmaster, to manage the presentation.” By the sounds of it, everything went well. Nina played on her terms; just as she would have done had she been performing Jazz, as played in an exclusive side street club. She fulfilled her dreams alright. We might not always see eye to eye in musical terms, but I have nothing but admiration for her. What a gal.

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Sep-2009


TJR says:

4.62 “Poor”

There’s absolutely no doubting Johnny Cash’s spiritual sincerity. Not for him, a tinsel-laden, jingle-jangle cliché. He just wants to spread the word of Jesus. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men, love not hate, care for the poor. He does this with some assistance from The Ovaltineys, who’re back with a helping hum. He put a fair bit of effort into the set, penning 4 new songs himself, and carefully selecting eight tracks originally penned by other artists, including “Blue Christmas”, “Silent Night” and “Little Drummer Boy”. I don’t need this in my life but, as always, this is JC we’re talking about. And, you just know greatness can show itself at any moment. The album delivers a last–minute winner via “Ballad Of The Harp Weaver”. What a storyteller, what a man…

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Jun-2007


TJR says:

3.99 “Terrible”

Wey-hey! Britain’s chief Elvis wannabe follows the man all the way into the cheese-fest world of the teen idol movie soundtrack. Sometimes, it’s so bad that it actually works, by at least making me smile at the absurd gaiety of it all. Mostly, however, the album would be down with a dire rating in the 2 points spectrum, were it not for some neat little Shadows tunes interspersed with some Tom & Jerry style slapstick style orchestration. That said, the best track is undoubtedly Cliff’s entirely sing-able “Bachelor Boy”.

The Jukebox Rebel
06-Sep-2008

chart first published 15 Dec 2015; last edited 15 Dec 2015

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