Top 250 Songs of 1958
  • Featuring songs from my collection which were first released or broadcast in 1958.
  • One mix per song.
  • Reworkings of tracks from earlier years are only eligible if I rate the new version higher than the old.
  • video-problem.png Any video problems please let me know ;-)

No.1

THE DAY THE RAINS CAME [single version]

Jane Morgan with orchestra and chorus directed by Vic Schoen

(Carl Sigman, Gilbert Becaud)

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• “The Day The Rains Came Down” set to an image of Jane. Thanks to CatsPjamas1.

TJR says:

“Utterly perfect Crooner / Cabaret from the USA”

In a way, I have to laugh. After having been dominated by bad-ass rockers and hard-edged bluesmen, this chart is topped by a sweet chanteuse, singing gaily about flowers blooming in spring. What can I say? You can’t plan who or what you’re going to fall in love with. Jane’s performance captivates from beginning to end, and she is backed by an orchestra who take it on with a dreamy swing – the performance from all concerned is classy, and full of la joie de vivre. The song had already been released in France as “Le jour où la pluie viendra” by Gilbert Bécaud and also by Dalida. English lyrics were added by Carl Sigman and Jane popularized the song worldwide as “The Day The Rains Came”. For good measure, she sung it as originally intended, in French, on the b-side. What a gal. Amazingly, this isn’t even the best version that Jane ever did. Nope, that accolade falls to the live version that she recorded in the fall of 1961 at the Cocoanut Grove in L.A., featuring a tougher backbeat from the ensemble, and an Anglo-French vocal from our leading lady. It’s an absolute must for that bathtub sing-a-long mixtape I’ve yet to make. In whatever version, I will adore this vibrant classic forever and a day.

No.2

RUMBLE

Link Wray and his Ray Men

(Fred Lincoln Wray, Milton Grant)

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• “Rumble” brilliantly set to the opening street scene from "The Delicate Delinquent", a 1957 (comedy!) movie. Thanks to GSMovieMoments.

TJR says:

“Utterly perfect Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

Link and his brothers whipped up a storm with this one – the sheer underlying menace of “Rumble” was enough to get them banned on the radio, despite being all-instrumental. In short, Middle America’s conservatives tried to dictate what the youths could and couldn’t listen to. As usual, they tried to “normalize” and “tone down” counter-culture creativity, fearing that the streets would soon be over-run by leather-clad gangs, intent on sheer anarchy. I mean, pllleeeaaaase, it’s only rock n roll man, chill. “Rumble” was pure genius – it stands forever as an awesome sonic statement from a man who was pushing boundaries and itching for something new. That he had to fight to get his music out seems wholly bizarre and, indeed, a bit of a travesty. The single (Cadence 1347) came out in the springtime of 1958 – even that label was not supportive, and it was no surprise that the Wrays never returned to them for the follow up. It was a great shame that the record companies did eventually force Link to tone it down over the course of the next few years – their unwelcome interference knocked him off balance just as he was revving up for the ride. It would leave him in no man’s land eventually. However, in 1958, dressed distinctively in black, Wray was a real rock n roll hero in demand, playing to screaming teenagers well past midnight, on his own terms. As always, the kids knew where it was at. “Rumble” was pure teenage kicks. It’s hard to beat.

No.3

ONE NIGHT [single version]

Elvis Presley

(Dave Bartholomew, Pearl King)

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• “One Night” set to an Elvis slideshow. Thanks to Serhat Kocak.

TJR says:

“Utterly perfect Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

Elvis Presley must surely have had the most carefully planned career of any Rock n Roller who ever lived. Although he himself feared that his 2-year army stint might actually finish his career, the management knew differently. Take “One Night” for example. Recorded in February 1957, it lay in wait until October 1958, when it saw the light of day on RCA 47-7410. Was anyone really noticing that he wasn’t actually around? With this two and a half minute thrill-a-thon, Elvis categorically and forever takes ownership of Smiley Lewis’s tune of 1956. Even the fact that he had to re-do his January ’57 recording from “One night of sin is what I'm now paying for” to February’s “One night with you is what I'm now praying for” to get around management reservations, cannot dampen the sexual tension that prevails from start to finish.

No.4

THE ALL AMERICAN BOY

Bill Parsons and his Orchestra

(Bill Parsons, Orville Lunsford)

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• “The All American Boy” set to a picture of the "real" singer Bobby Bare. Well, it only seems right. Thanks to Neil Russell.

