DEAR JERRY: My question is inspired by the timeless “desert island” one, but with slight variations.
Imagine you own a record store with an inventory that includes all of the world's most desirable albums.
Unfortunately, to acquire this collection, you borrowed money from gangsters at a very high rate of interest.
When you couldn't keep up with the payments, they took over the store.
But as a parting gift, they said you could take any five LPs, but no more than two by the same artist.
Which would they be, and why?
Kenny Claybourn, Chicago
DEAR KENNY: Are you sure you're not working on a screenplay?
Regardless, in order to rebound financially my picks would be ones of high value.
My first choice has the longest title of anything in the store: “Special Location Radio Program. MGM's Stay Away, Joe on Location Sedona, Arizona Compliments of Elvis and the Colonel” (RCA Victor UNRM-9408).
Most folks simply call it the “Stay Away, Joe” album.
Unlike other records, RCA created this LP for a one-time broadcast by just one radio station - KVIO in Cottonwood, Arizona, which serves the greater Sedona area. Clearly they needed only one copy. Now, 41 years later, one is still the total known to exist.
Making this LP more remarkable is it is not an acetate, experimental disc, transcription, or test pressing. It is a standard production disc, manufactured exactly like those found in retail shops.
This self-contained half-hour program includes nine Elvis tunes along with KVIO's Joe Adams thanking the communities of Sedona and Cottonwood for the hospitality shown the cast and crew there during production of “Stay Away, Joe.”
Instructions provided state in no uncertain terms: “For KVIO broadcast, Sunday, November 5, 1967. Property of All Star Shows. Return to Col. Parker's office after airing.”
The allure is elevated because that lone copy remained in the personal collection of Elvis for 22 years. Call it the ultimate provenance!
Estimated minimum value: $25,000.
My second selection is “Elvis Presley Special Christmas Programming” (RCA Victor UNRM-5697), issued just two weeks after “Stay Away, Joe.”
Nearly identical in concept, it is another single-sided promotional issue for radio play, but for slightly more than just one station.
Unlike its predecessor,” this event aired on 3,000 radio stations with all but a few receiving a boxed reel-to-reel tape of the program. For the few select stations in major markets, RCA supplied the show on vinyl.
Reportedly, they pressed no more than 10 LPs, including one each for Presley and Parker.
Estimated minimum value: $10,000.
One I can't leave behind is the stereo “Introducing the Beatles” (Vee-Jay VJLP-1062), released in early '64.
This is the world's most counterfeited album, but fortunately we have an original in stock of the scarcest variation: Vee-Jay brackets logo on a black label, with “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You,” and has titles listed on the back cover.
Estimated minimum value: $15,000.
I'll also grab “The Beatles: Yesterday … and Today” (Capitol ST-2553), which of course is a sealed first-state stereo (“butcher cover”) copy (1966).
The Beatles describe this controversial cover scene as “their own brand of pop art satire.” It depicts them wearing butcher smocks, surrounded by chunks of raw meat, bones, and pieces from toy dolls.
Objections from conservative media swamped Capitol with complaints, so they quickly recalled it and replaced the offending image with a mundane one.
Estimated minimum value: $25,000.
The final selection is a first pressing of “The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan” (Columbia CS-8786).
Three years before the controversy over the Beatles Butcher cover, Bob Dylan's second album created a similar hullabaloo.
One tune on the first pressings, “Talkin' John Birch Blues,” was regarded too inflammatory and, worse yet, potentially libelous.
Rather than deal with Birchers and barristers, Columbia asked Bob to simply replace that track.
Dylan opted instead to remove four songs, the other three being: “Let Me Die in My Footsteps”; “Gamblin' Willie's Dead Man's Hand”; and “Rocks and Gravel.”
As with both Beatles LPs, it is the stereo version we're picking, not the slightly less valuable monaural counterpart (CL-1986).
Surprisingly for Columbia, first commercial covers not only list the tracks in the wrong order, but they also flubbed two of the titles.
The erroneous titles are “Talkin' John Birch Society Blues” and “Solid Gravel,” both of which are correctly identified on the labels as “Talkin' John Birch Blues” and “Rocks and Gravel.”
With an estimated minimum value of $25,000, I can forgive the gaffes.
IZ ZAT SO? Since all five of our selections are mid-'60s releases, we must mention three from the '50s:
“The Caine Mutiny" Original Soundtrack Recording (RCA Victor LOC-1013); “The Midnighters - Their Greatest Hits” (Federal 295-90); and “Billy Ward & His Dominoes” (Federal 295-94).
All are in the $5,000 to $10,000 range, and coincidentally all are 1954 issues.