Saturday, 29 August 2020

Flaming Pie: Paul McCartney Archive Collection & The Top 20 Macca Albums – Ranked!

reviewed by Stuart Penney
Paul McCartney’s stock as a solo artist was uncharacteristically low during the 90s.  Once a chart-topping regular, he hadn't scored a US top 10 album since 1982's Tug of War and his 1993 LP Off the Ground had been poorly received, resulting in a four-year recording lay-off.  But then, in May 1997, came Flaming Pie
Arriving in the wake of the Beatles Anthology media blitz when the world was surfing a tidal wave of Fab-fueled nostalgia, it was McCartney’s most critically acclaimed album in a decade and, whisper it, one of the most satisfying records of his solo career.  Flaming Pie was a commercial success, too, peaking at #2 in the UK and US charts, held off the top spot on both sides of the Atlantic only by the Spice Girls’ mega-selling debut album Spice.  Those were strange times, indeed.
The title, should anyone in the Western world still be unaware, is a Lennon-ism dating from a July 1961 article John wrote for the Liverpool music paper Mersey Beat:  
“Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles?  Ugh, Beatles, how did the name arrive?  So we will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pie and said unto them ‘From this day on you are Beatles with an ‘A’.  Thank you, mister man, they said, thanking him.”
It’s a bold claim, but I maintain Flaming Pie was also the last really great McCartney record.  As strong as any of his post-Beatles efforts, it’s right up there with Band On The Run, Ram and Tug Of War.  Packed with memorable tunes and blessed with a terrific production, courtesy of Jeff Lynne and George Martin, it was also, sadly, the final album Paul recorded with wife Linda who died in April 1998. 
And so the Paul McCartney Archive Collection rumbles on, albeit with glacial speed.  Beginning in November 2010 with Band On The Run, there have been just 13 back catalogue reissues in the decade since, plus the previously unreleased Wings Over Europe.  Of those, nine date from the 70s, four were 80s reissues, leaving Flaming Pie as the only 90s representative so far. 
As with previous archive reissues the available versions are many, varied and, at the higher end of the scale, frighteningly expensive.  They range from the basic two CD “Special Edition”, all the way up to the wallet-worrying 11 disc “Collectors Edition” which will set you back a week’s wages or more.  The latter features the entire contents of the already far-from-cheap 5CD/2DVD “Deluxe Edition”, plus exclusive half speed double LP vinyl versions in an exclusive gatefold sleeve and two LPs of home recordings in a hand-stamped white label sleeve.  Also included are posters, books and six silkscreened Linda McCartney art prints. 
For all but the most well-heeled McCartney completists, however, the double CD version is really all you need.  It contains the original 14-track album on the first disc, plus previously unreleased home recordings, demos, and non-album singles and B-sides on the second.
It really is hard to find a weak track on Flaming Pie.  “Calico Skies”, "The Song We Were Singing", "Little Willow", “Young Boy”, “Somedays”, “Heaven On A Sunday” and "Beautiful Night" are the pick, but it’s a uniformly solid album throughout, with only the Steve Miller collaboration “Used To Be Bad”, a generic blues/boogie, bringing the average down.  But even here, some tasty guitar playing from the always-reliable Miller saves the day.  
The acoustic home recordings are instantly charming and, in their own way, almost as worthwhile as the finished tracks.  Listen as people chatter and rattle around in the background (a phone even rings at one point on “Souvenir”) as Paul picks and strums his way through basic versions of the tracks.  A relaxed McCartney is not pushing his voice on the demos and seldom reaches for his falsetto, but the songs sound no worse for that.  Hearing these tunes stripped back to their bare bones and still holding up so well drives home how strong the basic material is.  The performances are so charmingly unpolished it’s almost like having him rehearsing in your living room. 
Being unsure how to record it, Paul had “Beautiful Night” hanging around for a couple of years and the demo here dates from 1995.  I found that surprising as it’s always been an absolute standout on Flaming Pie for me.  This glorious tune is, dare I say it, almost worthy of late Beatles and only the up-tempo coda and final drunken meltdown detracts from its melodic beauty. 
The multi disc versions also contain six excerpts from Paul’s 1995 radio show Oobu Joobu, featuring stories and music, mostly concerning the writing and recording of Flaming Pie.  While not essential, these short clips add to the bigger picture and flesh out the back story of a fine album.  Go the whole hog and you also get an hour long audio walk through Paul’s studio.  Without visuals you’ll probably only listen to it once, but it’s an interesting diversion for those who must have everything.  
When the Archive Collection was first announced, all existing titles in Paul’s catalogue were abruptly deleted (save a handful of his classical music albums) to make way for them.  This left the “McCartney” section in your local record/CD store looking very spartan indeed.  Ten years later and the racks are starting to fill up again, which is good to see.  There’s still a long way to go, however, with, so a little bird tells me, several collections of rare/unreleased material in the pipeline.  Let’s hope it’s not another decade before we get to see them. 
Flaming Pie 2020 Super Deluxe Edition 5CD/2DVD
CD1 - Remastered Album
1. The Song We Were Singing
2. The World Tonight
3. If You Wanna
4. Somedays
5. Young Boy
6. Calico Skies
7. Flaming Pie
8. Heaven On A Sunday
9. Used To Be Bad
10. Souvenir
11. Little Willow
12. Really Love You
13. Beautiful Night
14. Great Day
CD2 - Home Recordings
1. The Song We Were Singing [Home Recording]
2. The World Tonight [Home Recording]
3. If You Wanna [Home Recording]
4. Somedays [Home Recording]
5. Young Boy [Home Recording]
6. Calico Skies [Home Recording]
7. Flaming Pie [Home Recording]
8. Souvenir [Home Recording]
9. Little Willow [Home Recording]
10. Beautiful Night [1995 Demo]
11. Great Day [Home Recording]
CD3 - In The Studio
1. Great Day [Acoustic]
2. Calico Skies [Acoustic]
3. C'mon Down C'mon Baby
4. If You Wanna [Demo]
5. Beautiful Night [Run Through]
6. The Song We Were Singing [Rough Mix]
7. The World Tonight [Rough Mix]
8. Little Willow [Rough Mix]
9. Whole Life [Rough Mix]
10. Heaven On A Sunday [Rude Cassette]
CD4 - Flaming Pies
1. The Ballad Of The Skeletons
2. Looking For You
3. Broomstick
4. Love Come Tumbling Down
5. Same Love
6. Oobu Joobu Part 1
7. Oobu Joobu Part 2
8. Oobu Joobu Part 3
9. Oobu Joobu Part 4
10. Oobu Joobu Part 5
11. Oobu Joobu Part 6
CD5 - Flaming Pie At The Mill
1. Intro Paul chats about instruments from Abbey Road Studios
2. Paul Demos
3. Mellotron And Synthesizer / Mini Moog
4. Harpsichord
5. Celeste
6. Piano
7. Bill Black Bass
8. Drums
9. Höfner Bass
10. Guitar
11. Spinet
12. Bells
13. Control Room
1. In The World Tonight (Documentary)
DVD2 - Bonus Film
1. Beautiful Night
2. Making Of Beautiful Night
3. Little Willow
4. The World Tonight [Dir. Alistair Donald]
5. The World Tonight [Dir. Geoff Wonfor]
6. Young Boy [Dir. Alistair Donald]
7. Young Boy [Dir. Geoff Wonfor]
8. Flaming Pie EPK 1
9. Flaming Pie EPK 2
10. In The World Tonight EPK
11. Flaming Pie Album Artwork Meeting
12. TFI Friday Performances
13. David Frost Interview

The Top 20 Paul McCartney Albums – Ranked!
20: Choba B CCCP (1988)
Paul’s “Russian Album” of (mostly) 50s rock & roll covers was initially issued only in the Soviet Union, before gaining worldwide release three years later.  While not a major work, it’s far more listenable today than John Lennon’s own muddy-sounding Rock ‘n’ Roll album from 1975.  
Highlight: “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”. Duke Ellington’s 1942 ballroom hit never sounded better.
19: London Town (1978)
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.  Inter-band democracy seldom works at this level and four of the five McCartney/Laine co-compositions on London Town are forgettable at best (the honorable exception being the title track).  We can’t blame Denny for the wildly misjudged “Famous Groupies”, however, of which the least said, the better.  On the plus side we have the poptastic “With A Little Luck” and “Girlfriend” plus, best of all, the beautiful “I’m Carrying”.  So, it wasn’t all bad news.

Highlight: “I’m Carrying”. 

18: Back To The Egg (1979)
In which Laurence Juber and Steve Holley join Paul, Linda and Denny Laine for what proved to be the final Wings album.  This line-up promised great things, but Paul’s famed Japanese drug bust put the kibosh on any future Wings activity.  A patchy album with three or four great tracks.
Highlight: “Old Siam Sir”
17: Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest – The Fireman (1993)
Consisting of samples taken mostly from the Off The Ground and Back To The Egg album sessions, this is probably the most interesting of the ambient techno albums Paul made with Killing Joke/Orb producer Youth.  Wonderfully hypnotic.
Highlight: It’s all good but I won’t pretend I can distinguish one track from another.  Let’s go with “Pure Trance”.

16: Chaos And Creation In The Backyard (2005)
After more than 40 years at the label, this was McCartney’s final album for EMI (he re-signed with them in 2016).  Another late career highlight, it was recorded mostly solo with Nigel Godrich (Radiohead/Beck) producing.
Highlight: “Jenny Wren”.

15: McCartney II (1980)
In which the solo Paul dabbles in electronica, with varying degrees of success.  It’s a mixed bag, but “Coming Up”, “Temporary Secretary” and “Waterfalls” are as good as anything he recorded during this period.  
Highlight: “Coming Up”

14: Wings Over America (1976)
Recorded during May/June 1976 at dates in America (with studio overdubs added later in London) this expansive triple album saw McCartney performing Beatles songs live for the first time in his solo career.  Otherwise the set list drew heavily on the Band On The Run, Venus and Mars and Speed Of Sound albums.  Inexplicably, Denny Laine’s throwaway version of the Paul Simon song “Richard Cory” was included during the acoustic bracket. 
Highlight: “The Long and Winding Road”.