TJR says:

“Utterly perfect Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

It was Bobby Bare who took the lead vocal on this one and should have been duly credited on the single billing, but was not. Writing in the liner notes to the CD “All-American Rock 'n' Roll : The Fraternity Story, Vol. 2” (Ace 822, 2001) Rob Finnis gave this account: “In late 1958, future country star Bobby Bare fell in with Bill Parsons, an old friend from Coalton, Ohio, who was trying to get on record. 24 year-old Parsons had just come back from army service in Germany and was working in small Ohio night-spots for $10 a night. Parsons and a 40 year old half-Irish, half-Cherokee drifter named Orville Lunsford had penned “All-American Boy”, a talking blues parodying Elvis' rise to fame and his subsequent call to duty. Parsons actually had greater faith in another song “Rubber Dolly”, a trite rocker adapted from a folk song, and set up a session at the King Records studio in Cincinnati on 4th November, 1958. Thinking him better suited to the task, Parsons asked Bare to perform the drawling first-person narrative on “All-American Boy” while Parsons himself delivered the vocal on “Rubber Dolly”. Fraternity purchased the masters but when the record came out, both sides were credited to Parsons. Bare, meanwhile, having reported for duty, was unaware of these developments. In the event, “All-American Boy” caught the public's imagination and reached # 2 on the Hot 100, becoming Fraternity's third mega-hit in as many years.” But what really went on there? Bobby Bare’s version of events is completely different. He recalled to Billboard magazine: “Bill had just gotten out of the Army. He had a thing he wanted to record. So, we went down to King Studio in Cincinnati, and I played bass on his thing. We had about fifteen minutes. I said 'Let me put down this thing I've been working on.' So, I did. That same day, they wanted to make a copy of it,” Bare continued “The guy who was paying for it went to a company there to get an acetate made. It was Fraternity Records. When they heard the two records. They asked who was singing, and the guy told him Bill Parsons – which it was on the back side of that record. So, they put it out with his name on it. It scared him to death. He didn't even know the song.” I have no idea what to think about the whole crazy mix-up. Suffice to say – I’ve loved this record since I first picked up on it on the Ace “Golden Age of Rock n Roll” series. Pickin’ hot licks and all that jazz.

No.5

ODDS AND ENDS

Jimmy Reed

(Jimmy Reed)

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• “Odds And Ends” set to a picture of both contributing musicians, Jimmy Reed and Remo Biondi. Thanks to Andria Rogava.

TJR says:

“Utterly perfect Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

This astounding piece was recorded in Chicago on 3rd April 1957, and first saw the light of day in October ’58 when it appeared on 7”, Vee-Jay 298. Four men play their part – Jimmy Reed (harmonica), Remo Biondi (violin), Eddie Taylor (guitar) and Earl Phillips (drums). They go with the flow and play it with a feeling – typical of the man’s laid-back sessions. As far as I’m concerned, this harmonica and violin face-off between Jimmy and Remo could qualify as the eighth wonder of the world. There are no lyrics on this masterpiece, but if there were any they’d probably go “Well, early in the mornin' 'til late at night, I got a poison headache, but I feel all right. I'm pledging my time to you. Hopin' you'll come through, too.” ;-)

No.6

RAVE ON

Buddy Holly

(Norman Petty, Bill Tilghman, Sonny West)

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• “Rave On” set to some original Buddy Holly footage. Thanks to videokino.org

TJR says:

“Utterly perfect Rock n Roll / Rockabilly from the USA”

“Weh-uh-heh-uh-ell…” - that'll be a Buddy record starting then? Back in ’56, Carl Perkins had finshed off his “Dixie Fried” tune with the refrain “Rave On” – Norman Petty and Co. were all ears! To think that the producer never had this earmarked for Buddy – well, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Fortunately, the bespectacled one protested and persuaded Petty to let him record it. It’s a true Buddy Holly classic, no-one else could have done it the way it needs to be.

No.7

I ALMOST LOST MY MIND [stereo version]

Duane Eddy

(Ivory Joe Hunter)

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• “I Almost Lost My Mind” set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to #DuaneEddy.

TJR says:

“All-time classic Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

Arriving in December, was the debut LP from Duane Eddy, capping off an incredible year for the young twangster. “Have 'Twangy' Guitar Will Travel”, only the second ever stereo Rock n Roll LP, housed this bluesy powerhouse rendition of Ivory Joe Hunters “I Almost Lost My Mind”, a monster-tune which took the new Duane Eddy sound to its outer limits of cool – it was a raucous, raunchy rumbler where guitars, sax and rhythms were in perfect harmony.

No.8

TO KNOW HIM IS TO LOVE HIM

The Teddy Bears

(Phil Spector)

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• “To Know Him Is To Love Him” set to a picture of the three bears. Thanks to Schmetti.

