Ray Conniff, Plays The Bee Gees & Other Great Hits. Columbia BL-35659, 1978
Yesterday’s wonderful experience of listening to Mae West’s Way Out West gave me an idea of another theme week. Mae gave it her all but she really had no artistic business releasing a sexy vamp rock & roll album at age 72. I’ve been combing through the records I got this spring during two massive clearance sales I went to and found an impressive bunch of albums that absolutely should not exist, but happily do.
Today we have a 1978 Ray Conniff record made for a segment of the record buying public who found the hard rock sounds of Debby Boone and Barbra Streisand too loud. Mr. Conniff and his Singers were on the task, softening up the soft rock and light disco that dominated the late 70s charts.
The singers and their perfect diction seamlessly mesh songs to Ray’s arrangements until they sound like bunch of radio station jingles. Night Fever/Stayin’ Alive is a particular favorite. To say that this is elevator music is almost unfair to elevators. But then what else would you expect from a man in a powder blue tuxedo jacket with rhinestoned lapel, ruffled gold shirt and brown bow tie.
None of this is to criticize Ray Conniff’s music or the 70 million albums he sold. He was a pioneer of stereo orchestration recordings and his early albums, especially the Christmas ones, sold in the millions. His technique of using voices as instruments as part of an orchestra was mildly (of course!) revolutionary and copied by thousands of artist after him. I play a few of his 50s records when I want to make an evening cocktail and feel like Don Draper. If I ever get a 1960 Buick Convertible like his, my soundtrack is ready.
Cost: $2, $925 Remaining
Various Artists, The Headliners ’66, Columbia Record Club DS 154, 1966
Imagine your surprise when you got your first shipment “at full club prices” of a record selected “just for you” and you find The Headliners ’66 in the envelope. As great as it was to receive 9 albums for One Cent, paying $5.98 plus shipping and handling for this turkey must have made you really question your decision.
Sure, it’s got some big names, and some songs you recognized (because other people made them famous), but there’s really no way anyone in their right mind would have bought this. Joe Harnell? About the only headline Joe Harnell might have made in 1966 would be “Area man dies of tedium from listening to a Joe Harnell record”.
This is the kind of record that hasn’t existed for decades. Taking rejected or sub-standard tracks from your stable of artists and combining them into a “greatest hits” package just doesn’t happen anymore. Virtually everyone here is way past their prime, and the material is really uninspiring. Moon River, Moon Song, and Moon Love all on one compilation? Inspiring. The upside is, I’d be willing to bet that this record is the only place some of these recordings were ever released.
The other plus is that I found it in the $1 bin at Goodwill, and it is the absolute most pristine $1 record I’ve ever bought. I’d be surprised if it was played more than 10 times. I personally plan to make sure it doesn’t hit 15 plays during my ownership period. The cover is in great shape, and I’ve never seen this Columbia Record Club Exclusive label anywhere else. The original owner also switched inner sleeves with something else, so I got a mint condition 1966 Capitol inner sleeve that I could probably sell for $5 on Ebay.
But no…I’m going to save it until the day that I find a copy of Pet Sounds in the same shape.
Cost: $1, $975 Remaining