The Box Tops, Cry Like A Baby, Bell 6017, 1968
The more you know about certain groups and where they came from, the more you can know a good thing when you see it. The Box Tops are a legendary Memphis band that as teenagers had one of the biggest records of the 60s with The Letter. Seventeen year old lead singer Alex Chilton sang it like a delta bluesman with decades on The Chitlin Circuit under his belt. When a follow up was needed, this is what the Memphis music came up with.
The title track peaked at #2, unable to unstick Bobby Goldsboro’s Honey from the top spot. While it’s a great song too, a close second to The Letter, the album is really special. Critics and fans all rave about Dusty Springfield’s Dusty In Memphis, and this record was made at the same time in the same studio with the same musicians. It’s not a departure for The Box Tops like it was for Dusty Springfield, but it’s still a terrific sound with a great mix of originals and covers.
All of The Box Tops records are hidden gems, and this shrink wrapped one is in near mint condition. Yes, it didn’t sell seeing the special sale price tag of three for $1 and the hole punch through the cover, but it is valued as a $25 record now. I was able to find it for $5 at a record show, which is the best place to pick up cult classic like this in good shape.
Cost: $5, $181 Remaining
The Partridge Family, Up To Date, Bell 6059, 1971
The Partridge Family, a nominees for Best New Artist at the 1971 Grammy Awards, were hot when this, their second album came out. David Cassidy was on his way to a brief stint as the leading national teen idol, and the records flew off the shelves. It was all fake in reality, but this record hit #3 as the TV show wrapped up its first season.
Like most teen idol records, this one is geared to appeal to the fans. In this case, 14 year old girls. For the first time, David Cassidy sings every lead, instead of the anonymous studio singers that sung half of the first album. He even got his first writing credit, but it was the two top 10 hits I’ll Meet You Halfway and Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted that really pushed the album’s sales. The latter song was absolutely hated by Cassidy and the show’s production was halted so producers and lawyers could convince him that he had to sing it, cheesy spoken interlude included.
Besides the hits and the dimples. what also was included was a cool custom Partridge Family text book cover! I had no idea that it did, but lo and behold, this pristine copy was neatly tucked inside this $2 copy. Usually, inserts like this got used or pinned up on a wall, so finding one in mint condition is pretty rare.
Cost: $2, $291 Remaining
Dawn, Candida, Bell 6052, 1970
It’s pretty amazing that one of the most successful recording acts of the 1970s began this way. Technically they began with the title track to this record, a #3 hit in the fall of 1970, but that success spawned this album. It was very common at the time for producers to come up with a hot record, and then hire an anonymous singer or “group” to be the “artist” who released it. Tony Orlando was a failed teen idol still signed to Columbia when, of all people, The Tokens approached him with the idea to record Candida. They were looking for a Latin(o) style male singer to add a new ethnicity to a pop record. No one had any idea it would be so successfu
So much so that they used the same basic lay out for both side of the album cover! I get why there’s no picture of the group, mainly because there was no group, but sheesh, couldn’t they have come up with a different stock photo?
The success of this album and the follow up single, Knock Three Times, combined with the lack of anyone claiming to actually be Dawn, led to several Faux Dawn groups making “personal appearances” around the country. That essentially forced the producers to get Tony Orlando out of his CBS contract and hire two background singers to become the group. The rest was Oak Tree history and millions of records sold. But this was, ahem, their Dawn.
Cost $2, $696 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
Merrilee Rush, Angel In The Morning, Bell 6020, 1968
So there is a Morning After after all. In fact, many of them for the hit song from this album. Many artists took a shot at it for a few years before Ms. Rush got her shot, but she made the most of it and the song hit the top ten.
The record was recorded in Memphis for Bell Records, which was enough to compel me to buy it. So many landmark recordings came from there in the mid to late 1960s that I’ll buy anything recorded there and then. This might not be my first choice for material, but the record is a wonderful Box Tops type pop/soul sound that I’ll give a few spins a year to.
It seems as though there were a few versions of this record. Merrilee Rush came from the Seattle area, but found her backing band The Turnabouts in Memphis. The first version of the cover has the band name featured, but the second version that I found replaces the band for the follow up single That Kind Of Woman. Unfortunately, Merrilee Rush wasn’t the kind of woman that had a second hit record.
Cost: $2, $853 Remaining
The Partridge Family, Crossword Puzzle, Bell 1122, 1973
By season four, The Partridge Family was in trouble. Ratings were down and adding a 6 year old “neighbor” to drop by each week and sing a song didn’t work. Records sales were down too, and gimmicks were added to try to boost sales.
Their previous album, Shopping Bag, came with a genuine shopping bag. I imagine they are quite collectable now, I know I’ve never seen one. For their next to last album, the producers came up with a TV-Guide style crossword puzzle that this album’s original owner was able to solve in one try (though in pencil!). You can tell that everyone was phoning it in by this point.
They didn’t even bother to release a single from this opus. The group, as it turned out already had their last chart single, and there’s really not a track on this record that would have made it up against the relatively strong pop year that was 1973. Partridge records are all professionally done, but this one is just really a puzzle as to why it exists.
Cost: $2, $886 Remaining.