May 27, 2017 A Little Mansion Cleaning

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The Beatles, The Beatles Again (a/k/a Hey Jude), Apple SW-385, 1970

This is a really weird one.  Generally, a Beatles album is an example of a well crafted piece of pop music that will always stand the test of time.  The Beatles never took the easy road, they we always expanding horizons.  At least until this record came out.  In case you couldn’t tell from the cover photography, these are four Beatles who are not exactly comfortable in their surroundings and seem lost in what they are doing.  As it turns out, these pictures were taken at the last photo shoot the group ever had.  As another sign of the band’s problems, the photo shoot was in August 1969 at John Lennon’s estate and this album was released at the end of February 1970.  Apple was rotting at the core.

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The not so creative force behind this record was Alan Klein, John Lennon’s choice to run the group’s business affairs.  Mick Jagger had once remarked how Klein had saved The Stones from some British taxes, and that was good enough for John (and George & Ringo) to choose him to run their affairs (over Paul’s objections).  With sales of Abbey Road slowing down, and with no new recording going on or any idea when Phil Spector might be done editing the Get Back/Let It Be sessions for release, Klein needed a “new” album in stores to keep up cash flows and justify his existence.  The only thing to do was to look back to the group’s biggest hit, Hey Jude, and build an album of already released songs to go along with it.

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Ah, but what songs!  Since Hey Jude was never released on an album, the idea was to put it out with other past singles that had also never been released on an album in the US.  While they didn’t look as far back as Vee-Jay released songs like Misey, There’s A Place, and Love Me Do, they did start with the six year old Can’t Buy Me Love.  That song and I Should Have Known Better were both in A Hard Day’s Night, but that album was a United Artists release.  1966’s Paperback Writer and Rain are the other true oldies, with the rest of the songs being A and B sides from some non album singles.  But the whole package reeks of a cash in, and it came along at a time when tempers were high with the group.  This move didn’t help the internal struggles and three months later Paul announced he left the group.  This album was a nail in the coffin.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $5, $32 Remaining

May 5, 2017 Paint It Gold

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The Rolling Stones, Aftermath, London PS-476, 1966

In their 55 year career, The Rolling Stones have released 30 studio albums, 23 live albums, 25 compilation albums and 120 singles.  With all of that output, and despite their legendary status, not all of their records are pricey collectables that collectors search out.  Perhaps those 25 compilations have something to do with satisfying the demand for their music to the point where original albums like this one sometimes end up in bargain bins.  Aftermath, along with most of the group’s pre Jumpin Jack Flash material just isn’t as collectable as a comparable Beatles record or later Stones classics like Exile On Main Street.

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Naturally, this is very ok by me.  This may not be the most critically acclaimed Stones record, but it is the first one where all of the songs were written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.  Brian Jones shows what a flair he had for experimentation with new sounds and instruments by playing Sitar, Marimba, and something called an Appalachian Dulcimer to give this record sounds that no other pop record had yet incorporated.  It so impressed The Beatles when it came out and they were recording what would become Revolver that Ringo only half jokingly proposed calling their new record After Geography.

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Perhaps part of the reason this decent copy sold for $3 has to do with the quality of the original London Records manufacturing.  These records don’t appear to have the same feel to them that a Capitol, Columbia, or RCA record does.  Their covers usually have ring wear and split seams and the vinyl seems to be of a lesser grade.  Also, like The Beatles, The Stones’ the pre-1967 US albums were different than the UK versions.  This version has different artwork and 4 fewer songs than the UK release, including the US Top 10 hit Mother’s Little Helper.  Whatever the reasons, these are great albums to have in a collection and the prices will never be better.

Today’s Summary:
Cost: $3, $178 Remaining