View Full Version : K-TEL and RONCO records

10-19-2007, 09:44 PM
Hey Guys,
For those of us who were around in the 70's...when you bought a K-Tel or Ronco compilation album did you all notice how the sonics were so low. Also the songs were cut short or in today's jargon edited? However as the 80's came I thought K-Tel did a better job...Any thoughts or memories. I ask cuz I was just playing an album from K-Tel called "Dynamic Sound" and it was more like "Distorted Sound"...LOL:thumbsdn:

10-19-2007, 09:54 PM
The last time I listened to a K-Tel record was when I was a kid so I can't remember the quality... Of course, my system at the time probably wouldn't have exposed anything... I do remember the edited songs. I had one with Boston's "Don't Look Back" on it and it was cut short! I guess they wanted to put as many songs as possible on each side. I remember there were a ton of songs on each LP.

10-19-2007, 10:01 PM
I don't have that particular album, but I do have a few and personally I really like them. It's a way to listen to many good tunes without changing the album. I did not notice the sound quality being any worse than my other records. Who knows, after all the years of concerts and r&r my ears aren't what they used to be. Anyway here's a list of most of my Ronco/K-Tel enjoy.

K-Tel Presents Pure Gold Collection
K-Tel Presents Flash Back Hits Of The 60's
K-Tel Presents 20 Power Hits
K-Tel Presents 20 Sounds Spectacular
K-Tel Presents 22 Explosive Hits
K-Tel Presents Believe In Music
K-Tel Presents Disco Mania
K-Tel Presents Gold Rush 79
K-Tel Presents Hitline
K-Tel Presents Music Magic
K-Tel Presents Music Power 22 Original Hits
K-Tel Presents Sound Waves
K-Tel Presents The Elite
K-Tel Presents The Hit List
Ronco Presents Hit After Hit
Ronco Presents I Love Music
Ronco Presents In Concert
Ronco Presents Shining Stars
Ronco Presents Sound Explosion
Ronco Presents In Concert
Ronco Presents Star Trackin' 76
Ronco Presents Solid Gold

Toasted Almond
10-19-2007, 10:04 PM
I bought a K-tel cd in the late 80's called "Battle of the Garage Bands" or something like that. The Standells, Music Machine, Bobby Fuller 4, The Count Five, and a bunch of others. It was a SUPERB transfer from the original tapes I guess. Never heard most of those songs sound that good.

Jack Lord
10-19-2007, 10:16 PM
I collect K-Tel and Ronco to some extent. Its a nostalgia thing.

Anyway, you are correct that the sound is deficient. I believe it is because K-Tel crammed so many songs onto a side of wax and it was necessary to speed them up so as to fit them all on.

When I lived in Germany in the mid-90s, K-Tel was still going there. I believe they may still exist, on paper at least.

10-19-2007, 10:35 PM
Hoo-boy. I've got two of their records. That is enough. They don't sound very good. Like others say, you get quantity over quality.

10-19-2007, 10:59 PM
There are always a ton of songs on each side. I have a couple and it seems like the grooves weren't cut as deep so they could get more sons on a side. I believe that is why the sound quality isn't as good as a regular album.

10-19-2007, 11:05 PM
I remember buying a KTEL album years and years ago. I don't know about the quality; I probably had some kind of system that matched their quality. But the funny thing is- the first time I played it, I had a bunch of vinyl all caked around my tt cartridge. :smoke:

10-20-2007, 03:15 AM
I have a K-Tel CD called headbangers ball. It's also the only K-Tel cd I've ever seen.

10-20-2007, 03:16 AM
There are always a ton of songs on each side. I have a couple and it seems like the grooves weren't cut as deep so they could get more sons on a side. I believe that is why the sound quality isn't as good as a regular album.

I had a Ktel 2 LP set called Hot Ones (which I xfered to cd-r). It had 4 tunes per side.

10-20-2007, 08:40 AM
The sonics (and audio level) was low due to them cramming so many songs per side...hence the editing of some songs. K-Tel also offered albums of classic songs from the 60's with only five or six songs per side. I have a four album set of these and they may be the best sounding transfers I've ever heard of those particular songs.

10-20-2007, 09:03 AM
The earliest K-Tel releases were either A) edited or with a quick fade to pick up some extra time, or B) had some bass EQ's out to squeeze more grooves in, or C) a combination of the two. Wasn't uncommon to have 12-15 songs to a side. As others have mentioned, a lot of their later stuff was of considerably higher quality and made for some good listening. I too have a couple K-Tel CDs, along with a couple cassettes. Back in the dim reaches of time, I even owned K-Tel 8-tracks. Sadly, they were stolen with all the others when my Vega was broken in to.

10-20-2007, 09:26 AM
There are always a ton of songs on each side. I have a couple and it seems like the grooves weren't cut as deep so they could get more sons on a side. I believe that is why the sound quality isn't as good as a regular album.

I remember buying Todd Rundgren's Initiation back in the 70s and there were profuse apologies on the sleeve for cramming nearly an hour of material onto the record, with some loss of quality. I never understood why the hell they didn't just make it two short LPs if sonics were going to be compromised.

