Danny Bonaduce, Danny Bonaduce, Lion LN-1015, 1973
Lately we’ve seen the perceived quality of my featured records improve as the price goes up. But what happens when the weird record budget also rises? You guessed it, they get even weirder. Some records that have no merit musically or struggle to entertain in a straightforward way, and also barely sold, can have real value as collectables. It helps if the “artist” on these records is also known for something else. Like William Shatner, whose The Transformed Man record included a stunning cover of Mr. Tambourine Man, Danny Bonaduce was on a semi successful TV show. As “Danny” the wisecracking bassist for The Partridge Family (who never actually played a note), Bonaduce somehow managed to get a record deal as a solo artist. No, this really happened.
It’s not that he sings badly, it’s more like he doesn’t sing at all. This is a horribly overproduced record, to the point where I seriously doubt it’s really even his singing. But the real crime against humanity here is the material. Danny Bonaduce was 13 in 1973 and yet his producers felt originals like Save A Little Piece For Me, a song not about birthday cake, and I’ll Be Your Magician, a song about seduction. It’s really hard to listen to a pre-pubescent voice sing about using his magic wand to make “your resistance disappear”.
Lion Records was a short lived budget label from MGM. Budget labels were used when material came along that might tarnish the company’s main label. In this case, MGM had a very good reason to release this on Lion, as the label folded just after this record came out. I had heard about this record, and couldn’t believe it when I found it for $8 the other day. It’s not a perfect copy, with original owner Patty York’s basement having flooded at some point. Patty also dated the record on August 15, 1978, which would have been 5 years after the record came out, and 4 years after The Partridge Family was cancelled. Still, it’s an incredible find, and I think I got a deal at $8.
Cost: $8, $150 Remaining
The Amazing Mets, Buddah METS-1969, 1969
It’s Opening Day for the 2017 baseball season, so I thought I’d feature this bizarre record from the Amazin aftermath of the 1969 baseball season. The New York Mets were a 1962 expansion team that was the laughing stock of baseball who suddenly won the World Series. They did it in nail-biting fashion, with a random collection of aging stars and fierce young pitchers. Their win was so dramatic that they became a huge national story. In short, they were hot.
Naturally, the offers to cash in on the fame soon followed. Someone at Buddah Records came calling with a record deal, and it’s a really bizarre concept. Athletes are never known for their singing voices, and The Amazin’ Mets are no exception. It’s just a bunch of out of tune men singing sloppily along to public domain songs with a few cheesy and obviously quickly written originals like We’re Gonna Win The Series. There’s absolutely nothing to listen to more than once on the whole record.
It didn’t work either. Rising to #197 on the Billboard Hot 200 albums, there just weren’t too many people that interested in buying this record despite how enthralled they were with The Mets. It’s today only even really a collectible for the cover. The front has a horrible shot of the back of an usher’s head and the rest of the right field grandstand of the old Shea Stadium, but the back cover has the roster shots of the team. It would be worth a ton of money if I could get it signed by Nolan Ryan or Tom Seaver!
Cost: $5, $255 Remaining
Edd Byrnes, Kookie, Warner Brothers W-1309, 1959
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again; it’s very hard to start a record company. Virtually all available talent that can sell records already has a record label, and without that talent you won’t sell many records. Warner Brothers had the good fortune to have major film and TV production talent, and after the strange success of Tab Hunter’s recording career, Warner’s added an exclusive audio clause in all of their video contracts.
77 Sunset Strip, a Warner show produced for ABC, debuted just as the new policy came into effect. The show was a laid back affair about private investigators solving the problems of the most fortunate and beautiful people on Earth, all set to a smooth jazz sound. Warners first released a soundtrack alum from the show, but the breakout success of a minor character named Kookie quickly led to a novelty hit and this follow-up album. Kookie was famous for constantly combing his hair and speaking solely in late 50s teen slang.
