Sonny & Cher, Live In Las Vegas Vol. 2, MCA2-8004, 1974
There are 1001 books out there on the 1001 most essential records every vinyl fan must have to be considered a serious collector. Beatles records, Bob Dylan’s 60s albums, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and The Rolling Stones all have multiple entries on these lists. Good condition original copies of these records are very expensive, averaging up to $40 each for records that virtually everyone already knows by heart. Songs from these albums get airplay on the radio everyday, and they languish on lists of best selling digital downloads. These are not obscure records.
This album isn’t on any of these kinds of lists. It spent a few weeks on the Billboard Top 200 album chart, climbing all the way to #175. With their hugely public split about to occur in 1974, this was the last album of new material of Sonny & Cher’s long career. Even though it’s mostly just an album of cover material, you get a sense of what a Vegas ballroom show was like in 1973.
So, while no one will ever call this an essential record, it is a fun one. When I ‘m making dinner or something, I’m much more likely to reach for a record like this than I am Dark Side Of The Moon. When friends come over and want to see my new discoveries, I pull out Sonny & Cher Live In Las Vegas Vol. 2 every time over The Velvet Underground. It’s fun records like this that I find essential, and I can have 1001 of them for the same price as the top 50 critically acclaimed records.
Cost: $1, $264 Remaining
Soundtrack, Come On And Zoom, A&M SP-3402, 1974
Come on kids, lets make a show! That was the thought behind Zoom, a PBS show made for kids by kids that originally aired from 1972-1978. Produced in Boston and aired nationally, it had a real air of the 70s about it, from the cheap sets and production values, down to the “how do you feel” segments.
It was never a big hit, but I certainly remember it. The kids would dance and sing, not very well mind you, but free form expression was what it was all about, and each episode had a segment where they did something. Sometimes it was cooking, or organizing a magic show, but always in an effort to get kids motivated to do something.
Somehow, A&M released a cast album on the show. It’s pretty damned bad, but it does give me the chance to get the ridiculously catchy theme song anytime I want. Theres also a music track featured around the show’s mailing address, it’s most definitely the first zip code jingle I know of. In the wake of the success of Good Will Hunting, there was a fake news story going around that, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were once cast members of Zoom, but there’s no proof. I’d say the soundtrack album is only for the real fans of the show.
Cost: $4, $474 Remaining
Johnny Carson, Here’s Johnny!, Casablanca SPNB-1296, 1974
Casablanca was one of the biggest labels of the 70s, but in 1974, it was just starting out. Without much of an artist roster, they looked for other ways of selling records. Releasing a greatest hits record on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson was one of their earliest releases. Even in 1974, Carson was mining his past to increase his income.
As schlocky as it seems to have a sound recording of a TV that was taped before a studio audience might seem, there are some pretty decent moments on here. Unfortunately, much like the way the show ended up, the Carson bits go on too long and take up too much of the space on the album. Which isn’t helped by the lengthy crowd responses, some of which I suspect were added in way after the fact. No one wants to hear the first 5 minutes of the first show when three minutes of it Johnny Carson being introduced and cheering while he gets ready to begin his monologue.
There’s a really unnecessary poster included, but the real draw are some of the music and comedy bits. Johnny always gave a great introduction, and some of these are just incredible. Lenny Bruce and Bette Midler (“she had an unusual start singing in a Turkish Bath in New York”…which is one way to put it). I wouldn’t go our of my way to find this record, but it was a decent listen.
Cost: $2, $512 Remaining
Frank Sinatra, Some Nice Things I’ve Missed, Reprise F-2195, 1974
Frank Sinatra had an amazing run. The nickname The Chairman Of The Board came about because he was seemingly everywhere, doing everything just right, running things. Sure, it got harder and harder to stay relevant, but for the vast majority of the public, they still bought his records, saw his movies and watched his TV specials. By 1971, Frank had had it and retired from show business. It didn’t last long.
He came back with a splash. A TV special and hit album announced Ole Blue Eyes Is Back in 1973. This album was the follow up. It should have never happened. Even as a mixed tape, this would have been a really bad mix of current pop and show tunes, but covered by a 57 year old, it just comes off as trying to be someone he no longer is. For me, the 70s were a time when the music business turned inward. The singer-songwriter era was in full force, and originality ruled the day. Singing someone else’s songs was out of fashion, especially someone else’s hit singles.
To hear the great trendsetting Frank Sinatra singing Sweet Caroline, Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Old Oak Tree, and most appallingly Bar, Bad Leroy Brown, is kinda cringeworthy. He sort of pulls off You Are The Sunshine Of My Life, but I really got the feeling that the whole package was a vain attempt at relevance. Frank Sinatra was never known as a songwriter, but he was possibly the best song interpreter of all time. This record sounds like the kind of thing he sang to in the shower or in the car driving around Palm Springs.
Cost: $3, $917 Remaining