Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More For All The Collectors Out There ...

Hi Kent,
I am the worst record collector ever. I have purchased many things over the years just because I assumed they were worth more than I was paying for them. Although I have sold and traded a few things, it pains me to part with anything because I may never see another like it.
We have a few nice promo 45s at the station but most labels have writing on them about intro time and fade out info for the dj. Another station gave me a bunch of albums when they were remodeling but like most radio station copies, the covers are shot from being slid in and out on the shelf.
Several years ago I bought a Beatles item. It is a post card that is 'autographed'. I have discussed this item over the phone and internet with collectors over the years. Without seeing it they believe it is only worth $100.00 at the most. This card is from the final America tour. It is not a stamped autograph. It was signed by a pen. From what I have read, most autographs from that era were signed by secretaries or Mal Evans. Comparing the signatures with the Beatles, by my untrained naked eye, it appears they are very close to the real thing. Here are a few things that make it unique.
The lady I bought it from was a member of the press. She did not get proper credentials and missed out on a press conference with the Beatles. The cardboard envelope it was shipped in from Beatles headquarters in England is still in good shape including a red stamp on the back promoting Gerry and the Pacemakers. A personalized letter apologizes for the mix-up and has the actual signature of Tony Barrow. The Beatles postcard only has the first names of the Beatles signed. Most pictures of Beatle autographs, that I have seen, always have first and last names signed.
I have had collectors offer me $100 to $200 dollars (again without seeing it). I have had offers to appraise it but they always want me to send it in the mail, and I don't want to. I have never seen another one like it, and probably will not again, so it is worth more to me than $100 to $200 dollars.
I am very sure that it is not the actual first name signatures of the Beatles, but there is always that thought in my mind ... what if? Do you have any suggestions?

Let's run your story (and picture of this rarity) here and see if we get any responses. Meanwhile, I'm also send a copy to noted Beatles Historian Bruce Spizer, a regular contributor to our list, to see if he has run across this item before. It sure sounds authentic to me ... and I can't imagine that there could be too many of these floating around.
On the other hand, The Beatles have got to be the most bootlegged and counterfeited artists around ... I'll never forget a dealer posting a sign at the second or third Beatlefest here in Chicago that basically said: "Can't Find What You're Looking For? Let Us Know And We'll Make It For You"!!! (lol) kk
Here's what Bruce Spizer had to say:
It is a cool item even though one can be 99% sure the post card was not signed by the Beatles. Documents pertaining to tours and press conferences do have value, but only to the right buyer. I’d value it at about $500, but the reality is that it is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. It’s cool , but may not be $500 cool to most collectors. Perry Cox, at
perrydcox@aol.com, is better suited than me to give values and he may be interested in purchasing it or working on commission for an ebay sale.
Looking at it, I'm pretty sure those aren't real signatures ... neat 'tho that Tony Barrow took the time to personally answer her request. (I can only imagine how many similar requests he must have been receiving at the time!!!) Still not something you're likely to see very many of! (kk)

Hello Kent:
Here is one of those “If I only knew then what I know now” stories.
When I was about 15 in 1968 I lived about 3 blocks away from WDGY 1130 AM in Minneapolis (actually Bloomington , but whose counting). We used to ride our bikes up to radio station in the evening when only the DJ at the time, Diamond Jim Dandy comes to mind, was at the station. We would go over to the dumpster and start dumpster diving. In amongst the half full Styrofoam cups of coffee and the dumped out ash trays, if we were lucky, we would find stacks of 45’s. These were the ones that they rejected. Over time we probably had hundreds of them. We would play them and if we didn’t like them they made great Frisbees or BB gun targets. Just think about what could have been in there! And demo tapes! Tapes that garage bands would send in or the girl groupies expressing their love for the on air talent. The small 3-1/2” or 5” reel to reel tapes. Best thing we did there was hold them flat to see how fast the tape would peel off the reel. Just think of what was left behind or we destroyed without knowing the upcoming value.
Pete Heger

