THE FIRST ELVIS CUT-OUT ALBUMS began appearing in the mid 1970s. The titles deleted were mostly those that followed the triumph of the televised Aloha special: from LOVE LETTERS FROM ELVIS on, there was one incredibly disappointing album after another, each with diminishing sales. This article is an overview of the cut-out bins of the ’70s and the Elvis albums that found their way to them. 1
Stores that had never contemplated a bargain bin in their record department started one and record buying was never the same. But these records should have had a huge impact on the early record collectors price guides, but did not.
So here are a handful of once common cut-outs that remain affordable forty years later! This article was published simultaneously with “on my first published price guide” and there will be some overlapping of text. I added a section unique to this post addressing Elvis albums as cut-outs. 2
The dawn of the Cut-Out Era
After the American record industry stopped manufacturing albums in both mono and stereo in 1968, they had tens of millions of deleted records taking up valuable space. These were dumped into stores across the country for a fraction of their normal price—wholesaling for as little as 10¢ instead of the standard $1.35. As these units had already been written off of the companies’ taxes as a loss, anything they received for them was gravy.
The first Elvis albums deleted from the active catalog were several soundtracks that had stopped selling by the end of the ’60s.
The first Elvis albums deleted from the active catalog were several soundtracks that had stopped selling by the end of the ’60s.
The stores in turn usually offered these (mostly but not exclusively) mono albums for 99¢, although I found stores like Woolworth’s and McCrory’s offering them for 3-for-$1! These were generally family owned and operated franchises known as “5 and 10 stores” that had established bargain bins, something many retail outlets did not.
Needless to say, these prices met with great success with customers. Beginning in 1968, my record collection expanded exponentially!
It was a winning situation for the record companies, retail chains, and record buyers—and it was the birth of the cut-out bin! This gave the industry an outlet to sell millions of records a year that had no commercial viability. It would not be unkind to refer to the ’70s as the Cut-Out Era of record buying.
Because these albums were available at the same time, I have listed them alphabetically by artist. I selected a baker’s dozen and stopped, although this page could go forever . . .
The Association: Insight Out
Warner Bros. W-1696 mono/WS-1696 stereo (1967).
The group’s third long-player was both it most ambitious and its most accomplished. It was also the most successful: carried by Windy and Never My Love (both #1 on the Cash Box Top 100), INSIGHT OUT was a Top 10 on the LP charts and awarded an RIAA Gold Record by the end of the year.
By the end of the next year, their run of Top 40 singles was over and their albums sold less and less and all of them wound up in cut-out bins. Fine record by a fine band that rarely gets its due from historians.
Note that 1967’s Everything That Touches You, their last Top 10, has been remixed into bland ‘modern’ stereo (or what one discerning listener termed it, multi-channel mono). To hear this recording’s true beauty, find the original Sixties stereo mix.
Eric Burdon & The Animals: Winds Of Change
MGM E-4484 mono/SE-4484 stereo (1967).
This album featured the idiosyncratic but big hit single San Franciscan Nights with its corny but endearing spoken intro:
“This following program is dedicated to the city and people of San Francisco, who may not know it, but they are beautiful. And so is their city. This is a very personal song, so if the viewer cannot understand it—particularly those of you who are European residents—save up all your bread and fly TransWorld Airways to San Francisco USA. Then maybe you’ll understand the song. It will be worth it, if not for the sake of this song, but for the sake of your own peace of mind.”
The album also included two classic cuts: Good Times (now my theme song: “When I think of all the good times that I wasted having good times”) and Anything. Unfortunately, this album failed to ignite the imagination of psychedelic rock fans and ended up in dollar bins all over the country. Note that this album includes an interesting version of Paint It Black whose intro seems to want to sound like a Bay Area psych workout.
Chad & Jeremy: Of Cabbages And Kings
Columbia CL-6871 mono/CS-9471 stereo (1967).
Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde’s first excursion into psychedelia as met with derision, much of it due to the absurdly pretentious (but fun) Progress Suite that occupies all of Side 2 of the record. Too bad, as all of the Side 1 was extremely fine psych-pop. Thankfully, succeeding generations of collectors have seen the album in a more positive light. The follow-up album, THE ARK, was also a cut-out but was hard to find even then.
The Dave Clark Five: 5 By 5
Epic LN-24236 mono/BN-26236 stereo (1967).
The DC5 were big enough during the first year of the British Invasion (1964) that magazines devoted whole issues to “Who’s your favorite: the Beatles or the Dave Clark 5?” (Or Herman’s Hermits; the Rolling Stones did not really come into play as a major attraction to teenyboppers in the States until ’65.)
