A big-voiced Italian-American performer from Chicago, Frankie Laine (whose nicknames ranged from “Old Leather Lungs” to “Mr Steel Tonsils”) emerged in the first wave of successful solo singers at the end of World War II. His popularity helped to oust the swing-oriented big bands that had held sway since the 30s and ushered in the age of the solo artist. Laine scored his debut hit, That’s My Desire, for Chicago’s then recently-founded Mercury label in 1947, when he was 34. Boasting a powerful declamatory delivery that was immediately recognisable, he lit up the charts, first in the US, and then later in the UK (where he racked up 33 chart entries between 1952 and 1961, including four No 1s). Significantly, he was one of the first performers to take advantage of the LP format when it was unveiled in 1948 and quickly became a pioneer of the new medium. His debut album, Frankie’s Favorites – which contained his earlier smash, That’s My Desire – was a prototypical greatest hits collection that found Laine wrapping his tonsils around standards like Georgia On My Mind, On The Sunny Side Of The Street and Shine, all delivered in his inimitable style. Laine’s influence was enormous – Tony Bennett and Tom Jones are his musical descendants – aiding the rise of the male crooner and helping to popularise the nascent album format. CW
Runners-up: Andres Segovia Guitar Solos, Frank Sinatra Frankly Sentimental.