Researched and written by Sharon Mawer

Six number one albums during 1958 and every one of them a film soundtrack or cast recording, although it was true that three of them were reliant on their star and could have been described as solo artist albums. As the year began, the King And I was no.1, staying at the top throughout January, resting at the no.2 position for 12 weeks and returning to the top for one final week in March, completing its run of 48 weeks at no.1. It was replaced at the top by the Pal Joey soundtrack featuring Frank Sinatra. This soundtrack was number one for 11 weeks only to be replaced by yet another film soundtrack featuring a star pop performer, Tommy Steele with The Duke Wore Jeans. Pal Joey features Sinatra singing Rodgers and Hart songs arranged by Nelson Riddle, as was the Songs For Swingin Lovers project. Tracks included You Mustn't Kick It Around, I Could Write A Book, Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered and That Terrific Rainbow. Not a hit single to be found anywhere. The film The Duke Wore Jeans is a take on the Prince And The Pauper story with Tommy Steele starring in both lead roles, the aristocratic son, expected to marry a foreign Princess and the cheerful cockney who looks identical to the Lord and takes his place. A vehicle for Tommy Steele to win over the Princess by singing such optimistic songs like It's All Happening, Happy Guitar and Thanks A Lot.

Frank Sinatra charted five new albums during 1958, the compilation This Is Sinatra Volume 2 and Where Are You both peaking at no.3, Come Fly With Me, one place higher at no.2 and yet another compilation The Frank Sinatra Story and Only For The Lonely at no.8 although the latter LP would go on to peak at no.5 the following year. A Swingin Affair from 1957 was still around as was the first hit album Songs For Swingin Lovers. This Is Sinatra Volume 2 was another collection of singles and B sides produced by Nelson Riddle including Hey Jealous Love and a fair selection of songs written by Sammy Cahn. The Where Are You album contained 16 songs, all ballads, including The Night We Called It A Day, a vocal version of Autumn Leaves, Laura and the title track Where Are You. With a central theme of travelling around the world, Come Fly With Me is Sinatra's first collaboration with the arranger Billy May including the songs Around The World, Let's Get Away From It All, It's Nice To Go Travellin and the title track Come Fly With Me. Frank Sinatra Sings Only For The Lonely is another collection of ballads arranged by Nelson Riddle when his first choice Gordon Jenkins who had produced the previous ballads album Where Are You, was unavailable. Sinatra had never sounded as lonely as on this album on tracks Willow Weep For Me, Blues In The Night, Ebb Tide and the title track Only The Lonely. This Is Sinatra Volume 2 included the tracks Hey Jealous Lover, Everybody Loves Somebody, You Forgot All The Words, How Little We Know, Time After Time and I Believe.

In September, Elvis Presley returned to the top with the soundtrack to his film King Creole. One place lower at no.2 was last year's soundtrack Loving You and a new compilation Elvis Golden Records. King Creole was the last film made by Elvis before entering the US army and also the last in black and white. The songs in the film included the hit singles Hard Headed Woman and the title track and features the Jordanaires on backing vocals, particularly on all the ballads. Elvis Golden Records was one of Rock n Roll's first unashamed greatest hits collection, 14 tracks, 10 of which were US number one singles between 1956 to date.

On the 8th of November, the Melody Maker began publishing a top 10 album chart while Record Mirror stayed with its top 5 only listings. All the top 5 LPs from the Record Mirror chart featured on the corresponding top 5 Melody Maker chart, albeit with different positions, the reason claimed as being differences in the way the information was compiled and the different record shops supplying the sales information. The Record Mirror showed King Creole at no.1, Elvis Golden Records at no.2, Frank Sinatra's Come Fly With Me at no.3, My Fair Lady at no.4 and the soundtrack to South Pacific at no.5, an album that was just beginning its run at the top according to Melody Maker. It is now impossible to say, if the data had been exhaustively collected from every shop and every sale noted, whether South Pacific or King Creole had been the best selling LP for the week of November 8th, however it is the Melody Maker with the larger sample that has now become the officially recognised chart and thus South Pacific spent the final 8 weeks of the year at no.1 having already spent 18 weeks since May at no.2. Record Mirror showed the number one spot for the final 7 weeks of 1958 shared by South Pacific with 3 weeks and My Fair Lady with 4 of the weeks.

