Archive for Reprise Records

Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 2

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2009 by 30daysout

thebigball schlagers

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.

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Sampler Daze: Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 1

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by 30daysout

songbook recshow

For my money, these were the best major-label samplers of the 1960s and 1970s.  Warner Bros. and Reprise (the label founded by Frank Sinatra) was the place where you could find Frank, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Trini Lopez, Miriam Makeba and so on.  But sometime around 1967 the label started to get hip, when it produced the debut album of a San Fransisco band thought to be “unmarketable” – the Grateful Dead.  Warner/Reprise signed people like Arlo Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Van Dyke Parks and Randy Newman, and experimented with rock acts like the Kinks, the Fugs and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.  Then it took a chance on a dude who was getting popular in England but hadn’t yet made a dent in the States: Jimi Hendrix.

So the freaks were lovin’ Warner/Reprise, and in 1969 the label decided to put out its first two-LP sampler, The 1969 Warner/Reprise Songbook, with 23 artists ranging from Hendrix and Zappa to Van Morrison and the Everly Brothers.  The liner notes explained, “We have put this double album together not only for our own enjoyment  … but hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.”

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