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Wanted: Penny and the Quarters

If your gift recipients? record collection is collecting

If your gift recipients? record collection is collecting dust, the Crosley Director CD Recorder ($250, at many Target stores) will get their LPs and their technology up to speed. The unit not only plays vinyl records, it converts the sound into digital format and burns it to a CD in the included disc drive. (December 2009) Photo Credit: Handout

Midway through "Blue Valentine," Ryan Gosling tells Michelle Williams he's decided what their special song should be. He points out that most people pick famous songs, but of course that's not special -- you're just sharing that song with everyone else.

The song he picks out is special indeed. It's a doo-wop/soul nugget called "You and Me," by Penny and the Quarters. No one seems to know who the band was or exactly when the track was recorded -- a good guess would be the early to mid-1960s -- but it's a winner. After you hear it, you'll wonder why it hasn't been canonized alongside "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Build Me Up Buttercup" and any number of enduring chestnuts from the era.

Whoever the Quarters were, they sound like a male singing group and capable of spot-on harmonies. The only instrument is a beautifully and skillfully played guitar, possibly an acoustic. As for Penny, her voice has the slightest shade of street-toughness to it, which makes her declaration of enduring love even more convincing.

"You and Me" has a rare purity, possibly because it's an unvarnished rehearsal track -- there are no strings, no horns, not even a drum. (You can hear background chatter at the beginning.) It was apparently discovered by the small Numero Group label and included on a 2007 compilation called "Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label," dedicated to an obscure soul label out of Columbus, Ohio. According to the Numero Group's website:

"Nearly thirty years after the label closed its doors, a mysterious box of tapes turned up at an estate sale in Columbus, OH. Originally thought to be the lost Prix masters, it was instead discovered to be dozens of demos, rehearsals and a few finished songs... The tape boxes were for the most part unmarked; creating a puzzle that would require some time to solve. Penny & the Quarters’ 'You And Me' is a random rehearsal by a group no one can remember but, one more song we wouldn't let be forgotten."

Adding to the mystery: Penny and the Quarters have a MySpace page. They joined Sept. 9, 2009, which was also the last time they logged in. Their location is Delray Beach, Florida, and they have six friends.

Listen to the song here.

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