The Supremes, Touch, Motown MS-737, 1971
No, The Supremes’ hit making career didn’t end with the departure of Diana Ross. In fact, their early post Ross records did quite well. Just ask Elton John, who writes a glowing set of liner notes for this very album. The hit single from it, Nathan Jones, later became a world-wide #1 for Bananrama. And the artwork for Touch was copied for the film adaptation for Dreamgirls (ending all mystery about who the play was written about!). While not may people know this record today, Jean, Cindy & Mary were clearly on a roll.
The basics out of the way, this copy is a great way to show the lifecycle of an unsold album. The 46 year old shrink wrap is still intact, amazingly, given the cutout of one corner. The twin price tags reveal that this once full price record was sent to a discount store. After they failed to sell it for $1.97, the price got dropped to 98 Cents! After that failed as well, it got sent back to the distributer, who cut the corner off and gave it away or donated it somewhere.
I don’t view that as a reflection (!) of The Supremes post Ross career. Very few artists would ever escape a cut out record, and it would be very hard for a company like Motown to gauge not only how many of a particular record to produce, but to know where the demand would be strongest. Touch sold about 100,000 copies in the US, a very decent showing, but that was still less than most Supremes albums sold. I’m just thankful that I was able to find this unsold one.
Cost: $2, $212 Remaining
Cher, Cher, Kapp KS-3649, 1971
They say that after the nuclear holocaust, the only things to survive will be cockroaches and Cher. The pop icon has had more comebacks than, um, work done. This album was one of her career highlights and it probably is where that reputation comes from.
It’s her first solo record on Kapp (which was merged into MCA in 1973. Sonny & Cher were without a major label in 1970, but their Las Vegas revue led to a CBS-TV show and the recording offers poured in. Kapp asked producer Snuff Garrett to produce, which was a switch from her Imperial Records releases which Sonny produced. Richard Avedon took the cover photos, and the TV show highlighted the hit singles. It became her best selling record since 1965.
I only really got this because of the red sticker on the outer sleeve. I don’t care what record it is, but if it survived 45 years in it’s original shrink wrap, someone took care of it. Research tells me that this is a first pressing, and after the #1 success of Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves, Kapp retitled the album to match the single. Calling it Cher was already a little nutty because her third Imperial album was already called that in 1966. Not that any of this mattered to Geffin Records, but Cher was used again in 1987 for an even more successful record. Here’s hoping for Cher 4.0 in 2017.
Cost: $1, $455 Remaining
Ray Conniff, ‘S Awful Nice, Columbia CS 8001, 1958?
You know, I should really know better. Ray Conniff is one of there all time greatest Goodwill artists, someone that no serious music fan has any interest in. Even though I’ve blogged about him before, and as much as I tell people that he was was ahead of his time with the technology of the recording studio, no-one but me seems to hip to the vibe he laid down. (Cough). But really, these records are fun, sorry for being (Cough) a broken record.
So, yes, when I saw this record in a $1 bin, yes, on the street, in the rain, in the cold Oregon streets, i didn’t think twice about buying it. I never in a million years would have figured that this was a record that the great Columbia record would have ever had a need, sales-wise to re-relsease. I doubt that this was a big seller in 1958, it spawned no hit singles, and wasn’t a well known member of the Conniff catalogue.
Yet, somehow, in the 1980s judging by the label, record stores begged for more of ‘S Awful Nice to satisfy the immense customer demand for an echo chamber version of It Had To Be You. As a record collector, I felt very cheated to fall for this yet again despite the 100 pennies I had to fork over to take this home. It remains a truism that I might just get my first tattoo on my wallet opening arm that says “Aways Check The Label!”
Cost: $2, $718 Remaining
Anita Ward, Songs Of Love, Juana 200,004, 1979
It is said that Anita Ward’s biggest fear was becoming a one hit wonder. But with the success of Saturday Night Fever, Disco Music sales soared, virtually ending the popularity R&B/Soul sound of African American singers. It was way past the point of people thinking it was a fad. So when the popular disco label TK Records tells you that their star producer Frederick Knight wants to sign you to a brand new label he’s starting and has a sure-fire hit to jump start your career, well, if you’re like Ms. Ward, you sign on the dotted line.
