I've been haunting the Cd'A St. Vinny's for so many years now and the clerks know me pretty well. Today, as soon as I walked in, one of them blabbed to me right away that for one day only, records were going for just one thin little Roosevelt dime each, so I made a beeline back to the record shelves and started excavating.
Worthwhile vinyl treasures are few and far between here (and every other thrift store these days) it seems, and I've quickly scanned their record selection multiple times but have never really given it the full-on combing through. When there's a 90% discount on the usual dollar price tag, my usual high level of vinyl selectiveness follows the fate of the 8-track tape out the window of the Ford Pinto of existence and I feel free to go bananas, as if it were somehow a reasonable idea to add to the piles and piles of records that are more likely to gather dust than to actually end up on the turntable. I can't help it, I guess.
It was kind of a challenge to sift through the usual craptastic Mantovanni and Manilow titles clogging the racks and find anything worth possessing, but by the time I was done getting dusty fingertips, I had exactly 20 album stacked under my arm. Here's the skinny:
1. Sammy Davis Jr.: Now
Featuring his quintessential Willy Wonka chestnut "The Candy Man" and a cover of Jimmy Webb's always awkward "MacArthur Park". The cover features a painfully orange colored penicil impression of the "greatest living entertainer in the world" and folds out to reveal a massive black and white photo montage of Sammy hobnobbing with every showbiz legend of the 60's and 70's. Carol Burnett. Frank Sinatra. Jerry Lewis. None of them look even remotely sober. Wall worthy for sure.
2. Tammy Wynette: D-I-V-O-R-C-E
3. Tammy Wynette: "Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad"
There was a whole stash of Tammy vinyl, but someone had found it necessary to repeatedly eternalize their initials on her face with a big black sharpie. What were people thinking way back in the day when thought it was cool to ruin their records that way? These were the sole crisp and clean survivors of the marker massacre.
4. "West Side Story" Original Soundtrack Recording
I'm hoping I don't already own a copy of this bright red perennial find. This copy is in near pristine condition. There's a place for us. Somewhere, there's a place for us.
5. Enoch Light and the Light Brigade Play Cha Cha's
I totally love to do the cha-cha but then, who doesn't these days, really? I seem to have an oddly significant amount of Enoch Light action going on in my collection because I usually pick up anything I can find on the semi-collectible and graphically delightful Command Records label, which seemed to exist solely to make full use and impact of then-revolutionary stereophonic sound. These albums are like weird and scientifically engineered artifacts from a future that never happened and always feature oblique technical data and lots of phrases like "Proud Command sound scientists have spent years doing painstaking research in all phases of the recording field". Let's hear ot for wow and flutter.
6. Neil Diamond: Gold
Wall to wall classics. This one looks to be an 80's era re-issue; it's in too perfect shape to be an original specimen. It'll come in handy for those pre-Karaoke night moments when I need to practice a few of Neil's early gems before unleashing them on an unsuspecting, but thankfully drunk audience.
7. Lionel Richie: Can't Slow Down
OK, I'll admit it. I love the hair. I love the hits. "All Night Long", "Penny Lover", "Stuck on You", "Love Will Find a Way", "Running with the Night", "Hello". They're all here in one breathtaking, sea foam green and lavender package. I honestly don't recall terribly in love with this album at the time but in retrospect, it was undeniably the poor man's "Thriller".
8. Carole King: Rhymes and Reasons
Honestly, I've only ever gotten as far "Tapestry" into Miss Carole's world, but it's an album I love like a comfortable old pair of macrame Jesus sandals. This album contained the #24 hit "Born to Canaan" and came out a year later, in 1972, which was also the year I was born. However, I think this record might actually be in better condition than me at this point.
9. Sesame Street: Aren't You Glad You're You?
This 1977 feel-good kiddie smash contains "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" by Bob & the Three Monsters and the bilingual "Me/Yo" by Maria and Gordon. Children's records like the Sesame Street series are usually pretty collectible and indeed, this was going for $15 when I looked it up on eBay.
10. The Carpenters: Carpenters
Their 3rd album and one of their biggest selling albums includes "Rainy Days and Mondays" and my all-time fave Carpenters tune "Superstar", which I've also taken on for Karaoke night as a warm-up tune and because it's actually Jerry the KJ's favorite song ever. Also priceless is the Burt Bacharach/Hal David Medley and the fancy schmancy fold out creamy tabbed sleeve that opens up to show Karen looking so obscenely fat she chose to hide behind her brother Richard for the photo.
11. Boston Symphony Orchestra/Erich Leinsdord: Rimsky-Korsakoff/Le Coq d'Or Suite
I don't usually rescue classical records from the mildewy cruelty of the bins, but this one has a neato red textured and gold leaf cover that I couldn't pass up for a dime.
12. Marlo Thomas and Friends: Free to be You and Me
I'm actually looking forward to putting this platter on because some of these tunes have been echoing through my head since 1975 and I need to get them out. Anyone who was in grade school the early to mid 70's was likely exposed repeatedly to this self-esteem boosting set of extremely catchy kids tunes sung by such gayriffic divas as Diana Ross, Carol Channing and Dick Cavett. Even includes a quote by woman-power heroine Gloria Steinem on the back of the sleeve.
13. Glen Campbell: Last Time I saw Her
Not necessarily a massive Country fan, but this one is still shrink-wrapped and will probably stay that way, although it is slightly tempting to crack it open just to hear Glen's take on "He Ain't Heavy (He's My Brother)".
14. The Versatile Henry Mancini and his Orchestra
Henry looks disturbingly vampiric like Bela Lugosi on the cover of this one, especially with the yellowy full moon hovering in a hazy autumn sky over his left shoulder. This record is in such fantastic condition, it seems like it's been in a time capsule since 1954. A web search turned up similar copies going for as high as $50. Score!
15. Les Titres D'Or D'Edith Piaf
The French songbird's signature tunes and some absorbing portraits of Edith which reveal her to be an early innovator in thin, penciled chola-brow technology. Fabriqué au Canada.
16. Donovan's Greatest Hits
The cover is a bit scuffed up, making Mr. D look like he's come down with a severe case of Pityriasis Alba, but the inside images of the singer as a nude toddler and as an upside-down diver in obscenely tight swim trunks are quite intact. "Hurdy Gurdy Man" is an all-time favorite of mine.
17. Joan Rivers: What Becomes a Semi-Legend Most?
Before there was Kathy Griffin, there was Joan whoring herself in the comedy section of the K-Mart music department. The back cover photo featuring Ms. Rivers superimposed into an 80's era photo of the British royal family wearing a hot pink feathered ensemble and holding a blender is priceless. Long live Heidi Abromowitz!
18. Rogers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma Motion Picture Soundtrack
Oh, what a beautiful 1955 original copy!
19. Various Artists: K-Tel's Mindbender
20. Various Artists: K-Tel Presents 25 Polka Greats
It's probably one of the freakier obsessions one can have, but I've been collecting K-Tel collections on vinyl for many years. Seems like I've snatched up so many of these wildly diverse made-for-TV collections but I always manage to unearth as-yet-undiscovered titles. 1970's "Polka Greats" is one of their earliest releases and brings together polka royalty such as Frank Yankovic and Myron Floren. Even Lawrence Welk gets in on the action. Was Polka actually still a hot commodity in 1970? 1976's "Mindbender" has a cover design that could cause extreme migraine headaches and eye strain and includes me-decade essentials like War's "Low Rider", Abba's "SOS", Elton John's "Rocket Man" and Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing". Oddball obscurity: "Paloma Blanca" by the George Baker Selection".