TJR says:

“All-time classic Rock n Roll Ballad from the USA”

This funereal-paced stunner was an early sign of the talent of Phil Spector, a song he had written inspired by words on his father’s tombstone “To know him was to love him”. The young Spector knew that he had a hit on his hands and drove himself on to make it happen. Wikipedia tells the story: “After an audition at ERA Records, who offered to finance a studio session, the Teddy Bears - Phil Spector, Marshall Leib, Harvey Goldstein (who left the group early on), lead singer Annette Kleinbard, and last minute recruit, drummer Sandy Nelson - recorded the song at Gold Star Studios at a cost of $75 (which they financed as a collective). Released on ERA's Dore label in August 1958, it took two months before "To Know Him Is to Love Him" began to get airplay. The record stayed in the Billboard Hot 100 for 23 weeks, in the Top Ten for 11 of those weeks, and commanded the #1 chart position for three weeks. At 19 years old, Spector had written, arranged, played, sung, and produced the best-selling record in the country. Although subsequent releases by the Teddy Bears on the Imperial label were well-recorded soft pop, they did not sell, and within a year of the debut, Spector disbanded the group. Spector was not the only Teddy Bear who went on to a career after the group broke up. Harvey Goldstein became a certified public accountant. Annette Kleinbard continued to write and record songs, and changed her name to Carol Connors. Among her credits are the Rip Chords hit "Hey Little Cobra" and the Academy Awards nominated Rocky theme song "Gonna Fly Now," co-written with Ayn Robbins. As for Sandy Nelson? Drums were his beat - he became of the planet’s rarities, being able to craft hits solely with their use!

No.9

YOU SURE CAN’T DO

Buddy Guy and his band

(L. P. Weaver)

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• “You Sure Can’t Do” set to a picture of Buddy. Thanks to TheBluesfan12.

TJR says:

“All-time classic Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

“The Things That I Used To Do” had been done some 5 years earlier by Guitar Slim (Eddie Jones) in 1953. Late in 1958, the 22 year-old Buddy Guy, who made the move from Louisiana to Chicago a year earlier in an attempt to kick-start a career as a bluesman, was keen to pay homage to his hero at the earliest opportunity, and he duly did so with his first single, a semi-cover / semi-answer record. Released on the Cobra Records subsidiary, Artistic 1503, “You Sure Can’t Do” was a soul-packed stick of dynamite which, somewhat criminally, went un-noticed, although I can’t help but wonder if Sam Cooke picked up a bargain-bin copy a few years later…

No.10

SHOMBALOR

Sheriff and The Revels

(Elmore Sheriff, Aki Aleong)

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• “Shombalor” set to shots of the original Vee-Jay 7". Thanks to rockaboprecords.

TJR says:

“All-time classic Rock n Roll / Rockabilly from the USA”

“Of all the animals in the world I’d rather be a bear. RAAR!” Who couldn’t love this crazy doo-wop swing-ding-rick-a-bing? I mean, who else was singing “wino-bino-reject-frankensteino” in 1958? If you’re allergic to NUTS you should leave this well alone, coz it’s absolutely packed with them for its whole frantic 120 seconds bing-de-bong. This is what happens when a Japanese actor who was raised in Jamaica gets into doo-wop and writes a tune based on an African work chant. Frankly, there’s not enough of that in the world. And, by the way, listen out for the F-bomb at 25 seconds :-O I guess he’s not a care bear.

No.11

REBEL ROUSER [single version ‘58]

Duane Eddy and his ‘twangy’ guitar

(Duane Eddy, Lee Hazlewood)

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• “Rebel Rouser” set to a Duane slideshow. Thanks to Carlsoldrecordclub.

TJR says:

“All-time classic Rock n Roll / Rockabilly from the USA”

A great single out in May was “Rebel Rouser” b/w “Stalkin’” – this new Duane Eddy twang thing was really starting to get a lot of love and it was this single that made a nationwide star out of the young man, just turned 20. The “Rebel Rouser” tune was loosely based on the gospel song “When the Saints Go Marching In”, and Duane developed his low-note twangs from there, with memorable contributions being made by Gil Bernal who provided a chirpy sax and the Sharps, a black vocal group from the West Coast, who provided the yelps, hollers and background harmonies to help the party on its way.

No.12

GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY

Little Richard

(Robert Alexander Blackwell, John Marascalco)

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• “Good Golly Miss Molly” set to a picture of the housing LP. Thanks to Concord Music Group.

TJR says:

“Classic Rock n Roll / Rockabilly from the USA”

The kudos surely goes to Jackie Brenston for his immortal “Rocket ‘88” from away back in 1951, as Richard himself ‘fessed: “I always liked that record… and I used to use the riff in my act, so when we were looking for a lead-in to 'Good Golly, Miss Molly', I did that and it fit.” Strangely, this one had been recorded away back in October 1956, but Little Richard was beaten to market by the Valiants' version which was released first in 1957. However, once Richard’s version was finally unleashed in January 1958 (Specialty 624), in the eyes of the world, there was only ever going to be one definitive version of this raucous classic.

