Decade in review – the fifties

Well. We’ve covered off on the 1950s, and I think it’s pretty safe to say, we’re excited to be leaving this decade.

Our ratings breakdown

The 1001 album list contains 23 albums from the 1950s, and based on our very informed opinions, our ratings break down as such:

CL                      NK

5 stars – 0       5 stars – 0  

4 stars – 3       4 stars – 4

3 stars – 6       3 stars – 5

2 stars – 7       2 stars – 10

1 stars – 7        1 star – 4

Interestingly (but not surprisingly) zero albums made it to the illustrious 5 star rating.

Average scores

Another interesting titbit is our average scores. Based on our entirely accurate mathematical assessments, Ned is slightly more generous in his allocation of ratings.

CL: 2.26       NK: 2.39

Thoughts on the fifties

CL: While it’s certainly been an interesting experience listening to music that was made more than 70 years ago, it’s not something I’m keen to repeat. I don’t want to disparage the entire decade because I’m sure there are PLENTY of hidden gems stuck in an old second-hand record store somewhere, but I think it’s hard to look this far back and listen with a modern ear. We are incredibly spoiled in terms of music availability, choice and genre right now, so going back is a little bit like looking at cave paintings. Sure, they influenced Picasso but I don’t really want any in my house, you know?

NK: My big takeaway from this is the more accessible jazz. I’d never listened to any of that before, and I’m glad I did. I’m also surprised at how little blues stuff there is. There are bits and pieces of it here and there, but it’s all hidden behind jazz, or sneaking into big band stuff. Maybe it’s still coming up, but that felt weird. I also tended to prefer the live albums to the studio recorded stuff. There’s more energy, it sounds more alive. Something else I noticed, there are a lot of really great voices and a lot of really great playing. Even the stuff I didn’t like normally had either a great voice or somebody going ballistic on the sax to get me through. Some of this I will definitely go back to.

Favourites coming out of the fifties

CL: My top three favourite albums from this decade would have to be:

  1. The Wildest! – Louis Prima
  2. Lady in Satin – Billie Holiday
  3. Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook – Ella Fitzgerald

Given that the majority of albums from this decade were ones I’d never heard of before, these are a couple of good little discoveries. I’ll definitely be listening to these again.

NK: Tricky. I gave four stars to the following:

You could put those in any order, but Time Out is the one I listened to most recently so that would currently rank the highest. I also liked Kind of Blue, and I’m excited to hear the next Miles Davis to see what direction he goes in next.

Least favourite coming out of the fifties

CL: I’ll be really happy if I don’t have to listen to any of these, ever again:

  1. Tragic Songs of Life – The Louvin Brothers
  2. Palo Congo – Sabu
  3. Kind of Blue – Miles Davis

NK: I’d have given it zero if I could.

  1. Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook – Ella Fitzgerald
  2. Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook – Ella Fitzgerald
  3. Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Songbook – Ella Fitzgerald

CL: This is rough. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Thoughts going into the sixties

CL: I can tell you that I’m very excited. There’s a whole bunch of stuff here that I’ve never listened to, but are considered modern classics – I HAVE NEVER LISTENED TO A FULL BOB DYLAN ALBUM. It’s interesting, a lot of music from the sixties still gets solid rotation today, but anything earlier than that? No way. You don’t hear Duke Ellington just pop on the radio, do you? BRING ON THE PROPER MUSIC.

NK: KEEN AS MATE. The Beatles, Dylan, Booker T and the MGs, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Dusty Springfield? Bring it on!

CL: Plus there’s a band called The Electric Prunes so, get excited for that.

One thought on “Decade in review – the fifties

  1. How can a list of 1001 albums not contain arguably two of the most well know. artists of the 1950”s Bill Haley and Comets and Chuck Berry.

    Bill Haley with his Rock Around The Clock album deserves a place in this list in front of several of the 1950’s entries – simply because his tunes ushered in rock n roll as we know it today. I have no issues with jazz but from an influential perpspectuve this guy must be here.

    Likewise how is the duck-walking legend Chuck Berry nowhere to be seen. When the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame stated: “While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together,” how can he not have an album in a list of 1001. At the very least this one: Chuck Berry Is on Top must be there – so many great tracks…


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