Little Anthony & The Imperials, We Are…, End 303, 1959
Not to sound like a broken record, but I always buy any reasonably priced 50s record. Not just because I usually get one home and find a pleasant surprise when I look it up in my trusty Goldmine Record Album Price Guide, but also because they are really fun to listen to. This record was a little bit of both.
There were two price tags on this record. While I knew this record would be valuable, the $100 price tag meant I would never get to know what it sounded like. Then I noticed the second price tag. At $5, I didn’t have to think twice about buying it. But what price tag was right? The clerk charged me $5, and I didn’t question him, so I raced home with it to look it up. It turns out that this little $5 record would also be a value at $100. Goldmine values We Are The Imperials at $250 for a good copy.
Sure, there is some hiss, but the record is a very good copy. The hit, Tears On My Pillow lead it off, but the whole album is filled with that classic New York Doo-Wop sound. Eagle-Eyed Neil Sedaka fans will notice The Diary on here. Sedaka was thrilled to present his best song to The Imperials for this record as a follow up to Tears…, but it didn’t chart. The failure of it was a shock to him to the point where he recorded it himself. It was his first single as an artist, and a pretty good sized hit. But trivia aside, I found a real gem $245 under value!
Cost: $5, $37 Remaining
Dion & The Belmonts, Presenting…, Laurie LLP-1002, 1959
It always seems to be a good idea to buy any playable 50s album that you find. To find this record at the price I paid, it also takes a seller who doesn’t know what they are doing. Sure, I know about Dion & The Belmonts, and this would appear to be their first album. Remembering that albums of the era were usually just collections of a group’s singles, it didn’t surprise me to find virtually every Dion & The Belmonts’ song I knew on it. I still splurged a little bit, but I had no idea how rare this record was until I got home to research it.
This 1959 release is the original Laurie issue (LLP-1002), which was re-released in 1960 after the Top 10 success of Where Or When as LLP-2002. A near copy of this record is valued at $250 in my Goldmine price guide. While there may not a near mint copy of the record out there after 58 years, I feel really good about finding this copy at $7. Apparently, the 1960 re-issue sold better (Where Or When turned out to be the group’s biggest hit), but it’s still rare enough to be valued at $150.
Still, I have a feeling that a larger or more diligent record seller would realize the rarity of a record like this and price it out of range for my budget. I found it at a store that specializes in alternative and classic rock records. It’s quite possible that this record got dropped off there by someone looking to sell their grandparents records and was quickly graded by an overwhelmed clerk who doesn’t know the difference between Dion and Celine Dion. Which is a-ok with me!
Cost: $7, $70 Remaining
Bobby Darin, That’s All, Atco 33-104, 1959
This could be my best $1 album purchase ever. Some of the songs on this record are among the most famous of all time, with Mack The Knife being played somewhere right now. Yes, this album sold well for an album at Christmas 1959, but it’s fairly easy to find today. Why I can’t tell you, but get one when you see it. It’s a heck of an album. As simple as the cover might seem, if you really look at it, you see someone determined to be a success. And this record made that happen.
The back cover kind of shows the age of it. When was the last time a telegram was featured on a record jacket? But Sammy Davis Jr. was right. The record is so good that you almost want to hate Bobby Darin for making it. One thing about this particular record is the green pen mark in the upper right corner. I can’t say for sure if it’s genuine, but somebody signed “Bobby Darin 2/14/60” there.
Atco was the second label of the ATlantic Record COmpany. Ahmet Ertegun, the jazz crazed founder of Atlantic, let his brother Neshui start the label to feature acts that wouldn’t dilute the purity of the jazz oriented Atlantic label (but would still sell!). Early Rock & Roll acts certainly were not pure enough to be on Atlantic and Bobby Darin found himself on the new Atco label. This was Atco’s fourth album release, and the second by Bobby Darin, making the label’s success very much because of the success of this record. Again, if you see one, get it.
Cost: $1, $217 Remaining
Edd Byrnes, Kookie, Warner Brothers W-1309, 1959
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again; it’s very hard to start a record company. Virtually all available talent that can sell records already has a record label, and without that talent you won’t sell many records. Warner Brothers had the good fortune to have major film and TV production talent, and after the strange success of Tab Hunter’s recording career, Warner’s added an exclusive audio clause in all of their video contracts.
