Peggy Lee, Latin Ala Lee, Capitol T-1290, 1960
I love a good Peggy Lee album, and this is one of her best. I already had this album, but when I saw it a a store with a bulk purchase scheme, in this case 5 albums for $10, and I had 9 chosen, I added it to my pile and quickly left. The jacket is in such good shape that I thought I could compare the one I had with this one and sleeve shift to create the best one from the two,
I’m not the only one who liked this album. Paul McCartney did too, and he learned The Beatles’ version of Till There Was You from this very record. While it’s hard to imagine The Beatles covering a Broadway show tune, Peggy Lee showed how to completely rearrange one into something uniquely hers. The Queen Mother herself applauded for The Beatles’ version when she heard it played live for her at the Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium.
Unfortunately, this was the record I spent $2 on. About 1/3 of its missing and it’s a cruel irony to read the original Capitol Records inner sleeve about “This Protective Envelope”. At least I got that and a near mint jacket. Sometimes one grades both sides of a record for how it plays, in this case, I would say that the right 2/3rds play much better than the left 1/3 does. As for me, I’m off to the tattoo parlor have “always look at a record before you buy it” placed on my arm.
Cost: $2, $243 Remaining
Monteux Vienna Philharmonic, Symphonie Fantastique, RCA LM-2362, 1960
I really didn’t even want to know what this is all about. If ever there was a time I bought a record for the cover, this was it. Here is a porcelain skinned and heavily made up Barbie doll dressed up as a belly dancer with her hair in a bun and covered by a pink lace shawl. It’s all overshadowed by the hangman’s noose about to smear her make up as it goes around her head. And she doesn’t seem all that concerned about it either, using her last few moments alive to flash some bedroom eyes.
I don’t buy classical records. Yes, I know, I should try to improve and expand my horizons, but I get much more of a thrill from finding a decent cheap copy of Julie London’s Yummy Yummy Yummy (I Got Love In My Tummy) than I ever will from a 1960 recording of an 1830 symphony written by Hector Berlioz. Incidentally, the noose bit all makes sense after reading the wikipedia page on the strange life of Hector Berlioz.
I’m not alone in my distaste for records like this. Many record shops have classical sections tucked into a lonely dust filled corner. There’s hardly ever anyone looking through the bins. Without the magical cover, this would just be another sad addition to the pile. It’s this kind of record that winds up becoming an art project, cut into coasters or a cheap clock that you’d find at a crafts fair somewhere. I only found it because it was misfiled into my favorite store’s discount Jazz bin. Maybe someday my curiosity will get the better of me and I’ll actually try to listen to this, but for now, it’s a prime candidate for framing.
Cost: $2, $279 Remaining
Gordon Fleming, Gigi, Golden Tone C-4035, 1960
I wasn’t paying all that much attention when I flipped though a pile of records at a vintage store when I first saw this record. I thought to myself that the cover model looked like Mary Tyler Moore, so I splurged $2 for if on a whim. It wasn’t until I looked through my new purchases, looking for TV themed records that I noticed that it IS Mary Tyler Moore on the cover of this discount record version of the stage and screen hit musical Gigi.
It turns out that MTM made her way into show business by being a cover model for the Tops and Golden Tone record companies. Both are long defunct discount labels based in Los Angeles, and they released generic covers of soundtracks and public domain songs by anonymous musicians and sold them at discount prices. To compete, they used attractive young girls for their record covers, and Mary Tyler Moore appeared on (it seems) about 12 of them in the late 50s and into 1960. Landing a gig as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1961 finally stopped this strange aspect of her career.
Gigi won the 1959 Oscar for Best Picture of 1958, and the Lerner & Lowe musical was a broadway smash before that. That made it a prime candidate for people to make cover version of the music. That’s about as kind as I can be to the actual music of this album. It’s not it’s badly made, it’s just not that well made. This really is one to buy for the cover, and judging by what it lists for on eBay, I got a screaming deal!
