Archive for Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders

30 Days Out Exclusive Interview: Jesse Winchester

Posted in News, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2010 by 30daysout

My first recollection of Jesse Winchester was seeing his picture on the back of a Billboard magazine in the 1970s.  I had not thought about him since until seeing him last month on Spectacle: Elvis Costello with … on Sundance Channel.  My loss.  He brought the house down (and tears to eyes of Neko Case) with “Sham-A-Ling-Dong-Ding,” a track from his latest release, Love Filling Station.

Winchester was born in Louisiana in 1944 and 22 years later, upon his graduation from college, he received his draft notice.   He decided the Vietnam War was not for him and he split to Canada.  As he explained it to Costello, “he hung around hippies and played coffee houses where you had to write your own songs to fit in.”  In 1970, his music caught the ear of The Band’s Robbie Robertson and he produced Winchester’s critically acclaimed first record.  He went on to release a number of records in the early 70s, and is best known for the tunes “Yankee Lady” and “Brand New Tennessee Waltz.”    When Bob Dylan was asked who he thought, other than himself, was the greatest living songwriter, he said Jesse Winchester.

Songs by Jesse Winchester covered by other artists would fill a good-sized songbook.  “Rhumba Man” was covered by Jimmy Buffett on his new album, and Winchester’s tunes have also been covered by Patti Page, Elvis Costello, Joan Baez, Anne Murray and Reba McEntire.  On Love Filling Station, Jesse reclaims “Oh What A Thrill,” which was a hit for the Mavericks.

Winchester was nice enough to answer a few questions for us about his past, his present and his future:

30DaysOut: Tell us how you got your start in music?  Were you influenced by the Memphis scene and its musicians?

JW: I seem to have been a musician from birth. I was very much influenced by Memphis music – gospel, blues, country. I loved the great radio station, WDIA, and also Dewey Phillips, the best disc jockey ever.

Continue reading

Sampler Daze: A Last Look at the Loss Leaders

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2009 by 30daysout

wbll7795

When The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook appeared in early 1969, the liner notes said, by way of explanation, the sampler’s goal was “hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.”  People like Jethro Tull, the Pentangle, Frank Zappa, Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, even Tiny Tim.  Warner Bros. Records, founded in 1958, was just beginning to hoist its freak flag, and in just a few years the label’s roster would be the cream of the crop.

And so the ride began: with L.A. street freak Wild Man Fischer’s “Songs For Sale” introducing “My Sunday Feeling” by Jethro Tull.  Eleven years later, the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series ended on the sampler Troublemakers with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols snarling, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

Well, no.  The 34 Loss Leaders samplers that appeared between 1969 and 1980 formed my musical tastes and exposed me to artists I would never have dreamed of seeking out, to people who may have been just a little too adventurous even for early-Seventies radio.  I remember calling up my local AM pop station and smugly asking the DJ to play some Zappa and the Mothers, or that flip side by the Beach Boys, only to get the response, “What?”  The Loss Leaders made me cooler than the disc jockey!

Continue reading

Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 14

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by 30daysout

eclipse troublemakers

And so we reach a new decade, the third decade in which Loss Leaders samplers appeared, and a radically changed landscape from the old hippie daze.  To get your hands on Eclipse, the first two-LP sampler from 1980, you had to pay three dollars now, only a buck more but a 50 percent increase from 1979 prices.  The liner notes had the air of a valedictory: “Eclipse is the first Warner Bros. sampler of a new decade and commemorates the occasion by presenting vital works by several artists whose careers span the lifetime of the entire ‘loss leader’ project … as well as material by artists as new as the decade itself.”

Sure enough, there’s Van Morrison with “Troubadours” and Randy Newman with “It’s Money That I Love,” a long way from their appearances on the first Loss Leaders album in 1969.  Perennials include Bonnie Raitt, with a cover of Robert Palmer’s “You’re Gonna Get What’s Coming”; Ry Cooder, with “Little Sister”; Leo Sayer with “When The Money Runs Out” and good ol’ Little Feat going “Down On The Farm.”  Then there was Carlene Carter, who had some of the best bloodlines in music: the daughter of country music greats June Carter and Carl Smith, her stepfather was Johnny Cash and her husband at the time was Nick Lowe.  The husband had perhaps the greatest influence on her music, as she turns in a version of Elvis Costello’s “Radio Sweetheart.”

And there’s good old rock and roll: former Doobie Brothers frontman Tom Johnston crunches through “Outlaw” while the Dukes ask “Who’s Gonna Tell You.”  The Dukes comprised former members of Brit rockers Stone the Crow, Savoy Brown and Be Bop Deluxe.  One member, former Wings guitarist Jimmy McCullough, died just as the band’s first album was released.  Funkadelic offers “Field Maneuvers,” while Woodstock veterans Sly and the Family Stone check in with “Remember Who You Are” and Bob Marley and the Wailers give up “Wake Up and Live.”  Talking Heads, with “Drugs” and the Ramones, with ” I Want You Around,” point the way for the future of American music – and for the Loss Leaders.  Eclipse would be the final sampler that showcased artists with mainstream styles.

