Bob Dylan, Nashville Skyline, Columbia KCS-9825, 1969
Any Bob Dylan record is hard to come by in decent condition and at a decent price. His records usually sold well, but they are all treasured by collectors these days. Finding a decent Dylan record for $7 is a very happy occasion. That it’s also one of his most enjoyable albums makes it even better. While country music and Bob Dylan aren’t usually combined into one sentence, this album was the second of a three record phase from the chameleon like artist. There was also a gospel phase and a standards phase yet to come, so maybe this isn’t really as strange as it might seem.
Supposedly, Johnny Cash had written Bob Dylan a fan letter, which immediately was returned with a fan letter from Dylan to Cash. They both were fighting with the same people at Columbia Records or creative control, they were both fiercely independent, and they became fast friends. Bob Dylan’s only named collaborator of the 1960s was Johnny Cash. They never did finish the duets album they wanted to, but Girl From North Country is a fantastic song from two guys who supposedly couldn’t sing.
Never a fan of labels, Dylan was eager to cease being “the voice of his generation”. This album helped do this, and it’s still a great listen today. It would take a lifetime of looking to find every Dylan record, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try. It’s hard to know now which ones are harder to find, 60s classics that changed the world (but that everyone hangs on to) or 90s flops that barely sold (and almost killed his career). Neither are particularly easy to find at any price, so it’ll be all the more challenging to complete at bargain prices.
Cost: $7, $122 Remaining
Jerry Smith And His Pianos, Truck Stop, ABC S-692, 1969
This is one of those weird cases of a major label release where neither the album or the artist are deemed worthy enough to have a Wikipedia page! Jerry Smith seems to be a Nashville session piano player of some regard, meaning that he played with some of the all time greats of Country and early Rock music. With legendary producer Bill Justis, he wrote Down At Papa Joe’s, a 1963 hit for The Dixiebelles, and if you know and like the bouncy old timey piano on that song, you’re going to love this record.
If you can find it that is! With no apparent appearance on any chart, or a follow-up album on ABC, this record probably didn’t sell as many copies as there are 18 Wheelers on the cover. Perhaps the three Pure Girls on the cover also bought one. They get credit on the cover, but beyond that this doesn’t seem to be a Union Oil co-production. Still, I could see copies of this record sitting in truck stop bargain bins for years.
The music is very outdated for 1969, but with a track called Speakeasy 1929 on it, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. It might have done better in the 40s or 50s, but even country music had moved past this sound by the Woodstock era. It’s probably one of those cases of someone being “due” to make a record, but has no idea how to go about it, like someone who enjoys cooking opening a restaurant. The result is usually very far off from the original intent.
Cost: $1, $191 Remaining
The Amazing Mets, Buddah METS-1969, 1969
It’s Opening Day for the 2017 baseball season, so I thought I’d feature this bizarre record from the Amazin aftermath of the 1969 baseball season. The New York Mets were a 1962 expansion team that was the laughing stock of baseball who suddenly won the World Series. They did it in nail-biting fashion, with a random collection of aging stars and fierce young pitchers. Their win was so dramatic that they became a huge national story. In short, they were hot.
Naturally, the offers to cash in on the fame soon followed. Someone at Buddah Records came calling with a record deal, and it’s a really bizarre concept. Athletes are never known for their singing voices, and The Amazin’ Mets are no exception. It’s just a bunch of out of tune men singing sloppily along to public domain songs with a few cheesy and obviously quickly written originals like We’re Gonna Win The Series. There’s absolutely nothing to listen to more than once on the whole record.
It didn’t work either. Rising to #197 on the Billboard Hot 200 albums, there just weren’t too many people that interested in buying this record despite how enthralled they were with The Mets. It’s today only even really a collectible for the cover. The front has a horrible shot of the back of an usher’s head and the rest of the right field grandstand of the old Shea Stadium, but the back cover has the roster shots of the team. It would be worth a ton of money if I could get it signed by Nolan Ryan or Tom Seaver!
Cost: $5, $255 Remaining
The Archies, Everything’s Archie, Calendar KES-103, 1969
After being fired as the musical director for The Monkees, Don Kirchner wasn’t out of work for long. CBS and Filmation teamed up with Archie Comics for a Saturday morning cartoon series, and Kirchner was hired to try to do for The Archies what he did for The Monkees. From Kirchner’s point of view, it was an upgrade because one dimensional characters don’t complain about their album covers or musical direction.
