We figured it was about time to pull together all of the incredible Warner Bros. Loss Leaders releases dating back to 1969 (and even a little earlier). For those who lived through the era, Warner Bros. Records was winning the sales of an entire generation by signing and supporting some of music’s most uniquely groundbreaking recording artists… during music’s most uniquely groundbreaking time. With an appealingly irreverent style (“targeted youth marketing,” it would be called today), WB was making lifelong fans of the kids who entered into the label’s vast catalog of artists via the Loss Leaders series – advertised on inner sleeves & brochures, and offering generous selections priced at $1 per LP, $2 for doubles and $3 for their sole 3LP release, Looney Tunes And Merrie Melodies. And that was including postage. Yes… those were the days, but back then there were very few ways, outside of cut-out bins or a five-finger discount, to score bulk music as cheaply. Warners unashamedly admitted that their intentions were to sell more records, by introducing listeners to music they weren’t hearing on their radios, or finding in many of their (still weakly distributed) record stores. And it seemed to work… because the series continued until 1980, and the program issued approximately 35 titles, by our questionable count (detailed in later posts). But, the oldsters among us all fondly remember the multi-paged, gatefold sleeves and inviting artwork/packaging that beckoned from the inner sleeves of our favorite albums, not to mention the assorted rarities, b-sides and oddities that dotted many of the releases. No big deal in this age of bonus tracks and “complete” session reissues, but in the early 70s, this stuff was gold. What I’ve learned listening to these releases again, is that they’re still a great source for hearing “new” artists… the ones that didn’t make the grade 35-45 years ago. So… over the next month, we’re going to be posting all of Warner’s Loss Leaders, which were never sold in stores (only mail-order) and never re-issued on CD (so, you will hear a few pops and crackles now and again) – along with the best artwork we could muster. We’ve also had some generous help from a few of our readers, including Rebecca, Narcosislabs and Slipperman, who took the time and trouble to rip and scan some of the Leaders from their collections to help us complete this series of posts.
SEPERATING THE LOSS LEADERS: Below is a list of everything we are calling Loss Leaders, with the caveat that there are a few titles that may be in dispute. There’s one promo release (Some Of Our Best Friends Are PRO290) which pre-dates the “official” series, and was simply given away before the Loss Leaders campaign even began. A few other titles are often seen online as being a part of the program, but almost all were promo LPs meant for radio or in-store play, not sold via mail order; titles like The Warner/Reprise Radio Show(s), Alternatives, New Music That Stays New, Burbank’s Greatest Hits, Gold Medal and a handful of others. Truth is, WB released hundreds of promo/compilation LPs back in the day. Some were for radio, others sold in stores, some are low-priced UK Loss Leaders with different covers and track listings. We are focusing on the US mail order variety and, to make the short list, we required some verification in the form of print ads or first hand knowledge… as opposed to online speculation. We’ll play it by ear and hope that more viable information surfaces to verify any questionable titles. Our first post, Some Of Our Best Friends Are (1968), helped to launch the series, even looking like future Loss Leaders, using the same design and format, though… it wasn’t advertised as being available via mail order. Two titles we won’t be posting, are the promo-only, never-sold to the public CDs Warners released that are Loss Leaders in name only; Loss Leaders Revisited (1995 PRO-CD-7955) and Loss Leaders 2 (1999 PRO-CD-9949). Many thanks to Rebecca and Slipperman for the advertisements that litter this post (click them for pop-up enlargements), and feel free to leave a comment with any thoughts, recollections or corrections. ALL ARE 2LP SETS UNLESS NOTED!
