Barbra Streisand & Kris Kristofferson, A Star I Born, Columbia BL 34403, 1976
Some albums get unfairly branded as one thing or another, but this is definitely a 70s album. A modern take on an old movie, it had every 70s trend going for it, and it hit the bullseye with all of them. So much so that this record came to define it’s time, something that is great at first, but a real burden when that time is out of fashion.
It sold over 4,000,000,000 copies in the US alone, and I’d say 3.9 million of those buyers felt embarrassed by keeping it in the house. That makes this one of the easiest albums of all time to find. There’s absolutely no reason to ever pay $4 for a mint condition, still sealed copy. It’ll be at every yard sale from coast to coast for decades.
But it’s an interesting enough thing to keep in a collection. Evergreen alone is worth a few spins a year, and the Kris Kristofferson live numbers sound like they were fun to be at. So, do, please. Pick one up an keep it on the shelf, it’s ageless (now) and evergreen (especially if you get one the has mold on it).
Cost: $2, $443 Remaining
$81 Spent, $2.61 per record
Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Columbia KCS-9914, 1970
New York has it all. Shows, Restaurants, History, Excitement, and Shopping to name but a few, are all great reasons to go there. Well maybe not so much shopping, if you’re looking for good quality cheap records. I was fortunate to spend a few days in The City recently and even had some time to check out a few local record shops. While I found a few things I was interested in, I was shocked at how much they were.
Take this decent copy of Simon & Garfunkel’s last great studio album. I brought it with from from the West Coast as part of a gift. It is a very solid copy that set me back $4. One shop I visited had a much worse version, complete with a seam split on the jacket and severe ring wear. It was offered at $20!
Maybe because real estate is so expensive there, shops have to charge more to stay in business. Also, I was looking in Manhattan, so maybe the prices are cheaper in the outer boroughs or New Jersey, but still, I came away with the feeling that New York isn’t a great place to shop for vinyl. I suppose it really is true that if you can make it there, you’re gonna make it anywhere.
Cost: $4, $536 Remaining
The Holiday Singers, The Waltons’ Christmas Album, Columbia KC-33193, 1973
Who knew they ate this well in The Depression? For those who don’t know, and I suspect anyone born after 1980 would know, The Waltons was a TV show set in 1930s Virginia and features a huge family all living together on the mountain named after them dealing with all that life had to offer during that difficult period. Of course, every problem got resolved within the course of each episode and they all went to bed at night telling each other sweet things through the floor boards.
I had no idea they also had a recording career. Music was never an integral part of the show, and until I found this in a $2 bin I had no idea it existed. It just goers to show you the depths producers sometimes went to milk the profits from a show. It doesn’t seem as though anyone appearing on the show, outside of “Grandpa” Will Geer, also appears on the record besides Earl Hamner, the show’s creator and narrator. He also narrates the record and zzzzzzzzzzz.
Do I need to tell you that The Waltons was a CBS show? Naturally, this record came out on Columbia records, the recording arm of the nations largest network. Either way, the homespun family warmth sounds cornier today than it probably did for Christmas 1973. The snippet of the Waltons Theme isn’t the same recording as heard on the show credits…that was the only reason I bought this turkey, pun intended.
Cost: $5, $548 Remaining
Tony Bennett, Live At Carnegie Hall, Columbia C2S-823, 1962
Live albums usually are that great. The music never sounds as good as the original record you already know, and the crowd noises get in the way. Sure, unique ones like Frampton Comes Alive stand out, but that was an album of new material, just performed live.
But sometimes you just catch a great performer at the peak of their talent, Judy Garland’s 1961 album comes to mind. Taking a $1 bet on this record wasn’t much of a risk, but it’s a record that is every bit as good as Judy’s.
Tony Bennett was very much a contemporary artist in 1962, with his recent hit I Left My Heart In San Francisco being featured, along with other hits of the day and past Bennett classics. But really, the swinging jazz-style concert is really great. Seeing that he’s now 90, there probably aren’t too many chances left to see a Tony Bennett concert. I’m glad I can hear one whenever I want.
Cost: $1, $633 Remaining
Dawn, Candida, Bell 6052, 1970
It’s pretty amazing that one of the most successful recording acts of the 1970s began this way. Technically they began with the title track to this record, a #3 hit in the fall of 1970, but that success spawned this album. It was very common at the time for producers to come up with a hot record, and then hire an anonymous singer or “group” to be the “artist” who released it. Tony Orlando was a failed teen idol still signed to Columbia when, of all people, The Tokens approached him with the idea to record Candida. They were looking for a Latin(o) style male singer to add a new ethnicity to a pop record. No one had any idea it would be so successfu
So much so that they used the same basic lay out for both side of the album cover! I get why there’s no picture of the group, mainly because there was no group, but sheesh, couldn’t they have come up with a different stock photo?
The success of this album and the follow up single, Knock Three Times, combined with the lack of anyone claiming to actually be Dawn, led to several Faux Dawn groups making “personal appearances” around the country. That essentially forced the producers to get Tony Orlando out of his CBS contract and hire two background singers to become the group. The rest was Oak Tree history and millions of records sold. But this was, ahem, their Dawn.
Cost $2, $696 Remaining
Linda Fratianne, Dance & Exercise With The Hits, Columbia BFC 37653, 1981
Some say that Linda Fratianne was robbed of the gold medal in figure skating at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Pacid, New York. Absoluelty no one says she was robbed of a gold record for releasing an exercise record in the wake of her not quite Dorothy Hamill skating success.
It’s not like this was some “as seen on tv” quickie either. No less than Columbia Records came up with this idea, and they gave permission for the rights to some of their biggest current hits (though not the actual records, the music was performed by “The Beachwood All-Stars”). The non olympians who bought this record were egged on to try to touch their toes to How Do I Survive, while looking at a very basic instruction book with Bette Davis Eyes.
What did this record in was the breakaway success of the Jane Fonda Workout album that came out a few months later. Barbarella’s record featured the actual hits, by actual recording artists, and it sold in the millions. There’s no information on Linda Fratianne’s reaction to her second second place finish in two years, but it’s safe to assume that the John Birch Society weren’t the only ones who weren’t Fonda Jane.
Cost: $2, $699 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