Tag Archives: USA

66. Blue Monday – Fats Domino – 1956

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Blue Monday” is a song originally written by Dave Bartholomew, and first recorded by Smiley Lewis in 1954.

It was later popularized in a recording by Fats Domino in 1956, on Imperial Records (catalog # 5417), on which the songwriting credit was shared between Bartholomew and Domino. Most later versions have credited Bartholomew and Domino as co-writers. Fats Domino’s version was featured in the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It. It was included on the 1957 album This Is Fats and the 1959 album Fats Domino sings 12,000,000 Records.

Trivia

  • Although many musicians have recorded Bartholomew’s songs, his partnership with Fats Domino produced some of his greatest successes. In the mid 1950s they wrote more than forty hits for Imperial Records, including two songs that reached Number One on the Billboard R&B chart “Goin’ Home” and “Ain’t That a Shame“.
  • Domino finally crossed into the pop mainstream with “Ain’t That A Shame” (1955), which hit the Top Ten, though Pat Boone characteristically hit No. 1 with a milder cover of the song that received wider radio airplay in a racially-segregated era.
  • Domino appeared in two films released in 1956: Shake, Rattle & Rock! and The Girl Can’t Help It.
  • Blue Monday became one of the earliest rhythm and blues songs to make the Billboard magazine pop music charts, peaking at number five and reaching the number one spot on the R&B Best Sellers chart.
  • McCartney reportedly wrote the Beatles song “Lady Madonna” in emulation of Domino’s style.
  • Domino did manage to return to the “Hot 100” charts one final time in 1968—with his own recording of “Lady Madonna”.
  • By the end of his career, Domino was credited with more charted rock hits than any other classic rock artist except for Elvis Presley.

65. I’m a Man- Bo Diddley – 1955

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I’m a Man” is a rock and roll song written and recorded by Bo Diddley in 1955. A moderately slow blues with a stop-time figure, it was inspired by an earlier blues song and became a number one U.S. R&B chart hit. “I’m a Man” has been recorded by a variety of artists, including The Yardbirds who had a number seventeen pop hit in the U.S. in 1965.

“I’m a Man” was released as the B-side of “Bo Diddley“, his first single in April 1955. The single became a two-sided hit and reached number 1 in the Billboard R&B chart. “I’m a Man” was inspired by Muddy Waters‘ 1954 song “Hoochie Coochie Man“, written by Willie Dixon. After Diddley’s release, Waters recorded an “answer song” to “I’m a Man” in May 1955, titled “Mannish Boy“, a play on words on Bo Diddley’s younger age as it related to the primary theme of the song.

Trivia

64. Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford – 1955

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Merle Travis’ Version:

 

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WikipediaSixteen Tons” is a song about the life of a coal miner, first recorded in 1946 by American country singer Merle Travis and released on his box set album Folk Songs of the Hills the following year. A 1955 version recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford reached number one in the Billboard charts, while another version by Frankie Laine was released only in Western Europe, where it gave Ford’s version competition. While the song is usually attributed to Merle Travis, to whom it is credited on his 1946 recording, George S. Davis, a folk singer and songwriter who had been a Kentucky coal miner, claimed on a 1966 recording for Folkways Records to have written the song as “Nine-to-ten tons” in the 1930s. Davis’ recording of his version of the song appears on the albums George Davis: When Kentucky Had No Union Men and Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian. Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded Sixteen Tons in 1955 as the b-side of his cover of the Moon Mullican standard, “You Don’t Have to Be a Baby to Cry“. Its fatalistic tone contrasted vividly with the sugary pop ballads and rock & roll just starting to dominate the charts at the time. With Ford’s snapping fingers and a unique clarinet-driven pop arrangement, it quickly became a million seller.

