Never forget the power of the K-Tel Hit Machine

May 07, 2020 | Nestor Aparicio

To try to tell the kids today about the power of K-Tel records and those awesome television commercials wouldn’t do it justice. Even the Gen X and Y and Spotify mix tapes don’t really explain the allure and enduring power of the 1970s yacht rock compilation.

I must admit, when I was challenged by several friends to name the influential albums of my life, that I didn’t think I would ever again see the image of this 1970s gem.

I owned three K-Tel albums. I can’t even find a picture of the third one but this one came into my life first – with a large assist to the first band and album I shared a week ago: Kiss. They were like a gateway band to my life in music.

This particular slice of vinyl was purchased at the Farmer’s Market on Route 40 by my maternal mother because I don’t think they had Kiss albums there. Or they were probably sold out. When she saw that the studio version of “Rock and Roll All Nite” was on it, I had to have it. (I think I also got the 45 of “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr that day.)

The rest of this became foreplay and post-play for Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter (always my favorite). This had disco galore but most importantly one of my favorites by Maxine Nightengale. “Love is good, love can be strong…”
 
I loved the Elton John song, “Island Girl.” I used to call the poor WLPL jock and request it. (Even though I owned it. Kinda dumb, right?)
 
The immortal Electric Light Orchestra and Frankie Valli and Starbuck doing one of my favorite songs as a kid, “Moonlight Feels Right.” Linda Ronstadt asking me, “When Will I Be Loved?” And Rick Dees doing “Disco Duck.”
 
Original hits. Original stars. The Hit Machine was solid gold!
 
It was a “made for TV” album so of COURSE it had two of my favorite show theme songs: “Happy Days” and “Welcome Back” from the Sweat Hog days. I didn’t even need a note from Epstein’s mother!
 
A few years later, I got a cassette dubber on a turntable console. And all that K-Tel magic on vinyl taught me about mastering the early mix tapes.
 
I was unleashed across all genres of modern music by 1980 on my #MusicalNes journey…