The album is no longer as ginchy as it once was. Byrnes doesn’t really sing, he just sort of mumbles his way through his the script while arranger and conductor Don Ralke’s music plays underneath. It’s interesting to listen to, but the nagging thought you’ll have after about 90 seconds is “why was this ever a hit”. Then you’ll have 28:30 more to scratch your head and try to translate the words into 21st century English. It’s not the kind of scene I usually dig dad, but while the record didn’t send me straight to snoresville pops, I don’t find it to be the maximum utmost. Later, like dig.
Cost: $5, $293 Remaining
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
Bonnie Baker, Oh Johnny!, Warner Brothers B-1212, 1958
There’s very little information out there about tis record. It seems to be a re-recording by a semi-novelty one hit wonder named Bonnie Baker. The 1939 recording apparently did very well on the “hit parade” (Billboard began publishing popular music charts the next year), but it would have been quite an oldie by 1958. The liner notes on the back don’t have any Bonnie Baker career highlights newer than 1941. What really drew me to this record wasn’t the questionable artistry of the singer, but the car on the cover.
Warner Brothers records was just getting going. Jack Warner watched as his young contract star Tab Hunter had a #1 hit on Dot Records with Young Love and apparently hit the roof that his property was making money for someone else. Of course, there isn’t much of a record label if there’s no one signed up to make records and it was unsigned artists like Bonnie Baker that filled out the original Warner roster. The 1958 Warner Brothers releases didn’t get hits anymore than the 1962 Mets did. This was the twelfth album released by the label.
The car though is by far the best thing about the record. It’s for sure a Jaguar XK-140 which was in production from 1954-57. Because of the split windscreen, I date it to 1956 or earlier. Johnny may be a good lover, but he buys used cars it would seem. I also question his judgement about driving a car with such a low ground clearance on an uneven dirt road. But hey, Bonnie seems pleased. I just hope the two month wait for a new oil pan to come from Coventry England was worth it.
Cost: $2, $410 Remaining
Jan & Dean, The Little Old Lady From Pasadena, Liberty LRP-3377, 1964
Say what you want about Jan & Dean, but they made some great pop records. This was one of the last great ones of their career, but it came about seven years in from Jennie Lee in 1958. That’s a heck of a run for a duo whose music today sounds very much like a novelty act’s. They cranked out 3-4 albums a year for Liberty between 1961 and Jan’s near fatal accident in 1966, and they all sold fairly well. Their records will never compare favorably with, say, Simon & Garfunkel’s, and it seems like they pop up in sale bins all the time. It seems like everyone who wants a Jan & Dean album already has it.
I don’t think that was as true at the time. “The little old lady from Pasadena” was a take on something a stereotypical used car salesman would have said, meaning it was already in the popular lingo. The “lady” in this case was actually the old lady from an actual Dodge advertisement. Jan & Dean were commercial “artists” more than all of their contemporaries were put together, so tying a record in to a current commercial wasn’t much of a stretch. After all, car songs were huge in the summer of 1964, and this album was perfectly timed to take advantage of that.
Aside from the car songs, there’s a whole lot about skateboarding. With The Beach Boys sort of “owning” the actual surfing sound, Jan came up with the idea for Sidewalk Surfin’. The song is really nothing more than a re-write of The Beach Boys’ Catch A Wave. In true Jan & Dean style though, the album has a reminder to “be sure to get your Jan & Dean skateboard at your favorite shop”. Unfortunately, my favorite shop must have run out.
Cost: $2, $412 Remaining
Kay Starr, Rockin’ With Kay, RCA LPM-1720, 1958
Imagine Celine Dion making a hip hop record. That’s kind of what this Kay Starr album is like. Rock & Roll was just one kind of popular music in the 50s, and I think the logic here was that Kay Starr’s pop records weren’t selling, so why not try to record some of that “new” music to appeal to a new audience.
