January 4, 2017 Wall Street Blues

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BJ Thomas, Everybody’s Out Of Town, Scepter SPS-582, 1970

It’s a safe bet that George Washington couldn’t have foreseen this album cover when he gave the first US Presidential Inaugural Address just up the steps from where BJ Thomas posed for the picture.  Nevertheless, while this this record isn’t as historical, I consider it a classic.

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Now its not that I think BJ Thomas is the world’s greatest singer, or the concept is Earth shattering, but rather it’s what can happen when really talented people get together to make a record.  The Late Great Chips Moman produced the record at his American Recording Studio in Memphis.  The songs include Motown and Paul Simon covers and new songs by Burt Bacharach & Hal David, and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.  How did a tiny independent record company like Scepter Records pull that off?

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Well their pushy owner Florence Greenberg, that’s who.  She took on the big studios and usually won, landing hit after hit for her big acts The Shirelles, Dionne Warwick and BJ Thomas.  In fact, this album is the follow-up to BJ Thomas’ biggest hit, the grammy and Oscar winning Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.  Even though this will never be a very valuable record, it’ll be on my turntable from time to time, no matter who’s in town.

Today’s Summary:

Cost: $2, $516 Remaining

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August 26, 2016 Let Me Tell You A Story

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Dionne Warwicke, The Dionne Warwicke Story, Scepter SPS-2-596, 1971

Dionne Warwick had an amazing run on tiny Scepter Records.  Along with writers and producers Hal David and Bert Bacharach, they scored dozens of hits and sold millions of records.  Exactly how many they sold the world may never know and that is why this record came out.

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The royalty dispute had been going on for years, and Bacharach & David were the first to quit.  Dionne followed them out the door.  Scepter did what record companies always do when their largest talent leaves the company; release a greatest hits package.

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Scepter went into their vaults to find various concert tapes form recent years, and the “new” Dionne Warwick album was ready for release.  At the beginning of the four year period when she was billed as “Dionne Warwicke”, she quickly signed a huge deal with Warner and this was her last Scepter release.  Despite it all, it’s still a portrait of an artist at her peak, and very worth a few spins.

Today’s Summary:

Cost: $2, $817 Remaining

July 17, 2016 La Dionne Dans Paris

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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.

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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.IMG_7509

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.

Today’s Summary:

Cost: $2, $909 Remaining