1966 was about to turn into 1967 and I was already an over-the-top Beach Boys fan. I had done my best to stay current with the rumored release dates of the highly anticipated SMiLE album. Stories abounded of how Brian WIlson was breaking rock creativity barriers but in seeking rock perfection, missed deadline after deadline. Around the Christmas holiday, I noticed a Capitol promotion display in my local record store so I simply asked the owner if I could have it when the album was released and he agreed.
Of course that album has yet to be released. In 2004, Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE was released to high critical acclaim and several of the songs slated for the original Beach Boys album have been officially released (not to mention the many bootlegs that enable other over-the-top fans like me to construct something very close to what we would have heard in 1967). But the SMiLE comprised of the amazing vocals of the Beach Boys is yet to have an official mix and release.
As disappointed as I was back then (the possibility of a fan ever hearing SMiLE seemed remote back then), I took the life-size, full-color album cover home and still have it in my collection. A reminder of what might have been - some think, as I do, it would have more than held its own against (or with!) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles and, if so, would have completely alerted Beach Boys history. Probably no Bluebirds Over the Mountains or Smiley Smile. Probably no no-show at the Monterrey Pop Festival and no need for an Endless Summer resurgence. A very different trajectory for the Beach Boys, for certain.
A few years ago, a professional record collector of Beach Boys memorabilia told me that album was the first one he had heard of (it might be truly rare, not merely old like me!) and could fetch, he speculated, a thousand dollars. Wow. Not bad for a promotional display for an album that has still not been released.

Although today I consider myself to be a HUGE Beach Boys fan ... and have done an ENORMOUS amount of research into the band and their music ... I have to admit that I was one of those who came late to the party. Their early albums didn't impress me ... whereas a new Beatles LP would rarely contain a cut I'd skip over, the same cannot be said for most of the early Beach Boys LPs ... once you got past the hits and an occasional surprise, MOST of the album seemed to contain a whole lot of "filler" to my ears. I've always considered The Beach Boys to be one of those VERY fortunate bands who GREATLY benefited by the fact that the record company always seemed to know EXACTLY which tracks to release as singles, as they NEVER seemed to miss with their latest 45 release. For me, this simply wasn't the case with their album releases and, after several disappointments, I simply stopped buying them.
Many years later, while researching the band, I came across the story of "Smile" and was FASCINATED ... I just HAD to hear this LP!!! Like you, I have, over the years, built up an incredible collection of "Smile" out-takes on bootleg albums and CDs and have read COUNTLESS articles about what the LP was SUPPOSED to be all about. But back around 1973 or 1974 I remember going to a Flea Market with my Dad and finding an album for $0.99 called "Smiley Smile". Being both naive and uneducated at this point about the release of this LP, I swear I thought that I had discovered the Holy Grail!!! I couldn't wait to get home and slap it on the turn-table. When I did, I thought it was AWFUL!!! I had built up the "promise of what was to be" SO high in my own mind that I couldn't believe that THIS is what all the fuss was about!!!
Of course, I learned later that this was NOT the case ... even Beach Boy Carl Wilson would later call the "Smiley Smile" LP "a bunt instead of a grand slam" ... and it remains one of my LEAST favorite Beach Boys LPs to this day.
I enjoyed Brian's "re-creation" of this long, lost LP from a few years ago ... and have the video concert where he performs in from beginning to end, too ... and it's all very nice ... but with all The Beach Boys reissues that have hit the market over the past 30 years, I've got to believe that the bulk of these tapes in their original form simply do not exist anymore. Stories abound about a freaked out Brian destroying the tapes himself ... and I tend to believe them. Thanks to the titles that were ultimately released (both on subsequent LPs and on some of the box sets and compilations over the years) ... and, of course, the trusty bootlegs ... we can pretty well assemble a reasonable facsimile of what "Smile" most likely would have been ... but again, any comparisons to ... or considerations of surpassing "Sgt. Pepper" ... just aren't there for me. I'm not hearing it.
I still have to rank "Pet Sounds" and the greatly under-appreciated "Sunflower" as my two Beach Boys LP favorites, even all these years later. And, contrary to just about every critique and review I've ever read, I really like the 1985 "Beach Boys" album, too. (kk)

