Top 10 Most Influential and Best-Rated 1950s Music Albums: A Decade of Musical Innovation

  • Grace Angelique
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  • June 21, 2024
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  • 5 minute read
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Top 10 Most Influential and Best-Rated 1950s Music Albums: A Decade of Musical Innovation

The 1950s were a key time for music, with big changes happening. This decade saw the move from big band and swing to the rise of rock and roll, new styles of jazz, and amazing singers.

Here are the highest-rated albums from this influential era, showing the rich and varied music scene that still continues to influence artists to this day.

Key Takeaways
  • The 1950s introduced new jazz styles with albums like "Kind of Blue" by Miles Davis and "Time Out" by The Dave Brubeck Quartet.
  • This decade saw the rise of rock and roll, led by artists like Elvis Presley and Little Richard.
  • Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald left a lasting legacy with their timeless vocal performances.

10 Best Albums from the 1950s

1. Kind of Blue – Miles Davis (1959)

Kind of Blue is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.

Released in 1959, this masterpiece features legendary musicians such as John Coltrane, Bill Evans, and Cannonball Adderley.

The album is known for its innovative approach to modal jazz, which emphasizes scales rather than chord progressions.

Tracks like “So What” and “Freddie Freeloader” showcase Davis’s genius in creating music that is both complex and accessible.

2. Mingus Ah Um – Charles Mingus (1959)

Charles Mingus’s Mingus Ah Um is a brilliant example of his eclectic and powerful approach to jazz composition.

This 1959 album includes classics like “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” and “Better Git It in Your Soul.”

Mingus combines elements of gospel, blues, and classical music, creating a dynamic and emotionally charged sound that has influenced countless musicians.

3. Time Out – The Dave Brubeck Quartet (1959)

Time Out by The Dave Brubeck Quartet is famous for its innovative use of unusual time signatures.

Released in 1959, the album features the iconic track “Take Five,” composed by saxophonist Paul Desmond.

The album’s exploration of different rhythms and a blend of cool jazz and West Coast jazz elements make it a standout in jazz history.

4. Blue Train – John Coltrane (1957)

John Coltrane’s Blue Train is a cornerstone of hard bop jazz. Released in 1957, the album features a stellar lineup, including Lee Morgan, Curtis Fuller, and Kenny Drew.

The title track, “Blue Train,” is a jazz standard, showcasing Coltrane’s powerful tenor saxophone and his ability to blend complex harmonies with soulful melodies.

5. Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (1956)

Elvis Presley’s self-titled debut album, released in 1956, is a landmark in rock and roll history. It includes hits like “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Tutti Frutti.”

The album captures Elvis’s raw energy and charisma, setting the stage for his future as the King of Rock and Roll.

His blend of rock, blues, and country music created a new sound that captivated audiences worldwide.

6. In the Wee Small Hours – Frank Sinatra (1955)

Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours is often hailed as one of the first concept albums.

Released in 1955, it features a collection of melancholic songs that explore themes of loneliness and heartache.

Tracks like “Mood Indigo” and the title song “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” showcase Sinatra’s impeccable vocal delivery and emotional depth.

7. Here’s Little Richard – Little Richard (1957)

Here’s Little Richard is the debut album by one of rock and roll’s pioneers, Little Richard.

Released in 1957, the album includes energetic tracks like “Long Tall Sally” and “Tutti Frutti.”

Little Richard’s flamboyant style, powerful voice, and infectious energy helped shape the sound of rock and roll and influenced generations of musicians.

8. The Shape of Jazz to Come – Ornette Coleman (1959)

Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come is a groundbreaking album that challenged jazz conventions.

Released in 1959, it features compositions that abandon traditional chord changes in favor of freer, more spontaneous improvisation.

Tracks like “Lonely Woman” and “Congeniality” highlight Coleman’s innovative approach and significant impact on the avant-garde jazz movement.

9. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers (1958)

This self-titled album by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, released in 1958, is a quintessential hard bop record.

The album features iconic musicians like Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, and Bobby Timmons and includes timeless tracks such as “Moanin’” and “Blues March.”

Blakey’s powerful drumming and the group’s cohesive sound made this album a cornerstone of modern jazz.

10. Ella and Louis – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (1956)

Ella and Louis is a charming collaboration between two jazz legends, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

Released in 1956, the album features delightful duets and solo performances on standards like “Cheek to Cheek” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.”

The chemistry between Fitzgerald’s smooth vocals and Armstrong’s gravelly voice and trumpet perfectly creates a timeless listening experience.

The Music Scene in the 1950s

Jazz Changes

The 1950s were great for jazz, with artists exploring new styles. Albums like Kind of Blue and Time Out brought fresh ideas to jazz music.

Hard bop, mixing blues and gospel with jazz, became popular with albums like Blue Train.

Start of Rock and Roll

Rock and roll started in the 1950s. Elvis Presley’s first album mixed rhythm and blues with country music, attracting many fans.

Little Richard’s energetic style in Here’s Little Richard also influenced many future rock stars.

Famous Singers

The 1950s were also known for great vocalists like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours and the album Ella and Louis with Louis Armstrong are still revered today for their emotional and musical quality.

Explore the Best of 1950s Music!

The 1950s were a time of significant changes and creativity in music. Embark on a journey through time and enjoy the new jazz sounds from Miles Davis and Charles Mingus and the start of rock and roll with Elvis Presley and Little Richard.

Famous singers like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald also made a significant impact during this period.

Listen to the classic albums from these singers to hear the music that shaped the era and still inspires musicians and fans today.

Grace Angelique

Grace Angelique

An accomplished Art News Journalist with a decade of experience, Grace has covered global art events, exhibitions, and emerging trends. Her work has graced major publications, offering readers a fresh perspective on contemporary art and its evolving landscape.

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