Neal Hefti, Hefti In Gotham City, RCA LSP-3621, 1966
Nestor Armral & His Continentals, Craftsmen C-8027, 195?
We are over 350 records in, and there is still over $90 left on my quest to buy 365 albums for $1000. I could run out the clock with interesting $1 records like the one on the right above. It’s a discount record on the Craftsmen label that features a young Mary Tyler Moore on the cover. It would be easy for me to gush about how they tried to make our Mary look like the Contadina Tomato girl, and how the low budget “Italian” instrumentals sound after 55 years or so.
But, no. I think i’d rather cut it close to the wire and spend the next two weeks spending that $92 down and find a better class of interesting records, like the one on the left. Neal Hefti is one of those artists that skirted the lines of fame & sales and producing & performing. As a performer, he led made a name for himself in the Big Band era, eventually working his way up to the Count Basie Orchestra. When Frank Sinatra started his Reprise label with Basie as one of his first signings, Neal Hefti came along as the conductor of the studio orchestra. By 1966, Hefti had moved on to RCA and work on film and TV scores.
It was a formidable assignment, as Hefti wrote, arranged and conducted possibly the most memorable TV theme song of the 60s. Both the Batman TV show and it’s theme song were instant hits, enough so that RCA gave its in house producer follow-up album. Hefti In Gotham City barely sold, but it is full of lush mid-60s instrumentals and incidental music from the show. It’s in near mint condition too, which, along with it’s rarity and TV show tie in, makes this a bargain record to find for the price.
Cost: $15, $77 Remaining
The Rolling Stones, Aftermath, London PS-476, 1966
In their 55 year career, The Rolling Stones have released 30 studio albums, 23 live albums, 25 compilation albums and 120 singles. With all of that output, and despite their legendary status, not all of their records are pricey collectables that collectors search out. Perhaps those 25 compilations have something to do with satisfying the demand for their music to the point where original albums like this one sometimes end up in bargain bins. Aftermath, along with most of the group’s pre Jumpin Jack Flash material just isn’t as collectable as a comparable Beatles record or later Stones classics like Exile On Main Street.
Naturally, this is very ok by me. This may not be the most critically acclaimed Stones record, but it is the first one where all of the songs were written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Brian Jones shows what a flair he had for experimentation with new sounds and instruments by playing Sitar, Marimba, and something called an Appalachian Dulcimer to give this record sounds that no other pop record had yet incorporated. It so impressed The Beatles when it came out and they were recording what would become Revolver that Ringo only half jokingly proposed calling their new record After Geography.
Perhaps part of the reason this decent copy sold for $3 has to do with the quality of the original London Records manufacturing. These records don’t appear to have the same feel to them that a Capitol, Columbia, or RCA record does. Their covers usually have ring wear and split seams and the vinyl seems to be of a lesser grade. Also, like The Beatles, The Stones’ the pre-1967 US albums were different than the UK versions. This version has different artwork and 4 fewer songs than the UK release, including the US Top 10 hit Mother’s Little Helper. Whatever the reasons, these are great albums to have in a collection and the prices will never be better.
Cost: $3, $178 Remaining
Paul Revere & The Raiders, Midnight Ride, Columbia CS-9308, 1966
I think this band had some incriminating evidence on Columbia Records. While they had a few decent hits after being heavily promoted daly on national tv, with songs written by Brill Building all stars, virtually anyone would have found success. And even as the hits dried up, Columbia kept on releasing Paul Revere & The Raiders records well into the mid 70s. Blackmail is about the only thing I can think of as to why this happened.
The big hit here is Kicks. Turned down by Eric Burden & The Animals, this Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil composition was an anti-drug anthem that came out just as the LSD fueled counter culture was kicking in. Anti Drug songs were not heard at the Monterey Pop Festival, and Paul Revere & The Raiders were not invited to perform. It was right about the time that this record came out that they began fading out their Revolutionary War outfits, another thing that might have endeared them to corporate media but not necessarily the creative direction that music was taking. And yet the major label releases kept on coming.
