March 16, 2017 Any Time You Need A Payment

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Jimmie Walker, Dyn-O-Mite, Buddah Records BDS-5635, 1975

This is one of the more noble attempts at fame for an album produced from the fame of a hit TV show.  Good Times was a top 10 show spun off from a top 10 show (Maude) that was also spun off from the #1 show All In The Family.  It’s probably always the hope of a family sitcom producer to have the eldest son on the show become a teen idol, and while that wasn’t really the case here, there’s no doubt that “JJ” made the show a hit.

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By trade, Walker got his start in stand up.  So when it came time make a sudden fame based album, recording a comedy routine seemed like a better choice than making a subpar funk album.  Go with your strengths, right?

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Except that comedy was going through a big change in the 70s.  Censorship battles were largely over and the new freedom allowed Richard Pryor and George Carlin to go where no comic had gone before.  Walker tries here, but the material just doesn’t work.  At least if it did work in 1975, it doesn’t work now.  Turning a TV catchphrase into a stand up set would be hard enough, but this performance is not what I would call dynamite.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $2, $298 Remaining

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February 3, 2017 It Certainly Fooled Me!

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Elvin Bishop, Struttin’ My Stuff, Capricorn CP-0165, 1975

Elvin Bishop is one of the most accomplished blues guitarists of all time.  He’s in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and The Blues Hall Of Fame.  He played with most of the other greats in both Rock and Blues music too.  But most people, when they hear the name Elvin Bishop, think of a hit single billed as “Elvin Bishop” that features another singer.

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Gravelly voiced Bishop is quoted as saying his limitations as a vocalist improved his songwriting.  So when recording this album, he asked one of his background singers, Mickey Thomas, to lead sing a ballad called Fooled Around And Fell In Love.  No one really thought much about it at the time, but a few months later, the song was released as a single and it zoomed to #3 on the charts.  With no mention of Mickey Thomas on the record, legions of fans thought that Elvin Bishop was the singer.

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Unless of course, they heard the rest of the album.  There, you hear the gruff Bishop Struttin’ His Stuff, which really is, I have to say, a fantastic name for a mid 70s blues rock album.  It’s a fun album, but I also have to say the best part is the 4:44 extended version of the single I though for 35 years was by “Elvin Bishop”.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $2, $436 Remaining

January 26, 2017 I’m Ready For My Closeup

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Frankie Valli, Closeup, Private Stock 2000, 1975

The Four Seasons were not doing too well by the early 70s.  Their records weren’t selling and they were dropped from their record label, Philips.  Bizarrely, they signed with Motown Records, who also dropped them after an album and a half.  The group paid $4000 to buy one of their unreleased tracks back.  It was money well spent, and released as a Frankie Valli solo single, My Eyes Adored You went to #1.  This was the album that they made to accompany it.

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When I say they, I mean the bedrock partnership of Valli, Bob Gaudio and producer Bob Crewe.  By the time this record rolled around, records got released under the name Frankie Valli, The Four Seasons, and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, but it didn’t matter.  It’s all the same people on the records.

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The record also has one of the first songs I can think of on a pop record that is longer than 10 minutes.  This is not necessarily a disco album, but some of it is proto-disco, with all 10:09 of Swearin’ To God as my evidence.  One other fun fact is that the female vocalist is a young Patti Austin.  It’s a great album for what it is, and it’s always great to find a long album version of a single that you know so well.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $2, $456 Remaining

January 19, 2017 Very Little Knight Music

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Gladys Knight & The Pips, A Little Knight Music, Soul S6-744, 1975

Despite the clever title, the “new” Gladys Knight & The Pips album that hit the stores in the spring of 1975 was anything but new.  The group, tired of the lack of interest the company was showing in their career, left in 1971 for more creative freedom and a better royalties arrangement.  It was a really smart move, with sales doubling and Grammy after Grammy, they were the best selling artists of 1974.