I'm quite sure K-TEL and Ronco execs never cared one whit about the music, just how much profit could be squeezed from it. Their magnificent reign over the goodwill record bins across the country are their well-deserved legacy.

10-20-2007, 10:00 AM
I think K-Tel was a Canadian company?

10-20-2007, 10:14 AM
I have actually been looking for these LPs. Before you think I am totally nuts, hear my madness to my method. I want to buy a bunch and transfer them to RtR (note to self: buy RtR). It will make great background noise (music?) for parties. Let’s face it. At a party most people is too busy talking, trying to impress someone about some latest acquisition, trying to get picked up, etc. Not worrying about sonics. Some may stop for a second and say “I used to dance to that in my disco days” and bring back some nostalgia. The longer they hang by the margarita machine, the better it will sound. :D

10-20-2007, 05:39 PM
I have just one THE Rock Album:D

Jack Lord
10-20-2007, 05:45 PM
I think K-Tel was a Canadian company?

True. And I think it began as a pharmaceutical company.

10-20-2007, 05:55 PM
True. And I think it began as a pharmaceutical company.
Do Tel :D

10-20-2007, 10:48 PM
I guess by near the end of the 70's and 80's their quality became better because they only put like 6 songs on a side...but those early 70's ones until 1978. I say though that the Canadian K-Tel's were pretty good....however I remember buying some German Compilation Disco albums and the quality had early K-Tel written all over it. To be fair, if any of you buy the NOW...That's What I Call Music - The British Version they do the same practice to fit so many songs on 2 cds. However the sonics are really good.

Paul C
10-20-2007, 10:54 PM
I've been kinda ticked off since a car tape deck ate my Temps & Tops tape.

Ain't nothing like the Temptaions and Four Tops!

Bone Yard
10-20-2007, 11:33 PM
Come on guys, K-Tel was right out of Hopkins Minnesota, there's still a K-Tel Drive and I think there's still an office building there, not sure what they're manufacturing now-a-days. Rollerblades moved into their building and started the inline skate craze before being bought out by K2. I've got some of their "crap" I bet there's video's on youtube with their commercials, remember it was really good if they said "original songs by original artists" A lot of their songs were done by the in-house cover band, I feel sorry for the people that had to buy the cover versions....

Eric H
10-20-2007, 11:46 PM
I bet there's video's on youtube with their commercials

You're right! there are quite a few of them.
Ahhh, nostalgia!

10-22-2007, 06:07 AM
I think K-Tel was a Canadian company?

Interesting....There is a Canadian company called St. Clair Entertainment that puts out CD compilations. Unknowingly, I purchased a compilation CD put out by them called Sixties Power. When I played it all the songs were re-makes. When I read the back, it said "new stereo recordings". It is very deceiving in that the song list indicates the original artists names. Unless, they really were the original artists remaking the songs. But then some of those artists are deceased. The recording sound quality was excellent, however it was not the original groups. To say the least I was disappointed.
Where do they find these cover bands to make these CDs and how come they dont print that information in the CD?:scratch2::scratch2:

10-22-2007, 07:11 AM
I don't remember their quality except that they were good enough for me to play on our RCA console and listen too. I bought quite a few K-Tel's when I was 12 or so. They were sort of like a proto-iPod in that there was a variety of music in one spot that I had control over.

Marantz Man
10-22-2007, 07:26 AM
Taken from Wikipedia:

The company has been in business since the late 1960s and is based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They also have subsidiaries or other controlled entities in the US, the UK and Germany. In the UK the company is known as "K-tel UK Limited". In the US and Canada it is known as "K-tel International".

The founder of K-Tel was Philip Kives.[1] Kives, a fast-talking demonstration salesman who had previously sold cookware door-to-door, harnessed the power of television to sell Teflon-coated frying pans of dubious quality. Kives bought and a marketed a number of other products from Seymour Popeil, father of Ronco founder Ron Popeil such as the "Dial-o-matic," a type of food slicer that allowed the user to 'dial in' the thickness of slices produced, the Veg-o-matic, and the "Feather Touch Knife."

The combination of inexpensive goods, mail-order distribution and a well-honed simple sales pitch were a hard combination to beat. Kives took his "Feather Touch Knife" on the road starting in August, 1965 and by Christmas had sold one million knives with a net profit of one dollar a knife. [2] In 1966, Kives released K-Tel's first Compilation album, a collection of 25 Country songs.

K-Tel was formally founded in 1968. After a very successful 1970s, the company expanded rapidly both through acquisitions in their core area of business as well as diversifying into other areas. The company acquired rival Candlelite Records in 1980, and also formed subsidiaries in areas such as real estate and oil exploration[3]. By 1984, the high-risk ventures had sapped the company's fortunes and K-Tel was unable to meet the payroll. K-Tel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.[4]

Mickey Elfenbein, Mr. Kives' nephew was appointed CEO of the publicly-traded US entity K-Tel International in 1993[5] Elfenbein remained CEO of the company into the late 1990s, during which period the company achieved a strong resurgence in worldwide sales primarily of music-related products and had a successful NASDAQ IPO trading under the symbol KTEL. Elfenbein was recognized by Business Week Magazine in 1994 as the CEO of the 7th best publicly traded company in the country, based on growth and profitability.[citation needed]

K-Tel were unable to sustain the growth and profitability. The comapny was taken private in a 1 to 5000 reverse split on July 18, 2007[6] changing their symbol to KTLI and moving from the NASDAQ market to the over-the-counter market.