THE PRE- LOSS LEADER…
00 1968 PRO290 – SOME OF OUR BEST FRIENDS ARE (1LP) (HERE)
THE LOSS LEADERS SERIES
#01 1969 PRO331 – THE 1969 WARNER/REPRISE SONGBOOK (HERE)
#02 1969 PRO336 – THE 1969 WARNER/REPRISE RECORD SHOW (HERE)
#03 1969 PRO351 – OCTOBER 10, 1969 (1LP) (HERE)
#04 1970 PRO358 – THE BIG BALL (HERE)
#05 1970 PRO359 – SCHLAGERS! (HERE)
#06 1970 PRO368 – ZAPPÉD (1LP) (Two Versions) (HERE)
#07 1970 PRO423 – LOONEY TUNES AND MERRIE MELODIES (3LP) (HERE)
#08 1971 PRO443 – NON-DAIRY CREAMER (1LP) (HERE)
#09 1971 PRO474 – HOT PLATTERS (HERE)
#10 1971 PRO486 – TOGETHER (1LP) (HERE)
#11 1972 PRO512 – THE WHOLE BURBANK CATALOG (HERE)
#12 1972 PRO525 – MIDDLE OF THE ROAD (HERE)
#13 1972 PRO529 – BURBANK (HERE)
#14 1972 PRO540 – THE DAYS OF WINE AND VINYL (HERE)
#15 1973 PRO569 – APPETIZERS (HERE)
#16 1973 PRO573 – ALL SINGING – ALL TALKING – ALL ROCKING (HERE)
#17 1974 PRO583 – HARD GOODS (HERE)
#18 1974 PRO588 – PEACHES (HERE)
#19 1974 PRO591 – DEEP EAR (HERE)
#20 1975 PRO596 – THE FORCE (HERE)
#21 1975 PRO604 – ALL MEAT (HERE)
#22 1975 PRO605 – PEACHES VOL. 2 (HERE)
#23 1975 PRO608 – I DIDN’T KNOW THEY STILL MADE RECORDS LIKE THIS (HERE)
#24 1975 PRO610 – THE WORKS (HERE)
#25 1976 PRO630 – SUPERGROUP (HERE)
#26 1976 PRO645 – THE PEOPLE’S RECORD (HERE)
#27 1977 PRO660 – COOK BOOK (HERE)
#28 1977 PRO691 – LIMO (HERE)
#29 1978 PRO-A-726 – COLLECTUS INTERRUPTUS (HERE)
#30 1979 PRO-A-773 – PUMPING VINYL (HERE)
#31 1979 PRO-A-794 – A LA CARTE (HERE)
#32 1979 PRO-A-796 – MONSTERS (HERE)
#33 1980 PRO-A-828 – ECLIPSE (HERE)
#34 1980 PRO-A-850 – MUSIC WITH 58 MUSICIANS, VOLUME ONE (HERE)
#35 1980 PRO-A-857 – TROUBLEMAKERS (HERE)
UPDATES: OCTOBER 10, 1969… ZAPPÉD… & MORE…
With MANY thanks to our friends and readers, we’ve made a few changes to our original Loss Leaders posts. First and foremost, October 10, 1969 – which we categorically dismissed as being a real Loss Leader – has been upgraded. Thanks to Tom in Beacon, who pointed us to an advert in Rolling Stone magazine (November, 1969) that advertised the album for a buck… proving that it was not just a promotional LP, but was sold to the public via mail order just like the others in the series. As a result, we have a new, solo post for #3 October 10, 1969 (HERE). Additionally, thanks to the tenacity of a couple of our readers we are now convinced that the “Collage” version of #6 Zappéd (HERE) was, indeed, the first of the two versions of Zappéd to be issued. We’ve added new information to the post to illustrate why. As a result, we’ve had to re-number a couple of early posts, but all seems in order now… as best as we can tell, and until better information comes along. We appreciate all the help in trying to verify 45 year-old details that no one else in their right minds really cares about anymore. Any other corrections or updates? Just leave a comment.
SPEAKING OF THANKS…
We had a lot of help putting all this together, from readers with info to friends of this blog who made rips and scans from their own collections to help us complete these posts. Slipperman, narcoislabs and, especially Rebecca, who really went above and beyond by ripping and scanning numerous LL’s found here – as well as providing advertisements and last-minute, on-deadline, late night work to help us pull it all together. We can’t thank her (and everybody) enough.
VINTAGE ADS FROM ROLLING STONE…
It took while, but we finally finished poring through over 350 issues (almost 15 years) of Rolling Stone magazine to retrieve the numerous Leaders ads that ran over the years. In a few cases, helping to verify that some titles were, indeed, official entries in the series (October 10, 1969 & Music With 58 Musicians, Volume One). We’ve added links to the individual posts so you can see the print campaigns yourself. Interestingly, the debut Loss Leader, Songbook, originally sold for $1.98, while the two volumes of Peaches each cost $2.50. For those wanting a zip of the 40+ Rolling Stone ads we’ve gathered (plus others from New York Magazine, Billboard and Ebony – thanks again to Rebecca), you can DOWNLOAD THEM ALL HERE.
LOSS LEADER SONG AND ARTIST .PDF INDEX…
Tom in Beacon kindly put together a .PDF Song Index that includes all of the artists and titles found in the 35 Loss Leaders posted here. Many thanks, Tom. DOWNLOAD THE .PDF HERE.
LISTEN TO THE LOSS LEADERS RADIO SHOW…
Uncle Michael, who hosts Hinky Dinky Time on WFMU’s Give The Drummer Radio, put together a six-hour broadcast back in July featuring nothing but Loss Leaders music (and anecdotes) that you can listen to any time you’d like, HERE @ wfmu.org/playlists/hd/20140718
IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF JUMPING ON THE BANDWAGON…
Here are two 1970 ads from Rolling Stone that show how other labels (Mercury, A&M) tried, but failed to follow up on, the lead set by Warners’ Loss Leaders concept. Click each for pop-up enlargements.
FINAL BIT OF TRIVIA…
According to a Billboard magazine news item about the Loss Leaders series, dated March 10, 1973, “14 Warner samplers during the past three years have averaged 80,000 unit sales apiece.” That’s all, folks!