13: Give My Regards To Broad Street (1984)
The film was a glorious failure, to be sure.  But the soundtrack album was pretty darn good, Beatles re-recordings notwithstanding.  The 9 minute “Eleanor Rigby / Eleanor’s Dream” still scrubs up well, as do revamped versions of recent favourites “Ballroom Dancing”, “Wanderlust” and “Silly Love Songs”.  “No More Lonely Nights” was Paul’s best song in years and exists in several radically different versions, from ballad to disco, all of them good. 
Highlight: “No More Lonely Nights (Ballad)”.
12: Pipes Of Peace (1983)
Much of Pipes of Peace was written / recorded during the Tug of War sessions and it was a weaker album than its predecessor.  Still, Macca’s leftovers are another man’s pop gold and the Michael Jackson duets “Say, Say, Say” and “The Man”, were both US chart-topping singles.  
Highlight: “Pipes Of Peace”

11: Wings Wild Life (1971)
Call me a sentimental old fool, but the cover photo showing Paul standing waist deep in a river while holding his literally priceless Epiphone Texan acoustic (the “Yesterday” guitar) never fails to fill me with foreboding at what might have gone wrong.  Often dismissed as a confused hodgepodge of half-realised musical ideas, the debut Wings album has aged gracefully and contains some tremendous music, albeit sounding very much of its time.  The raucous, powerful title track, the tuneful “Tomorrow” and the sublime “Some People Never Know” are all top notch efforts, while a bizarre cover of the 1956 Mickey and Sylvia hit “Love Is Strange”, delivered reggae style, only adds to the delight. 
Highlight: “Some People Never Know”.

10: Flowers In The Dirt (1989)
Working with Elvis Costello seemed to put a spring in Paul’s step and this was a huge improvement over the lacklustre Press To Play.  “My Brave Face”, “Figure Of Eight”, “Put It There” and “This One” were instant McCartney classics and only the dated 80s production prevents a higher placing today.
Highlight: “My Brave Face”.

9: Wingspan: Hits And History (2001)
A wealth of non-album singles, unusual mixes and deep cut album tracks make this the best McCartney hits compilation.  Contains 40 tracks dating from 1970 - 1984.
Highlight: “C Moon”.
8: Wings At The Speed Of Sound (1976)
Democracy abounds as Paul surrenders lead vocal duties to other band members on no less than five tracks.  Jimmy McCulloch sings the self-penned (and eerily prophetic) “Wino Junko”, while Linda sends the twee-o-meter off the scale with “Cook Of The House”.  The real meat of the album (if you’ll forgive the expression), however, rests with “Silly Love Songs”, “Let ‘Em In”, “She’s My Baby” and “Beware My Love”, bulletproof McCartney classics all.
Highlight: “Silly Love Songs”.

7: Red Rose Speedway (1973)
Best remembered for the big hit single “My Love”, Red Rose Speedway offers several other delights, not least “Little Lamb Dragonfly”, “When The Night” and the beautifully constructed 11 minute medley which closes side two.  But Henry McCullough’s once in a lifetime guitar solo on “My Love” is the money shot here. 
Highlight: “My Love”.
6: Venus And Mars (1975)
Sounding like a more polished version of Band On The Run and recorded with the same line-up, this was the album Wings toured the world with during 1975/76.  The songs were strong, with “Letting Go”, “Call Me Back Again” and “Listen To What The Man Said” the pick, but it all sounds a little too slick today. 
Highlight: “Call Me Back Again”.

5: Tug Of War (1982)
The first McCartney album released after Lennon’s death, Tug Of War received more exposure than perhaps it might have done under normal circumstances.  Featuring an all-star cast including Stevie Wonder, Eric Stewart, Carl Perkins and Ringo, it covered a lot of musical styles, from rockabilly to funk.  The “Ebony and Ivory” duet with Stevie is generally reviled these days, but it’s a fine song, despite the mawkish sentiments.  
Highlight: “Here Today”, Paul’s tribute to John.

4: Flaming Pie (1997)
With hardly a weak track it was his most satisfying record in more than a decade.  It’s a threadbare cliché, but this really was a major return to form.  The last great McCartney album?
Highlight: “Beautiful Night”.

3: McCartney (1970)
Paul’s debut solo album oozes rustic charm.  Lesser artists would give their pension plans for songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Every Night”, “Teddy Boy”, “Junk” and “That Would Be Something”, but here they are casually tossed into the mix as home recordings with Paul playing all the instruments.  His melodic genius is such that these songs stand tall without production trickery of any kind.
Highlight: “Maybe I’m Amazed. 

2: Band On The Run (1973)
Recorded as a trio with Linda and Denny Laine, this is where it all came together for McCartney and Wings.  47 years on, this timeless album holds up just as well as it did in 1973.  A huge seller packed with classic songs, it made number one around the world, shifting three million copies in the US alone.  
Highlight: “Band On The Run”.

1: Ram (1971)
Music was pouring out of McCartney in the early post-Beatles years and he threw everything but the kitchen sink into his second solo album.  Changing direction in the blink of an eye, this album is a kaleidoscopic mixture of heavy rock (“Monkberry Moon Delight”), acoustic folk (“Heart Of The Country”), blues (“3 Legs”) and all points in between.  The John and Paul feud rumbled on in the lyrics of “Too Many People” and “Dear Boy”, while “The Back Seat Of My Car” is widescreen pop at its best.  Somewhat underrated on release, Ram has grown in stature over the years and is now regarded as a major work.
Highlight: “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Fill Your Head With Rock! Part 4 - Blue Horizon, Dawn, Atlantic & Warner Bros

UK & US Sampler Albums 1968-1975
by Stuart Penney

Dawn and Marble Arch - Life Of Pye
Established in 1954, Pye was one of the big four UK record companies for two decades (along with EMI, Decca and Philips).  Their London HQ was located at 17 Great Cumberland Place, literally yards from the 19th century landmark Marble Arch.  So, when Pye created a budget subsidiary to operate alongside (and eventually replace) the aging Golden Guinea label, the choice of name seemed obvious.  
The Marble Arch label ran from 1964 to 1980 and while it was never a true sampler label (although it did issue at least one sampler LP, see below), it provided an opportunity for record buyers to pick up reissues of albums by big name artists or compilations of recent hits from the Pye and Piccadilly labels at bargain price.  Early releases were priced at 12s/6d (63p), later increasing to 15 shillings (75p).

