DEAR JERRY: I caught a segment on the Today Show recently about increased vinyl sales, and that many record stores are now flourishing.
From that report, I got the feeling that the future of vinyl records is rosy. Do you agree, or is it just wishful thinking?
Kirk Denton, Houston
DEAR KIRK: I definitely agree, and so does the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
It's their job to keep track of music sales of all formats, and they rave about the revitalization of vinyl that began in 2009 and continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
According to a cleverly titled Nielsen Media & Entertainment study, "Vinyl Albums Are Off and Spinning," vinyl sales in the U.S. grew by 260 percent from 2009 to 2014.
More recently, vinyl sales increased by 52 percent from 2014 to 2015, resulting in $221.8 million in revenue, and accounting for 30 percent of physical media shipments, and seven percent of the total music market.
Approximately 20 million vinyl records sold in 2015, making it the industry's biggest year since the 1980s, just before compact discs dominated the marketplace.
Also impressive is that vinyl sales contributed more to the music industry than the ad-supported on-demand category.
Additional reports from the RIAA indicate U.S. vinyl sales in 2015 generated more income to the music industry than Spotify Free, YouTube, and Vevo combined.
As the market for vinyl grows, more new record stores are opening, as are more record manufacturing plants to meet the demand.
As it is now, lengthy processing times are common. I produced an album last year and it took about four months for the plant, even working 24/7, to finish the job.
Not surprisingly, a new generation of reasonably priced dual speed (33 and 45) turntables are available, such as the Sony PS-LX300USB ($130).
It has everything a casual listener would want, and, using its USB cable, it easily converts vinyl singles and albums to play on digital devices.
Then there is Record Store Day, April 16th, coincidentally right around the corner.
Begun in April 2008, RSD celebrates and publicizes the entertaining culture exclusive to independently owned record stores.
Participating stores are now found in every state and on every continent except Antarctica.
So unless you're at the South Pole, there is probably a Record Store Day event near you.
DEAR JERRY: I spent two years stationed in Germany, and visited some of the record stores in Berlin.
With many American soldiers there, most of the shops carried U.S. hits as well as German music.
When I bought "Together," by Connie Francis, the clerk suggested another single by her, sung in German, that was currently No. 1 there.
I bought both, but unfortunately I didn't bring my records back home.
I've long since forgotten the German title, and no one in the U.S. knows of this record.
Can you identify it?
Earl Blasingame, San Mateo, Calif.
DEAR EARL: I can, but only because you picked up the German single along with "Together," a Top 10 tune in the U.S. in July 1961.
Her German hit at that time was "Schöner Fremder Mann" (MGM 60 042), and it was indeed No. 1 in Berlin for most of July.
You are probably right about that specific record not being known in America, but the original English language version, titled "Someone Else's Boy," was the B-side of Connie's hit, "Breakin' in a Brand New Broken Heart" (MGM 12995), the single preceding "Together."
A peculiar thing about the German release is MGM's choice for the B-side. They had at least a dozen of Connie's German tracks from which to choose, yet they backed "Schöner Fremder Mann" with "Funiculi, Funicula," from her "More Italian Songs" LP.
It seems like an odd coupling, but MGM must have liked the German/Italian combo, because three months later they released "Funiculi, Funicula" in Italy, backed with you guessed it "Schöner Fremder Mann" (K 2031).
Not just once, but twice, both at the same time.
Concurrently issued in Italy was "Funiculi, Funicula," but this B-side has a subtitle with the English translation: "Schöner Fremder Mann (Someone Else's Boy)" (JBK-2031), and a slightly different number.
Two years later, MGM released the LP "Connie Francis Sings German Favorites" (E-4124) in the U.S., and it of course includes "Schöner Fremder Mann (Someone Else's Boy)," but not "Funiculi, Funicula."
IZ ZAT SO? Most of Connie's German language hits were original compositions, written by Germans specifically for her.
But "Someone Else's Boy" ("Schöner Fremder Mann"), and seven more of her American singles, were rewritten in German. Here they are with their U.S. and German titles:
(1960) "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" is "Die Liebe ist ein seltsames Spiel" (MGM 61 025)
(1961) "Many Tears Ago" is "Ich komm' nie mehr von dir los" (MGM 61 035)
(1961) "Where the Boys Are" is "Wenn ich träume" (MGM 61 039)
(1961) "Too Many Rules" is "Das ist zuviel" (MGM 61 050)
(1962) "Don't Break the Heart That Loves You" is "Tu' mir nicht weh" (MGM 61 056)
(1963) "Follow the Boys" is "Mein Schiff fährt zu dir" (MGM 61 080)
(1964) "Looking for Love" is "Ich wär' gerne verliebt" (MGM 61 098)