By 1967, the DC5 were through as hit-makers, and this album’s single, the bluesy Nineteen Days, failed to even reach the Top 40. Each of the last three DC5 albums reached the cut-out bins: YOU GOT WHAT IT TAKES was the most common, EVERYBODY KNOWS the hardest to find.
Herman’s Hermits: Hold On
MGM E-4342 mono/SE-4342 stereo (1966).
For years, it seemed like every ‘Ermits MGM album could be had for a buck—except the first one, which remains the hardest title to found to this day. When I started selling records via ads in Goldmine magazine in 1980 (as Pet Sounds Records), I was able to buy 25-count boxes of Hermits albums for $15—and that included shipping!
The Hollies: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
Epic BN-26538 stereo (1969).
After Graham Nash’s departure, the Hollies struggled to maintain a hip image. Without Nash, their songwriting was unpredictable and they had to rely on other writer’s material. In 1969 they scored a worldwide hit with a gorgeous reading of Bobby Scott and Bob Russell’s He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.
Alas, the album of the same name in the US was a rather weak offering of their own songs. It sold well for a time and that found its way into the dollar boxes. Of the Hollies albums that reached the cut-out bins, WORDS AND MUSIC BY BOB DYLAN was easily the most easily found.
The Lovin’ Spoonful: Everything Playing
Kama Sutra KLP-8061 mono/KLPS-8061 stereo (1968).
While nowhere near as common as Herman’s Hermits LPs (what was?), several Spoonful albums could be found as cut-outs throughout the ’70s. Even though this album included two hits, Six O’Clock and the magnificently Brian Wilsony She Is Still A Mystery (and their last single to reach Cash Box’s Top 20), it stiffed and was deleted within a year of release. This album was everywhere everywhen for years and years . . .
The Mamas & The Papas: Papas & Mamas
Dunhill DS-50031 stereo (1968).
Despite their string of fabulous 45s, their importance in the public’s acceptance of “hippies,” and their prominent role in the Monterey International Pop Music Festival of 1967, by ’68 The Mamas & The Papas had passed their peak and this album sold nowhere near as well as the first three, all multi-million sellers. Consequently, it became a cut-out bin staple for years.
Note the horizontal line on the cover: it was a gatefold jacket that opened with photos of John, Michelle, Cass, and Denny on the inside so that you could flip the front cover flaps and make goofy faces. A goofy idea.
Paul Revere & The Raiders: Hard ‘N’ Heavy With Marshmallows
Columbia CS-9753 stereo (1969).
Despite a string of great 45s and some fine LPs, the Raiders clung to their teenybopper image through the ’60s. Describing your music as “hard and heavy with marshmallows” sounded like bubblegum with a stone in the center: it was hard, but it was still bubblegum. Shame, as this was a good album.
While several Raiders albums seemed to be all over the place—including REVOLUTION! and SOMETHING HAPPENING—it was GOIN’ TO MEMPHIS that I saw in the cut-out bins the most often. All are good albums, too long neglected by historians.
Peter & Gordon: Lady Godiva
Capitol T-2664 mono/ST-2664 stereo (1966).
In a perfect pop world, Peter Asher would have been Paul McCartney’s brother-in-law while he was recording with his friend Gordon Waller. Lady Godiva, their last hit on the American charts, was a smartly arranged and produced piece of novelty. Mr. Asher went on to produce and sell millions and millions of Linda Ronstadt records in the ’70s, while Mr. Gordon returned to his first love, the theater.
The Turtles: The Battle Of The Bands
White Whale WWS-7118 stereo (1968).
The multi-faceted Turtles recorded this incredible record in which they staged a “battle of the bands” by adopting a dozen nom de plumes and cut a dozen tracks in a dozen different styles. Of the five albums I used here as examples, this is the one that has accrued the most attention from ’60s rock/pop connoisseurs over the decades.
This album included two hit singles: the goofily ironic Elenore (and fans of this song need to hear Billy Bob Thornton’s version) and a gorgeous reading of Gene Clark’s You Showed Me. Today, this album is considered a minor masterpiece by many critics and aficionados.
Movie soundtrack: Riot On Sunset Strip
Tower DT-5065 stereo (1967).
No review of ’60s cut-out is complete with some mention of the Sidewalk and Tower soundtrack albums for several handfuls of exploitational movies by Roger Corman and American International Pictures. This album is notable for having two tracks each by the Standells and Chocolate Watch Band and one by Mom’s Boys, later known as 13th Power who recorded The Shape Of Things To Come as Max Frost & The Troopers.
Movie soundtrack: The Glory Stompers
Sidewalk DT-5910 stereo (1968).
This is basically a Davie Allan and the Arrows album, as they record as themselves and as Max Frost & The Troopers while appearing as sideman on other tracks. For more on the complications of the credits on this album, refer to “avid record collectors price guide to Wild In The Streets part 2.”
