June 2, 2016: Really A Drag

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The Buckinghams “Kind Of A Drag”. U.S.A. 107, Mono

The more you look for affordable records, the more you’ll realize how hard it is to find albums from 1960s garage band sounding groups.  I’d never seen this record before when I found it for $2 in a bin in a vintage shop, and I grabbed it in disbelief at my luck.  I could say I was really pissed that they put the price tag right over the “Dr” in Drag, but, hey, it’s still The Buckinghams first album on the tiny U.S.A. label!

Also, the more you look for affordable records, the more you’ll realize how important it is to look for them alone.  It’s no fun for your starving significant other to sit in a dusty vintage shop and watch you look through a thousand $2 albums to find the five worth spending $10 for.  Knowing this, and in the spirit of “Ugh, alright already, lets go”, I grabbed my new treasure without a thought and we left, hoping a still sealed copy of Rubber Soul wasn’t lying in the next bin.

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Getting home, I ran to my trusty Goldmine Record Album Price Guide to see just how rare this album is.  The first pressings of include a song called “I’m A Man”, and they’re valued at $600 each!  I wasn’t too upset though when I saw that a regular second pressing mono copy was still valued at $30.  Even though its clearly not a mint condition sleeve by any means, it still looked like a real find.

The Buckinghams are the type of group they write stories about, a bunch of 19 year olds win a talent contest with the first prize being a recording session with a local studio.  They make their record of mostly cover songs, but with an original tune written by a friend, and everyone they play it for likes it.  A year goes by and they break up.  Eventually, someone at a radio station finds the 45 and plays it on the air.  Seven weeks later they knock The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer” out of number one, and hold The Rolling Stones, The Supremes and The Beatles behind them for two weeks.  They get signed to Columbia and become the biggest American band of 1967, only to split with their producer and break up by 1970.  Their records are among the best of the era, the precursors to Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears, and they still draw crowds in their native Chicago.

The liner notes actually mention how “I’m A Man” is one of the album’s highlights, but the song isn’t on the track listing or the record.  Apparently, U.S.A. Records couldn’t be bothered to rewrite them or they couldn’t get a rights clearance to it, adding to the amateurish look and feel to the whole package.  As if the out of focus picture on the front wasn’t a tip off…

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My heart sank when I took out the record.  It’s not kind of warped, it is horribly warped!  Sometimes a bend or slight curve on a record isn’t a big deal, but when it takes on the look of an orange peel, the record is shot.  The first three songs on both sides are unplayable, including The Buckinghams cover of The Beatles “I Call Your Name” that was a very minor national hit.  Original owner A. Blake probably took it to a party and left it sitting by the window on a hot day and that was that.

Fortunately, the #1 smash and title track “Kind Of A Drag” is the last song on side two and plays very well.  It’s probably that the record warped a long time ago and wasn’t played much since, preserving the unaffected tracks for my enjoyment 49 years later.  Still that silver lining doesn’t really make up for the fact of what might have been an amazing find.

Today’s Summary:

Cost $2, $996 remaining

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June 1, 2016 Hi.

 

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June Christy, “Fair And Warmer” Capitol Records T833, 1957
Welcome to the first day of my blog!  The goal is to feature an album a day for a year, with the goal of sharing what I’ve learned about collecting records for nearly 40 years.  A year from now, a dedicated reader will know where to shop for records, what records to look for, hear music from artists that can only be heard on vintage vinyl, and end up with a record collection that will be the envy of all your friends.
If you can afford a turntable, you can afford to build a record collection.  I don’t think it takes a lot of savvy to spend thousands of dollars on mint condition or super rare collectors items, but I hope to prove that anyone can fill a bookcase with records for not a lot of money.  Therefore, I am setting a goal of featuring 365 albums and spending only $1000.  That’s less than $2.75 a day, or about the price of a cup of coffee.
I don’t necessarily plan to review music, but rather the actual records I find.  No one needs a blog to learn how to collect music, but with vinyl sales lately being the only real growth area for the music business, I think many people could use some help on how to find the best records.  Obviously, brand new records from current artists won’t be within my budget for this blog, so unless I get lucky and find an Adele album in a Goodwill bin somewhere, the records I feature will be from the golden age of the 33 1/3 Long Playing album, approximately from 1955-1985.
The first album up is “Fair And Warmer”, a 1957 Capitol Records release from June Christy.  Apparently, Miss Christy was so well known that her last name only appears on the spine and in the liner notes on the back.  I would be surprised if 5% of people under 40 today have ever heard of her.  She came along as a big band girl singer in the 1940s, just as that genre was dying out.  She left the Stan Kenton band for a solo career, and despite never really having a hit single or selling many albums, Capitol kept releasing her albums into the mid 1960s.  “Fair And Warmer” was the follow-up to perhaps her best known album “Something Cool, and this one has the same smooth west coast jazz feel that will be a hit at any cocktail party.
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Original owner Judy Terhune took decent care of this record, carefully stamping her name in the upper right corner the back side.  There is for sure some bad ring wear on the back, along with a mysterious brown stain, but the worst part is the total deterioration of the top seam.
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Some of this wear obviously comes from the 59 year old paper and cardboard, but this kind of damage usually is cause by pulling out the inner sleeve with the record every time it was played, and then shoved back in improperly.  I know some people swear that the inner sleeve should be put in with the slit facing to the top to keep the record from sliding out, but I’ve never had that happen to me since buying my first album in grade school in 1975!  To keep the cardboard seams intact, I always keep the inner sleeve inside the cover with the slit facing the opening so I can simply slide the record in and out easily.
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The original turquoise Capitol label from the mid 1950s was used through 1958.  Original label records are generally more interesting than re-issues (Hard Core Beatles collectors look for every issued variant, but, really).  Artists like June Christy barely warrant a “greatest hits” package, let alone a re-issue of a non-selling album, so you’re usually getting an original when you find a record like this.  And this record is a real find.
Today’s Summary:
Cost: $2, $998 remaining