ALBUM CHART HISTORY
Researched and written by Sharon Mawer
One of the reasons the LP had been invented in the first place was so that an entire film soundtrack could be played through from beginning to end without the need to constantly change the record, apart from flipping over the double sided disc and a suitable break point to play the other side. In just over two years, nine film soundtracks had topped the album charts for a combined total of 84 weeks. Carousel, Oklahoma, The King And I, High Society, The Tommy Steele Story, Loving You, Pal Joey, The Duke Wore Jeans and King Creole were all featured in the year end best sellers lists, but on the 8th November 1958, South Pacific slipped into the no.1 position, the 10th film soundtrack to do so, and it didn't vacate the top position until the 12th March 1960, 70 weeks later, spending an unequalled 115 weeks in total at no.1 and the entire year of 1959. South Pacific, another Rodgers and Hammerstein musical originally a show on Broadway telling the story of a nurse from a small town at a military hospital in 1943 on an island in the South Pacific who falls in love with an older French plantation owner who had settled on the island before the war. The Broadway Cast recording had spent nearly a year on top of the US charts in 1949 and 1950 and the film soundtrack was true to this recording with Rossano Brazzi and Mitzi Gaynor in the lead roles and included all the now very famous songs Some Enchanted Evening, There Is Nothing Like A Dame, I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair, Bali Hai and Happy Talk.
With South Pacific spending the whole of 1959 at no.1, that left the runner up position as the best that any other LP could hope for. For the first three months of the year, the Broadway Cast recording of My Fair Lady held onto the no.2 position and at the end of March, yet another film soundtrack moved up to no.2, Gigi, the story in 1900s Paris of Gaston Lachaille grooming the precocious and carefree Gigi, the granddaughter of an old friend, to follow her grandmother as a cultured courtesan, only to find that despite the age difference, he is falling in love with her. Gigi the film, starred Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan and Maurice Chevalier and featured the songs Gigi, The Night They Invented Champagne and Thank Heaven For Little Girls. The LP spent 29 weeks at no.2 during 1959 in five separate runs.
Frank Sinatra's Come Fly With Me had hit no.2 the previous year and this year he charted two new albums, Come Dance With Me, also a no.2 and Look To Your Heart peaked at no.5. Come Dance With Me is a swinging album with no room for down at heel ballads. Working with the producer Billy May again, Sinatra recorded an album of up-tempo, up-beat numbers, including Something's Gotta Give, Dancing In The Dark, Irving Berlin's Cheek To Cheek and I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady. Look To Your Heart however was a collection of 1950s tracks including several tunes from the musical version of Thornton Wilder's Our Town.
Three months after his death, The Buddy Holly Story, a compilation of greatest hits reached no.2. The 12 track LP included all eight of the major hits originally credited to both Buddy Holly, with or without the Crickets between 1957 to date.
In 1958 Cliff Richard began his singles chart career and this year he began his equally long LP chart career with two very different LPs, the no.4 Cliff and the no.2 Cliff Sings. The first album Cliff was credited to Cliff Richard & The Drifters who had already changed their name to The Shadows for the second album. At the time, considered Britain's answer to Elvis Presley, Harry Webb was actually born in India in 1940 but he was quintessentially British and thus gave teenagers their first taste of genuine homegrown talent in the rock and roll genre, no track more so than his first hit single Move It. Backed by the Shadows, Hank Marvin, Bruce Welch, Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, a rhythm section who stepped out on their own and became just as famous as their lead singer. The first LP, Cliff, continued on the rock and roll theme with cover versions of Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On, Be Bop A Lula, That'll Be The Day and also his own track Move It. The Shadows (Drifters) guitar playing is also given a chance to shine through on the tracks Jet Black and Driftin. Less than one year after launching himself as a Rock n Roller, Norrie Paramor, his producer, slowed him down to cater for a much more adult audience, achieving his first two no.1 singles with the ballads Living Doll and Travelling Light and the second album Cliff Sings served up more of the same in this new, more sophisticated style. It still featured its share of rockers, The Snake And The Bookworm and cover versions of Blue Suede Shoes, I'm Walkin and Mean Woman Blues, but this album contained ballads as more than half its overall content, including most un-Cliff like tracks As Time Goes By, Little Things Mean A Lot and Here Comes Summer, but this was the shape of things to come and who could say that the decision to mellow was wrong with a pop career of approaching 50 years and counting. Considering he achieved two number one ballad singles and Cliff Sings charted higher in the LP charts than the first album Cliff, it would appear the fans approved of the shift at the time too.
