Bobbie Gentry “Fancy” Capitol ST-428, 1970
Today is the third of June, another sleepy piney Oregon day. I know from my days in radio that at some point on June 3rd every station in some way has to mention, if not play repeatedly, “Ode To Billy Joe” by Bobbie Gentry for the opening line. The song exploded up the charts and occupied 1/3 of the summer of love at number one. The single sold millions of copies, strangely even went top 10 on the R&B chart, and earned 8 grammy nominations, while the album knocked The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” from the top spot.
Should be an easy record to find, right? After all, the single pops up virtually anywhere, so any descent used record shop should have the album. As I set June 1 for the start date of the blog, I knew the third album had to be “Ode To Billy Joe”. Friends, today’s first lesson on record collecting is you can’t ever expect to find a particular vinyl record on demand. Yes, I am aware of Ebay and online sellers, but the point here is to collect for less money so you can collect more. No matter how hard I tried for a few months, I never did find a copy of the record.
Rather than throwing myself off the Tallahatchie Bridge, which actually became a thing once the song became a hit (not killing anyone because it was at most 20 feet above the river), I did spend a lot of time in the Bobbie Gentry bins and found something pretty special. Today’s record is indeed “Fancy”.
I’m not able to go on about the impressive collection of tunes assembled or tell you how much better Gentry’s original of the title track is to Reba’s 1991 remake because this particular copy is still factory sealed! Finding sealed records in a store is like getting a vintage port or bottle of wine from the year your were born. You don’t just open them because you’re thirsty. They may never get opened and only get more interesting to keep around. I’m not going to open this record today just to have something to hear.
It’s not all good news. The giant hole punched into the upper right corner means that this record is a “cut-out”. It was most likely shipped to a big retailer where it didn’t sell. The record companies would take unsold records back, and rather than destroy them, they would punch holes, drill holes, or literally cut corners with a saw and then try to re-sell the records at discount prices to lower end retailers. “Fancy”, as wonderful as it is now wasn’t a very big hit when it came out and I’m sure many copies were returned unsold. So while it’s very rare to find a 46 year old record that has never been opened, the vast majority of the ones still out there are “cut-outs”. People just didn’t buy full price records and put them away unopened any more than they bought new cars and then didn’t drive them to make a future collector happy.
Maybe the crappy back cover kept some sales away! Geeze Capitol, the third album from one of your biggest stars gets a plain, bookish back cover? Bobbie Gentry deserved more than a 700 word essay! Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to have it now, but even June Christy a decade before got some doodles and a picture on her back cover.
Cost $10, $986 Remaining