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
Grand Funk, We’re An American Band, Capitol SMAS-11207, 1973
1973 was a great year for Rock & Roll. The Rolling Stones and The Who were keeping the British Invasion alive, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd were perfecting album oriented Rock, and the Solo Beatles were each reaching their creative peaks with Rock, Pop, Country, and Folk sounds. Meanwhile, in the colonies, Grand Funk somehow managed to do all of that in just one record. It really doesn’t hold up well today, but this record just amazingly took all that came before it and foreshadowed so much that came after it that it reeks of the summer of ’73.
It has it all! The shinny gold cover, with only the group name and title on it oozed coolness like The Beatles White Album. The gatefold cover that opens up into a creepy named photo of the band on one side and a custom icon of a pointing finger especially designed for the record seems just like something The Stones would have thought of, while the music somehow was pop enough to fit seamlessly next to Delta Dawn by Helen Reddy, AND D’Yer Mak’er from Led Zeppelin. That’s no easy feat, even if it’s all pretty funny looking and sounding today.
My $1 copy not only plays really well, but deep inside the inner sleeve was the remnants of a sticker sheet that must have come in the package! It looks like it must have been a sheet of 4, but there’s still one left, and it looks as good as new. So I’m set if for some reason they happen to reunite and do a world tour, I can look like a true fan, and not just some guy who flips through bins of $1 records. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Cost: $1, $727 Remaining
Dawn, Dawn’s New Ragtime Follies, Bell 1130, 1973
I might be one of the only people alive to shed a tear about finding a copy of this record. Don’t get me wrong, I would shed more tears over finding a $2 copy of Pet Sounds in the same condition, but this one gets me because I remember being at my grandparents house when my grandfather (born in 1909) came home in his brand new 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass with a brand new copy of this record for us to listen to and celebrate. It’s a wonderful memory of an awful album.
In the scheme of things, it’s not awful in an uncommercial way. Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose was the #3 follow up to the #1 single of 1973, Tie A Yellow Ribbon On The ‘Ole Oak Tree, and no doubt it’s repeated airplay on 77 WABC that fall that led to my grandfather purchasing the last album of his life (I did find a mint copy of Glen Campbell’s Southern Nights 45 among the records when my grandparents finally sold their house in 1997, but no album newer than this one).
Still, this record was the sort of music industry product that came out in a time of real change. It appealed to the oldest and the youngest record buyers at the time when the music business was fracturing into irrevocable subsets that remain today. But it’s records like this that people who had ANY kind of personal connection to that they go nuts for now. Finding a copy in good condition for a decent price is something that no collector should let get away.
Cost: $2, $823 Remaining
Maureen McGovern, The Morning After, 20th Century Fox T-419, 1973
The Poseidon Adventure was a huge picture. Big enough to be nominated for eight Oscars. One of them was for Best Original Song, even though in the final film The Morning After is only heard for about a minute. Naturally, there was a soundtrack album that also featured John Williams’ nominated score. The studio had a singer who sounded like the actress who played the singer record the song, but 20th Century Fox had a better idea.
Get that new girl, the one with the demo. Have her record it and we’ll put it out around Oscar time! Maybe if the song wins, the record will catch on! It worked. The song peaked at #1 around the world and this album was rush released to capture on it. It shows.
The best part, though, is not the quality of the music, but the promotional copy I found. It was obviously sent-and used!- by a small market radio station. Someone had the job of listening to this record and describing the tempo of each song (Don’t try To Close A Rose– MED.). Radio Station copies generally mean the record will be in good shape because it was professionally handled, but small time stations that lacked the ability to record hot records onto a tape loop actually used records like this on the air. That’s what happened here as the lead in to The Morning After is very worn out from multiple “cueing” of the record. Luckily, I’m not in the music collecting business, but the record collecting business, because this is a nice record to have despite the condition of the one listenable song.
Cost $1, $855 Remaining
Charlie Rich, Behind Closed Doors, Epic KE-32247, 1973
Charlie Rich was known as The Silver Fox, probably from the hair color that became his trademark from an early age. He was also known for a very compelling body of work that he produced in a 30 year career in Rock & Roll, Country and Pop. Unfortunately, in the music business, he was known as a cantankerous guy to deal with. One of my favorite youtube videos to watch is of a drunk Charlie Rich announcing the 1975 Country Performer Of The Year Award. He lights the announcement card on fire before he reads out the name John Denver to show his disgust.
But he did make some amazing records. This was by far his best selling one, but his early Rock & Roll records for Sun and (Sam) Phillips International are amazing. I love is one off single for RCA of Nice & Easy, and his late 60s Hi Records releases are well regarded northern soul classics.
There’s more to this one too beyond the two huge hits. It’s almost as if this is the great 70s album that Elvis never made (Charlie Rich got his Sun contract because he sounded a little like Elvis!). This one is also worthy of a few spins a year.
Cost: $1, $881 Remaining