Rod Stewart, Foot Loose And Fancy Free, Warner Brothers BSK-3092, 1977
For a hit 70s album, this Rod Stewart record trades at 80s flop prices. It’s odd really, how some artists straddle the very fine line between “classic” and “cliche”. Rod Stewart is one of them. While a similar selling Eagles or Fleetwood Mac album in similar condition would cost $8-$10, this record cost me $1 and there are plenty of copies online for $0.50. Heck, even an Al Stewart album costs $2.
And this is a pretty listenable album. The big hit off it, You’re In My Heart, was not only a #4 hit, but also a really nice follow up to Stewart’s biggest hit Tonight’s The Night. It’s not only self penned, but there’s no one else I can think of who could pull off the lyrics and still sound credible. The rest of the album is a familiar mix of minor hits and Motown covers, but it’s actually pretty listenable.
This near mint copy even has it’s usually missing lyric insert. These things rarely survive intact, and it just firm up what I think about records like this. They will never be cheaper, and as time passes, they will be sought out. I wouldn’t rush out and teach high and low for this one, but I also have plenty of room on my shelf for it.
Cost: $1, $200 Remaining
The Philadelphia International All Stars, Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto, Philadelphia International JZ-34659, 1977
I know I just wrote the other day about promos and how I never buy them. Naturally, that meant I was bound to discover a record I’ve always wanted to find moments after publishing that, but with a promotional label on it.
The first time I ever heard The Philadelphia International All Stars’ Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto, all 8:42 of it, I couldn’t believe it. It’s really half of a monologue about garbage, crime and cockroaches by the great Lou Rawls followed by four minutes of amazing Funk & Disco. The fact that I was driving in rural Argentina at the time made it seem even more unreal. It was one of those times when you hear a song you love, but have no way to identify it so you can look for it later. I had to ask all kinds of record people about this bizarre Lou Rawls social commentary until one of them knew about it enough to tell me what it is.
And what it is is an attempt by the beginning to fade Philadelphia International Record Company to stay relevant in the later 70s with the rise of disco music. It’s basically a compilation from the roster of the label in 1977 with the added “all star” track specifically written to give it a relevant theme. Of course, songs about hot smelly garbage don’t get much airplay so the record never really sold. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a great record to have, with the Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff production team at the height of their game. Since it didn’t sell, it’s a pretty rare record to find, and I was thrilled to find this promo for $1! It took me over a decade to find this one from when I first heard it, and while I’ll keep looking for a standard release, I’m really happy to have this version, ring wear and all.
Cost: $5, $272 Remaining
Elvis Presley, Moody Blue, RCA AFL1-2428, 1977
Naturally, it’s every record buyers dream to find a $2 record that turns out to be some rare collectible worth thousands. This isn’t one of them, despite my momentary hope that it was.
This was Elvis Presley’s last studio album. Moody Blue had been a decent size hit in early 1977, hitting #1 on the country chart, but only #31 pop. RCA wanted to release an album around it, but there wasn’t enough material recorded for one. A followup single Way Down came out in June, and the company took some live recordings and previously unreleased (and horribly overproduced!) tracks to release this album in July. They even pressed some copies on clear blue vinyl to tie in the theme of the title track.
But then the unimaginable happened. Elvis died, and suddenly this record was in serious demand, as was the Way Down single. RCA cranked up their pressing plants, and due to the sentiment, pressed all of the records on clear blue vinyl. An album that might have sold 75,000 copies sold over a million by the end of the year. Nearly 40 years later, one might find one of them in a $2 and think they made a real find. Oddly though, it’s the few thousand copies pressed on regular black vinyl that were pressed before Elvis died that are worth about $300 today. Because vinyl variations usually mean rare, people try to hawk one of these for outrageous prices, when it was fairly priced at $2.
Cost: $2, $554 Remaining
Jim Bakker, How To Accomplish The Impossble, Pax Musical Reproductions PMR-7001, 1977
Where to begin… The suit, the cheesy graphics, maybe the creepy grin on his face, all are easy topics here. So is the Jim Bakker back story, which I encourage you to look up some snowy night around the fire. Instead, I’ll get right to the record.
