I didn’t really think through how I was gonna do this series of blog posts: Warners released about 34 of these LP samplers between 1969 and 1980, sometimes springing three or four of ’em in one year. I don’t have all of them, so maybe I will try and survey them year by year. After the success of the first three samplers in 1969 (there was a single-disc collection we didn’t mention last time), Warners kept goin’ in the new decade with The Big Ball and Schlagers!
The label called these samplers “Loss Leaders” because while they obviously took some money and resources to produce and advertise, and they were selling them for a very cheap price (basically one buck an album) the company stood to lose money on the records. But they were an awesome promotional tool: mixed in with songs that were already hits and soon-to-be hits were selections from artists on the label that were a little tough to market. The samplers were a good way to put a taste of their tunes in listeners’ ears. If not for the WB/Reprise samplers, I probably would not have heard people like Joni Mitchell, John Cale or the Youngbloods. Samplers were certainly the first place I heard Little Feat, Black Sabbath and many others.