Sampler Daze: A Last Look at the Loss Leaders


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!

But I wasn’t alone – thousands, maybe tens or hundreds of thousands, experienced the same revelation each time a new Loss Leaders sampler was placed on the turntable.  So let’s see what you remember about the Loss Leaders:

Loss LeadersDiane remembers: “I was too shy to go to dances, but I loved music.  I remember my brother gave me copies of The Big Ball and Appetizers, and behind my bedroom door I danced like the belle of the ball.”

This is what Kevin had to say: “I had several of the Loss Leaders albums when I was in high school… Songbook, The Big Ball, Hard Goods, and the Looney Tunes –Merrie Melodies 3-fer.  Sadly I didn’t save any of them.  But I learned so much about various bands from those, and the liner notes were always excellent.  If I had to choose just two or three songs from those sets that were really special to me (and that have not been posted in this series), they would be:  Everly Brothers, “Lord of the Manor” (Songbook) … a wonderfully creepy Southern-Gothic kind of song …  reminds me of the Louvin Brothers gone just a little psychedelic.  (And) Fleetwood Mac, “Oh Well, pts. 1 & 2” (The Big Ball) … having known the Mac in 1977 only for Rumours, I thought part 2 was astounding and beautiful.  A soundtrack for my own imaginary desert island.”

And our good friend Randy: “From the first one I bought (Big Ball? Looney Tunes? I forget) these were little treasure chests of music largely unavailable in broadcast form where I (and you) lived.  For a cash-strapped teen with a hunger for the amazing world of rock music that was exploding in the early ’70s, these two-dollar treats couldn’t be beat.  Because of these albums, everything I ever heard by Fleetwood Mac was compared to “Tell Me All The Things You Do;” every singer-songwriter had to pass muster through Randy Newman; every guitar solo made me want to hear Ry Cooder.  I probably would have discovered all these things without the WB samplers, but it would have been less fun.”

The Loss Leaders showed us the way – to the best Looney Tunesmusic, to the music and the artists that maybe we would have overlooked or never known about.  The samplers gave us rockers and folkies, crooners and shouters, and artists who were just plain weird.  They reminded us that you can follow a trend or you can go against it, and it was OK.  It was OK to be just plain weird, too.  Thanks for all the support and patience you’ve shown for this series, we’ll keep it online as long as the web gods allow us to.  Here are a few more cuts from the Loss Leaders series, mainly from the early years.  And thanks, Warner Bros. and Reprise Records – for the Loss Leaders series that some of us will never forget.  That’s all, folks!

A great historical perspective on the Loss Leaders at – we also stole your graphic!

Inside the WB/Reprise Loss Leaders at

MP3: “Songs For Sale/My Sunday Feeling” by Wild Man Fischer/Jethro Tull (from The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook)

MP3: “Radio Spot – Manhattan Merry-Go-Round/Memphis” by the Faces (from The Whole Burbank Catalog)

MP3: “All That You Dream” (45 single version) by Little Feat (from The People’s Record)

MP3: “Lord Of The Manor” by the Everly Brothers (from The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook)

MP3: “Marijuana Hell” by Ron Nagle (from Hot Platters)

MP3: “Son Of A Louisiana Man” by Doug Kershaw (from The 1969 Warner/Reprise Record Show)

MP3: “Desert Blues (Big Chief Buffalo Nickel)” by Leon Redbone (from The Works)

MP3: “Piggies” by Theodore Bikel (from The 1969 Warner/Reprise Record Show)

MP3: “One Too Many Mornings” by the Beau Brummels (from Eclipse)

MP3: “Lick My Decals Off, Baby” by Captain Beefheart (from Looney Tunes-Merrie Melodies)

MP3: “No Mule’s Fool” by Family (from The Big Ball)

MP3: “All Bowed Down” by Geoff & Maria Muldaur  (from The 1969 Warner/Reprise Record Show)

MP3: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Bert Jansch w/Mary Hopkin (from Appetizers)

MP3: “When I Turn Off The Living Room Light” by the Kinks (from The Big Ball)

MP3: “Electric Aunt Jemima” by the Mothers of Invention (from The 1969 Warner/Reprise Record Show)

MP3: “Oh Well (Parts 1 & 2)” by Fleetwood Mac (from The Big Ball)

MP3: “Reuben James” by Kenny Rogers & the First Edition (from Schlagers!)

MP3: “We Shall Be Happy” by Ry Cooder (from Collectus Interruptus)

MP3: “Big Road” by Bonnie Raitt (from The Whole Burbank Catalog)

MP3: “Radio Spot – The Inner Sanctum/Bang A Gong” by T. Rex (from The Whole Burbank Catalog)

MP3: “The Loner” by Neil Young (from The Big Ball)

MP3: “No Fun” (live) by the Sex Pistols (from Troublemakers)

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

9 Responses to “Sampler Daze: A Last Look at the Loss Leaders”

  1. A damned fine series, if I say so myself.

    And so were those records.

  2. Excellent series! Enjoyed every post.

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  4. 30daysout Says:

    Fixed! Geez Louise.

  5. I actually had a lot of the things you were posting — the ones that I wanted, anyway. My music collection began, more or less, with Zappéd.

    With this episode, you posted quite a few more things that I did not have, and also wanted — so I thank you for fixing the mess.

  6. 30daysout Says:

    Glad we could help! We aim to please. We are also very happy so many of you enjoyed the series on the Loss Leaders. For years we’ve packed and unpacked those records (among many, many more) and stacked and restacked them. Makes it all seem worthwhile now, you know?

  7. Great series loved the Kinks.



  8. Wishing you and yours a very happy and prosperous new year !

  9. Thank you very much!

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