Dino, Desi & Billy, I’m A Fool, Reprise R-6176, 1965
Known the world over for their total credibility as a rock trio, no one from their families had anything to do with Dino, Desi & Billy’s success. Frank Sinatra himself personally plucked this band from middle school obscurity and singed them to a major label deal, not based on any phone calls from anyone’s mother, but because of their (very) raw talent. It’s not every boy band that can lip sync weekly on national TV on shows produced by their parent’s production companies, based solely on their talent.
Known as the thinking man’s Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Dino, Desi & Billy met in grade school in Hollywood. By Junior High, they were ready for their big break, performing for Frank Sinatra in Dean Martin’s basement. Quickly signed to Frank’s Reprise Records, they were assigned top notch producers Billy Strange, Jack Nitzsche, and Lee Hazelwood. This was their first album and by far their biggest hit, but attempts at success were made for years, and the group made numerous TV appearances. It kinda came to an end only when Desi Arnaz Jr. joined his mother’s TV show, and Dino & Billy went to college.
As much as I kid, Billy Hinsche became a member of The Beach Boys in the 70s and sang backgrounds for Elton John and Waren Zevon. As for the others, Dean Paul Martin died in a plane crash, and Desi was briefly a TV heartthrob, at least until he took Marcia Brady on the cheek on The Brady Bunch. This is actually a pretty poor excuse for a pop record, but it’s fun to hear just for the cover of Like A Rolling Stone.
Cost: $2, $260 Remaining
The Partridge Family, Up To Date, Bell 6059, 1971
The Partridge Family, a nominees for Best New Artist at the 1971 Grammy Awards, were hot when this, their second album came out. David Cassidy was on his way to a brief stint as the leading national teen idol, and the records flew off the shelves. It was all fake in reality, but this record hit #3 as the TV show wrapped up its first season.
Like most teen idol records, this one is geared to appeal to the fans. In this case, 14 year old girls. For the first time, David Cassidy sings every lead, instead of the anonymous studio singers that sung half of the first album. He even got his first writing credit, but it was the two top 10 hits I’ll Meet You Halfway and Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted that really pushed the album’s sales. The latter song was absolutely hated by Cassidy and the show’s production was halted so producers and lawyers could convince him that he had to sing it, cheesy spoken interlude included.
Besides the hits and the dimples. what also was included was a cool custom Partridge Family text book cover! I had no idea that it did, but lo and behold, this pristine copy was neatly tucked inside this $2 copy. Usually, inserts like this got used or pinned up on a wall, so finding one in mint condition is pretty rare.
Cost: $2, $291 Remaining
The Bay City Rollers, Bay City Rollers, Arista AL-4049, 1975
I have another fad group from the 70s for everyone today, The Bay City Rollers. Not exactly known today for a positive contribution to the recording arts, they still managed to sell millions of records around the world and drew a mania from young girls that was compared to that of The Beatles. The United States was the one developed country in the world that was partially immune to Rollermania, probably because we had enough Osmonds around to re-record golden hits of other people and try to sell them. Still this album did sell a million in the USA, and sent one single to #1, the UK flop Saturday Night.
The cover has the prerequisite glossy photos of each roller and the whole album is covered in the group’s trademark Scottish tartan plaid. This is considered to be the “classic lineup” of the group, there were many personnel changes before and after this record came out. I do remember seeing one interview with them on American TV when I was about 9-10 years old, and their Scottish accents were so strong that it was hard to know what they were talking about. Did that have something to do with their limited appeal in the US?
Arista went all out for the band’s first US release. This would have been a greatest hits package in the UK with most of the selections being their biggest singles from 1973-75. The remake of The 4 Seasons’ Bye Bye Baby (Baby Bye Bye) was the biggest selling UK single of 1975. But they didn’t really take off here like they did worldwide. By 1977 their career was as dead as could be, and the fad of The Bay City Rollers was over.
Cost: $2, $486 Remaining
Donny Osmond, Portrait Of Donny, MGM SE 4820, 1972
Before I get accused committing of a mortal musical sin, let me clarify that I bought this record for the intact insert and not the actual record! But in fairness, considering the fact the MGM Records advertised the three 8×10″ glossy pictures of their teen idol, perhaps even they weren’t thinking too much about the record that also came with them.
There’s no doubting the hotness of The Osmond clan in 1972. And the hottest of them all was Donny. The sort of “answer” to a very young Michael Jackson, MGM had Donny sing cover versions of early 60s hits and often outsold the originals. Carole King had a phenomenal year as an artist and songwriter in 1971 because of her smash album Tapestry and James Taylor’s version of You’ve Got A Friend. But her sales figures were augmented by Donny Osmond’s cover of the 1963 Steve Lawrence record Go Away Little Girl, which spent three weeks at number one.
Finding a very good copy of this record was one thing, but finding it complete with nearly perfect inserts is some kind of a coup. Virtually all of these photos and posters would have immediately been tacked up on a wall and quickly destroyed. But for the amazing price of $1 I can see Donny thinking of me and signing off with “love”. Oh, yes, and I also got a free record of hims singing too!
Cost: $2, $613 Remaining
$68 Spent, $2.27 per record
Bobby Rydell, Bobby Sings, Bobby Swings, Cameo 1007, 1960
At first glance, my reaction to this record was “duh”. Of course Bobby Sings, it would be a terrible album if Bobby Danced. But I snagged it anyway because of it’s age and condition, but mostly because I know I’d never find another one. Again, I collect records not music, so it’s not at all strange for me to buy a record that I have only a small chance to ever listen to.
When I got home, I flipped it over and that’s when that Bobby doesn’t only sing, but Bobby Swings as well! While I think Cameo Records put the wrong picture with the wrong side of this proto-concept album, it was maybe a pretty smart move to show that this teen idol could sing about more than his Swingin’ School.
And it worked too. Even though Domenico Modugno’s Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu had hit #1 18 months prior, Bobby’s swinging version of a watered down Volare beat out Dean Martin’s version to peak at #4. And that led to 18 year old Bobby Rydell to becoming the youngest performer to headline the famous Copacabana Nightclub. So while the side where Bobby sings is pretty awful (!), the side where Bobby swings is pretty darned ok!
Cost: $2, $813 Remaining
Frankie Avalon, Italiano, Chancellor CHL-5025, 1962
Ciao is the universal Italian word. Italians use it to say hello or goodbye. In this case, Chancellor Records was saying goodbye to Frankie Avalon. There were three other Avalon releases on the label, but one was a Christmas Album, one was a greatest hits record, and one featured older, unreleased material. By late 1962, Avalon left the label to work on film projects such as the non-Oscar nominated Beach Blanket Bingo and Muscle Beach Party.
However, for a sugary sweet teen idol who was getting a little lungo in the denti, this is a fairly enjoyable album. It wasn’t exactly a terrible idea to re-reocrd Italian Pop standards given Bobby Rydell’s success with Volare and Elvis Presley’s reworking of O Sole Mio into It’s Now Or Never, and Torna A Surriento into Surrender. The songs have a Bobby Darin feel too, with a thumping bass and rhythm track underneath harpsichord and mandolin leads.
With the loss of its biggest seller, Mr. Avalon, at the same time as its second biggest seller, Fabian, Chancellor Records was in trouble. The label’s last top 10 hit came in the summer of 1962 with Claudine Clark’s Party Lights. By 1965, the company was gone, and it would be decades until its original hits would be reissued. As a result, fans of Frankie Avalon need to watch out and only by his Chancellor records (or his United Artist film soundtracks), lest they inadvertently wind up with a 1974 Belgian recording of Venus.
Cost: $10, $871 Remaning