The Dukes Of Freilachland, Mazeltov, Aamco ALP-316, 1958
This album is not for everyone. It says so right on the front cover. Chubby Checker never had to put a disclaimer like “Twist Music Of Our People” Ditto Jan & Dean for surfing, cars, or skateboarding. So, it’s a commercial challenge for The Dukes Of Freilachland to limit their audience to their target market.
Aamco Records was a short lived discount label. They leased most of their material from various sources, some were old recordings from superstars like Duke Ellington, some were newly recorded music by unknowns like Charlie Shavers and Ted Steele, and some were international recordings like this album. I presume that this is an international record because I’ve never heard of a place called Freilachland.
Limited as the target market is, this totally obscure album is actually really fun to listen to. The clarinet and accordion swing, and not in an ironic sense. I suppose there were people who actually played this record as their wedding music, but 60 years on, it’s something that virtually no one has ever heard. If Aamco Records hadn’t released it in the US, and I didn’t pluck it from an obscure bin in a vintage shop, I wouldn’t have either. But I’m glad it happened, and that’s a mitzvah.
Cost: $2, $251 Remaining
David Niven, The World’s Most Famous Love Letters, Roulette R-25034, 1958
I usually try to come up with a snappy headline for each album I blog about. For this one, I really struggled. I thought trying to tie-in to one of David Niven’s great film roles would be the way to go, something along the lines of “The Bridge On The River Sigh”, “Around The World In 33 1/3 Days” or “The Pink Vinyl” would work, but listening to this utterly bizarre record, I kept coming back to Joey Tribbiani’s catchphrase “How You down’?” for the best way to describe this miraculous find.
It’s not just the Austin Powers/Partridge Family blue velour suit (complete with frilly ascot) that drew me in, it was the premise of this record to begin with. Why on Earth would anyone need something like this is much more interesting to me than the cover. Original owner Jim Monroe became one of the lucky few original owners of this rare piece of vinyl, and I would like to thank him for not listening to his record more than a few times. It is a flawless record, except for the material.
Each track has an appropriate musical score, but it really is David Niven reading some very cheesy old letters. It’s now my go to for audio clips of someone saying “My live in Vienna is now a wretched one” or “Inwardly I’m wasting away”. This record is why I search out the oddball albums. For $2, I now own a very rare (it doesn’t even show up in Niven’s Wikipedia page) record that really shouldn’t be, yet clearly does. I hope Jim Monroe felt like he got his money’s worth, because I know I did.
Cost: $2, $287 Remaining
Bonnie Baker, Oh Johnny!, Warner Brothers B-1212, 1958
There’s very little information out there about tis record. It seems to be a re-recording by a semi-novelty one hit wonder named Bonnie Baker. The 1939 recording apparently did very well on the “hit parade” (Billboard began publishing popular music charts the next year), but it would have been quite an oldie by 1958. The liner notes on the back don’t have any Bonnie Baker career highlights newer than 1941. What really drew me to this record wasn’t the questionable artistry of the singer, but the car on the cover.
Warner Brothers records was just getting going. Jack Warner watched as his young contract star Tab Hunter had a #1 hit on Dot Records with Young Love and apparently hit the roof that his property was making money for someone else. Of course, there isn’t much of a record label if there’s no one signed up to make records and it was unsigned artists like Bonnie Baker that filled out the original Warner roster. The 1958 Warner Brothers releases didn’t get hits anymore than the 1962 Mets did. This was the twelfth album released by the label.
The car though is by far the best thing about the record. It’s for sure a Jaguar XK-140 which was in production from 1954-57. Because of the split windscreen, I date it to 1956 or earlier. Johnny may be a good lover, but he buys used cars it would seem. I also question his judgement about driving a car with such a low ground clearance on an uneven dirt road. But hey, Bonnie seems pleased. I just hope the two month wait for a new oil pan to come from Coventry England was worth it.
Cost: $2, $410 Remaining
Kay Starr, Rockin’ With Kay, RCA LPM-1720, 1958
Imagine Celine Dion making a hip hop record. That’s kind of what this Kay Starr album is like. Rock & Roll was just one kind of popular music in the 50s, and I think the logic here was that Kay Starr’s pop records weren’t selling, so why not try to record some of that “new” music to appeal to a new audience.