It’s not a bad idea, it’s just that this isn’t what Rock & Roll is supposed to be about. Big corporate music companies take a while to ramp up to the newest trends, and while Elvis Presley was RCA’s biggest star, they didn’t have much bench strength as far as cutting edge music went. Kay’s star was brightest in the 40s and into the early 50s, and perhaps her biggest seller was the novelty song Rock And Roll Waltz. Make no mistake, it wasn’t a Rock song.
So, no, this album didn’t sell well and Kay Starr’s career decline continued. She moved back to Capitol Records in 1959 and she produced a string of barely successful jazz records ala Peggy Lee. Her Christmas records are what she’s probably best known for today, with (Everybody’s Waiting’ For) The Man With The Bag getting a ton of plays every December.
Cost: $2, $431 Remaining
Bing Crosby, Hey Jude Hey Bing!, Amos AAS-7001, 1968
Its got to be hard to tell someone that just because they can do something, it doesn’t mean they should do something. And by something I mean this album.
Bing Crosby has his first hit record in 1926. His last non-Christmas re-release to chart came in 1957. Its safe to say that by late 1968, he was not very relevant to the record buying public. Then why bother to go though this routine? Honestly, its as bad as it looks, with Der Bingo crooning his way through the year’s biggest hits. He absolutely massacres Hey Jude, someone who has never heard of him would absolutely believe that this was a joke recording. The album’s wikipedia page ends with a prophetic “The album was never released on CD”. Shocking…
Amos Records was a short lived label created by Jimmy Bowen. He worked for Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records and left to form Amos with the hope of selling records recorded by people like Bing Crosby that once had major record deals but lost them due to failing sales. People like Frankie Laine, Mel Carter, Frankie Avalon and Johnny Tillotson all records for Amos. This was the company’s first release and as far as I can tell it’s only record to hit the charts. One glorious week at #162 made this Bing’s last charting album of newly recorded music.
Cost: $3, $533 Remaining
The Chipmunks, the Chipmunks Sing The Beatles Hits, Liberty LRP-3388, 1964
I promise. No More Chipmunks. I’m only featuring this flood damaged record as a testament to how deeply the mania surrounding The Beatles became. When I Want To Hold Your Hand hit the US charts in January, 1964, the music business changed. But not everyone knew what the change meant.
When The Twist changed everything, the imitation record thrived. There were a million twist records that came out and sold well. Other dance records came out like the mashed potatoes did phenomenally well. Records came out about dances that didn’t exist like The Locomotion and went to number one.
So, sure, if you’re Ross Bagdasarian and doing a good business selling Chipmunk records, why not jump on the latest “craze” to hit the business? Except that the craze was a moving away from the way the music business was done before and toward a genuine and artist based concept that made records like this immediately irrelevant. Not to say that this is the worst of the Beatles tribute records I’ve collected. Finding this gem on my shelf lead me to search out others. Even I can’t believe how many schlocky knock off records I have! So yes, while I many have owned this record for a few years without listening to it, this could be the best of the records I’m about to feature.
Cost: $6, $601 Remaining
Alvin Simon & Theodore with David Seville, Let’s All Sing With The Chipmunks, Liberty LST-7132, 1961
In an uncharacteristic move for me, I went to file yesterday’s Chipmunk album away into the permanent collection, and in its place I found this $2 version that I’ve had for a few years. It was shoved back in the stack, probably when I was re-filing my Chubby Checker records. And since, believe it or not, this isn’t my preferred type of music, I forgot I even had it.
This record is just a complete reissue of the 1959 original, but it was repackaged to cash in (!) on the animated cartoon series “the boys” got in 1961. Called The Alvin Show it was like a 30 minute version of The Chipmunk Song shown every Saturday morning.
So while I usually get rid of duplicates, especially re-issues, in the permanent collection, I think I just keep both. While I’d never knowingly have two, this one does have the new cover, with the cartoon chipmunks on it. Plus, it’s in stereo, and that’s pretty rare. It also happens to be in virtually mint condition, so this is the copy I’ll pull out on those once a decade occasions that I want to hear The Chipmunks.
Cost: $2, $607 Remaining