WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN JULY 1950:
 
 

For much of the 1940’s Joe Liggins was one of black music’s most successful bandleaders, a college educated pianist whose 1945 record “The Honeydripper” was the single biggest hit on the black music charts in the entire 20th Century, spending 18 weeks at number one and with its laid back groove was a vital precursor to rock ‘n’ roll… a style that his younger brother Jimmy dove into when he started his own career in 1947, soon eclipsing big brother as rock’s popularity surged over the next few years.

Now Joe, having joined his little brother on the Specialty label, marks his “comeback” with Pink Champagne, topping the Billboard rhythm & blues charts for thirteen weeks this summer, joining Louis Jordan as the only artists to have multiple records spend more than a dozen weeks at the top of that chart.

Though at a glance its laid back groove may sound like something of an outlier in a world now dominated by rock, it’s not entirely serving as just a fleeting reminder of the glories of the recent past as Joe clearly was picking up on the music of his brother’s generation with the gritty sax lines which shows just how pervasive rock ‘n’ roll’s influence had become by now. As a result this is a record that not only appealed to a slightly older constituency that made up his established fan-base but by incorporating enough elements of the newer styles it was also able to draw some attention from the modern audience as well.
 


 
 
 
 
 

Speaking of music of the past, albeit not the recent past, the record industry is desperate for sales as the market they were used to begins to rapidly change around them.

By 1950 big band jazz music has long since crested as bop and laid back West Coast jazz have become the preeminent styles of jazz appealing to a much narrower audience than the dance outfits of the past.

The crooners are still prevalent with Perry Como wracking up big sales, but Bing Crosby’s two decade run as the top selling artist in the world is nearing the end and Frank Sinatra’s reign as his heir apparent has hit the rocks.

Into their place has stepped styles that were long neglected by the mainstream, country music has seen its stature rise considerably over the past two years with such artists as Red Foley and Hank Williams scoring hit after hit, while the urban blues has seen a boost in sales as well. But it’s rock ‘n’ roll with its wide stylistic footprint and broad-based appeal that – unbeknownst to the major companies – poses the biggest long term threat to their dominance.

So, perhaps seeing the warning signs, or just being confident enough that they can drag anything out of mothballs and turn it into sales, the music industry widely promotes the 200th anniversary of the death of Johann Sebastian Bach in an attempt to get people to buy classical music and fill their coffers with sales that don’t require them to pay writing or publishing royalties.

Naturally the efforts fail as Bach doesn’t become a posthumous star whose music would appear on the airwaves of…
 
 
 

Your Hit Parade, which debuts on NBC television after fifteen years as one of radio’s top programs.

The show began on network radio in 1935 and became a Saturday night staple over the next quarter century on both formats. The concept was built around a simple countdown of the most popular songs each week, but because at the time the music industry was still centered around sheet music sales rather than records, the songs would be sung live by their stable of singers in the studio.

In 1943 they hired a young Frank Sinatra as one of the vocalists, already widely known for his stint with Tommy Dorsey’s band, and his year on the program marked its peak as a national phenomenon before being fired for intentionally messing up a country song he didn’t like, though he was re-hired for a second two year run in 1947 as his initial stardom had started to wane.

The show on radio had featured a number of big name starts besides Sinatra over the years such as Buddy Clark, Doris Day and Dick Haymes, but by the time it came to television the recordings that turned those songs into hits were so widely heard on radio that it rendered the live versions by random singers more of a curiosity than anything and so the show added dancers to give it more visual appeal.

As the styles changed further, especially once rock ‘n’ roll began entering the pop charts later in the decade and needed to be sung week after week by singers like Snooky Lanson and Dorothy Collins who were completely incapable of handling the material in an authentic way, many of the performances became almost farcical in nature and the older viewing audience who didn’t have any interest in that style of music to begin with started tuning out.

While the television show lasted until 1959 only once did it crack the Top Twenty (in 1954-55), as much of victim of changing times as anything, for while it had served a legitimate purpose on radio for a dozen or more years when the nation’s listeners had more homogeneous tastes the rapidly evolving musical spectrum of the 1950’s was ever-more divided on generational and racial lines which rendered the idea of using songs to bring together a unified audience all but pointless by the 1950’s.

 
 
 
 

Showing that hypocrisy knows no bounds when it comes to turning a buck, in the midst of the Red Scare that had Americans envisioning foreign agents hiding behind every tree and lurking in the halls of government to corrupt democracy, Smirnoff Vodka promotes the perfect drink to hoist with your friendly neighborhood commie…

The Moscow Mule which had been invented in the early 1940’s in a bar in New York to clear out the overstocked ginger beer, had caught on in selected areas over the past decade, one of which was Hollywood, a connection Smirnoff was now capitalizing on to push their product, either appreciating the irony – or completely oblivious to it – considering the movie industry was now widely considered a bastion of subversives by wild-eyed political opportunists.

Luckily for them those enjoying this drink – vodka, ginger beer, lime juice and crushed ice – aren’t hard to spot, for even if you can’t get close enough to eavesdrop on their plans to overthrow America, they give themselves away with the copper mug the Moscow Mule is always served in.

Drink up, all you godless Bolsheviks!

 
 
 

With longer summer days leading to more time spent outside you’re bound to get dirtier than at other times of the year which means you’ll need to wash up every time you come inside.

Luckily for you Cannon offers towels to help in your efforts at maintaining cleanliness in the face of endless temptations that await you outside your door. Whether you succumb to the urge to roll around in freshly cut grass, digging in the dirt or playing in the sand at the beach, there’s a towel made just for you in a wide array of handsome new patterns and colors.

From hand towels that cost as little as 39 cents for cleaning just the places your Mom or wife are sure to check, to $2.79 for the largest bath towels to dry you off after you’ve been forced to take a shower so you can scrub your entire body with actual soap, Cannon Towels with their Beauti-Fluff finish will make your time getting clean almost as much fun as you had getting dirty.

 
 
 

RECORDS REVIEWED FOR JULY 1950:

THE MASTER KEYS: Mr. Blues
PROFESSOR LONGHAIR (as ROY BYRD): Her Mind Is Gone
PROFESSOR LONGHAIR (as ROY BYRD): Oh! Well
IVORY JOE HUNTER: I Have No Reason To Complain
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Changing Blues
FREDDIE MITCHELL: Fish Market Boogie
STICK McGHEE: Let’s Do It
STICK McGHEE: She’s Gone
PETE JOHNSON: Rocket Boogie “88”
FATS DOMINO: Hey! La Bas Boogie
FATS DOMINO: Brand New Baby
WILD BILL MOORE: Hey Spo-Dee-O-Dee
WILD BILL MOORE: Balancing With Bill
JOHNNY OTIS: Freight Train Boogie
JOHNNY OTIS (ft. REDD LYTE): Good Time Blues
SONNY THOMPSON: Palmetto
JIMMY “BABY FACE” LEWIS: All The Fun’s On Me
JIMMY “BABY FACE” LEWIS: I’m Still In Love
L. C. WILLIAMS: I Want My Baby Back
JEWEL KING: Low Down Feeling
JEWEL KING: I Love A Fellow
FREDDIE MITCHELL: Summertime Boogie
FREDDIE MITCHELL: Music Maker Boogie
THE GREAT GATES: Rock Me Baby

 

PREVIOUS: JUNE 1950