October 24, 2016 Really?

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Frankie Avalon, Swingin’ On A Rainbow, Chancellor S-5004, 1959

There are a bazillion artist chart achievements out there.  Easy ones like “most number one hits” compete with “most weeks at number one by producer”.  But I think I’ve found here something truly remarkable.  I think I’ve found the first album to hit the top 10 that had no hit singles released from it.

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Sure, Frankie Avalon was a hot property in 1959.  Elvis was in the army, and the record business needed a new “it” boy in a hurry.  And who could be more wholesome for the country (or under contract already to some sketchy producers) than he?

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So, in the wake of his huge #1 hit Venus, Chancellor Records went all out and produced this very expensive looking gatefold cover of Frankie singing some pop tunes in the style of a young Frank Sinatra.  It’s an impressive package, and the record isn’t half bad either.

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And it sold!  Reaching #9 in the era when ingles defined pop success, this record tried to expand the teen idol into a new market.  Unfortunately, Bobby Darin filled that spot with his amazing Mack The Knife while this record was still o the charts.  Still, Avalon probably was the best selling artist of 1959, even though his music was pretty much immediately dismissed and his artistic credibility destroyed by some horrific films with Annette Funicello.  But, it wasn’t until The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that another non-broadway or soundtrack album hit the top 10 without a hit single.

Today’s Summary:

Cost: $2, $692 Remaining

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July 29, 2016 Ciao Bello

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Frankie Avalon, Italiano, Chancellor CHL-5025, 1962

Ciao is the universal Italian word.  Italians use it to say hello or goodbye.  In this case, Chancellor Records was saying goodbye to Frankie Avalon.  There were three other Avalon releases on the label, but one was a Christmas Album, one was a greatest hits record, and one featured older, unreleased material.  By late 1962, Avalon left the label to work on film projects such as the non-Oscar nominated Beach Blanket Bingo and Muscle Beach Party.

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However, for a sugary sweet teen idol who was getting a little lungo in the denti, this is a fairly enjoyable album.  It wasn’t exactly a terrible idea to re-reocrd Italian Pop standards given Bobby Rydell’s success with Volare and Elvis Presley’s reworking of O Sole Mio into It’s Now Or Never, and Torna A Surriento into Surrender.  The songs have a Bobby Darin feel too, with a thumping bass and rhythm track underneath harpsichord and mandolin leads.

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With the loss of its biggest seller, Mr. Avalon, at the same time as its second biggest seller, Fabian, Chancellor Records was in trouble.  The label’s last top 10 hit came in the summer of 1962 with Claudine Clark’s Party Lights.  By 1965, the company was gone, and it would be decades until its original hits would be reissued.  As a result, fans of Frankie Avalon need to watch out and only by his Chancellor records (or his United Artist film soundtracks), lest they inadvertently wind up with a 1974 Belgian recording of Venus.

Today’s Summary:

Cost: $10, $871 Remaning