Mavis Rivers, Hooray For Love, Capitol ST-1294, 1960
I had never heard of Mavis Rivers before finding this record. While she is listed in my trusty Goldmine Record Album Price Guide, this record isn’t. None of that matters though, it’s just a good old record that cost very little money that’ll be fun to listen to a few times a year. Which is why I love looking for old records.
Mavis was Samoan, and she entertained troops there as a young girl during World War Two. Her family moved to New Zealand, and she quickly conquered the tiny jazz scene of the North Island before moving to the United States to study music at Brigham Young University. Conquering the Samoan Jazz community of Utah led to recording contracts with Vee-Jay and Capitol Records. She had a pretty great voice too, sounding almost like Ella Fitzgerald’s cousin.
But as I said, it’s records like this that keep me flipping though stacks of dusty old records. The cover is tailor made for a Valentine’s Day, and the songs are all love themed. This record is on iTunes for $9.99, but give me the $2 vinyl copy anytime.
Cost: $2, $404 Remaining
Steve Allen, Monday Nights, Signature SM-1021, 1960
This is the perfect album for anyone who drives a 1960 Plymouth Fury. While the 1959 Cadillac gets all the old car press for the nuttiness of it’s tail fins, the 1960 Plymouth’s were virtually as tall. Available options included the Highway Hi-Fi, an actual record player that played special 16 2/3 rpm discs that are both completely useless and highly collectible today. Model year 1960 was the last time the Plymouth brand sold well enough to place third in total production, this car represents the beginning of a very slow decline.
The same could be said for Steve Allen. His Sunday night variety show was consistently the third rated program on the night, but that was out of three options. By 1959, NBC has had enough of losing to Ed Sullivan on CBS and Maverick on ABC. They moved The Steve Allen Plymouth Show to Monday nights, which this album happily talks about. The art direction or title of this album are not coincidences.
Steve Allen supposedly wrote over 8000 songs during his lifetime. Some were even hits for people like Steve Lawerence and Eydie Gorme, and Sammy Davis Jr. There were no hits on this album. It’s mostly Steve at the piano, but sometimes theres a bland chorus singing along. I probably won’t be listening to this again for years, unless I happen upon a 1960 Plymouth.
Cost: $2, $406 Remaining
Al Jarvis, Jug End Memories, Jug End Records JE-1000, 196?
Pontiac produced 25,504 Catalina Two Door Sport Sedans for 1960, and they looked particularly good in Sierra Copper Iridescent. The one on this cover was the reason I splurged $2 on this record. It might have had me with the white 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne in front of it, but that car wouldn’t have the Circ-L-Aire heater defroster like the newer and more expensive Pontiac would.
A little research turns out that the Jug End was a ski resort in the southwestern corner of Massachusetts. It looks like it was in business for about 40 years as a year round resort that closed for good around 1980. Tow-Ropes and T-Bar lifts on a 700 foot vertical drop hill might have made economic sense in 1938, but not so much once chairlifts came into ski area standard equipment. While it was open, though, it must have been quite the place considering it had the wherewithal and ambition to produce a custom souvenir record.
I can’t really get to into what it sounds like because I just couldn’t get too far into it. The accordion solo on Tyrollean Melody about sent me over the edge. Imagine a 6-piece band performing at a barn about a four hour drive from the closest airport and you’ll have the sound of Al Jarvis. It would be amazing if they managed to sell half as many of these records as Pontiac sold Catalina Two Door Sport Sedans. The more interesting thought is probably how this gift shop record made it from South Egremont, Massachusetts in the early 60s to Portland, Oregon in 2017.
Cost: $2, $408 Remaining
Bonnie Baker, Oh Johnny!, Warner Brothers B-1212, 1958
There’s very little information out there about tis record. It seems to be a re-recording by a semi-novelty one hit wonder named Bonnie Baker. The 1939 recording apparently did very well on the “hit parade” (Billboard began publishing popular music charts the next year), but it would have been quite an oldie by 1958. The liner notes on the back don’t have any Bonnie Baker career highlights newer than 1941. What really drew me to this record wasn’t the questionable artistry of the singer, but the car on the cover.