Critics say that if you want to get one Raiders album, make it this one. The original version of I’m Not Your Stepping Stone, later a B-Side smash for The Monkees is here. Kicks has also aged well for its Beatles-esque guitar work and placed at #400 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Songs Of All Time list. If this was a Standells record, or any group that wrote and performed their own music, it would be a $100 record. The Raiders just happen to be a competent little band from the Pacific Northwest that won the lottery by getting signed to Columbia. It’s still listenable album, but fairly priced at $2.
Cost: $2, $192 Remaining
$70 Spent, $2.33 per record
Simon & Garfunkel, Sounds Of Silence, Columbia CS-9269, 1966
How many times can one song appear on an artist’s albums? If you’re Simon & Garfunkel, and the song in question is The Sounds Of Silence, the answer is three. As crazy as it might seem today, this was the second of three albums that Sounds came out on. The basic track was recorded in 1964 for Wednesday Morning 3A.M., which went on to sell about 74 copies worldwide. Disappointed with the sales, and without S&G’s knowledge, Columbia took the song and had a staff producer add electric guitars and drums. Released as a single in September 1965, the song took a slow climb to the #1 spot at Christmas 1965.
With a #1 hit on their hands, Columbia eventually got around to tracking down Art Garfunkel in New York and Paul Simon in London to see if they could maybe come up with a few more songs for a new album. The answer was “I guess so”. and the bulk of this album was recorded in one day. Even Columbia was surprised by the reaction, and when the follow up single I Am A Rock took off, they redesigned the cover of the album to feature the new smash.
But that’s not all! Two years later, as the producers of The Graduate were waiting for new Simon & Garfunkel songs to use in their film, they used filler songs like The Sounds Of Silence as a placeholder. The film was edited around the songs and everyone seemed to like the film as it was. So once again, Sounds was released again on The Graduate Soundtrack. Luckily, all three of the albums can be found in virtually any record store, thrift store or yard sale for next to no money.
Cost: $3, $202 Remaining
Tom Jones, What’s New Pussycat, Parrot PAS-71006, 1966
Tom Jones is the kind of singer that has an amazing voice, but somehow never quite had any great material to record. Coming along at the height of the British Invasion, it didn’t take long for the record buying public to differentiate between acts that wrote original material and those that didn’t. Tom Jones didn’t.
Jones’ producers steered him towards film work, and this record was the result. Written for the film of the same name, the title track was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and it became Jones’ second biggest hit in the US, peaking at #3. It was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Song.
But it’s not British Invasion music. The rest of the album tries to be, but it comes closer to someone pretending to be a British Invasion act. After singing the theme song to the James Bond film Thunderball, Jones switched focus to being a cabaret performer. He appeared in Las Vegas at least a week a year from 1967-2011, so it’s safe to say that he didn’t really mind not having much of a chart success.
Cost: $2, $223 Remaining
Eddy Albert, The Eddy Albert Album, Columbia CS-9399, 1966
CBS was on a roll with “rural” comedies in the 60s. The success of The Beverly Hillbillies led to a dozen similar shows featuring the rural mindset triumphing over the more complicated urban one. Green Acres was one of the more successful ones, it frequently was in the top 10 ratings for most of its six year run. That kind of success allowed stars Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert all kinds of outside projects, and this album was one of them.
You wouldn’t know from his acting roles that Eddie Albert fancied himself a double if not a triple threat. The liner notes on his album talk about his success on the nightclub circuit, but I’m convinced that this album wouldn’t exist without him having a top 10 TV show. With Green Acres airing on CBS, it was a natural for Columbia Records to release The Eddie Albert Album. The disclaimer that blares on every side of the record that this is the star of Green Acres kA’s sure to capitalize on the sudden star fame of the singer.
It’s odd then that he chose the hits of the day to record. I faulted Lorne Greene for boring me to death with western tales, but it’s perhaps even meaner for Eddie Albert to torture me with Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright. Yes, he can sing, but it’s a real departure from Green Acres, and fans of the show would not like this record. Even the theme song is re-recorded in a less hayseed style, as if Albert is trying to sell the show to a different audience than the one that watched the show.
