DEAR JERRY: In a recent episode of the History Channel's American Pickers, the buyers found someone with the album by the Beatles with the butcher shop scene on the cover.
The owner of the LP told the pickers that if it were in mint condition he would value it at $39,000.
But, because his copy showed noticeable wear, he ended up letting it go for $1,000.
Was he just blowing smoke, or is $39,000 a realistic price?
Ken Norwood, Flagstaff, Ariz.
DEAR KEN: Missing from your question is every piece of information, other than the title, necessary to appraise that specific copy of “The Beatles … Yesterday and Today” (Capitol 2553).
Unless you recorded and saved that episode, you may have no way of knowing more about it, so I'd better cover all of the likely possibilities.
Every one of the Capitol's 1966 issues fits into one of three groups, commonly known as states:
FIRST STATE: Front cover pictures the Beatles wearing white smocks, commonly seen on butchers and doctors. Scattered on and around them are several chunks of raw meat and bones, plus a few pieces of broken toy dolls. Monaural first state copies (T-2553) are in the $5,000 to $7,500 range. Stereos (ST-2553) are at least twice as rare as monos, and twice as valuable: $10,000 to $15,000.
Regardless of which format the pickers found, unless it is both pristine and factory-sealed, $39,000 is far, far above current market prices.
SECOND STATE: Has two front covers. The one on top pictures John, George, and Ringo standing behind a trunk. Paul is sitting inside the open trunk. Underneath the trunk cover, and somewhat visible to the naked eye, is the original butcher cover. This concoction is often referred to as having the paste-over cover.
Monaural second state copies are in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. Stereos are $2,000 to $3,000.
THIRD STATE: Has only the trunk cover.
Both monaural and stereo third state copies are in the $200 to $400 range.
Chief among the variables that can drive prices well above or below these near-mint value ranges is condition.
Any of the three variations can sell for several times more if mint and still in the factory shrink-wrap, or for a fraction of the price if excessive wear and tear is evident.
According to sales results in our database, the highest prices paid for factory-sealed first state butcher covers is $85,000 for stereo and $47,500 for mono.
Unique to this album is the need for a separate price range for “peeled” copies. These are second state issues, but with the trunk cover peeled off to expose the butcher one underneath.
The damage sustained by the substrate butcher cover, by the peeling process, can be from none to extensive. Since the value will be directly proportional to the result, it is wise to have the peeling done by a professional.
Hopefully, before paying $1,000 for “The Beatles … Yesterday and Today,” the American Pickers had access to enough of the above facts and figures to make an informed decision. I'm guessing they did.
DEAR JERRY: You are my last hope to put an end to the harassing I get on the car show circuit, during the golden oldies segment.
The dee jay usually takes requests, and for years I have asked them to play a car-related song I once heard. At least, I thought I did.
From the early '60s (1961-'63), the title is “Four on the Floor and a Fifth Under the Seat.”
It may have been recorded by a California Highway Patrolman, but my memory is fuzzy on that.
I need to know if it really exists on record, or face another year on the circuit being chided by the guys.
Neil Paton, Hubertus, Wisc.
DEAR NEIL: One of the most common reasons for being unable to locate a song is not knowing the correct title. In this case, you are so close to being accurate I'm surprised it didn't turn up in your search.
I know four ON the floor makes more sense, but this one first came out as “Four in the Floor (And a 'Fifth' Under the Seat).” (United Artists 844). A later U.A. label corrects the title to “Four on the Floor (And a 'Fifth' Under the Seat).”
This “if you drink, don't drive” narrative, credited to Trooper Jim Foster, came out in 1965, a wee bit later than you thought.
Now that you have the correct title and artist, you can easily bring it up on YouTube.
IZ ZAT SO? We know of two other car-related records by Jim Foster, a real-life Florida State Trooper, one on each side of “Four in the Floor.”
As Jim Foster and the Kountry Kut-Ups, he did “Rag Roof Roadster” (River 603) in 1964, in which he sings “I'm telling ya boys, I got four in the floor.”
Then in 1967, still as Trooper Jim Foster, he released “Four Chrome Wheels” (Turret 109).