Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Best Songs of 1954

7. Earth Angel – The Penguins

Earth Angel is one of the most famous songs of the doo-wop genre. The competing “white” version by The Crew Cuts was nowhere near as good as The Penguins’ original and that Penguins version sold much better. It hit number 8 on the pop charts and had a three week run at number 1 on the R&B charts. Rolling Stone Magazine placed the song at number 151 on their top 500 list. I sang choir in high school and we played around with a bit of doo-wop. This was always one of my favorites.

6. Sh-Boom – The Chords

Generally believed to be the first popular doo-wop song, The Chords’ Sh-Boom topped out at number 2 on the pop charts. A lesser version by The Crew Cuts made it to number one later that year. This was a very fun song. While many of the detractors of the new music of the day reviled this song for having nonsensical lyrics, the kids got it and it is a song that is remembered fondly more than fifty years later.

5. Blue Moon of Kentucky – Elvis Presley

This song was the B-side of Elvis’ first single, That’s All Right Mama. It was a total rockabilly re-imagining of Bill Monroe’s classic bluegrass number. Elvis’ totally original phrasing along with Scotty Moore’s hoppin’ guitar work brought this song a brand new life. Great stuff.

4. I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man – Muddy Waters

This was one of Muddy’s songs that was written by the brilliant blues poet Willie Dixon, who also played bass on the track. The vivid use of voodoo terminology in the lyrics adds a distinct layer of mystery to the song and Muddy’s growl is truly intense.

3. Rock Around the Clock – Bill Haley & the Comets

This was the song that, in many ways, originally popularized rock and roll for teens across the country. When the opening strains kicked off the movie Blackboard Jungle, kids got up and danced in the theater aisles. Still a very boppable song, thanks to Haley’s vocals and Danny Cedrone’s blistering guitar solo. Rock Around the Clock has been a consistently popular song even into the new century.

2. I Got a Woman – Ray Charles

This was the birth of soul. Ray built this song on an old gospel hymn and by mixing the beat of highly charged gospel with R&B, he invented soul music. It was Ray’s first number 1 hit on the R&B charts and was listed as number 235 on Rolling Stone’s top 500 list.

1. That’s All Right Mama – Elvis Presley

This was Elvis’ first single and it was one of his greatest songs. His vocals held a soul that had rarely been heard from a white singer before and the guitar work by Scotty Moore was magnificent. This was certainly the best song of 1954.


Anonymous said...

Where is "Earth Angel"

Anonymous said...

Where is "Earth Angel"?