Danny Bonaduce, Danny Bonaduce, Lion LN-1015, 1973
Lately we’ve seen the perceived quality of my featured records improve as the price goes up. But what happens when the weird record budget also rises? You guessed it, they get even weirder. Some records that have no merit musically or struggle to entertain in a straightforward way, and also barely sold, can have real value as collectables. It helps if the “artist” on these records is also known for something else. Like William Shatner, whose The Transformed Man record included a stunning cover of Mr. Tambourine Man, Danny Bonaduce was on a semi successful TV show. As “Danny” the wisecracking bassist for The Partridge Family (who never actually played a note), Bonaduce somehow managed to get a record deal as a solo artist. No, this really happened.
It’s not that he sings badly, it’s more like he doesn’t sing at all. This is a horribly overproduced record, to the point where I seriously doubt it’s really even his singing. But the real crime against humanity here is the material. Danny Bonaduce was 13 in 1973 and yet his producers felt originals like Save A Little Piece For Me, a song not about birthday cake, and I’ll Be Your Magician, a song about seduction. It’s really hard to listen to a pre-pubescent voice sing about using his magic wand to make “your resistance disappear”.
Lion Records was a short lived budget label from MGM. Budget labels were used when material came along that might tarnish the company’s main label. In this case, MGM had a very good reason to release this on Lion, as the label folded just after this record came out. I had heard about this record, and couldn’t believe it when I found it for $8 the other day. It’s not a perfect copy, with original owner Patty York’s basement having flooded at some point. Patty also dated the record on August 15, 1978, which would have been 5 years after the record came out, and 4 years after The Partridge Family was cancelled. Still, it’s an incredible find, and I think I got a deal at $8.
Cost: $8, $150 Remaining
The Dixie Cups, Chapel Of Love, Red Bird RBS 20-100, 1964
I really couldn’t believe my luck when I found this record in a $2 bin. Not only is it the landmark debut of both The Dixie Cups and Red Bird Records, it’s also a rare Stereo copy that in mint condition is valued at $80. This album is prized for being a true masterpiece of the 60s Girl Group sound, and there are songs written by Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry, Lieber & Stoller, and Phil Spector. Any Red Bird release is very collectable, and this was the label’s first album release. True, this isn’t a mint copy, but it still plays well and this is an amazing record without a bad track on it.
The only reason I didn’t immediately feature it was because it also another landmark album of a more dubious fame. This is one of the more famous record jackets from an African American group that feature white people (in this case represented by wedding cake figurines). There is no picture of the group anywhere on the record, supposedly so as not to offend white record buyers in certain parts of the country. It’s hard to imagine that as late as 1964 that this would still be a thing, but here it is. I wanted to have a theme week of these covers, perhaps for Black History Month, but as luck would have it, this was the only affordable one I ever found.
It stands to reason too. These records are usually by Motown or Soul artists and came out in a time where the single was the preferred commercial format for music geared to younger buyers. Albums of the 50s and 60s usually sold to adults and the pre-Beatles album charts are usually filled with soundtracks, broadway titles and adult themed music. Original Motown records and other Soul classics didn’t sell in the same numbers and they are all very pricey to buy today. You’ll just have to imagine the drawing of the mailbox on The Marvelettes’ Please Mr. Postman and the smiling white couple on a beach on The Isley Brothers’ This Old Heart Of Mine or be prepared to shell out $200 each for a copy of them.
Cost: $2, $170 Remaining
Jack Brown, Tells It Like It Is, QCA Records 90854, 1968?
I now I said yesterday that my last month would be dedicated to the best of affordable vinyl, so some of you might be surprised to see this and not Highway 61 Revisited featured today. The truth is that I absolutely loved this record. Yes, sure, I bought it for the cover, the plainness of it all giving the buyer no idea at all what this is even all about. It looked to me like the kind of homemade religious sermon record that sometimes pops up at Goodwill, but this is so much more than that.
It turns out that Jack is a reformed addict and felon who spent years in prison alongside some of the most notorious criminals in American history. If the sleeping habits of The Birdman Of Alcatraz are interesting to you, then by all means pick up a copy of this album. Jack has a gravelly voice and doesn’t seem to get it when the teen audience on the record laughs when he relays how he “smoked that Mary-Juana and sniffed that cocaine”. He matter of factly relays assaults, robberies and stabbings like he’s Grandpa Walton spinning a yarn. Jack really doesn’t care for the glamorization of Bonnie & Clyde, because in real life Bonnie was not attractive looking and Clyde was a practicing homosexual. Their killing spree across the Midwest is also an issue, but apparently not as much.
