Rick Nelson, Spotlight On Rick, Decca DL-4608, 1965
The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet was wrapping up its 14th season in early 1965 when this album came out. It was 8 years since Rick Nelson’s first hit, and 50 hit came in those 8 years. In 1963, Decca Records singed the hitmaker to a 20 year contract, but the show and the hits were drying up. The one single from this record, A Happy Guy only climbed to #82, and the album failed to chart.
That’s not to say it’s not a good record. Of all the teen idols who gained fame because of their parents, Nelson is among the most talented and creative of all of them. Ask Quentin Tarantino who used Nelson tracks on his hipster (and million selling) soundtrack albums. And, with 2-3 album releases a year for years, there are plenty of Nelson albums to pick up for very little money.
You can often find amazing records for next to nothing if you get out of the main bins of a record store. I found this mint condition original in an Oldies bin buried in the corner of a huge San Francisco record store. While you find Beatles and Beach Boys albums recorded years before this album was in the Rock section, the slightly less cool artists sometimes get demoted to bins with Connie Francis and Billy Vaughn records. But hey, their loss is my $3 gain.
Cost: $3, $245 Remaining
Dobie Grey, Drift Away, Decca DL-75397, 1973
Despite the fact that his hair looks like Samuel L. Jackson’s in Pulp Fiction, this little pop-soul album from Dobie Grey became a modest #63 hit and spawned a top 5 single with its title track. By all accounts, he was a lovely man who passed away too early in 2011 at age 71, and Drift Away became his signature song in a 40 year career that went from Soul to Country Music. But none of that is why I’m writing about this record.
I’m featuring this record for two reasons, the first of which is that it’s significant because this was the last US release for the Decca label. Despite being one of the earliest commercial labels to exist, the Decca Gramophone brand began in London in 1914, by 1973 the US Decca label had been absorbed by MCA. Relations between the UK and the US labels were strained, and it was decided to simply retitle the US label as MCA Records. Despite the nearly 60 year history of being a major label, Decca drifted away with this album.
The other obvious reason to write about this record is the infamously misheard line in the chorus of Drift Away. Grey sings “Give me the beat boys and free my soul”, but millions of people heard it as “Give me The Beach Boys…”. Such a common mis-hearing is called a mondegreen. Certified as a new English word by Merriam Webster in 2000, mondegreen dates to 1954 and writer Sylvia Wright who always sang a Scottish folk ballad as “Lady Mondegreen” instead of the correct “…and laid him on the green”. If you’ve ever wanted to visit the famous Donzerly Lighthouse featured in The Star Spangled Banner, you’ve been singing a mondegreen by the dawn’s early light. My personal favorites include England Dan & John Ford Coley’s “I’m not talkn’ ’bout the linen” (…movin’ in) and The Rascals’ “you and and Leslie” (…endlessly).
Cost: $2, $277 Remaining
Bill Haley & The Comets, Rock Around The Clock, Decca DL-8225, 1955
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating here. Sometimes you just get lucky. The more records you look, the greater the chance that you’ll find a record like this at a vintage store for $5. It’s not the mint condition variety that would be valued at about $250, but I think I got a real bargain for such an important record.
There are only a handful of records that legitimately changed the business or established a new genre. Rock Around The Clock is like the B.C.-A.D. changeover for the music business. The single’s release in July 1955 ended the chart successes of big bands, pop vocalists, and orchestras. This album is a compilation of the group’s 1955 singles issued that December, but it was issued on the brand new 12 LP format that wasn’t available in July when the single was released. It’s considered the first rock album to hit the charts, but it’s fairly rare because it wasn’t new music when it came out and not many sold because many people couldn’t yet play the LP record.
Goldmine Record Album Price Guide values this at $250 for a mint condition copy. This one plays very well, but I’d rate it as Very Good +. There’s label damage, and one of the seams is splitting a little, but it plays great. Decca reissued the album several times, and the guide describes each label variation and this is the 1955 original. Still, I’d never seen one of any variation, and at $5, it was a low risk investment.
Cost: $5, $414 Remaining
Werner Mueller, O, Tannenbaum, Decca DL-78388, 19??
Christmas music can just be so weird. Everyone has their own traditions and there are thousands of records to appeal to each one of them. Today, it’s Christmas on the Rhine, supposedly what you’d expect to hear in Germany.