Trivia

  • According to Travis, the line from the chorus, “another day older and deeper in debt”, was a phrase often used by his father, a coal miner himself.
  • The line, “I owe my soul to the company store“, is a reference to the truck system and to debt bondage. Under this scrip system, workers were not paid cash; rather they were paid with non-transferable credit vouchers which could be exchanged only for goods sold at the company store. This made it impossible for workers to store up cash savings. Workers also usually lived in company-owned dormitories or houses, the rent for which was automatically deducted from their pay.
  • Ford’s version hit Billboards Country Music charts in November 1955 and held the #1 position for ten weeks, then crossed over and held the number 1 position on the pop music charts for eight weeks, besting the competing version by Johnny Desmond.
  • In the United Kingdom, it competed with versions by Edmund Hockridge and Frankie Laine. Laine’s version was not released in the United States but sold well in the UK: it was released on October 17 and by October 28 had sold 400,000 copies.
  • On November 10, a million copies had been sold; two million were sold by December 15.

 

63. Cry Me a River – Julie London – 1955

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WikipediaCry Me a River” is a popular American torch song, written by Arthur Hamilton and first published in 1953, and made famous in the version by Julie London, 1955. A jazzy blues ballad, “Cry Me a River” was originally written for Ella Fitzgerald to sing in the 1920s-set film, Pete Kelly’s Blues (released 1955), but the song was dropped. Fitzgerald first released a recording of the song on Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! in 1961. The song’s first release was by actress/singer Julie London in 1955, backed by Barney Kessel on guitar and Ray Leatherwood on bass. A performance of the song by London in the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It helped to make it a bestseller (reaching nr. 9 on US and nr. 22 on UK charts). London’s recording was later featured in the soundtracks for the movies Passion of Mind (2000), and V for Vendetta (2005).

Trivia

  • London began singing under the name Gayle Peck in public in her teens before appearing in a film. She was discovered by talent agent Sue Carol, while working as an elevator operator.
  • London’s most famous single, “Cry Me a River“, was written by her high-school classmate Arthur Hamilton and produced by Bobby Troup. The recording became a million-seller after its release in December 1955.
  • Shirley Bassey recorded the song on her album The Fabulous Shirley Bassey (1959).
  • London later starred in the TV medical drama Emergency! (1972–1979), co-starring her real-life husband, Bobby Troup, and produced by her ex-husband, Jack Webb, in which she played the female lead role of nurse Dixie McCall.
  • London released 32 albums of pop and jazz standards during the 1950s and 1960s.

 

62. Only You (and You Alone) – The Platters – 1955

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WikipediaOnly You (And You Alone)” (often shortened to “Only You“) is a pop song composed by Buck Ram. It was recorded most successfully by The Platters, with lead vocals by Tony Williams, in 1955. The first recording of the song on Federal Records, also by Williams and The Platters, turned out poorly in 1954, but after a re-recording, the song scored a major hit when it was released on July 3, 1955. Platters bass singer Herb Reed later recalled how the group hit upon its successful version: “We tried it so many times, and it was terrible. One time we were rehearsing in the car… and the car jerked. Tony went ‘O-oHHHH-nly you.’ We laughed at first, but when he sang that song — that was the sign we had hit on something.” The song held strong in the number-one position on the U.S. R & B charts for seven weeks, and hit number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It remained there for 30 weeks, beating out a rival cover version by a white band called The Hilltoppers. When the Platters track, “The Great Pretender” (which eventually surpassed the success of “Only You”), was released in the UK as Europe’s first introduction to The Platters, “Only You” was included on the flipside. In the 1956 film Rock Around the Clock, The Platters participated with both songs “Only You” and “The Great Pretender”.

Trivia

  • The Platters were the first rock and roll group to have a Top Ten album in America.
  • In 1974, Ringo Starr covered this song (b/w “Call Me”) for his album Goodnight Vienna at the suggestion of John Lennon. This version was released as a single on 11 November in the US, and it became a number six hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reached number one on the easy listening chart in early 1975.
  • The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in its inaugural year of 1998.
  • Currently, there are four acts using variations of the name: The Buck Ram Platters, Herb Reed and His Platters, Monroe Powell and The Platters, and Sonny Turner (former lead singer of The Platters).

