Album Chart of the Decade: 1940s

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Album Chart of the Decade: 1940s

info.png 18 tracks, runtime 51m 20s. The playlist features the highest-rated track from each album (all of which are available on YouTube) in chart order, with a minimum individual track-rating of 6.5 required for inclusion. To view the full tracklist, access shuffle-play or avoid in-play interruption due to territorially blocked videos, it might be best playing directly via YouTube external-link.png
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GOODBYE NOISY OLD SHELLAC, HELLO SOPHISTICATED VINYL

Woody Guthrie - for me, one of the world’s most talented folk poets of any era - is my artist of the decade, placing 5 albums in my Top 10. Folk music is the only genre producing albums which are meaningful to me in the 1940s, and the likes of Woody and Pete Seeger certainly had plenty to say about the war-mongering Nazis that so scarred humanity in these dark years. Musically speaking, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the decade was the long-awaited leap-forward in album technology, the big breakthrough occurring in 1948.

Back in 1931, RCA Victor had debuted the first commercially available vinyl long-player designed for playback at 33⅓ RPM, but the venture was beset with technical problems and customers were not happy; by 1933 the format had disappeared from trace in the home music market. Much like the space race, the battle was on, although there was no big hurry what with the depression and the war. It was the boffins employed by Columbia who finally solved the problems various, and they duly launched the world’s first “microgroove long players” in the summer of ‘48 - the time was right.

“COLUMBIA'S DISK MARVEL” proclaimed Billboard excitedly on 29 May 1948. In New York, Columbia president Goddard Lieberson introduced the LP at a press conference in the Waldorf Astoria on June 18, 1948. On show were two formats: a 10” record in diameter, matching that of existing 78 rpm singles, and a 12” record initially earmarked for longer classical works. At hand, were 2 albums being re-issued from their pre-existing 78 formats: there was “The Voice of Frank Sinatra” (CL-6001) to represent the 10” Pop market and the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor with soloist Nathan Milstein, and Bruno Walter conducting the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York (CL-4001) in 12” format for fans of the classical. The latter was the first to be released on June 28, 1948.

The bulky record albums with 3, 4 or 5 big discs in the book were on a loser almost overnight. The new vinyl LP was the bomb - it sounded great and was a lot less hassle to deal with than the brittle and noisy shellac records. But we still called it an album. For the sake o’ auld lang syne.

The Jukebox Rebel
25-Apr-2019

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DUST BOWL BALLADS, VOLUME 1
Woody Guthrie
Victor Records P-27 (1940)
the USA
8.95 “A classic” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Talkin’ Dust Bowl Blues [album version 1940]” (10) • “Dust Can’t Kill Me” (9.5) • “Blowin’ Down This Road” (9.1)
TJR saysJohn Steinbeck’s realist novel “The Grapes Of Wrath” was just over a year old by the time “Dust Bowl Ballads” saw releas...more →

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DOCUMENTARY #1: STRUGGLE
Woody Guthrie
Asch Records 360 (1945)
the USA
8.92 “A classic” Folk

Jukebox picks: “1913 Massacre” (10) • “Ludlow Massacre” (9.8) • “Buffalo Skinners” (9.6)
TJR saysThe set features 3 songs from the marathon sessions of April 1944 as well as 3 songs newly recorded in May 1945; “Buff...more →

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DEAR MR. PRESIDENT
The Almanac Singers
Keynote Records K-111 (1942)
the USA
8.78 “A classic” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Side By Side” (9.4) • “Dear Mr. President” (9.1) • “Reuben James” (9.0)
TJR saysWithin 2 months of the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor in late 1941, the Almanac Singers went into the studio to record...more →

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DUST BOWL BALLADS, VOLUME 2
Woody Guthrie
Victor Records P-28 (1940)
the USA
8.55 “A classic” Folk

Jukebox picks: “The Great Dust Storm” (9.3) • “Dusty Old Dust” (9.2) • “Vigilante Man” (9.2)
TJR saysWith him having built up a strong repertoire over the preceding years, RCA got the maximum benefit when they fluked an a...more →

