May 31, 2017 The Whistle Finally Blows

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The Soul Survivors, When The Whistle Blows Anything Goes, Crimson CR-502, 1967

For record #365, I’ve chosen a semi-rare album from a semi-on hit wonder.  The Soul Survivors were a New York band fronted by a pair of brothers, Charles and Richard Ingui.  According to the liner notes on their one Crimson release, on March 19, 1966 two cars had an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike.  Both were bands on their way to gigs, and they decided to form a Soul band together.  Clever as they were, The Soul Survivors were born.

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Frankly, the charts in the Spring of 1966 were dominated by two records, The Righteous Brothers (You’re My) Soul & Inspiration, and The Young Rascals Good Lovin’.  This album sounds like it was performed by both of those groups.  The #4 smash Expressway To Your Heart is absolutely the best Rascals song not performed by The Rascals.  They do a note for note cover of The Rascals cover of The Marvelttes’ Too Many Fish In The Sea.  The Album closes with The Rydle, a/k/a I Gave My Love A Cherry, done with a clear nod to the the Righteous way Bobby Hatfield sang standards like Unchained Melody and Ebb Tide.

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Crimson is also a one hit wonder of sorts.  This record represents half of their entire output as a label, with Crimson 501 being a bizarre DJ concept album with no artist or song credits that was designed as a quiz for people curious enough to buy.  Needless to say, this was the only Crimson album to chart.  Despite the bizarre Philadelphia based company background,  The Soul Survivors project was the first hit for the production team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.  They went on to start Philadelphia International Records which surpassed Motown as the premiere creative Black label in the 70s.  Not a bad way to end a blog…

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $10, $1 Remaining

May Summary:
$191 Spent, $6.16 per record

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May 28, 2017 It’s A Big World After All

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Miriam Makeba, Pata Pata, Reprise RS-6274, 1967

There is a world of possibilities waiting for a vinyl collector in the world music bins.  Sure, you’ll find some junk, but you’ll also find some incredible experiences that you might not ever find out about any other way.  I think most people know about The Beatles struggles-as an English speaking group no less- to be taken seriously in the US, so imagine how incredible a non English speaking international recording star had to be to even get a record release in this country.  They would have to be well established and yet still able to create new music.  It would be one thing to perform in a language somewhat familiar to Americans like French, Italian, or Portuguese, but it would be miraculous for a record sung in the Southern African language of Xhosa to catch on.  Yet here one is.

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It’s just a real shame that an artist with the stature of Miriam Makeba was subjected to the liner notes that Reprise came up with to sell this record.  “Mama Africa”, her unofficial nickname given to her by an adoring continent would probably be surprised to know that she was “as splashy as Victoria Falls”.  Still, it probably wasn’t as hard to overcome as growing up in poverty in Apartheid in South Africa.  On her own since she was a young teen, it was a fortuitous meeting in London with Harry Belafonte in 1959 that led her to international fame, even though she never set foot in her homeland until the 1990s.  Along the way, she became a leading voice for the struggles of black South Africans and performed around the world spreading the message.

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This was by far her biggest hit in the US.  While there are horns, a big beat, and amazing background singers, this is not an R&B or Soul record.  Xhosa is indecipherable to understand a word of, but its clicking sounds and vocal pops create an incredible rhythm.  It’s both foreign and familiar in a way, and a real joy to listen to.  Almost every decent record store has an international section, and I’ve found some very interesting things in those bins.  And they are much cheaper than international travel.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $6, $26 Remaining

May 17, 2017 Wicked Awesome

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Wilson Pickett, The Wicked Pickett, Atlantic SD-8138, 1967

It’s always a bit of a thrill when I run across an album I’ve never seen before.  Naturally, it’s a bigger thrill when I realize it’s fairly priced and I can afford it.  Price guides list a mint stereo copy of this record at $60, so I didn’t think to hard about shelling out $10 for this copy.  Any mid 60s soul record, especially one on Atlantic, Stax or Volt is a rare find and I never hesitate to add one to my collection when I find it.  Wilson Pickett was in the middle of his amazing tear of blistering soul hits when this record came out, and this is one wicked album to listen to.

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There’s only one true hit single, Mustang Sally, but even the covers are done in the same Memphis Soul style.  Technically, even Sally is a cover of a cover too.  It was done by a former band mate of Pickett’s, “Sir” Mack Rice in 1965.  That version hit #15 on the R&B charts, and a few months later, The Young Rascals re-recorded it as the B-Side to their #1 hit Good Lovin.  With The Rascals being on Atlantic, and Pickett needing a new song to record, producer Jerry Wexler took the song to Memphis and the result was a stone cold smash.

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Both stereo and mono versions of this album originally came out when it was released for New Year’s 1967.  By New Years 1968, most record companies phased out commercial mono pressings, but this is one case where the mono out sold the stereo.  The price guides value a stereo copy as being worth $10 more, so I have to assume that it didn’t sell as well.  Either way, this is a a real find, and sometimes you just get lucky.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $10, $107 Remaining

May 8, 2017 Very Tempting

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The Temptations, With A Lot O’Soul, Gordy 922, 1967

Motown broke a lot of barriers in the 60s by making music that appealed to all races and was so good that there was no shame for white audiences to openly embrace.  Even as late as 1967 though, they still felt the need to obscure the face of the attractive African American model on this Temptations record.  While the group had already been featured on virtually every album before this one, featuring a cover model still caused some cause for caution by the A&R department.

