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Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

With apologies to Andre…

This will probably be of no interest to anybody but me and nicolas, but I couldn’t help myself. Here are the ten highest-ranked years BEFORE 1954. If Andre’s list were extended, these would be #54-63, so that’s how I’ll number them here.

Andre, I hope you don’t mind me extending your concept a little bit here—I just wanted to celebrate some pre-Elvis music that rarely gets much love around here. I also wanted to be the first person in history to include John Cage and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the same post! (Intrigued? Read on…)

#54: 1953
514. The Quintet, Jazz at Massey Hall
1586. Stan Kenton, New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm
1820. Lester Young, The President Plays with the Oscar Peterson Trio
2084. J.J. Johnson, The Eminent Jay Jay Johnson Volume 1
2208. Fred Astaire, The Astaire Story
2442. Duke Ellington, Ellington Uptown
266. Hank Williams, “Your Cheatin’ Heart”
580. Big Mama Thornton, “Hound Dog”
648. The Orioles, “Crying in the Chapel”
921. The Drifters, “Money Honey”
1512. Ruth Brown, “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean”
1528. Webb Pierce, “There Stands the Glass”

#55: 1951
458. Thelonious Monk, Genius of Modern Music Vol. 1
792. Bud Powell, The Amazing Bud Powell Vol. 1
289. Jackie Brenston, “Rocket 88”
558. Elmore James, “Dust My Broom”
603. Les Paul & Mary Ford, “How High the Moon”
946. Hank Williams, “Hey Good Lookin’”
1002. Hank Williams, “Cold, Cold Heart”
1186. Johnnie Ray, “Cry”

#56: 1952
714. Thelonious Monk, Genius of Modern Music Vol. 2
1644. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Bird & Diz
371. Lloyd Price, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”
426. Hank Williams, “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive”
959. Kitty Wells, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”
1090. Jimmy Forrest, “Night Train”
1415. Little Walter, “Juke”
1536. John Cage, “4:33”

#57: 1939
(No albums.)
111. Billie Holiday, “Strange Fruit”
380. Judy Garland, “Over the Rainbow”
653. Glenn Miller, “In the Mood”
693. Gene Autry, “Back in the Saddle Again”
926. Coleman Hawkins, “Body and Soul”
1249. The Ink Spots, “If I Didn’t Care”

#58: 1950
513. Benny Goodman, The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Concert
1556. Lee Konitz, Subconscious-Lee
1735. Charlie Parker, Charlie Parker with Strings
2904. Roy Eldridge, Little Jazz
773. Muddy Waters, “Rollin’ Stone”
1119. Lefty Frizzell, “If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time)”
1214. Hank Snow, “I’m Movin’ On”
1396. The Weavers, “Goodnight Irene”
1425. Patti Page, “Tennessee Waltz”
1560. Nat King Cole, “Mona Lisa”

#59: 1947
(No albums.)
163. Woody Guthrie, “This Land Is Your Land”
348. Bill Monroe, “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
892. T-Bone Walker, “Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday’s Just As Bad)”
907. Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys, “Wabash Cannonball”
989. Mahalia Jackson, “Move On Up a Little Higher”
1168. Dizzy Gillespie, “Manteca”

#60: 1949
2311. The Original Broadway Cast, Kiss Me Kate
2336. Lennie Tristano & Tadd Dameron, Crosscurrents
118. Hank Williams, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
816. Hank Williams, “Lovesick Blues”
1070. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”
1672. Hank Williams, “Lost Highway”
1686. Gene Autry, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”
1774. Vaughn Monroe, “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky (A Cowboy Legend)”

#61: 1940
Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads
447. Leadbelly, “The Midnight Special”
903. Jimmie Davis, “You Are My Sunshine”
1258. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, “New San Antonio Rose”
1561. Cliff Edwards, “When You Wish Upon a Star”
2189. Bill Monroe, “Mule Skinner Blues”

#62: 1928
(No albums.)
343. Louis Armstrong, “West End Blues”
430. Jimmie Rodgers, “Blue Yodel (T for Texas)”
1283. The Carter Family, “Keep on the Sunny Side”
1605. Blind Willie McTell, “Statesboro Blues”
1861. Eddie Cantor, “Makin’ Whoopee”
2170. Blind Lemon Jefferson, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean”

#63: 1941
(No albums.)
431. Duke Ellington, “Take the ‘A’ Train”
432. Billie Holiday, “God Bless the Child”
1231. Leadbelly, “The Midnight Special”
1420. The Andrews Sisters, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”
2007. Charlie Christian with the Benny Goodman Orchestra, “Solo Flight”
2219. The Sons of the Pioneers, “Cool Water”

By the way, Andre’s not exaggerating…there’s a HUGE dropoff from #53 (1962) to #54 (1953). Years prior to “Rock Around the Clock” and Birth of the Cool are really playing in the minor leagues compared to everything since then.

