Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Best Songs of 1958 - Nos. 10 to 6

10. Rave On – Buddy Holly

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This song is wonderfully representative of Buddy Holly’s work of the period, with all the hiccupping and whatnot going on. I love that stuff. This one only made it to number 39 on the pop chart, but it’s a damn good song anyway.

9. Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran

Rockabilly legend Eddie Cochran captured the teenage zeitgeist of the day with this slacker anthem. It’s been covered by damn near everybody at one time or another, but the best versions were probably by The Who and Blue Cheer.

8. Rebel Rouser – Duane Eddy

Nobody else sounded quite like that. That twang was phenomenal. Rebel Rouser was another classic guitar instrumental. My dad, who is really into great guitar music, had a ton of old Duane Eddy albums in his collection when I was a kid.

7. Try Me – James Brown

This beautiful soul ballad is very unusual within James Brown’s normally frenetic canon. After “Please, Please, Please” was a hit, he had nine singles in a row flop and was in danger of being dropped from his label before this song made it to number one on the R&B charts. This one is a beauty.

6. Stagger Lee – Lloyd Price

Lloyd Price made it to the top of the pop and R&B charts with this tale of murder. Stagger Lee was an old blues number that has been covered countless times, but it may be this version that is the most well known.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Best Songs of 1958 - Nos. 15 to 11

15. Ooh! My Soul – Little Richard

This really isn’t one of Little Richard’s more well-known songs. It only made it to number 31 on the pop charts and number 15 on the R&B charts. But I got my first Little Richard tape when I was twelve years old, and I thought that part where he stops the whole song and goes “Ooh! My Soul!” was awesome then and I still think its awesome now.

14. Yakety Yak – The Coasters

Any teenager can sympathize with the suffering of constant parental nagging about chores. This song speaks well to the “Life Sucks” genre of pop songs. I got it. We all got it. The Coasters had a big hit with this one.

13. All I Have To Do Is Dream – The Everly Brothers

Doesn’t this song just drip of the fifties? Apparently it was the only song to top all the Billboard singles charts simultaneously. It’s a very pretty song and those harmonies were amazing.

12. Sweet Little Sixteen – Chuck Berry

This may be the first hit rock song about a groupie. This Chuck Berry stuff is dear to my heart because “Sixteen Golden Greats” by Chuck Berry was one of the records in my small little collection of LPs when I was just a little kid back in the early 70’s.

11. Rumble – Link Wray

This revolutionized the way the guitar is played. It was the only instrumental to be banned from radio play in several markets because it glorified juvenile delinquency. I just love the way he plays it. This song rocks!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What else happened in 1958?

In the news…

*Jan. 28 – Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate begin their murder spree.
*Jan. 29 – Police capture Charles Starkweather in Wyoming.

*Jan. 31 – The first successful American satellite, Explorer I, is launched into orbit.
*Mar. 24 – Elvis Presley enters the US Army.
*Mar. 27 – Nikita Khrushchev becomes Premier of the Soviet Union.
*May 1 – Four pacifists attempting to sail into the atomic bomb testing area in the Pacific Ocean to protest the tests were seized in their ship, the Golden Rule, by the Coast Guard.
*Jun. 15 – The first Pizza Hut opens in Wichita, Kansas.
*Jul. 29 – The US Congress formally creates NASA.

Famous Births…

*Jan. 1 – Grandmaster Flash, rap legend.
*Jan. 26 – Ellen DeGeneres, talk show host and extremely funny woman.
*Feb. 16 – Ice T, rap legend, original gangster, very cool actor, and my personal favorite rapper of all time.
*Mar. 1 – Nik Kershaw, cool British pop star.
*Mar. 3 – Miranda Richardson, cool British actress. Check out The Crying Game.
*Mar. 7 – Rik Mayall, British sitcom star. He was Rick on The Young Ones.

*Mar. 20 – Holly Hunter, incredibly cool and sexy actress. Check out Raising Arizona and The Piano.
*Mar. 21 – Gary Oldman, cool actor. Check out Leon, The Professional.
*Apr. 3 – Alec Baldwin, cool actor.
*Apr. 29 – Michelle Pfeiffer, cool and beautiful actress. Check out Batman Returns and What Lies Beneath.
*May 3 – Bill Sienkiewicz, extremely original comic book artist. His work on New Mutants in the mid-80’s blew my mind.
*May 20 – Jane Wiedlin, guitarist for the Go-Gos and one of the world’s most stunningly beautiful women. Yeah, I’m talking top ten.
*May 23 – Drew Carey, really funny guy.
*May 27 – Linnea Quigley, scream queen and B-movie icon.
*May 29 – Annette Bening, very cool and very attractive actress. Check out The Grifters and American Beauty.
*Jun. 7 – Prince, awesome funk legend.
*Jun. 17 – Jello Biafra, singer for the Dead Kennedys, spoken word artist, and one of the coolest guys in the world.

*Jun. 22 – Bruce Campbell, B-movie icon, Ash in the Evil Dead movies, and one of the coolest people in the world. Also one of the nicest celebrities you could ever hope to meet.

*Jul. 5 – Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbes.