Cost: $8, $300 Remaining
The Monkees, The Monkees, Colgems COM-101, 1966
When an album sells over 5 million copies, it’s generally very easy to find, even after 50 years. So easy to find, in fact, that it’s hard NOT to find this album wherever you look for low cost records. The problem is not finding one, it’s finding one in good condition. You’re looking at a total of $13 spent on these three records, and the plan is to combine the best of them into the one I’ll keep.
The middle copy still wears its original shrink wrap, so that’s where I’ll begin. The left hand one has a crisp inner sleeve (to my knowledge Colgems never had a promotional inner sleeve) so that’ll be the one I’ll keep. But the third album, the one on the right, plays the cleanest. Monkees fans weren’t what you’d call audiophiles who would have played their records on the finest equipment. It’s really hard to find a good, clean copy of their records, and you may have to do what I did and cobble together several of them to end up with a near mint copy.
But you should. Monkees records are very well done, even the early ones where the Prefab Four did nothing more than sing. The show needed so much music that several A-List songwriting teams were called in to write Monkee Music. That means that there’s usually very little filler. This record spent 13 weeks at number one, and only gave up the top spot to More Of The Monkees. That wouldn’t have happened if this wasn’t a really good pop album.
Cost: $5, $364 Remaining
The 4 Seasons, Working My Way Back To You, Phillips PHS 600-201, 1966
The amazing success of The 4 Seasons musical Jersey Boys not only set box office records, but it increased the value of actual records. It used to be that albums like this by the groups were essentially free, owing to the fact that they really sold well originally but not many people kept them. 4 Seasons greatest hits packages were always available, so holding original albums like this one with only one hit that anyone would know made little sense.
It’s not like The 4 Seasons albums ever had the cache of The Beatles’ or even The Beach Boys for interesting album tracks. There are one or two here I like, but the group never considered their albums as concepts like other groups did. This album is really just a collection of throw aways, plus the one great hit.
As depicted in the show, this album came out just after original bassist Nick Massi left the group. Even though he is pictured on the cover and wrote one of the songs, he neither played or sang on it. After settling on Joe Long as a replacement, the group continued on releasing hit after hit with the “sound” of Frankie Valli becoming one of the greatest pop voices of all time.
Cost: $7, $492 Remaining
Brenda Lee, Coming On Strong, Decca DL-4825, 1966
For as big as she was from 1960-62, after The Beatles hit, Brenda Lee’s career was on the wane. She wasn’t alone, but she was perhaps the best selling artist in the world. She needed a hit by 1966, and got one in an enduring underground classic.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album is just meh. They used what seems to be a horribly outdated picture on the front and the back is nothing more than a bland description of the songs here and ads for her other albums that weren’t selling. The other songs are just covers of hits of the day that add nothing to the rocking title track.
When I say this is an underground hit, it comes from being mentioned in Golden Earring’s Radar Love. That cool rock song spurred interest in the 8 year old song, especially in the UK. So, I’ll listen to the one song I love here, but thats about it.
Cost: $2, $556 Remaining
The Music Company, Rubber Soul Jazz, Mirwood MW-7002, 1966
It’s hard to say who’s idea this was. The Music Company seems to be just a collection of the famed Wrecking Crew, session musicians who recorded on virtually every hit record that came out of LA for 30 years. Being session musicians who got paid to show up and record, they wouldn’t have come up with this idea on their own.
There are the liner notes written by Al “Jazzbeau” Collins, a legendary San Francisco disc jockey who made KSFO “the world’s greatest radio station” with a mixture of jazz, pop and rock for discerning audiences. He would be the perfect choice to present a record like this, it would be his fans that this record was made for. But to my knowledge, he never went into the record business outside of producing local concerts in the Bay Area.
It must have been the concept of Mirwood Records, a short lived LA based jazz-pop label run by the elusive Randy Wood. He was one of the forces at Vee-Jay Records when they had both The Four Seasons and The Beatles under contract. But when that empire came crashing down, he moved west and started Mirwood in Los Angeles. No matter whose idea it was, this is a great record. I love anything the Wrecking Crew recorded, and they were probably working on this at the same time as they were recording the tracks for The Beach Boys Pet Sounds. This a pretty rough copy, but it’s something I’m going to keep looking for.
Cost: $1, $570 Remaining