This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
1952 was still in the sway of pop music, but there were hints of things to come. This was not rock and roll as such, but there was music pointing in that direction. You'll hear all of that and more today.
FRANKIE LAINE and DORIS DAY team up for the first song.
That one is Sugarbush, based on a traditional South African song and written down by Fred Michel. It was translated into English and first recorded in 1930. Frankie and Doris have by far the best version that I’ve heard, though.
The next song lies somewhere between big band jazz and small group rhythm and blues. The performer, as well as the songwriter, is PERCY MAYFIELD.
It was this year that he was returning from a performance and the car in which he as traveling hit a truck. He was pronounced dead at the crash site. This pronunciation was somewhat premature. He lived for more than thirty more years. He didn’t perform again, but he made a living as a songwriter of great skill. Before all this he had a hit with Cry Baby.
Here is a song that would not sound out of place any time from the thirties to the eighties. I was originally going to say the present day, but it’s a bit too musical for the last few decades. The performers are LES PAUL & MARY FORD.
This one has the beautiful voice of Mary and some not too over the top guitar playing from Les. The song is My Baby's Comin' Home.
Josef Marais was born in South Africa and early on played violin and viola. He left that country for England and he studied violin and composition in London, Paris, Prague, and Budapest and he played in several orchestras in those cities.
He later turned his hand to folk music and amongst many other songs, he wrote Ay-Round the Corner. This was a hit for both The Weavers and JO STAFFORD in 1952.
It was really a toss of the coin which to include and Jo came up heads.
ROSCO GORDON was best known as a blues singer and songwriter. He also played piano.
Rosco was associated with B.B. King, Bobby Bland, Johnny Ace and others of that ilk. He’s included because this year he had a big hit with one of his songs, No More Doggin'. I didn’t hear this at the time. I wish I had. Oh well.
It was always hard to categorise JOHNNIE RAY.
He was definitely a pop singer of the old school; he’d sing show tunes and others like that. However, he also seemed to pointing in the direction of rock and roll, even if his songs weren’t quite that. He was a particular favorite of my sister and me at the time.
His song is Here I Am Broken Hearted, one of the old school songs, but sounding a bit doowop. A couple of decades later Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker recorded a fabulous blues version of the song.
MARIE ADAMS was a gospel and rhythm and blues singer, mostly associated with Johnny Otis.
Like Rosco above, she also performed with Bobby Bland, B.B. and Johnny Ace. Her first record hit the charts, and it’s this one, I'm Gonna Play the Honky Tonks.
FATS DOMINO always performed rock and roll, even before it was called that. A lot of musicians from New Orleans did so as well.
By this year he was already well established with a number of hits under his belt. He sings a tale of woe, but anything by Fats will bring a smile to my face. Poor Me.
Oh my, I wish that my local radio station at the time (3LK) played RUTH BROWN back in 1952, but living 250 miles from Melbourne and 250 mile from Adelaide that was not on the cards.
My musical education might have been accelerated by several years had I heard such music. Fortunately I’ve caught up since. Not just Ruth, but several of the performers I’ve already mentioned weren’t on that station. Anyway, here’s Ruth with Daddy Daddy.
PERRY COMO was synonymous with the music of this year.
There are a number of songs of his I could have included, so it was a bit of a tossup. Finally, I went for one I remember (well, I remember most of them) Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes.
A bonus track from the JACKSON BROTHERS that’s a pointer to what’s going to happen to music in a few short years.
It’s still a little rhythm and blues but the rock and roll sounds are already in place in We're Gonna Rock This Joint.