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How to handle US-Album-Charts 1959-1963 Mono/Stereo

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  • How to handle US-Album-Charts 1959-1963 Mono/Stereo

    Hi from Germany!

    I have a question to all those guys who also try to analyse the old US-Album-Charts. In the years from 1959 to 1963 there were separated charts for mono and stereo albums. The mono-section had always more positions than the stereo one. So it seems to me as if they were more important.

    How do you handle this period with the two charts? For example, West Side Story is said to be at #1 for 54 weeks. But 53 weeks were on the stereo-chart and one week when the charts were combined again in 1963. On the mono chart this record was at # 1 for „only“ twelve weeks.

    In my database I normally have one chart for one week, but in this period it seems to be complicated. Is there one chart, you accept as the official one? I know for some time they were even divided into action and inventory-charts. It’s a similar problem like the single-charts before August 1958, until all the different charts (Airplay, Jukebox, Sales) were combined into the Hot 100.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Volker
    The Singles-Chart-History with lots of artists and information:



    www.chart-history.net

  • #2
    Looking at the old Billboard magazines it is probably easy to find mono and stereo album sales in those years. I assume (but that's not true, you have to check): stereo albums are 10% of the total, mono albums are 90% of the total. So for me, the only significant chart is the mono chart.
    italian charts: http://www.it-charts.it/ (old web site) http://www.italycharts.com/ (will be out on next months)

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    • #3
      I treat the Mono chart as the king of the land.

      It would be unfair to compare West Side Story’s stereo run to Thriller. The Stereo chart favored albums of classical and broadway interests... people who could afford stereophonic record players. Granted, the LP market was still in the hands of the pre-boomer generation at that time, so there’s quite a bit of the same titles on both charts.

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      • #4
        The simple thing to do would be to use the mono album charts. Whitburn did a hybrid for his Record Research albums book, combining mono and stereo album info together, crediting an album with the highest peak it achieved on either the mono or stereo chart, and giving it a total number of weeks for when it appeared on either chart. That is interesting, but it isn't the facts, it's an interpretation.

        Me being a chart purist, I would first want the facts as they were, without interpretation. Thus I would create a database showing both mono and stereo chart runs. Then second, add an alternate interpretation if you wish. But that's just me, ha...

        So many do-gooders are out there, seemingly helping us with chart history, but they give us extra stuff without giving us the original stuff. As I like to say, do me a favor and don't do me any favors: give me the facts first, and then add other details with a note or whatever.

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        • #5
          So, during the period of the mono/stereo chart split from '59-'63, mono albums consistently sold more than stereo albums, and as such the mono chart is the one most reflective of an album's popularity?

          How about the period from '50-'55, where there was both an LP (33⅓) chart and an EP (45) chart? I know the 45 eventually became the standard for singles, while the LP became the standard for albums, but how did they actually compare solely in album sales? Was there ever a point from '50-'56 where 45-based albums sold better than LPs, or was it always a runner-up?
          Last edited by johnboy3434; Wed January 15th, 2020, 00:58.

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          • #6
            I second that Robin.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RokinRobinOfLocksley View Post
              The simple thing to do would be to use the mono album charts. Whitburn did a hybrid for his Record Research albums book, combining mono and stereo album info together, crediting an album with the highest peak it achieved on either the mono or stereo chart, and giving it a total number of weeks for when it appeared on either chart. That is interesting, but it isn't the facts, it's an interpretation.
              That's not really true. He lists the peak from the chart it reached the highest on (or, if both peaked the same, the peak with the longest staying power), and then he lists the total weeks for the run of that specific peak. He does not combine the weeks across mono and stereo, nor does he mismatch them with the listed peak. So yes, when Whitburn says an album reached #X and sat there for Y weeks, those are facts. That's exactly how it charted in reality... except you need to find out which chart he's talking about when he says that, because he doesn't make it super apparent, and that's a notable failing of his.
              Last edited by johnboy3434; Tue January 14th, 2020, 19:02.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by johnboy3434 View Post
                So, during the period of the mono/stereo chart split from '59-'63, mono albums consistently sold more than stereo albums, and as such the mono chart is the one most reflective of an album's popularity?

                How about the period from '50-'56, where there was both an LP (33⅓) chart and an EP (45) chart? I know the 45 eventually became the standard for singles, while the LP became the standard for albums, but how did they actually compare solely in album sales? Was there ever a point from '50-'56 where 45-based albums sold better than LPs, or was it always a runner-up?
                During the late 50's and early 60's, mono was outselling stereo copies by a good margin. Not everybody had a record player that was capable of stereophonic playback, and most titles that were available in stereo were either classical recordings, musicals or jazz and easy listening acts (Sinatra). In other words, chances are your typical teenager at the time didn't own one but adults with taste were investing into that market. Most singles at the time were also in mono, but record labels were testing stereo on '45 which had a limited appeal. To say the least, stereo didn't fully take over the LP market until 1967 and there were still dedicated mono mixes on '45 well up the early 1970's.

