Bobby Vinton, There! I’ve Said It Again, Epic LM-24081, 1964
This is a terrible record. There! I’ve said it again. Yes, ok sure, President Kennedy had just been killed, and the #1 title track was a slightly better pop song than Dominique by The Singing Nun, but why did this nonsense sell so well? How did it keep Louie Louie by The Kingsmen out of the #1 spot? And why did Bobby VInton have such success during the most creative pop era ever?
I really can’t explain it. Vinton himself explained it as The Beatles and their contemporaries wiping out all of his competition, but I don’t buy it. Jack Jones, Vic Dana, Wayne Newton and others were all in the same groove, but none of them came near the chart performances of records like this. There! was one of two Vinton #1s in 1964 and its month at the top only ended when I Want To Hold our Hand exploded on the charts. The album peaked at #8, but was still certified gold.
It’s really that terrible of a record though. It’s not some mid century modern classic pop record that you would want to play at a cocktail party, it’s a overly produced throwback to the big band era and just sounds awful today. And so, despite the gatefold cover and deluxe packaging, this near mint copy was fairly priced at $1, marked down from $4. You’ll find it in virtually every thrift store and garage sale, and basically any place cheaper records are sold. No one who appreciated music would ever listen to it more than once. Only buy it if you have too much shelf space, are trying to collect every record ever made, or you have too much money. This will be a $1 record for the next few centuries .
Cost: $4, $194 Remaining
Wham!, Make It Big, Columbia FC-39595, 1984
It’s Record Store Day today, and while that doesn’t mean much for most people, it meant that I was up early to see what the festivities were like here in town. One shop was having a massive $1 sale that I knew would take hours to get through, while the other celebrated by stocking up on Record Store Day specials re-issued by the record companies. While I’m constantly amazed at some of the records that get re-issued, I noticed at trend this year. There were some specials from new music, but it was 80s remixes that really were popular. Madonna and Michael Jackson, but mostly Prince all had “new” records in the stores, custom made collectibles that went on sale today.
It made me realize that 80s records are probably going to start becoming hard to find at a decent price soon. I know that original copies of Thriller and Purple Rain are already in Beatles territory price wise, so records like this can’t be far behind. I ran back to the $1 sale and focused on as much 80s music as I could find. At $1 each, these records will have nowhere to go but up in value. If Prince is like The Beatles, then Wham! records will price out like The Dave Clark Five pretty soon.
And this is a really great Pop record. A worldwide #1 in 1984, it solidified George Michael as a superstar and relegated Andrew Ridgeley to the latest in a long list of lesser known sidekick. Ridgeley is very much like & Oates and And Messina of pop duos gone by. But still, I’m pretty pleased to get a mint condition $1 copy of this record.
Cost: $1, $207 Remaining
Bobby Darin, That’s All, Atco 33-104, 1959
This could be my best $1 album purchase ever. Some of the songs on this record are among the most famous of all time, with Mack The Knife being played somewhere right now. Yes, this album sold well for an album at Christmas 1959, but it’s fairly easy to find today. Why I can’t tell you, but get one when you see it. It’s a heck of an album. As simple as the cover might seem, if you really look at it, you see someone determined to be a success. And this record made that happen.
The back cover kind of shows the age of it. When was the last time a telegram was featured on a record jacket? But Sammy Davis Jr. was right. The record is so good that you almost want to hate Bobby Darin for making it. One thing about this particular record is the green pen mark in the upper right corner. I can’t say for sure if it’s genuine, but somebody signed “Bobby Darin 2/14/60” there.
Atco was the second label of the ATlantic Record COmpany. Ahmet Ertegun, the jazz crazed founder of Atlantic, let his brother Neshui start the label to feature acts that wouldn’t dilute the purity of the jazz oriented Atlantic label (but would still sell!). Early Rock & Roll acts certainly were not pure enough to be on Atlantic and Bobby Darin found himself on the new Atco label. This was Atco’s fourth album release, and the second by Bobby Darin, making the label’s success very much because of the success of this record. Again, if you see one, get it.