 

61. Tutti Frutti – Little Richard – 1955

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“Tutti Frutti” (means “All Fruits” in Italian) is a song co-written by Little Richard, which was recorded in 1955 and became his first major hit record. With its opening cry of “A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!” (a verbal rendition of a drum pattern that Little Richard had imagined) and its hard-driving sound and wild lyrics, it became not only a model for many future Little Richard songs, but also a model for rock and roll itself.

In 2007, an eclectic panel of renowned recording artists voted “Tutti Frutti” number 1 on Mojo‘s The Top 100 Records That Changed The World, hailing the recording as “the sound of the birth of rock and roll.” In 2010, the US Library of Congress National Recording Registry added the recording to its registry, claiming the “unique vocalizing over the irresistible beat announced a new era in music”. In April 2012, Rolling Stone magazine declared that the song “still contains what has to be considered the most inspired rock lyric ever recorded: “”A-wop-bom-a-loo-mop-a-lomp-bom-bom!!”

Trivia

  • The original lyrics, “Tutti Frutti, good booty / If it don’t fit, don’t force it / You can grease it, make it easy”, were replaced with “Tutti Frutti, aw rooty! Tutti Frutti, aw rooty”.
  • The record entered the Billboard Rhythm and Blues chart at the end of November 1955, and rose to # 2 early in 1956. It also reached # 17 on the Billboard pop chart.
  • After Pat Boone‘s success with “Ain’t That a Shame“, his next single was “Tutti Frutti”, markedly toned down from the already reworked Blackwell version. Boone’s version made no. 12 on the national pop chart, with Little Richard’s trailing behind only reaching no. 17.
  • Little Richard admitted that though Pat Boone “took [his] music”, Boone made it more popular due to his high status in the white music industry.
  • “They didn’t want me to be in the white guys’ way … I felt I was pushed into a rhythm and blues corner to keep out of rockers’ way, because that’s where the money is. When ‘Tutti Frutti’ came out … They needed a rock star to block me out of white homes because I was a hero to white kids. The white kids would have Pat Boone upon the dresser and me in the drawer ’cause they liked my version better, but the families didn’t want me because of the image that I was projecting.” – Little Richard.

60. In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning – Frank Sinatra – 1955

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Wikipedia “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” is a 1955 popular song composed by David Mann, with lyrics by Bob Hilliard. It was introduced as the title track of Frank Sinatra‘s 1955 album In the Wee Small Hours. It was composed by Mann and Hilliard during a post-midnight session at Hilliard’s New Jersey home. Mann was about to depart for New York when Hilliard insisted he remain to try some impromptu songwriting. Mann reluctantly agreed and eventually came up with the tune, to which Hilliard quickly wrote a lyric.

Trivia

  • By the early 1950s, Sinatra saw his career in decline, his teen “bobby soxer” audience having lost interest in him as he entered his late 30s.
  • The rebirth of his career began with the eve-of-Pearl Harbor drama From Here to Eternity (1953), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
  • The songs on In the Wee Small Hours deal with themes such as loneliness, introspection, lost love, failed relationships, depression and night-life. As a result, it is generally regarded as one of the first concept albums.
  • The album was recorded in five sessions at KHJ Studios, Hollywood. These sessions took place on February 8, 16 & 17, and April 1 & 4, and would start at 8:00PM, continuing to past midnight.
  • Since its release, In the Wee Small Hours has been regarded as one of Sinatra’s best, often being ranked alongside Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! (1956) and Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely (1958).
  • It is also considered by many to be one of the best vocal jazz releases of all time. acclaimedmusic.net, a website which aggregates musical accolades, names …Hours the 3rd most acclaimed album of the 50s (…Swingin’ Lovers! being one place behind it), with Kind of Blue by Miles Davis and Elvis Presley’s self titled début album in front.