All the top Pye pop artists including Donovan, Searchers, Kinks, Sandie Shaw, Lonnie Donegan and Petula Clark had releases on Marble Arch, either as compilations or full album reissues, together with the usual glut of trad jazz, classical music, easy listening and comedy.  To justify the budget price, Pye customarily removed a couple of tracks from the Marble Arch reissues and gave them new sleeves, possibly because the original albums were sometimes still on sale at full price.

But Marble Arch’s trump card was surely their access to some of the finest American blues and R&B recordings via the Pye International label.  Set up in 1958 to distribute US records in Britain, Pye International was second only to Decca’s London label with their prestigious catalogue of top quality American music, handling releases by Kama Sutra, Buddah, Colpix and, best of all, Chess records.  The Chess releases eventually filtered down to the Marble Arch label and in the mid-60s we saw budget-priced LPs by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and others.

A Marble Arch sampler was released in 1969.  Titled Showcase, it was unusual in that the mono and stereo versions used different sleeve designs, although the track listing was identical on both.  The songs were performed by well-known Pye artists, except for a cheeky soundalike version of the Beatles’ “Get Back” by the anonymous “The Chartbusters”, who were presumably a bunch of faceless session men employed by Pye.

In 1969 Pye set up the Dawn label offshoot to release progressive and underground music, just as Decca, EMI and Philips had done before them with Deram, Harvest and Vertigo.  Dawn’s biggest act by a long way was Mungo Jerry who scored several huge hits in both the singles and LP charts.  In fact the only other Dawn artists to enjoy any UK chart success at all were Donovan with his Open Road LP (#30 in 1970) and Prelude, who reached #21 in the singles chart in 1974 with an a cappella version of Neil Young’s “After The Goldrush”. 
Despite this notable lack of commercial success, the Dawn label managed a couple of samplers in 1971 and 1975.  Retailing at 99p, The Dawn Take-Away Concert was the first of these, featuring hitmakers Mungo Jerry, together with Comus (prog), Mike Cooper (folk) and John Surman (jazz fusion).  The seldom seen Has It Dawned On You? sampler appeared in 1975 with two tracks each from Gravy Train (aka Gravytrain), Fruupp, Stray and Ian Dury’s proto punk outfit Kilburn & the High Roads.  
In 1999 a CD titled Dawn: The Sampler was released in a very similar sleeve to The Dawn Take-Away Concert, but with a totally different (albeit much better) track listing. 
After releasing 75 LPs and around 130 singles Dawn folded in 1975, followed by Pye and Marble Arch in 1980.  The catalogue operated as PRT for a while before being sold and re-sold several times during the 80s.  The Pye masters eventually ended up with Castle Communications, which in turn became Sanctuary Records (now a division of BMG).
1. Sandie Shaw - Puppet On A String
2. Long John Baldry - Let The Heartaches Begin
3. The Kinks - A Well Respected Man
4. The Chartbusters - Get Back
5. Val Doonican - If The Whole World Stopped Lovin'
6. Donovan - Sunny Goodge Street
1. The Foundations - Baby Now That I've Found You
2. Donovan - Turquoise
3. Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band - Michael (The Lover)
4. The Kinks - Dedicated Follower Of Fashion
5. Otis Redding - Gama Lama
6. Jimmy James & The Vagabonds - Hi Diddley Dee Dum Dum
1. Bronx Cheer - Weather Or Not
2. Jackie McAuley - Country Joe
3. Mungo Jerry - Somebody Stole My Wife
4. Atlantic Bridge, Mike McNaught - Childhood Room (Exit Walt)
5. Comus - Song To Comus
6. Demon Fuzz - I Put A Spell On You
1. Mike Cooper - Three-Forty-Eight
2. The Trio - Malachite
3. John Surman, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, Stu Martin, Karl Berger - Where Fortune Smiles
4. Heron - Wanderer
5. Paul Brett's Sage - Tuesday Evening
6. The Be-Bop Preservation Society - One Bass Hit
HAS IT DAWNED ON YOU? (Dawn DNSM 5001) 1975
1. Fruupp - Future Legends
2. Stray - For The People
3. Kilburn And The High Roads - Rough Kids
4. Brian Joseph Friel - Railroad Mama
5. Prelude - After The Goldrush
6. David McWilliams - Leave The Bottle On The Floor
7. Mungo Jerry - Wild One
8. Kilburn & the High Roads - Upminster Kid
1. Fruupp - Prince Of Heaven
2. Quicksand - Home Is Where I Belong
3. Prelude - Rock Dreams
4. Jonesy - Ricochet
5. Gravytrain - Peter
6. Brian Joseph Friel - Growing Stronger
7. Gravytrain - Starbright Starlight
8. Stray - Precious Love

