Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 11

cookbook limo

By 1977 Warner Bros. had quite a stable of artists producing R&B, soul, funk and dance music – or disco, in the parlance of the time.  That is what sold and what managed to get on the radio, but in truth the Warner R&B artists were as varied as the label’s underground acts just eight years before.  Cook Book, a two-LP sampler focusing mainly on the WB/Reprise R&B acts (“black” music, in the parlance of radio programmers) had a little bit of everything: pop artists (Dionne Warwick), jazz artists (George Benson), gospel soul shouters (Candi Staton), Motown alumni (Undisputed Truth, Lamont Dozier) – all put into duty in service of the Great and Powerful Disco.

I must admit, I do not own Cook Book so I cannot judge its worthiness or faults.  The four cuts included here did appear on the sampler, however.  You know, I’m not sure how these Loss Leaders samplers were marketed in the mid-1970s.  I did see ads for some of the earlier albums in comic books and in Rolling Stone;  and truth to be told, I spotted an ad for one of the later Loss Leaders and after purchasing that one I filled in the missing back copies in my collection from a coupon printed on an inside sleeve of the record.

So let’s move on to Limo, also from 1977.  Ostensibly a return to the diversity of the earlier Loss Leaders, Limo transported the usual suspects (Ry Cooder, Van Morrison, Jesse Winchester, Jesse Colin Young, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris), chart-topping singles (“Tonight’s The Night” by Rod Stewart; “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer; “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac) as well as a collection of oddities and novelties (The Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band).  Another novelty was the sprightly British group Deaf School, brought to Burbank by the Beatles’ faithful press agent Derek Taylor.  Gary Wright followed his big hit “Dream Weaver” here with “Phantom Writer,” which to my ears sounds a little like “Love Is Alive.”

Limo also detoured away from the disco for the most part, featuring instead artists like Al Jarreau, who offered a live “Better Than Anything” from his third Warner Bros. album and the blue-eyed soul of Ed Sanford and John Townsend, whose offering “Moolah Mah Mazuma” was re-tooled from a previous album (that also contained their hit, “Smoke From A Distant Fire”).

Eddie Hazel, guitarist for George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic corporation, showcases his first solo album with a cover of “California Dreamin’.”   Hazel was best known for his wild 10-minute guitar solo on Funkadelic’s definitive statement “Maggot Brain.”  This is straight from the Limo liner notes: “One day in 1975, Eddie was on an airliner when he saw a UFO which (sic) took him off the plane and fed him to the universe.  When an air marshall (sic) attempted to calm him, Eddie bit the man on the neck.  Result: a year in jail, during which Eddie workied hard at developing his own style of playing, singing and writing.”  One would assume that explains his absence from Funkadelic’s most successful album, One Nation Under A Groove.  Eddie finally died in 1992, of liver failure no doubt brought on by years of alcohol and drug abuse – they played “Maggot Brain” at his funeral.

Speaking of liner notes, this would be a good time to mention the contributions of one Mr. Barrett Hansen, who compiled and annotated most of the Loss Leaders samplers.   He would take a break from this job after Limo, as most of his time was devoted to his more famous persona – radio archivist/humorist Dr. Demento.   Surely you’ve heard a Dr. Demento radio program or record in your lifetime: he’s credited with discovering the likes of Weird Al Yankovic and may be loved (or hated) for making famous records such as “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” by Elmo & Patsy and “Junk Food Junkie” by Larry Groce.  Dr. Demento’s syndicated radio show eventually lost member stations slicked into rigid formats by their corporate masters.  It’s heard only on a handful of stations today, but you can tune in Dr. Demento any time you want by streaming it from his website.

MP3: “Nature Boy” by George Benson (from Cook Book)

MP3: “Rubber Duckie” by Bootsy’s Rubber Band (from Cook Book)

MP3: “Love (Covers A Multitude Of Sin) by Graham Central Station (from Cook Book)

MP3: “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright and the 103rd Street Rhythm Band (from Cook Book)

MP3: “Alimony” by Ry Cooder (from Limo)

MP3: “Flamingos Fly” by Van Morrison (from Limo)

MP3: “Phantom Writer” by Gary Wright (from Limo)

MP3: “What A Way To End It All” by Deaf School (from Limo)

MP3: “Walking Blues” by Kate and Anna McGarrigle (from Limo)

MP3: “California Dreamin’ ” by Eddie Hazel (from Limo)

Inside the WB/Reprise Loss Leaders at Dustbury.com

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

One Response to “Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 11”

  1. I have Cookbook, but it was not marketed nearly as well as some of the others.

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