Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 10

supergroup peoplesrecord
The world in 1976 looked and sounded a heck of a lot different than it did in 1969.  When you went to a club it was most likely a fern bar.  The ladies wore hot pants and halter tops, men wore stacked heels and checkered pants.  The 1970s had its own stupid haircut: the shag (later replaced by another all-star stupid haircut, the mullet).  Music was becoming more rhythmic and slick, it would be another year or so before we’d call it “disco.”  Music more often than not was made for dancing – even at a fern bar.

And so there was Supergroup, the first Loss Leaders sampler from 1976.  We had come a long way from the first Loss Leader sampler in 1969, from the underground to the dance floor.  The sounds of disco were unmistakable: First Choice updated the Philly Groove for a dance audience, and “Are You Ready For Me?” addresses the Big Question.  In answer, everybody seemed to be ready: even the Doobie Brothers, taking to the dance floor with “Rio,” and even a nominally jazz artist like George Benson gets into the groove with “Breezin’,” the title song for an album that would ride all the way to the top of Billboard‘s pop album charts.  Leon Russell had just gotten married, and he celebrated by cutting a record with his new bride.  Hit singles included Seals & Croft’s “Get Closer,” and former Lovin’ Spoonful leader John Sebastian crooning his No. 1 “Welcome Back.”

Welcome back indeed, to another unlikely act topping the charts in 1976 – the Four Seasons, which had hit singles in the early 1960s with “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man” and others, staged a comeback that year with big hit singles “Who Loves You” and “December 1963 (Oh What A Night).”  They were previously known as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons with a spotlight on the lead singer, but by 1976 the real brains of the group was keyboardist Bob Gaudio.  Gaudio produced the group and co-wrote all of the songs for a Four Seasons that wasn’t the same.  The Seasons had a new lineup that forced Valli to take a back seat by sharing lead vocals with others for the first time.  Drummer Gerry Polci actually sang lead on most of the songs, Valli was given a few verses and choruses to sing.  Polci took the lead on “Silver Star,” the third single from Who Loves You, while Frankie sings background harmony.

With its populist cover art and theme, The People’s Record would seem to promise a preponderance of hits from 1976, and it had a few: George Benson’s monster “This Masquerade” (written by Leon Russell), James Taylor’s “Shower The People” and Fleetwood Mac scoring with Christine McVie’s “Over My Head.”  There was also Rod Stewart’s “The Killing of Georgie Parts 1 and 2” which was popular on FM radio, and the Beach Boys with “Back Home” from the Brian Wilson comeback 15 Big Ones.  But The People’s Record was a slight return to the variety that characterized the early Loss Leaders: familiar faces Arlo Guthrie, Gordon Lightfoot, Alice Cooper and Little Feat turned up, while Graham Central Station, Al Jarreau and Lamont Dozier (of Holland-Dozier-Holland fame) supplied the funk/disco factor.

Another early 1960s hitmaker, Dion DiMucci, checks in on The People’s Record.  Dion scored hits with the Belmonts including “Ruby Baby” and “Runaround Sue,” then emerged as a singer/songwriter with the hit “Abraham, Martin and John” and a series of well-received folk-rock albums on Warner/Reprise.  When we meet him again in 1976 with “Runaway Man,” Dion’s now trying to be a pop singer, with mixed success.  He has re-emerged in the 21st century most recently as a blues singer, proving you can’t keep a good man down.

True to its title, this sampler also offers a bit of country (Billy Joe Shaver), a dash of southern rock (Bonnie Bramlett), some hard rock (Alice Cooper, Nazareth) and a bit of WTF? (Michael Franks with “Popsicle Toes”).  This is also the second consecutive Loss Leaders appearance for the mysterious Leon Redbone, who turns back the clock with “Polly Wolly Doodle.”

MP3: “Are You Ready For Me?” by First Choice (from Supergroup)

MP3: “Rio” by the Doobie Brothers (from Supergroup)

MP3: “Silver Star” by the Four Seasons (from Supergroup)

MP3: “Quiet Nights” by Leon and Mary Russell (from Supergroup)

MP3: “Back Home” by the Beach Boys (from The People’s Record)

MP3: “Runaway Man” by Dion (from The People’s Record)

MP3: “Polly Wolly Doodle” by Leon Redbone (from The People’s Record)

MP3: “Popsicle Toes” by Michael Frank (from The People’s Record)

Inside the WB/Reprise Loss Leaders at

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

4 Responses to “Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 10”

  1. I worked for WB records in ’69 and ’70
    I have the samplers from then…

    Steve Fischler
    Promotions Director-Magnolia Gold Records
    Home of the Legendary Delaney Bramlett.

  2. Wow it would be great if you can share some of your memories of the Loss Leaders … many readers are responding to this series of blog posts, the Loss Leaders were big influences on their musical tastes.

  3. Finally, someone who is as obsessed with those Loss Leaders as I am! Looking forward to reading the rest of these posts.

    The mysterious Leon Redbone was quite popular at about this time, after he had performed “Shine On Harvest Moon” (later to be released on his 1976 LP Double Time) on Saturday Night Live. I’ve got that album myself!

  4. Loss Leaders… I think Leon Redbone sells continuously.. although he was not a WB/Reprise artist I am very aware of him.
    He has a following that has been built up over many years of recording and performing and they stay true to him.

    He is UNIQUE.

    He has done what all groups need to do to be successful,he has FOUND HIS NICHE.
    Who would you consider other loss leaders… ?


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