*Dawn - The Sampler CD 1999
Atlantic – The New Age
From its inception in 1955, the UK arm of Atlantic records was distributed by Decca’s London label.  In 1964 Atlantic UK received its own label identity, issuing The Drifters’ “Under The Boardwalk” and The Best Of Clyde McPhatter as its first single and LP.  Distribution moved from Decca to Polydor in 1966, then to CBS/Kinney in 1971 and finally to Warner Bros/WEA in 1975.  
Soul and R&B releases dominated the early Atlantic years and one of the label’s biggest UK sellers was the 1968 sampler This Is Soul.  Featuring a dozen classic tracks by Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd etc, it was the jumping-off point for countless soul fans in the late 60s and it seemed like almost every home in Britain owned a copy at one time.  A US LP titled That’s Soul with the same “jigsaw” front cover photo of Wilson Pickett in action had appeared a year earlier with a slightly different track listing.  In 2004 Rhino records reissued This Is Soul on CD.  The original 12 song running order remained unchanged, but it was more than doubled in length with the addition of 17 bonus tracks.
In the late 60s Atlantic moved into the rock market, signing big-name bands, and turning the label into one of the most successful of the era.  The new music brought a glut of sampler LPs, with ATCO Blockbusters appearing first on the Atlantic subsidiary label ATCO.
Featuring an uneasy mix of soul / R&B (Arthur Conley, King Curtis, Dr. John) and rock (Buffalo Springfield, Vanilla Fudge, Iron Butterfly) and a bizarre front cover showing the artists’ names printed on an array of military ordinance (bullets/shells etc) this obscure 1969 sampler didn’t find too many takers. 
With an attractive gatefold sleeve featuring the band names and logos fashioned from plasticine, The Age Of Atlantic was a far more attractive proposition.  The two Led Zeppelin cuts were the big drawcard, but with a track each from Yes, Vanilla Fudge, Buffalo Springfield, Allman Brothers, Delaney & Bonnie with Eric Clapton and others, it was a bargain at 99p.  
One interesting inclusion which slipped by virtually unnoticed was the track “Last Time” by the band Dada.  Featuring Robert Palmer, Elkie Brooks and Pete Gage, this 12 piece Stax influenced outfit would soon evolve into the slimmed-down Vinegar Joe (although Palmer joined Dada after their self-titled ATCO album had been recorded).  
In 1971 Atlantic changed distribution from Polydor to the Kinney Record Group (hence the “K” catalogue numbers) and subsequent pressings of The Age Of Atlantic appeared with revised label designs (green / orange replaced the original red / plum labels) and the new catalogue number K20011.  
Best of all was the 1972 sampler The New Age Of Atlantic, not least because it featured tracks by Yes and Led Zeppelin which were unavailable in the UK at the time.  "Hey, Hey, What Can I Do" was the non-album B-side of the 1970 US Zeppelin single “Immigrant Song”.  The group’s strict “no UK singles” policy made this a highly desirable track in Britain.  Just as enticing was Yes’s marathon 10+ minute cover of Paul Simon’s “America”.  This was unavailable elsewhere until 1975 when it was included on the band’s Yesterdays compilation.  Little wonder The New Age Of Atlantic reached #25 in the UK album charts in March 1972.  Retailing at 99p, early pressings came with a 7" x 35" (18cm x 89cm) foldout "dragster" design catalogue.
The New Age Of Atlantic was released simultaneously with a companion album It All Started Here.  Featuring identical “dragster” cover art, but in yellow instead of blue, this album contained 14 tracks by US soul artists.  In France this LP was re-titled The New Age Of Atlantic - Soul Music. 
THIS IS SOUL (Atlantic 643 301) 1968
1. Wilson Pickett - Mustang Sally
2. Carla Thomas - B-A-B-Y
3. Arthur Conley - Sweet Soul Music
4. Percy Sledge - When A Man Loves A Woman
5. Sam & Dave - I Got Everything I Need
6. Ben E. King - What Is Soul?
1. Otis Redding - Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)
2. Eddie Floyd - Knock On Wood
3. Solomon Burke - Keep Looking
4. Aretha Franklin - I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)
5. Percy Sledge - Warm And Tender Love
6. Wilson Pickett - Land Of A Thousand Dances
1. Arthur Conley - Aunt Dora's Love Soul Shack
2. King Curtis - Memphis Soul Stew
3. Vanilla Fudge - Take Me For A Little While
4. Dr. John - Mama Roux
5. Buffalo Springfield - Hello Mr. Soul
6. Iron Butterfly - Soul Experience
1. Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
2. Vanilla Fudge - Shotgun
3. Arthur Conley - Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
4. King Curtis - Whiter Shade Of Pale
5. Buffalo Springfield - Blue Bird
6. Dr. John - I Walk On Gilded Splinters
THE AGE OF ATLANTIC (Atlantic 2464 13 – reissued as K20011) 1970
1. Delaney & Bonnie - Comin' Home
2. MC5 - Tonight
3. Allman Brothers Band - Black Hearted Woman
4. Yes - Survival
5. Cold Blood - I'm A Good Woman
6. Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love
1. Iron Butterfly - Termination
2. Dada - Last Time
3. Led Zeppelin - Communication Breakdown
4. Dr. John - Wash Mama Wash
5. Vanilla Fudge - Need Love
6. Buffalo Springfield - Broken Arrow