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This is a wonderful album.  It’s the best selling of all the records that feature the “Classic 5” lineup of the group.  Every member of the group has a lead part somewhere, and there are four hit singles included.  I think this is as good as Motown gets, along with almost every hit recording the label put out in 1966-67.  It was before the songwriting team of Holland/Dozier/Holland left the company over a royalties dispute and the Detroit riots led Berry Gordy to begin moving Motown to Los Angeles.  This record was recorded in the same cramped makeshift studio in a basement located at 2648 West Grand Boulevard.

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It’s also an original copy.  This is the original Gordy label which was redesigned into a wedge shape in 1968.  This album was still in print by then and copies were issued on both labels.  While I wouldn’t pass up a chance to get either label for less than $10, I’m glad I found this original.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $4, $166 Remaining

May 6, 2017 A Very Late Arrival

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Aretha Franklin, Aretha Arrives, Atlantic SD-8150, 1967

It’s often said that a true artist at the top of their game could recite the phone book and still have a hit.  This album tests that theory and kinda proves it!  It’s a bit tricky to call this album Aretha Arrives when it was her second record for Atlantic and 12th major label release (Franklin spent years on Columbia releasing 10 albums with zero hits).  But the album before this, I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, is now regarded as perhaps the best regarded album by a female solo singer in history, and any record would pale in comparison to that.

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Both records peaked at #2, so the critical assessment of Aretha Arrives is in hindsight.  But hindsight does make it seem like this is a strange collection of songs to record for an artist breaking though the racial divide and selling true soul music to whit audiences.  Besides the one hit, Baby I Love You, Aretha covers The Rolling Stones, ? & The Mysterians, and Frank Sinatra with the kind of sounds heard on her Columbia material.

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Purists looking for one soul smash after another tend to get disappointed by this, but I see it as Aretha’s ability to sing anything.  Perhaps in the back of her Diva oriented head she was trying to show fans of every kind of music who the real talent champion was.  It’s also important to note that she literally recorded this record with one hand tied behind her back.  Aretha was injured in a bad car crash earlier in 1967 and was still in a cast and recuperating when she recorded this album.  To me, that’s even further proof of Aretha’s artistry and that even a so-so Aretha record is still a very good record.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $6, $172 Remaining

April 14, 2017 A Man And A $1 Record

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Laurindo Almeida, A Man And A Woman, Capitol T-2701 1967

Oh what a time it was!  Before the British Invasion, there was another country that sent it’s music to North America.  A huge bossa nova from the south arrived from Brazil, and like the British Invaders, there was a mad scramble for talent by the major US record labels.  While the most prestigious names like Joao Gilberto were embraced by Jazz labels like Verve Records, others were singed by pop labels like Capitol.

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Unfortunately for the Art Department, middle aged Brazilian guitar virtuosos didn’t have the teen idol appeal of, say, Herman’s Hermits, so they had their hands full with Laurindo Almeida.  That’s why they went with a snappy mid century modern couple sitting on some groovy orange shag carpet for the cover, with just a small snapshot of the artist going over some sheet music in the studio on the back cover.

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Artwork aside, this is a very fun album.  “Standard” music was enjoying it’s last gasp of commercial success by the time this record was released, and no matter how great the musician is, major labels didn’t award contracts to virtuosos anymore.  Most of the tunes are recognizable, with film hits, Beatles tunes, and Brazilian classics included.  And even if you don’t recognize the name, virtually every has head the guitar playing of Laurindo Almeida.  He performed on the soundtracks of over 800 films including The Godfather, and many musicians credit his Jazz Samba style of playing as being a major influence on their career.  Not bad for a $1 record!

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $1, $222 Remaining

March 31, 2017 A Day In The Life Of A Cheap Record Buyer

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The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Capitol SMAS-2653, 1967

While I sort of put down records like this yesterday, I only really meant that I’d rather have 20 fun albums for the $40 price of one clean copy of Sgt. Pepper.  I never said anything about finding a $2 copy though.  I’d seen this record for weeks before I bought it, sadly languishing in a $2 bin.  It’s clearly been though a pretty serious flood sometime in in the past 50 years.  The jacket is horribly warped, the spine is illegible, and there’s terrible ring wear.

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But it did have the semi-rare insert card, a odd collection of thick paper pop-out tiara, badges and mustache.  I know I tore mine apart when I first bought my first copy of this record, and I know I wasn’t alone in doing that, so finding an intact one is pretty rare.

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So one day, I looked at the record, expecting to see a badly scratched, mold encrusted record.   was planning on writing about why you should always save up for an especially nice copy of an essential record like Sgt. Pepper.  But what I found inside was a decent looking original stereo album.  I added it to my pile, and it was the first record I played when I got home.  It’s the best copy I own!  My guess is that the flood happened a long time ago and the record never got played again.  That it cost $2 is amazing, and I can look for a better cover for it.  So this column turned into one about taking a chance on something that looks like it’s inbox shape, but really isn’t when you get it home.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $2, $262 Remaining

March Summary:
$107 Spent, $3.45 per record