Dick Van Dyke, Songs I Like, Command RS-860-SD, 1963
I almost didn’t buy this one. Even at $2, I have way more easy listening records than I will probably ever listen to. If it was just The Ray Charles Singers with Enoch Light and his Orchestra, I would have passed. But because it’s Dick Van Dyke seemingly from the era of his eponymous TV show, I took a chance. I’ve been wanting to do a theme week of TV records (that I think actually began yesterday!), and this one would certainly be a part of it.
Generally, when a TV star gets a record deal, it’s on a label affiliated with the network the show aired on. With The Dick Van Dyke Show airing on CBS- The Columbia Broadcast System- I don’t know how this record came out on the relatively unknown independent Command Records. There’s scant information out there about the album, but there is a lot on Enoch Light and Command Records. Learning how this tiny label made revolutionary advances in recording technology under the guidance of Light makes me now a fan of Command Records. I knew that he had huge selling albums like Persuasive Percussion in the late 50s and very early 60s, but I just assumed they were oddities that were meant for people to experience the sound benefits of stereo. I was wrong.
You really can hear a depth of clarity on this record. Despite this not really being my first choice of music to listen to, I listened to both sides twice because of how great this record sounds. The music is what you might expect of a 60s game show or variety program, but it’s still pretty fascinating. This was obviously a super-premium package, with a gatefold cover (another Enoch Light innovation) and extensive liner notes from Carl Reiner. I’m sure it sold at a high price, meaning it was purchased by an audiophile who took care of it. Command Records was sold to ABC in 1965 who promptly deleted record like this from the catalogue. But they kept the technology alive, pressing Quadrophonic records well into the 80s.
Cost: $2, $362 Remaining
The Monkees, The Monkees, Colgems COM-101, 1966
When an album sells over 5 million copies, it’s generally very easy to find, even after 50 years. So easy to find, in fact, that it’s hard NOT to find this album wherever you look for low cost records. The problem is not finding one, it’s finding one in good condition. You’re looking at a total of $13 spent on these three records, and the plan is to combine the best of them into the one I’ll keep.
The middle copy still wears its original shrink wrap, so that’s where I’ll begin. The left hand one has a crisp inner sleeve (to my knowledge Colgems never had a promotional inner sleeve) so that’ll be the one I’ll keep. But the third album, the one on the right, plays the cleanest. Monkees fans weren’t what you’d call audiophiles who would have played their records on the finest equipment. It’s really hard to find a good, clean copy of their records, and you may have to do what I did and cobble together several of them to end up with a near mint copy.
But you should. Monkees records are very well done, even the early ones where the Prefab Four did nothing more than sing. The show needed so much music that several A-List songwriting teams were called in to write Monkee Music. That means that there’s usually very little filler. This record spent 13 weeks at number one, and only gave up the top spot to More Of The Monkees. That wouldn’t have happened if this wasn’t a really good pop album.
Cost: $5, $364 Remaining
The Vogues, Turn Around, Look At Me, Reprise RS-6314, 1968
I won’t say that I love records like this, but I “get” records like this. And I’m probably close to alone on feeling that way too, because records like this are among the easiest to find in great shape for virtually no money. There are two top ten hits on this album, and one very soft smooth sound that delivers them. I’m sure at the time this record really appealed to a certain segment of the population even though the sound quickly became dismissed as elevator music.
The Vogues had been a huge vocal group in 1965-66. Their pop-rock hits You’re The One and Five O’Clock World made them one of the biggest American groups at the height of the British Invasion. But it didn’t last, and The Vogues were in need of a new sound. This was their comeback record. Issued a major label, Reprise, The group does their level best to sound just like The Lettermen.
This mint condition, $1 record won’t get a lot of play anymore, but it makes for a nice addition to a collection. Especially if you live in a town with no elevators.
Cost: $1, $369 Remaining
$71 Spent, $2.64 per record