February 23, 2017 RCA Got The Notion

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The Hues Corporation, Freedom For The Stallion, RCA APL1-0323, 1973

What we have here is clearly a second pressing.  The cover of the original album has been altered to include the huge notice that THIS Hues Corporation record contains their big #1 hit from June, 1974, Rock The Boat.  Sure, lead off single, Freedom For The Stallion is included too, but people only bought the album for the hit.  I’ve seen a million of these, and not a one of the original cover without the printed ad on the front.

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But what a hit!  Many people cite Rock The Boat as the first disco song to hit #1, and it’s a natural transition song from the early 70s R&B sound and into the later 70s Disco sound.  I also love the clever name the group chose.  “The Children Of Howard Hughes” didn’t get past the eagle eyed lawyers in the RCA legal department, but Hues Corporation did.  The play on the Hughes name and Hues of colors is pure one hit wonder genius.  It was pretty much over for the group after this record, what with personnel changes and declining sales, but this is a good album.

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Unfortunately for those looking for the record 44 years after it came out, it was pressed on RCA’s flimsy dynaflex vinyl.  Designed to weigh less and bend more, these flimsy records just don’t stand the test of time.  Some people call the format “dynawarp” because it doesn’t take much to permanently reshape these records into something unplayable.  This one is in great shape, so I’ll be careful to store it on an angle inside a protective plastic sleeve, and keep it out of direct sunlight.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $3, $383 Remaining

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February 17, 2017 10 To 23 To $1

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Jose Feliciano, 10 To 23, RCA Victor LSP-4185, 1969

Jose Feliciano was muy caliente in the late 60s.  The singer became famous in Latin America in the mid 60s and exploded world-wide after the huge success of re-recording The Doors’ Light My Fire.  His flamenco style guitar work was praised by none other than Jimi Hendrix, and his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner of the 1968 World Series was so controversial that it became a bigger issue than the game itself.  His records for RCA sold in the millions, and they are among the easiest records to find today.

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I actually like them, and I sometimes think I’m the only one.  These albums are mostly covers of the hits of the day, but it was a golden age for pop music.  Who doesn’t like a well done Beatles cover?  This album has three, and the re-make of She’s A Woman makes a former B-Side into A-Side material.

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There’s no need to search out these albums, they pop up anywhere old records are sold.  That means that you can feel free to wait until you find a mint condition copy.  One thing I do want to find though is the rumored infamous introduction that Ed Sullivan gave to Jose Feliciano on his live TV show.  Dear old Ed supposedly couldn’t find the cue cards with the scripted into on them anymore than he could remember the name of the next act, so he announced the only things he could remember.  It came out something like “Here’s a wonderful new singer……..he’s blind and he’s Puerto Rican!”  Ouch.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $1, $399 Remaining

February 5, 2017 Watch Out Green Day

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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.

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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.

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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.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $2, $431 Remaining

February 4, 2017 I Hear Voices

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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.

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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.

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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.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $3, $433 Remaining

January 29, 2017 Italia’s Got Talent

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Rita Pavone, The International Teen-Age Sensation, RCA Victor Brazil LPM-2900, 1964

I love foreign pop albums.  They are full of music I’ve never heard, and sometimes you get foreign language versions of English language pop hits.  I was really hoping for that when I bought this incredibly international record, but there’s only one American cover (Bobby Rydell’s Kissin’ Time).  It’s actually an album of English language pop tunes, sung by an eager young Italian girl.

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It was easy to be fooled by what this record is.  I knew that Rita Pavone was Italian, and I know enough Romance Languages to tell that the back cover is written in Portuguese.  Pavone was a huge star in Europe in the 60s, and recording for RCA meant her records could be released world wide.  This record was probably meant to be her US break through, but it didn’t happen, despite Just Once More peaking at #26.  Why RCA decided to release an English language record in Brazil I can’t explain, but they did.

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Foreign records weren’t made to the same standard as US records were.  Some European countries used very glossy cover slicks, while Japanese versions are made of paper.  The jacket of this one is really nothing more than a card stock grade of paper with the thin (and badly mis-colored) cover slicks lightly adhered.  They’re literally hanging on by a thread after 54 years.  Next time I’m in Sao Paulo, I’ll be sure to ask for a refund.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $6, $447 Remaining

January 12, 2017 Really Odd Jobs

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Dolly Parton, 9 To 5 And Odd Jobs, RCA AAL1-3852, 1980

Country Music has waves of popularity on the pop charts from time to time, and the very early 80s was certainly one of those times.  Eddie Rabbitt, Crystal Gayle, Roseanne Cash & Ronnie Milsap were having pop hit after pop hit in those years, but none of them were, ahem, bigger than Dolly Parton was.

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I read somewhere that (unbelievably) 1980s cars are going up in value on the collector’s market.  I think the same may be true for 80s records.  While I might not have forked over 200 pennies for this a few years ago, I think records like this in good shape will never be this cheap again and will become scarce with the resurgence in vinyl collecting.

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This album was one of the biggest sellers of its era, thanks to its inclusion in the film of the same name, so its really easy to find for not much money…now.  Huge selling pop records almost always have a limited number of owners who want to hold on to a record for 37 years, so they turn up all the time.  I’ve even been noticing a few Thrillers pop up in vintage stores, and Prince’s records can’t be far behind.  But for now, I’m happy to have Dolly to listen to 8 hours a day.

Today’s Summary:

Cost: $3, $499 Remaining

December 19, 2016 Blue Christmas

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Elvis Presley, Moody Blue, RCA AFL1-2428, 1977

Naturally, it’s every record buyers dream to find a $2 record that turns out to be some rare collectible worth thousands.  This isn’t one of them, despite my momentary hope that it was.

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This was Elvis Presley’s last studio album.  Moody Blue had been a decent size hit in early 1977, hitting #1 on the country chart, but only #31 pop.  RCA wanted to release an album around it, but there wasn’t enough material recorded for one.  A followup single Way Down came out in June, and the company took some live recordings and previously unreleased (and horribly overproduced!) tracks to release this album in July.  They even pressed some copies on clear blue vinyl to tie in the theme of the title track.

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But then the unimaginable happened.  Elvis died, and suddenly this record was in serious demand, as was the Way Down single.  RCA cranked up their pressing plants, and due to the sentiment, pressed all of the records on clear blue vinyl.  An album that might have sold 75,000 copies sold over a million by the end of the year.  Nearly 40 years later, one might find one of them in a $2 and think they made a real find.  Oddly though, it’s the few thousand copies pressed on regular black vinyl that were pressed before Elvis died that are worth about $300 today.  Because vinyl variations usually mean rare, people try to hawk one of these for outrageous prices, when it was fairly priced at $2.

Today’s Summary:

Cost: $2, $554 Remaining