David Seville & The Chipmunks, Let’s All Sing With The Chipmunks, Liberty 3132, 1959
I think even Ross Bagdasarian, I mean David Seville, knew what a hit he had on his hands when he created The Chipmunks. He was a really prolific pop song writer who experimented with recording voices at one speed and playing them back at a faster speed. In 1958, he sang Witch Doctor with a sped up voice singing the chorus and the record shot to number one. For his next experiment, he played around with sped up voices singing in harmony, and the result was The Chipmunks.
Naming them for the top three executives at Liberty Records, Alvin Simon and Theodore released The Chipmunk Song in December 1958 and their record also shot to number one, where it stayed for a month, long past the Christmas season. Naturally, an album was needed to reach the stores, but it wasn’t ready until early January.
So thankfully, there’s just the one Christmas song. Unfortunately, however, it was such a rush job that the other songs are mostly public domain standards that are just fairly boring to hear even once. The cover has “realistic” chipmunks that needed to be redrawn when the characters moved to an animated television series. So there’s really no need to look for this record, unless you’re lucky enough to find it pressed on red vinyl (those copies are worth hundred of dollars!). But today was the first time this season that I heard The Chipmunk Song, so I had to feature this today.
Cost: $2, $609 Remaining
Madelaine/Sister Adele, Dominique, Diplomat 2303 & 1020, 1963
First of all, who says you can’t buy an Adele record on vinyl for cheap? True, this might not be the first Adele that comes to mind, but still… This was going to be a lesson on label variation, meaning I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw two different labels for the same dopey copy cat album from our friends at Diplomat Records. They’re the schlocky outfit that had a JFK tribute album out in stores within a week of the assassination. Just after that tragedy, with the national mood in a funk similar to the election of Donald Trump, Ed Sullivan dispensed with the usual pop act and featured a film of a Belgian Nun singing some simple Bible themed songs she’d written to children. Well, the record that Nun made was quickly leased to Phillips Records, and both the album and the single of Dominique quickly shot to number one.
Naturally, Diplomat Records needed to grab a hold of that gravy train. They rush released a cheaply recorded version by “Sister Adele” which was somehow “Sung By Madelaine”. Whomever is singing, it’s clear that they sing in French as a second language. Not that I speak French, but I’m familiar enough with the original record to know that Sister Adele isn’t singing the same words. I almost want to study French to solve the mystery, with the hope being that she sings something along the lines of “you fools, you saved Fifty Cents but didn’t get the real record”.
But while I couldn’t believe Diplomat shelled out to print two different covers, the one with the fake nun pretending to sing to some kids out in the woods of New Jersey is actually a Stereo pressing! Why a discount label would even bother with that expense is beyond me, and I can’t find any information about any other Diplomat records coming out in Stereo. Still, I listened to it and sure enough it’s in some kind of Stereo. Madeleine comes out of one speaker and the fake background nuns come out of the other! I’m beginning to realize that I might have just found the Holy Grail of the discount record, pun very much intended.
Cost: $2, $611 Remaining
Donny Osmond, Portrait Of Donny, MGM SE 4820, 1972
Before I get accused committing of a mortal musical sin, let me clarify that I bought this record for the intact insert and not the actual record! But in fairness, considering the fact the MGM Records advertised the three 8×10″ glossy pictures of their teen idol, perhaps even they weren’t thinking too much about the record that also came with them.
There’s no doubting the hotness of The Osmond clan in 1972. And the hottest of them all was Donny. The sort of “answer” to a very young Michael Jackson, MGM had Donny sing cover versions of early 60s hits and often outsold the originals. Carole King had a phenomenal year as an artist and songwriter in 1971 because of her smash album Tapestry and James Taylor’s version of You’ve Got A Friend. But her sales figures were augmented by Donny Osmond’s cover of the 1963 Steve Lawrence record Go Away Little Girl, which spent three weeks at number one.
Finding a very good copy of this record was one thing, but finding it complete with nearly perfect inserts is some kind of a coup. Virtually all of these photos and posters would have immediately been tacked up on a wall and quickly destroyed. But for the amazing price of $1 I can see Donny thinking of me and signing off with “love”. Oh, yes, and I also got a free record of hims singing too!
Cost: $2, $613 Remaining
$68 Spent, $2.27 per record