Wheesh is it amazing to listen to. No matter what you can say about him, he did have the gift of gab. I’d never really heard him speak, let alone preach, until I saw him crying on TV, but he certainly had a way with words. It’s not even like he really says anything, it all seems to be run-on sentences and asides, with some Bible readings thrown in for good measure. I really didn’t learn much about accomplishing things, except how to give money. But Bakker’s voice had me hanging on every word, not that I could follow what he was talking about.
The Pax Record Company was started by Gary S. Paxton. He was certainly a character in the music business, literally. In 1960, a group called The Hollywood Argyles hit #1 with Alley Oop. The comic character song was voiced by a young Gary S. Paxton. Later he found the Lord and began his religious recording company. I’m guessing Jim Baaker was a good get for his start-up. I also got a great and hard to find Ranwood Records inner sleeve with the record. Praise The Lord!
Cost: $1, $768 Remaining
The Floaters, Floaters, ABC AB-1030, 1977
Yesterday, I wrote about always wanting to have the long album version of the disco classic Funkytown. From the same batch of records comes this surprisingly mint condition record from a group called The Floaters. They only ever had one hit, one cheesy cheesy hit, but their one album features 11:49 of it! It was only poor timing that had the record hit the Hot 100 at the same time as some real disco classics. The poor Floaters peaked at #2 for two weeks behind Andy Gibb (I Just Want To Be Your Everything) and The Emotions (Best Of My Love).
It’s probably a recipe for disaster to either name your group after your hit single or have a hit single titled after your group. After all, The Rolling Stones never sang Like A Rolling Stone. It just feels cheap and desperate and I really don’t know of any major act whose first big hit was named for their group. About the closest I know of is a Jefferson Airplane B-Side called Blues From An Airplane, but B-Sides don’t really count here.
The record is pretty much what you’d expect from a late 70s R&B vocal act. The genre was on it’s way out with disco ruling the airwaves and rap music about to explode onto the scene. The extra 7 1/2 minutes of Float On I’d never heard before today unfortunately don’t introduce other band member’s star signs and the physical attributes they appreciate in women, but it’s on par with a Spinners or Four Tops sound. This is one of those records that I can’t wait to pull out and play with people over. It’s absolutely a record that carries itself like…Miss Universe.
Cost: $2, $829 Remaining
Natalie Cole, Thankful, Capitol SW-11708, 1977
My first impression, Oregon resident that I am, is that no one would be Thankful about standing in one of our rivers in a red chiffon dress. Still, Natalie Cole was an incredibly talented artist who most likely would have been successful despite her fabled lineage.
In a sense, this record is a real stand out for 1977. R&B was turning into hard core funk or dance music at the time, so a jazzy-pop style record that did well on the R&B charts had to be good. And this record is great, as is the top ten single Our Love.
Luckily for me, the original owner took amazing care (or indifference) to this record. It is absolutely perfect at 39 years old. I always loved that Ms. Cole was signed to Capitol Records. Their headquarters in Los Angeles was called “The House That Nat Built” in honor of her father, and the company took an Olive Garden approach to Nat’s daughter “When You’re here, You’re Home”). Their investment paid off, with the amazing career that Natalie Cole had.
Cost: $2, $839 Remaining
Charlene, Songs Of Love, Prodigal P6-10018S1, 1977
It’s every now and then that you find something in a record bin that probably doesn’t belong there. Most people know Charlene from the syrupy 1982 hit single I’ve Never Been To Me, most likely from the drag queen lip-synched film version from 1994’s The Adventures Of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert. What isn’t commonly known is that the song pre-dates all of that, having come out in this flop of an album in 1977.
Back then the song had a long, spoken intro that no drag queen could be inspired to do. It was just a run of the mill 70s girl song, a factory version of introspection. When it became a hit five years later, it was almost a parody of the genre, which the movie solidified. Charlene herself had been dropped from her contract and was working in a shop in London when she had a surprise hit.
The amazing bit is, this was a Motown (!) record! Prodigal was the last attempt by the independent label to break into the pop market. Like V.I.P., Weed, and Melody, the label never made any inroads. When the single hit, Motown re-released an album with different songs and cover on the Motown label that sold much better. So, I’m really happy that I found this original copy, with the intro to the hit that I’d never heard before. And I’m glad I didn’t have to go to Nice or The Isle Of Greece to find it.
Cost: $2, $851 Remaining