The only other official number one album of 1958 and the biggest seller of the year with 19 weeks on top between May and September was the Broadway cast recording of My Fair Lady, Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's musical, based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, about the relationship between an English language expert and a common flower girl starred Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews and Stanley Holloway and includes the numbers Wouldn't It Be Loverly, I Could Have Danced All Night, On The Street Where You Live, Why Can't The English, The Rain In Spain and Get Me To The Church On Time. The only other new soundtrack to chart in 1958 was The Pajama Game, the first film soundtrack to reach the chart and not go all the way to no.1. The Pajama Game was originally a Broadway show about a strike at a pajama factory. Written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, the film included most of the original cast, the male lead John Raitt and supporting actors Carol Haney, Eddie Foy Jr, Reta Shaw, and Buzz Miller although Doris Day was brought in to play the role originally by Janis Paige. All of the songs were left intact in the film too including the hits Hey There, Steam Heat and Hernandos Hideaway.

On the first expanded top 10 chart, there was room for two artists new to the listings, Johnny Mathis hit no.6 with Warm and Tom Lehrer scraped into the bottom position with Songs By Tom Lehrer although he would eventually peak at no.7. Other artists new to the charts of 1958 were Pat Boone who just scraped in to no.10 with Stardust, the Crickets hit no.5 with Chirping Crickets, as did Ella Fitzgerald with The Irving Berlin Songbook. Perry Como charted two albums this year as We Get Letters Volume 2 hit no.4 and Dear Perry peaked at no.6, while Russ Conway also hit no.6 with Pack Up Your Troubles.

Johnny Mathis was a traditional male vocalist born in Texas in 1935, specialising in ballads, before the rock dominated 1960s. He came to the attention of Mitch Miller, the Columbia A&R; executive famous for his own sing along albums and TV show who switched Mathis away from jazz standards recorded for the debut album to the mellow hits It's Not For Me To Say and Chances Are on the second album Wonderful Wonderful and this worked much better. For the third album, Warm, he continued with lush ballads in a romantic style, even including some oldies such as Irving Berlin's What'll I do but also some contemporary show tunes I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face from My Fair Lady.

Tom Lehrer was born in New York in 1928 and became a respected Harvard mathematics professor before turning his hand to satirical comedy in the 1950s. Despite his academic background, he had already become famous locally for his parodies of popular songs and comedy observations on the seedier side of life. The album Songs By Tom Lehrer cost $15 to make initially in 1953 with a pressing run of 400 and eventually sold nearly half a million copies around the world with students able to quote word for word from the tracks I Hold Your Hand In Mine about a man who cut off his girlfriend's hand in order to hold it and My Home Town featuring a school with murderers for teachers and perverts running the candy store.

Charles Eugene Patrick Boone born in Florida in 1934, a direct descendant of the frontier hero Daniel Boone was the acceptable face of Rock n Roll to the older generation. The rough edges were smoothed away from original black performances and songs like Tutti Frutti and Aint That A Shame were made to sound sanitised and clean and certainly acceptable to white parents. Strangely, he crossed over to the teenage market as well, to kids who hadn't heard the raw originals and really believed Pat Boone was a hip pop star, possibly even to rival Elvis. Concentrating on this clean cut image, he recorded several Gospel albums and he also had some major hits with smooth ballads such as Love Letters In The Sand, April Love and Don't Forbid Me and song standards which made up the bulk of his eighth album Stardust including hits from the 1940s Little White Lies, To Each his Own, Anniversary Song and I'll Walk Alone.

The Crickets started, not as a band but as a fictitious name invented by Buddy Holly in 1956 to avoid a contractual obligation with Decca records and included his backing musicians Jerry Allison and Joe Maudlin. For the next few years until his death, records were released by Buddy Holly and The Crickets and also solo recordings by Buddy Holly all of which were fully interchangeable. Eventually Jerry Allison took over the leadership of the Crickets the band, as Buddy Holly released material without crediting his backing musicians. The Crickets released their first album The Chirping Crickets officially without their original leader, although Buddy Holly sang and played guitar on every track including the hit singles Oh Boy, Not Fade Away, Maybe Baby and the number one That'll Be The Day.

Ella Fitzgerald was along with Billie Holiday, one of the greatest female jazz singers of all time and her early days were very similar to Holiday's in dire poverty in New York during the 1930s. Her big break came as a featured singer with the Chick Webb Orchestra who had one of the biggest hits of 1938 with A Ticket A Tasket. After the death of Webb, Ella Fitzgerald took over the running of the orchestra, although she had little or no experience of hiring or firing the musicians or the choice of repertoire and the band broke up a couple of years later. As a solo artist, she recorded a tribute album to George Gershwin, a forerunner to a whole series of Songbook albums, the first one to reach the charts in the UK being the Irving Berlin Songbook with 32 songs from his catalogue of 800 on a double album. Cramming so many songs into such a short space had only one drawback which was that Ella no longer had the freedom to improvise and scat as she had become famous for and had to stick more rigidly to the original song structure.