In the mid '80's I'd listen to Bob Pantano on WOGL during his Saturday night show. He'd play songs that were popular around the Philadelphia area that I hadn't heard in ages. That alone was enough to make me seek out these fine songs on vinyl. It was a pleasure for my ears to listen to best quality obtainable - great sound quality intrigued me. Hearing first time Stereo was even more impressive.While collecting vinyl records, I came across recordings recorded on 35mm film audio tracks. The sound quality was very impressive! This was about the early '60's. This practice didn't seem to last, maybe because people didn't want to pay a premium price for premium sound.While collecting vinyl, I ran into a recording of "Blue Moon", by The Marcels. It was a raw non hit version and it included a bit of studio talk / chat. I went wild over it; I finally got to hear what went on in a recording studio!I was late to jump on the CD collecting bandwagon, since initial CD sound quality was not as good as on the vinyl records I found. However, since CD began to offer alternate versions and / or demos, some with studio talk, I began to collect them. When I discovered there were bootleg CDs of Beatles songs, I had to have them. This was about the late '80's. The raw sound quality of The Beatles, directly from session tapes, was more impressive than even the late Beatle Remasters. I learned, early on, record companies were out to milk my wallet dry, offering fair, then better, then even better sound quality, and so on.I wanted to find and collect as many alternate versions as I could, from the '50's and forward, of US Top 40 Hit songs. Doing so, it made me question why alternate versions seemed to fade about the late '60's.Something had to have changed in the way music was recorded. No longer was it common to record Take after Take wasting miles of recording tape. Tape recorders became more advanced with many tracks, that could record and play tracks simultaneously. If, for example, a guitar solo went sour, you could just record that over after sending the rest of the music group home. Faster, more efficient productions became popular so record companies could profit more or survive. The focus was lost onsound quality, what could be fabricated in a recording studio, the fastest way possible, was the new key issue.Granted, this practice of fabricated studio sound was not always approved by some, such as Tom Dowd. Not sure if Tom's emphasis was on sound quality or he didn't want the production to drag on until each member of the group individually recorded their part of the songs on tape. Thanks to Tom and other like-minded individuals, there are somealternate versions of '70's, Pop, hit songs. Even Paul McCartney learned from his Beatles days, you could dub this and overdub that to make a song without actually having an entire group, per se' re: Wings.Was this dubbing practice common with Country & Western music? I'm not sure, but thanks to Chris S., we found Tammy Wynette, in 1976, was recorded real-time, hence an alternate version and higher quality sound. Tammy was worth the cost of studio production time and recording tape.Not many music group members will admit what actually happened to make that hit record in the recording studio, because it would subtract from listeners admiration.As you may know, I love high quality Stereo sound. Anyway, this song was on a Prez Prado LP, about 1959. Have to assume it's a 35mm film sound recording. As with other 35mm recordings, a Big Band with dynamic sound is ideal for these type recordings. Know RCA, Mercury and some independents issued these type of LPs, but they probably didn't catch-on because of higher price. I'm certain the advent of Stereo brought them about. The audio quality of 35mm sound recordings rivaled Audio CD quality, maybe even surpassed it. This was the first time I found Rosemary Clooney singing on a various artists CD. She sounds good! You'd be surprised where it's marketed on CD! The LQ MP3 snippet may not be that impressive, but will give an idea of the quality ... Rosemary Clooney - Corazon De Melon (Watermelon Heart):
I asked John to elaborate a little bit about his unique hobby / obsession!!! (lol) He's truly going after a very specific (and very rare) niche here ... but has had some amazing success in many of his finds ... here, in greater detail, is (as Paul Harvey might say) the REST of the story!!!
Kent, how's this??? ...
In about the mid '80's, a couple Philadelphia radio stations were competing with "Oldies". Some of the DJs would play songs I hadn't heard in ages. I'd search the FM band to find other radio stations playing similar material. Some of the songs sparked a strange, eerie, odd feeling, like where was I when I first heard them.Maybe due to my divorce, I turned to music to past the time. I wanted to hear more, so I began collecting LPs and 45s. It was a rewarding hobby collecting music material. I was always a fanatic of stereo reproduction and concentrated on it initially. I subscribed to popular record collecting publications, such as Goldmine and Discoveries. I guess it was in one of those publications where I read about a Marcels album with some studio talk / chatter. It was so "cool" to hear what went on during a studio recording, the material that was typically edited out of "hit" songs.
