Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: For just 50-cents at the Goodwill store I picked up what seems like an unusual LP, possibly from the 1950s.

Credited to Jon Trevanni and His Continental Orchestra, its title is “I'm in the Nude for Love” (Crown 5046).

You would think “I'm in the Mood for Love” would be one of the tracks, but it is not. Seems like they missed an opportunity there for some clever word play.

It contains 12 forgettable instrumentals, but does have an interesting front cover, especially for its time. Pictured is a nude model stretched out in a hammock, strategically positioned so as not to be too revealing.

Any idea who this lady is? Similar to Sophia Loren, but with blonde hair. No mention is made of her anywhere on the cover.

Even so, were there any complaints back then about this cover? Did stores put it in the racks right along with their other inventory?

I recall a similar album, possibly by Joe Houston, with a nude gal on the cover that riled the industry so much it had to be redone.

Thinking that albums with cheesecake covers could be collectible, I figured this one to be worth more than 50-cents.

Did Crown ever have any name acts? Like Jon Trevanni, their other albums are mostly by people I've never heard of.
—Josh Finnegan, Milwaukee

DEAR JOSH: Let's first cover the cover.

The lovely model, while technically nude, reveals nothing more than could be seen on any beach. As you see, she is not credited, though her photographer Ken Whitmore is.

In this Billboard review (Dec. 23, 1957), only brief non-judgmental mention is made about the cover art, but they do comment on the shortcomings of the music:

“Album title is illustrated by provocative photo of a gal in a hammock. Contents establish romantic mood with numbers like “Poinciana,” “Reverie,” “My Old Flame,” and “All Alone.” Arrangements attempt polished style but execution is rather crude.”

Confusing Joe Houston and Chuck Higgins is understandable. Both H-men are R&B saxophonists and both recorded for Combo in the mid-'50s.

So it is Higgins, not Houston, whose “Pachuko Hop” LP cover (Combo 3000), ruffled more than a few feathers when issued in 1955.

First issues picture a naked model lying on the floor, with only a scarf (more like a necktie) draped over the three triangular points distinctive to the feminine form.

To quell the complaints, mostly from adults of course, Combo went from sexy to saxy, replacing the model with an innocuous shot of Higgins on stage playing his sax.

The average sale price of the original issue is about $500, with those using the second cover going for around $150.

Not all cover models are unknown, especially ones named Jayne Mansfield. Two albums picturing Jayne that are in the $100 range are “Music for Bachelors” (1955: RCA Victor 1046), containing instrumentals by Henri Rene and His Orchestra, and “Jayne Busts Up Las Vegas” (1961: 20th Fox 3049), from her live Vegas show.“I'm in the Nude for Love” is a less pricey slice of cheesecake, fetching $30 to $40.

Crown served as a low-priced imprint label for RPM and Modern, and all of their name artists showed up later on Crown LPs.

Jon Trevanni is not the only stranger in the Crown stable. Most of their albums are by folks generally unknown to record buyers. Still, several dozen are by recognizable names whose earlier material was repackaged by Crown. Alphabetically, they are:

Paul Anka; Steve Alaimo; Pearl Bailey; Chet Baker; Jesse Belvin; Brook Benton; Richard Berry; Bobby “Blue” Bland; Dave Brubeck; Cadets; Ray Charles; Dave Clark Five; Nat King Cole; Sonny Criss; Vic Damone; Eddie Dean; Jimmy Dean; Del-Vikings; Ral Donner; Dave Dudley; Eddie Fisher; Pete Fountain; Erroll Garner; Stan Getz; Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs; Roscoe Gordon; Billie Holiday; Chico Hamilton; Coleman Hawkins; Woody Herman; John Lee Hooker; Lightnin' Hopkins; Johnny Horton; Joe Houston; Ink Spots; Isley Brothers; Jacks; Chuck Jackson; Elmore James; Etta James; Sonny James; Jonah Jones; Rusty & Doug Kershaw; B.B. King; King Curtis; Kirby Stone Four; Little Richard; Trini Lopez; Marvin & Johnny; Jimmy McCracklin; Gerry Mulligan; Marvin Rainwater; Johnny Rivers; Tommy Roe; Neil Sedaka; Bud Shank; Ray Smith; Kay Starr; Ray Stevens; Roosevelt Sykes; Teen Queens; Tokens; Ike Turner; Joe Turner; Ritchie Valens; Johnny Guitar Watson; and Jimmy Witherspoon.

In 1958, Crown began a special Christmas series; however, not one of their familiar artists — those named above — appears anywhere in that series.

IZ ZAT SO? From 1957 through 1972, Crown produced approximately 670 albums, most priced at $1.98 for monaural and $2.98 for stereo — a bargain price made possible by making substandard discs and covers.

As indicated by the artists named above, most styles of music were represented. In addition to vocalists, Crown concocted dozens of albums of knockoff show tunes and various artists compilations.

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