1959 was a very good year for the pianist Russ Conway. Having placed his first LP Pack Up Your Troubles into the album charts at the end of 1958, this year saw that first LP climb to its peak of no.6 and three more LPs reach the top 10, Songs To Sing In Your Bath, Family Favourites and Time To Celebrate. It was even better on the singles chart with two no.1 singles Side Saddle and Roulette. Russ Conway (Trevor Stanford) was born on 2nd September 1925, and learned to play piano as a child, in the 1930s. He joined the navy as a teenager during World War II, and won a Distinguished Service Medal. He decided to stay in the services after the war, and continued developing his naval career until 1955. After his navy career, he turned to cabaret piano playing and played with Gracie Fields and Joan Regan before his big break on TV on the Billy Cotton Band Show. Distinct from the hit singles, his albums concentrated more on standard songs, Songs To Sing In Your Bath featuring I've Got A Lovely Bunch Of Coconuts, Beer Barrel Polka, I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles and By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, while Family Favourites included the tracks Teddy Bear's Picnic, Keep Right On To The End Of The Road, The Anniversary Song and With A Song In My Heart.
Another instrumentalist had two no.6 LPs in 1959, Duane Eddy charted with Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel and Especially For You. Other instrumental LP artists included Mantovani who had a US no.1 with Film Encores, charted in the UK with Continental Encores and The 101 Strings hit no.9 with Gypsy Campfires. Duane Eddy could be considered one of the most influential instrumental Rock n Roll stars of all time, making the electric guitar into a natural instrument of choice for rock with his distinctive low lead twangy riffs running through all of his songs. Born in New York in 1938, his early heroes were Gene Autry and Chet Atkins, although his twangy guitar sound was devised in collaboration with producer Lee Hazlewood. His debut album Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel included the tracks Rebel Rouser, Cannonball and his first single Moovin n Groovin while his second album Especially For You contained the hits Peter Gunn, Yep and Some Kinda Earthquake all instrumentals with Eddy's guitar and an exqually distinctive Steve Douglas on saxophone.
Mantovani also had a trademark sound, the cascading strings of his orchestra, not unlike Shep Fields, an orchestra leader from the 1930s, but Mantovani's music was rich and lush and the strings were always to the foreground with most arrangements building to a crescendo. He was born Annunzio Paolo Mantovani in Venice in 1905, his father a violinist at the Milan Opera house La Scala. He began making records in the 1920s and by the 1950s had built up a repertoire of easy listening and orchestral LPs , the first album chart success being with Continental Encores with his cover versions of hits of the fifties, More Than Ever, Oh Mein Papa, April In Portugal, Autumn Leaves, Answer Me and even Poppa Piccolino. Another specialist easy listening orchestra utilising cascading strings was the 101 Strings, the creation of Dick Miller who put together an orchestra to sound like Mantovani without the need for a big name front man. Their albums were nearly always based around a theme or a specific topic and the first chart album in the UK was the Gypsy Campfires with the tracks Dark Eyes, Slavonic Dancers, Two Guitars and Golden Earrings.
Three comedy artists new to the album charts in 1959, Paddy Roberts with Strictly For Grown Ups, The Goons Best Of The Goon Shows Radio Cast and Peter Sellers with two solo albums Best Of Sellers and Songs For Swingin Sellers. Paddy Roberts was a lawyer, an RAF pilot and a songwriter of slightly risqué songs, for the time. What can one say about the Goons? Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, possibly the most influential trio of comedians of the 20th century, multi talented performers who used their skills to create characters who were original and funny and have lasted the test of time. What began as a radio show, has expanded into 202 episodes with all the material preserved on record. Peter Sellers also enjoyed a solo career in the charts with the two LPs, Best Of Sellers and Songs For Swingin Sellers as well as a simultaneous career as a comedy actor in such films as Dr Strangelove and The Pink Panther series. The two LPs were produced by George Martin, very sophisticated pieces of production for 1959 with sound effects and overlapping dialogue, Best Of featuring the tracks Trumpet Volunteer about a rock and roll star attempting to add a touch of class to the music, Party Political Speech with Sellers using a wide range of accents and Suddenly It's A Folk Song, a parody of British folk music. Another folk parody is included on Songs For Swingin Sellers, Puttin On The Smile along with Sellers versions of Wouldn't It Be Loverly from My Fair Lady and sketches featuring John Junkin and Irene Handl.
With Elvis Presley away on military service in the US army, his two 1959 albums both peaked at no.4, A Date With Elvis and Elvis, a reissue of the Rock n Roll LP with 4 extra tracks. A Date With Elvis could also be described as a re-issue of sorts as five of the tracks were from the Sun records era of 1954-1955 including Milkcow Blues Boogie, Good Rockin Tonight, Baby Let's Play House and Blue Moon Of Kentucky, the packaging was a deluxe gatefold sleeve, innovative at the time with photos of Elvis in uniform, as if to remind fans why there was a lack of brand new material.
