Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 8

theforce allmeat

There was no denying that, by 1975, popular music was undergoing another change.  The advances of the late 1960s had sunk in, and rock had already gotten over the Beatles by introducing bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Foghat.  The second wave of hard rockers were honing their chops in 1975, and names like Aerosmith, Boston and Van Halen were waiting in the wings.

But the pop charts were showing a different shade: black.  Black artists had always been a part of pop music, of course: names like Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross regularly appeared on the Top 40, as did Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and the Staple Singers.  By 1975, soul music and R&B had been influenced by psychedelic guitar music, and the new music born from that was called funk.

Curtis Mayfield

One of the big artists of the early Seventies was Curtis Mayfield, who soldiered through the 1960s as the mastermind behind the Impressions and their groundbreaking hits like “People Get Ready,” “Keep On Pushing” and “We’re A Winner.”  Mayfield left the group in 1970 and as a solo artist he helped put black music on the top 40 with his classic soundtrack to the blaxploitation movie Superfly.   In 1975 Mayfield took his own label, Curtom, to Warner Bros., and he anchored the first sampler from that year, All Meat.  In 1990 Mayfield would be seriously injured by falling stage lighting, and he was paralyzed from the neck down.  After nearly a decade in this condition, Mayfield died in 1999.

By the mid-1970s it seemed Warner/Reprise was no longer the trailblazer it was just six years earlier.  The label seemed to be happy milking the singer/songwriter formula (James Taylor, Seals & Crofts) and sponsoring the Southern branch of the hard rock movement (Capricorn Records‘ stable including the Allman Brothers and Wet Willie).  All Meat reflected this situation: Elvin Bishop, Wet Willie, Grinderswitch rocked their newest material while James Taylor offered “I Was A Fool To Care” and the Doobie Brothers begged “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me).”  Gary Wright was about to break big, evidenced here by “Dream Weaver,” and Jimi Hendrix is long gone but not forgotten as he turns up on All Meat with the newly discovered track “Captain Coconut.”

Emmylou Harris made her debut with “Bluebird Wine,” from her first album, and the disintegrating Faces (billed as the Faces/Rod Stewart) promised “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything.”  Super producer Phil Spector brought his own label to Warner Bros. and his newest was a duet between Harry Nilsson and Cher, doing “A Love Like Yours,” which was written by the ex-Motown team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  And finally, Curtis Mayfield bows on a sampler with “So In Love.”  Black music is also represented by Allen Toussaint doing a solo song and producing Labelle (with an odd version of the Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again”!) and Earth, Wind and Fire makes an appearance on a 1969 track from the Warners vaults, “Moment Of Truth.”

The Force, another 1975 two-LP sampler, marched to much of the same beat: rock, pop and a little funkiness.  Jethro Tull surfaced with the radio hit “Bungle In the Jungle,” the Doobies offered their monster track “Black Water;  Deep Purple, Trapeze and Montrose represented the hard rockers, Kenny Rankin and John Sebastian the singer/songwriter contingent.  One singer/songwriter making a splash at the time was Leo Sayer, a Brit who first made it big by writing a hit song for Roger Daltrey (“Giving It All Away”).  Sayer had his own solo hit with “The Show Must Go On,” later covered by Three Dog Night, and the hits kept comin’, with “One Man Band,” “Moonlighting” and “Long Tall Glasses,” which appeared on The Force.  Sayer would hit his peak in 1977 with a pair of monsters, “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “When I Need You.”  Sayer today continues to make music that occasionally reaches the U.K. charts, he now lives in Australia.

The Force also featured a couple of novelties: “Laurel and Hardy,” by the surfin’ duo of Jan & Dean, was a 1968 single that tried to bring the duo into the psychedelic era; it is presented here as a not-available-anywhere-else rarity.  And then there’s “Norton,” a track from the first solo LP from Mike McGear.  McGear had a few hits in England but was best known as the brother of one James Paul McCartney, who himself was a member of a British pop group.   Mr. McCartney  co-wrote “Norton” with his brother, produced Mike’s album and plays various instruments throughout – this is almost certainly his guitar work on the song.  Bringing up the funk and soul are Graham Central Station with “Feel The Need,” Tower of Power with “Only So Much Oil In The Ground” and Percy Sledge with “I’ll Be Your Everything.”

Rod Stewart’s solo success spelled doom for his former band the Faces, and guitarist Ron Wood put out his own solo LP in 1975, pointedly titled I’ve Got My Own Album To Do.  “I Can Feel the Fire,” on The Force, is like “Norton” in that it most likely features some star guest performances, possibly from one of Ronnie’s mates like Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Ian McLagan, Andy Newmark or Willie Weeks.  Despite having his own album to do, Ronnie would offically become a member of the Rolling Stones in 1976, a position he retains to this day.

Next: More from 1975!

MP3: “A Love Like Yours” by Cher & Harry Nilsson (from All Meat)

MP3: “So In Love” by Curtis Mayfield (from All Meat)

MP3: “Moment Of Truth” by Earth, Wind & Fire (from All Meat)

MP3: “Captain Coconut” by Jimi Hendrix (from All Meat)

MP3: “Long Tall Glasses” by Leo Sayer (from The Force)

MP3: “Laurel and Hardy” by Jan & Dean (from The Force)

MP3: “I Can Feel The Fire” by Ron Wood (from The Force)

MP3: “Norton” by Mike McGear (from The Force)

Inside the WB/Reprise Loss Leaders at

30 Days Out’s series on the WB/Reprise Loss Leaders

One Response to “Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 8”

  1. Thanks for the Cher and Harry Nillson track

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