A History of Popular Music - The 1950s

A History of Popular Music – The 1950s

Having taken this trip through popular music in reverse chronological order, there was something restorative about ending the project in the 1950s. Like an overdue vacation from the city to the countryside, this return to the fundamentals of melody and composition served as a gentle reminder of what was left behind on the road to musical modernity.
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      1950s on the Radio

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John Cage – Imaginary Landscape No. 4
Karlheinz Stockhausen – Studie I
Edgard Varese – Poeme Electronique
Herbert Eimert, Robert Beyer – Klangstudies
Billy Ward and the Dominoes – Stardust
The Flamingoes – I Only Have Eyes For You
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – You Can Depend On Me
Jerry Butler & The Impressions – For Your Precious Love
Beach Boys – Disney Girls
Andy Williams – A Summer Place
Santo Farina & Johnny Farina- Sleepwalk
Les Paul & Mary Ford – I Really Don’t Want to Know
Eartha Kitt – Never On Sunday
Elvis Presley – Loving You
Dean Martin – Let Me Go Lover
Pat Boone – September Song
Nat King Cole – A Blossom Fell
Art Tatum and His Orchestra – My Ideal
Chet Baker – Embraceable You
Ella Fitzgerald – Someone To Watch Over Me
Frank Sinatra – How About You?
John Coltrane – I’m Old Fashioned
Sam Cooke – When I Fall In Love
Nina Simone – Don’t Explain
Lester Young – I Can’t Get Started
Billie Holiday – Come Rain Or Come Shine
The Orioles – Crying In the Chapel
The Hilltoppers – If I Didn’t Care
Timi Yuro – Hurt
Hermann Heiss – Elektronische Komposition
Herbert Eimert, Robert Beyer – Klang im Unbergrenzten Raum
Louis Armstrong – La Vie En Rose
Andrews Sisters – Down In the Valley
Montovani & His Orchestra – Charmaine
Russ Hamilton – Little One
Perry Como – Catch a Falling Star
Sam Cooke – So Long
John Cage – Imaginary Landscape No. 4

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Click the link below to download this mix as a 320k mp3 file.

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As this mix was compiled directly from lossless sources such as CDs and Vinyl, I have made the uncompressed source files available for download. With sound quality as close to as perfect as I could get, the file is nearly a Gigabyte in size.

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While people have been dancing to music since the invention of the drum, pop music as we know it was codified in the 1950s with the emergence of rhythm and blues and its privileged stepchild, rock ‘n roll. With the clash and the cohesion between these forces mirroring the country’s own racial tensions, leaving skin color from an analysis of the music can be like removing slavery from discussions of the civil war. Just as the industry exemplified both integration and segregation, the music spoke to America’s most admirable aspirations while offering a coded admission of its most notorious sin.
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      1950s on the Dancefloor

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Anthony & the Sophomores – Play Those Oldies Mr. Dee Jay
Little Richard – Rip It Up (Rehearsal, Take 14)
Chuck Berry – Rock and Roll Music (Alternative Mix)
Ray Charles – I Got a Woman
Danny & the Juniors – Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay (Mono)
Elvis Presley – That’s All Right
Buddy Holly – Not Fade Away
Clarence “Frogman” Henry – Ain’t Got No Home
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers – Why Do Fools Fall In Love?
The Diamonds – Little Darling
The Coasters – Searchin’
Chris Montez – Let’s Dance
Jerry Lewis – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On
Big Joe Turner – Shake, Rattle, Roll
Rocket 88 – Jackie Brenston
Wilbert Harrison – Kansas City
Bo Diddley – Who Do You Love?
Roy Orbison – Only the Lonely
The Del-Vikings – Come Go With Me
The Everly Brothers – Till I Kissed You (Rehearsal Recording)
Jackie Wilson – Lonely Teardrops
Dion and the Belmonts – A Teenager In Love
The Cleftones – Little Girl of Mine
The Penguins – Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)
The Imperials – Tears On My Pillow
Cardinals – One Love
Lonnie Donegan – Love Is Strange
Gene Vincent – Be-Bop-a-Lula
Jimmy Nelson – T’ 99 Blues
The Clovers – Fool, Fool, Fool
Screaming Jay Hawkins – I Put a Spell On You (Mono)
Ruth Brown – Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean
Jimmy Forrest – Night Train
Hank Williams – Long Gone Lonesome Blues
Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues
Percy Mayfield – Please Send Me Someone To Love
James Brown – Please, Please, Please
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill
The Five Satins – In the Still of the Night
John Cage – Imaginary Landscape No 4. (March 1951)

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Click the link below to download this mix as a 320k mp3 file.

Download Now

As this mix was compiled directly from lossless sources such as CDs and Vinyl, I have made the uncompressed source files available for download. With sound quality as close to as perfect as I could get, the file is nearly a Gigabyte in size.

Download Now
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If the 1950s saw the invention of popular music, it also created what would be the early stages of music television. From Elvis Presley’s iconic performance on the Ed Sullivan show in 1956, to the emergence of American Bandstand, music would forever seem incomplete without a visual accompaniment. During this time, soul music left the church in pursuit of the pop charts, with television highlighting race in way that radio was relieved to avoid. All the while, rock n’ roll became the canvas upon which a generation would paint a picture of their newfound independence. All eyes were on the American teenager, who walked with a post-war swagger born of a victorious nation’s still unquenched thirst for glory.

Buddy Holly – Everyday
Richie Valens – Come On Let’s Go
The Big Bopper – Chantilly Lace
News Report – Buddy Holly Plane Crash
Everly Brothers – Bye Bye Love
Budweiser TV Commercial
Camels TV Commercial
Newsreel – The Fifth Wheel
Chuck Berry – Maybelline
Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel
The Wild One Trailer
Wanted Criminal Alert
NBC TV Promo
Howdy Doody Time
Rocky Fellers – Little Darling
Dion & the Belmonts – Teenager In Love
The Stroll – February 1958
Boys Beware – Homosexual Alert
Dion – The Wanderer
Jackie Wilson – Lonely Teardrops
Marilyn Monroe Coke Commercial
Some Like It Hot Trailer
Some Like It Hot feat. Marilyn Monroe – I Wanna Be Just Like You
Sweater Girls – 1952
Le Notti Di Cabria Trailer
Sam Cooke – You Send Me
Johnny Mathis – Someone
R.C.M.P. TV Promo
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Commercial
Duck and Cover Commercial
Platters – Smoke Get In Your Eyes
The Five Satins – In the Still of the Night
News Magazine of the Scene – Atomic Energy
Cab Calloway – Minnie Moocher
Charlie Parker feat. Dizzy Gillespie – Hot House
Jazz and Philharmonic 1953
Louis Armstrong – Mack the Knife (Live London, 1956)
Sarah Vaughan – These Things I Offer You
Billie Holiday Interview – Sweden 1954
Billie Holiday – I Only Have Eyes For You
Frank Sinatra – I Get a Kick Out of You
Jack Kerouac and the Steve Allen Show

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