Joey Scarbury, America’s Greatest Hero, Elektra 5E-537, 1981
You’ve gotta feel bad for Joey Scarbury. Not for the suit they put him in, his glasses, or the horrendous art design of this, his only album. It’s one thing to be a one hit wonder, but its just always so sad when that hit peaks at #2 on the charts. Artists that hit #1 always pop up in all kinds of ways, while those that never reached the top spot rarely do.
In fairness, the song did get stuck behind one of the biggest hits of the 80s in Endless Love by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie. Still, The Theme From “The Greatest American Hero” (Believe It Or Not), besides having one of the wordiest titles ever, is remembered about as often as the bad 80s TV show it was featured on. It’s unlikely that Joey Scarbury tours today based on the strength of this record.
It’s all just so meh it hurts. His unease on the cover comes through onto the record. Not that I was able to find the time to listen the whole thing… Believe it or not, I’ll just pull this record out to laugh at rather than play. Sorry Joey!
Cost: $2, $402 Remaining
Richard Simmons, Reach, Elektra E1-60122, 1982
It’s a new year and that means resolving things. If you’re like me, that means working on being fit. And if you’re really like me, that means listening to cheap fitness records. Laughing and trying 35 year old exercises totally counts as cardio.
There really isn’t much here that helped me break a sweat. I may not have Nick Jonas’ abs, but I can put both hands over my head and breathe. I hope that means that I’m more of a Jane Fonda client than a Richard Simmons patient.
But there’s no denying that Richard Simmons was on top of his game. This record came out on a major label, Elektra, that went all out for it. Any gatefold cover is twice as expensive to make as a regular one, and at the time, he was able to promote it on his now daily talk show. It’s a real trip to listen too. The music has the same early 80s electronic sounds as the hits of the day, until you get to the shrill vocals that try to motivate you to keep breathing. If I ever get to DJ an 80s party, I might throw in a track or two from this just for a laugh.
Cost: $2, $522 Remaining
Joshua Rifkin, The Baroque Beatles Book, Elektra EKS-7306, 1965
As we’ve seen, people did virtually anything to jump on The Beatles bandwagon. Besides blatant knockoffs designed to confuse people, some companies came at the same target with somewhat more noble pursuits in mind.
Producer and arranger Joshua Rifkin conducts an unknown group of studio musicians (branded as the Baroque Ensemble Of The Merseyside Kammermusikgesellschaft here) performing Beatle melodies as Bach would have imagined them. It’s pretty tedious at first, then you kind of get into it.
Elektra, as evidenced by the folk singer drawn into all their early labels, considered themselves a higher brow record label for the material they released. This “concept” album was apparently the idea of their president, and Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Member Jac Holzman. Again, the noble experiment, with its pithy liner notes, was designed to show that The Beatles were serious musicians. So, I give this record a B+ for effort. I just don’t want to have to listen to it very much.
Cost: $2, $582 Remaining
Carly Simon, No Secrets, Elektra ELK 42 127, 1972
Carly Simon wanted no secrets, right down to not wearing a bra on the cover of her best known album. It’s maybe wouldn’t be a big deal now, but this was a pretty revolutionary cover in an era when Peggy Lee was still releasing albums and Karen Carpenter was singing in the Nixon White House.
True, Helen Reddy’s anthem I Am Woman hit number one as this record came out, but this album became more of a mantra for the woman’s equality movement than Helen’s single. It was that much cooler, led by the international hit You’re So Vain, but certainly helped by the informal cover. People still debate who the subject of the song is, but there’s no issue about the attitude the female narrator of it was strongly calling the mystery man out. People said it was about Mick Jagger, but there he is singing background on it, so I don’t think so. Carly has also ruled out her then brand new husband James Taylor, but he never seemed to be the Ascot type anyway.
Beyond the hit, and the semi-hit follow-up The Right Thing To Do, the rest of the music Richard Perry produced fits the same narrative. It’s not as deep as Carole King’s Tapestry, but the theme of women taking charge of their lives for the first time in ways not seen as possible before. It’s not quite what I would call an essential album, but it’s no secret that I have it.
Cost: $2, $701 Remaining
The Doors, Waiting For The Sun, Elektra EKS-74024, 1968
Even if you don’t listen to it, when you find a $2 Doors album in decent shape, buy it. For how limited their output was, they made a few albums that only continue to grow in value as time goes by. Because every day 1500 boys turn 15, and they love The Doors.
This isn’t one the “great” doors albums, but it has one of the great Doors songs, Hello, I Love You. Collectors of 45s will search high and low for early pressings of the single when the title was officially Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name, but that never made it on to the album. This one did come with a neat sticker to help sell the album after the song hit #1.
The rest of the record is really far out if you’re under the spell of The Lizard King, but pretty tedious to sit through if your mojo is no longer risin’. But records like this are essential to collect, especially if you can find them at a good price. You not only get the hit, but you get completely bizarre 1960s nonsense like Yes, The River Knows. And you can always sell it for double to a 15 year old!
Cost: $2, $703 Remaining
David Frye, I Am The President, Elektra, EKS-75006, 1969
Four days in to our salute to the American politician, I can say that the 1960 were the golden age of the genre, and that Democratic Presidents have more to be funny about than do Republican ones. David Frye gives it a good effort, but knowing how the Richard Nixon administration ended up just makes this record less funny.
Like the other records, this one features voice actors impersonating the politicians of the day performing ridiculous skits. Not really knowing a lot of the background of the people involved, some of the material went over my head. Was Hubert Humphrey really not that funny in real life?
I’ll confess that I really only bought this because I knew this week was coming and I needed to have as many political records as I could. While it’s in mint condition, it’s the most expensive record I’ve bought in a while.
Cost: $5, $931 Remaining