Signs Of The Zodiac A&M Series

rockdoctor

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Did anyone here on the forum actually buy any of these? I first knew of them in 1971 or 72 when I had received the Full Color Catalog from A&M records.
I saw them only one time at a store and never saw them again. I would be surprised if they even made back the cost to make them.
 

Harry

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No, I never bought any. I think I saw them in stores back in the day, but figured it was some dumb hippie music. Looking quickly on Discogs, is it possible that these were all the same music - or whatever - the tracks appear to be the same length with titles that replace that particular sign of the zodiac?

My only Mort Garson record is a really beat up looking copy of ELECTRONIC HAIR PIECES. That one came from our hard rock station when they got rid of some old unused vinyl.
 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Surely this was a MAJOR mis-step at A&M. The label basically threw away 12 LPs on a gimmick. I'm guessing they were priced $1.00 or $1.50 cheaper to entice the pseudo-hippie-wannabe crowd. To Harry's point, I thought I read out here years ago that Side II was the same on every LP. I'm curious how it all went down at the ensuing board meeting when the sale figures came out...and then the uncomfortable silence as the guilty suit who convinced everyone and their dog how this was gonna be the hit of 1970 had to volunteer a response of sorts...

You know somewhere someone's got the entire 12 LPs in NM condition.

Taurus & my name is Matthew (never mind).
A&M: Taurus & my name is Matthew
Customer: (never mind)
 

rockdoctor

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Thread Starter
Surely this was a MAJOR mis-step at A&M. The label basically threw away 12 LPs on a gimmick. I'm guessing they were priced $1.00 or $1.50 cheaper to entice the pseudo-hippie-wannabe crowd. To Harry's point, I thought I read out here years ago that Side II was the same on every LP. I'm curious how it all went down at the ensuing board meeting when the sale figures came out...and then the uncomfortable silence as the guilty suit who convinced everyone and their dog how this was gonna be the hit of 1970 had to volunteer a response of sorts...

You know somewhere someone's got the entire 12 LPs in NM condition.


A&M: Taurus & my name is Matthew
Customer: (never mind)
You are right! Somebody has an entire collection somewhere. As far as pricing, they all had the same list price of $4.98 and no special discount price that I saw. I would have thought they would be in the cutout bins by 1971 but maybe they were all recalled and mercifully destroyed as I never saw them again at any store. I know that I saw them in a department store record section and never in a record store.
 

Michael Hagerty

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You are right! Somebody has an entire collection somewhere. As far as pricing, they all had the same list price of $4.98 and no special discount price that I saw. I would have thought they would be in the cutout bins by 1971 but maybe they were all recalled and mercifully destroyed as I never saw them again at any store. I know that I saw them in a department store record section and never in a record store.
Very likely they were. I can't imagine Jerry Moss approving more than a limited first pressing (actually, I can't imagine Jerry approving the album series, but he did), so they probably came back as returns and went straight to the recycler. Since the LPs were released in December of 1969, this may have happened before Jerry embraced cut-outs, which I think was later 1970 or early '71.

Incredibly, the entire series of 12 albums peaked in Billboard at #147, signifying at least some orders on the wholesale level.

There's a mint, sealed copy of ARIES on eBay right now for $25. And a guy named Benjamin Miller bought CANCER from Amazon 13 years ago. His review is interesting reading---the female narrator is Nancy Priddy, mother of Christina Applegate (who hadn't been born yet).

Amazon product
I just don't understand anyone signing off on 13 records in a row (ELECTRONIC HAIR PIECES has the catalog number just before the Zodiac series).

I see that Irving/Almo acquired Mort Garson's song catalog in 1966. Could this have been part of the deal?
 
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Michael Hagerty

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...and now I'm wondering if this was such a disaster. SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC (somehow they got Billboard to count all 12 albums as one) managed 15 weeks on the Top 200 albums, peaking at #147 within six weeks of release---and then bobbing up and down between 150 and 175.

That suggests stores re-ordering stock they had sold. How many parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, wanting to seem cool, gave them as Christmas or birthday gifts (not all 12---just the one with the matching astrological sign) to teenage and young adult relatives? How many couples bought one of each of their signs?

Not millions, probably not hundreds of thousands and maybe not even tens of thousands, but it was moving stock for the better part of four months.

If it didn't cost much to record, and they kept the number of pressings reasonable, apart from the merchandising displays and the full-page ad in Billboard, this might have actually made a buck or two---and at the very least could have broken even.

It did better than OFFERING/TICKET TO RIDE, FRESH AIR, FREE, AHEAD RINGS OUT and the last two A&M Claudine Longet albums.
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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I also think these might have been marketed in unconventional ways--as @rockdoctor mentioned seeing it in a department store, I get the feeling it might have been marketed and sold more in department stores than record stores, to appeal to impulse buyers looking for a unique gift for the holidays ("The gift item of the year!"), and to cash in on the Zodiac fad back then.

And that ad copy sure was laying it on thick! 😁
 

rockdoctor

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Thread Starter
I also think these might have been marketed in unconventional ways--as @rockdoctor mentioned seeing it in a department store, I get the feeling it might have been marketed and sold more in department stores than record stores, to appeal to impulse buyers looking for a unique gift for the holidays ("The gift item of the year!"), and to cash in on the Zodiac fad back then.

And that ad copy sure was laying it on thick! 😁
As I said, I only saw them one time at a department store and maybe that was when they were on their way out. It was a long time between the time I saw them in the catalog and then in the store. If they spent 15 weeks on the charts then somebody was buying them somewhere. They had a full page in the A&M Color Catalog but on the December 1971 Little Catalog in the Inner Sleeves thread, they are not listed.
 