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WOODY GUTHRIE
Woody Guthrie
Asch Records 347 (1944)
the USA
8.22 “Excellent” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Talking Sailor” (9.9) • “Jesus Christ [1944 recording]” (8.6) • “Ranger’s Command” (8.5)
TJR saysMore than 4 years passed until Woody Guthrie was able to deliver a follow up album to his “Dust Bowl Ballads” of 1940. V...more →

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TALKING UNION
The Almanac Singers
Keynote Records K-106 (1941)
the USA
7.78 “Brilliant” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Talking Union” (9.7) • “Which Side Are You On?” (8.9) • “Get Thee Behind Me, Satan” (7.5)
TJR says“Now, boys, you've come to the hardest time, The boss will try to bust your picket line, He'll call out the police, the...more →

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“THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL” AND OTHER SOUTHERN PRISON SONGS
Lead Belly and The Golden Gate Quartet
Victor Records P-50 (1941)
the USA
7.75 “Brilliant” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Midnight Special [1940 version]” (9.0) • “Alabama Bound” (8.7) • “Pick A Bale Of Cotton” (8.4)
TJR saysThe mistreatment blues as recognised by slaves and prisoners the world over; hell yeah, these are the sacred songs of th...more →

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SONGS OF THE LINCOLN BRIGADE
Pete Seeger, Bess Lomax, Baldwin Hawes and Tom Glazer
Asch Records 330 (1943)
the USA
7.57 “Brilliant” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Quinto Regimiento” (8.9) • “Spanish Marching Song” (7.8) • “Jarama Valley” (7.5)
TJR saysThe Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was initially an armed conflict between a democratically elected government and a revo...more →

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BALLADS FROM THE DUST BOWL
Woody Guthrie
DISC 610 (1947)
the USA
7.50 “Brilliant” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Talking Columbia Blues [1947 recording]” (9.5) • “When The Curfew Blows” (8.4) • “Hard Travelin’ [1947 recording]” (7.5)
TJR saysAn April ‘47 PR stint at the behest of the Bonneville Power Administration (telling the people of Washington through son...more →

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SONGS BY LEADBELLY
Lead Belly accompanied by Sonny Terry
Asch Records 343 (1943)
the USA
6.85 “Good” Folk

Jukebox picks: “On A Monday” (7.2) • “John Henry” (7.1) • “Irene [1943 non-harmonica version]” (7.0)
TJR saysCommercially, he never did make it big in his own lifetime, but the small circle who were following Lead Belly's output ...more →

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SOD BUSTER BALLADS
The Almanac Singers
General Records G-21 (1941)
the USA
6.83 “Good” Folk

Jukebox picks: “I Ride An Old Paint” (7.6) • “House Of The Rising Sun” (7.5) • “Hard Ain’t It Hard” (7.4)
TJR saysThe second of two Almanac Singers albums produced by Alan Lomax. As with the preceding “Deep Sea Chanteys and Whaling Ba...more →

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LEAD BELLY SINGS BALLADS OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN AND BAD MEN
Lead Belly
Musicraft 67 (1944)
the USA
6.55 “Good” Folk

Jukebox picks: “John Hardy [1944 version]” (7.6) • “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” (7.3) • “In New Orleans” (6.8)
TJR saysWith Asch Records being hampered with governmental wartime constraints on Shellac (their allocation was small compared t...more →

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DEEP SEA CHANTEYS AND WHALING BALLADS
The Almanac Singers
General Records G-20 (1941)
the USA
6.42 “Decent enough” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Blow The Man Down” (7.7) • “Haul Away Joe” (7.0) • “The Coast Of High Barbary” (6.2)
TJR saysThe line-up of the group for album # 3 was Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. “Deep Sea Chanteys ...more →

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SONGS FOR JOHN DOE
The Almanac Singers
Almanac Records Album 102 (1941)
the USA
6.39 “Decent enough” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Ballad Of October 16” (7.0) • “Washington Breakdown” (6.8) • “’C’ For Conscription” (6.6)
TJR saysRecorded and released in springtime 1941 at a time when World War II was raging but the United States remained neutral. ...more →