No.13

PETER GUNN

Henry Mancini

(Henry Mancini)

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• “Peter Gunn” neatly set to a themed montage. Thanks to pook1711.

TJR says:

“Classic Jazz from the USA”

All Jazz should be played with only one chord – witness exhibit 13, Mancini’s “Peter Gunn”, the prosecution rests its’ case. From September 1958, Monday nights were all about NBC-TV and their “Peter Gunn”, a well-dressed private investigator whose hair was always in place and who loved “cool jazz”. Mancini’s scoring for the series was highly regarded by jazz enthusiasts, and was a huge commercial success, with the album hitting No.1 in the Billboard album charts – a notable achievement for a TV soundtrack album. The title track, built from the bassline of Amos Millburn’s “Down The Road Apiece”, was an undeniable masterpiece. If only all jazz was this cool…

No.14

JOHNNY B. GOODE [single version]

Chuck Berry

(Charles Berry)

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• “Johnny B. Goode” set to a picture of the maestro. Thanks to osiris1822.

TJR says:

“Classic Rock n Roll / Rockabilly from the USA”

Chess 1691 arrived in March with Chuck Berry ripping right into Louis Jordan's “Ain't That Just Like a Woman” (1946) for a guitar-intro of legend-making proportions. Not averse to borrowing a lick or two, the guitar break came from a 1950 T-Bone Walker song called “Strollin’ With Bones”. Aside from that, the spirit, the craft and the vitality was pure Chuck! He had started writing his autobiographical signature tune away back in 1955, but only felt it ready to be unleashed some 3 years later. As with many songs by coloured artists, lyrics were changed to ensure that there were no censorship issues, with the line “that little country boy could play” having been changed from “that little coloured boy can play". Sadly, a familiar tale. Chuck’s momma had prophesized that one day his name would be in lights, and her words were immortalized forever in this classic.

No.15

HIGH SCHOOL DRAG [live]

Phillipa Fallon

(Mel Welles)

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• “High School Drag [live]” set to the original single source film footage from "High School Confidential". Thanks to Sleaze-O-Rama.

TJR says:

“Classic Jazz from the USA”

Issued on MGM K12661, exactly as it was in the movie “High School Confidential”. “Turn your eyes inside and ddd-iii-ggg the vacuum” is quite possibly the line of the decade. The following fantastic entry was posted at phillipafallon.blogspot.co.uk: “The very existence of the beatnik poet character is almost certainly attributable to producer Albert Zugsmith. Zugsmith, a master of the exploitation genre, told the Los Angeles Free Press in a 1975 interview that in performing "research" for his film, he frequented Venice, California coffee houses, hung out with the beat figure (and father of Inside the Actors Studio host, James Lipton) Larry Lipton and visited “private pot parties.” It was during this pre-production phase of the project that the savvy producer may have been inspired to add a poet character to his latest cinematic opus. If Zugsmith had been going to Venice coffee houses, he no doubt saw more than his fair share of bongo-driven verse and it probably made an impression. At some point, the producer decided to hire Roger Corman regular Mel Welles to punch up the High School Confidential! script with hipster jargon. Welles, who had just written a slang dictionary tie-in for Corman’s Rock All Night (1957) was the perfect choice for the assignment. The multi-talented actor-writer-director, who had played the aging hepcat, Sir Bop, in Rock All Night, was in tune with the Beat Generation, but not above satirizing it. Indeed, Welles wrote for cult comedian Lord Buckley’s (the model for the character of Sir Bop) and is responsible for one of his most famous routines - The Gettysburg Address. Of course, not only did Welles hipify the dialogue of the Confidential! script, he also wrote the two set pieces that make the movie a classic: High School Drag delivered by Phillipa and the Buckley-esque Columbus Digs the Jive performed by John Drew Barrymore. But where Zugsmith and MGM really got their money’s worth is in Phillipa’s mesmerizing performance as the beat poetess. As the scene opens, she can be glimpsed seated just beyond the bandstand before John Drew Barrymore and Diane Jergens exchange a brief round of dialogue about Jergens’ need for marijuana. Their discussion is cut short by some brassy music that cues Phillipa to emerge from her chair and stride to the stage (unlike in the screenplay, Mr. A does not introduce her, probably because Jackie Coogan’s incarnation of the character is seated at the piano). From the bandstand, Phillipa lets loose Mel Welles’s words with a determined intensity that still resonates more than half a century later. Behind her, Jackie Coogan and the band punctuate her delivery of the nihilistic verse with blasts of incongruous ragtime. Meanwhile the “kids” look up at the poetess with a mixed reaction of hopped-up amusement and existential angst. Charles Chaplin, Jr. just shakes his head in disgust. And then, after three minutes of stealing the movie, Phillipa descends from the stage to a boisterous round of applause.”