77 Sunset Strip, a Warner show produced for ABC, debuted just as the new policy came into effect. The show was a laid back affair about private investigators solving the problems of the most fortunate and beautiful people on Earth, all set to a smooth jazz sound. Warners first released a soundtrack alum from the show, but the breakout success of a minor character named Kookie quickly led to a novelty hit and this follow-up album. Kookie was famous for constantly combing his hair and speaking solely in late 50s teen slang.
The album is no longer as ginchy as it once was. Byrnes doesn’t really sing, he just sort of mumbles his way through his the script while arranger and conductor Don Ralke’s music plays underneath. It’s interesting to listen to, but the nagging thought you’ll have after about 90 seconds is “why was this ever a hit”. Then you’ll have 28:30 more to scratch your head and try to translate the words into 21st century English. It’s not the kind of scene I usually dig dad, but while the record didn’t send me straight to snoresville pops, I don’t find it to be the maximum utmost. Later, like dig.
Cost: $5, $293 Remaining
David Seville & The Chipmunks, Let’s All Sing With The Chipmunks, Liberty 3132, 1959
I think even Ross Bagdasarian, I mean David Seville, knew what a hit he had on his hands when he created The Chipmunks. He was a really prolific pop song writer who experimented with recording voices at one speed and playing them back at a faster speed. In 1958, he sang Witch Doctor with a sped up voice singing the chorus and the record shot to number one. For his next experiment, he played around with sped up voices singing in harmony, and the result was The Chipmunks.
Naming them for the top three executives at Liberty Records, Alvin Simon and Theodore released The Chipmunk Song in December 1958 and their record also shot to number one, where it stayed for a month, long past the Christmas season. Naturally, an album was needed to reach the stores, but it wasn’t ready until early January.
So thankfully, there’s just the one Christmas song. Unfortunately, however, it was such a rush job that the other songs are mostly public domain standards that are just fairly boring to hear even once. The cover has “realistic” chipmunks that needed to be redrawn when the characters moved to an animated television series. So there’s really no need to look for this record, unless you’re lucky enough to find it pressed on red vinyl (those copies are worth hundred of dollars!). But today was the first time this season that I heard The Chipmunk Song, so I had to feature this today.
Cost: $2, $609 Remaining
The Strugglers, Two Beers And Everybody Sings, Warner Brothers 1257, 1959
What was probably a fun album to play at a college party in 1959, a high school party in 1969, or a junior high school party in 1979, is now a very funny Goodwill record to look for. Apparently, there really was a band called The Stugglers, who played old-timey songs in a real club called The Red Garter, in some made up town they called San Francisco.
There’s really not anything of interest here for the record listener, or the music buff. It’s just an odd collection of drinking tunes that had a mild impact on the few people who ever heard it. Really, at this point, it’s the kind of thing you’d see framed at a brew pub somewhere.
I don’t mean to put it down, it’s just that the title of this record is so preposterous, and then to assume that after getting blotto on two beers, “everyone” will sing I Want A Girl Just Like The Girl That Married Dear Ole Dad…it is to laugh. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a third beer.
Cost: $1, $689
Frankie Avalon, Swingin’ On A Rainbow, Chancellor S-5004, 1959
There are a bazillion artist chart achievements out there. Easy ones like “most number one hits” compete with “most weeks at number one by producer”. But I think I’ve found here something truly remarkable. I think I’ve found the first album to hit the top 10 that had no hit singles released from it.
Sure, Frankie Avalon was a hot property in 1959. Elvis was in the army, and the record business needed a new “it” boy in a hurry. And who could be more wholesome for the country (or under contract already to some sketchy producers) than he?
So, in the wake of his huge #1 hit Venus, Chancellor Records went all out and produced this very expensive looking gatefold cover of Frankie singing some pop tunes in the style of a young Frank Sinatra. It’s an impressive package, and the record isn’t half bad either.
And it sold! Reaching #9 in the era when ingles defined pop success, this record tried to expand the teen idol into a new market. Unfortunately, Bobby Darin filled that spot with his amazing Mack The Knife while this record was still o the charts. Still, Avalon probably was the best selling artist of 1959, even though his music was pretty much immediately dismissed and his artistic credibility destroyed by some horrific films with Annette Funicello. But, it wasn’t until The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that another non-broadway or soundtrack album hit the top 10 without a hit single.