The show only lasted one season, but the 17 episodes re-run into the early 80s. Flimation was a low budget animator, and the Archie’s template was used for music scenes for other cartoon shows like Josie and The Pussycats, The Brady Kids, and The Jackson 5. The music, however, was A-Listers all the way, with Jeff Barry producing and Andy Kim writing and arranging. Lead Vocals were handled by session singer Ron Dante, who also sang anonymously as The Cuff Links and “their” hit Tracy. Both Sugar Sugar and Tracy were in the Top 10 at the same time, and poor Ron got no credit at all. The Archies weren’t invited to play at Woodstock either.
Since people actually enjoy 3-D bands, The Archies peaked with this record. The cartoon being a children’s show didn’t help Archies Records compete against janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin for album sales, even though Sugar Sugar was Billboard’s #1 single of 1969. Still great writing and production makes for great music, and one listen of Wilson Pickett’s soul cover proves how good a song it is. It’s really hard to write a song that sounds so simple yet really works, and this record does just that.
Cost: $5, $330 Remaining
Soundtrack, Laugh In ’69, Reprise RS-6335, 1969
This is an even easier soundtrack to produce than yesterday’s. It sounds like they just took pre-recorded bits from the show and strung them together into an album. The comedy bits from the sketch show could be played in any order from any episode. All they had to do was to take the least visual puns they had and segue them together.
The back cover pretty much gives the schtick of the show away. For some reason, the corniest puns of all time ended up making Laugh In the #1 TV show on the air when this record came out. I’m sure the jokes didn’t age well, TV writing got much better in the 70s as boundaries got expanded by people like Archie Bunker, but Laugh In certainly pushed the visual boundaries of the era. I don’t think people realized how corny it was, they were too busy looking at Goldie Hawn in a bikini doing the frug with “PEACE” written on her mid section.
So what if I don’t listen to this again. This record really is from a different era, and it was fairly priced at $2. Still, I’m glad I found it, even if I have to explain who Spiro Agnew was to anyone under 40 years old who listens to this with me.
Cost: $2, $351 Remaining
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Four In Blue, Tamla 297, 1969
Could Smokey Robinson look any more bored if he tried? In fact, all of The Miracles look like they’re phoning this album in. What with Motown planning Diana Ross’ departure from The Supremes, Smokey decided to stay with The Miracles for one more year. If it wasn’t for the surprise and unplanned success of The Tears Of A Clown, that might have happened too.
This album makes it seem as though Smokey was trying to cost to the finish line. There are no hits here, and the album has more covers than any other Miracles album up to this point. The Motown art department also had an easy the here, putting four random candid shots on the black and white back cover with not one word of a liner note.
Albums like this are fairly easy to find in great condition. If this had classic Miracles track on it, the cover would have been torn up and the record all scratchy. As it is, this original album plays like new, and I can wonder why The Miracles tried their hand on Hey Jude whenever I want (even though I probably won’t very often!).
Cost: $3, $376 Remaining
Jose Feliciano, 10 To 23, RCA Victor LSP-4185, 1969
Jose Feliciano was muy caliente in the late 60s. The singer became famous in Latin America in the mid 60s and exploded world-wide after the huge success of re-recording The Doors’ Light My Fire. His flamenco style guitar work was praised by none other than Jimi Hendrix, and his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner of the 1968 World Series was so controversial that it became a bigger issue than the game itself. His records for RCA sold in the millions, and they are among the easiest records to find today.
I actually like them, and I sometimes think I’m the only one. These albums are mostly covers of the hits of the day, but it was a golden age for pop music. Who doesn’t like a well done Beatles cover? This album has three, and the re-make of She’s A Woman makes a former B-Side into A-Side material.
There’s no need to search out these albums, they pop up anywhere old records are sold. That means that you can feel free to wait until you find a mint condition copy. One thing I do want to find though is the rumored infamous introduction that Ed Sullivan gave to Jose Feliciano on his live TV show. Dear old Ed supposedly couldn’t find the cue cards with the scripted into on them anymore than he could remember the name of the next act, so he announced the only things he could remember. It came out something like “Here’s a wonderful new singer……..he’s blind and he’s Puerto Rican!” Ouch.
Cost: $1, $399 Remaining