Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pure Power! From K-tel!

I love K-tel International, and I'm not even sorry. I mentioned last month that I had my own K-tel commercial marathon on Youtube one night. The very first commercial I watched was this one for the compilation album Pure Power.

Hot off the charts! K-tel's Pure Power!

This is an absolute masterpiece of the oversell. The voiceover, the excerpts, the cheesy animation and sound effects - it all comes together into pure 1970s cornball bliss.

As they used to say in the commercials, "But wait! There's more!"

K-tel has its own Youtube channel now, and they have been unearthing copies of their old commercials from the vaults. That's where the Shatner album I featured originates. So when I noticed recently that they had added Pure Power, I took a look to see about the quality compared to the earlier video.

I discovered something wholly unexpected.

Pure Power! From K-tel, is hot off the charts!

Huh. Not only was it a different commercial, but it seemed to imply that the makeup of the album changed. That's pretty much the only interpretation I can discern from the substitution of a different England Dan and John Ford Coley song. Careful examination of the album cover (identical in both) reveals no evidence of Blue Öyster Cult, Wild Cherry, Kenny Nolan, Silver Convention, Boz Scaggs, or ABBA in the artist listing. There are, however, a number of artists who don't get named in either spot: David Dundas, Wet Willie, Gladys Knight & the Pips (how they got omitted is a good question, too!) and the fantastically-named Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band.

I found someone selling a copy of this album (on etsy, of all places!), and the cover is exactly the same. It further reveals that the pictures at the bottom are Hall & Oates, KISS, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Sylvers, and Alice Cooper (again). This ultimately raises even more questions than it answers.

So, uh, what's going on? I note that many of the new additions charted in the latter-half of 1976. Was the album reconfigured at some point to be more relevant, but without changing the artwork? Is this an alternate Canadian issue (not unprecedented)? The second commercial is a bit more low-key, and the record price is a dollar higher. I don't know if there was a price hike at that time or if it's indicative of something else.

When I decided to compose a blog post about Pure Power, I genuinely had no idea it would get so involved. I also had no idea that I was going to start getting hits from people looking for Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band, but that seems inevitable now. I am eager to learn more about both Pure Power AND Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band!


  1. Hi.

    I host a radio show called Adventures in Vinyl. Each month we highlight a different K-Tel album. Having grown up on K-Tel, I really like revisiting these old albums.

    I just recently picked up a copy of "Pure Power." The version that I have is the first video you posted. Here's the thing about K-Tel: they often produced at least two versions of their albums: one for the American Market and the other for the Canadian market. I have several Canadian and American versions of the same album and they can be strikingly different. Usually, the American album is a little better, in my opinion. And that's because the songs are a little more familiar as they often put Canadian artists on those albums released there.

    Bruce Janu

  2. I suspect you are correct - I've noticed there are different editions for the U.K. and Australian markets as well. In fact, I've been meaning to point this out in a striking pair of commercials that are for the "same" album, only not.

    Thanks for dropping by! Enjoyed your blog!

  3. I was sometime still do collect K-tel albums. Huge library I have with U.S and Canadian editions along w/some Australia, German, Italian, UK and Spain editions. I noticed the earlier (70's) collection the Canadian version was a bit more edited. Especially "Pure Power". Why bother putting Blue Oyster Cult on. 2 verses of "Don't Fear the Reaper" w/o the break and...done. The same with Boz Scaggs "Lowdown".
    Anyway I should list my collection soon. Great to read your blog! Cheers!

    Michael T