No.16

TEQUILA

The Champs

(Danny Flores)

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• “Tequila” set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to RockerOfClassics.

TJR says:

“Classic Rock n Roll / Rockabilly from the USA”

This lot were borne of a December 1957 session (where group leader Dave Burgess aka Dave Dupree) was looking to create a b-side for his intended “Train To Nowhere” solo single. A jam around from the Flores Trio (Danny Flores (aka Chuck Rio) on saxophone and keyboards, Gene Alden on drums, and lead guitarist Buddy Bruce) produced "Tequila". Dave Burgess (rhythm guitar) and Cliff Hills (bass guitar) helped to complete. The tune caused much in-house excitement - it was decided that a band would be created to support the single release – “Train To Nowhere” b/w “Tequila”. Someone suggested Champions, after (the then) Challenge label co-owner Gene Autrey’s famous horse. The Champs was decided upon and the single was released in January 1958. Several weeks later the b-side, “Tequila”, had been embraced by the nation and was sitting at No.1 in the Billboard 100. There were some great number ones back in the old days…

No.17

CLOSE TO YOU

Muddy Waters

(Willie Dixon)

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• “Close To You” set to a picture of the single. Thanks to srercrcr.

TJR says:

“Excellent Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

Muddy’s activities seemed to be slowing down about this time; three recording sessions per year were down to two and his song-sharing alliance with Willie Dixon was thinning back. He hadn’t had a hit single since way back in September ’56 when he scored with Dixon’s “Don’t Go No Further”. In his book “Willie Dixon: Preacher of the Blues”, Mitsutoshi Inaba tells the background: ”In August of 1958, Dixon started to reactivate the relationship with Chess by offering Muddy “Close To You”. This is a sixteen-bar blues with a quatrain refrain text form in a medium walking blues tempo. The song is about seducing a woman, a theme still faithful to Muddy’s womanizing character.” How close can he get? As white is to rice; as hair on your head; as fire is to smoke; as a pig is to poke; as a egg is to a hen; as Siamese twins. (Space invader alert!) Mitsotoshi continues: “Muddy’s vocal sounds very confident. He inserts the vocalization “ha” between almost all of the phrases, which resembles characteristics of African American chanted sermons.” “Close To You” put Muddy back into the R n B Top 10, but it proved to be his last major hit single. It served as a great boost to his reputation both at home and in the UK, setting him up for two decades as an album artist. For me, these great Chess sides of the 50s were where it was really at.

No.18

BIRD DOG

The Everly Brothers

(Boudleaux Bryant)

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• “Bird Dog” set to a slideshow of the brothers. Thanks to The Midnight DJ.

TJR says:

“Classic Country from the USA”

Pop, Country or R n B? I can never decide. “Bird Dog” (Cadence 1350) was issued in July and went on to score on every Billboard chart possible - #2 on the Pop chart, #1 on the Country chart and #3 on the R n B. The cross-over appeal of the brothers is underlined right there. Great tune, love the drawlin’ and the strummin’. That dawg Johnny! “Johnny sings a love song (Like a bird), He sings the sweetest love song (Ya ever heard), But when he sings to my gal (What a howl), To me he’s just a wolf dog (On the prowl), Johnny wants to fly away and puppy-love my baby (He’s a bird dog)”

No.19

THIS SHOULD GO ON FOREVER

Rod Bernard and The Twisters

(Bernard Jolivette, Joseph D. Miller)

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• “This Should Go On Forever” set to a picture of Rod. Thanks to tranquilatus.

TJR says:

“Classic Rock n Roll Ballad from the USA”

