It’s August, 1951

It’s August back in 1951 and my how time flies… especially if you missed out on July, 1951 – which many of you may have as I forgot to press send on last week’s entry. Oops! So jump back to July if you’re interested before seeing what this month has in store.

The songs of August, 1951

Not a lot of variety in the charts this month…

August, 1951 Top 20 Hits

“Because Of You” – Les Baxter
“Because Of You” – Les Baxter Chorus
“Because Of You” – Tony Bennett
“Because” – Mario Lanza
“Belle Belle My Liberty Belle” – Guy Mitchell
“Cold Cold Heart” – Tony Bennett
“Come On-A My House” – Kay Starr
“Come On-A My House” – Rosemary Clooney
“Detour” – Patti Page
“Down Yonder” – Del Wood
“How High The Moon” – Les Paul & Mary Ford
“I Get Ideas” – Tony Martin
“I Won’T Cry Anymore” – Tony Bennett
“I’M In Love Again” – Henri Rene / April Stevens
“Jezebel” – Frankie Laine
“Josephine” – Les Paul
“Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” – Weavers
“Laura” – Stan Kenton Orchestra
“Mister And Mississippi” – Patti Page
“My Truly Truly Fair” – Guy Mitchell
“On Top Of Old Smokey” – Weavers / Terry Gilkyson
“Rose Rose I Love You” – Frankie Laine
“Shanghai” – Doris Day
“Sweet Violets” – Dinah Shore
“The Loveliest Night Of The Year” – Mario Lanza
“The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise” – Les Paul & Mary Ford
“Too Young” – Nat King Cole
“Vanity” – Don Cherry
“Whispering” – Les Paul

…so we’re supplementing with the top 10 R&B songs from the month:

You can listen to the full playlist on Youtube via this link or embedded below:

This month in history

The biggest thing going on in August, 1951 (probably not) was the 12th Venice International Film Festival. Which had some particularly fine films premiering.

The Special Jury Prize went to “A Streetcar Name Desire” in which Marlon Brando defines what masculinity looks like for the decade.

And Best Picture went to Kurosawa’s “Rashomon”, which is a personal favourite.

A film I hadn’t heard of is “Ace in the Hole” which won Best Original Music. Which sounds both excellent and timely. As wikipedia describes it, “The story is a biting examination of the seedy relationship between the press, the news it reports and the manner in which it reports it. The film also shows how a gullible public can be manipulated by the press.”.

The Hollywood Reporter was one of many newspapers who took umbrage, calling it “ruthless and cynical…a distorted study of corruption and mob psychology that…is nothing more than a brazen, uncalled-for slap in the face of two respected and frequently effective American institutions – democratic government and the free press.”. Check out the trailer below:

What’d Sadie think?

Of course, after wishing it away last week, “Come on-a My House” was number 1 for all of August, 1951, typical!

“I’m In Love Again” by April Stevens has been charting for a couple of months but hadn’t really hit it with me till this week. Which caused me to take a look behind the scenes and discover that April is still around (at 91) which got me thinking I should check that out more – I’d assumed most of the hitmakers from this far back would have passed away.

Amusingly, speaking of her age, in her 2013 autobiography Stevens admitted to taking years off her age during the ’60s to compete with acts in their late teens and early 20s, that were dominating the teenybopper charts of the time.

“I’m In Love Again” was her biggest solo hit, early on in a long career, and was written by Cole Porter I now realise.

As there wasn’t much movement on the pop charts at all so let’s focus on what was in the R&B charts we’ve been gifted with for the month…

First one to really hit for me is the number 2 spot, “Don’t you know I love you” by The Clovers. The first big song from a band that would go on to produce (spoiler alert!) classics like “Love Potion no 9” in 1959.

Lucky Millinder’s “I’m waiting just for you” is a big band take on R&B which I’ve not heard much of. Apparently the awesomely named chap couldn’t read or write music, didn’t play an instrument and rarely sang, but had showmanship by the tonne and you can really feel that personality come through in the horns of this arrangement.

By the time I got to Ruth Brown’s awesome “I Know” I’d seen a name come up several times (on “Chains of Love” and “Don’t you know I love you”) – Ahmet_Ertegun. Ertegun, born in Turkey and immigrant to the USA, was the co-founder and president of Atlantic Records and not only discovered numerous R&B acts but was credited with writing a number of them also. He normally used the name, A. Nugetre, his surname backwards.

“All night long” by Johnny Otis is another great tune from Billboard magazine’s “R&B Artist of the Year (1950)”. Like Ertegun he had an unexpected background for an R&B artist, being born in California to Greek parents. He’s quoted as saying, of his deep immersion into the African-American community, “As a kid I decided that if our society dictated that one had to be black or white, I would be black”.

“Bloodshot Eyes” by Wynonie Harris wins the politically incorrect award for the month, but it’s a catchy number all the same. Harris seems to specialise in innuendo laden tunes, which is exactly what I’ve been waiting for from the ’50s – bring on his hits “I Want My Fanny Brown” and “Lollipop Mama” etc…

On that edgy note take a listen to this week’s playlist.