Sebastian Cabot, A Dramatic Reading Of Bob Dylan, MGM SE-4431, 1967
Oh where to begin… The best thing to say about it is that Sebastian Cabot is that he obviously would have made millions in today’s animation film industry. He really had an amazing speaking voice. But…why did this have to happen?
Yes, Sebastian Cabot was the lovable Mr. French on the highly rated TV show Family Affair, and yes Bob Dylan was the biggest lyrical songwriter of the era, but I don’t believe the Nobel Award Committee For Literature used this record as source material. It’s fair to call this one of the campiest combinations of all time As weird as the cover implies that it is, I promise you it’s even weirder.
It might have helped if they went with the more obscure songs from the Dylan catalogue, finding themes and words that were appropriate for Mr. French to say. By sticking to the hits, Mr. Cabot has to come up with 99 ways to not sound too creepy every time he has to utter the word babe. I’m sure it must have been a real big hit around the Dylan household too. But, if Rhino Records chose two tracks from this record for their Golden Throats novelty albums, you know they found a classic.
Cost: $5, $357 Remaining
The Beatles, With Tony Sheridan & Their Guests, MGM E-4215, 1964
On June 22, 1961, in Hamburg Germany, Tony Sheridan recorded five songs backed up by a fellow English group he knew from the local club scene. The single My Bonnie did well enough in West Germany (#31), but it would be an unlikely candidate for a major label release in the US if it weren’t for the fact that the backing band was The Beatles. Actually, it still probably didn’t deserve a major label release. The songs are mainly public domain standards, with one incredible instrumental. Cry For A Shadow, originally recorded as The Beatle Bop, is the only song credited as written by John Lennon and George Harrison.
Naturally, there was no way that The Beatles would allow their image on a record that wasn’t really even theirs, so MGM, which licensed the Sheridan tracks from German Polydor came up with this bland green cover that screams THE BEATLES and adds a brief mention of the real artist Tony Sheridan “and their guests”. The “guests”, who are more like party crashers, are billed here as The Titans, but the tracks were released in 1961. As you can see, MGM did what most record companies did when an album had both stereo and mono versions. One extended cover “slick” was printed, and the appropriate edge was exposed, with the other edge covered by the back slick. Someone tore off the upper left corner of this mono record to expose the upside-down “stereo” printed on the front slick. It’s too bad, because real stereo copies of this album are very rare and worth hundreds of dollars.
There were other recordings made that day in Hamburg. With some extra time left in the session, The Ringo-less Beatles recorded four songs themselves. These got leased to Atco Records for yet another major label US release, with the single Ain’t She Sweet hitting the top 20. The two singles off this album My Bonnie and Why didn’t do as well, but these songs were issued countless times over the last 53 years. I suppose the same thing would have happened if MGM got their hands on a tape of John Lennon reading the phone book.
Cost: $5, $419 Remaining
Stan Getz, Mickey One (Soundtrack), MGM E-4312, 1965
One of the best things about buying cheap records is finding real gems that you never heard of before, but totally fall in love with when you listen to them. I certainly know about Warren Beatty, but I’ve never heard of a movie called Mickey One. The reviews I have read are not that rosy…
But I have also heard of the great Jazz Stan Getz. So at $2, it’s not a budget busting purchase to take a chance on the soundtrack of a movie I’d never heard of. And its really really good. Sure, there is a lot of incidental background music like there are on all soundtrack albums, but it’s Stan Getz playing that music.
And because it came out in 1965, its got that mid 60s feel that I love. Soundtracks always reflect the music of the era the movie is set in, and they’re usually the cheapest of the cheap in any record store. Shhh, don’t tall anyone!
Cost: $2, $514 Remaining
Donny Osmond, Portrait Of Donny, MGM SE 4820, 1972
Before I get accused committing of a mortal musical sin, let me clarify that I bought this record for the intact insert and not the actual record! But in fairness, considering the fact the MGM Records advertised the three 8×10″ glossy pictures of their teen idol, perhaps even they weren’t thinking too much about the record that also came with them.
There’s no doubting the hotness of The Osmond clan in 1972. And the hottest of them all was Donny. The sort of “answer” to a very young Michael Jackson, MGM had Donny sing cover versions of early 60s hits and often outsold the originals. Carole King had a phenomenal year as an artist and songwriter in 1971 because of her smash album Tapestry and James Taylor’s version of You’ve Got A Friend. But her sales figures were augmented by Donny Osmond’s cover of the 1963 Steve Lawrence record Go Away Little Girl, which spent three weeks at number one.
Finding a very good copy of this record was one thing, but finding it complete with nearly perfect inserts is some kind of a coup. Virtually all of these photos and posters would have immediately been tacked up on a wall and quickly destroyed. But for the amazing price of $1 I can see Donny thinking of me and signing off with “love”. Oh, yes, and I also got a free record of hims singing too!
Cost: $2, $613 Remaining
$68 Spent, $2.27 per record
Sammy Davis Jr., Now, MGM SE-4832, 1972
I’ve already covered Sammy Davis Jr. with a schlocky album he did as an Alka-Seltzer a few years after this record came out. So why go back to the well, cough, Now?
Well, there is the fact that the hit version of The Candy Man that became Sammy’s only Number One hit. Not that on it’s own, me, or really anyone, is looking to hear that even on a $2 album. No, it’s this amazing cover that wowed me. It unfolds into an amazing double sided poster of the world’s greatest entertainer. I was quickly sold.
Sammy sure knew a lot of people. I mean, Richard Nixon and The Queen Mother, even Arte Johnson don’t associate with just anyone. Maybe that’s why MGM signed him, even after years of no hits for his best friend Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records.
And it explains why MGM went all out for his debut album. Turns out, it’s pretty nice to listen to too. It’s Sammy just before his creative and physical decline began. I wouldn’t go out of my way to look for this record, but anyone looking will eventually find it.
Cost: $2, $793 Remaining
Various Artists, MGM Parade Of Stars, MGM SNP-90569, 1965
There are a lot of record label compilation albums, but this is one of the weirdest ones I’ve ever seen. It’s for that rare music listener who likes Connie Francis and The Animals, plus Show Tunes and Latin Punk Rock, but also Boy Bands and Orchestras. Luckily, MGM didn’t really try to sell this album.
This actually an ad for the Capitol Record Club. You would join the club and something this would be your sign up bonus. MGM was thoughtful enough to make the whole back cover an ad for their own artists’ fully priced albums. Stereo cost $1 more!
At least this is a stereo copy. Hearing I’m Into Something Good in original stereo is well worth it, as is The Osmond Brothers (without Donny) singing along to a groovy version of Downtown. I don’t usually go for these kinds of records, but I’m glad I did.
Cost: $2, $797 Remaining