Warner Brothers records was just getting going. Jack Warner watched as his young contract star Tab Hunter had a #1 hit on Dot Records with Young Love and apparently hit the roof that his property was making money for someone else. Of course, there isn’t much of a record label if there’s no one signed up to make records and it was unsigned artists like Bonnie Baker that filled out the original Warner roster. The 1958 Warner Brothers releases didn’t get hits anymore than the 1962 Mets did. This was the twelfth album released by the label.
The car though is by far the best thing about the record. It’s for sure a Jaguar XK-140 which was in production from 1954-57. Because of the split windscreen, I date it to 1956 or earlier. Johnny may be a good lover, but he buys used cars it would seem. I also question his judgement about driving a car with such a low ground clearance on an uneven dirt road. But hey, Bonnie seems pleased. I just hope the two month wait for a new oil pan to come from Coventry England was worth it.
Cost: $2, $410 Remaining
Jackie Gleason, Music Martinis and Memories, Capitol W-509, 1954
For a guy who couldn’t read or write music, he sure sold a lot of records. jackie Gleason was one of the biggest TV stars of the 1950s, and he had a whole second career as a studio orchestra leader. His first 10 albums for Capitol all sold a million and most went to number one. I suppose they would be classified today as the quintessential “elevator” music records, but they were huge in their day.
I prize them for their covers. There’s usually an over the top woman dressed the hilt. Alcohol and cigarettes feature prominently, which only makes it all the more absurd. These records are among the most framable of any I know.
The 12″ LP was a new thing in 1954, and people apparently needed instruction on the inner sleeve on which end to insert into the jacket. Capitol also went all our on describing the new “high fidelity” record that came in the sleeve. Too bad the music on the record is so so syrupy. Perhaps the goal here is to drink so many Martinis that you don’t have any Memories of the Music left at all.
Cost: $2, $524 Remaining
$89 Spent, $2.87 per record
Buzz Goertzen, The Idaho Yodeler, Ripcord SLP-1038, 197?
The title says it all today. There’s really no one I can imagine outside an immediate family member who would want an album of Idaho themed yodels. Buzz Goertzen (pronounced Gertson) will never be compared favorably with The Beatles (pronounced Beetles), and for most music fans the for profit yodel market was completely monopolized by Slim Whitman. So, no, even though I was outrageously overcharged ($2) for this record, I confess to buying this record for the cover. I mean, really, that suit.
The Pocatello fashion scene aside, I really got this record to give as a gag gift. I know people in Idaho, and who wouldn’t want this framed and hanging in their home? But in answer to all your questions, yes, I did listen to this. On the plus side, its in near mint condition, owing to the fact that unplayed records stay in good shape. Other than that, I guess about the nicest thing I could say is that he did make a solidly competent yodel record here.
And he’s still at it! I got a real thrill to find that he has a solidly competent website, detailing his winter touring schedule of the snowbird RV parks in the Yuma Arizona area. Come Spring, I have no doubt that that RV will be heading North, Back To Good Old Idaho!
Cost: $2, $634 Remaining
Ray Conniff, ‘S Awful Nice, Columbia CS 8001, 1958?
You know, I should really know better. Ray Conniff is one of there all time greatest Goodwill artists, someone that no serious music fan has any interest in. Even though I’ve blogged about him before, and as much as I tell people that he was was ahead of his time with the technology of the recording studio, no-one but me seems to hip to the vibe he laid down. (Cough). But really, these records are fun, sorry for being (Cough) a broken record.
So, yes, when I saw this record in a $1 bin, yes, on the street, in the rain, in the cold Oregon streets, i didn’t think twice about buying it. I never in a million years would have figured that this was a record that the great Columbia record would have ever had a need, sales-wise to re-relsease. I doubt that this was a big seller in 1958, it spawned no hit singles, and wasn’t a well known member of the Conniff catalogue.
Yet, somehow, in the 1980s judging by the label, record stores begged for more of ‘S Awful Nice to satisfy the immense customer demand for an echo chamber version of It Had To Be You. As a record collector, I felt very cheated to fall for this yet again despite the 100 pennies I had to fork over to take this home. It remains a truism that I might just get my first tattoo on my wallet opening arm that says “Aways Check The Label!”
