Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: When you identified Ray Charles' “Just for a Thrill” for someone who heard it on “Damages,” I knew you would be the one to ask about a song played on “Mad Men.”

At the end of one of last season's episodes, a girl sings about her guy climbing the corporate ladder to success. I don't know the singer, but she admits to “having to let him go.”

Since it fits the mid-'60s period and storyline so well, it may have been written especially for the show. Or maybe it's an oldie that I don't remember.
—Karen Fields, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR KAREN: Neither is the case.

By Skeeter Davis, “Ladder of Success” is an LP cut only. By not being issued as a single it is extremely unlikely you would have heard it in the '60s.

How the “Mad Men” producers ever discovered it is absolutely mind-boggling. Regardless, they did and then found the perfect spot for it in the Season 4 episode, “Waldorf Stories.”

“Ladder of Success” is on Skeeter's “Let Me Get Close to You” (RCA Victor 2980) album, released in October 1964.

Another tune with a similar message is Elvis' “Love Coming Down,” a Jerry Chestnut composition found on the 1976 LP, “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” (about “a man so busy going up in the world that he couldn't see love coming down”). It too is a perfect fit for “Mad Men.”

DEAR JERRY: I have two very different copies of “Matchbox,” both backed with “Slow Down,” by the Beatles. One of them seems to be the result of either printing or production errors.

Both are definitely first pressings from the summer of 1964, but here are the differences:

On the right side of the “Matchbox” label, normal copies show the song's publishing company (Knox Music, Inc.) and collection affiliate (BMI); the running time (1:37); Capitol's selection and identification numbers (5255, 45-X45052); and that the music was “Recorded in England.”

On the oddball copy, none of that information appears anywhere. They failed to print all of the text on the right side.

They also made another omission. It involves only one letter, but the result is hilarious.

Instead of crediting “The Beatles,” the variant label shows the artist as THE BEATLE, as if it were just one of the four.

There are no mistakes or differences on the “Slow Down” side.

How do such discrepancies affect value?
—Archie Wilcox, Louisville, Ky.

DEAR ARCHIE: In this case, less is more.

The rare copy with all the “Matchbox” text on the right side missing, and the laughable “Beatle” credit line, is valued at $400 to $500, more than double the standard, error-free issue.

Worth noting is that “Matchbox,” a Carl Perkins original, is pretty much a solo vocal by Ringo Starr. Thus the singular “Beatle” credit is more appropriate here than for most of their other recordings.

IZ ZAT SO? Though it can't top the screwy “Beatle” acknowledgment on “Matchbox,” there is another recently discovered Beatles-related misprint.

At least one copy exists of “Helen Wheels,” by Paul McCartney & Wings (Apple 1869), where the A-side (exterior of the apple) is missing nearly all of the intended text.

Except for "Mfd. by Apple Records, Inc." in tiny print at the very bottom, there is no text whatsoever on this 1973 original.

As with “Slow Down,” the flip side of “Matchbox,” this B-side, “Country Dreamer” (sliced apple), is also a properly printed label.

The current value of the funky, unprinted version of “Helen Wheels” is $350, about 35 times as much as ones without Helen's missing text.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2011 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Exclusive Permission

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