An irresistible classic of the young lust variety from “Hot Rod” as he was known in his DJ days back in the early 50s. Jin 45-105 was first issued in October 1958 and, further to it’s regional success, was licensed to Leonard Chess at Argo for it’s nationwide 1959 release, when it became a major hit. The entry at Wikipedia tells the back story: “This Should Go On Forever” is a popular song of the south Louisiana rock and roll genre known as swamp pop. King Karl (real name Bernard Jolivette), a black Creole swamp pop musician, composed the song around 1958. (Producer J. D. "Jay" Miller is listed as a co-writer even though he did not actually help to compose the tune.) Karl intended to record the song for the Excello label of Nashville, for which he, his bandmate Guitar Gable (Gabriel Perrodin), and their band the Musical Kings had recorded other swamp pop compositions. Excello did not like the song, however, and as a result Karl’s version at first remained unreleased. In the meantime, Cajun swamp pop musician Rod Bernard of Opelousas, Louisiana, heard Karl and his group perform the tune at the local Moonlight Inn nightclub. When Bernard learned that Excello had no intention of releasing the song, he asked Karl if he could record it for Floyd Soileau’s newly formed Jin label of Ville Platte, Louisiana. Karl approved, and Bernard and his group, the Twisters, recorded the song that year for Jin, using the same studio — Miller’s MasterTrak Studio of Crowley, Louisiana — that Karl and his band had used to record their still-unreleased original version. In late 1958 Bernard’s version became a regional hit in south Louisiana and east Texas, and, licensed to the Argo label of Chicago, it rose to the top of national charts in the U.S. in 1959. Surprised by the song’s success, Excello quickly released King Karl’s original version. Meanwhile, other swamp pop groups, including Doug Charles and the Boogie Kings and Gene Terry and the Downbeats, released their own versions of the song to capitalize on Bernard’s success. By then, however, the general public regarded Bernard’s version as the authoritative version. As a result, it was Bernard who appeared on American Bandstand, The Alan Freed Show, and elsewhere. Today, "This Should Go On Forever" is considered an early classic of the swamp pop genre and is frequently performed by live bands in dancehalls and festivals in south Louisiana and east Texas.

No.20

SHE KNOWS HOW TO ROCK

Little Richard

(Willie Perryman)

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• “She Knows How To Rock” set to a picture of Richard. Thanks to Nuova Canaria Records.

TJR says:

“Classic Rock n Roll / Rockabilly from the USA”

Back in ’55, Sue was the girl who rocked to the East, and rocked to the West, and she was the girl that he loved best. His latest flame rocks him to the right, rocks him to the left, sometimes he thinks this one's going to rock him to death. Some things never change. smiley-roll-eyes.gif Specialty 652 was issued in November - a vibrant, fast-paced screamer in the style to which Little Richard fans had become accustomed. The song wasn’t new though – the original was “Rockin’ With Red” which had been delivered by Piano Red 8 years earlier, although Little Richard (or Specialty) shamefully took the writing credits. Perhaps Art Rupe and Specialty were milking everything to the max while they could – to everyone’s shock, Richard had announced his retirement from Rock n Roll, citing religious grounds. Or, he wasn't happy with his pay cheques. Somewhere between those lines.

No.21

IT ALL DEPENDS (ON WHO WILL BUY THE WINE)

Jerry Lee Lewis

(Billy Mize)

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• “It All Depends (On Who Will Buy The Wine)” set to a Jerry Lee image. Thanks to #JerryLeeLewis.

TJR says:

“Classic Country from the USA”

Issued on Sun in the summertime was the first Jerry Lee Lewis LP which included his rendition of Billy Mizes’ “Who Will Buy The Wine” – a stone classic, with lyrics that slay: “Not long ago you held our baby’s bottle, but the one you’re holding now’s a different kind, you just sit and wait to be somebody’s baby, and it all depends on who will buy the wine”. Rock n Roll or Honky Tonk - not a problem to Jerry Lee, he was a great player either way.

No.22

ENDS AND ODDS

Jimmy Reed

(Jimmy Reed)

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• “Ends And Odds” set to a picture of Jimmy. Thanks to finetunesTV.

TJR says:

“Classic Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

Not content with just having an “Odds and Ends” in his catalogue, Jimmy’s follow up single (Vee-Jay 304, December 1958) included an “Ends and Odds”. What a whackster. This one was recorded in Chicago on 5th September 1957, and featured Jimmy (harmonica, guitar), Eddie Taylor (guitar) and Earl Phillips (drums). Once again, it’s instinctive, laid-back action all the way, feeling over technicality every time, undoubtedly irking the purists. Ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the coolest, most casual blues party in town.

No.23

CHANTILLY LACE

The Big Bopper

(Jiles Perry Richardson)

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• “Chantilly Lace” brilliantly set to a picture of the original 7" sleeve. Thanks to TheGrayCat.

TJR says:

“Classic Rock n Roll / Rockabilly from the USA”

“Hellooooo, baby. Yeah, this is the Big Bopper speakin'…” < Marketing genius right there! This DJ cum-pop-star was surely the top dog in “character” Rock n Roll, and there was no place for moping in his world. Who can resist smiling at “Makes me feel real loose, like a long-necked goose”? Initially released on Harold 'Pappy' Daily’s label (D 1008), “Chantilly Lace” signalled the recording launch of “The Big Bopper” – his new moniker replacing his birth surname which he’d been used on preceding singles. His own creation, Big Bopper was a larger-than-life, hip talking alter-ego – although he was apparently quite shy in person. “Chantilly Lace” was massive – D Records quickly stepped aside to let Mercury re-label the single and take control of the mass distribution logistics. For the rest of his short life, The Big Bopper was a star, and for most of the several months which followed this single, he was on tour promoting his hit record. Jape often said that he wanted to stay in the business just long enough to earn money to buy his own radio station. He didn't like being away from his family and didn't care much for the egos that most stars displayed. Sadly, we’ll never know how that part of the story would have turned out…

No.24

ACTION PACKED

Ronnie Dee

(Jack Rhodes)

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• “Action Packed” set to a picture of the youngster. Thanks to Tristen Abraham.