Cost: $2, $289 Remaining
Original TV Soundtrack, Dennis The Menace, Colpix CP-204, 1960
This is the easiest kind of record to make. In attempt to cash in on the temporary success of their comic strip based sit-com, the producers of Dennis The Menace dusted off two old scripts from the show and edited them down into to two 12 minute episodes, one for each side of an album. The actors came in to read though it, record it, and voila! A soundtrack is born.
I have vague memories of this show being shown in re-runs. It was a predictable, light hearted comedy like Leave It To Beaver. Dennis bothered his neighbor Mr. Wilson in every episode, but it all worked out well in the end. At no point was Dennis arrested, and he didn’t bring and grandbabies home, but flower beds were overwatered occasionally. It’s really hard to imagine a show like this being produced today.
I don’t really know if this is a collectable record or not. Generally when something is collectable, it’s because there’s excessive demand for something people remember fondly, and I doubt very many people today even know there was a show called Dennis The Menace, let alone search out an obscure soundtrack album from it. I only really bought it because it was at a half price sale, and because I’ve never seen one before. I also like the graphics and weirdness of it. I listened to it once, and that will good enough for me for years to come.
Cost: $4, $353 Remaining
Mavis Rivers, Hooray For Love, Capitol ST-1294, 1960
I had never heard of Mavis Rivers before finding this record. While she is listed in my trusty Goldmine Record Album Price Guide, this record isn’t. None of that matters though, it’s just a good old record that cost very little money that’ll be fun to listen to a few times a year. Which is why I love looking for old records.
Mavis was Samoan, and she entertained troops there as a young girl during World War Two. Her family moved to New Zealand, and she quickly conquered the tiny jazz scene of the North Island before moving to the United States to study music at Brigham Young University. Conquering the Samoan Jazz community of Utah led to recording contracts with Vee-Jay and Capitol Records. She had a pretty great voice too, sounding almost like Ella Fitzgerald’s cousin.
But as I said, it’s records like this that keep me flipping though stacks of dusty old records. The cover is tailor made for a Valentine’s Day, and the songs are all love themed. This record is on iTunes for $9.99, but give me the $2 vinyl copy anytime.
Cost: $2, $404 Remaining
Steve Allen, Monday Nights, Signature SM-1021, 1960
This is the perfect album for anyone who drives a 1960 Plymouth Fury. While the 1959 Cadillac gets all the old car press for the nuttiness of it’s tail fins, the 1960 Plymouth’s were virtually as tall. Available options included the Highway Hi-Fi, an actual record player that played special 16 2/3 rpm discs that are both completely useless and highly collectible today. Model year 1960 was the last time the Plymouth brand sold well enough to place third in total production, this car represents the beginning of a very slow decline.
The same could be said for Steve Allen. His Sunday night variety show was consistently the third rated program on the night, but that was out of three options. By 1959, NBC has had enough of losing to Ed Sullivan on CBS and Maverick on ABC. They moved The Steve Allen Plymouth Show to Monday nights, which this album happily talks about. The art direction or title of this album are not coincidences.
Steve Allen supposedly wrote over 8000 songs during his lifetime. Some were even hits for people like Steve Lawerence and Eydie Gorme, and Sammy Davis Jr. There were no hits on this album. It’s mostly Steve at the piano, but sometimes theres a bland chorus singing along. I probably won’t be listening to this again for years, unless I happen upon a 1960 Plymouth.
Cost: $2, $406 Remaining
Bernard Green, The National Football League Marching Songs, RCA LSP-2292, 1960
Oh the lengths I go to sometimes to provide a well rounded selection of budget priced records. It’s not necessarily as daunting as a 60 years field goal, but this took a lot of guts to make it though. It’s never a good start when the first song on the record is Hooray For Mr. Football. From there, it’s one fumble after another from bandleader Bernard Green.
