Rita Pavone, The International Teen-Age Sensation, RCA Victor Brazil LPM-2900, 1964
I love foreign pop albums. They are full of music I’ve never heard, and sometimes you get foreign language versions of English language pop hits. I was really hoping for that when I bought this incredibly international record, but there’s only one American cover (Bobby Rydell’s Kissin’ Time). It’s actually an album of English language pop tunes, sung by an eager young Italian girl.
It was easy to be fooled by what this record is. I knew that Rita Pavone was Italian, and I know enough Romance Languages to tell that the back cover is written in Portuguese. Pavone was a huge star in Europe in the 60s, and recording for RCA meant her records could be released world wide. This record was probably meant to be her US break through, but it didn’t happen, despite Just Once More peaking at #26. Why RCA decided to release an English language record in Brazil I can’t explain, but they did.
Foreign records weren’t made to the same standard as US records were. Some European countries used very glossy cover slicks, while Japanese versions are made of paper. The jacket of this one is really nothing more than a card stock grade of paper with the thin (and badly mis-colored) cover slicks lightly adhered. They’re literally hanging on by a thread after 54 years. Next time I’m in Sao Paulo, I’ll be sure to ask for a refund.
Cost: $6, $447 Remaining
The Beatles, Beatles ’65, Capitol T-2228, 1964
The Beatles. Like fine wine, their records are considered the gold standard, and the ’65 vintage ranks among the best. Of course, this is a kind of white zinfandel Beatles album. A melange of leftover grapes fused together to make something that would appeal to the masses. While The Beatles were fine winemakers, personally crafting their records for the tastes of their fans, it didn’t always work out that way for their worldwide audience.
Whole books have been written about the group’s records and how they came to be. Suffice to say that they were very serious about giving their fans their money’s worth, never putting the songs from their singles on their albums, and putting 14 songs on every album. Record companies like Capitol felt differently, and they quickly realized that by adding the singles and shortening the albums, they could release more “new” albums than the group ever imagined. Beatles ’65 is one of the better Capitol creations, but its just a happy accident.
Of course, growing up with these records, I know their track listings by heart, When the group’s catalogue came out on CD in 1987, they were only released in the original UK format, meaning most of this record’s songs are found on Beatles For Sale. I don’t particularly care for that record, while I love Beatles ’65. In any case, I feel lucky to find a Very Good copy of this record for $4. Like my best bottles of wine, I’ll play it only on special occasions.
Cost: $4, $526 Remaining
George Martin, Off The Beatle Track, United Artists UAS 6377, 1964
The Beatles didn’t have to look over their shoulders for someone trying to cash in on their fame. Their own producer George Martin jumped on the bandwagon too! In fairness, this record came about through The Beatles three picture film deal. United Artists took a chance on The Beatles before they even had a hit in the United States to make some low budget movies with the promise of getting a soundtrack album for their fledgling record label. It was a great strategy, as the A Hard Day’s Night soundtrack sold in the millions (and the film became the most profitable film of the year).
While The Beatles probably exceeded their contract by coming up with a whole album of new music, half of which never made it into the film, UA had all of the incidental and background music that did make it in. So why not try to sell that too and let Mr. Martin take the credit? This was actually a warm up record, with the movie music coming out later. Off The Beatle Track was the title George Martin suggested to The Beatles for their first UK album, so even the title was a re-tread here.
The Beatles actually seemed fine with the arrangement, mostly because it kept these orchestrated arrangements off of their real albums. But when the time came to fulfill their contact with a third film, there wasn’t much enthusiasm for it. When they found out they could farm it out to animation producers who would use voice actors to play The Beatles, the Yellow Submarine film was born. There also wasn’t much enthusiasm for a whole album of new music for it, so the Yellow Submarine album has four “new” Beatles songs, plus a few old ones used in the film, and a whole side of George Martin instrumental music that apparently drove John Lennon crazy.
Cost: $10, $560 Remaining
Sonny Curtis, Beatle Hits Flamenco Guitar Style, Imperial LP-9276, 1964
At the time this record came out, Sonny Curtis was most famous for being the infamous replacement for Buddy Holly in The Crickets. They put out some great records that made them Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame members in their own right, but their songs (like I Fought The Law) were best known after other people covered them. So landing a solo contract with Imperial Records in 1964 was a pretty good coup for an artist who hadn’t yet proven he could sell records. For a first release, why not do what everyone else seemed to be doing and record some Beatle music?
And, it’s awesome. It didn’t sell worth a damn, but this is one really well done record. It obviously came out later in 1964, with most of the songs coming from the Hard Day’s Night soundtrack. That alone makes it stand out from the other records this week, but the arrangements and the playing make this an enjoyable record.
Sonny Curtis is best known for Love Is All Round, the theme song for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. This album came out 6 years before that, and it just shows his versatility. This is likely to be my most favorite Beatles tribute record.
Cost: $5, $575 Remaining
Buddy Morrow, Big Band Beatlemania, Epic BN-26095, 1964
We’ve sort of moved from the schlocky discount Beatles knockoff records into the schlocky higher brow Beatles knockoff records. Buddy Morrow most definitely had an impressive career playing in and then leading big bands, beginning in the 1930s. Of course, by 1964, while there still was a big band scene, and rock & roll was just one type of music played on the radio, the sales of big band music was approaching zero.
So if groups like The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five were on top of the charts, Buddy was going to make sure his fans, who would probably sneer at buying a Beatles record, could still get their music, only done in the Morrow style.
The two Dave Clark Five songs on the album are probably only included because they shared the same Epic label with Buddy Morrow. If he was on MGM, there would have been two Herman’s Hermits records. Either way, this one doesn’t really make me feel glad all over.
Cost: $2, $580 Remaining
The Blue Beats, The Beatle Beat, AA Records 133, 1964
Of all the discount records I’ve featured this week, this one might be the most galling. I use the French references because one of the names of this album is “dance discotheque lp”. Now, the word discotheque took on a different meaning about ten years after this record came out, but it certainly also had a meaning in 1964. That is to say that that the swinging clubs of the 60s had their own kind of beat, and this album kind of personifies that.
Now don’t get me wrong, trying to sell this as a Beatles album is appalling because, well there’s not one Beatles song on it. It’s 100% instrumental, and all originals too Beatle Boot. The handy (and familiar) twist lesson on the back cover, I’d guess that the music on this record was a European twist record that was repackaged for US consumption with a Beatles “twist”.
The amazing this is, despite the packaging, it’s a pretty decent album of 60s background music. I don’t know, because there’s scant information online, about who the musicians are but they can play. I would imagine that owing to the next to nothing sales of this record, there is now no copyright to keep anyone from using this for whatever 60s based project on eight have in mind. There’s no songwriting credits, no record company information available, so have at it you creative types!
Cost: $3, $586 Remaining
The Manchesters, Beatlerama, Diplomat 2310, 1964
The ultimate discount label wasn’t going to be left out of the Beatles craze. After all, according to the liner notes on this album, “The Beatles and their music approach the hysteria of the twist and similar music”. Of course there’s just the one Beatles song, Please Please Me, and one other public domain song, My Bonnie, that The Beatles covered when they were in The Manchesters shoes in Hamburg in 1961.
Other than that, the rama that fills the rest of this album doesn’t quite live up to the hysteria of the twist. The drummer loses time more often than Ringo does, and the singer forgets the words more often than John did.
It’s an interesting curiosity, but I think I’d prefer to find volume one, or even Diplomat’s other Beatles knock off. The Beatle Buddies were supposedly an all girl band who recorded songs like He Loves You!
Cost: $3, $589 Remaining