The Brady Bunch, The Kids From The Brady Bunch, Paramount PAS-6037, 1972
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The Brady Bunch was one of those shows that kept getting renewed just because ABC didn’t have any better ideas. The only reason people know about it today is because they made just enough episodes to qualify for syndication, and it was so cheap to air that it filled the afternoon schedules of independent TV stations for decades. In its original run, it was never a ratings success, so the producers tried various was of getting new viewers.
With the huge success of The Monkees, and the pretty decent success of The Partridge Family, having the Brady kids sing on the show seemed like a good way to write a few episodes and maybe even sell a few records. The show was produced by Paramount TV and it helped that the studio had just started Paramount Records, new labels are always in need for unsigned talent. In this case, it didn’t really matter if the “artists” could actually sing, they had a show on network TV. They also had a brief Saturday morning cartoon, and the cover art of this album features the animation of “The Brady Kids” from that show instead of the actors themselves. Both The Brady Bunch and Paramount Records ended in 1974, with the studio selling the label to ABC Records.
While there was only one Brady record that ever charted (Meet The Brady Bunch, 1972, #108), this album has two of their best known songs. Both It’s A Sunshine Day and Keep On were featured in the January 23, 1973 episode of the show entitled “Amateur Hour”. The songs and the choreography are so bad that they are impossible to ever forget. Why they gave solos to every kid when half of them obviously couldn’t carry a tune is beyond me. This copy has a sticker on the front cover that tells me of the impressive drum breaks on an obscure track called Drummer Man. Club DJs often look for unusual or funky drum tracks to weave into a mix, but I have a hard time imagining a rave on Ibiza being treated to the drum breaks from The Brady Bunch.
Cost: $5, $323 Remaining
Donny Osmond, Portrait Of Donny, MGM SE 4820, 1972
Before I get accused committing of a mortal musical sin, let me clarify that I bought this record for the intact insert and not the actual record! But in fairness, considering the fact the MGM Records advertised the three 8×10″ glossy pictures of their teen idol, perhaps even they weren’t thinking too much about the record that also came with them.
There’s no doubting the hotness of The Osmond clan in 1972. And the hottest of them all was Donny. The sort of “answer” to a very young Michael Jackson, MGM had Donny sing cover versions of early 60s hits and often outsold the originals. Carole King had a phenomenal year as an artist and songwriter in 1971 because of her smash album Tapestry and James Taylor’s version of You’ve Got A Friend. But her sales figures were augmented by Donny Osmond’s cover of the 1963 Steve Lawrence record Go Away Little Girl, which spent three weeks at number one.
Finding a very good copy of this record was one thing, but finding it complete with nearly perfect inserts is some kind of a coup. Virtually all of these photos and posters would have immediately been tacked up on a wall and quickly destroyed. But for the amazing price of $1 I can see Donny thinking of me and signing off with “love”. Oh, yes, and I also got a free record of hims singing too!
Cost: $2, $613 Remaining
$68 Spent, $2.27 per record
Carly Simon, No Secrets, Elektra ELK 42 127, 1972
Carly Simon wanted no secrets, right down to not wearing a bra on the cover of her best known album. It’s maybe wouldn’t be a big deal now, but this was a pretty revolutionary cover in an era when Peggy Lee was still releasing albums and Karen Carpenter was singing in the Nixon White House.
True, Helen Reddy’s anthem I Am Woman hit number one as this record came out, but this album became more of a mantra for the woman’s equality movement than Helen’s single. It was that much cooler, led by the international hit You’re So Vain, but certainly helped by the informal cover. People still debate who the subject of the song is, but there’s no issue about the attitude the female narrator of it was strongly calling the mystery man out. People said it was about Mick Jagger, but there he is singing background on it, so I don’t think so. Carly has also ruled out her then brand new husband James Taylor, but he never seemed to be the Ascot type anyway.
Beyond the hit, and the semi-hit follow-up The Right Thing To Do, the rest of the music Richard Perry produced fits the same narrative. It’s not as deep as Carole King’s Tapestry, but the theme of women taking charge of their lives for the first time in ways not seen as possible before. It’s not quite what I would call an essential album, but it’s no secret that I have it.
Cost: $2, $701 Remaining
Various Artists, Crusin’ 1963, Increase Records IN 2008, 1972
The Cruising’ series is a totally zany set of albums. Each one is put together to mimic an hour long radio show (even though they run about 40 minutes each). Each year’s album features a different city with a local DJ, and they come complete with vintage commercials and station jingles. This one features a couple in a coffee house listening to a folk singer, but with a beautiful, brand new Studebaker Avanti parked outside.
