Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Going To A Go-Go, Tamla TS-267, 1965
If your goal is to collect every Motown album, you sometimes pick a placeholder. It would be a really great if I found a near mint stereo copy of this incredible Miracles album for $3, but all I got was this “good” copy. There are pops and crackle galore through the best songs, but it’s still really great to hear these classic Motown tracks in original stereo. The production is all incredible, especially seeing as the music was all recorded in the basement of a cramped old house in West Detroit.
Actually, side 2 plays really well. With all four top 40 hits from the album on side 1, I’m guessing the original owners hardly every played side 2. The non hits are songs I’ve barely ever heard, so it’s easier to hear how good The Miracles were. I always pay more attention to a new (to me) song when I hear one than I do to, say, the 26,851st time I’ve heard The Tracks Of My Tears.
The original owners, who were apparently not very good at maintaining their record players. but also used the back of the jacket to make a list of their favorite Miracles songs. They must have been real fans though because the songs listed go all the way back to Bad Girl, one of the first Miracles records to chart. This copy is good enough to hold me over for the near mint copy that I’ll find one day, but I’m grateful to have it.
Cost: $3, $42 Remaining
The Righteous Brothers, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, Philles 4007, 1965
People that like listening to records tend to get a certain thrill from dropping a need onto a new (to them in my case) record for the first time. It’s such an analog, tactile experience because there are the sounds of the needle hitting the vinyl and searching for the groove. You never know when after hearing those when the music will begin, and even if you know the song that’s about to play, there is a moment where everything is quiet except the white noise of the vinyl. The lead song from this album breaks that moment of anticipation better than almost any other record I know.
Yes, The Righteous Brothers found out quickly that Phil Spector was, to be generous, a bit odd. Not every producer names his own record label after himself and put is picture on his artists’ work. But one listen of You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling on vinyl will at least validate the talent it took to make such a record. It’s hard for me to believe I could find this record for $2, but such is the nature of looking at a lot of records. A seller with 10 of these on hand in Portland sells something for $2 that would sell for $25 in New York. Anything on Philles Records is very collectible, and good copies of albums by The Crystals and The Ronettes usually trade for over $100. Why The Righteous Brothers two Philles Records don’t also is a bit odd, but I’m not complaining.
Purists are that Phil Spector’s productions sound best in Mono, making this rarer Stereo copy less desirable, but now having both on my shelf, I lean towards the stereo version with one “Brother” having his own side of the wall of sound coming from the speakers. This particular copy has the rare “Seen Weekly On Shindig” sticker on the intact 52 year old shrink wrap, which means this is not a second pressing. The record plays flawlessly and even if Feeling is by far the best track on the record, it’s still a great listen.
Cost: $2, $148 Remaining
Rick Nelson, Spotlight On Rick, Decca DL-4608, 1965
The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet was wrapping up its 14th season in early 1965 when this album came out. It was 8 years since Rick Nelson’s first hit, and 50 hit came in those 8 years. In 1963, Decca Records singed the hitmaker to a 20 year contract, but the show and the hits were drying up. The one single from this record, A Happy Guy only climbed to #82, and the album failed to chart.
That’s not to say it’s not a good record. Of all the teen idols who gained fame because of their parents, Nelson is among the most talented and creative of all of them. Ask Quentin Tarantino who used Nelson tracks on his hipster (and million selling) soundtrack albums. And, with 2-3 album releases a year for years, there are plenty of Nelson albums to pick up for very little money.
You can often find amazing records for next to nothing if you get out of the main bins of a record store. I found this mint condition original in an Oldies bin buried in the corner of a huge San Francisco record store. While you find Beatles and Beach Boys albums recorded years before this album was in the Rock section, the slightly less cool artists sometimes get demoted to bins with Connie Francis and Billy Vaughn records. But hey, their loss is my $3 gain.
Cost: $3, $245 Remaining
Dino, Desi & Billy, I’m A Fool, Reprise R-6176, 1965
Known the world over for their total credibility as a rock trio, no one from their families had anything to do with Dino, Desi & Billy’s success. Frank Sinatra himself personally plucked this band from middle school obscurity and singed them to a major label deal, not based on any phone calls from anyone’s mother, but because of their (very) raw talent. It’s not every boy band that can lip sync weekly on national TV on shows produced by their parent’s production companies, based solely on their talent.
Known as the thinking man’s Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Dino, Desi & Billy met in grade school in Hollywood. By Junior High, they were ready for their big break, performing for Frank Sinatra in Dean Martin’s basement. Quickly signed to Frank’s Reprise Records, they were assigned top notch producers Billy Strange, Jack Nitzsche, and Lee Hazelwood. This was their first album and by far their biggest hit, but attempts at success were made for years, and the group made numerous TV appearances. It kinda came to an end only when Desi Arnaz Jr. joined his mother’s TV show, and Dino & Billy went to college.
As much as I kid, Billy Hinsche became a member of The Beach Boys in the 70s and sang backgrounds for Elton John and Waren Zevon. As for the others, Dean Paul Martin died in a plane crash, and Desi was briefly a TV heartthrob, at least until he took Marcia Brady on the cheek on The Brady Bunch. This is actually a pretty poor excuse for a pop record, but it’s fun to hear just for the cover of Like A Rolling Stone.