Cost: $2, $692 Remaining
The Everly Brothers, Best, Cadence CLP-3025, 1959
Without a doubt, The Everly Brothers were a hot act. From 1957-1959, they had three Number Ones and several more Top Ten hits for the independent Cadence Records. So, when they signed with the massive Warner Brothers Records, Cadence did what any self respecting independent label would do, rush release a greatest hits package. A “Best Of” record usually came out after a group’s hey day, unless of course they were moving on to bigger and better things. For Cadence, it was one more way to bring water from the Everly well.
It looks like it came out so fast that they didn’t bother with any kind of write up about the duo, or reminiscing about the music. The back cover does feature all of the other exciting albums the group had available for purchase from Cadence Records, however.
I never really recommend buying these kinds of records. For me, having the actual releases is always preferred. But this is the legendary Everly Brothers at the very beginning of their amazing career, with not only their first few hits, but also a few B-Sides and minor releases. It would be very hard to find any of their original records at an affordable price, and this is the original Cadence label, meaning its an original record. It even predates their last few releases for the company. So I added to my pile at my usual $2 shop, and was really happy to see it’s a highly valued record in with this label. It’s only in VG condition, but its still (some of) The Everly Brother’s Best on the label that made them famous.
Cost $2, $732 Remaining
Dr. Charles A. Bucher, Slimnastics, Decca 734546, 1959
No, Jane Fonda did not invent the workout record. Richard Simmons was in grade school when Dr. Charles A. Bucher created the nonsense workout Slimnastics. Make this record a must if you have a strong desire to touch your toes to public domain songs like Pop Goes The Weasel, and Tea For Two. All played for meekly for you by an anonymous orchestra while the good doctor leads your through your paces.
A quick Google search for Dr. Charles A. Bucher tells me he was on President Eisenhower’s council for fitness. This record came out in 1959, so he must have had some credentials to get the record deal with Decca. Betty Draper probably had this record…
Men and women each get their own side of the record, men on side one. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere, but I’ll let your imagination create your own. This is all just the most basic fitness routine, and I can’t imagine anyone needing this record once they learn what a sit-up is. And, oy, the music is just so corny.
My absolute favorite part, though is the back cover. The exercise tips are nothing more than the silliest common sense advice, especially my favorite, #7: “Include time for a shower or bath after your slimnastics”.
I actually did the routine (for MEN, thank you very much) twice and felt no slimmer. But I promise you, a record like this is amazing to have in your collection or frame for your workout area. Just be sure to have enough room to do it (no obstructions)!
Cost: $1, $972 Remaining
Polly Bergen, All Alone By The Telephone, Columbia 1300, 1959
The idea for this blog came from being at a party the day after I’d been to an amazing record show in Portland. There was a turntable going and everyone was talking about records and what I found, when a very smart grad student asked me “How do you know where to put the needle when you want to hear a particular song?” Aside from suddenly feeling older than rocks, I was also validated for possessing knowledge that suddenly seemed en-vogue. Buying a record in 1993 was uncool, but buying them if you were born in 1993 is Broad City Cool.
I’ve been waiting to find the right way to tell that story here, and today’s album seems like the perfect chance. I’ll bet there are a lot of people out there that just can’t conceive of a time where you would have to wait by the telephone to hear form someone. Imagine it’s 1959, your Studebaker is in the shop, and you’re all dolled up in your pink negligee. But the phone isn’t ringing. There is literally noting you can do but put on a Polly Bergen record. And wait.
I know The Beatles get all the credit with Sgt. Pepper for inventing the “concept” album. I think that isn’t exactly true. Sure, many teen oriented albums before The Beatles came along featured a hit single or two and were then filled by rerecording other people’s hits. But almost all adult oriented albums had a consistent theme like this one. It might seem like a campy idea now, but people in 1959 would have related to this album’s sentiment.
I just wish I enjoyed it more! The orchestra is incredibly lush and the songs are just so bad that it took a real effort to listen to both sides. Still, I’ll never get rid of this record, just because of the cover! Miss Bergen was a gravelly-voiced actress first, and a torch singer second, hung around with The Rat Pack, and last acted in a memorable in a cameo in The Sopranos. This $1 record is like a mini poster and it’s still a win for me.
The VG+ record also came in a great Capitol Records inner sleeve. There will be a posting on “sleeve shifting” just as soon as I find a Columbia inner sleeve holding a Capitol record.
Cost $1, $982 Remaining