I would be shocked to know if there are any fans of the San Francisco 49er’s who know that their team’s fight song is called Football Polka. Did John Mara teach Touchdown to his great grand daughters Kate & Rooney? It doesn’t take a concussion to realize the answer is no.
It was before my time, ahem, but I would imagine that football didn’t have nearly the impact in 1960 that it does now. I’d be willing to wager that the sport was not half as popular as baseball was and hardly any games were shown on TV. College football was likely the bigger draw in the national scheme of things, and this album was probably designed to raise the league profile. Why else would the pro teams need marching themes, but to mimic the colleges? As unlistenable as this record is, it is a souvenir of a very different time.
Cost: $2, $690 Remaining
Marlene Dietrich, Wiedersehen Mit Marlene, Capitol T10282, 1960
A little something seasonal today, as we roll into another month. It’s a supposedly live recording from the supposedly great Marlene Dietrich, but in reality, it’s a collection of studio recordings, recorded in then West Germany, with “live” vocal sounds overdubbed. Wikipedia says that the record actually came out in East Germany as well, but the communist regime took out the audience sounds. I guess fun was not allowed in East Germany, and a few months later, the Berlin Wall went up.
I really didn’t mean to degrade Miss. Dietrich just now, it’s just that 40 years after her breakthrough into silent movies, and 20 years after she was a leading German voice against the Nazis, an album of 1960s German Pop music wasn’t what she needed to further her career. Judy Garland was more able to make that transition, but the stern, serious and direct personality of Marlene Dietrich at nearly 60 years old doesn’t really entertain in the same way.
It’s still nice to hear her voice, no matter how meh the material is. But this is one album that was fairly priced at $2.
Cost: $2, $734 Remaining
Chubby Checker, Twist With Chubby Checker, Parkway 7001, 1960
This is the record that started it all. It’s easy to see why it was a hit. A brand new artist on a brand new label from a red hot record company, with plenty of promotion on the hottest teen tv program, American Bandstand…it almost couldn’t fail. That it caused an avalanche of copies, both good and bad, and set the tone for American Pop until the arrival of The Beatles doesn’t mean that on it’s own, this is a great record.
There’s no Twist lesson on the back, just a big picture of an 19 year old starlted by his sudden success. The music is all dance related, perfect for what people bought albums for in 1960. It really is all you need for a party, and it’s the perfect way to end Twist week.
It’s not in perfect shape, but it is the best copy I’ve ever seen. Parkway was the brand new subsidiary of Philadelphia based Cameo Records. Knowing that the label one was on would define you as an artist, it would be interesting to know if Parkway was started to keep Chubby Checker away from the teen idols Bobby Rydell and Fabian clean, ahem, white image. Either way, this is a record that stands up today unlike virtually anything else the company released. And it’s a record I’m glad I found.
Cost: $2, $781 Remaining
Bobby Rydell, Bobby Sings, Bobby Swings, Cameo 1007, 1960
At first glance, my reaction to this record was “duh”. Of course Bobby Sings, it would be a terrible album if Bobby Danced. But I snagged it anyway because of it’s age and condition, but mostly because I know I’d never find another one. Again, I collect records not music, so it’s not at all strange for me to buy a record that I have only a small chance to ever listen to.
When I got home, I flipped it over and that’s when that Bobby doesn’t only sing, but Bobby Swings as well! While I think Cameo Records put the wrong picture with the wrong side of this proto-concept album, it was maybe a pretty smart move to show that this teen idol could sing about more than his Swingin’ School.
And it worked too. Even though Domenico Modugno’s Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu had hit #1 18 months prior, Bobby’s swinging version of a watered down Volare beat out Dean Martin’s version to peak at #4. And that led to 18 year old Bobby Rydell to becoming the youngest performer to headline the famous Copacabana Nightclub. So while the side where Bobby sings is pretty awful (!), the side where Bobby swings is pretty darned ok!
Cost: $2, $813 Remaining