Alex Stephenson

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Last Active 07-26-19 7:57 pm
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08.08.19 Long Shot's Top 75 Albums of 196407.03.19 Sam Cooke -- RANKED
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02.25.19 Long Shot's Top 15 Albums of 195502.24.19 Long Shot's Top 10 Albums From Pre-1953
02.24.19 Long Shot's Top 15 Albums of 195402.22.19 Long Shot's Top 10 Albums of 1953
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Long Shot's Top 10 Albums of 1953

Reviving my Music Deep Dive idea from back in the day (and by that I mean last year). Including jazz albums this time, because without their inclusion I felt like I would be missing a very very significant portion of musical history. Not including classical works for the purposes of this list, although I have been keeping up with them, and there are still numerous 50s classical works that are worth all your times. Why am I starting with 1953? Because, frankly, it's the first year in which there are enough interesting records for me to make a top 10 list. I might try and compile a pre-'53 list eventually.
1Erroll Garner
Erroll Garner


I never got all *that* much into the Fats Waller brand of stride that seems to have typified the genre, but Garner takes it and really peps it up on his self-titled record. Along with Monk and Powell, one of the most interesting and fresh-sounding jazz pianists of his time.

Track pick: "Caravan"
Moondog and His Friends


The eccentricity of Moondog is legendary, but beyond that, the dude was just fucking brilliant at what he did. Even on this, his debut record, he's established a unique combination of jazz, classical and exotica that nobody else was coming close to achieving (as much as fellows like Les Baxter like to claim that what they were doing with exotica was, in fact, interesting, the truth is that it was, in fact, not).

Track pick: "Oasis"
3Tom Lehrer
Songs by Tom Lehrer


This man has wit and cheek in droves. Harvard education can translate exceptionally well to comedy musical routines, so it seems.

Track pick: "Lobachevsky"
4Peggy Lee
Black Coffee With Peggy Lee


I find that a lot of the sultry white female crooners tend to blend into one another after you've heard a lot of them, but Peggy always had this distinctness that set her apart from the crowd. The second half of this record brings the rating down a bit, but that first half is just magnificent.

Track pick: "I've Got You Under My Skin"
5Jay Jay Johnson Sextet
Jay Jay Johnson With Clifford Brown


Not as great as it could have been, given that Johnson and Brown were the best trombone and trumpet players in jazz at the time, respectively. Still entertaining and an excellent display of virtuosity.

Track pick: "Turnpike"
6Laurindo Almeida and Bud Shank
Brazilliance Vol. 1


Lovely little record that hints at the bossa nova craze to come in future.

Track pick: "Noctambulism"
7Stan Kenton
New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm


A step down from his marvelous City of Glass from the previous year, but still a nice example of Kenton's unique fusion of classical elements and jazz music.

Track pick: "23 Degrees North - 82 Degrees West"
On the Streets of New York


An EP that contains even more good shit from one of the most unique musicians of his era.

Track pick: "Fog on the Hudson"
9Duke Ellington
The Duke Plays Ellington


Ellington's position as a progressive figure in jazz had long since faded by this time, but hearing his compositions in a more intimate setting freshens them up pretty nicely.

Track pick: "Reflections in D"
10Georges Brassens
1ère série...


I mainly want to mention this early French chanson record because it contains a song about, I kid you not, gorilla rape. Pleasant and unassuming in general, but that one song throws me for a loop every time.

Track pick: "Le gorille" -- of course
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