Appearing with his only top 10 album was Frankie Vaughan with Frankie Vaughan At The London Palladium. Another show business LP was the Curtain Up album introduced by Bruce Forsyth and Roy Castle. Frankie Vaughan was born Frank Abelson in Liverpool in 1928, Vaughan was an old family nickname from his Russian grandmother who also referred to him as her 'number Vaughan grandson'. His musical career began in variery theatre as a song and dance man, and he became famous for a sophisticated top hat and tails dress coat and a high kicking act, singing mainly covers of American hits.
The Porgy & Bess soundtrack hit no.7 and 1959 also saw the entry into the album charts of the Broadway Cast recording of West Side Story. Although it peaked at no.6 in 1959, it would take a further three years at the height of the film soundtrack's success before it finally reached no.3. Porgy And Bess starring Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr and Pearl Bailey was a Gershwin opera set in South Carolina in 1912, the lives of the residents of a fishing village and was a brave project at the time, featuring an all black cast. Sammy Davis was not on the soundtrack LP for contractual reasons, his part being sung by Cab Calloway, the most famous songs being Summertime, It Aint Necessarily So and I Got Plenty Of Nuttin. West Side Story with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim is one of the all time great musicals, transferring from stage to screen after only a few years. Telling the story of Romeo and Juliet with a modern day 1950s setting with rival street gangs the Jets, the local New York gang and the Sharks, the immigrant Puerto Ricans. Tony of the jets falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the sharks and despite their family's and friends disapproval, attempt to forge a life together which is doomed to end in disaster as the rival gangs fight over territory and traditions. Absolutely full of spectacular dancing and memorable songs which tell the story of the doomed love affair, Maria, Tonight, Somewhere, One Hand One Heart, I Feel Pretty and the gang warfare, Jet Song, America, Cool, A Boy Like That and Gee Officer Krupke
Two of last years newcomer crooners each had another top 10 LP in 1959, Johnny Mathis with Swing Softly and Perry Como with the compilation Comos Golden Records, a round up of his biggest hits to date from the 1940s and 1950s, including the UK number one singles Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes and Magic Moments and the US chart toppers, Till The End Of Time, Prisoner Of Love, Wanted, Round And Round, Catch A Falling Star and Hot Diggity Dog Ziggity Boom. Swing Softly featured swinging versions of standards It's De Lovely, Get Me To The Church On Time, I've Got The World On A String and You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To. Although this album could only manage one week at the lowest position of the chart, no.10 but a different album Heavenly topped the US charts without reaching the UK charts at all. Johnny Mathis also had three other US top 5 albums, Open Fire Two Guitars, More Johnny's Greatest hits and Merry Christmas. Other US chart toppers that failed to cross over to the UK included Henry Mancini's Music From Peter Gunn, The Exotic Sounds Of Martin Denny Exotica and two Kingston Trio albums Kingston Trio At Large. And Here We Go Again. The Kingston Trio had yet another no.2 LP with From The Hungry I and the other US top 5 albums that could find no room on the UK chart included Shelley Berman's Inside Shelley Berman, Frank Sinatra No One Cares, two more Mitch Miller LPs More Sing Along and Still More Sing Along with Mitch, Tennessee Ernie Ford Star Carol, Fabian Hold That Tiger, Mario Lanza For The First Time, two classical LPs Antal Dorati's and Morton Gould's versions of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, two TV show related LPs Victory At Sea Volume 2 and 77 Sunset Strip and an experimental compilation called What's New In Capitol Stereo, an LP showing the capabilities of the new stereo sound system. Artists with UK no.1 singles that could find no LP success in 1959 were Jane Morgan, Shirley Bassey, The Platters, Craig Douglas, Jerry Keller and Emile Ford & The Checkmates.
NUMBER OF TOP 10 ALBUMS - 39
NUMBER OF #1 ALBUMS - 1
Top albums of 1959
1 Soundtrack - South Pacific
2 Soundtrack - Gigi
3 Broadway Cast - My Fair Lady
4 Peter Sellers - Best Of Sellers
5 Frank Sinatra - Come Dance With Me
6 Elvis Presley - Elvis Golden Records
7 Cliff Richard - Cliff
8 Russ Conway - Family Favourites
9 Buddy Holly - Buddy Holly Story
10 Soundtrack - The King And I
(c) 2007 Text: Sharon Mawer / Contact: Sharon Mawer
(c) 2007 All chart information: The Official UK Charts Company