Danny Bonaduce, Danny Bonaduce, Lion LN-1015, 1973
Lately we’ve seen the perceived quality of my featured records improve as the price goes up. But what happens when the weird record budget also rises? You guessed it, they get even weirder. Some records that have no merit musically or struggle to entertain in a straightforward way, and also barely sold, can have real value as collectables. It helps if the “artist” on these records is also known for something else. Like William Shatner, whose The Transformed Man record included a stunning cover of Mr. Tambourine Man, Danny Bonaduce was on a semi successful TV show. As “Danny” the wisecracking bassist for The Partridge Family (who never actually played a note), Bonaduce somehow managed to get a record deal as a solo artist. No, this really happened.
It’s not that he sings badly, it’s more like he doesn’t sing at all. This is a horribly overproduced record, to the point where I seriously doubt it’s really even his singing. But the real crime against humanity here is the material. Danny Bonaduce was 13 in 1973 and yet his producers felt originals like Save A Little Piece For Me, a song not about birthday cake, and I’ll Be Your Magician, a song about seduction. It’s really hard to listen to a pre-pubescent voice sing about using his magic wand to make “your resistance disappear”.
Lion Records was a short lived budget label from MGM. Budget labels were used when material came along that might tarnish the company’s main label. In this case, MGM had a very good reason to release this on Lion, as the label folded just after this record came out. I had heard about this record, and couldn’t believe it when I found it for $8 the other day. It’s not a perfect copy, with original owner Patty York’s basement having flooded at some point. Patty also dated the record on August 15, 1978, which would have been 5 years after the record came out, and 4 years after The Partridge Family was cancelled. Still, it’s an incredible find, and I think I got a deal at $8.
Cost: $8, $150 Remaining
Various Artists, Cruisin’ 1965, Increase INCM-2010, 1973
Scour piles of cheap old records long enough and you’ll eventually find one from the Crusin’ series. It may seem to be a decent enough retrospective of the hits of a certain year, 1965 in this case. But really it’s much more than that. Each one of the 16 albums (1955-1970 inclusive) features a mock radio show from each year. A top local DJ mimics what he -they are all men- would have done in a typical show that year. Naturally, all of the radio station jingles and commercials are included.
The covers also tell the tale of “Eddie” as he appeared in each year, from high school through college and Vietnam. They’re all done in a Roy Liechtenstein comic book style of artwork. The back cover has a write up on all the artists and the DJ who plays the host. For 1965, it was Los Angeles’s turn. Or should I say “Boss” Angeles, as KHJ morning drive host Robert W. Morgan calls it.
I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to get all of the rights to do this project. Where in 1973 did Increase Records’ attorneys go for permission to release a 1965 Studebaker radio ad? There’s no Beatles, Beach Boys or Rolling Stones, but there are some major records on each album. These records aren’t for someone looking to enjoy the music, every song is talked over or fused together with a jingle, but they are really fun to listen to them. They are like finding an air-check from the golden age of Top 40 AM radio.
Cost: $2, $220 Remaining
Olivia Newton John, Let Me Be There, MCA 389, 1973
For a superstar, Olivia Newton John had a long strange path to the top. A household name in Australia from the mid 60s, by the early 70s, she found some middling success in the UK, and one minor hit in the US, If Not For You. It was this album that was her first real US breakthrough.
But because she had several albums released in other countries, MCA cobbled together 10 songs from three albums and used 2 year old photography (from the 1972 album Olivia). On one hand, it’s kind of an early greatest hits collection from a brand new singer, but really, it feels kind of like a Beatles album released by VJ Records. There’s no coherent theme, and the songs swing wildly from adult contemporary to rock to country.
Which is why I was able to pick up this neat mint copy for $1.50 at a clearance sale. Olivia Newton John’s pre-Grease records have very little value these days. They’re really not terrible though, and I’m old enough to remember these songs on the radio, so it’s a nice addition to my shelf.
Cost: $2, $239 Remaining
Dobie Grey, Drift Away, Decca DL-75397, 1973
Despite the fact that his hair looks like Samuel L. Jackson’s in Pulp Fiction, this little pop-soul album from Dobie Grey became a modest #63 hit and spawned a top 5 single with its title track. By all accounts, he was a lovely man who passed away too early in 2011 at age 71, and Drift Away became his signature song in a 40 year career that went from Soul to Country Music. But none of that is why I’m writing about this record.
