Best of 1950s: #40 -31

The 100 Greatest Albums of the 1950s features timeless masterpieces that remain popular to this day, such as Frank Sinatra’s Songs for Young Lovers and Cannonball Adderley’s Somethin’ Else. However, the list also features obscure LPs that aren’t as readily recognizable yet remain just as timeless — the albums by Wynton Kelly, Bud Powell and Johnny Burnette featured below deserve credit despite often being overshadowed.

40. Somethin’ Else


Artist: Cannonball Adderley

Genre: Hard Bop

Miles Davis composed the title track, curated the material and was the featured soloist on Cannonball Adderley’s Somethin’ Else, but to overlook Adderley’s stellar contributions as alto saxophonist and bandleader would be willfully ignorant.

Together, Adderley and Davis craft an understated masterpiece that bristles with impeccable chemistry. And even though the two horn players are mighty impressive, the interlocking groove of the rhythm section (Art Blakey on drums, Sam Jones on bass and Hank Jones on piano) is the engine that really drives the record. Continue reading…

39. Songs for Young Lovers

Songs for Young Lovers

ArtistFrank Sinatra

Genre: Swing

Songs for Young Lovers finds Frank Sinatra giving one of the greatest and most tender vocal performances of his career, kickstarting a sustained run of greatness that launched him into the stratosphere of 20th century icons. Even though the LP is relatively short, it glides along without a single wasted second. Continue reading…

38. Jazz at Oberlin

Jazz at Oberlin

ArtistDave Brubeck Quartet

Genre: Cool Jazz

Only a select few live albums can truly make you feel like you’re part of the crowd: the Quintet’s May 15th performance in Toronto, Duke Ellington’s 7/7/56 set at Newport, Thelonious Monk’s ’58 residency at the Five Spot Café. Just like those legendary concerts, the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s night at Oberlin College goes down as one of jazz music’s greatest and most influential performances.

37. Black Coffee


Artist: Peggy Lee

Genre: Vocal Jazz

Full of late-night loneliness and jazz-hipster horniness, Peggy Lee’s sultry masterpiece remains one of the most addictive and seductive albums of the decade. Continue reading…

36. Hank Williams Sings

Hank Williams Sings

ArtistHank Williams

Genre: Country

Hank Williams’ debut contains the purest distillation of country music ever produced. Put these eight songs on repeat, and you’ll find that the entire genre peaked 75 years ago. Continue reading…

35. Piano Interpretations

Piano Interpretations

Artist: Wynton Kelly

Genre: Bebop

This is cool jazz at its coolest — you almost expect Miles Davis to swoon in with a lonely trumpet. But the emphasis is solely on pianist Wynton Kelly himself, who leads the way with minimal backing accompaniment. A timeless record. Continue reading…

34. Dinah Jams

Dinah Jams

ArtistDinah Washington

Genre: Vocal Jazz

This searing live set showcases Dinah Washington at the absolute peak of her powers. Opening with a fiery rendition of “Lover, Come Back to Me” and closing with an 11-minute “You Go to My Head,” Washington’s passionate vocal intensity is matched only by the hard bop fury of Clifford Brown & Max Roach, who provide stellar accompaniment throughout. Continue reading…

33. Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins

Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins

ArtistThelonious Monk

Genre: Hard Bop

Sonny Rollins’ hard-bop saxophone commentary provides perfect counterpoint to Thelonious Monk’s askew piano phrasings, presenting an exquisite mixture of two distinct styles of modern jazz. Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins is a bona-fide classic. Continue reading…

32. Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n Roll Trio

Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n Roll Trio

Artist: Johnny Burnette

Genre: Rockabilly

Johnny Burnette was a gritty sumb***h, and his Rock n’ Roll Trio matched his cockeyed intensity. Full of fuzz guitars and yelps and screams — this is rockabilly at its rawest. Continue reading…

31. The Amazing Bud Powell

The Amazing Bud Powell

ArtistBud Powell

Genre: Bebop

The Amazing Bud Powell is the crowning achievement of a true American master. Bud Powell doesn’t seem to get the recognition he deserves, but this is the album that should be able to convince pretty much anyone that he’s among the greatest pianists of all time. Continue reading…

Top 100 Albums of the 1950s

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top