Nine best albums from 1959

Mid-1950s pop music was not well-known for delivering cohesive albums, but these nine classic albums from 1959 deserve your time.
Bobby Darin
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No. 5 - Everybody Digs Bill Evans – Bill Evans

You have to be fairly confident in your abilities to title an album this way, as well as have testimonials from jazz luminaries like Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal, and Cannonball Adderley on the cover of the album. Evans backs it up on this classic album, however. While it might be a little sedate at times, this is an enthralling yet soothing listen that is both warm and inviting and quite complex – typified by the best-known track within: “Peace Piece.”

One of the greatest jazz compositions of all time, this is a stunningly gorgeous creation that is a rewarding listen whether you’ve never heard it before or you’ve listened to it a thousand times. Seminal.

No. 4 - Chuck Berry Is on Top – Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry’s debut album blew the socks off of folks in 1957, and he kept up that momentum with numerous follow-up albums, though perhaps his best from the 1950s was this spirited album from 1959. It serves as something of a “greatest hits” collection for Berry, as all of these songs had been previously released as singles, but the number of rock ‘n’ roll standards featured here is still astounding.

“Maybellene,” “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven” are all-time classics, but some of the deeper cuts – like the sea shanty-esque “Anthony Boy,” the zoo setting of “Jo Jo Gunne” and the pedal steel workout “Blues for Hawaiians” – also deserve credit for showcasing Berry’s songwriting and musical talents.

No. 3 - That's All - Bobby Darin

An underrated album from a terrific crooner, Bobby Darin’s second album delivers an incredible one-two punch on its first two tracks. The album kicks off with Darin’s signature tune: “Mack the Knife.” A hugely entertaining track with a bravura performance from Darin, the song changes keys every verse – ratcheting up the drama masterfully. The second track is another one of Darin’s best-known: “Beyond the Sea,” which is tender, powerful, and delivered with panache.

Darin’s voice is an amazing instrument, and it acts as a combination of Roy Orbison's shimmering tenor (on display in the gorgeous “Through A Long and Sleepless Night”) and Sinatra’s bravado-filled baritone. More soulful than most crooners at the time or since (just look at the saccharine work of Michael Bublé), this album from Darin features highlight after highlight, though “Some of These Days” might be the best deep cut on the record.

However, a lively version of the title track misses the point and sadly pales in comparison to standard slower versions, especially Nat King Cole's and – no joke – Adam Sandler's from The Wedding Singer.