I’m featuring this record for two reasons, the first of which is that it’s significant because this was the last US release for the Decca label. Despite being one of the earliest commercial labels to exist, the Decca Gramophone brand began in London in 1914, by 1973 the US Decca label had been absorbed by MCA. Relations between the UK and the US labels were strained, and it was decided to simply retitle the US label as MCA Records. Despite the nearly 60 year history of being a major label, Decca drifted away with this album.
The other obvious reason to write about this record is the infamously misheard line in the chorus of Drift Away. Grey sings “Give me the beat boys and free my soul”, but millions of people heard it as “Give me The Beach Boys…”. Such a common mis-hearing is called a mondegreen. Certified as a new English word by Merriam Webster in 2000, mondegreen dates to 1954 and writer Sylvia Wright who always sang a Scottish folk ballad as “Lady Mondegreen” instead of the correct “…and laid him on the green”. If you’ve ever wanted to visit the famous Donzerly Lighthouse featured in The Star Spangled Banner, you’ve been singing a mondegreen by the dawn’s early light. My personal favorites include England Dan & John Ford Coley’s “I’m not talkn’ ’bout the linen” (…movin’ in) and The Rascals’ “you and and Leslie” (…endlessly).
Cost: $2, $277 Remaining
Cass Elliot, Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore, RCA APL1-0303, 1973
Mama Cass was really ready for a make over in the early 70s. Gaining fame as a member of The Mamas & The Papas, Cass Elliot earned her nickname, even though she came to despise being called “Mama”. After three failed solo albums billed as “Mama Cass” on her old record company Dunhill, she signed with RCA as simply “Cass Elliot.
The first two RCA albums also flopped, so for her third, Cass got motivated to make a clean break of anything related to ‘Mama’ even if that meant putting together a cabaret act and leaving rock music behind. After all, her biggest solo hit Dream A Little Dream Of Me was an old American Pop standard and the new musical direction was aimed towards that bullseye.
I just wish it were better. She had one of the most amazing pop voices of all time, it was strong yet sensitive. But these songs, recorded live at a cabaret club in Chicago, are just bad. Yes, she sings her hit, and a couple of other has of the day, but the rest is just pure schmaltz. The era of the cabaret was dying by the mid 70s, and it was not a sign of a strong career move to make. Not that it mattered for poor Cass Elliot. She died of heart failure just months after this record came out. This bad album was the last one she released.
Cost: $2, $374 Remaining
The Hues Corporation, Freedom For The Stallion, RCA APL1-0323, 1973
What we have here is clearly a second pressing. The cover of the original album has been altered to include the huge notice that THIS Hues Corporation record contains their big #1 hit from June, 1974, Rock The Boat. Sure, lead off single, Freedom For The Stallion is included too, but people only bought the album for the hit. I’ve seen a million of these, and not a one of the original cover without the printed ad on the front.
But what a hit! Many people cite Rock The Boat as the first disco song to hit #1, and it’s a natural transition song from the early 70s R&B sound and into the later 70s Disco sound. I also love the clever name the group chose. “The Children Of Howard Hughes” didn’t get past the eagle eyed lawyers in the RCA legal department, but Hues Corporation did. The play on the Hughes name and Hues of colors is pure one hit wonder genius. It was pretty much over for the group after this record, what with personnel changes and declining sales, but this is a good album.
Unfortunately for those looking for the record 44 years after it came out, it was pressed on RCA’s flimsy dynaflex vinyl. Designed to weigh less and bend more, these flimsy records just don’t stand the test of time. Some people call the format “dynawarp” because it doesn’t take much to permanently reshape these records into something unplayable. This one is in great shape, so I’ll be careful to store it on an angle inside a protective plastic sleeve, and keep it out of direct sunlight.
Cost: $3, $383 Remaining
The Beach Boys, Holland, Brothers/Reprise MS-2118, 1973
I love 70s Beach Boys albums. They’re wonderfully crafted and really strange at the same time. Holland is one of the best of the bunch. The group actually moved to a homemade studio in Baambrugge, Netherlands, a move that most of the band described as “awful”. Brian Wilson didn’t make the trip, and was still on the downward slope of a long decent into mental illness.
Fans of the classic lineup of the band won’t be very familiar of this group of musicians. Blondie Chaplin and Ricky Fataar became full fledged Beach Boys for about four years, ending soon after this album came out. The “hit” of this album, Sail On Sailor is actually sung by Chaplain, which may explain why it’s so hard to place the voice from any other Beach Boys single.
