The Beatles, Beatles ’65, Capitol T-2228, 1964
The Beatles. Like fine wine, their records are considered the gold standard, and the ’65 vintage ranks among the best. Of course, this is a kind of white zinfandel Beatles album. A melange of leftover grapes fused together to make something that would appeal to the masses. While The Beatles were fine winemakers, personally crafting their records for the tastes of their fans, it didn’t always work out that way for their worldwide audience.
Whole books have been written about the group’s records and how they came to be. Suffice to say that they were very serious about giving their fans their money’s worth, never putting the songs from their singles on their albums, and putting 14 songs on every album. Record companies like Capitol felt differently, and they quickly realized that by adding the singles and shortening the albums, they could release more “new” albums than the group ever imagined. Beatles ’65 is one of the better Capitol creations, but its just a happy accident.
Of course, growing up with these records, I know their track listings by heart, When the group’s catalogue came out on CD in 1987, they were only released in the original UK format, meaning most of this record’s songs are found on Beatles For Sale. I don’t particularly care for that record, while I love Beatles ’65. In any case, I feel lucky to find a Very Good copy of this record for $4. Like my best bottles of wine, I’ll play it only on special occasions.
Cost: $4, $526 Remaining
The Everly Brothers, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, Cadence 3018, 1958
If you look through a half a million albums in your lifetime, you’ll find a few gems in among all the Andre Kostelanetz records. This is one of them.
The Everly Brothers were probably the biggest act in music when, for their second album, they chose to record a non commercial roots record that had little to do with their hits like All I Have To Do Is Dream. It lived up to its non-commercial sales goal, but because of the unique and far ahead of its time reputation it maintains, the few original copies that did sell are highly praised collectables.
I found this one in a $2 bin, and while it’s a little beat up, it plays much better than it looks. The cover is worn, the labels aren’t perfect, but I don’t care. Years of looking has rewarded me with a pretty amazing find that I’ll keep forever.
Cost: $2, $530 Remaining
The Bee Gees, Spirits Having Flown, RSO 1-3041, 1979
IF you’re the biggest group in the world, and you’ve just released the bet selling album up to that point, you don’t really change up the formula too much for the follow up. Even if it brands you as only capable of being a disco artist at a time when the genre was dying. The Bee Gees sold more copies of this record in 1979 than they did of all albums in the 37 years since.
It’s not like it wasn’t a heck of a run. From 1977-79 they wrote and produced two platinum albums for their younger brother Andy, two multi-platinum soundtrack albums for Grease and Saturday Night Fever, and capped it all off this 20 million selling album. The three singles from it all hit Number One, giving them six straight chart toppers.
But that was it. Branded a disco act, this was probably the last true disco album to hit Number One. They complained about it, and they had major hits as songwriters for other acts, but The Bee Gees only had one more top ten single, and that was in the 1990s. I don’t think this is a cautionary tale for a young band not to emulate, though.
Cost: $1, $532 Remaining
Bing Crosby, Hey Jude Hey Bing!, Amos AAS-7001, 1968
Its got to be hard to tell someone that just because they can do something, it doesn’t mean they should do something. And by something I mean this album.
Bing Crosby has his first hit record in 1926. His last non-Christmas re-release to chart came in 1957. Its safe to say that by late 1968, he was not very relevant to the record buying public. Then why bother to go though this routine? Honestly, its as bad as it looks, with Der Bingo crooning his way through the year’s biggest hits. He absolutely massacres Hey Jude, someone who has never heard of him would absolutely believe that this was a joke recording. The album’s wikipedia page ends with a prophetic “The album was never released on CD”. Shocking…
Amos Records was a short lived label created by Jimmy Bowen. He worked for Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records and left to form Amos with the hope of selling records recorded by people like Bing Crosby that once had major record deals but lost them due to failing sales. People like Frankie Laine, Mel Carter, Frankie Avalon and Johnny Tillotson all records for Amos. This was the company’s first release and as far as I can tell it’s only record to hit the charts. One glorious week at #162 made this Bing’s last charting album of newly recorded music.
Cost: $3, $533 Remaining
Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Columbia KCS-9914, 1970
New York has it all. Shows, Restaurants, History, Excitement, and Shopping to name but a few, are all great reasons to go there. Well maybe not so much shopping, if you’re looking for good quality cheap records. I was fortunate to spend a few days in The City recently and even had some time to check out a few local record shops. While I found a few things I was interested in, I was shocked at how much they were.
Take this decent copy of Simon & Garfunkel’s last great studio album. I brought it with from from the West Coast as part of a gift. It is a very solid copy that set me back $4. One shop I visited had a much worse version, complete with a seam split on the jacket and severe ring wear. It was offered at $20!
Maybe because real estate is so expensive there, shops have to charge more to stay in business. Also, I was looking in Manhattan, so maybe the prices are cheaper in the outer boroughs or New Jersey, but still, I came away with the feeling that New York isn’t a great place to shop for vinyl. I suppose it really is true that if you can make it there, you’re gonna make it anywhere.
Cost: $4, $536 Remaining
Jean-Paul Kreder Choir, Christmas Music Of France, Capitol International Series 10484
The Capitol International Series is a mainstay of any Goodwill record bin. Released in the 60s and 70s, they were American pressings of international releases. Most were recorded by people no one has ever heard of, but every now and then the series came up with a Ravi Shankar or Xavier Cougat record.
This flood damaged record isn’t one of the good ones. While I’m usually a sucker for an unknown French Pop record, a random chorus singing French Christmas music just doesn’t cut it. The stock photograph of a pretty French woman getting snowed on is a nice touch, but it doesn’t help the music.
So, because its a Christmas record, I’ll probably keep this in the Christmas section and see if I ever play this again. My guess is “non”, but we shall see.
Cost: $2, $540 Remaining
The Sinatra Family, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, Reprise FS-1026, 1968
If you’re like me, finding a record like this is about as great a gift as one could ever hope to receive. I can’t imagine the nerve it would take for an artist to try something like this today. Getting the whole family together for a Christmas album, despite the fact that the whole family has no business singing anything.
I suppose it helps when Dad owns a record company. Especially when Dad is trying to remain relevant to record buyers by appearing younger than he really was. The times, they were a changin’ too, and the smooth vocal style that The Sinatras were known for was hopelessly out of touch with fans of Janis Joplin and The Doors.
So while this record may have failed at the time (the inch long cut out on the jacket implying that a retailer returned this to the distributor because it didn’t sell), today we have a kooky kitschy ding dong of a Christmas record that is just so much fun. The stand out track is the reimagining of The 12 Days Of Christmas, with all of “the kids” getting presents for their father. I can just imagine Frank Sinatra in the lavender tie Nancy got him or playing with the nine Scrabble sets that Tina oddly bought. Tina, by the way, makes Nancy seem like Maria Calas, with serious tempo and pitch problems that would have her booted from American Idol in the preliminary rounds. This record is a must to find, it’ll bring you comfort and joy all year round.
Cost: $3, $542 Remaining