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One of the issues many Motown artists had with the company came form the fact that their contracts called for all recording costs to come out of a groups Royalties.  Since it didn’t cost them anything, Motown kept the studios open around the clock and artists would be told to record as many songs as possible, whether or not they had any merit, let alone a chance to be released.  But the time GK&TP left, they had a massive back catalogue of unreleased songs that Motown controlled.  This album was actually the third post departure release the company issued.  One big tip off that these are old recordings are the three cover songs (including a really bizarre version of The Beatles’ Come Together) were all hits in 1969.  A better one is that while Motown controlled the music, they didn’t control the group’s image, and putting out an album in 1975 with the group dressed in the far out fashions of the late 60s would immediately send it to the bargain rack.  So Motown came up with a logo design for the group that makes the Pips look like a minstrel act and “Gladys” look like Diana Ross from Lady Sings The Blues.  I’m sure that went over really well with the real Gladys, perhaps original owner “Bob” didn’t mind…

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Unfortunately, while I checked to see the record in the jacket was the one that was supposed to in there, I didn’t pull it out all the way to see the burn/warp mark on it.  It renders the first song on both sides unplayable.  Luckily though, the rest of the album, including the wonderful Pip-centric version of Sugar Sugar, plays fine.

This was the last of the Pips albums to come out on Motown’s Soul label.  Actually, it was the last Soul album to hit the charts.  There were seven more releases, mostly by Jr. Walker & The All Stars, before the label ended in 1978.  So, in that regard, this is a pretty interesting record to find.  I’ll keep looking for a better one.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $2, $472 Remaining

January 15, 2017 The Other City By The Bay

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The Bay City Rollers, Bay City Rollers, Arista AL-4049, 1975

I have another fad group from the 70s for everyone today, The Bay City Rollers.  Not exactly known today for a positive contribution to the recording arts, they still managed to sell millions of records around the world and drew a mania from young girls that was compared to that of The Beatles.  The United States was the one developed country in the world that was partially immune to Rollermania, probably because we had enough Osmonds around to re-record golden hits of other people and try to sell them.  Still this album did sell a million in the USA, and sent one single to #1, the UK flop Saturday Night.

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The cover has the prerequisite glossy photos of each roller and the whole album is covered in the group’s trademark Scottish tartan plaid.  This is considered to be the “classic lineup” of the group, there were many personnel changes before and after this record came out.  I do remember seeing one interview with them on American TV when I was about 9-10 years old, and their Scottish accents were so strong that it was hard to know what they were talking about.  Did that have something to do with their limited appeal in the US?

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Arista went all out for the band’s first US release. This would have been a greatest hits package in the UK with most of the selections being their biggest singles from 1973-75.   The remake of The 4 Seasons’ Bye Bye Baby (Baby Bye Bye) was the biggest selling UK single of 1975.  But they didn’t really take off here like they did worldwide.  By 1977 their career was as dead as could be, and the fad of The Bay City Rollers was over.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $2, $486 Remaining

January 8, 2017 Sadness On The Horizon

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The Carpenters, Horizon, A&M SP-4530, 1975

This album has The Carpenter’s last #1 single (Please Mr. Postman), and their last top ten hit (Only Yesterday) too.  And while on it’s own, it hit #13 on the album chart and sell over a million copies, Karen & Richard don’t look as happy here as they did a few years before.

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All big acts have major peaks and slumps in their career.  It’s the rare artist, like Elton John, who can come back from a slump.  The Carpenters didn’t, and it was the pressure of the hit years took their toll to the point where they literally couldn’t make a comeback.  You can hear sadness in Karen’s voice and sense it in Richard’s writing.  They were done.

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There were other records, of course, but the thrill was gone, and personal problems caused their demise.  So this easy to find Carpenters record is them at the last second of their peak.  Its the perfect compliment to the Close To You album from 1970.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $1, $508 Remaining

December 17, 2016 Where It All Begins

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ABBA, ABBA, Atlantic SD-18146, 1975

Today’s post gets back to the roots of this blog.  Yes, sure, ABBA has an amazing collection of well crafted pop albums that dominated charts around the world from the mid 70s to the early 80s.  But record collectors know them as the group destined to always have their records filed first once they take the time to organize their collection.

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All price guides, chart collections, or album discographies have their listings alphabetically by artist name.  And invariably the first group always listed is ABBA.  So, it really doesn’t have much to do with their amazing success or their great albums, but inevitably you’ll find their records in the upper left corner of any serious collection.

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And, or course, It’s not enough to keep ABBA first, but, as with any group, their records need to be filed chronologically by date.  So until I find ABBA’s first US release, this record will remain the first one anyone will see when they start to look through my records.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $2, $558 Remaining