Robert Clary, Meet Robert Clary, Epic LN-3171, 1955
This the first TV related album where the album is a prequel to the TV show, but I’m including it anyway. Robert Clary, Cpl. Louis LeBeau on Hogan’s Heroes, tried to make it as a singer/actor/cabaret artist for years. This record, which came out a decade before the TV show that made him famous, shows that he is a very talented guy. It may not be my exact taste, but it’s a really fun record to listen to.
Clary sings and tells jokes and it sounds like dances on the record. He also used those skills to help himself survive The Holocaust. He was abducted by Nazis from his native Paris and sent to the concentration camp, where he was one of the only ones from his family to survive. It’s harder to imagine a more difficult road to stardom, and Clary had to answer all kinds of questions about acting in a sit-com set in a German camp.
It’s also a really great addition to have to my collection. A well made cabaret style album is always great to have around the house, especially a French one. Robert Clary is still alive at 91, but this 62 year old record still sounds fresh. Hogan’s Heroes sure didn’t.
Cost: $8, $310 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
Bill Haley & The Comets, Rock Around The Clock, Decca DL-8225, 1955
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating here. Sometimes you just get lucky. The more records you look, the greater the chance that you’ll find a record like this at a vintage store for $5. It’s not the mint condition variety that would be valued at about $250, but I think I got a real bargain for such an important record.
There are only a handful of records that legitimately changed the business or established a new genre. Rock Around The Clock is like the B.C.-A.D. changeover for the music business. The single’s release in July 1955 ended the chart successes of big bands, pop vocalists, and orchestras. This album is a compilation of the group’s 1955 singles issued that December, but it was issued on the brand new 12 LP format that wasn’t available in July when the single was released. It’s considered the first rock album to hit the charts, but it’s fairly rare because it wasn’t new music when it came out and not many sold because many people couldn’t yet play the LP record.
Goldmine Record Album Price Guide values this at $250 for a mint condition copy. This one plays very well, but I’d rate it as Very Good +. There’s label damage, and one of the seams is splitting a little, but it plays great. Decca reissued the album several times, and the guide describes each label variation and this is the 1955 original. Still, I’d never seen one of any variation, and at $5, it was a low risk investment.
Cost: $5, $414 Remaining
Duke Ellington, Ellington ’55, Capitol W-521, 1955
Just like yesterday’s Sophie Tucker record, it’s not everyday that you find an original Duke Ellington record. Technically, this isn’t a record of new material, but they are period recordings by the the big band just as that era was fading. Still, it’s a really great collection of songs done by world class jazz orchestra, what could go wrong?
Well, for one, its really worn out. The jacket is faded and there’s 50 year old tape holding together the split seams. That’s usually not a good sign, but I was curious. Taking a chance on a $2 record isn’t really all that risky, so I went for it.
It’s scratchy for sure, but the sound on this 61 year old record is really incredible. The horns really shine through, and the sound is unmistakably Ellington. So the lesson for today is a simple one: sometimes the best records can come from the bins no one bothers to look through. Soundtracks, Easy Litening, and Jazz bins on average have many more great records than do the Rock and Soul bins.
Cost: $2, $636 Remining
Frank Sinatra, Swing Easy & Songs For Young Lovers, Capitol 587, 1955
Technologies change. Back catalogues don’t. In 1955, the 12″ vinyl LP was pretty new on the scene, but much more durable and held more music than the old shellac 78 RPM records. In fact, it was possible to fit two old albums onto one new one just because of the added capacity of the newer discs.
That’s exactly what Capitol Records did with Frank Sinatra’s back catalogue, and this album was the result. Combining the huge selling Swing Easy with another album Songs For Young Lovers, Capitol was able to sell some recent hits by their biggest star to people who were upgrading to the new record players.
It’s Frank Sinatra at his best. After the teen idol era, and career rejuvenation that came from winning an Oscar, but before he became The Chairman Of The Board and hung around a bit too long to try to remain relevant, these albums are exactly what every collector should have in their collection. So my apologies to the people in Ranch Records for the scream I let out when I found this nice 61 year old record in their $1 bin.
Cost: $1, $773 Remaining