Saturday, February 28, 2009

1950s Chart Meltdown, Week 9: Two Women Singing

For the background on this blog series, see this post.

This will be another slightly abbreviated post, as I am getting in the car at 7am and hightailing it out of Minnesota for a visit to my family in Indiana. I won’t skip any posts this week.

February 26, 1955: This week marks the beginning of the Davy Crockett craze. Bill Hayes joins the Best Sellers at #16 with “The Ballad of Davy Crockett.” Soon to come are Fess Parker, “Tennessee” Ernie Ford, and the Voices of Walter Schumann. Who will take the song to #1? Don’t peek!

Top 40 book error alert: Crazy Otto debuts this week on the Best Sellers with “Smiles.” Next week, its flip, “Glad Rag Doll,” will debut on the Best Sellers. The Hot 100 book gets the dates right, but not the Top 40 book.

Joni James debuted last week on the Best Sellers with “How Important Can It Be?,” and the answer must be “very,” as Sarah Vaughan decided to compete with the James version. Sarah’s cover debuts this week. Both singles debut on the Jockey chart.

March 3, 1956: This is the first chart week for “Bo Weevil,” but Fats Domino’s version won’t chart until April. For now, it’s the Best Seller flip of Teresa Brewer’s “A Tear Fell.” Teresa’s version will outperform the iconic Fats version on the charts. Another song has competition: “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” charts a second version, by Gale Storm, which will join the Teenagers version in the Top Ten eventually. It’s no surprise to see that Gale’s version is a white cover on Dot Records.

March 2, 1957: This is one of the huge weeks in sales chart debut history. Check out what’s new on the Best Sellers this week: “Lucky Lips” by Ruth Brown, “Walkin’ After Midnight” by Patsy Cline, “Come Go with Me” by the Dell-Vikings, “Party Doll” by Buddy Knox with the Rhythm Orchids, and “Butterfly” by Andy Williams. Add these Top 100 debuts: “Round and Round” by Perry Como and “Teen-Age Crush” by Tommy Sands, husband-to-be of Nancy Sinatra, and you can imagine how good radio sounded a couple of weeks later. “Party Doll” and “Butterfly” both reached #1.

March 3, 1958: This is another week with a lot of debuts on the Best Sellers chart, but most are less noteworthy than the 1957 debuts. “Tequila” by the Champs and “Who’s Sorry Now” by Connie Francis lead an acceptable pack of seven debuts, including the not-so-iconic “We Belong Together” by those crazy cats, Robert & Johnny. On the DJ chart, it’s the first week for “Get a Job” . . . by the Mills Brothers, who scored their first chart hit, “Tiger Rag,” in 1931.

March 2, 1959: Those two busy chart weeks are balanced by a slow 1959, as only “Please Mr. Sun” by Tommy Edwards jumps on board. This isn’t even a “new” song, as Tommy placed a different version on the charts in 1952.

For your listening pleasure, and to celebrate the opening of Women’s History Month, here are the two 1957 debuts by women. For Wednesday, I’ll take you into the early days of jazz recordings. See you then!

Ruth Brown, Lucky Lips

Patsy Cline, Walkin' After Midnight

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