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David Bowling’s Top Ten Albums Of 1959

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Fifty years is a long time, especially in the music industry. I did not begin to buy/collect records until the mid-sixties, but quickly began accumulating older albums that appealed to me. As 2009 draws to a close I thought it would be nice to re-visit some of those lost gems and present my top ten albums of a half century ago.

1959 found Elvis in the army and Ray Charles playing out the string with the Atlantic label. It was the year of the teen idol as Ricky Nelson, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Annette Funicello and others dominated the music charts. Still there are a number of gems to be mined from 1959. So here are my top ten.

10. Hymns by Johnny Cash

Like Elvis, when Johnny Cash sang gospel he meant it. Songs such as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” “It Was Jesus,”  “I Call Him” and “The Old Account” are presented reverently and sincerely. His deep baritone is in fine form and the tone is much better than his seventies and eighties work.

9. The Fabulous Little Richard

This was his third and last studio album for the Specialty label. It may not have been as strong as the first two but Little Richard in the studio was an adventure. “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Kansas City,” “She Knows How To Rock,” and “Shake A Hand,” are part of his last great album release.

8. Here We Go Again by The Kingston Trio

The Kingston Trio is one of the forgotten groups of their era. They took the folk music of The Weavers and gave it a modern sound which set the stage for the folk movement of the sixties. They were one of the most commercially successful groups of their time. This album spent ten weeks in the number one position in The United States.

7. Belafonte At Carnegie Hall

At one time Harry Belafonte mattered and this album demonstrates why. Recorded live April 19 and 20, he was able to fuse rhythm & blues, folk, and calypso into one entertaining and creative mix. The old standards “Cottonfields,” “John Henry,” “Danny Boy,” and “Shenandoah” never sounded so good.

6. The Buddy Holly Story

Buddy Holly only released three studio albums prior to his death in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. His record label quickly released a greatest hits album to cash in on his legacy. While all of his best material has now been issued many times over, back in 1959 it formed a strong album. “Peggy Sue,” “Maybe Baby,” “Everyday,” “Rave On” and “That’ll Be The Day” remain as some of rock’s essential songs.

5. The Best Of The Everly Brothers

The Everly Brothers albums were typical of the day. They would gather a few hits and surround them with a bunch of cover songs. They were basically a singles duo and when their best material is gathered onto one album it is spectacular. Their well polished harmonies and production were ahead of its time and would prove influential in the decades to come.

4. Persuasive Percussion by Terry Snyder and The All Stars

I know this may seem an odd choice but it was a unique and influential release in 1959. It was the first album to be released with a gatefold cover. In addition the Command label bragged this was a high quality, state of the art release and the stereo mix proves them right. It is still very good even by today’s standards. The record buying public agreed as it would spend thirteen weeks as the number on album in The United States.

About David Bowling

  • Dyrkness

    I totally disagree with the statement ,”The Kingston Trio is one of the forgotten groups of their era.” I know plenty of 20-something acoustic music fans and musicians who LOVE their music.
    My parents owned the Belafonte Live Album and even at the age of 4, I knew I then wanted to hear music LIVE.
    I would add “Drums of Passion” by Babatunde Olatunji to the list of great albums of 1959.

  • FitzBoodle

    Kingston Trio still sounds good, especially in the car. I have a couple of Kingston Trio CDs in the car and usually prefer them to most other CDs. the songs are the right length, the themes are understandable, and they swing.

  • Donal Dugan

    I could be way off but I’m looking for a guy who was a youth minister in Vernon CT from 78-90. I moved a lot of those records once.
    I’m looking for some old photos. I know you have a hard time throwing things out.
    [Personal contact info deleted]
    best wishes in Pilgrim Fellowship

  • http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-manassas-pieces/#comments David Bowling

    Greetings. It is indeed me. Old photos are tucked away somwhere. You cannot put personal contact information in a comment. Try the Natonal office for my contact information. I hope the years have been kind.