Archive for Tom Johnston

Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 14

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by 30daysout

eclipse troublemakers

And so we reach a new decade, the third decade in which Loss Leaders samplers appeared, and a radically changed landscape from the old hippie daze.  To get your hands on Eclipse, the first two-LP sampler from 1980, you had to pay three dollars now, only a buck more but a 50 percent increase from 1979 prices.  The liner notes had the air of a valedictory: “Eclipse is the first Warner Bros. sampler of a new decade and commemorates the occasion by presenting vital works by several artists whose careers span the lifetime of the entire ‘loss leader’ project … as well as material by artists as new as the decade itself.”

Sure enough, there’s Van Morrison with “Troubadours” and Randy Newman with “It’s Money That I Love,” a long way from their appearances on the first Loss Leaders album in 1969.  Perennials include Bonnie Raitt, with a cover of Robert Palmer’s “You’re Gonna Get What’s Coming”; Ry Cooder, with “Little Sister”; Leo Sayer with “When The Money Runs Out” and good ol’ Little Feat going “Down On The Farm.”  Then there was Carlene Carter, who had some of the best bloodlines in music: the daughter of country music greats June Carter and Carl Smith, her stepfather was Johnny Cash and her husband at the time was Nick Lowe.  The husband had perhaps the greatest influence on her music, as she turns in a version of Elvis Costello’s “Radio Sweetheart.”

And there’s good old rock and roll: former Doobie Brothers frontman Tom Johnston crunches through “Outlaw” while the Dukes ask “Who’s Gonna Tell You.”  The Dukes comprised former members of Brit rockers Stone the Crow, Savoy Brown and Be Bop Deluxe.  One member, former Wings guitarist Jimmy McCullough, died just as the band’s first album was released.  Funkadelic offers “Field Maneuvers,” while Woodstock veterans Sly and the Family Stone check in with “Remember Who You Are” and Bob Marley and the Wailers give up “Wake Up and Live.”  Talking Heads, with “Drugs” and the Ramones, with ” I Want You Around,” point the way for the future of American music – and for the Loss Leaders.  Eclipse would be the final sampler that showcased artists with mainstream styles.

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Sampler Daze: WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 7

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2009 by 30daysout

hardgoods deepear

By 1974, radio’s hard rock trend was going strong – Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Humble Pie dominated the FM rock airwaves.  Appropriately titled for the time, Hard Goods arrived in mailboxes with freshly minted rockers like Montrose, covering Roy Brown’s “Good Rocking Tonight” and Foghat, offering its cover of Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day.”  Ted Nugent and his Amboy Dukes show up, and the perfect marriage between glam and hard rock emerges in the then-new KISS (Casablanca Records were distributed by Warner Bros. until about 1976).

The Doobie Brothers were still rockin’ behind guitarist/vocalist Tom Johnston and they were fresh off their 1973 triumph The Captain and Me.  The Doobies’ new “Pursuit On 53rd Street” had a guitar crunch similar to the monster single “China Grove” but behind the scenes, Johnston’s health was becoming precarious.  He was able to stick with the Doobies through late 1974 even as new personnel were added, most notably ex-Steely Dan guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.  Finally in early 1975 Johnston had to quit the band, and a replacement was found in another Steely Dan alumnus, Michael McDonald.  The Doobies quickly became McDonald’s franchise, and everyone’s heard the rest of the story – with more than 30 million albums sold, the Doobies are still an active touring band with a rejuvenated Tom Johnston at the helm.

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