It’s not a bad idea, it’s just that this isn’t what Rock & Roll is supposed to be about. Big corporate music companies take a while to ramp up to the newest trends, and while Elvis Presley was RCA’s biggest star, they didn’t have much bench strength as far as cutting edge music went. Kay’s star was brightest in the 40s and into the early 50s, and perhaps her biggest seller was the novelty song Rock And Roll Waltz. Make no mistake, it wasn’t a Rock song.
So, no, this album didn’t sell well and Kay Starr’s career decline continued. She moved back to Capitol Records in 1959 and she produced a string of barely successful jazz records ala Peggy Lee. Her Christmas records are what she’s probably best known for today, with (Everybody’s Waiting’ For) The Man With The Bag getting a ton of plays every December.
Cost: $2, $431 Remaining
The Everly Brothers, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, Cadence 3018, 1958
If you look through a half a million albums in your lifetime, you’ll find a few gems in among all the Andre Kostelanetz records. This is one of them.
The Everly Brothers were probably the biggest act in music when, for their second album, they chose to record a non commercial roots record that had little to do with their hits like All I Have To Do Is Dream. It lived up to its non-commercial sales goal, but because of the unique and far ahead of its time reputation it maintains, the few original copies that did sell are highly praised collectables.
I found this one in a $2 bin, and while it’s a little beat up, it plays much better than it looks. The cover is worn, the labels aren’t perfect, but I don’t care. Years of looking has rewarded me with a pretty amazing find that I’ll keep forever.
Cost: $2, $530 Remaining
Ray Conniff, ‘S Awful Nice, Columbia CS 8001, 1958?
You know, I should really know better. Ray Conniff is one of there all time greatest Goodwill artists, someone that no serious music fan has any interest in. Even though I’ve blogged about him before, and as much as I tell people that he was was ahead of his time with the technology of the recording studio, no-one but me seems to hip to the vibe he laid down. (Cough). But really, these records are fun, sorry for being (Cough) a broken record.
So, yes, when I saw this record in a $1 bin, yes, on the street, in the rain, in the cold Oregon streets, i didn’t think twice about buying it. I never in a million years would have figured that this was a record that the great Columbia record would have ever had a need, sales-wise to re-relsease. I doubt that this was a big seller in 1958, it spawned no hit singles, and wasn’t a well known member of the Conniff catalogue.
Yet, somehow, in the 1980s judging by the label, record stores begged for more of ‘S Awful Nice to satisfy the immense customer demand for an echo chamber version of It Had To Be You. As a record collector, I felt very cheated to fall for this yet again despite the 100 pennies I had to fork over to take this home. It remains a truism that I might just get my first tattoo on my wallet opening arm that says “Aways Check The Label!”
Cost: $2, $718 Remaining
Harry Breuer & His Quintet, Mallet Mischief Vol.2, Audio Fidelity AFLP-1882, 1958
Sometimes, it’s great to know you’re listening to a record that literally no one else on Earth is too. Once again, there’s scant information about Harry Breuer online, well, outside of a grainy youtube clip of him performing in the 40s. But who cares! It’s Mallet Mischief! The woman on the cover tells you all you need to know; Harry Breuer is either so good that his music will drive you into a frenzy or it’s so terrible that you’ll try to strangle yourself with a pearl necklace.
The truth is that it’s a very funny mix of jet age cocktail music, perfect for your next tiki party. Just don’t do a reading from the back cover, because it could be the most boring set of liner notes I’ve ever seen. There’s even an incredibly scientific write up the record’s audio technicalities. FYI, a $2 Harry Breuer record will sound best when you have your “Rollover” set to 13.75 DB at 10KC.
Records like this came around at about the same time as the first hi-fi systems. So they really did try to make the most of the new technology. Records came out that were really nothing more than sound experiments on what was possible. Pop music took a few years to catch up and work the technical into the music. Anyway, like I said, I always buy records like this. They’re so much fun and this is the only way you’ll ever get to experience the mischief.
Cost: $2, $730 Remaining