Last month, when I went through the microfilm to research the local coverage of Elvis Presley’s death, I also came across this.
From late August 1977, it’s a newspaper ad for Prange Way, one of a small chain of discount stores in Green Bay and elsewhere in Wisconsin. It was the budget outlet for Prange’s, which until the early ’90s was one of the big, old-style department stores in Wisconsin.
I bought quite a few albums at Prange’s in the early ’70s. I never bought any at Prange Way. It just wasn’t a cool place to shop. Think K mart.
Here are the eight “popular albums and tapes” in that ad from 30 years ago, selling for $4.99 on vinyl and $5.99 on tape. (That’s $17.15 for vinyl and $20.59 for tape, in today’s dollars. See? We were getting hosed by the record companies back then, too.)
— On Columbia: “Little Queen,” Heart.
— On Reprise: “American Stars ‘n Bars,” Neil Young.
— On 20th Century: “Peter McCann,” Peter McCann.
— On A&M: “Izitso,” Cat Stevens, and “I’m In You,” Peter Frampton.
— On Arista: “I Robot,” The Alan Parsons Project.
— On Casablanca: “Love Gun,” Kiss.
— On Atlantic: “CSN,” Crosby, Stills & Nash.
No disrespect intended, but I didn’t remember Peter McCann until I googled him. He was the guy who did “Do You Wanna Make Love?” that summer, his only hit. (Great second line: “Or do you just want to fool around?”) He also was the guy who wrote “Right Time of the Night” for Jennifer Warnes, a hit earlier that year.
Here are the five “album and tape favorites” selling for $3.99 on vinyl and $5.99 on tape. (That’s $13.71 for vinyl and $20.59 for tape, in today’s dollars.)
— On Elektra: “Judith,” Judy Collins, and “What’s Wrong With This Picture?” by Andrew Gold.
— On MCA: “One of the Boys,” Roger Daltrey.
— On Capitol: “Diamantina Cocktail,” Little River Boys.
— On RCA: “Ol’ Waylon,” Waylon Jennings.
One album was selling for $8.99 on vinyl and $9.99 on tape (a staggering $30.90 for vinyl and $34.34 for tape in today’s dollars) — “New York, New York,” which is described in the ad as “Liza Minnelli’s newest hit album from the motion picture of the same name, ‘New York, New York.'” That’s some clever ad copy, eh?
Of the 14 “popular albums and tapes” and “album and tape favorites” shown in this ad, I had none then and have none now. Make of that what you will.
At the end of the summer of 1977, I was 20. I was headed off to finish college, leaving home for good. I’d already moved past Kiss, hadn’t yet gotten into Neil Young and was too weary of having heard “Luckenbach, Texas” all summer — and just too damn dumb — to figure out there was more to Waylon Jennings.
There was some good music being made in the summer of 1977. It just didn’t get into Prange Way’s ad. I doubt it’s a coincidence that neither the Sex Pistols nor any black artists are advertised. That just didn’t sell to the masses in small-town Wisconsin in the late ’70s.
No, I don’t think the folks were quite ready for Marvin Gaye getting his groove on, nor for any album cover from Charlie. So, enjoy.
“Got to Give It Up,” Marvin Gaye, from “Live at the London Palladium,” 1977. This is the single version. It runs almost 12 minutes on the album.
“Johnny Hold Back,” Charlie, from “No Second Chance,” 1977.