Zager & Evans, 2525 (Exordium & Terminus) RCA LSP-4214, 1969
Sometimes news headlines can affect the pop charts. Apollo 11 was landing on the moon, and the age of Aquarius was upon us. This odd little folk record from an obscure little duo came along to capture the vibration of the moment and a worldwide number one was born.
It tells of a future world in 1010 year increments where things like test tube babies will happen. It’s sort of funny now, but with men on the moon for the first time, who wasn’t wondering what else was gong to happen? Zager & Evans were billed as “two guys with something important to say”. Once they said it though, that was kind of it. They hold the record for being the only act to hit number one on both sides of the Atlantic, and then never have another chart hit.
Listening to the rest of the album, you can kind of hear why. It’s just not exciting or special in any way. Yeah, they can sing, but it’s just so “meh”. Still, the hit is good, and I got a mint 1969 RCA inner sleeve.
Cost: $2, $741 Remaining
Don & Alleyne Cole, Live At The Whiskey A Go-Go, Tollie 56001, 1964
I have to be honest, this is not the most exciting performance I’ve ever heard. Actually, I know some high school bands that are more exciting. They do get some points for trying, but Don & Alleyne Cole just aren’t all that good. I don’t even hear a female vocalist at all, so I don’t really know what Alleyne did for the act.
No, what really is among the most exciting thing about this record is the label it came out on. Like yesterday’s Vee-Jay record, this album came out on the short lived Tollie Records subsidiary. In fact, in its 15 months in operation, Tollie only issued two albums! It’s always a good day to pick up half of a label’s discography for $5.
There were many different label variations for Tollie, most likely because different pressing plants used different label stock, and, really, who would have cared? This is the basic yellow variation and not the “official” purple Tollie label. Vee Jay probably only started the label to get as much airplay and sales as they could from The Beatles records they had under contract, and as long as the money kept coming in, they could take a chance on releasing poorly recorded live albums like this to see if they could get another hit. Of course, they didn’t.
Cost: $5, $743 Remaining
Gary LeMel, The Gary LeMel Album, Vee Jay VJS-1129, 1965
I had never heard of Gary LeMel when I found this record. The liner notes on the back told me that he was 25 years old in 1965, and single. He was a nightclub singer who was born in England but grew up in Arizona. The songs on his album were a mix of pop standards and fairly current hits. There’s not much more information about him online other than he became a hugely successful label executive for Casablanca, Boardwalk, Warner Brothers and Columbia Records.
I certainly did enjoy the record. Not as in I felt moved by his music, but rather than this is literally listening to the worst hotel act ever. Like a serious version of Bill Murray’s Nick The Lounge Singer. There’s the spoken word intro On Broadway, and enough “Hey”s, “Yeah”s and “Whoa”s to keep any mid century modern fan happy.
No, I shelled out 100 pennies for this treasure because it came out on Vee Jay Records. Yes, I bought this for the label. The mint condition inner sleeve didn’t hurt, but I try to buy anything from Vee Jay. They were the small independent Chicago based R&B label that somehow or another had The Four Seasons and The Beatles signed to multi year contracts and managed to screw it all up and go bankrupt. The Gary LeMel Album came out about a year before they turned out the lights, so the inner sleeve promotes the few Four Seasons records they still had the rights to release, but nothing from The Beatles. In fact, their discography shows only 18 albums, mostly greatest hits packages and foreign releases, so it’s pretty obvious that there were problems. But it makes it totally understandable why they would release a record like this.
Cost: $1, $748 Remaining
Buddy Hackett, The Story Of The Love Bug, Disneyland ST-3986, 1969
It’s not everyday that you run across the first record you ever remember having. I can’t remember what happened to my copy, purchased for me by an adoring relative (I can’t remember who, but I was probably about 3 years old). So, even though it was going to blow my budget for September at a whopping $10, I went for it. It really is in really great shape and thats hard to say about a 47 year old children’s record.
It’s not really a soundtrack to the still funny now Love Bug movie, but rather a retelling of the story of the movie narrated by co-star Buddy Hackett. I wish it included the great late sixties theme music by George Bruns that was played while Herbie passed Corvettes and Lamborghinis on the track like they were standing still. There are clearly different actors speaking on the record than acted in the movie, something that is still weird for me when I happen upon the movie. I knew this record so well that the actual actors in the movie just don’t sound right to me. In any event, it’s a pretty entertaining thing to tie into a movie for kids, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything else like it.