It’s not too surprising that the list includes six of the seven years immediately preceding 1954. But for me, the most interesting thing about this list are the outlying years in 1928 and 1939-41. It’s hard not to notice that those come right before the Wall Street crash and Pearl Harbor, respectively. I don’t really know what to make of that (if anything).

(Oh, and Andre, I didn’t cheat and look ahead to the rest of your countdown. I want to be surprised along with everyone else.)

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

you're right schleuse
1928 was a killer year, especially in blues (which is what I know the best). This is when the record companies discovered that their was a big "race record" market (as they called it) and sent out their talent scouts all over the south to record singers.1928 was also the peak of blues' and old country's popularity
Then came the depression, but 1929 was still a good year. Funny it is not represented; Then there's a big drop from 1930 on, and things start back from 1935 to just before the war.
1941 : great year too. Then came the war. 1942 to 1945 are very weak years, because of the Petrillo ban, a big strike led by the musicians unions over a royalty problem (same as the writers' strike in Hollywood, but longer), and because wartime efforts made it difficult to find shellac to manufacturate the records.
Then 1945 explodes with jumping music, very joyful and danceable. This is the true beginning of Rhythm & Blues with likes of Louis Jordan, and also big bands like Glenn Miller who had started to appear in Kansas City before the war but which exploded in 1945.

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Thanks, nicolas!

Let me post the rest of the list (years only), which I think will back up much of what you say:

#64: 1936
#65: 1937
#66: 1945
#67: 1929
#68: 1938
#69: 1948
#70: 1946
#71: 1930
#72: 1927
#73: 1942
#74: 1924
#75: 1923
#76: 1935
#77: 1925
#78: 1931
#79: 1944
#80: 1922
#81: 1934
#82: 1943
#83: 1932
#84: 1919
#85: 1918
#86: 1909
#87: 1902
#88: 1920
#89: 1926
#90: 1913
#91: 1911
#92: 1933

Since 1902, there have been 13 years with no acclaimed releases: 1903-08, 1910, 1912, 1914-17 (must have been a war or something), and 1921.

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Hey schleuse, I was going to post the positions #54 to #92 sometime later as well, but it's great you're doing it already now.

Isn't this fun? And you know what, Henrik is probably gonna publish a site update soon, so we're definitely not gonna get bored.

I mean, who doesn't want to know the answer to the question: Will 2007 become THE year of the decade?

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Hmm, disabling smilies has become a routine for me. Not handy, when you want to add and show some.

BTW, schleuse, just double checked and we seem to use the same formula, i.e. your countdown list equals mine.

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Ah, I’m sorry, Andre—didn’t mean to steal your thunder.

I just have one more thing to present (inspired by nicolas' historical recap), to show the trend in Acclaimed Music leading up to the mid-1950s. And then I’ll shut up. Maybe this will be revealing. Or maybe not:

1923 XXX
1924 XXX
1925 XXX
1926 X
1927 XXXX
1929 XXXXX
1930 XXXX
1931 XXX
1932 XX
1933 X
1934 XX
1935 XXX
1936 XXXXX
1937 XXXXX
1938 XXXX
1942 XXX
1943 XX
1944 XXX
1945 XXXXX
1946 XXXX
1948 XXXX

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

I am interested in "old" music, but I don't think the Acclaimed Music stats do a very good job of measuring the worth of old music because the critical data is not as good or as complete. Also because of the lack of album-oriented presentation comparing "old" music to newer stuff is apples to oranges.

I would be interested in critical reviews devoted exclusively to pre-rock era music. Can anybody recommend good sources. I'm imagining an article like "50 essential compilations from the pre-rock era." If somebody hasn't already made such a list, it would be a worthy endeavor.

How about a list of your top 10 pre-1955 musical favorites.

Here's mine, just off the cuff:

1. Hank
2. Billie Holiday
3. Louis Armstrong
4. Frank Sinatra
5. Thelonious Monk
6. Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys
7. Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys
8. Robert Johnson
9. Duke Ellington
10. Ernest Tubb

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

1. Hank Williams
2. Billie Holiday
3. The Carter Family
4. Woody Guthrie
5. Duke Ellington
6. Leadbelly
7. Bob Wills
8. Robert Johnson
9. Louis Armstrong
10. Benny Goodman (I can't leave Krupa off the list!)

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

What a great thread !
But I'm not gonna post now, I'm going to bed, my job and my kids have killed me today

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Schleuse - I like all the ones on your list that I left out. I still have a lot of exploring to do, particularly with the Carter Family and Leadbelly. Another great you don't hear much about anymore is Jimmie Rodgers. I love the Blue Yodel number he did with Louis Armstrong. Or, as you once said before, "any of the Blue Yodels."