My vinyl collection rapidly grew in size to four digit figures. I'd scour used bookstores, thrift shops and anywhere else I could think of to find a music collecting dream. Not too much later, Audio CDs hit the market; I was the first on the block to buy a player and a few CDs. I ended up returning the player when I heard tape hiss noise that did not exist on my vinyl collection. I eventually moved and sold my large vinyl collection for pennies on a dollar; just too much to move. I still miss my vinyl collection.Trying to fill an empty void, I tried Audio CDs again, but was turned off by a Rhino name that dominated the market. While at Tower Records in Cherry Hill, NJ, I found, by accident, a CD from EMI / Collectables that contained a bit of studio talk and wonderful stereo! I manually hunted for more, concentrating on record labels. Unlike I could do with vinyl collecting, the internet became popular and I could share with the world what I found while collecting CDs, in the form of song snippets on a "free" web site. It was like my portfolio.I found it difficult to find other CD collectors that were interested in what I wanted to find, so I became in competition with myself. I'd find and report search limitations when querying for "alt", "alternate", "out-take", "stereo" and similar words on popular music selling web sites. I'd even look for duplicate song titles on a CD; what was that second version? Even searched particular record label names. The Internet put me in touch with a couple undisclosed record companies that were so kind to allow me to have a small amount of material that was not ever published in the form I wished to hear it. I enjoy playing detective with what I hear, putting the pieces together.This music collecting obsession grew and grew. Before I knew it, I was collecting from around the world. I'd find oddities even in the food market CD budget bin. I began to learn the record labels; knowing they might have more of what I liked. The internet put me in touch with actual artists that recorded the music I admired and loved; I had many questions to ask. While many have a much greater (and admirable) music knowledge than I, I focused on what you'd might call, "The "Uncommon Top 40", including, but not limited to, rare stereo, out-takes, alternate versions, unedited versions, demos, highest sound quality versions, false starts, studio talk / chatter, foreign language versions, etc., from about the mid '50's onwards. Since I can "mix" (and sound enhance) songs, I can make my own stereo versions from various sources or even include the studio talk that was edited out, for a more "complete" version.While my "real" goal was to share with the world what I found and discovered, it's a struggle to find a radio station who wants to take a chance on me, especially with no radio experience, other than CB radio where I was "busted" by the FCC for excessive broadcasting power :D All I want, like others have done for me on radio, is to put a few smiles on peoples faces while airing my goodies. Life, to me, is no paradise, so why not make someone else happy.To date, after collecting CDs (and a bit o' vinyl) for about 18 years, I'm still a heavy buyer, hoping to fulfill a unique radio dream. I'm also grateful to Kent and his readers/contributors for keeping past music alive. A fine musical performance, in the form of a song, in my mind, never ages.
My Best,
John - in NJ -
A quick visit to either of John's websites will turn up an AMAZING assortment of "alternate gems", ripe for the picking. Here's another recent clip he sent me, regarding one of MY all-time favorite songs, "Magnet And Steel" by Walter Egan:
Here's something interesting for your readers, Walter Egan, "Magnet And Steel", 1978, with vocal overlay highlighted. Seems the ending required some attention. Notice the music ends, but the singing continues. Even Walter (at the end) questions if it's a good Take. Can't say I hear Lindsey Buckingham here (Whitburn) ... http://www.angelfire.com/empire/abpsp/images/magnet-a.mp3
I've always loved this song (and used to perform this one myself back in the day!) I seem to remember buying the album and the song was, in fact, credited to "Buckinghams and Nicks" for the amazing background vocals as I recall. (I don't have the LP anymore because I ALSO remember thinking at the time that "Magnet And Steel" was the ONLY good song on there!!! lol) In fact, Egan never hit Billboard's Top 40 again! (I have to admit that I love hearing these "extended endings" that are ultimately faded-out during the final mix ... let's face it, at the time you're recording this in the studio, you don't know for sure yet just where the fade will hit, so you always record just a little bit more just in case. This one's a bit unusual in that they just kept going long after the musical track had stopped ... but I dig it!!!) kk

And one more worth listening to ...
Saturday, the 17th, is Record Store Day. I put together a sound collage honoring record stores including Jerry Lewis, Monty Python, Bill Kirchen (Little Bitty Record), Texabilly Rockets (Stack a Record), the Howling Diamonds (Record Collection). Ironically I put this together from running words like "record" through Napster. My favorite record mentioning records is Daddy's Gonna Tell You No Lies by the Cosmic Rays. "I went down to the record shop without a worry on my mind ... "I am in love with the new Robbie Fulks album Happy. It is all Michael Jackson, Jackson 5 songs. I'll be playing some of it and records about records on my show tonight, 10 pm pacific time on KPOO. com.
Charlie Miller, the Autumn King