Saturday, June 19, 2010
My Caravelles story
Nostalgia Records on 30th Street in North Park was San Diego's best record store. The owner was a large older man with a big, scratchy voice and an even bigger personality. An older woman worked there as well, but they weren't married, apparently they were just friends. She was sweet and smelled of strong perfume. In fact, her perfume was so strong it used to give me migraines... but it was a comforting scent, like the kind a grandma wears.
The store was filled to the brim with rare records from the 50's and 60's. All the records were protected by record sleeves (these are the only record stores I really trust anyways) and their 45 collection was seriously amazing. From what I remember, all their 45s were in Japanese record sleeves... and you know that means business. If you went over to, say, the Blondie 45s... it wasn't just the US press of The Tide Is High or Call Me with no picture sleeve, they would have super rare records from every country imaginable. Records you didn't even know existed. Their Blondie 45s made me want to collect every Blondie 45 in existence (although I know that would be impossible). If you wanted the first Chuck Berry record, they had a few, some sealed. Their walls were filled with the coolest oldies records in town. Records that were so cool and rare, you were afraid to even play them. The owner ended up closing the store about 8 or 9 years ago so he could sell his records on the internet.
When I was about 19 years old, I made my first "expensive" record purchase: The Caravelles You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry LP on Smash Records. It was still in the shrink wrap, mint condition. I even remember taking it out of the inner sleeve for the first time... it made those static cling sounds because it probably had never left it's little shell of a record cover before. It smelled new even though it was old. I took it to work that day so I could show it off to people and play it non-stop. This was a mistake. I ended up leaving the record on the counter and it either got stolen or accidentally put in someones bag. I was crushed. I couldn't stop talking about how sad I was to lose that record.
I used to work with this geezer who smoked inside the store, was always in a bad mood and would kick people out for looking through the records too fast. He would drink the same cup of coffee all day. In fact, one time I swear to God I saw him drop his cigarette in his coffee and then an hour later pick up the same cup and drink out of it, not caring that he was drinking soggy cigarette coffee. He had mentioned to the owner of Nostlagia what had happened and the guy from Nostalgia told him he had another copy and he would sell it to me for another 50 bucks. I couldn't afford to spend another 50 bucks on the same record, so I decided to just give up. Mr. Smokes-in-the-store ended up buying the record for me. I don't think it was because he was trying to be nice, it was because he wanted me to shut the hell up about that damn record, because it really was all I talked about that week. So there you have it. My very dramatic Caravelles story.
On the back of their LP, it explains to fans about how they became a hit overnight and the day before they were just regular Janes who worked at the same company; one was a typist, the other an accounting machine operator. According to their Wikipedia page, this isn't entirely true. They were put together by a man who ran a recording studio.
They covered several country western songs (some of which were also recorded several years earlier by Patience and Prudence). Their first record was a huge success, but because they were competing with the popular "British Invasion" sound, they were unable to duplicate their success on their follow-up singles. Here are some of the songs on their Smash Records LP: (Side note! If you like the early Caravelles sound, you may like The Murmaids).
A few years after this record was released, one of the singers decided to go solo while the other stayed in The Caravelles. They put out a few more singles in the later 60's. The songs are pretty rad, a lot more groovy/soulful than their earlier sound: