Various Artists, The Motown Story, Motown MS-726-31, 1970
Even at just about 10 years in, Motown was already mining its past glories to sell even more records than they might have. There had been several versions of the “Chartbusters” series, and the ridiculously early “Greatest Hits” albums that were released in 1966, but this deluxe package was the first time the company went all out to sell history to the masses.
It’s an impressive package. The hits are all here from the first, Money (That’s What I Want), to the newest, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. It’s a little odd, though. The songs are either fused together or introduced by the artists or Narrator Charlie Van Dyke. You don’t buy this package only for the music. The intros are definitely written from the Company’s standpoint, with Mary Wells’ massive contributions downplayed into irrelevance and a whole lot of white washing. You can actually hear the words getting stuck in Mary Wilson’s mouth as she describes Florence Ballard’s retirement.
This appears to be the second or third version of the package. The original has a deluxe booklet and custom inner sleeves for each of the five records. The dos remained the same for as long as this was in production, so collectors need to see the inside of the box to know what they’re getting. For $5, I was happy I got a relatively intact box and clean records.
Cost: $5, $389 Remaining
Bobby Darin, Twist With Bobby Darin, Atco 33-138, 1961
Josh White, The Josh White Stories, ABC Paramount ABC-124, 1956
Bobby Darin released a ton of albums, and they’re all great. There’s just hard to find in great shape. So I didn’t think twice about picking this one up for $2, I just added this to my pile and kept on flipping thought the bins. A month later, I was in the mood to twist (not really, but, memo to all aspiring bands out there, don’t ever name your album after a dance craze) and I got this record out.
This is sort of a compilation album, with a mix of old hits, new hits and Darin originals. I’m not sure if it ever got a CD release, although it is available on iTunes. Albums of this era rarely had a cohesive theme beyond what the title implied. Still, Bobby Darin is one of my favorite singers, and I was really looking forward to this record.
So imagine my surprise/disappointment/curiosity/acceptance when I pulled out this record. The Josh White Stories is among the least twistable records imaginable, beginning with the nearly five minute version of The Boll Weevil Song. My bad for breaking my Rule Number One: always look at the record you’re about to buy before you buy it! It just so happens that The Josh White Stories is a really amazing record by an incredible performer that I had never heard of. So it’s really a win win for me. I’m now a Josh White fan too.
Cost: $2, $394 Remaining
The Beach Boys, Holland, Brothers/Reprise MS-2118, 1973
I love 70s Beach Boys albums. They’re wonderfully crafted and really strange at the same time. Holland is one of the best of the bunch. The group actually moved to a homemade studio in Baambrugge, Netherlands, a move that most of the band described as “awful”. Brian Wilson didn’t make the trip, and was still on the downward slope of a long decent into mental illness.
Fans of the classic lineup of the band won’t be very familiar of this group of musicians. Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar became full fledged Beach Boys for about four years, ending soon after this album came out. The “hit” of this album, Sail On Sailor is actually sung by Chaplain, which may explain why it’s so hard to place the voice from any other Beach Boys single.
Speaking of singles, Holland came with a “bonus” 7″EP that plays at 33 1/3 RPM. From a nasty tell all biography of the band, I learned that The Beach Boys’ contract with Warner Brothers/Reprise stated that a certain percentage of each album had to be written by Brian Wilson. As his condition worsened though, the band found themselves at odds with their leader. When the band heard Brian’s contribution Mount Vernon & Fariway (A Fairy Tale) they were aghast. It’s really hard to get through and not at all like the rest of the album. Contractually obligated to release something from Brian, and with only this to release, the band came up with this idea to include the music on a separate record. Look in any used 45 store under “Beach Boys” and you’ll find this bonus record.
Cost: $3, $396 Remaining
Jose Feliciano, 10 To 23, RCA Victor LSP-4185, 1969
Jose Feliciano was muy caliente in the late 60s. The singer became famous in Latin America in the mid 60s and exploded world-wide after the huge success of re-recording The Doors’ Light My Fire. His flamenco style guitar work was praised by none other than Jimi Hendrix, and his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner of the 1968 World Series was so controversial that it became a bigger issue than the game itself. His records for RCA sold in the millions, and they are among the easiest records to find today.
I actually like them, and I sometimes think I’m the only one. These albums are mostly covers of the hits of the day, but it was a golden age for pop music. Who doesn’t like a well done Beatles cover? This album has three, and the re-make of She’s A Woman makes a former B-Side into A-Side material.
There’s no need to search out these albums, they pop up anywhere old records are sold. That means that you can feel free to wait until you find a mint condition copy. One thing I do want to find though is the rumored infamous introduction that Ed Sullivan gave to Jose Feliciano on his live TV show. Dear old Ed supposedly couldn’t find the cue cards with the scripted into on them anymore than he could remember the name of the next act, so he announced the only things he could remember. It came out something like “Here’s a wonderful new singer……..he’s blind and he’s Puerto Rican!” Ouch.
Cost: $1, $399 Remaining
The Ernie Felice Quartet, Cocktail Time, Capitol T-192, 1955
I bought this one for the cover. I love the gray background and the variety of cocktails and cigarettes on display. The graphics and fonts are an incredible example of an early 50s album. It turns out to have been quite the research project to identify what this record is.
Besides a family run fan website, there isn’t much information out there on Ernie Felice. His Wikipedia page is in German for example. This record is also hard to track down. Multiple sources show that Capitol 192 was issued in 1950 with a different cover than this one. This cover is the original Australian cover that Capitol resurrected when they re-issued this album in 1955 on the new 12″ 33 1/3 rpm format.
It’s actually a pretty good album too! Accordion music isn’t exactly my thing, but Ernie Felice tones it down here and arranges it into the mix. It woulnt be my go to for actual cocktail time, but I’ll play it from time to time, mostly to hear his Dream A Little Dream Of Me, and O Sole Mio.
Cost: $2, $400 Remaining
Joey Scarbury, America’s Greatest Hero, Elektra 5E-537, 1981
You’ve gotta feel bad for Joey Scarbury. Not for the suit they put him in, his glasses, or the horrendous art design of this, his only album. It’s one thing to be a one hit wonder, but its just always so sad when that hit peaks at #2 on the charts. Artists that hit #1 always pop up in all kinds of ways, while those that never reached the top spot rarely do.
In fairness, the song did get stuck behind one of the biggest hits of the 80s in Endless Love by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie. Still, The Theme From “The Greatest American Hero” (Believe It Or Not), besides having one of the wordiest titles ever, is remembered about as often as the bad 80s TV show it was featured on. It’s unlikely that Joey Scarbury tours today based on the strength of this record.
It’s all just so meh it hurts. His unease on the cover comes through onto the record. Not that I was able to find the time to listen the whole thing… Believe it or not, I’ll just pull this record out to laugh at rather than play. Sorry Joey!
Cost: $2, $402 Remaining
Mavis Rivers, Hooray For Love, Capitol ST-1294, 1960
I had never heard of Mavis Rivers before finding this record. While she is listed in my trusty Goldmine Record Album Price Guide, this record isn’t. None of that matters though, it’s just a good old record that cost very little money that’ll be fun to listen to a few times a year. Which is why I love looking for old records.
Mavis was Samoan, and she entertained troops there as a young girl during World War Two. Her family moved to New Zealand, and she quickly conquered the tiny jazz scene of the North Island before moving to the United States to study music at Brigham Young University. Conquering the Samoan Jazz community of Utah led to recording contracts with Vee-Jay and Capitol Records. She had a pretty great voice too, sounding almost like Ella Fitzgerald’s cousin.
But as I said, it’s records like this that keep me flipping though stacks of dusty old records. The cover is tailor made for a Valentine’s Day, and the songs are all love themed. This record is on iTunes for $9.99, but give me the $2 vinyl copy anytime.
Cost: $2, $404 Remaining