Cost: $2, $718 Remaining
Various Artists, Jet Set Dance Discotheque, Audio Fidelity DFS-7041, 1964
I’d actually never heard of the Audio Fidelity record label until this week, but here they are again, 6 years after they rocked the world with Harry Breuer’s Mallet Mischief. This package is a low budget re-recording of some recent hits, along with some public domain titles, all done in a twisting, limbo-ing, Monkey-ing style. Just like Harry Breuer’s record, Audio Fidelity made sure that there’s a pretty girl who is clearly feeling the music. Yes, put this record on at your party, and this woman might just show up and dance.
The company kept the incredibly technical frequency standards as before, but just so you know, your jet set discotheque party will be a hit if your Crossover is 500 CPS. But what really caught my eye was the “Orchestras” who performed the music. Not all of the songs have one, but I promise, there is a backing track to Church Key, so feel free to Chicken Back to it. The rest of the names have very generic names like The Rockers and The Gaslighters, and even the kinda racist The Mariachi’s, who get to perform La Bamba.
The label by 1964 changed from gold to black, but it looks like exactly the same design. It could be that different factories printed up different colored labels for distribution around the country. Audio Fidelity probably never had the kind of sales that would justify their own pressing plant, so they farmed the job out to local distributers. But anyway, I’ll probably never again listen to this album, but I really do love the cover!
Cost: $2, $728 Remaining
Gene Pitney, Only Love Can Break A Heart, Musicor MS-3003, 1962
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, sometimes you just get lucky. I know, given the acts that get nominated these days to it, that not many people will recognize that Gene Pitney is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. This does look like your standard issue early 1960s Teen Idol record, but Gene Pitney was much more than that. This was one of the first big records for the writing team of burt Bacharach & Hal David, and Pitney went on to be the first person to work with and record with The Rolling Stones’ writing team of Mick Jagger & Keith Richards.
So, finding this record, in a stereo version no less (but with severe ring wear), was semi-exciting for me. While I really like his mid-sixties hits, I’m not a huge fan of his early records. Still, realizing the packaging was really unique, especially for 1962, I thought I found something pretty rare. The picture on the cover is actually a a full color, album sized, glossy photo of Gene that sides out. I’m sure most of these would have been tacked up to a wall soon after purchase, making the complete package pretty rare.
It wasn’t until I got home and checked my handy Goldmine Record Album Price Guide that I realized that this record is (or was, by my 2013 edition) valued at $50! A price guide can be a very handy thing to invest in, mostly for moments like this. There’s no reason to go out and get a brand new one, frankly it would be a miracle to find anyone who would give me $50 for this record, let alone what it is valued at in the 2016 edition of the same book, so looking at a used bookstore or online for a version that is a few years old. Not only will it cost a fraction of the new version, but the prices will be more in line with reality of where the market for these records really is. I view the $50 value of this record to really tell me that it is rare. I’m sure the unique packaging helps more than the music, but it tells me that I made a pretty decent discovery in finding this.
Cost: $5, $736 Remaining
$71 Spent, $2.36 per record
Jane Morgan, The Last Time I Saw Paris, Colpix 469, 1964
I never mean to pick on a 94 year old woman, but wow, Jane, this album of yours isn’t that good. It came about in the last moment when Rock N Roll was just one type of popular music. When people who had made a career recording professionally written songs by some of the great names of the American Songbook could still have a big selling album just because. It was a time when tastes were changing so fast that a psychedelic album cover could be used to try to sell a “good” music album, not one of those long haired records recorded by hooligans who recorded their own material.
Miss Morgan even explains her predicament, beginning her liner notes with the phrase “Although ‘good music’ is making comeback inroads on the popular music scene today…”, it never quite materialized for her…or anyone else of her genre outside of The Rat Pack or Bobby Vinton.
Instead of “Good Music” the buyers of Colpix 469 were subjected to the most banal recordings of French standards, needlessly and overly arranged by Nick Perito (whoever he was). They may have called their album “Meh, French Style”. I only really could find the strength to listen to side one, but I doubt side two would give me any desire to eat snails any more than side one had. Really, this record is only something to get for the cover, it kinda feels like Tammy Faye Bakker and Grace Slick meet Doris Day.
Cost: $2, $763 Remaining