Men At Work, Cargo, Columbia 38660, 1983
At the risk of dating myself, this is an album I wish I had bought 36 years ago when I first heard it. I was a huge Men At Work fan, to the point of not buying Men Without Hats Safety Dance because I thought they were riding on Men At Work’s coattails. Of course, I now wish I had that record too.
Their first album (in the United States anyway), Business As Usual, introduced me to Vegemite (by way of Casey Kasem). Their follow-up, Cargo, introduced me to the dreaded “second album letdown” that most bands fall into. Meaning you work hard for years to build a following for your band and perfect one album’s worth of material that succeeds beyond your wildest dreams. And then you have four months to come up with a follow up that no matter how hard you try just can’t compare.
Men At Work did themselves no favors by having the lead-off single from their second US album be Overkill, a pean to over-exposure and unworthiness. Still, I was a Junior in High School and Australia may as well have been Saturn for how alien it was to me in New Jersey. And for 18 months, Men At Work were my band!
Cost: $3, $863 Remaining
The Association, Renaissance, Valiant 5004, 1966
Listening to this album, you would never think that it was so fantastic that a major corporation would buy the small label it was released on just to own the contract of the group featured here. Yet, that’s what happened just after The Association released Renaissance.
Sure, their previous album featured the top 10 smash Along Comes Mary, and the amazingly intensely mellow #1 hit Cherish, but the follow up record’s only top 40 single was the just plainly awful choice of Pandora’s Golden Herbie Jeebies. Would you be surprised to learn that that song peaked at #35?
The album fared better than the single. It peaked at #34 in January , 1967, by which time it was being sold on the classic orange Warner Brother’s label. Yes, the big studio bought the tiny Valiant Record Company just to acquire the services of The Association. The reissued album’s cover remained unchanged, I’m guessing because they didn’t sell many of them, and later buyers had the rare treat of opening a Valiant jacket and finding a Warner Brother’s record slide out.
I suppose I got a collector’s item with having the Valiant red and black label, but part of me wishes I had a second pressing just for the label variance. Still, given how meh this record is, I’m sure I won’t see the label again for a few years. (Because it’ll be hidden inside the untouched jacket in the “A” section of my collection…)
Cost: $1, $866 Remaning
R. Dean Taylor, I Think Therefore I Am, Rare Earth RS-522, 1970
It’s good to be Canadian. R. Dean Taylor was a struggling young singer songwriter from Toronto who managed to get an audition with Motown records in the mid 60s. He didn’t exactly impress as an artist, but was hired as a songwriter who “might” get a chance to record down the line. He did manage ro get a few singles released on Motown’s VIP label that went nowhere, but he began to blossom with his songwriting.
Among the Motown Sound hits he created were All I Need for The Temptations and Love Child for Diana Ross & The Supremes. With successes like that, it was hard to say no when he approached Berry Gordy with a desire to resume recording as an artist. Indiana Wants Me sounded like a hit in demo form, but it wasn’t exactly right for any Motown artists, so Taylor was able to record it. There are two versions, one with police sirens and gunshots so realistic that people were driving erratically every time it came on the radio, and one without sound effects which was rushed out because California banned the first version.
Motown even went all out in promoting the single, taking out ads in all the trade papers and doing a publicity tour of the upper midwest. It wasn’t very successful until Canadian radio, always on the lookout for Canadian artists’ records to play to comply with content laws, jumped on the song and it quickly shot to #1 north of the border. It hit #1 in Cashbox magazine, but only #5 in Billboard. Still, it was a million seller and justified this album release. As is true with many Motown albums, it was mined by soul music clubs in northern England for danceable tracks, and Gotta See Jane became a top 20 hit in the UK.
Cost $2, $867 Remaining
July Summary: $80, $2.58 per record