It may be because this is a really deluxe package. It’s a gatefold cover with a 12 page storybook inside so you can follow along. This copy has it all in near mint condition, and the reason I had to jump on it is because kids like me were brutal on records like this. When plastic needles wore down, we taped coins on the end to force the needle edge deeper into the groove, colored with random pens on the pictures and ripped the storybook inside to shreds. That’s why good copies of records like this are hard to find in great shape. Maybe nobody but me wants things like this, but they are a great mash-up of genres on vinyl, and I’m happy to get one back on my shelf.
Cost: $10, $749 Remaining
Looking Glass, Looking Glass, Epic KE-31320, 1972
By far one of the most popular one hit wonder hits of all time is Brandy. I would bet money that it’s been played on the air every day since it was released in May, 1972. With a song that great, that has multi-generational appeal, how is it that the band who made it almost completely forgotten? To be fair, until I (just) watched a vintage clip of them singing their fine girl, I had no idea who in the band did what. Even though I probably would have picked this photo out of a line-up as being the one and only Looking Glass.
But I do have a theory as to why they only had the one hit (yes, I know they had a charting follow-up single, but who the hell knows what that was). It’s because the rest of the album doesn’t sound like their hit. It doesn’t sound like the same band did the other songs, like they were recorded a few years before. I think this is true for a lot of one hit wonders. Back when people bought CDs, many of the bought the Sheryl Crow album that had All I Wanna Do on it, and dumped it quickly. The rest of that record was harsh compared to the one song people know.
So the Looking Glass cracked up after this, but it’s still a heck of a single. Owning this album makes the case for only collecting 45s of groups like this, but I’m glad I found this one. Every record collection needs as much Brandy as possible.
Fun Fact: Brandy as a girl’s name went from #353 in popularity in 1971 to #82 by 1973. So if you’re named Brandy and you’re 43-44 years old, this record is probably where you got your name from.
Cost: $2, $759 Remaining
Kim Carnes, Mistaken Identity, EMI American SO-17052, 1981
One great thing about cheap records is that you can find some pretty decent music for really not a lot of money. Yes, sure, it doesn’t take a genius to find a download of Bette Davis Eyes, but you have to know where to look to find the album. The good news is, records like this sold in the millions fairly recently as far as original vinyl goes, so it pops up all the time.
This record actually was certified platinum and spent four weeks at number one. All based off the strength of Eyes. It’s for sure one of those records that you can see people getting tired of and once it’s been played a few times, it sat on a shelf for years until it was sold at a garage sale or used record shop.
So be sure you hold out for a perfect copy like I did. It may not be my most played album, but trust me, knowing I can hear Bette Davis Eyes anytime I want on it’s original issue record is a pretty great feeling. And yes, I know the line is “Her hair is Harlow Gold” and not “Her hair is bottle gold”, but I like to sing it my way, ok?
Cost: $2, $761 Remaining
Jane Morgan, The Last Time I Saw Paris, Colpix 469, 1964
I never mean to pick on a 94 year old woman, but wow, Jane, this album of yours isn’t that good. It came about in the last moment when Rock N Roll was just one type of popular music. When people who had made a career recording professionally written songs by some of the great names of the American Songbook could still have a big selling album just because. It was a time when tastes were changing so fast that a psychedelic album cover could be used to try to sell a “good” music album, not one of those long haired records recorded by hooligans who recorded their own material.
Miss Morgan even explains her predicament, beginning her liner notes with the phrase “Although ‘good music’ is making comeback inroads on the popular music scene today…”, it never quite materialized for her…or anyone else of her genre outside of The Rat Pack or Bobby Vinton.
Instead of “Good Music” the buyers of Colpix 469 were subjected to the most banal recordings of French standards, needlessly and overly arranged by Nick Perito (whoever he was). They may have called their album “Meh, French Style”. I only really could find the strength to listen to side one, but I doubt side two would give me any desire to eat snails any more than side one had. Really, this record is only something to get for the cover, it kinda feels like Tammy Faye Bakker and Grace Slick meet Doris Day.
Cost: $2, $763 Remaining