TJR says:

“Classic Rock n Roll / Rockabilly from the USA”

Nineteen year-old Ronnie Dee (the Dee being a “cool” shortening of Dawson) sounded about twelve when “Action Packed” was launched to the world via Back Beat 522 in November. The tune had been recorded by Johnny Dollar earlier in the year but was unreleased, so Ronnie was “first to market” and, with his incredible vocal, who could compete? “Now, if I ever strike it rich (and that's for sure), I'm not gonna buy a Cadillac, Uh-uh, not anymore, I'm gonna buy me one of them rocketships, Something that’ll take me there and back, Hear me? I said take me there and back, It ain't gonna be no fun being rich, If it ain't action packed, Hear me? Action packed!” “The Blonde Bomber” was in full flow in this action-packed beat for the feet. Hear me? Action-packed. Hell yeah.

No.25

MY BABY JUST CARES FOR ME

Nina Simone

(Gus Kahn, Walter Donaldson)

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• “My Baby Just Cares For Me” magnificently set to a picture of the housing album cover. Thanks to Bethlehem Records.

TJR says:

“Excellent Jazz from the USA”

Written for the film version of the musical comedy Whoopee! (1930), the original song became a signature tune for Eddie Cantor who sang it in the movie. What started out as a showbiz foot-tapper eventually morphed into a big band swinger, with several versions appearing in the mid-1950s just before Nina put her own stamp on it. By the time she was finished with it, it was re-invented as a classy, sultry work of hipster-classic proportions. Not that too many folks got to hear it in 1958, as it lay nestled in on “Little Girl Blue”, her debut LP on the tiny Bethlehem Records label. Nina’s rendition was all the more remarkable when you consider that the entire “Little Girl Blue” album was recorded in one 14-hour session, with this song the last to be recorded. Somewhat tragically, the lady never benefitted from her excellent piece of work, having sold her rights to Bethlehem Records cheaply, losing an estimated million dollars in the process as the song exploded into the world’s consciousness in the 1980s.

No.26

SILHOUETTES

Andy Griffith

(Frank C. Slay Jr., Bob Crewe, Andy Griffith, Ainslee Pryor)

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• “Silhouettes” set to a picture of the original 7". Thanks to VinylNostalgia.

TJR says:

“Excellent Novelty from the USA”

The Rays good ol’ doo-wopper from 1957 got a radical reworking with Andy Griffith’s hilarious version, issued in January 1958. “Boys, let’s just cut the wah wah wah SH… ORT and get right to the meat of the story”. More important than going to the moon or the PTA or anything… this is the story of young love, a subject close to Andy’s heart. He finishes with some great advice for those cursed with a shyness that is criminally vulgar. A quality item and no mistake.

No.27

LONG LONESOME JOURNEY

Fats Domino

(Antoine Domino, Ted Jarrett)

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• “Long Lonesome Journey” set to an image of Fats. Thanks to Classic Mood Experience.

TJR says:

“Excellent Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

Recorded 26th April 1952 in New Orleans and unreleased until it was included on “The Fabulous Mr. D” (Imperial LP-9055) in September ’58. More than six years in the vaults – what’s all that about? These crimes never ceases to amaze me. Here, Fats has been on a long lonesome journey – no-one know the troubles he’s seen. It’s a good for nothin’ woman as usual. He has three saxophonists on hand to lend some bro support – Buddy Hagans and Herb Hardesty constantly wail their tenors in sympathy, as Wendell Duconge expresses the blues through his alto. This is real-deal juke joint gold.

No.28

KILL IT

The Antwinetts

(Vicky Logan, Carroll Williamson)

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• “Kill It” set to an image of the original 7". Thanks to à la elvis.