Mike Blakesley

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I remember seeing these listed in one of the A&M brochure-type catalogs. I tried to order the "Scorpio" one since that's my sign, but the warehouse we bought our music from never carried it. I probably ordered it about 10 times and finally the last time, they underlined "not in stock" twice on our invoice so I got the hint and stopped ordering it. I'm sure they didn't want to have to order it from A&M which would have meant buying a case of 25 or so copies.

I think a big marketplace for this series might have been... head shops. You know... the places that are now called "marijuana dispensaries."
 

Harry

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Garson must have been big into this stuff. This is a 1967 Elektra album.
 

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Mike Blakesley

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For the curious, here is a Youtube link to the entire series. You can either endure, I mean enjoy all the albums in order, or you can suffer through, I mean listen to your own sign.

They're different than I expected -- I thought it was just going to be synth music, and it IS that, but there are also narrations with very heady and meaningful (I suppose) astrological musings. You may truly know yourself after listening to one of these, if you can hold out for the whole thing. Each album is right around 26-27 minutes.


Truly, whoever green-lighted this must have really been thinking they were on to something. Or more likely, they were just "on something."
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
For the curious, here is a Youtube link to the entire series. You can either endure, I mean enjoy all the albums in order, or you can suffer through, I mean listen to your own sign.

They're different than I expected -- I thought it was just going to be synth music, and it IS that, but there are also narrations with very heady and meaningful (I suppose) astrological musings. You may truly know yourself after listening to one of these, if you can hold out for the whole thing. Each album is right around 26-27 minutes.


Truly, whoever green-lighted this must have really been thinking they were on to something. Or more likely, they were just "on something."
Well, it was the end of a very bad year (1969) at A&M, there was a fad waiting to be jumped on, and so they took a shot at it. And like I said earlier, it might have broken even or made a buck. 15 weeks of someone out there ordering 25 at a time adds up.
 

Harry

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This all reminds me of a hit record two years later called "Desiderata" by Les Crane. It got a lot of airplay and popularity enough that Leonard Nimoy did a version on his Spock record tie-in. STAR TREK was exploding in the early 70s, and this kind of stuff was eaten up by the Trekkie types.

 

Michael Hagerty

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Contributor
This all reminds me of a hit record two years later called "Desiderata" by Les Crane. It got a lot of airplay and popularity enough that Leonard Nimoy did a version on his Spock record tie-in. STAR TREK was exploding in the early 70s, and this kind of stuff was eaten up by the Trekkie types.

...which, the year after that, inspired this gem from the National Lampoon:

 

Mike Blakesley

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There was definitely an odd list of things that were selling in the early '70s, which is when I first got into the music business.

- Synthesizer music
- Hippie-related stuff (fueled by Woodstock)
- Imitation hippie-related stuff by older artists trying to seem cool (many A&M-ers jumped on the bandwagon)
- And astrological stuff. "What's your sign?" was a good way to start a conversation then. Today you'd get a "whaaat?"
 

Mike Blakesley

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Staff member
Moderator
That reminds me of another spoken word hit, "Americans" which was a recording by a Canadian broadcaster, Byron MacGregor, of a pro-USA editorial written by another Canadian broadcaster, Gordon Sinclair. It was followed up by Gabriel Kaplan's comedy record called "De Amerikans," in which he did a German accent and made fun of just about everything in the MacGregor record.

The original recording compared manufacturing capabilities and is now kinda outdated.
You talk about Japanese technocracy and you get radios
You talk about German technocracy and you get automobiles
You talk about American technocracy and you will find men on the moon


The Gabe Kaplan version said:
You talk about Japanese technology and you get radios
You talk about German technology and you get automobiles
You talk about American technology and you get Japanese cameras and German automobiles
 

Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
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Gabe Kaplan is a name I haven't heard in forever! Most of us remember him as Kotter. 😁 Followers of poker know him as a professional poker player.

Byron MacGregor has major history in my area--he became news director of CKLW (The Big 8, Windsor, Ontario), which served the Detroit market, at the age of 22. And the newscasts were in the "blood and guts" style--"strained through the grille of a Buick," as one reporter described a car/pedestrian accident. The station itself was #1 in the market back in its heyday. He later went on to do more traditional broadcasts, but he passed away at age 46 from pneumonia. CKLW got such a big reaction to reading Sinclair's "The Americans" on the air that MacGregor recorded it with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for local label Westbound Records, and the record eventually sold 3½ million copies (two million in its first month of release), with MacGregor donating all of his proceeds to the American Red Cross. He also made appearances in the area to recite the commentary, and it would resurface again in later decades during tough times.
 

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Gabe Kaplan is a name I haven't heard in forever! Most of us remember him as Kotter. 😁 Followers of poker know him as a professional poker player.
The album containing “De Amerikans”, HOLES AND MELLO ROLLS, had the standup routine that introduced the Sweathogs—-in that telling, Kaplan’s classmates. A couple of years later, “Wecome Back, Kotter“ comes along—-sanitized, with Gabe playing the teacher.

 
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JOv2

Well-Known Member
Regarding Nancy Priddy.

She released one LP for Dot in 1968 -- which is decent, produced by Phil Ramone (Paul Simon) and arranged by John Simon (The Band).

Nancy-Priddy-This-Way.jpg



She was also the muse behind the Buffalo Springfield song, Pretty Girl, Why?, also from 1968.

 
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