Archive for the ‘1950s’ Category

Charles Mingus – Pithecanthropus Erectus (1956)

June 4, 2018 Leave a comment

I think this is one of the most extraordinary records ever made. The fact that it dates from 1956 is staggering.

According to Mingus’s liner notes from the LP of the same name, this is a 10 minute tone poem depicting the rise of man from his hominid roots to an eventual downfall due to “his own failure to realise the inevitable emancipation of those he sought to enslave, and his greed in attempting to stand on a false security”. (Nope, me neither!)

Nonetheless, this might be the greatest performance on the bass in history as Charles weaves his magic whilst always returning to that relentless walking bass line that just eats its way into your mind.

Utterly perfect.



Nina Simone – Plain Gold Ring (1958)

May 25, 2017 Leave a comment

I’ve had a pretty tough week at work and, getting in the car tonight to drive home after the train journey from London, I had the latest free CD from Mojo magazine on the “stereo”.

This was the first track I came to and the quality of the song is just stunning. I think I’ve heard it before (maybe the Nick Cave version?) but it had never resonated as it did tonight. Three listens on the 15 minute drive home; two more after I’d “fired up” the home computer and its place in the pantheon of thebestmusicofalltime was assured (I’m an impulsive kind of guy!)

Taken from Nina Simone’s debut LP, Little Girl Blue, this is faultless stuff. An exquisite vocal (naturally), a stately bass line and shards of piano over the top combine to produce a minimalist classic. Sometimes, there is so little there to keep the music together, you worry that it will fall apart. And then, at the moment of greatest concern, Nina’s voice holds it together and propels the song forward anew ….!

This is perfect, peerless stuff. Unsurpassable.


The Hearts with Al Sears Orchestra – Lonely Nights (1955)

December 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Following a few days mainly listening to ear bleeding drum and bass/hardcore, I decided to take a detour on Christmas Eve to catch up with my three, four CD, collections of Rhino Records’ “The Doo Wop Box” ….

Within a few minutes, I had stumbled upon this track which I had never heard before but which, immediately, warranted elevation into the pantheon of “thebestmusicofalltime”!

Stately, relentless, plaintiff stuff. Killer vocals, a spoken word interlude and the sax keeping everything in line. It gets no better.


Papa Lightfoot – Wine, Women, Whiskey (1954)

August 20, 2015 Leave a comment

Every so often, you stumble upon a song and have a “double-take” as to the year it was recorded.

“Space Guitar” by Johnny Watson, “The Train Kept A Rollin‘” by Johnny Burnette, “Hallogallo” by Neu are just three examples from my experience.

“Wine, Women, Whiskey” by Papa Lightfoot is in the same bracket for me.

Recorded sometime after 1952, and released on the peerless Imperial Records label in 1954, the bass and overdriven guitar seem to invent glam rock even as you listen to it and then the treated vocals and ruthless harmonica create a sound that transcends a period when Elvis was still musing on how he might change the world of popular music and Captain Beefheart was still contemplating his first signs of stubble.

A stunning record: brief, succinct, powerful, impassioned … a fine addition to the bestmusicofalltime!

Rufus Thomas – Bear Cat (1953)

December 30, 2014 Leave a comment

One of music’s first “answer records” …. a song recorded in response to an earlier hit.

Here, Rufus Thomas serves up a stunning response to Big Mama Thornton’s immortal 1952 original reading of “Hound Dog” (previously posted here). “Bear Cat” was Sun Records’ first hit record but was almost a disaster for Sam Phillips’ label as a copyright-infringement suit ensued and nearly bankrupted the operation.

There are so many rock’n’roll records from the 1950s that it is sometimes difficult to sort out the wheat from the chaff. My rule of thumb is simple – judge the record on how raw the guitar is; the rougher the better.

On that basis, this record is as good as it gets; rock’n’roll meets swamp blues … for a more recent example, check Tom Waits’ stunning “Jockey Full of Bourbon” previously posted here.

Just the track!

The Kidds – Drunk, Drunk, Drunk (1955)

December 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Imperial Records are one of my all time favourite record labels and this is typical of the genius of their output.

Released in 1955 (I think!), The Kidds “Drunk, Drunk, Drunk” joins the pantheon of other booze themed records recorded around these times. I have already posted a couple of them here and here.

By far and away the best of these records (and still the most popular entry ever on this blog with 690 hits –  as of today), is Jimmy Liggins’ stupendous “I Ain’t Drunk” posted here.

The Kidds never quite hit the Liggins’ heights and, frankly, I am struggling to transcribe the lyrics in a manner that might remain within the bounds of 21st century decency. However, I presume it’s just my ears playing tricks on me, so over to you ….

Elvis Presley – Tomorrow Night (1954)

December 4, 2014 Leave a comment

Elvis Presley at his purest.

Taken from his early recordings for Sun Records, “Tomorrow Night” confirms Elvis as one of the greatest voices in history.

The first recording of this song was made by Lonnie Johnson in 1948 but the track was actually written by Sam Coslow and Will Grosz.

The Lonnie Johnson recording has a rougher, rawer, feel to it which might appeal to some.

However, Elvis’ recording strips the music back to the barest bones and, as his voice soars over the spectral backing, genius is revealed …

From the same sessions, I’ve already posted Presley’s definitive reading of Blue Moon here.

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