Jack really is worth listening to, and without this bizarre document he left behind, virtually no one alive would be able to know about it. Jack Brown is too common a name to research this one particular Jack Brown, and Wikipedia has nothing on the album or the man. Safe to say when I listen to this stirring tale that I am the only one on Earth to be having that singular joy. That’s a pretty good deal for $3.
Cost: $3, $186 Remaining
The Beatles, Introducing The Beatles, Vee Jay 1062, 1964
Whole books have been written about this album. Their themes deal with questions like: How did a small Mom & Pop Blues label from the South Side of Chicago wind up with a 5 year contract on The Beatles? How did Vee Jay Records manage to screw it all up so quickly? How many counterfeits were made of this record? And, why are there so many variations for this album’s track listing, outer jacket and record label?
I would imagine to find and buy all variations of Vee Jay 1062 would take a decade and thousands of dollars. An online source I just checked listed 16 cover variations and 31 label variations, and that’s just for legitimate copies. It would be nuts to try to figure out variations of fake VJ 1062 records made in the last 53 years. That guide tells me that this is a Version 2 (it includes Please Please Me and Ask Me Why, and not Love Me Do and P.S. I Love You) Mono cover with Please Please Me having a comma between the two Pleases.
The record is a version 2 mono copy, with the simple silver on black label, without a stylized Vee Jay logo or color band. It’s a fairly common combination, but I don’t care. No matter the version, this is a great, fun album to have in any collection. It’s the only album I know that features the songwriting team of “McCartney – Lennon”. And because the Vee Jay engineer didn’t know what to do with Paul’s “One Two Three FOUR!” count-in on the master tape of I Saw Her Standing There, and he apparently didn’t know how to edit very well, the album begins with Paul shouting “FOUR!” While it’s very easy to dismiss this album because all of the music has been reissued time and time again by EMI, I’d still call this record essential. Who cares if you get a fake one for $10!
Cost: $10, $225 Remaining
Monteux Vienna Philharmonic, Symphonie Fantastique, RCA LM-2362, 1960
I really didn’t even want to know what this is all about. If ever there was a time I bought a record for the cover, this was it. Here is a porcelain skinned and heavily made up Barbie doll dressed up as a belly dancer with her hair in a bun and covered by a pink lace shawl. It’s all overshadowed by the hangman’s noose about to smear her make up as it goes around her head. And she doesn’t seem all that concerned about it either, using her last few moments alive to flash some bedroom eyes.
I don’t buy classical records. Yes, I know, I should try to improve and expand my horizons, but I get much more of a thrill from finding a decent cheap copy of Julie London’s Yummy Yummy Yummy (I Got Love In My Tummy) than I ever will from a 1960 recording of an 1830 symphony written by Hector Berlioz. Incidentally, the noose bit all makes sense after reading the wikipedia page on the strange life of Hector Berlioz.
I’m not alone in my distaste for records like this. Many record shops have classical sections tucked into a lonely dust filled corner. There’s hardly ever anyone looking through the bins. Without the magical cover, this would just be another sad addition to the pile. It’s this kind of record that winds up becoming an art project, cut into coasters or a cheap clock that you’d find at a crafts fair somewhere. I only found it because it was misfiled into my favorite store’s discount Jazz bin. Maybe someday my curiosity will get the better of me and I’ll actually try to listen to this, but for now, it’s a prime candidate for framing.
Cost: $2, $279 Remaining
Various Artists, The Capitol Disc Jockey Album, Capitol SPRO-4650, November 1968
I don’t collect promos. I have them of course, because sometimes you’re happy to find any copy of a particular hard to find record, and a promo generally plays as well as a standard issue copy. In fact, promo collectors usually say that they play better because they likely were played a few times by industry professionals as either sampling or re-recording for broadcast from a tape. But since virtually all recorded music released since Edison’s wax cylinder #1 is available online for free, I prefer to look for standard issue releases for my collection. Promos usually have different labels or cover art and I like those things about my records.
Things like album though stand out. It’s mere existence is curious because it’s as though Capitol Records is saying that only Capitol records are worthy of airplay, like they’re some sort of premium brand for the recording industry. That’s obviously not true anymore than people choosing what book to read based solely on the publisher. Yes, there were many recordings of The Impossible Dream, but hey Capitol Records has a great one for sale this November by Al Martino that you’re just gonna love…
I have a few of these records, and it’s hard to tell if they’re collectible or not. I have one from 1964, but most information online suggests these were monthly releases from 1967-1970. They certainly are weird adult oriented albums, and it remains a mystery as to how the songs are balanced for airplay. These records all have a pretty girl and/or a hot car on the cover. In this case, the car is a 1969 AMC AMX, and the poor girl choking on the exhaust fumes from the massive V8 engine appears to be having a hard time deciding if she should vote for Hubert Humphrey or Richard Nixon in the national election. She is leaning towards Nixon however, and if Capitol continued this series a few years longer, it would have been a hoot to use the same model for the August 1974 edition.
