Folk LPs Leading Album Chart In Sales
NEW YORK — Just how big a force is the folk movement? From all indications it is very big and at the moments shows little signs of a let-up in the pace. This is true not only in the personal appearance and concert level, but particularly on the record front.
A few minutes of chart study leads to the clear conclusion that folk-styled albums are accounting for the best chart positions and highest sales rate for a number of firms fortunate enough to be in the folk derby. It is, of course, no secret that folk singles become big items from time to time. But in the album field, its the folk artists who are carrying the ball for some of the most important firms.
Warner Bros. is easily the best example at the moment. Two Warners’ albums by Peter, Paul and Mary have been riding along in the top 10 album chart for months. The first of these, which carries as its title, the name of the group, is presently in its 78th week on the chart. The group’s “Moving,” has been on the Billboard LP charts for 40 weeks.
With Capitol, the phenomenon is not so pronounced, only because the Kingston Trio has been on the scene somewhat longer than Peter, Paul and Mary. The fact remains, however, that this group, even after a change of personnel sometime back, continues to be a major factor on the album chart. Their most recent set, “Sunny Side,” is one of three of the firm’s top position albums in recent weeks, now in its 10th week on the list. It is only one of three by the Kingston Trio now on the charts. The other two, “The Best Of The Kingston Trio,” and “Kingston Trio No. 16,” have a combined total of over 100 chart weeks.
One of the most stellar examples on the power of folk on the present scene is that of Vanguard, currently enjoying four spots on the album chart, all by folk artists. The label made Joan Baez a star and she’s returning the favor with three albums on the chart for Vanguard. Two of these, Volumes I and II, have each been on the list for upward of 100 weeks, while the third, “Joan Baez In Concert,” now in the top 20, has had a full year of sales on the chart.
Vanguard, most recently, has sprung a new trump card out of its sleeve, in the person of Ian and Sylvia. The pair’s first album, “Four Strong Winds,” hit the chart for the first time only four weeks ago.
The picture is very much the same at another label, Mercury Records. In fact, of Mercury’s present four entries on the LP chart, three are by one folk act, the Smothers Brothers. (The other is by pop maker Lesley Gore). Newest of the Smothers program, “At The Purple Onion,” is now in its 15th week, while its oldest Brothers, “Think Ethnic” and “Two Sides” have been clicking along for 29 and 44 weeks respectively.
Kapp Records two hottest entries at the moment, both turn out to be folk-based, by the Chad Michell Trio. The group, though it recently moved over to Mercury, is doing good business with Kapp with its newest, “The Best Of The Chad Michell Trio,” moving up fast to the 71 spot in its fourth week and “Blowing In The Wind,” an older album, has been on the charts for 23 weeks in the 126 spot.
United Artists has been moving well with four chart contenders in recent weeks, one of the hottest which is the new “Hootenanny With The Highwaymen,” on the charts for seven weeks and presently No. 82.
Though Columbia Records is and has been swinging recently with all classifications of recorded product, the label is by no means without its representation with folk material. It is scoring particularly well with the New Christy Minstrels. The Randy Sparks managed group currently has three on the album chart, with the newest entry, “Ramblin’,”is showing up No. 17 after nine weeks. The New Christy Minstrels’ “Tall Tales,” has been on the album chart for almost five months and had been in the top 50, while the original “New Christy Minstrels” has been on the chart just short of a year.
Bob Dylan is also showing well for Columbia, with his “Freewheelin’,” album in its seventh week at the 30 slot, while the Brothers Four have just returned to chartdom with their “Big Folk Hits,” jumping from No. 146 to 114 this week.
RCA Victor’s Limelighters, in their fourth week on the chart with their new “Fourteen 14K Folk Songs,” have moved from 125 to 77. Odetta is moving along equally fast for the label. Her newest “Folk Songs” album, also a chart item for about four weeks, is now in the No. 81 spot, after a start in 145.
Meanwhile, Liberty Records has also placed a new folk-style act, The Johnny Mann Singers, in the album chart race. The group’s new “Golden Folk Song Hits” moved from 118 to 92 in two weeks. END
(Information and news source: Billboard; October 19, 1963).