THE NEW AGE OF ATLANTIC (Atlantic K20024) 1972
1. Led Zeppelin - Hey, Hey, What Can I Do
2. Loudon Wainwright III - Motel Blues
3. Gordon Haskell - Sitting By The Fire
4. Dr. John - Where Ya At Mule
5. Buffalo Springfield - Bluebird
6. Delaney & Bonnie - Only You Know And I Know
1. Cactus - Long Tall Sally
2. Jonathan Edwards - Everybody Knows Her
3. The J. Geils Band - I Don't Need You No More
4. John Prine - Sam Stone
5. Yes - America

IT ALL STARTED HERE (Atlantic K20025) 1971
1. Aretha Franklin - Spanish Harlem
2. Brook Benton - Shoes
3. The Persuaders - Thin Line Between Love & Hate
4. DeDe Warwicke - Suspicious Minds
5. Otis Redding - Give Away None Of My Love
6. King Curtis – Changes - Part II
7. Clarence Carter - Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love
1. Wilson Pickett - Don't Knock My Love - Part 1
2. Little Sister - Somebody's Watching You
3. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway - You've Got A Friend
4. The Beginning Of The End - Funky Nassau - Part 1
5. The Drifters - Up On The Roof
6. Sam & Dave - Don't Pull Your Love
7. King Floyd - Groove Me
Warner / Reprise US and the Loss Leaders - Collectus Interruptus
"What we have here, to be out front about it, are some of our favorite records by 23 of the artists currently recording for Warner Bros-Seven Arts and Reprise Records.  We have put this double album together not only for our own enjoyment - since it includes worthy singles that never made it commercially as well as tracks from current albums - but hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.
The Sinatras, the Dean Martins, the Pet Clarks have their own songbooks.  This one is for those of you who may never have heard of Van Morrison but remember "Brown Eyed Girl".  Who are interested to know that Jethro Tull and The Pentangle are both outselling Sammy Davis, Jr.  Who dig The Mothers of Invention and are wondering what Frank Zappa is up to now."
- Warner / Reprise Press Release/Mail-Order Form 1969
Over in America sampler LPs were often called Loss Leaders.  Warner Brothers was a major player in the US sampler market and between 1969-1980 they issued around 40 different titles which were sold via mail order.  The first of these, The 1969 Warner / Reprise Songbook (PRO 331), was a truly great double LP with tracks by everyone from Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention to Tiny Tim, via Van Morrison, the Fugs, Jimi Hendrix, Family and Jethro Tull. 
Check out the inner sleeve of any US Warner Bros / Reprise album from the early 70s and you’ll find it festooned with ads for these Loss Leader titles selling at two dollars apiece for each double set or one dollar for the single LPs (most titles were doubles).  And, true to the name, they really did lose money on every record sold 
But while the US samplers adopted a broad inclusion policy - everything from the wilfully uncommercial freaks and misfits on Zappa’s Bizarre label sampler Zappéd to the most radio friendly Warner Brothers hitmakers was thrown into the pot - the British releases tended to be more focussed, concentrating mainly on the new underground or progressive music.  
At least one of the US Loss Leaders was revamped for release in the UK.  Retailing at just 97p, Peaches: Pick Of The Crop used the same front cover as the US double LP of the same name but was reduced to a single disc for British release.  Six of the 10 tracks on the UK sampler also appeared on the US release.  Although handled by Warner Bros in the US, at that time (1974) Capricorn Records was distributed in the UK by Polydor. 
In the modern era Warner Brothers issued several promo CDs which attempted to reprise the Loss Leader name, such as Loss Leaders Revisited, Loss Leaders Re-Revisited and Loss Leaders 2.  These were strictly promotional items sent to radio stations, reviewers and the like and not officially on sale to the public. 

1. Wild Man Fischer - Songs for Sale 
2. Jethro Tull - My Sunday Feeling 
3. The Pentangle - Sweet Child 
4. Van Morrison - Slim Slow Slider
5. Family - Second Generation Woman
6. Neil Young - I've Been Waiting For You
7. Tom Northcott - Sunny Goodge Street 
1. Wild Man Fischer - Songs for Sale 
2. The Everly Brothers - T for Texas
3. The Everly Brothers - Lord of the Manor 
4. Van Dyke Parks - The All Golden
5. Van Dyke Parks - Music for a Datsun TV commercial 
6. Sal Valentino - Alligator Man 
7. The Beau Brummels - Deep Water 
8. Randy Newman - Davy the Fat Boy 
1. Tiny Tim - Mr Tim Laughs 
2. The Mothers of Invention - The Voice of Cheese/Louie Louie/Our Bizarre Relationship
3. The Mothers of Invention - The Air 
4. The Fugs - The Divine Toe/Grope Need/Tuli, Visited by the Ghost of Plotinus/Robinson Crusoe/The National Haiku Contest
5. The Fugs - Wide, Wide River
6. Arlo Guthrie - The Pause of Mr Claus 
1. Sweetwater - Why Oh Why 
2. Joni Mitchell - Nathan La Franeer 
3. Eric Andersen - So Good to Be With You 
4. The Electric Prunes - Finders Keepers 
5. The Kinks - Picture Book 
6. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Red House 
7. Miriam Makeba - I Shall Be Released
ZAPPED (Bizarre PRO 368) 1970 – Version I
1. Alice Cooper - Titanic Overture
2. Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band - The Blimp (Mousetrapreplica)
3. Judy Henske & Jerry Yester - St Nicholas Hall
4. Tim Buckley - I Must Have Been Blind
5. Wild Man Fischer - Merry-Go-Round
6. Alice Cooper - Refrigerator Heaven
7. Tim Dawe - Little Boy Blue
8. Lord Buckley - Governor Slugwell
1. Jeff Simmons - Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up
2. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Old Fart At Play
3. The Mothers Of Invention - Holiday In Berlin, Full Blown
4. GTOs - Do Me In Once And I'll Be Sad, Do Me In Twice And I'll Know Better (Circular Circulation)
5. Frank Zappa - Willie The Pimp
ZAPPED (Bizarre PRO 368) 1970 – Version II “Collage” Sleeve
1. Alice Cooper - Titanic Overture
2. Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band - The Blimp (Mousetrapreplica)
3. Judy Henske & Jerry Yester - Horses On A Stick
4. Tim Buckley - I Must Have Been Blind
5. Wild Man Fischer - Merry-Go-Round
6. Alice Cooper - Reflected
7. Tim Dawe - Little Boy Blue
8. Lord Buckley - The Train
1. Jeff Simmons - Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up
2. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Old Fart At Play
3. The Mothers Of Invention - Valarie
4. GTOs - Do Me In Once And I'll Be Sad, Do Me In Twice And I'll Know Better (Circular Circulation)
5. Frank Zappa - Willie The Pimp
PEACHES: PICK OF THE CROP (UK Capricorn 2476 105) 1974
1. Richard Betts - Highway Call
2. Wet Willie - Trust In The Lord
3. Johnny Jenkins - Voodoo In You
4. Fallenrock - World On A String
5. Allman Brothers Band - Come And Go Blues
1. Gregg Allman - Dreams
2. Hydra - Glitter Queen
3. Marshall Tucker Band - Another Cruel Love
4. Elvin Bishop - Sunshine Special
5. Duane Allman - Happily Married Man

Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders – Full US Album List

  • The 1969 Warner / Reprise Songbook (PRO 331) 1969
  • The 1969 Warner/Reprise Record Show (PRO 336) 1969
  • October 10, 1969 (PRO 351) 1969
  • The Big Ball (PRO 358) 1970
  • Schlagers! (PRO 359) 1970
  • Zapped (PRO 368) 2 versions 1970
  • Looney Tunes And Merrie Melodies ‎(PRO 423) 3/LPs 1970
  • Non-Dairy Creamer (PRO 443) 1971
  • Hot Platters (PRO 474) 1971
  • Together ‎(PRO 486) 1971
  • Whole Burbank Catalog (PRO 512) 1972
  • Middle Of The Road (PRO 525) 1972
  • Burbank (PRO 529) 1972
  • Days Of Wine And Vinyl (PRO 540) 1972
  • Appetizers (PRO 569) 1973
  • All Singing - All Talking - All Rocking (PRO 573) 1973
  • Hard Goods (PRO-583) 1974
  • Peaches (PRO 588) 1974
  • Deep Ear (PRO 591) 1974
  • The Force (PRO 596) 1975
  • Burbank's Finest - 100% All Meat (PRO 604) 1975
  • The Pick Of The Crop / Peaches Vol. 2 (PRO 605) 1975
  • I Didn't Know They Still Made Records Like This (PRO 608) 1975
  • The Works (PRO 610) 1975
  • Supergroup (PRO 630) 1976
  • The People's Record (PRO 645) 1976
  • Cook Book (PRO 660) 1977
  • Limo (PRO 691) 1977
  • Collectus Interruptus (PRO-A-726) 1978
  • Pumping Vinyl (PRO-A-773) 1979
  • A La Carte (PRO-A-794) 1979
  • Monsters (PRO-A-796) 1979
  • Eclipse (PRO-A-828) 1980
  • Music With 58 Musicians, Volume One (PRO-A-850) 1980 
  • Troublemakers (PRO-A-857) 1980

Warner Brothers / Reprise UK
By contrast with their US counterparts, Warner Bros in Britain released very few samplers, with The Warner Bros Music Show perhaps the most memorable.  Featuring two tracks each by Little Feat, The Doobie Brothers, Graham Central Station, Tower Of Power and Montrose, plus one by Bonaroo, this sampler was issued to tie-in with a nine-city, 18-show tour of UK and Europe in January 1975 by the six bands.  Retailing at just 59p, this album sold well but was disqualified from the charts because of the low price. 

Fruity (K26006) appeared in 1972 with a gimmicky circular sleeve.  This 12-track sampler featured material from artists signed to Warner Bros and Reprise, including Ry Cooder, Van Morrison, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Faces and the Allman Brothers Band.

THE WARNER BROS MUSIC SHOW (Warner Bros K1000) 1975
1. The Doobie Brothers - Pursuit On 53rd St.
2. Graham Central Station - Feel The Need
3. Little Feat - Oh Atlanta
4. Montrose - Bad Motor Scooter
5. Tower Of Power - Don't Change Horses (In The Middle Of A Stream)
6. Bonaroo - Sally Ann
1. The Doobie Brothers - Black Water
2. Graham Central Station - We've Been Waiting/ Release Yourself
3. Little Feat - Dixie Chicken
4. Montrose - Connection
5. Tower Of Power - Only So Much Oil In The Ground
FRUITY (Warner Bros K26005) 1972
1. Alice Cooper - Under My Wheels
2. The Allman Brothers Band - Stand Back
3. Curved Air - Phantasmagoria
4. Ry Cooder - Money Honey
5. Malo - Nena
6. Faces - Maybe I'm Amazed
1. Fanny - Blind Alley
2. America - Sandman
3. Van Morrison - I Wanna Roo You
4. Fleetwood Mac - Sentimental Lady
5. Long John Baldry - Seventh Son
6. The Grateful Dead - Big Railroad Blues