Cost: $2, $281 Remaining
Roberta Flack, Quiet Fire, Atlantic SD-1594, 1971
This was Roberta Flack’s third album for Atlantic, and it wasn’t really a hit. It was from the odd time before she really broke through commercially in 1972 with the smash The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, even though that song had already come out on her first album. It seems weird that a song that could spend six weeks at #1 could just be out there for years before becoming a hit, but that’s what happened here.
Instead, this album had been out for a few weeks when Face was included in the Clint Eastwood movie Play Misty For Me. That triggered the singles success and propelled Flack’s 1969 debut album First Take to #1, while the “new” Roberta Flack record struggled to hit #18. Apparently people at the time didn’t care for her covers of The Shirelles’ Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, or the 6:41 cover of The Bees Gees’ To Love Somebody. That makes this Flack album fairly hard to find these days, and I haven’t seen one in decades.
In fact, the last time I remember seeing it was when my younger sister and I were being baby sat somewhere and out of boredom we went looking through the house’s record collection. Being the non-worldly 8 year old my sister was, she wasn’t familiar with the name “Roberta”. She was reading the names and titles on the various record sleeves and pulled this one out and burst out screaming “AHHHHH Look at the hair on this guy Robert A. Flack!”
Cost: $2, $283 Remaining
Gordon Fleming, Gigi, Golden Tone C-4035, 1960
I wasn’t paying all that much attention when I flipped though a pile of records at a vintage store when I first saw this record. I thought to myself that the cover model looked like Mary Tyler Moore, so I splurged $2 for if on a whim. It wasn’t until I looked through my new purchases, looking for TV themed records that I noticed that it IS Mary Tyler Moore on the cover of this discount record version of the stage and screen hit musical Gigi.
It turns out that MTM made her way into show business by being a cover model for the Tops and Golden Tone record companies. Both are long defunct discount labels based in Los Angeles, and they released generic covers of soundtracks and public domain songs by anonymous musicians and sold them at discount prices. To compete, they used attractive young girls for their record covers, and Mary Tyler Moore appeared on (it seems) about 12 of them in the late 50s and into 1960. Landing a gig as Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1961 finally stopped this strange aspect of her career.
Gigi won the 1959 Oscar for Best Picture of 1958, and the Lerner & Lowe musical was a broadway smash before that. That made it a prime candidate for people to make cover version of the music. That’s about as kind as I can be to the actual music of this album. It’s not it’s badly made, it’s just not that well made. This really is one to buy for the cover, and judging by what it lists for on eBay, I got a screaming deal!
Cost: $2, $289 Remaining
Sebastian Cabot, A Dramatic Reading Of Bob Dylan, MGM SE-4431, 1967
Oh where to begin… The best thing to say about it is that Sebastian Cabot is that he obviously would have made millions in today’s animation film industry. He really had an amazing speaking voice. But…why did this have to happen?
Yes, Sebastian Cabot was the lovable Mr. French on the highly rated TV show Family Affair, and yes Bob Dylan was the biggest lyrical songwriter of the era, but I don’t believe the Nobel Award Committee For Literature used this record as source material. It’s fair to call this one of the campiest combinations of all time As weird as the cover implies that it is, I promise you it’s even weirder.
It might have helped if they went with the more obscure songs from the Dylan catalogue, finding themes and words that were appropriate for Mr. French to say. By sticking to the hits, Mr. Cabot has to come up with 99 ways to not sound too creepy every time he has to utter the word babe. I’m sure it must have been a real big hit around the Dylan household too. But, if Rhino Records chose two tracks from this record for their Golden Throats novelty albums, you know they found a classic.
Cost: $5, $357 Remaining
The Ernie Felice Quartet, Cocktail Time, Capitol T-192, 1955
I bought this one for the cover. I love the gray background and the variety of cocktails and cigarettes on display. The graphics and fonts are an incredible example of an early 50s album. It turns out to have been quite the research project to identify what this record is.
Besides a family run fan website, there isn’t much information out there on Ernie Felice. His Wikipedia page is in German for example. This record is also hard to track down. Multiple sources show that Capitol 192 was issued in 1950 with a different cover than this one. This cover is the original Australian cover that Capitol resurrected when they re-issued this album in 1955 on the new 12″ 33 1/3 rpm format.
It’s actually a pretty good album too! Accordion music isn’t exactly my thing, but Ernie Felice tones it down here and arranges it into the mix. It woulnt be my go to for actual cocktail time, but I’ll play it from time to time, mostly to hear his Dream A Little Dream Of Me, and O Sole Mio.
Cost: $2, $400 Remaining