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WORK SONGS OF THE U.S.A.
Lead Belly
Asch Records (1942)
the USA
6.32 “Decent enough” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Rock Island Line [1942 version]” (7.4) • “Take This Hammer [1942 version]” (6.7) • “Corn Bread Rough” (6.4)
TJR saysConsists of three shellac 78s all recorded in January 1942 and issued a couple of months later. Here, Lead Belly deliver...more →

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CHANSONS PARISIENNES
Édith Piaf
Columbia FL-9501 (1949)
France
5.38 “Below average” Crooner / Cabaret

Jukebox picks: “Le Chant Du Pirate” (7.1) • “Les Amants De Paris” (5.8) • “Monsieur Lenoble” (5.6)
TJR saysHaving wowed American G.I.’s during wartime performances in Paris, Edith was in a good position in the years that follow...more →

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CHANSONS DES CAFÉS DE PARIS [1948]
Édith Piaf
Decca A-697 (1948)
France
5.30 “Below average” Crooner / Cabaret

Jukebox picks: “Les Cloches Sonnent” (7.0) • “Monsieur Ernest A Reussi” (6.5) • “Si Tu Partais” (4.8)
TJR saysFollowing her highly successful 1947 American tour, Édith Piaf’s stock was high, and she was all set for the worldwide a...more →

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PLAY PARTIES IN SONG AND DANCE
Lead Belly
Asch Records (Stinson 1952 LP reissue cover shown) (1941)
the USA
5.30 “Below average” Folk

Jukebox picks: “You Can’t Lose Me Cholly [1941 version]” (6.3) • “Christmas Song” (5.5) • “Redbird” (5.4)
TJR says“Play Parties In Song And Dance”, recorded in May 1941, was the first of many Lead Belly releases on Moe Asch’s label. A...more →

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“MOANIN’ LOW” - TORCH SONGS BY LENA HORNE
Lena Horne with orchestra conducted by Lou Bring
Victor Records P-118 (1942)
the USA
4.75 “Poor” Crooner / Cabaret

Jukebox picks: “Stormy Weather” (7.9) • “Moanin’ Low” (5.5) • “I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues” (4.8)
TJR saysHaving been seduced by her magnificent reading of “Stormy Weather” in the 1943 movie of the same name, I was intrigu...more →

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SONGS TO GROW ON: WORK SONGS FOR NURSERY DAYS
Woody Guthrie
DISC 602 (1947)
the USA
4.75 “Poor” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Build My House” (5.4) • “My Little Seed” (5.3) • “Pick It Up” (5.1)
TJR saysThought to have been recorded circa Feb-Mar 1946 at the same sessions which produced “Nursery Days”, the second set of t...more →

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SONGS TO GROW ON: NURSERY DAYS
Woody Guthrie
DISC 605 (1946)
the USA
4.56 “Poor” Folk

Jukebox picks: “Wake Up” (5.2) • “Clean-O” (5.1) • “Dance Around” (4.2)
TJR saysThe birth of Woody and Marjorie’s daughter Cathy in 1943, playfully nicknamed “Stackabones,” was a major change for Wood...more →

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BILLIE HOLIDAY [1947]
Billie Holiday
Commodore CR-2 (1947)
the USA
4.49 “Lame” Jazz; Crooner / Cabaret

Jukebox picks: “How Am I To Know” (5.5) • “I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues” (5.2) • “She’s Funny That Way” (4.7)
TJR saysOften listed as a 1946 issue with some discographers, but can clearly be dated to June 1947 due to its’ review then in t...more →

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MOOD ELLINGTON
Duke Ellington and his Orchestra
Columbia CL-6024 (1948)
the USA
4.31 “Lame” Jazz

Jukebox picks: “Hy’a Sue” (5.5) • “On A Turquoise Cloud” (5.4) • “Three Cent Stomp” (4.5)
TJR saysThe 49-year-old bandleader’s first album on Columbia, a moody 10" LP record issued in 1948. The album consisted of CBS s...more →

see also: (B-list) Album Chart of the 1940s



Album Charts by year

“A-list”

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 2017 2018 2019

“B-list”

1943 1945 1946 1950 1951 1952 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 2017 2018 2019

Album Charts by decade

“A-list”

1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s

“B-list”

1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s




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