Tom Jones, What’s New Pussycat, Parrot PAS-71006, 1966
Tom Jones is the kind of singer that has an amazing voice, but somehow never quite had any great material to record. Coming along at the height of the British Invasion, it didn’t take long for the record buying public to differentiate between acts that wrote original material and those that didn’t. Tom Jones didn’t.
Jones’ producers steered him towards film work, and this record was the result. Written for the film of the same name, the title track was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and it became Jones’ second biggest hit in the US, peaking at #3. It was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Song.
But it’s not British Invasion music. The rest of the album tries to be, but it comes closer to someone pretending to be a British Invasion act. After singing the theme song to the James Bond film Thunderball, Jones switched focus to being a cabaret performer. He appeared in Las Vegas at least a week a year from 1967-2011, so it’s safe to say that he didn’t really mind not having much of a chart success.
Cost: $2, $223 Remaining
Chad & Jeremy, Yesterday’s Gone, World Artists WAM-2002, 1964
Yesterday’s Gone was a minor British hit. Released in the UK in November 1963, it managed to climb to #37 on the British charts. The only thing good about that chart run was the timing. In the wake of The Beatles’ success in the US with I Want To Hold Your Hand, every American record company tried to snap up every unsigned act imaginable. The big labels got the big acts, naturally, but minor acts like Chad & Jeremy had to take what they could get.
In fact, they were close to breaking up when their tiny UK label, Ember, leased Yesterday’s Gone to tiny World Artist Records. Released in March , 1964, the single hit a respectable #21 in the US. Their follow up, the UK flop A Summer Song did much better, hitting #7. That justified this album, which also found a groove with US buyers. Quickly signed to Columbia, they had hits into 1966 and major label releases through the decade.
The reason I chose to write about the album though is the great lengths World Artists went to differentiate the mono and stereo versions of the record. The stereo is pretty rare, and it came with a smaller cover picture and a gold jacket, while the mono has a larger picture on a white background. The mono also has a sticker on it to remind folks that A Summer Song is included on the record. I’ve yet to run into a small label that went to the trouble to print two different cover slicks for a record.
Cost: $3, $248 Remaining
The Beau Brummels, Introducing, Autumn 103, 1965
The Beau Brummels are famous, and not just because they’re one of the few groups that come alphabetically between The Beatles and The Bee Gees in every record collector’s well organized library. The band, formed in San Francisco in 1964, was the first successful group of the “San Francisco Sound” that went on to include The Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead. This album was produced by another living legend, Sly Stone, and the success of it inspired him to form his own group.
It’s also no joke that it’s a really great record. It has the group’s two biggest hits, Laugh Laugh, and Just A Little, and most of the rest are band originals. Their name and sound convinced the record buying public that they were a British band, and that no doubt helped them break through. With such a pedigree, it’s no wonder that this record is so highly collectible. The fact that’s it’s a stereo copy only makes it more valuable. I felt very lucky to find it for $4.
Despite the worn cover, it plays really well. Autumn Records wasn’t around too long, so it’s great to find a decent copy of what was probably their best selling album ever. When Autumn ended (!), The Beau Brummels signed with Warner Brothers. The predictable creative differences and personnel changes doomed them however, and the group ended by 1969. Being the Bay Area favorites that they are though, they reformed several times over the years and appeared at one festival or another.
Cost: $4, $379 Remaining
The Hollies, Stop! Stop! Stop!, Imperial 12339, 1967
The Hollies were a British Invasion group that had real legs. Their North American successes were nothing compared to their boatload of UK hits, but they still had hit after hit here into the 80s. This title track became just the group’s second top 10 US hit at Chrstmas 1966, and Imperial put out this album. It has both sides of the single with the rest of the album made up of songs from an earlier British album called For Certain Because.
It must have driven the band crazy to have their music be released chopped up like that. Modern singles paired with old album tracks doesn’t help anyone build a career. In early 1967, the group signed with Epic records. I’m sure the lack of any sort of creative direction on the part of Imperial was a motivating factor. The back copy of this record is frankly really appalling.
But other changes were coming too. Graham Nash soon got really tired of the pop direction the band was heading. With serious creative differences going on, he left the band in 1968 with the thought of being a songwriter. Running songs by some friends one day, they decided they sounded pretty damned good and Crosby Stills Nash & Young were born.
Cost: $2, $466 Remaining