                As far as the '45 rpm albums, RCA was the main manufacturer of this format until the early 1950's. There are advantages to this format, but its impossible to play longer pieces of music on a single side. The fact that Columbia's 10 inch LP could house 5 songs on one side and allowed for uninterrupted playback was a major win in the format war. It's quite likely that sales were comparable at first, but by the early-mid '50's, Columbia was selling more LP's to RCA's '45 albums. In contrast, the '45 become the standard for the single and effectively replaced the '78.

                Again, I'm not entirely sure if the '45 ever beat the 33⅓ during any particular year but I'm going to say no. Billboard started designating the '45 rpm albums as EPs beginning in 1953, and all the major labels were producing unique EP's until the start of the 1960's in America. Extended plays continued to work out in the UK but started to quickly phase out in the States around the turn of the decade. There was an EP revival during the 1980's and eventually cassettes/CDs with less than 30 minute run times were designated as "extended plays". Of course, the terminology exists today but the original concept has evolved.
                Last edited by WolfSpear; Wed January 15th, 2020, 00:07.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the info! So, for the periods where there was more than a single Billboard top albums chart, the most sales-representative continuous "lineage" would use the LP charts from '50 to '55, the mono charts from '59 to '63, and the comprehensive charts from '03 to '09, correct?

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                  • #10
                    What did Billboard do with other technology charts? Were CDs already counted on the BB200 when the CD chart came out? Were digital singles already being counted when the started their digital sales chart? What about streaming? I believe there have also been a few other fledging technology charts that they published over the years, but it is too late for me to look up the historic chart list tonight.

                    I personally view the stereo chart as a specialty chart. I’m not 100% comfortable with that view but there is no perfect answer. It was new technology and not available to the masses, especially in the early days of the chart, due to both price and availability in the marketplace. Much like, cassettes, 8-tracks, CDs etc. Limited really to the larger cities for the most part for a time after the format came out.

                    I certainly wouldn’t try and combine them. But I also certainly wouldn’t combine the three distinct singles charts pre 1958. They are each there own thing and not really comparable/combinable in my opinion.
                    Last edited by Chartaholic; Wed January 15th, 2020, 08:49.

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                    • #11
                      I agree. My US Albums book shows the weeks and peaks on each chart separately.

                      https://www.thechartbook.co.uk/the-usa-collection/

                      https://www.thechartbook.co.uk/wp-co..._V1-Sample.pdf
                      http://thechartbook.co.uk - for the latest are best chart book - By Decade!
                      Now including NME, Record Mirror and Melody Maker from the UK and some Billboard charts

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by johnboy3434 View Post
                        Thanks for the info! So, for the periods where there was more than a single Billboard top albums chart, the most sales-representative continuous "lineage" would use the LP charts from '50 to '55, the mono charts from '59 to '63, and the comprehensive charts from '03 to '09, correct?
                        Slight problem with using the LP charts from '50-'55. Some albums weren't issued on both formats and sometimes that depended on the label.

                        Originally posted by Chartaholic View Post
                        What did Billboard do with other technology charts? Were CDs already counted on the BB200 when the CD chart came out? Were digital singles already being counted when the started their digital sales chart? What about streaming? I believe there have also been a few other fledging technology charts that they published over the years, but it is too late for me to look up the historic chart list tonight.
                        I personally view the stereo chart as a specialty chart. I’m not 100% comfortable with that view but there is no perfect answer. It was new technology and not available to the masses, especially in the early days of the chart, due to both price and availability in the marketplace. Much like, cassettes, 8-tracks, CDs etc. Limited really to the larger cities for the most part for a time after the format came out.
                        I certainly wouldn’t try and combine them. But I also certainly wouldn’t combine the three distinct singles charts pre 1958. They are each there own thing and not really comparable/combinable in my opinion.

                        It appears that CDs were added somewhere between June and November 1987. When "Abbey Road" re-entered the chart (CD release), Paul Grein had noted that due to CDs being factored in, the album enjoyed a much bigger re-entry than the past few titles.

                        Remember, there was also a CD chart until 1990...
                        Last edited by WolfSpear; Wed January 15th, 2020, 23:13.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Chartaholic View Post
                          I certainly wouldn’t try and combine them. But I also certainly wouldn’t combine the three distinct singles charts pre 1958. They are each there own thing and not really comparable/combinable in my opinion.
                          Yeah, in using a singular line of charts for singles, I use Best Sellers from 27 July 1940 to 5 November 1955, then the Top 100 from 12 November 1955 to 28 July 1958, then the Hot 100 from 4 August 1958 onward. Unlike Whitburn, I prefer not having multiple #1's for a given date.