Cost: $2, $260 Remaining
The Beau Brummels, Introducing, Autumn 103, 1965
The Beau Brummels are famous, and not just because they’re one of the few groups that come alphabetically between The Beatles and The Bee Gees in every record collector’s well organized library. The band, formed in San Francisco in 1964, was the first successful group of the “San Francisco Sound” that went on to include The Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. This album was produced by another living legend, Sly Stone, and the success of it inspired him to form his own group.
It’s also no joke that it’s a really great record. It has the group’s two biggest hits, Laugh Laugh, and Just A Little, and most of the rest are band originals. Their name and sound convinced the record buying public that they were a British band, and that no doubt helped them break through. With such a pedigree, it’s no wonder that this record is so highly collectible. The fact that’s it’s a stereo copy only makes it more valuable. I felt very lucky to find it for $4.
Despite the worn cover, it plays really well. Autumn Records wasn’t around too long, so it’s great to find a decent copy of what was probably their best selling album ever. When Autumn ended (!), The Beau Brummels signed with Warner Brothers. The predictable creative differences and personnel changes doomed them however, and the group ended by 1969. Being the Bay Area favorites that they are though, they reformed several times over the years and appeared at one festival or another.
Cost: $4, $379 Remaining
Nat King Cole, L-O-V-E, Capitol ST-2195, 1964
The House That Nat built tried to keep their beloved Mr. Cole in their studio as much as possible. This was the fourth album and final album that he recorded for Capitol in 1964. Fourth in this case because it’s an amazing achievement nowadays for an artist to release four albums in a decade, and final because Nat King Cole died a few weeks after the record was released.
You would never know that these were the output of the amazing singer’s last recording sessions. He was in really good voice despite having fatal lung cancer. I prefer to think that is why this album peaked at #4, and not because it was a brand new record of a legend that has just died.
Its a really great album too. The title track is one the the most remembered of all of Cole’s songs. Because it mostly appealed to adults (the LOVE single only peaked at #28) this album is pretty to find. It’s rarely pricey and usually in great shape. I’d go so far as to call this one essential.
Cost: $2, $464 Remaining
Stan Getz, Mickey One (Soundtrack), MGM E-4312, 1965
One of the best things about buying cheap records is finding real gems that you never heard of before, but totally fall in love with when you listen to them. I certainly know about Warren Beatty, but I’ve never heard of a movie called Mickey One. The reviews I have read are not that rosy…
But I have also heard of the great Jazz Stan Getz. So at $2, it’s not a budget busting purchase to take a chance on the soundtrack of a movie I’d never heard of. And its really really good. Sure, there is a lot of incidental background music like there are on all soundtrack albums, but it’s Stan Getz playing that music.
And because it came out in 1965, its got that mid 60s feel that I love. Soundtracks always reflect the music of the era the movie is set in, and they’re usually the cheapest of the cheap in any record store. Shhh, don’t tall anyone!
Cost: $2, $514 Remaining
Joshua Rifkin, The Baroque Beatles Book, Elektra EKS-7306, 1965
As we’ve seen, people did virtually anything to jump on The Beatles bandwagon. Besides blatant knockoffs designed to confuse people, some companies came at the same target with somewhat more noble pursuits in mind.
Producer and arranger Joshua Rifkin conducts an unknown group of studio musicians (branded as the Baroque Ensemble Of The Merseyside Kammermusikgesellschaft here) performing Beatle melodies as Bach would have imagined them. It’s pretty tedious at first, then you kind of get into it.
Elektra, as evidenced by the folk singer drawn into all their early labels, considered themselves a higher brow record label for the material they released. This “concept” album was apparently the idea of their president, and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Member Jac Holzman. Again, the noble experiment, with its pithy liner notes, was designed to show that The Beatles were serious musicians. So, I give this record a B+ for effort. I just don’t want to have to listen to it very much.
Cost: $2, $582 Remaining
Adlai Stevenson, The Stevenson Wit, RCA Victor VDM-107, 1965
For every presidential election, there is a a winner and a loser. Not every loser immediately comes to mind, in a way that not every #2 hit is as well known as the least known #1 hit. Poor Adlai Stevenson is in a really rare club; he managed to lose twice to the same President.
This record, released as a memorial after his death in 1965, and narrated by NBC News’ David Brinkley, is a sort of greatest hits of his speaking style. I’m not really sure that people really speak like he did anymore. Outside of an episode of Downton Abbey that is.
Big major record labels like RCA had variations that distinguished the material on the records. The red RCA label was reserved for the most high brow releases. Their usual pop label was black, so Mr. Stevenson must have rated pretty highly to get this kind of memorial. Time will tell if Michael Dukakis or Mitt Romney gets a similar tribute.
Cost: $2, $671 Remaining
The Ramsey Lewis Trio, Hang On Ramsey!, Cadet 781, 1965
Ramsey Lewis hit on a really successful strategy in the 60s. They were just an fairly average Chicago jazz trio, but once they started recording current pop hits in a jazz style, they sold millions of records.
This was their third album 1965 (out of four!) and it was recorded and released while some of the songs were still on the charts! The McCoy’s version of Hang On Sloopy was #1 when this album was recorded, and the trio’s single hit the charts before The McCoy’s left it.
Because these records sold in the millions, and the group released so many records, that they’re very easy to find today. I’d like to find all of them!
Cost: $1, $683 Remaining