The Village People, Macho Man, Casablanca NBLP-7096, 1978
There were a lot of fad groups that became huge in the vinyl era, but none of them we more entertaining than The Village People. Every one of their records is worth collecting, and some are even worth listening to. This one, their second album, may be their best one of all. They were still a fad on the rise when it came out and this was still before they really broke through commercially with Y.M.C.A.
It was a great idea for a group. Take a promising R&B singer and surround him with some masculine cliches in costume and name them after the gay New York neighborhood of Greenwich Village. I don’t think it wouldn’t fly today, especially the Hispanic man appearing as a Native American, but it was really far out back in the day.
Of course, it wouldn’t have worked without the music. The producer/creator of the group, Jacques Morali had their back there. He was one of the most prolific producers of the Disco Era, working with names as big as Cher and Eartha Kitt. His biggest success was with The Village People though, and this is about as good as a total disco album ever got.
Cost: $4, $488 Remaining
Johnny Carson, Here’s Johnny!, Casablanca SPNB-1296, 1974
Casablanca was one of the biggest labels of the 70s, but in 1974, it was just starting out. Without much of an artist roster, they looked for other ways of selling records. Releasing a greatest hits record on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson was one of their earliest releases. Even in 1974, Carson was mining his past to increase his income.
As schlocky as it seems to have a sound recording of a TV that was taped before a studio audience might seem, there are some pretty decent moments on here. Unfortunately, much like the way the show ended up, the Carson bits go on too long and take up too much of the space on the album. Which isn’t helped by the lengthy crowd responses, some of which I suspect were added in way after the fact. No one wants to hear the first 5 minutes of the first show when three minutes of it Johnny Carson being introduced and cheering while he gets ready to begin his monologue.
There’s a really unnecessary poster included, but the real draw are some of the music and comedy bits. Johnny always gave a great introduction, and some of these are just incredible. Lenny Bruce and Bette Midler (“she had an unusual start singing in a Turkish Bath in New York”…which is one way to put it). I wouldn’t go our of my way to find this record, but it was a decent listen.
Cost: $2, $512 Remaining
Donna Summer, Bad Girls, Casablanca NBLP-2-7150, 1979
It doesn’t matter to a bargain record buyer what genre of music is on the record. We buy anything! While I personally get more excited about a classic rock album than a classic disco album, finding a great copy of the ultimate disco album is still a good thing.
The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack may be the ultimate disco record, but this double album from Donna Summer is right behind it. Never comfortable with the Love Goddess image given to her by her producer Georgio Moroder, she wanted this record to done more in a rock style than pure dance music. The combination is really great, and the album became the biggest of her career.
After this record, and as the best selling female artist in the world, she felt strong enough to go further with her interest in rock music, but Casablanca refused to back her. She signed with the then new Geffen Records to get more creative freedom. Casablanca chose to do what record companies always do, release a greatest hits package, and mine this album for “new” singles for two years. Both the artist and the company saw the sales dry up, and by 1981 the artist was considered a has been and the company was out of business. Still, this record is really great (it would be an amazing single record!), and one that is easy enough to find.
Cost: $2, $652 Remaining
Lipps Inc., Mouth To Mouth, Casablanca 9128-042, 1979
Sometimes when I find a stash of cheap records, I don’t have the time to flip through them and really know exactly what I’m getting. I just kind of grab and go and see what I bought after. I’d been looking for a nice copy of this Lipps Inc. record for a while. It has the 7:20 version of Funkytown and who wouldn’t want that?
It wasn’t until I went to go and play it that I noticed how flimsy and oddly shiny the cover felt. It did’t take long to see that somehow I found a German pressing of the US album. There’s nothing really different, it’s the same music, but records made in other countries usually are of a lesser quality than US made ones. I’m sure the only way to make an album affordable in a 1979 West Germany still waging a Cold War was to use thinner vinyl and laminated paper covers.
The record’s label gives it’s Bavarian roots away. There’s a stern looking warning at the bottom edge, some strange trademarks like GEMA added to a standard Casablanca label, and “Made In West Germany” printed under the catalogue number. The actual vinyl is really flimsy too. It plays well, but my search will continue for a nice US version.
Cost: $2, $831 Remaining
Donna Summer, The Wanderer, Geffen GHS-2000, 1980
Donna Summer was probably the biggest music star in the world by 1979. But such a rise usually comes at a cost. She was signed to Casablanca Records and producer Giorgio Moroder, and it was really out of her hands which direction her career went. As it turned out, she wasn’t a Bad Girl at all, but a true believing Preacher’s Kid who found herself playing a role she didn’t feel comfortable with.
So it was a natural that when David Geffen came calling, Summer left Casablanca for his new label. This album was rush recorded and rush released to capitalize on her immense fame. Perhaps they should have taken more time…
It’s not that it’s a bad album, it’s just not a great album. It’s not great material and it’s not well produced. I would go so far as to say it’s overproduced. With such a lot riding on it, they really should have made sure that there was one sure-fire #1 hit on it.
Cost: $2, $849 Remaining.