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Nicolas - Here is a music blog, in French, about pre-1950 music: http://mariob.unblog.fr/

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Thanks, Paul. I actually considered Jimmie ("Blue Yodels") Rodgers for my list, but, as I said, decided on Benny Goodman for #10 just because: folks, if you've never seen Gene Krupa, the coolest, and, surprisingly, rock-and-rollingest drummer in the history of anything, go find him on YouTube NOW!

You're right, by the way, that this website becomes a kind of blunt instrument when it comes to pre-Elvis music. I think the pre-1954 artists represented here are fairly sound, actually, but evaluating those folks is really outside the design specs of AM.

But it is fodder for discussion.

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

1. Leadbelly
2. Robert Johnson
3. Django Reinhardt
4. Jimmie Rodgers
5. Hank Williams
6. Billie Holiday
7. Big Bill Broonzy
8. Louis Armstrong
9. Mississippi John Hurt
10. Woody Guthrie

Bubbling under : Memphis Minnie, Roy Acuff, Duke, great Hawaiian guitarist Sol Hopii, Merle Travis, early Muddy Waters, Blind Blake, Bessie Smith, Carter Family, Jazz Gillum, Sidney Bechet, Josh White, Blind Willie McTell, Louis Jordan, Bob Wills, Jelly Roll Morton, Johnny Dodds

Paul, an "acclaimed pre-54 compilations" is a great idea !

Let's work on this. We have the expertise. Maybe you should ask contribution from your fellow music bloggers

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Jimmie Rodgers is really worth the exploration, not only the yodel blues but everything

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

My goodness : I forgot Edith Piaf (the real one, not Marion Cotillard who should have kept her mouth shut)

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years


I will think about the idea some more and try to come up with some ideas. Great list by the way.

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Yes, that would be good. I know a faw compilations, and I have some books about blues and country with interesting discographies full of compilations.
one is a must-have and the mother of all pre-1954 anthologies : Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (Folkways records)

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Here are AM's top 20 from before 1950. It's a pretty good list.

1 Hank Williams
2 Woody Guthrie
3 Billie Holiday
4 Robert Johnson
5 Duke Ellington
6 The Carter Family
7 Leadbelly
8 Bing Crosby
9 Jimmie Rodgers
10 Bessie Smith
11 Bill Monroe
12 John Lee Hooker
13 Glenn Miller
14 Thelonious Monk
15 Louis Armstrong
16 Judy Garland
17 Gene Autry
18 Fats Waller
19 Benny Goodman
20 Charlie Parker

Now here is a top 10 list combining the votes of paul, nicolas, and schleuse:

3 votes:

1. Hank Williams
2. Billie Holiday
3. Robert Johnson
4. Louis Armstrong

2 votes:

5. Leadbelly
6. Woody Guthrie
7. Duke Ellington
8. Bob Wills

1 vote (tie-breaker is AM list)

9. The Carter Family
10. Jimmie Rodgers

These 10 artists are a GREAT starting point for compiling a list of essential compilations of pre-rock music. But I suspect that the compilations may have to be D.I.Y., as it is hard to find single albums that capture the very best of these artists. For example, Billie Holiday basically had three careers. One with Columbia, one with Decca, and one with Verve. The style on each label is very different and each label has its own box set. (I have the complete Columbia and Decca. Never ponied up the $$$ for the Verve.)

If anybody is still reading this, I propose we nominate our essential songs for each these ten artists. (Also, if you want to add your own list of top ten pre-rock artists, please do so.) I'm going to make my own compilation.

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Our top 10 varies from the AM list only by the inclusion of Louis Armstrong and Bob Wills in place of Bing Crosby and Bessie Smith. As much as I like Bessie & Bing, I think our list is an improvement. Louis Armstrong, especially, is a giant in the history of jazz.

Re: Bubbling Under the 50 Best Years

Here are the are the AM-ranked songs for each artist in our top 10 (not necessarily my picks).

1. Hank Williams - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry, Your Cheatin' Heart, I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, Lovesick Blues, Hey Good Lookin', Cold Cold Heart, Move It On Over, Lost Highway

2. Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit, God Bless The Child

3. Robert Johnson - Cross Road Blues, Hellhound On My Trail, Love In Vain, Sweet Home Chicago, Terraplane Blues, Come On In My Kitchen

4. Louis Armstrong - West End Blues, What A Wonderful World, Hello Dolly! (Missing a ton of great jazz.)

5. Leadbelly - The Midnight Special, Goodnight Irene

6. Woody Guthrie - This Land Is Your Land

7. Duke Ellington - Take The "A" Train, Mood Indigo, In A Sentimental Mood, Black and Tan Fantasy, Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue, Black Brown and Beige, Come Sunday

8. Bob Wills - New San Antonio Rose, Take Me Back To Tulsa

9. The Carter Family - Wildwood Flower, Can The Circle Be Unbroken, Keep On The Sunny Side

10. Jimmie Rodgers - Blue Yodel No. 1 (T for Texas), Blue Yodel No. 9 (Standing On The Corner), In The Jailhouse Now.

Just to get you thinking...