Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: For awhile in the early 1990s I lived in Moscow, and one of my favorite pastimes was checking out the Russian record shops.

Most of the albums then, regardless of who actually owned the rights, were made and controlled by Russia. This of course gave them complete control over what was available for their citizens to own.

Many of these LPs were by Russians, none of whom I knew, but here a few I found and bought by familiar American and British artists:

The Beatles ("Rubber Soul"); Creedence Clearwater Revival ("Traveling Band"); Deep Purple ("Deep Purple"); Elton John ("Honky Cat" and "Your Song"); Elvis Presley ("That's All Right"); Rolling Stones ("Sticky Fingers"); and Yes ("Time and a Word").

Other than numerals, such as times and release dates, nothing on the covers or labels is in English.

These must be rare, but is there any added value? Or are they about the same as the authentic versions?
—Vincent DeLong, Indianapolis

DEAR VINCENT: Rarely are Russian albums valued higher than the original U.S. and UK issues. Most are either in the same price range or lower.

This is because the NFP (Novelty Factor Premium), for being something most collectors don't have, is often offset by the FFD (Flummoxed Factor Discount), having something neither you nor anyone you know can decipher.

They are also not nearly as scarce as you might think. All that you mention are easily available online.

Other than "Rubber Soul," which is in the $25 to $30 range, any of the others you list can be had for $10 to $20.

DEAR JERRY: Don't know if anyone outside Fargo ever heard it, but there was a significant hit here in the early '60s that has been nagging at me for decades.

No one I've asked has ever come up with the artist and title, but this stuff seems right up your alley.

The memorable gimmick of the song is the inclusion of a bunch of recent hit songs with three-word titles, the last two being "Of Love."

One example they used is "Mountain of Love." What are the others?

Oh yeah, the singer sounded young and had a style reminiscent of Buddy Holly.
—Regina Cassidy, Fargo, N.D.

DEAR REGINA: You picked the right alley, and brought with you a delightful question we've never had before.

Here is another of those regional hits we often talk about, songs popular in scattered markets that just didn't chart nationally.

This singer is Jimmy Curtiss, and the "Of Love" song nagging you is "Love, Sweet Love," from 1961.

I always felt it should have been titled "Song of Love," making for a better connection to all the songs of love. It's not as though that title was overused. The last time anyone had a hit titled "Song of Love" was in 1922.

Billboard, in May '61, gave "Love, Sweet Love" their coveted four-star rating for its "strong sales potential." The rating was deserved, but the sales projection fell short.

In the order heard, and with the most appropriate artist for the period (not necessarily the original or best-known), they are:

"Train of Love" (Annette with the Afterbeats)
"Mountain of Love" (Harold Dorman)
"Treasure of Love" (Clyde McPhatter)
"Valley of Love" (Turbans Featuring Al Banks)
"Cradle of Love" (Johnny Preston)
"Ship of Love" (Nutmegs)
"Sea of Love" (Phil Phillips with the Twilights)
"Book of Love" (Monotones)
"Chains of Love" (Pat Boone)
"Story of Love" (Starlighters)
"Prisoner of Love" (Billy Eckstine)
"Glory of Love" (Roommates)

Using just the two years before the Jimmy Curtiss release, I found four more moderately successful "Of Love" records, should they have wanted another verse: "Beginning of Love" (Dallan LaRoc); "Lullabye of Love" (Frank Gari); "Secret of Love" (Elton Anderson with the Sid Lawrence Combo); and "Shadows of Love" (Lavern Baker).

For two weeks in June 1960, all four of these were in the Top 100: "Train of Love"; "Mountain of Love"; "Cradle of Love"; and "Shadows of Love."

It seems there was a summer "Of Love" long before the more famous one in 1967.

IZ ZAT SO? While researching Jimmy Curtiss, I noticed that, despite being a very common name, no one with the surname Curtis (or Curtiss) ever had a single or album on the national pop or rock (Top 100) charts — not a one in well over 100 years of recording history.

In the C&W singles field, Sonny Curtis, Mac Curtis, and Larry Curtis had hits, as did Chantal Curtis with an R&B entry. Sonny and Mac also charted with LPs.

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.

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