TJR says:

“Excellent Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

I’m not quite sure what’s needing killed here – mouse, rat, spider or fly, take your pick. Eeek! “Kill It” was recorded at Bell Studios in New York for Howfum Records, a small Baltimore label led by Caroll Williams. Master tapes were sent to RCA, who pressed up 1,000 45s in the fall, for sale from November. Traditional grafters, the Howfum boys hand-delivered their copies to as many stations as they could think to visit and did enough to sell through their initial run. In “Group Harmony: The Black Urban Roots of Rhythm and Blues” (Stuart L. Goosman, 2005) Williams revealed some of the background: “We went to Bell I guess about four different times. The Antwinetts, I think, was the very first group that we recorded. Young girls, twelve, thirteen, fourteen years old… they were our star group… we sold more copies of The Antwinetts than we did the Magic Tones.” Not a lot is known about the group – presumably co-writer Vicky Logan was a member. I just love the chewing-gum tough-talk – this, right here, is the square root of Debbie Harry’s “Rip Her To Shreds” persona.

No.29

HUSH YOUR MOUTH

Bo Diddley

(Ellas Otha Bates)

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• “Hush Your Mouth” set to a Bo Diddley slideshow. Thanks to bebopcapitol.

TJR says:

“Excellent Blues / Rhythm n Blues from the USA”

Recorded 29 January 1958 in Chicago and first issued as an A-side on Checker 896. “Hush, Little Baby” is beaten out of all recognition within these tribal rhythms and nonsense lyrics – this is bad-ass hambone. “That coonskin alligator hide, make into shoes baby, jus' like mine, don't be scared to put 'em on your feet, scared 'bout me, jus' can't be beat” Don’t mess with Bo. Coochy coo.

No.30

SINCE I DON’T HAVE YOU

The Skyliners, Lenny Martin and The Orchestra

(Jimmy Beaumont, Jack Taylor, Janet Vogel, Joe Verscharen, Walter Lester, Joseph Rock)

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• “Since I Don't Have You” set to a picture of the group. Thanks to MANNY MORA.

TJR says:

“Excellent Rock n Roll Ballad from the USA”

On Boxing Day, Calico-103 became the first statement to the world from The Skyliners, and what a debut it was. In 1958, Joe Rock, promo man and impresario had been planning and scheming the launch for this teenage vocal group for several months, before it all came to glorious fruition just before years’ end. In mid-1958 they were known as the Crescents and were: Jimmy Beaumont (17, lead), Janet Vogel (16, top tenor), Wally Lester (16, tenor), Joe VerScharen (17, baritone), and Jackie Taylor (17, bass). The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation tells the great back story: ”Joe, while sitting in his car between stoplights, wrote a lyric titled “Since I Don’t Have You” about the girl who had just left him. Jimmy wrote the music the next night. Someone brought in a tape recorder and a rough a cappella demo was done. Janet, thinking the tape had been turned off, kept riffing at the end, weaving up to an incredible high C finale. It was this tape that Rock sent to 13 established labels, including Chess, ABC, Imperial, and RCA. All 13 came back with rejection notes. One said the song was negative and should have been “Since I Have You.” Another wrote, “A song with 13 ‘yous’ at the end will never sell!” Undaunted, the group thumbed through the phone book and came up with Calico Records, which was owned by Lou Caposi and Bill Lawrence and had Lenny Martin as A&R head and arranger. The Crescents, who were influenced by the Cadillac’s, the Spaniels, The El Dorados, the Four Freshman, and the Hi-Los, practiced their hearts out and on November 3, 1958 sped off in their Dodge, and promptly became involved in a head-on collision. Miraculously, no one was hurt and they arrived in time to audition. After singing ”Since I Don’t Have You” and “One Night, One Night,” Martin said, “Hold it, no need to go any further. That’s my group.” “Since I Don’t Have You” was recorded on December 3, 1958, at Capitol Studios in New York. 18 musicians were used, an awesome number for a teen vocal group at the time and the first time a full orchestra had been used with a rock group. When the test pressing came back there was no group name on the label, which prompted Rock and the Crescents to think about a new permanent moniker. They came up with the title of an old Charlie Barnett 1945 hit (#19), “Skyliner.” “Since I Don’t Have You” was released the day after Christmas 1958. The record was soon number one in Pittsburgh, and Dick Clark invited the Skyliners to appear on his February 13th “American Bandstand” show (after their performance he wrongly announced the song was an old standard - a tribute to the songwriting of Rock and Beaumont). Within three days of the Dick Clark performance “Since” had charted on Billboard’s Top 100 and had sold 100,000 records. Beaumont and company’s debut single did better R&B (#3) then Pop (#12), and the group began to perform on the chitlin circuit, including the Apollo on eight occasions. In the early days stunned silence usually greeted them until they began singing and converting black audiences to instant fans. The Skyliners became the first white group ever to tope the R&B charts (“Since” went to number one in Cashbox).”

Top 250 Songs of 1958

  • This year's chart in full, sortable by clicking on any header. Page refreshes return chart order.


Song Charts

by year…

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Is your song of the year featured here? If not, what is it?