Like many up and coming singers, the lure of a hit might cause you to agree to a few things that you never thought you would. Like Donna Summer, Anita Ward’s faith made her uncomfortable to sing the double entendre sexual lyrics she was given to record. Ring My Bell really had nothing to do with actual bells after all.
Unlike Ms. Summer, it all came crashing down fast for Anita Ward’s career. Despite the international success of Bell, TK Records was bankrupt by 1980, disco died virtually overnight, and Anita was in a bad car accident that laid her up for months. Her seven big days at number one would be all she ever had. This excellent copy of her crowning achievement will live on on my shelf, complete with it’s original shrink wrap and promotional stickers, the Juana label with the TK inner sleeve, and it’s cautionary tale for all newcomers.
Cost: $2, $825 Remaining
The Floaters, Floaters, ABC AB-1030, 1977
Yesterday, I wrote about always wanting to have the long album version of the disco classic Funkytown. From the same batch of records comes this surprisingly mint condition record from a group called The Floaters. They only ever had one hit, one cheesy cheesy hit, but their one album features 11:49 of it! It was only poor timing that had the record hit the Hot 100 at the same time as some real disco classics. The poor Floaters peaked at #2 for two weeks behind Andy Gibb (I Just Want To Be Your Everything) and The Emotions (Best Of My Love).
It’s probably a recipe for disaster to either name your group after your hit single or have a hit single titled after your group. After all, The Rolling Stones never sang Like A Rolling Stone. It just feels cheap and desperate and I really don’t know of any major act whose first big hit was named for their group. About the closest I know of is a Jefferson Airplane B-Side called Blues From An Airplane, but B-Sides don’t really count here.
The record is pretty much what you’d expect from a late 70s R&B vocal act. The genre was on it’s way out with disco ruling the airwaves and rap music about to explode onto the scene. The extra 7 1/2 minutes of Float On I’d never heard before today unfortunately don’t introduce other band member’s star signs and the physical attributes they appreciate in women, but it’s on par with a Spinners or Four Tops sound. This is one of those records that I can’t wait to pull out and play with people over. It’s absolutely a record that carries itself like…Miss Universe.
Cost: $2, $829 Remaining
Four Jacks And A Jill, Master Jack, RCA LSP-4019, 1968
I didn’t know what to make of this record when I found it. I have a vague memory of the title track being a minor hit (#18, 1968), but while I have the single, I don’t think I’ve ever played it. That happens with 45s, when you find a nice stash somewhere, they’re generally “20 for $20” or some kind of price that encourages a bulk purchase. I have a ton of them that I’ve never listened to.
But, seeing that “the sound is new“, and it was in great shape (including the original shrink wrap), I sprung for it. At first, I thought they were doing the worst possible English accent I’ve ever heard. A little research turns up the fact that they were from South Africa and probably have a spot on accent from there. Still, they’re not a particularly cute band, don’t seem to have any particular musical chops, and sing a very poppy kind of folk music. It’s like an alien Paul Simon came to Earth and left behind some allegories that you really have no interest in trying to relate to.
So, The Four Jacks And A Jill will join the collection, but honestly, this close to perfect record was fairly priced at $1.
Cost: $1, $862 Remaining
Gallant Men, Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, Capitol ST2643, 1966
It was a different time. I guess that’s the only way to describe how a 71 year old Republican Senator could write a poem and read it along with some stories from American history over a stirring marching band soundtrack…and have a hit record. Gallant Men proved a minor hit during the 1966 holiday season, and the album reached all the way to #16 on the album charts. As a result, this record is fairly easy to find, and because it’s boring as it sounds, most of them are in really great condition.
It’s hard to imagine an album like this happening today with Ted Cruz or Mitch McConnell talking about what inspires them. In fairness, Sen. Dirksen does have a pretty good voice for this kind of thing, but who really take the trouble to listen to a record of a recitation of the Pledge Of Allegiance To The Flag. The only way I would again would be for people when they doubt that such a record exists. Then we’d all have a laugh and put it back for another 5-20 years.
Like I said though, these records are easy to find and often in such great condition that you can find a great inner sleeve. This still shrink-wrapped album had a mint condition Capitol inner sleeve featuring all The Beatles’ and The Beach Boys’ 1966 releases. So I don’t really mind if it got immediately vetoed today from being played.
Cost: $2, $936 Remaining