The Chad Mitchell Trio, Typical American Boys, Mercury SR 60992, 1965
Apparently, Typical American Boys record folk music for Mercury Records. Despite the smashing success of the sweaters they had, The Chad Mitchell Trio never had a memorable hit single. This album, essentially recorded at their peak, was no different.
Sure, there are some really catchy tunes, done with the slight irreverence the group was known for. There is the interesting cover of You Were On My Mind. But mostly, there’s a whole bunch of folk music that would have been really refreshing in 1963, but seemed really out of place by 1965.
Judging by the inner sleeve, the quasi-independent Mercury Records looked to fill every musical genre with some kind of artist. Jazz, Pop, R&B and Country are all featured, and what kind of self-respecting record company in the 60s didn’t have a folk trio. In fact, it was a very typical thing to.
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Anita Ward, Songs Of Love, Juana 200,004, 1979
It is said that Anita Ward’s biggest fear was becoming a one hit wonder. But with the success of Saturday Night Fever, Disco Music sales soared, virtually ending the popularity R&B/Soul sound of African American singers. It was way past the point of people thinking it was a fad. So when the popular disco label TK Records tells you that their star producer Frederick Knight wants to sign you to a brand new label he’s starting and has a sure-fire hit to jump start your career, well, if you’re like Ms. Ward, you sign on the dotted line.
Like many up and coming singers, the lure of a hit might cause you to agree to a few things that you never thought you would. Like Donna Summer, Anita Ward’s faith made her uncomfortable to sing the double entendre sexual lyrics she was given to record. Ring My Bell really had nothing to do with actual bells after all.
Unlike Ms. Summer, it all came crashing down fast for Anita Ward’s career. Despite the international success of Bell, TK Records was bankrupt by 1980, disco died virtually overnight, and Anita was in a bad car accident that laid her up for months. Her seven big days at number one would be all she ever had. This excellent copy of her crowning achievement will live on on my shelf, complete with it’s original shrink wrap and promotional stickers, the Juana label with the TK inner sleeve, and it’s cautionary tale for all newcomers.
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Dionne Warwick In Paris, Scepter SM-534, 1966
The run that Dionne Warwick had with producers Bert Bacharach and Hal David on Scepter Records is one of the great pop success stories. How this teeny New Jersey record company pulled this feat off is another one. You don’t need a psychic friend to find these records either, they sold in the millions.
Miss Warwick also released 2-3 albums a year in the 60s. Doing a five week residence in January 1966 at the Olympia Theater in Paris was not only long enough to justify a custom neon marquee sign, but it would have cut into that schedule. A live album made perfect sense to keep the product coming and increase Dionne’s profile with the public. After all, it doesn’t get much classier than a Paris engagement. Scepter obviously agreed enough to spring for a rare color back cover.
The songs are classy too, with French classics La Vie En Rose and C’est Si Bon along with Cole Porter’s I Love Paris. This album also marks the debut of the smash Message To Michael which was recorded in Paris originally as a test vocal for her co-host and French star Sacha Distel.
It also came with a fantastic Scepter inner sleeve, something I’ve never seen before. I’m really enjoying my French tribute week and this record will get a few spins a year from me. I’m also glad that not too many people treasure records like this.
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Gallant Men, Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, Capitol ST2643, 1966
It was a different time. I guess that’s the only way to describe how a 71 year old Republican Senator could write a poem and read it along with some stories from American history over a stirring marching band soundtrack…and have a hit record. Gallant Men proved a minor hit during the 1966 holiday season, and the album reached all the way to #16 on the album charts. As a result, this record is fairly easy to find, and because it’s boring as it sounds, most of them are in really great condition.
It’s hard to imagine an album like this happening today with Ted Cruz or Mitch McConnell talking about what inspires them. In fairness, Sen. Dirksen does have a pretty good voice for this kind of thing, but who really take the trouble to listen to a record of a recitation of the Pledge Of Allegiance To The Flag. The only way I would again would be for people when they doubt that such a record exists. Then we’d all have a laugh and put it back for another 5-20 years.
Like I said though, these records are easy to find and often in such great condition that you can find a great inner sleeve. This still shrink-wrapped album had a mint condition Capitol inner sleeve featuring all The Beatles’ and The Beach Boys’ 1966 releases. So I don’t really mind if it got immediately vetoed today from being played.
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