Blue Horizon – Woke Up This Morning
Meanwhile back in London the British blues boom was, well… booming.  In 1965 Mike Vernon founded the tiny independent Blue Horizon label while working as a producer at Decca.  At first the label ran virtually as a cottage industry issuing just a handful of singles for sale by mail-order.  Then, in 1967, Vernon signed Peter Green’s newly formed Fleetwood Mac and Blue Horizon stepped up to the big league.
From October 1967 to February 1971 Blue Horizon releases were distributed worldwide by CBS, during which time it became the most successful UK blues label of the late 60s (if not of all time).  As well as signing homegrown talent such as Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack and Duster Bennett, Blue Horizon licensed US recordings and also brought big name American blues artists over to record in London, often using members of Fleetwood Mac and other UK groups to back them up.

The CBS connection resulted in three now-hugely collectible Blue Horizon samplers.  The first of these, Super-Duper Blues, featured a striking cover showing label boss Mike Vernon dressed in an ill-fitting Batman outfit.  The 12 tracks were roughly divided between UK signings Fleetwood Mac, Chicken Shack, Duster Bennett and Gordon Smith and US artists Champion Jack Dupree, Eddie Boyd, Johnny Shines and others.  The French pressing of Super-Duper Blues eschewed the eye-catching cartoon-like Batman sleeve in favour of a rather drab blue cover.
The second Blue Horizon sampler, In Our Own Way: Oldies But Goldies, arrived in March 1970 and is now the hardest of the three to find.  Fleetwood Mac did not appear this time (perhaps because they’d already left the label), but otherwise it was the usual mix of UK and US artists.  Mick Taylor joined members of Free and Ten Years After to guest with some of the American blues artists and both sides of the rare 1967 debut Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation non-album single “Warning”/”Cobwebs” were included.  Blue Horizon promotions man Dave Tear is pictured on the cover as the “deaf street salesman”.  Fun fact: “Warning” was covered by Black Sabbath on their first album.

The final Blue Horizon sampler How Blue Can We Get? was a grand affair stretching over four sides of a 1970 double album in a gatefold sleeve with an eight-page booklet insert.  In an “it probably wouldn’t happen today” move, the artists were segregated by skin colour with the individual LPs sub-titled “White” and “Black”.
SUPER-DUPER BLUES (Blue Horizon SPR 31) 1969
1. Fleetwood Mac - Rollin' Man
2. Duster Bennett - Jumping At Shadows
3. Chicken Shack - What You Did Last Night
4. Eddie Boyd - The Blues Is Here To Stay
5. Gordon Smith - Diving Duck Blues
6. Champion Jack Dupree - A Racehorse Called Mae
1. Johnny Shines - Pipeline Blues
2. Fleetwood Mac - Long Grey Mare
3. Sunnyland Slim - Stella Mae
4. Chicken Shack - I Wanna See My Baby
5. Curtis Jones - Gee Pretty Baby
6. Fleetwood Mac - Shake Your Money Maker

1. Chicken Shack - Hey Baby
2. Duster Bennett - Raining In My Heart
3. Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - Cobwebs
4. Champion Jack Dupree - I Haven't Done No-One No Harm
5. Otis Spann - Bloody Murder
6. Chicken Shack - It's Okay With Me Baby
7. Guitar Crusher - Hambone Blues
1. Bobby Parker - It's Hard But Fair
2. Otis Spann - Can't Do Me No Good
3. Chicken Shack - When My Left Eye Jumps
4. Champion Jack Dupree - Ba' La Fouche
5. Bobby Parker - I Couldn't Quit My Baby
6. Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - Warning
7. Garfield Love - Part Time Love
HOW BLUE CAN WE GET? (Blue Horizon SPR 45/46) 1970
Volume I - White
1. Fleetwood Mac - Watch Out
2. Jellybread - Don't Pay Them No Mind
3. Top Topham - Mini-Minor-Mo
4. Duster Bennett - What A Dream (Live)
5. Bacon Fat - Boom, Boom (Out Goes The Lights)
6. Chicken Shack - Evelyn
1. Christine Perfect - And That's Saying A Lot
2. Bacon Fat - Small's On 53rd
3. Fleetwood Mac - I'm Worried
4. Chicken Shack - The Way It Is
5. Jellybread - No Brag, Just Facts (Parts 1 And 2)
6. Fleetwood Mac - Rambling Pony
Volume II - Black
1. Elmore James - Hand In Hand
2. Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup - That's Alright
3. Magic Sam - All Your Love
4. Larry Johnson - Catfish Blues
5. Otis Spann - My Love Depends On You
6. Furry Lewis - Casey Jones
7. Champion Jack Dupree - Grandma (You're A Bit Too Slow)
1. George Smith - No Time For Jive
2. Johnny Young - Deal The Cards
3. Roosevelt Holts - Little Bitty Woman
4. Bukka White - Bed Spring Blues
5. Mississippi Joe Callicott - On My Last Go Round
6. Otis Rush - Jump Sister Bessie

Coming up in Part 5, more legendary samplers from Polydor, A&M, Probe and Charisma.

Zappa - The Documentary

Magnolia Pictures Reviewed by Stuart Penney “We were loud, we were coarse, and we were strange.  And if anybody in the audience ever gave us...