The company earned significant revenues with a move into the music business, capitalizing on the business of releasing compilation albums that combined material from a number of popular artists -- "20 Original Hits! 20 Original Stars!" -- on a single theme album.[citation needed] The company could earn significant revenue in this way, because they negotiated directly with artists and labels for the rights to reproduce their original recordings, in the process also securing a long-term asset through adding those recordings to their catalog.[citation needed] The company also created original records, the most notable of which were the "Hooked On..." series, starting with Hooked on Classics.[citation needed] In 1995, the company released the "Club Mix" dance compilation series, which became the highest selling music series in the company's history, with several RIAA Gold and Platinum certifications.[7] The Club Mix dance series was created and produced by Elfenbein's son, Mark Elfenbein, who was VP of A&R for the company throughout the 1990s.[citation needed]

Today, K-Tel remains one of the most well-known brands associated with TV marketing and the music industry, and the work of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in amassing an extensive catalog that may turn out to be particularly shrewd. The company is hoping to leverage their significant back catalog in a digital rights and distribution offering that supplies content to large online music retailers such as iTunes, Puretracks and

10-22-2007, 07:27 AM
From what I have, K-Tel's "Music Express" (1975), where songs were no more than two minutes, it sounds worse than an LP intended for kids. "Chart Action '83" was sonically similar, but with less songs and songs that run to three minutes.

10-22-2007, 08:26 AM
I have a ton of K-Tel LPs and 8-tracks. Everyone is correct about K-Tel trying to cram more onto an album side affecting the sound quality. I prefer to play the 8-tracks over the LPs because of this. The 8-tracks don't sound quite as bad as the LPs and the 8-tracks tend to have more songs than the LPs. K-Tel did good to avoid the "ker-chunk" 8-track track changing noise in the middle of a song.

If you like the K-Tel series, Rhino did a great box with their 70's box set: Have A Nice Decade: The '70s Pop Culture Box

and the 25 CD set called Have a Nice Day: Super Hits of the 70s. However, it appears to be out of print.


Jack Lord
10-22-2007, 09:40 AM
K-tel International, Inc. 2655 Cheshire Ln. North
Ste. 100
Plymouth, MN 55447 United States

Phone: 763-559-5566

K-tel International practically invented the commercial mix. The company produces and markets prerecorded albums (primarily compilations such as "Masters of Metal" and "Sound Explosion") that it creates with music from the approximately 6,000 titles in its catalog. K-tel sells its products -- CDs, cassettes, and DVDs -- to wholesalers and retail stores. It also licenses music to other companies, such as Navarre Corporation's BCI Eclipse affiliate. Apple's iTunes accounts for some 15% of sales. The "K" in K-tel International stands for founder, chairman, and CEO Philip Kives, who owns about 66% of the company.

K-tel has closed its its consumer products division (which primarily sold exercise equipment and housewares throughout Europe).

More than half of the company's sales come from licensing.

Source: Hoovers/Dunn & Bradstreet

10-22-2007, 09:45 PM
I saw a program about K-tel not long ago and seem to remember a few points.

The old K-tel, prior to going bankrupt, was headquartered in Winnipeg Manitoba, Canada and had numerous offices around the world. They released albums that used edited original recordings that did very well on the charts during the 70's and early 80's. In fact they did so well, the record companies decided to put a stop to this as they were losing money and cut K-tel off from using the master recordings. So , K-tel decided to deal with the artists directly and re-recorded the original songs, which K-tel still has a huge catalog of re records at thier disposal.

K-tel went bankrupt after poor investments in the 80's and later started up again, they started selling these re-record discs and many other products, but the heyday was gone at that point.

PS, the quality of those early lp's were inferior and I much prefrered the Ronco releases, much better sound. I have many Ktel and Ronco LP's, many NOS.

Bone Yard
10-23-2007, 12:40 AM, that commercial is hilarious, now I'm going to have to check for Freedom Rock and Slim Whitman, I seem to remember he was the best selling artist of all time or something like that back in the late 70's.....

Tom Blasing
10-23-2007, 08:05 AM
At least they sounded better than those cardboard cutouts from the backs of cereal boxes:D.......

Oh, the Archies never sounded so bad.

10-23-2007, 11:08 AM
Ok...I have to agree with you there....

10-23-2007, 11:16 AM
At least they sounded better than those cardboard cutouts from the backs of cereal boxes:D.......

Oh, the Archies never sounded so bad.

Did the Archies ever sound good?

10-23-2007, 12:55 PM
Did the Archies ever sound good?

You are my candy, girl, and you got me wanting you...

10-23-2007, 01:22 PM
You are my candy, girl, and you got me wanting you...

WELL! Bang shang a lang