Continue reading

Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 9

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by 30daysout

RecordsLikeThis works

If you’ve been with us this long, you already know the Warner Bros./Reprise Loss Leaders series wasn’t about hit records – although the 1970s entries managed to have one or two hit singles on each sampler.  But with the coming of 1975′s I Didn’t Know They Still Made Records Like This, the label rolled out its big guns.  Of the 26 songs included on this two-LP set, six were bonafide Top 20 hits and a few others were FM radio staples.

And another thing about this one – it was aimed squarely at MOR audiences.  Singer/songwriters abound: James Taylor does his No. 5 “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” which was actually an old Motown song; Arlo Guthrie does the No. 18 hit “City Of New Orleans,” which was actually written by Steve Goodman; Gordon Lightfoot offers the No. 26 “Rainy Day People,” which was actually written by Gordon Lightfoot.  Add to that Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” (No. 11), Seals & Croft’s “I’ll Play For You” (No. 18) and the No. 1 smash “Then Came You,” by Dionne Warwick and the Spinners.  “I Can See Clearly Now,” a hit for reggae artist Johnny Nash, pops up here in a version by country singer Rex Allen Jr., the first appearance, I believe, on the Loss Leaders by an artist out of the Nashville stable.

Continue reading

Sampler Daze: Capricorn’s Dixie Rock

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 13, 2009 by 30daysout
allmanbrothersband

The Allman Brothers Band

The Warner/Reprise sampler series wouldn’t have been the same without the contributions from Capricorn Records, the Macon, Georgia, label that put out down-home Southern rock.  Phil
Walden, who served as Otis Redding’s manager until the singer’s death in 1967, found this young Florida kid playing guitar and nutured the kid’s talent into a rock band.

That, of course, was Duane Allman and as the Allman Brothers Band took off Walden founded a record label with the blessing of Atlantic Records’ Jerry Wexler (whose own label distributed Otis Redding).  Capricorn Records didn’t take off immediately – as the Allmans’ first album sold poorly – but when the group put out their classic double live set At Fillmore East in 1971, Walden left Atlantic and signed a new distribution deal with Warner Bros.

Continue reading

Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 5

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2009 by 30daysout

burbank daysofwine

Warner/Reprise accounted for the second half of 1972 with two more double-LP samplers, both with the variety that characterized the previous offerings.  The wide range of musical styles was heightened by the fact that the label also distributed records from other imprints including Bearsville (Foghat), Bizarre (Frank Zappa & the Mothers), Brother (Beach Boys), Capricorn (Allman Brothers), Chrysalis (Jethro Tull), Pentagram, Raccoon and Viva.

On Burbank, we got to hear some more rock from Alice Cooper, with “Public Animal #9,” some bloozy boogie from Foghat, some New Orleans from The Meters with “Cabbage Alley” and good ol’ Arlo Guthrie and Van Dyke Parks.  Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, fresh from the Turtles, tips their hat with “I Been Born Again.”  That song came from an album titled The Phlorescent Leech and Eddie, after which the duo would come to be known simply as “Flo and Eddie.”  Throughout the 1970s they continued to release albums as Flo and Eddie, and did backup studio work for the likes of Stephen Stills, Blondie, Duran Duran, the Ramones and many others.  Flo and Eddie sing backup on Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.”  These days the boys work in radio and occasionally surface as “The Turtles … featuring Flo and Eddie.”  Burbank also dipped its toe into the emerging soul/funk waters with the powerful San Francisco group Tower of Power, which would venture into the 1970s producing its own work as well as a ton of session work with other artists, making them a somewhat funkier Flo and Eddie.

Continue reading

Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 4

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by 30daysout

wholeburbankcatalogue middleroad

By 1972, the world was still rockin’ in a sort of Sixties-era hangover: newly freaky 18-year-olds had been given the right to vote for the first time (only fair, since they were long qualified to be drafted into the military), and men were still walking on the moon way up there.  Warner/Reprise issued a whopping four – count ‘em – 2-disc sets in 1972, so for brevity’s sake we’ll break ‘em up here.

The Whole Burbank Catalog showcased the variety of the label’s stable: rockers like Jethro Tull and Alice Cooper were mixed in with Jerry Garcia, Jackie Lomax and Bonnie Raitt.  T. Rex and Faces would spotlight their best albums with “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” and “Memphis,” respectively.  Cuts from old radio shows were interspersed with the music, to really make it sound like a free-form FM radio show – that technique is still in use today.   A new group making their first appearance in the Loss Leaders series was the trio America, represented by “Sandman,” a deep cut from their first LP.  That album would of course yield the big hits “Horse With No Name” and “I Need You,” and was the springboard for a long career.  It would take another album for the Texas-born duo of Seals & Crofts to hit it big – here they offer “Sudan Village,” a cut from their first album.  They’d cash in later in the year with the title song from their next album: Summer Breeze.

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 53 other followers