Cost: $1, $217 Remaining
Hall & Oates, Voices, RCA AOL1-3646, 1980
As the jacket might indicate, times have changes since this album was released. Hall & Oates were not exactly a hot property when this record came out, proven by the first single released from Voices, How Does It Feel To Be Back, struggled to reach #30 on the charts. A remake of You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, climbed to #12, but still, the album was barely holding on to the top 100.
For some reason, RCA went for a third single. Kiss On My List started off slowly, but hit #1 about 9 months after the album came out. It was so big that RCA changed the cover of Voices from a black and white montage to this bizarrely styled, very 80s photo. A fourth single, You Make My Dreams, hit #5, and Hall & Oates were suddenly huge pop stars. Voices stayed on the album charts for 100 weeks, just shy of two years.
There was another #1 song on the album. In 1985, Paul Young covered Everytime You Go Away, and it topped the charts. Not that looking back into the Hall & Oates catalogue will turn up any other million sellers, it’s a pretty remarkable achievement to have.
Cost: $3, $433 Remaining
Frankie Valli, Closeup, Private Stock 2000, 1975
The Four Seasons were not doing too well by the early 70s. Their records weren’t selling and they were dropped from their record label, Philips. Bizarrely, they signed with Motown Records, who also dropped them after an album and a half. The group paid $4000 to buy one of their unreleased tracks back. It was money well spent, and released as a Frankie Valli solo single, My Eyes Adored You went to #1. This was the album that they made to accompany it.
When I say they, I mean the bedrock partnership of Valli, Bob Gaudio and producer Bob Crewe. By the time this record rolled around, records got released under the name Frankie Valli, The Four Seasons, and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, but it didn’t matter. It’s all the same people on the records.
The record also has one of the first songs I can think of on a pop record that is longer than 10 minutes. This is not necessarily a disco album, but some of it is proto-disco, with all 10:09 of Swearin’ To God as my evidence. One other fun fact is that the female vocalist is a young Patti Austin. It’s a great album for what it is, and it’s always great to find a long album version of a single that you know so well.
Cost: $2, $456 Remaining
Nat King Cole, L-O-V-E, Capitol ST-2195, 1964
The House That Nat built tried to keep their beloved Mr. Cole in their studio as much as possible. This was the fourth album and final album that he recorded for Capitol in 1964. Fourth in this case because it’s an amazing achievement nowadays for an artist to release four albums in a decade, and final because Nat King Cole died a few weeks after the record was released.
You would never know that these were the output of the amazing singer’s last recording sessions. He was in really good voice despite having fatal lung cancer. I prefer to think that is why this album peaked at #4, and not because it was a brand new record of a legend that has just died.
Its a really great album too. The title track is one the the most remembered of all of Cole’s songs. Because it mostly appealed to adults (the LOVE single only peaked at #28) this album is pretty to find. It’s rarely pricey and usually in great shape. I’d go so far as to call this one essential.
Cost: $2, $464 Remaining
Brenda Lee, Coming On Strong, Decca DL-4825, 1966
For as big as she was from 1960-62, after The Beatles hit, Brenda Lee’s career was on the wane. She wasn’t alone, but she was perhaps the best selling artist in the world. She needed a hit by 1966, and got one in an enduring underground classic.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album is just meh. They used what seems to be a horribly outdated picture on the front and the back is nothing more than a bland description of the songs here and ads for her other albums that weren’t selling. The other songs are just covers of hits of the day that add nothing to the rocking title track.
When I say this is an underground hit, it comes from being mentioned in Golden Earring’s Radar Love. That cool rock song spurred interest in the 8 year old song, especially in the UK. So, I’ll listen to the one song I love here, but thats about it.
Cost: $2, $556 Remaining