The Soul Survivors, When The Whistle Blows Anything Goes, Crimson CR-502, 1967
For record #365, I’ve chosen a semi-rare album from a semi-on hit wonder. The Soul Survivors were a New York band fronted by a pair of brothers, Charles and Richard Ingui. According to the liner notes on their one Crimson release, on March 19, 1966 two cars had an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. Both were bands on their way to gigs, and they decided to form a Soul band together. Clever as they were, The Soul Survivors were born.
Frankly, the charts in the Spring of 1966 were dominated by two records, The Righteous Brothers (You’re My) Soul & Inspiration, and The Young Rascals Good Lovin’. This album sounds like it was performed by both of those groups. The #4 smash Expressway To Your Heart is absolutely the best Rascals song not performed by The Rascals. They do a note for note cover of The Rascals cover of The Marvelttes’ Too Many Fish In The Sea. The Album closes with The Rydle, a/k/a I Gave My Love A Cherry, done with a clear nod to the the Righteous way Bobby Hatfield sang standards like Unchained Melody and Ebb Tide.
Crimson is also a one hit wonder of sorts. This record represents half of their entire output as a label, with Crimson 501 being a bizarre DJ concept album with no artist or song credits that was designed as a quiz for people curious enough to buy. Needless to say, this was the only Crimson album to chart. Despite the bizarre Philadelphia based company background, The Soul Survivors project was the first hit for the production team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. They went on to start Philadelphia International Records which surpassed Motown as the premiere creative Black label in the 70s. Not a bad way to end a blog…
Cost: $10, $1 Remaining
$191 Spent, $6.16 per record
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Going To A Go-Go, Tamla TS-267, 1965
If your goal is to collect every Motown album, you sometimes pick a placeholder. It would be a really great if I found a near mint stereo copy of this incredible Miracles album for $3, but all I got was this “good” copy. There are pops and crackle galore through the best songs, but it’s still really great to hear these classic Motown tracks in original stereo. The production is all incredible, especially seeing as the music was all recorded in the basement of a cramped old house in West Detroit.
Actually, side 2 plays really well. With all four top 40 hits from the album on side 1, I’m guessing the original owners hardly every played side 2. The non hits are songs I’ve barely ever heard, so it’s easier to hear how good The Miracles were. I always pay more attention to a new (to me) song when I hear one than I do to, say, the 26,851st time I’ve heard The Tracks Of My Tears.
The original owners, who were apparently not very good at maintaining their record players. but also used the back of the jacket to make a list of their favorite Miracles songs. They must have been real fans though because the songs listed go all the way back to Bad Girl, one of the first Miracles records to chart. This copy is good enough to hold me over for the near mint copy that I’ll find one day, but I’m grateful to have it.
Cost: $3, $42 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
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
Dick Van Dyke, Songs I Like, Command RS-860-SD, 1963
I almost didn’t buy this one. Even at $2, I have way more easy listening records than I will probably ever listen to. If it was just The Ray Charles Singers with Enoch Light and his Orchestra, I would have passed. But because it’s Dick Van Dyke seemingly from the era of his eponymous TV show, I took a chance. I’ve been wanting to do a theme week of TV records (that I think actually began yesterday!), and this one would certainly be a part of it.
Generally, when a TV star gets a record deal, it’s on a label affiliated with the network the show aired on. With The Dick Van Dyke Show airing on CBS- The Columbia Broadcast System- I don’t know how this record came out on the relatively unknown independent Command Records. There’s scant information out there about the album, but there is a lot on Enoch Light and Command Records. Learning how this tiny label made revolutionary advances in recording technology under the guidance of Light makes me now a fan of Command Records. I knew that he had huge selling albums like Persuasive Percussion in the late 50s and very early 60s, but I just assumed they were oddities that were meant for people to experience the sound benefits of stereo. I was wrong.
You really can hear a depth of clarity on this record. Despite this not really being my first choice of music to listen to, I listened to both sides twice because of how great this record sounds. The music is what you might expect of a 60s game show or variety program, but it’s still pretty fascinating. This was obviously a super-premium package, with a gatefold cover (another Enoch Light innovation) and extensive liner notes from Carl Reiner. I’m sure it sold at a high price, meaning it was purchased by an audiophile who took care of it. Command Records was sold to ABC in 1965 who promptly deleted record like this from the catalogue. But they kept the technology alive, pressing Quadrophonic records well into the 80s.
Cost: $2, $362 Remaining
Don & Alleyne Cole, Live At The Whiskey A Go-Go, Tollie 56001, 1964
I have to be honest, this is not the most exciting performance I’ve ever heard. Actually, I know some high school bands that are more exciting. They do get some points for trying, but Don & Alleyne Cole just aren’t all that good. I don’t even hear a female vocalist at all, so I don’t really know what Alleyne did for the act.
No, what really is among the most exciting thing about this record is the label it came out on. Like yesterday’s Vee-Jay record, this album came out on the short lived Tollie Records subsidiary. In fact, in its 15 months in operation, Tollie only issued two albums! It’s always a good day to pick up half of a label’s discography for $5.
There were many different label variations for Tollie, most likely because different pressing plants used different label stock, and, really, who would have cared? This is the basic yellow variation and not the “official” purple Tollie label. Vee Jay probably only started the label to get as much airplay and sales as they could from The Beatles records they had under contract, and as long as the money kept coming in, they could take a chance on releasing poorly recorded live albums like this to see if they could get another hit. Of course, they didn’t.
Cost: $5, $743 Remaining
Gary LeMel, The Gary LeMel Album, Vee Jay VJS-1129, 1965
I had never heard of Gary LeMel when I found this record. The liner notes on the back told me that he was 25 years old in 1965, and single. He was a nightclub singer who was born in England but grew up in Arizona. The songs on his album were a mix of pop standards and fairly current hits. There’s not much more information about him online other than he became a hugely successful label executive for Casablanca, Boardwalk, Warner Brothers and Columbia Records.
I certainly did enjoy the record. Not as in I felt moved by his music, but rather than this is literally listening to the worst hotel act ever. Like a serious version of Bill Murray’s Nick The Lounge Singer. There’s the spoken word intro On Broadway, and enough “Hey”s, “Yeah”s and “Whoa”s to keep any mid century modern fan happy.
No, I shelled out 100 pennies for this treasure because it came out on Vee Jay Records. Yes, I bought this for the label. The mint condition inner sleeve didn’t hurt, but I try to buy anything from Vee Jay. They were the small independent Chicago based R&B label that somehow or another had The Four Seasons and The Beatles signed to multi year contracts and managed to screw it all up and go bankrupt. The Gary LeMel Album came out about a year before they turned out the lights, so the inner sleeve promotes the few Four Seasons records they still had the rights to release, but nothing from The Beatles. In fact, their discography shows only 18 albums, mostly greatest hits packages and foreign releases, so it’s pretty obvious that there were problems. But it makes it totally understandable why they would release a record like this.
Cost: $1, $748 Remaining