Something was not right with the guides
The albums above are all from the ’60s yet were available through most of the ’70s as cut-outs, selling for as little as 99¢ and as much as $2.99. These titles were damn near ubiquitous in most of the country and were factory sealed and therefore in unplayed mint condition. Yet each of these was listed in the price guides as being worth between $8 and $15 in played condition.
Something was not right with the guides and everyone knew it.
Then came me!
The cover photo for this book is my favorite cover of any of my fourteen books. It is a staged garage sale set up at the O’Sullivan house; publisher John O’Sullivan is the customer buying a copy of Elvis’ Christmas Album. The concept was mine, as were the records used as props.
Deleted Elvis albums I have known
The first Elvis albums deleted from the active catalog were several soundtracks that had stopped selling by the end of the ’60s. IT HAPPENED AT THE WORLD’S FAIR was the earliest title to cease selling enough copies to remain in the active catalog. But I never saw one of them sold in a store’s bargain bin.
The first Elvis album that I did see at a discounted price was an import: the UK pressing of SPINOUT, which was titled CALIFORNIA HOLIDAY in other countries as the word spinout was an American idiom with no meaning elsewhere. I found this in the basement of McCrory’s, one of the few stores in Wilkes-Barre to have a regular bargain bin for records.
CALIFORNIA HOLIDAY was also the first imported Elvis album that I had ever seen: RCA Victor was very protective of their market and a non-US pressing in an American store was a rare thing in those days. But it was not defaced or marked in any way as a cut-out. It was in the 99¢ section, and so I bought it. I did not see a deleted Elvis album with a cut-out mark until the early ’70s.
So most Elvis albums missed the dawning of the age of cut-out albums! The first titles that I recall seeing were the lackluster LOVE LETTERS FROM ELVIS (LSP-4530, 1971, consisting of eleven tracks left over from 1970 and ’71) and ELVIS NOW (LSP-4671, 1972, consisting of only ten tracks left over from 1969–1971). Both of these albums were designated as cut-outs by having their jackets defaced: in the albums that I remember, each had an ugly rectangular notch, referred to as a saw-mark, usually in the lower left corner.
This was a common method of marking a cut-out, but it was soon replaced by the even worse practice of clipping the upper right corner. I do not recall seeing any Elvis albums with its corner clipped in the ’70s.
Cut-out albums with holes or saw-marks or clipped corners are always worth less than a regular, undamaged album. When selling such a record, the defacing mark should always be a part of the written description. An otherwise NM jacket with a cut-out mark is not a VG+ jacket: it is a NM jacket with a cut-out marking!
Other albums that quickly found their way to the cut-out bins included ELVIS (APL1-0283, 1973) and RAISED ON ROCK (APL1-0388, 1973). In the wake of Elvis’s death in August 1977, everything was brought back into print and kept there into the 1980s. Then they were all deleted to make room for the compact disc and the Digital Age (or, as I refer to it, ‘the Age of Digitally Damaging Recorded Music’ . . .
HEADER IMAGE: This rather dramatic photo of a rather fit Elvis was taken on stage at the Hilton in Las Vegas in February 1973 and was used later in the year for the cover of the less-than-dramatic RAISED ON ROCK / FOR OL’ TIMES SAKE. That album featured a less-than-fit Elvis struggling through five days worth of mostly failed sessions at Memphis’ famed Stax Studios. 3
Postscriptually, when grading defaced cut-outs (and “defaced cut-out” should be understood by all as redundant), the cut-out mark should not be incorporated into the grade. An otherwise near mint jacket with a cut-out mark is not a VG+ jacket; it is a near mint jacket with a defect.
For example, the copy of ELVIS NOW above should be graded, “near mint jacket with half-inch saw-mark in lower left corner.” This tells the prospective buyer exactly what he will be buying!
1 The term cut-out refers to albums that were deleted from—or cut out of—a record company’s active catalog, usually due to declining or non-existent sales. While several Presley soundtrack LPs had been deleted in the ’60s, there were no cut-out versions of those albums as the ubiquitous cut-out bin did not become common to record stores until the early ’70s.
2 This article was written as an explanatory page (on WordPress, a page is different from a post) for this site titled “Rock & Roll Record Albums Price Guide.” I am republishing a portion of that piece here as a post as the search engines supposedly see them differently.
3 By 1973, Elvis had been steadily increasing his reliance on prescription medication to the point that he was not only clinically addicted, but he was approaching a point where his life was endangered. The Stax sessions were not the first that found him barely capable of carrying out the motions of recording music, let alone recording music that deserved to be released to the public. Not would it be the last such session . . .