When a Christmas record does a bit of business when new, it automatically becomes a record company’s best friend because they get to release it again year after year with no expenses beyond pressing and shipping them. People who loved it once, will still love it because it only gets played 2-3 times a year, so they buy it again hoping to remember holidays gone by. Records like this are the easiest to find of any kind ever.
Take this one for example. I didn’t buy it, it was given to me for free. Once people know that you “like” records, you receive all of their valueless records that they didn’t have time to go down to Goodwill and donate. Judging by the cover photo, this record came out in the 50s or 60s on Decca, but this one has a late 70s MCA label. That means it was in print for at least 15-20 years. There’s no reason to ever buy a record like this, unless you have $0.99 burning a hole in your pocket and you grew up in Frankfurt.
Cost: $1, $553 Remaining
Brenda Lee, Coming On Strong, Decca DL-4825, 1966
For as big as she was from 1960-62, after The Beatles hit, Brenda Lee’s career was on the wane. She wasn’t alone, but she was perhaps the best selling artist in the world. She needed a hit by 1966, and got one in an enduring underground classic.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album is just meh. They used what seems to be a horribly outdated picture on the front and the back is nothing more than a bland description of the songs here and ads for her other albums that weren’t selling. The other songs are just covers of hits of the day that add nothing to the rocking title track.
When I say this is an underground hit, it comes from being mentioned in Golden Earring’s Radar Love. That cool rock song spurred interest in the 8 year old song, especially in the UK. So, I’ll listen to the one song I love here, but thats about it.
Cost: $2, $556 Remaining
Sophie Tucker, A Collection Of Songs She Has Made Famous, Decca DL 5371, 1951
I’ve actually never seen anything like this. And that’s in 40 years of record shopping. In fairness, most of those years I never would have given a second though to something like this. Without even describing the music or the saucy lyrics, this is a 10″ vinyl record, the same size as the shellac 78 RPM records that are only good for about 100 plays. In fact, the only label information I found about this record is that it originally came out in around 1948 on a 78, but with only six songs. This would have been about the same time as the vinyl LP record hit the market. Decca probably just added two more songs (the last two songs do sound different than the first six) and reissued the album on a 10″ vinyl record. It’s just such an unusual format though as the 12″ LP became the norm.
Musically, it’s just a hoot! Sophie Tucker, who called herself The last Of The Red Hot Mamas, was the original Bette Midler. Bawdry, brash and able to get away with some pretty dirty double entendres, she really was a true original. Paul McCartney gave her a nod at The Beatles’ 1963 Royal Command Performance at the London Palladium, when he was introducing Till There Was You by saying it has been recorded “by our favorite American group, Sophie Tucker”. While that wasn’t true, she never did record it, it was still a great line and something I’m sure the 77 year old who was near death at the time would have found amusing. Incidentally, Ms. Tucker had her Royal Command Performance at the same London Palladium in 1926, only the royalty changed…
I don’t know how long the 10″ 33 1/3 record was made, or even why. There’s very little information out there on them. It could have been simply that people were slow to replace equipment that could play the modern 12″ vinyl LPs from, and 10″ was the size of records they were used to buying. It was the need of classical orchestras to have the 20 minute recording time a 12″ record provided to play a complete piece uninterrupted that really forced the change. A 10″ record only holds about 15 minutes of music, so it wouldn’t have been something that was going to last very long. Either way, finding this and hearing a 65 year old record is pretty special.
Cost: $2, $638 Remaining
The Wilburn Brothers, I’m Gonna Tie One On Tonight, Decca DL-74645, 1965
I usually try to write a snappy headline, in fact I’ve done for every record up to now. But this gem from The Wilburn Brothers just cannot topped. Nor can the song selections, snappy titles like Drivin’ Nails In My Coffin, and Cigarettes, Whuskey, And Wild Wild Women ensure that the listener is in for a night to not remember.
Even the monochrome back cover has it’s share of debauchery. The liner notes by someone named Bill Claiborne begin “Decca picked me to do some commenting on this album because I tie one on every night…”.
And fitting to the album theme, the record has a distinct aroma of a shag carpet the morning after a frat party. Not that it detracts from the enjoyment of something I never heard of before I shelled out less than half of a pint at my favorite microbrewery.
Cost: $2, $801 Remaining