                          Originally posted by WolfSpear View Post
                          Slight problem with using the LP charts from '50-'55. Some albums weren't issued on both formats and sometimes that depended on the label.
                          Oh, I'm sure. It's simply meant to be the best solution, not a perfect one. By using only the LP chart, I sacrifice coverage of a smaller portion of overall album sales than I would if I used only the EP chart. So, while neither chart is fully representative of what the public was buying/listening to, one is closer than the other.
                          Last edited by johnboy3434; Wed January 15th, 2020, 23:34.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by johnboy3434 View Post

                            That's not really true. He lists the peak from the chart it reached the highest on (or, if both peaked the same, the peak with the longest staying power), and then he lists the total weeks for the run of that specific peak. He does not combine the weeks across mono and stereo, nor does he mismatch them with the listed peak. So yes, when Whitburn says an album reached #X and sat there for Y weeks, those are facts. That's exactly how it charted in reality... except you need to find out which chart he's talking about when he says that, because he doesn't make it super apparent, and that's a notable failing of his.
                            Nah, you're wrong, I'm right, ha. Whitburn's explanations of how he dealt with the Billboard mono/stereo LP charts are indeed fuzzy and poor, to say the least. I have 5 of his album books, my last one being the 7th edition with data thru 2009. I don't know if he tweaked anything in his latest 8th edition or not. But I interpreted his words as being he would give us the highest peak that an LP achieved on either mono or stereo LP chart, and give us the total weeks that it appeared on either chart, week by week. But just to make sure, I just spent the last 5 hours trying to find examples of this, they are few and far between, ugh (but they'll be easier to find when Lonnie publishes his next Billboard albums online book beginning with 1960 data). I found 2 examples in my search, this being the better one:

                            Ray Conniff His Orchestra & Chorus - S' Continental

                            mono LP chart run starting May 5, 1962: 148-119-98-85-72-51-40-45-35-27-39-58-65-84-91-90-94-150-150-147-150-x-x-x-x
                            peak at #27, 21 weeks on the chart

                            stereo LP chart run starting May 12, 1962: x-40-27-22-17-19-21-17-11-6-16-27-37-38-37-35-34-x-x-x-x-37-37-46-46
                            peak at #6, 20 weeks on the chart

                            overall: highest peak at #6 on stereo chart, 25 weeks on either mono/stereo chart, week by week.
                            This is the info printed in Whitburn's LP books...

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                            • #15
                              For pre-1958 pop, C&W and R&B singles charts Whitburn mix & matched data from all three charts (Sales, Radio & Juke Box) into one entry. So the date enter could come from one chart, weeks charted from another, and peak position from a third chart. This is not spelled out in his book and I bet most readers don’t know it nor care.

                              In the 2016 album book he listed the peak weeks from the chart with the best numbers. Calcutta by Lawrence Welk was #1 on the stereo chart for 11 weeks and on the mono chart for 8 weeks. He used the stereo data but then used the debut date from the mono chart. Not sure where the weeks charted came from. Plus he added data from The Most Played by Jockeys and The Pop Albums Coming Up Strong for 1956-58. In order to determine his exact methodology I would have to go back and check every chart to see, that’s the only way to check his data. I don’t do albums but you can see that clarity is not one of Whitburn’s strengths.

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                              • #16
                                Originally posted by johnboy3434 View Post
                                So, during the period of the mono/stereo chart split from '59-'63, mono albums consistently sold more than stereo albums, and as such the mono chart is the one most reflective of an album's popularity?
                                According to an article in Billboard May 25 1959, = when the LP chart was first split into mono and stereo, "stereo sales account for 25% of LP sales."

                                Then in an Aug 17 1963 article in Billboard, = when the mono/stereo LP sales were re-combined into one chart, "mono/stereo sales are closer to a 50-50 ratio than ever before."

                                It's interesting to compare the weekly mono & stereo LP charts from 59 to 63 and see what was going on. Many times chart performance was similar between the two. Many times an LP did much better on the mono chart, and many times an LP did much better on the stereo chart. For me, both charts should be considered, and that's what Whitburn was trying to achieve with his hybrid chart position info, imperfect as it may be. I'm looking forward to Lonnie's future LP book covering the 1960 to 1963 period, it should be a real eye opener to see all these mono vs stereo peaks and movements.

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                                • #17
                                  Lonnie? Tell me more!

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by WolfSpear View Post
                                    Lonnie? Tell me more!
                                    Well, you see, Lon Chaney Jr. was a film actor from the 30s to the 70s. The son of legendary silent film star Lon Chaney Sr., his well-remembered titular role in Universal Studios' The Wolf-Man as well as other genre films failed to help him grow out of his father's shadow. He turned to alcoholism throughout his life and died relatively young of throat cancer.

                                    Also, his granddaughters are surprisingly hot.

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