No.1 Hits Of The 50s

Artist: Various Artists
Format: 3CD
Bar-code: 5060342021137
Cat No: NOT3CD113


Until 1952, the popularity of songs in the UK was measured by sales of sheet music, purchased both by professional musicians to perform live in pubs, clubs and theatres, and by keen amateurs who would play the latest offering from Tin Pan Alley on their upright pianos. All this changed towards the end of 1952 when music promoter Maurice Kinn bought a struggling publication called the Accordion Times And Musical Express and renamed it the New Musical Express. Kinn had long been an enthusiastic follower of the US Billboard charts and reckoned that something of that type would boost sales of his magazine.


The editorial staff planned a campaign with near-military precision. They compiled a list of fifty-two record shops around the country and, on 14 November 1952, the very first UK record chart was published within the pages of the NME. It was called the Hit Parade and consisted of twelve titles. Al Martino’s ‘Here In My Heart’ had the distinction of topping that first UK chart. A glance down at the other eleven reveals familiar names such as Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Guy Mitchell, Vera Lynn and Max Bygraves. The Hit Parade was eventually extended in October 1954 when Frank Sinatra’s ‘Three Coins In The Fountain’ became the first record to reach the summit of the new Top Twenty.

In those early days the charts were dominated by what would later be known as ‘easy listening’, with the occasional novelty song thrown in for good measure. In 1953, for example, Lita Roza (a singer with the Ted Heath Orchestra) topped the Hit Parade with ‘How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?’ The song was originally recorded by Patti Page in the US, but Roza’s version set a precedent which continued throughout the Fifties where UK artists would cash in on the success of American hits by releasing their own versions.

It has been said by rock historians that songs such as ‘Doggie’ indirectly led to the rock‘n’roll phenomenon. Movie producer and historian Michael Uslan has said: ‘A lot of songs at that time were extremely bland, squeaky-clean stuff. The music field was ripe for something new, something vibrant to shake the rafters.’

That ‘something new’ arrived with a bang in November 1955 when Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’ topped the UK charts, boosted by its inclusion in Richard Brooks’ Blackboard Jungle movie. The Number 1 positions for that year were otherwise dominated by the likes of Jimmy Young (‘The Man From Laramie’ and ‘Unchained Melody’), Rosemary Clooney (‘Mambo Italiano’) and Alma Cogan (‘Dreamboat’).

The following year saw another advance scout of the rock‘n’roll invasion arrive when Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers’ classic ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’ topped the charts in the summer of 1956.

1957, however, saw three portents of what was to come. The first was home-grown talent Lonnie Donegan, who initiated the short-lived ‘skiffle boom’. This proved immensely influential on, among others, two young lads from Liverpool who formed their own group, the Quarrymen. They were John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and their band the Beatles would dominate the UK charts throughout the Sixties.

Meanwhile, back in the Fifties, Lonnie Donegan had Number 1 hits with ‘Cumberland Gap’ and ‘Putting On The Style’. Although skiffle was influenced heavily by American folk, Lonnie managed to imbue it with a peculiar Englishness by incorporating elements of the British music-hall tradition.

The other two significant chart toppers of 1957 were Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. Presley’s first British Number 1 came in July of that year with ‘All Shook Up’, a song inspired by what happens when you shake a bottle of Pepsi Cola! Buddy Holly’s first UK chart-topper was ‘That’ll Be The Day’ in November of the same year. Although the disc is credited to the Crickets, it is nonetheless a Holly song. He had two concurrent record deals and releases were alternately labelled band or solo performances.
Fast forward now to 1958, and cue ‘something vibrant to shake the rafters’ – Jerry Lee Lewis’s ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, which topped the first UK chart of that year. Written by Otis Blackwell under the pseudonym of ‘Jack Hammer’, the song became a worldwide smash, selling over five million copies. Not to be outdone, Elvis replaced Lewis at Number 1 with ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, one of his finest rock‘n’roll numbers that had topped the US chart back in 1956.

The final year of the Fifties saw two Number 1s from the UK’s answer to Elvis, Cliff Richard. ‘Living Doll’ and ‘Travellin’ Light’ sent out a clear message that, before long, it would be British artists who would dominate not just their own chart but those in America and all other countries around the world.

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CD 1

1. Living Doll – Cliff Richard
2. All Shook Up – Elvis Presley
3. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore – Buddy Holly
4. You Send Me Sam Cooke
5. Dream Lover – Bobby Darin
6. Stupid Cupid – Connie Francis
7. The Battle Of New Orleans Johnny Horton
8. What Do You Want? – Adam Faith
9. All I Have To Do Is Dream – The Everly Brothers
10. Venus Frankie Avalon
11. Why Do Fools Fall In Love – Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers
12. Here Comes Summer – Jerry Keller
13. Poor Little Fool – Ricky Nelson
14. Great Balls Of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis
15. Putting On The Style – Lonnie Donegan
16. Sleepwalk Santo & Johnny
17. When – The Kalin Twins
18. Diana – Paul Anka
19. Whole Lotta Woman – Marvin Rainwater
20. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes – The Platters
21. Side Saddle – Russ Conway
22. Young Love – Tab Hunter
23. The Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
24. Singing The Blues – Tommy Steele
25. To Know Him Is To Love Him – The Teddy Bears

CD 2

1. Rock Around The Clock – Bill Haley & The Comets
2. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley
3. Honeycomb – Jimmy rodgers
4. What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes… -Emile Ford
5. Travellin’ Light – Cliff Richard
6. Butterfly – Andy Williams
7. Party Doll – Buddy Knox
8. Who’s Sorry Now? – Connie Francis
9. Tom Dooley – kingston Trio
10. It’s Only Make Believe – Conway Twitty
11. It’s Almost Tomorrow – Dreamweavers
12. Roulette – Russ Conway
13. Magic Moments – Perry Como
14. Mr blue The Fleetwoods
15. Cumberland Gap – Lonnie Donegan
16. Woman In Love – Frankie Laine
17. Just Walking In The Rain – Johnnie Ray
18. I Need Your Love Tonight – Elvis Presley
19. Memories Are Made Of This – Dean Martin
20. The Story Of My Life – Michael Holliday
21. Whatever Will Be (Que Sera Sera) -Doris Day
22. This Ole House – Rosemary Clooney
23. Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White -Eddie Calvert
24. As I Love You – Shirley Bassey
25. It’s All In The Game – Tommy Edwards

CD 3

1. At The Hop – Danny & The Juniors
2. That’ll Be The Day – Buddy Holly
3. A Fool Such As I – Elvis Presley
4. Rock-A-Billy – Guy Mitchell
5. Mack The Knife – Bobby Darin
6. Only Sixteen – Craig Douglas
7. Tequila – The Champs
8. Come Softly To Me – The Fleetwoods
9. Sixteen Tons – Tennessee Ernie Ford
10. Dreamboat – Alma Cogan
11. Hoots Mon – Lord Rockingham’s Xl
12. Oh Mein Papa – Eddie Calvert
13. Garden Of Eden – Frankie Vaughan
14. The Man From Laramie – Jimmy Young
15. Yes Tonight, Josephine – Johnnie Ray
16. Rock & Roll Waltz – Kay Starr
17. (How Much Is) That Doggie In The Window? – Lita Roza
18. Starry Eyed – Michael Holliday
19. Three Coins In The Fountain – Frank Sinatra
20. Don’t Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes- Perry Como
21. One Night – Elvis Presley
22. Mambo Italiano – Rosemary Clooney
23. Secret Love – Doris Day
24. On The Street Where You Live – Vic Damone
25. Unchained Melody – Jimmy Young