Perry Como was born in Pennsylvania in 1912 and as a singing barber, signed up with the Ted Weems Orchestra in the 1930s and first achieved solo fame with the US number Till The End Of Time in 1945 and a further 13 number one singles were achieved between 1946 and 1958. He was rivalled only by Bing Crosby as the most popular pre Rock n Roll singer since the end of the war and even the advent of Rock n Roll did not affect his popularity as his own TV series with guest singers was one of the most popular 1950s television shows and he continued having hit singles all the way through until the 1970s. In the UK, he had the fifth number one single with Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes and in 1958 achieved his second number one with Magic Moments. The previous year he had recorded the album We Get Letters which included the songs It's Easy to Remember, They Can't Take That Away From Me, S'posin and Deed I Do and despite its popularity, failed to secure a place on the top 5 album chart that existed at the time. Volume Two of We Get Letters in 1958 featuring the tracks As Time Goes By, For Me And My Gal, One For My Baby and You Do Something To Me became Como's first charting album and was quickly followed by another collection of Middle Of The Road standards Dear Perry also on the same theme as We Get Letters with the tracks Ac-cent-Tchu-ate The Positive, Love Letters, Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea and Red Sails In The Sunset.

Lonnie Donegan hit no.3 with Lonnie, 2 years after he first charted with The Lonnie Donegan Showcase. Lonnie Donegan's second album, was more sophisticated than his first with covers of traditional gospel songs Aint You Glad You Got Religion and Times Are Getting Hard Boys but also included his traditional do it yourself folk which had been labelled Skiffle on Lonesome Traveller, Light From The Lighthouse and I've Got Rocks In My Bed. The TV cast of the hit show Oh Boy hit no.4 with their compilation.. The first TV programme on British television about pop music was The Six Five Special but while that had a broad policy, playing anything from folk to trad jazz, Oh Boy when it finally aired concentrated solely on Rock n Roll and came at just the time when Britain was producing its own home grown Rock n Roll stars including Cliff Richard and Marty Wilde, both of whom commanded weekly spots on the show. An album of music, showcased originally on the programme was released and featured live performances by Billy Fury, The John Barry Seven, The Vernons Girls plus Cliff Richard and Marty Wilde.

Of the USA no.1 albums during 1958, Bing Crosby's Merry Christmas, Ray Conniff with Concert In Rhythm, Ricky Nelson's Ricky, Lester Lanin Goes To College, Johnny Mathis Johnny's Greatest Hits, Glen Gray's Sounds Of The Big Bands, Van Cliburn's version of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto no.1, Billy Vaughn Plays The Million Sellers, Mitch Miller's Sing Along With Mitch and Christmas Sing Along With Mitch, The Kingston Trio, The Four Freshmen Voices In Love and the Cast recording of the Music Man, all could not reach the UK charts at all. Also failing to reach the UK LP charts with US top 5 albums were Pat Boone with Stardust, Ahmad Jamal's But Not For Me, Dakota Station Late Late Show, Roger Williams Till, Johnny Mathis Merry Christmas, Tennessee Ernie Ford Nearer The Cross, Mitch Miller More Sing Along With Mitch and Mantovani Gems Forever.

As for those artists who successfully placed a single on top of the charts during 1958, only Elvis Presley and Perry Como managed to chart an album and there was no room in the 1958 album charts for Jerry Lee Lewis, Michael Holliday, Marvin Rainwater, Connie Francis, Vic Damone, Everly Brothers, Kalin Twins, Tommy Edwards, Lord Rockinghams XI and Conway Twitty.


Top albums of 1958
1 Broadway Cast - My Fair Lady
2 Soundtrack - South Pacific
3 Soundtrack - King And I
4 Soundtrack - Pal Joey
5 Elvis Presley - King Creole Soundtrack
6 Frank Sinatra - Come Fly With Me
7 Tommy Steele - Duke Wore Jeans Soundtrack
8 Soundtrack - Oklahoma
9 Frank Sinatra - This Is Sinatra Volume 2
10 Frank Sinatra - Songs For Swingin Lovers

(c) 2007 Text: Sharon Mawer / Contact: Sharon Mawer
(c) 2007 All chart information: The Official UK Charts Company

Top of the page