Speaking of singles, Holland came with a “bonus” 7″EP that plays at 33 1/3 RPM. From a nasty tell all biography of the band, I learned that The Beach Boys’ contract with Warner Brothers/Reprise stated that a certain percentage of each album had to be written by Brian Wilson. As his condition worsened though, the band found themselves at odds with their leader. When the band heard Brian’s contribution Mount Vernon & Fariway (A Fairy Tale) they were aghast. It’s really hard to get through and not at all like the rest of the album. Contractually obligated to release something from Brian, and with only this to release, the band came up with this idea to include the music on a separate record. Look in any used 45 store under “Beach Boys” and you’ll find this bonus record.
Cost: $3, $396 Remaining
Stories, About Us, Kama Sutra KSBS-2068, 1973
There are a million stories out there about records and how they came to be. This is a good one but it’s not all that unique. There’s the part about the all-white group (Stories) taking an all-black group’s (Hot Chocolate) song (Brother Louie)and having the bigger hit with it. Stories added a nice twist to that story by having the song literally about a white man coming in to a black family and taking away their daughter…
Another story is about how Stories came about in the first place. Michael Brown, who found pop success in the 60s with his previous group The Left Banke met Ian Lloyd through their fathers who had played together for years in orchestras. They set about creating a new baroque/beatlesque rock band and called the group Stories. About Us was their second album and it appeared headed for the great dust bin in the sky and Michael Brown left the group to work on other projects. A previously recorded track that wasn’t on the album was released as a final single, and Brother Louie shot to #1. Kama Sutra recalled the album and added the single to it and quickly re-released it.
The last story here is how unintended success can ruin things. Shocked by their sudden hit status, the group fell apart because covering British Soul records was not the direction they wished their group to go. There was one more album, but Stories certainly go down as being a one hit wonder. It’s true that the rest of the album sounds nothing like the hit, but original copies of this record without the hit are worth big bucks. As it is here, it was fairly priced at $2…
Cost: $2, $502 Remaining
The Holiday Singers, The Waltons’ Christmas Album, Columbia KC-33193, 1973
Who knew they ate this well in The Depression? For those who don’t know, and I suspect anyone born after 1980 would know, The Waltons was a TV show set in 1930s Virginia and features a huge family all living together on the mountain named after them dealing with all that life had to offer during that difficult period. Of course, every problem got resolved within the course of each episode and they all went to bed at night telling each other sweet things through the floor boards.
I had no idea they also had a recording career. Music was never an integral part of the show, and until I found this in a $2 bin I had no idea it existed. It just goers to show you the depths producers sometimes went to milk the profits from a show. It doesn’t seem as though anyone appearing on the show, outside of “Grandpa” Will Geer, also appears on the record besides Earl Hamner, the show’s creator and narrator. He also narrates the record and zzzzzzzzzzz.
Do I need to tell you that The Waltons was a CBS show? Naturally, this record came out on Columbia records, the recording arm of the nations largest network. Either way, the homespun family warmth sounds cornier today than it probably did for Christmas 1973. The snippet of the Waltons Theme isn’t the same recording as heard on the show credits…that was the only reason I bought this turkey, pun intended.
Cost: $5, $548 Remaining
Gladys Knight & The Pips, Imagination, Buddah BDS-5141, 1973
It must have taken quite a bit of imagination for Gladys Knight & The Pips to leave Motown after seven years and two #2 hits. Maybe, they might have expected to make some money from all of the records they sold, but that probably didn’t happen. Still, having to replace all that Motown did for their artists at a new company must have been a daunting task. Still, the group was so relaxed about it that they went out to the flea market and bought some old picture frames.
In fact, there had never been an act the had left Motown and been successful. True, The Four Tops left at about the same time, but they never really attained the same fame as they had with Motown, let alone become the most popular group in the world. And this record did just that for GK&TP.
It’s almost like a greatest hits package though, they never again had another top 10 hit after this album played itself out. But still, it has their signature song Midnight Train To Georgia, along with the groovy (I’ve Got To Lose) My Imagination, and the soulful The Best That Every Happened To Me. The good news is that for us collectors, the record is very easy to find. So there’s no need to jump on a bad or over priced copy.
Cost: $1, $698 Remaining