*Jul. 8 – Kevin Bacon, cool actor.
*Jul. 25 – Thurston Moore, singer and guitarist for Sonic Youth.
*Jul. 30 – Kate Bush, amazing British pop star, brilliant songwriter, and one of the greatest female singing voices in the history of recorded music.

*Jul. 31 – Bill Berry, drummer for R.E.M.
*Aug. 7 – Bruce Dickinson, singer for Iron Maiden.
*Aug. 16 – Madonna, pop icon.
*Aug. 16 – Angela Bassett, great actress. Check out What’s Love Got to Do with It and Strange Days. I like Halle Berry, but Angela Bassett would have made a much better Storm in those X-Men movies.
*Aug. 17 – Belinda Carlisle, singer for The Go-Gos.
*Aug. 25 – Tim Burton, highly talented filmmaker.
*Sep. 16 – Jennifer Tilly, very cool and amazingly hot actress.
*Sep. 25 – Michael Madsen, cool actor. Check out Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill.
*Oct. 5 – Bernie Mac, really funny guy.
*Oct. 14 – Thomas Dolby, cool British New Wave artist.
*Oct. 16 – Tim Robbins, very cool actor. Check out The Shawshank Redemption and Short Cuts.
*Oct. 20 – Viggo Mortenson, very cool actor. Check out The Lord of the Rings.
*Oct. 27 – Simon Le Bon, singer of Duran Duran.
*Nov. 22 – Jamie Lee Curtis, cool actress.
*Dec. 11 – Nikki Sixx, bassist for Motley Crue.
*Dec. 17 – Mike Mills, bassist for R.E.M.

Famous Deaths…

*Jan. 1 – Edward Weston, great American photographer.
*Jan. 11 – Edna Purviance, great silent film actress. She appeared in over 30 films with Charlie Chaplin.
*Mar. 28 – W.C. Handy, great American composer. Known as “The Father of the Blues.”
*May 19 – Ronald Colman, classic movie star.

In the world of movies…

The Top Grossing Films of 1958

5. The Vikings

4. No Time for Sergeants
3. Sayonara
2. Peyton Place

1. The Bridge on the River Kwai

Oscar Winners of 1958

Best Picture – Gigi
Best Actor – David Niven (Separate Tables)
Best Actress – Susan Hayward (I Want to Live!)
Best Supp. Actor – Burl Ives (The Big Country)
Best Supp. Actress – Wendy Hiller (Separate Tables)

Best Director – Vincente Minnelli (Gigi)

Other Films released in 1958

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
The Blob
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
The Defiant Ones
The Fly
Indiscreet (great Cary Grant – Ingrid Bergman film.)
King Creole
South Pacific
Touch of Evil (I highly recommend this brilliant film noir. This was one of Orson Welles’ best movies. The opening tracking shot is legendary.)


In the world of television…

Shows premiering in 1958

77 Sunset Strip

The Donna Reed Show

The Huckleberry Hound Show

Peter Gunn

The Rifleman

Sea Hunt

Shows ending in 1958

The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show

Most Watched Shows of 1958

10. The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp
9. I’ve Got A Secret
8. The Real McCoys
7. Tales of Wells Fargo
6. Maverick
5. The Danny Thomas Show
4. The Rifleman
3. Have Gun Will Travel
2. Wagon Train
1. Gunsmoke

Emmy Winners of 1958

Best Drama Series – Playhouse 90 (CBS)
Best Actor in a Drama Series – Raymond Burr (Perry Mason)
Best Actress in a Drama Series – Loretta Young (The Loretta Young Show)
Best Comedy Series – The Jack Benny Show
Best Actor in a Comedy Series – Jack Benny (The Jack Benny Show)
Best Actress in a Comedy Series – Jane Wyatt (Father Knows Best)
Best Musical or Variety Series – The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (NBC)
Best Western Series – Maverick (ABC)

In the world of books…

Great Books published in 1958

The Theatre and Its Double – Antonin Artaud
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
Dr. No – Ian Fleming
Our Man in Havana – Graham Greene
The Dharma Bums – Jack Kerouac
Exodus – Leon Uris

In the world of comics…

DC Comics publishes Adventure Comics #247 in April, introducing The Legion of Super-Heroes; Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl.

DC Comics publishes Action Comics #242 in July, featuring the first appearance of Brainiac, one of Superman’s most dangerous enemies.

DC Comics publishes Superboy #68 in October, featuring the first appearance of Bizarro, one of the most interesting super-villains.

DC Comics publishes Showcase #17 in November, featuring the first appearance of Adam Strange.

In the world of sports…

*World Series – The New York Yankees win 4 games to 3 over the Milwaukee Braves.
*NBA Finals – The St. Louis Hawks win 4 games to 2 over the Boston Celtics.
*NFL Championship – The Baltimore Colts win 23-17 over the New York Giants in overtime.

*College Football champions – The LSU Tigers and The Iowa Hawkeyes (shared).
*World Cup – The 1958 World Cup was held in Sweden. Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 in the final.

*Stanley Cup – The Montreal Canadiens win 4 games to 2 over the Boston Bruins.