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September 11, 2021

Time is finite.

And there also appears to be a limited number of ways to say, “I can see that this album is good, even if I’m not the target audience.”

But I think I’ve figured out a way to solve 2 problems for the price of 1!

Since I tend to love lists, graphs, and overly ambitious challenges, I think I can still meet my deadline if I go year-by-year (or in the odd case, decade-by-decade) with extremely succinct summaries/reviews of each of the 1001 albums.

Starting at the beginning, with the 1950s.



Of the ‘1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die,’ 23 are from the 1950s.

I’ve now heard them all – but the question is, which ones are the most essential to hear again?

Ranked by their essential-ness, here’s how I’d prioritize revisiting these 23 albums, enjoy!



23. Billie Holiday – Lady in Satin (1958). When Frank Sinatra calls you his “greatest single musical influence,” that’s saying something.

22. Sabu – Palo Congo (1957). If my dream musical supergroup includes a Conga player, I think I found the Conguero here!

21. Machito – Kenya (1957). Big brass endings to most of the tracks.

20. Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool (1957). His first of 4 appearances on the 1001 list.

19. Tito Puente and his Orchestra – Dance Mania (1958). They didn’t rob the list of Tito!

18. Frank Sinatra – In The Wee Small Hours (1955). The first album (chronologically) on the 1001 list.

17. Jack Elliott – Jack Takes the Floor (1958). If Bob Dylan calls you, “The King of the Folksingers,” you’re doing something right!

16. The Louvin Brothers – Tragic Songs of Life (1956). Neat hearing their version of In The Pines.

15. Fats Domino – This is Fats (1956). Well-trimmed running time & moustache.

14. Louis Prima – The Wildest! (1956). I generally approve of permanently enthusiastic album titles.

13. Count Basie and his Orchestra – The Atomic Mr. Basie (1957). I enjoyed the album & learning about nobility ranks!

12. Marty Robbins – Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs (1959). I made the mistake of not buying this when I saw it in the wild.

11. Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (1956). A “hero to most” with album art that would go on to inspire The Clash.

10. Ray Charles – The Genius of Ray Charles (1959). Perhaps not the most modest title on the list…but he may have a point at being good at what he does.

9. Thelonious Monk – Brilliant Corners (1957). That opening track intro dissonance, brilliant!

8. Sarah Vaughan – At Mister Kelly’s (1958). The track, Alone, especially.

7. Ella Fitzgerald – Sings the Gershwin Songbook (1959). Ella? Gershwin? Sold!

6. Duke Ellington – Ellington at Newport (1956). The American Hustle association doesn’t hurt.

5. The Crickets – The “Chirping” Crickets (1957). That’ll be the day when Buddy Holly isn’t in my Top 5.

4. Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Out (1959). Takes one spot higher than Five.

3. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (1959). Quincy Jones called it his orange juice.

2. Frank Sinatra – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! (1956). Makes me feel so young, indeed!

1. Little Richard – Here’s Little RIchard (1957). One of my all-time favourite debuts, Wooo!


Verbalize the Positive

On Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Kennedy Davenport’s Little Richard tribute was tremendous!

From → 1950s

  1. I really empathise with trying to cover large numbers of albums in a limited time. Struggling that right now with 1971. I might have to get you to quote on a few graphs for me, Geoff! Very nice pie.

    • My thanks, Bruce – and speaking of pie, I think 1971 has one of the largest individual year pie slices on the list (with 36 albums), perhaps 2nd only to 1969’s 39!

  2. You do whatever works…as long as their graphs…we are good!!

  3. I’ll take the Dave Brubeck please. Love that album so much!

  4. Wow this is amazing. Whenever I see how good your stuff is I feel like deleting my site lol

    • Cheers, Deke – and please don’t delete a word!
      Hope back to school’s going well for Sue, we’re definitely not bored around here!

      • Sue is getting back in gear as things seem to change on a daily basis now that there is a new Principal at the school. Just typing this reminds me of that song by your homeboys The Arkells, the one about the Boss lol. That I will add is a great track as when I hear it on local crap radio I need to check these guys out.

      • They’ve definitely changed from sort of an indie rock to party to stadium sounds over the years – not complaining, just interesting to hear their evolution.
        And yes, when the boss is comin’, you better look busy!

  5. Man, I’d want to play and replay all 23 of those.

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