The Village People, Macho Man, Casablanca NBLP-7096, 1978
There were a lot of fad groups that became huge in the vinyl era, but none of them we more entertaining than The Village People. Every one of their records is worth collecting, and some are even worth listening to. This one, their second album, may be their best one of all. They were still a fad on the rise when it came out and this was still before they really broke through commercially with Y.M.C.A.
It was a great idea for a group. Take a promising R&B singer and surround him with some masculine cliches in costume and name them after the gay New York neighborhood of Greenwich Village. I don’t think it wouldn’t fly today, especially the Hispanic man appearing as a Native American, but it was really far out back in the day.
Of course, it wouldn’t have worked without the music. The producer/creator of the group, Jacques Morali had their back there. He was one of the most prolific producers of the Disco Era, working with names as big as Cher and Eartha Kitt. His biggest success was with The Village People though, and this is about as good as a total disco album ever got.
Cost: $4, $488 Remaining
Tammy Faye Bakker, Love Never Gives Up, Pax Musical Reproductions R-2400, 1978
Unlike her husband, whose records were essentially just recorded sermons, Tammy Faye’s records veered deep into light Christian entertainment. It’s not that the lady couldn’t sing, I would describe her as someone who shouldn’t sing. I watched enough American Idol to imagine the questions Simon Cowell would ask during her audition. Something like “Do you find that small animals turn up outside your house when you sing?”.
But no matter how cheesy the package (or the outfits, or the make-up), her personality does kind of come through. It’s not something I will ever listen to again, but you can tell, certainly from this back cover, that she took The Word literally. Unlike too many of her peers in the professional church, everyone was welcome to sing along with Tammy Faye.
I’m sure there was some scam to get people to buy this record, I doubt it would have ever been anything that was sold in a store. After all, massive theme parks in the middle of nowhere don’t build themselves. But everyone of these kind of record that I run across are always in really great shape. I’m sure a grandmother made a few prayer requests that cost X amount of dollars, and this record was a thank you. After grandma went to her reward, her kids and grandkids went through the records and took what they wanted (The Beatles) and donated what they didn’t want (Tammy Faye Bakker). Even at $2, I’m sure I overpaid for this little piece of Heaven, but hey, it’s Tammy Faye.
Cost: $2, $766 Remaining
Sammy Davis Jr., The Sound Of Sammy, Warner Special Products OP-1501, 1978
Say it ain’t so Sammy! This is kind of a greatest hits package, but the worst kind of greatest hits packages. Mr. Davis’ big hit single The Candy Man from 1972 is here, but most of the other songs are live versions recorded waaay past their original release.
The real “wow” though, is not one, but too versions of The Alka Seltzer Song. I’m sure by 1978, the offers weren’t rolling in, but could he have needed the money from schilling for a product like Alka Seltzer?
Apparently yes. For the record, the side two version of the jingle, the rock (!) version, is the preferred one. The big band version is just bad, as bad as you’d expect from a disco era studio orchestra. The cover is so cheap that both sides have severe ring wear too.
I couldn’t find much information on this record, so i don’t if it was for sale commercially or if it was the kind of promo that you had to send away for. The record is in really good shape, so my guess is the latter. It’s just hard to think of Sammy Davis Jr and Alka Seltzer together in any kind of way.
Cost: $2, $837 Remaining
Chic, C’est Chic, Atlantic SD-19209, 1978
Sometimes, really affordable records can be quite good. Not everyone will admit to liking Disco Music, but I think its the label they don’t like. This is a damned great album. Its only affordable because it sold waaaay more copies than there are record buyers now, so a great condition example like this one can be bought for next to no money.
Le Freak, while being one of the biggest selling singles of all time (reportedly to this day the best selling Atlantic/Warner single of all time) is a record that really came to define its era. It’s sound has influenced all dance music that came after it, and the rest of the album follows its lead perfectly.
I generally don’t promote records like this. Mostly because industry changing records cost more than my budget allows, but I didn’t have to think twice before taking this one home. To quote Ferris Bueller, “if you have the means, I highly suggest you pick one up”. It’s not as hard to find as you might think…
Cost: $2, $884 Remaining
Ray Conniff, Plays The Bee Gees & Other Great Hits. Columbia BL-35659, 1978
Yesterday’s wonderful experience of listening to Mae West’s Way Out West gave me an idea of another theme week. Mae gave it her all but she really had no artistic business releasing a sexy vamp rock & roll album at age 72. I’ve been combing through the records I got this spring during two massive clearance sales I went to and found an impressive bunch of albums that absolutely should not exist, but happily do.
Today we have a 1978 Ray Conniff record made for a segment of the record buying public who found the hard rock sounds of Debby Boone and Barbra Streisand too loud. Mr. Conniff and his Singers were on the task, softening up the soft rock and light disco that dominated the late 70s charts.
The singers and their perfect diction seamlessly mesh songs to Ray’s arrangements until they sound like bunch of radio station jingles. Night Fever/Stayin’ Alive is a particular favorite. To say that this is elevator music is almost unfair to elevators. But then what else would you expect from a man in a powder blue tuxedo jacket with rhinestoned lapel, ruffled gold shirt and brown bow tie.
None of this is to criticize Ray Conniff’s music or the 70 million albums he sold. He was a pioneer of stereo orchestration recordings and his early albums, especially the Christmas ones, sold in the millions. His technique of using voices as instruments as part of an orchestra was mildly (of course!) revolutionary and copied by thousands of artist after him. I play a few of his 50s records when I want to make an evening cocktail and feel like Don Draper. If I ever get a 1960 Buick Convertible like his, my soundtrack is ready.
Cost: $2, $925 Remaining
Barry Manilow, Greatest Hits, Arista A2L-8601, 1978
I don’t really collect greatest hits albums. My goal isn’t to build a music collection, but rather to find the most interesting original albums I can. Mostly they’re the sort of records that would be virtually impossible to find in any other formats.
But when I found this $1 copy of the first greatest hits package from Barry Manilow, complete with personal liner note from Clive Davis, I rolled my eyes and went for it. It’s a gatefold cover, double album, and all the great 70s hits are there.
Growing up with this music I hope gets me a hall pass on keeping this on a shelf. Even the occasional spin of Copacabana will probably be ok. Wearing the gold chain, though would be a definite no-no.
Cost: $1, $960 Remaining