The 1963 edition features New York, and B. Mitchell Reed, one of the WMCA Good Guys. The music choices are decent, but they tend to lean to the sort of labels that would be eager to have their back catalogue attached to something like this for a little extra cash.
I would understand why some people could be upset, thinking that they are buying a compilation album, only to get it home and hear B. Mitchell Reed extolling the virtues of a 1963 Rambler, but I love these records. I got lucky to find the entire collection on eBay for very little money, but somehow hearing it on vinyl feels even more authentic. I’d love to collect the all of them.
Cost: $2, $709 Remaining
Looking Glass, Looking Glass, Epic KE-31320, 1972
By far one of the most popular one hit wonder hits of all time is Brandy. I would bet money that it’s been played on the air every day since it was released in May, 1972. With a song that great, that has multi-generational appeal, how is it that the band who made it almost completely forgotten? To be fair, until I (just) watched a vintage clip of them singing their fine girl, I had no idea who in the band did what. Even though I probably would have picked this photo out of a line-up as being the one and only Looking Glass.
But I do have a theory as to why they only had the one hit (yes, I know they had a charting follow-up single, but who the hell knows what that was). It’s because the rest of the album doesn’t sound like their hit. It doesn’t sound like the same band did the other songs, like they were recorded a few years before. I think this is true for a lot of one hit wonders. Back when people bought CDs, many of the bought the Sheryl Crow album that had All I Wanna Do on it, and dumped it quickly. The rest of that record was harsh compared to the one song people know.
So the Looking Glass cracked up after this, but it’s still a heck of a single. Owning this album makes the case for only collecting 45s of groups like this, but I’m glad I found this one. Every record collection needs as much Brandy as possible.
Fun Fact: Brandy as a girl’s name went from #353 in popularity in 1971 to #82 by 1973. So if you’re named Brandy and you’re 43-44 years old, this record is probably where you got your name from.
Cost: $2, $759 Remaining
Sammy Davis Jr., Now, MGM SE-4832, 1972
I’ve already covered Sammy Davis Jr. with a schlocky album he did as an Alka-Seltzer a few years after this record came out. So why go back to the well, cough, Now?
Well, there is the fact that the hit version of The Candy Man that became Sammy’s only Number One hit. Not that on it’s own, me, or really anyone, is looking to hear that even on a $2 album. No, it’s this amazing cover that wowed me. It unfolds into an amazing double sided poster of the world’s greatest entertainer. I was quickly sold.
Sammy sure knew a lot of people. I mean, Richard Nixon and The Queen Mother, even Arte Johnson don’t associate with just anyone. Maybe that’s why MGM signed him, even after years of no hits for his best friend Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records.
And it explains why MGM went all out for his debut album. Turns out, it’s pretty nice to listen to too. It’s Sammy just before his creative and physical decline began. I wouldn’t go out of my way to look for this record, but anyone looking will eventually find it.
Cost: $2, $793 Remaining
James Taylor, One Man Dog, Warner Brothers BS-2660, 1972
James Taylor was so hot he was cool, or was it the other way around? Seventies jargon escapes me from time to time, the point being that by the time his third Warner Brother’s record was released in the fall of 1972, the art department felt comfortable enough to leave off any name, title, song listings, or other credits on the jacket (the legal department made sure the copywriter information discretely appears in the bottom right corner of the back side). That’s a pretty confident statement of the public’s support and trust that a big company felt that no visible acknowledgment of what this record is would be good enough to sell it.
Times were changing a bit by the end of 1972, and this album’s singles failed to make much of an impact on the charts. The acoustic singer songwriter vibe that seemed so fresh a few years before was getting a little stale with people like Elton John and Cat Stevens coming up with songs of depth and feeling that you could also dance to. Still, the album hit #4 and sold in the millions, and without any major hits, that combination makes this one of the easiest James Taylor records to find.
Discount record shoppers can pull out the record and look at it (which they should always do to make sure the right record is inside as well as to check the condition). So it’s no big deal to not find Fire And Rain or You’ve Got A Friend on this record, that’s why it costs $2 and not $10. But you do get a great rainy morning record that sounds brand new and not 45 years old. In keeping with the discount spirit of this record, this is the first time I’ve ever seen the Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders coupon neatly cut out of the inner sleeve and redeemed for a cutout record from the Warner back catalogue. I hope that record didn’t get wet in the same basement flood that this record did…
Cost: $2, $847 Remaining