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Count Basie and His Orchestra – The Atomic Mr. Basie (1957)

February 7, 2015

[Album 376/1001]

Trivia question: in terms of noble status, where is a Count ranked?

Until this week, I hadn’t the foggiest.

Thanks to this user-friendly wikipedia chart, I’ve learned the title of ‘Count’ is a mid-level ranking, somewhere between the entry-level Gentleman and the top-of-the-heap Emperor.



Naturally, I’m now curious as to where Count Basie would be ranked compared to the other 1001 royalty (and perhaps a bit curious as to why the “King of ___” title is so often assigned to genre-leaders instead of the higher-ranking “Emperor”).

I struggled to find artists from the list with “Esquire” or “Hereditary Knight” as a part of their stage name.  I also haven’t heard B.B. King’s entry yet, the appropriately titled Live at the R220px-The_Complete_Atomic_Basieegal.

But from the Chivalric-inspired titles I’ve heard, based on The Atomic Mr. Basie, I think the Count is well placed.

It’s upbeat & fun with a big, big band sound.  Considering Splanky reminds me of the theme song from The Naked Gun, of course I approve of this recording!

If I were to rank each of the 1001 albums (remind me to not actually attempt this), Count Basie would wind up somewhere in the middle of the pack.

A few spots higher, you’d likely find Duke Ellington, performing live at Newport.

Ever so slightly above Duke, whether he’s a symbol, a scent, or an artist formerly known as an upper-echelon ranking, there’s only one Prince.

That being said, mid-level royalty is still royalty.

So even if The Atomic Mr. Basie may not quite be approaching the distinction of Emperor, it remains far from a lesser status of nobility.

From → 1950s

  1. ianbalentine permalink

    Where does Queen fit into all this?

    • Ian – just realized the wikipedia list only had male titles, forgot to even consider Queen!

      Fortunately, I think I’d put them in above Prince so the list remains intact…until I just remembered Kings of Leon are on the 1001 list as well and probably wouldn’t be ranked higher than Prince in my books.
      Perhaps I can say KOL are ineligible as the royalty competition is restricted to singular titles like ‘King’ and not Kings?

  2. Can I assume there are no albums by the Black Metal band Emperor on the 1001 list then?

    • Alas I think Venom’s genre-titled 1982 effort might be the only one that made the cut! I believe Kingcrimsonprog had a 500 essential metal albums book – I’d imagine they made it in there.
      I don’t know the group but I’m pleased their name is the highest possible rank!

      • Yes I’ve got that 500 book. They made it in there a couple of times. I imagine when they chose their name they may have saw the same list you used and thought “it’s like… what could be more noble? And the answer is… none.”

    • Imagine if Emporer and Godspeed You! Black Emporer toured together.

      • One day…the emperor’s new groove tour? marketing possibilities. endless!

  3. Count Basie! Yes! This is right in my wheelhouse. I’m a swing/big band hepcat from waaaaaaay back.

  4. I agree that Prince and Duke rank above the Count–but he sho does swing! And the BB King album you mention is one of the best live albums–a treat!

    • That’s excellent news – I look forward to hearing BB & Lucille live soon!

      • May I tell you, I have seen BB King live in concert 4 times, myself, including two consecutive nights front row center with my arms resting on the subs, and there is NO greater experience than being ten feet from the man as he does his thing. That live album is as close as you can get to that brilliance. Freaking AWESOME.

      • Back-to-back nights, that’s fantastic!

      • Yes, I was very fortunate. We bought tix to the first night, and then my girlfriend (at the time)’s folks got us tix to the second night for free through their work. That’s a whole KMA story right there, I oughta tell that one. Even got his autograph.

        But lemme tell you something about BB King live… he IS the real deal. No kidding, The things I saw him do with that guitar… I thought I knew the blues. But he made me a believer. The blues is real. That sounds fatuous to say, but it’s true. It exists, and the best practitioners have shown us the way for decades.

        Get Live At The Regal, or Cook County, or whatever live record or DVD you want. BB King is the real shit, and it’s amazing!!

      • That’s a story I’ll be pleased to hear! From what I’ve been told, he’s one of the guys where the notes he Doesn’t play are equally important to the ones he does – it’s all about the feel and as you say, he’s got it

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