1960 is so early in music. We’re basically at the beginning of rock and roll and modern pop. Going back into the ‘50s is almost certainly not going to happen. I know like a half dozen artists who even made music in the ‘50s. However, I was curious about what was released in 1960. What album encapsulates the year and grabs my attention. Looking back, albums barely seem like a thing. It’s way more about singles back in 1960. Researching, I found way fewer albums of note from this year, but a bunch of singles that weren’t even necessarily included on albums. Also, a lot of the albums released were live albums or collections of singles from years past or artists singing the songs of other artists, like Johnny Cash’s album of Hang Williams covers.
For example, Chubby Checker released his version of “The Twist” in 1960, and it become a number-one hit. It also became number-one again in 1962, weirdly enough. Still, when people were doing “The Twist,” the dance craze, that was 1960. Maybe the way albums worked in 1960 is best exemplified by the fact Bill Haley & His Comets released their first album in 1960. The entire album is covers, including “Rock Around the Clock.” Yes, that song was a cover. Also, they had first recorded it in 1954. “Rock Around the Clock” and Bill Haley helped popularize rock music in the 1950s but didn’t release an actual album until 1960. When they did, it was just covers.
Elvis released three albums. One was a soundtrack to his movie G.I. Blues. One of a gospel album. The other is Elvis is Back!, which is a funny name for an album that came out in a year with three Elvis releases. There is not a single hit Elvis song on Elvis is Back!. However, do you know who had the top two hits of 1960? That would be Elvis Presley. He released “It’s Now or Never” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” in 1960. They just weren’t on his albums. Also, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” had been around since 1927.
In 1960, Ella Fitzgerald released three albums. One of them is called Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas. It’s a legendary musician singing standards. That, to me, best exemplifies music in 1960. Plus, it’s Christmastime right now, so I thought it was an apt choice to be the album I chose for 1960. She sings “Jingle Bells.” She sings “White Christmas.” It’s 1960 in a nutshell. Music has changed a ton in the last 60 years, huh?