Friday, November 6, 2015

"Loss Leaders": The Weekend Mix

I volunteered to put together a weekend mix for Sal.  Compiled, test driven, researched, and edited by Buzz Baby Jesus, aka BBJ

Throughout the '70's and into the '80's (and apparently into the '90's in cd form) Warner/Reprise had what they called their "Loss Leaders" program.
This consisted of offering, via inner sleeves, Two record set compilations for $2.
The idea, of course was that you'd go out and buy the full albums at full price.

I have a restless ear that needs a constant supply of new music. It's rare I play something to death.
As a kid I never had enough money to buy all the music I craved, nor older siblings to "borrow" from. As soon as my parents left the house for any reason, I'd crank up the Magnavox and go to the right of the dial looking for the free-form FM radio stations.
The DJ's spun a lot of discs without saying too much, so I rarely knew what I was hearing, except it sounded dangerous, and my parents would hate it, saying it was "Acid Rock" played by people on drugs (Turns out they were right about that). As soon as I saw the garage door open off it went before my oppressors caught on to what I was up to. Except the time I forgot to turn the radio back to their regular station. They were not amused when greeted by Frank Zappa and the Mothers lovely "Mudshark" from "Live at Fillmore East 1971”

I might have been at a friend’s house smoking catnip for the first time and looking at his big brother's Black Sabbath album when I noticed the offer on the sleeve. Suddenly big brother burst in and exclaimed, “I know what you’re doing and I’m telling mom!” which was quite the buzz kill, and didn’t help when I showed up to mow the neighbor’s yard a little while later (totally paranoid).

Otherwise I have no idea what album I might have cut out the order form to send off with $3 for “Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies” a 3 record set filled with the likes of The Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, The Faces, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Captain Beefheart, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Little Feat, T-Rex, Alice Cooper, The Fugs, Black Sabbath, along with lesser known acts as like Pearls Before Swine, H.P.Lovecraft, and Beaver and Krause.

Waiting six weeks for that sucker to arrive was an eternity. My first  Box set with Elmer Fudd on the cover. Inside were extensive liners with biographies and photos. Eventually I bought six or seven of them. The influence of these records on my development was huge. Sadly I got rid of them during the great Punk purge of 1980, when suddenly everything sounded so tame, and irrelevant. (I'll never do that again) All through college and continuing today I've made compilations similar in concept to these records, although I didn't put this together until fairly recently.

This year, Willard, over at the Wormholes, posted all of them which I greedily downloaded. (

Going through them I found 150 songs I liked enough to load into my phone/player, and from that I picked out 22 for this cd compilation. Half the songs are familiar from back in the day, and the others are “new” discoveries. All are fairly obscure.

(Many of them include snippets of dialog etc not on the original albums, but added to Loss Leaders by compiler Dr. Demento.)

01 Needle Drop- I like to start off with this sound and since these are mostly ripped from vinyl seems especially aprropriate.
02 Panama-Rosebud-This is One of my new favorite songs, and comes from Non-Dairy Creamer (1971), featuring Judy Henske and Jerry Yester.
03 Eagle Rock-Daddy Cool. I was in a rental car in New Zealand (August 2005) when this song came on the radio. Immediately recognized as a favorite from The Whole Burbank Catalog (1972), purchased in 1973. Still a favorite song from this Australian band's first album, Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! which I've still never seen. I bought their follow-up, Teenage Heaven which I didn't like. They broke up in 1972 and reformed in 2005. A local told me Eagle Rock  was so overplayed back in the day that he compared it to Hotel California.
04 Bluegreens-William Truckaway was a member of The Sopwith Camel (Hello, Hello). This was recorded in 1969 and failed as a single twice. The arrangement owes a lot to SMiLE era Beach Boys. It was briefly used in a commercial I can’t recall. Also from The Whole Burbank Catalog.
05 Lord Of The Manor-The Everly Brothers is from Song Book (1969). Thoroughly unfamiliar with their “late” period (before the break-up and ‘80’s reunion), I became obsessed with tracking down their 1968 album Roots, an early country rock classic.
06 I Was The Rebel, She Was The Cause-Eric Anderson from The Big Ball (1970). A classic country song recorded in Nashville by an artist I always thought of as a boring folkie.
07 Dancin' Wizard-The Sopwith Camel from All Singing All Talking All Rocking (1973). The group reformed without William Truckaway in 1971. They did however share producer Eric Jacobsen. I had forgotten all about this one which I am so glad to be reacquainted with. So California.
08 Come And See The Show-Tir Na Nog from The Days Of Wine And Vinyl (1972) In the late ‘60’s early 70’s the British folk scene gave us Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, and Tir Na Nog. This has long been a favorite.
09 Ivy-Savage Grace- from The Big Ball (1970). This Detroit band broke up in 1972. I never heard of them, and find it to be that elusive oxymoronic style I’m always looking for: Smart Hard Rock.
10 Back To My Music-The Good Rats-from Deep Ear (1974). I never heard of them as I grew up on the west coast and they’re Long Island all the way, and apparently still around. Goes well with Savage Grace. Dr. Demento introduces.
11 Thousand Days Of Yesterdays-Captain Beyond- From Burbank (1972) Got your energetic tuneful Prog here. I remember their album covers, but I never heard them until now.
12 Take A Look At The Light-Three Man Army- All Singing All Talking All Rocking (1973). A power trio obviously, and a type of music no longer played. Sensitive hard rock, and not unlike Chris Bell’s Big Star.
13 It Ain't Easy-Long John Baldry-From Hot Platters (1971) The title track from an album produced on one side by Rod Stewart, and the other by Elton John, and of course covered by David bowie on The Rise And fall Of Ziggy Stardust. Even though I love that album, I think this version is better. In 1961 LJB formed Blues Incorporated, which included Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger.
14 Strawberry Flats-Little Feat-from Looney Tunes And Merrie Melodies (1970-) This was my introduction to both Loss Leaders and Little Feat. I’ve been a fan ever since, especially their first two or three albums before drug use got in the way of  Lowell George’s music and participation. This was their first single, and they pack an awful lot into 2:21.
15 Smile As You Go Under-Hard Meat. This song came directly after Strawberry Flats on Looney Tunes And Merrie Melodies. One of the most ill-fitting, and unfortunate band names I know, as this track and the album it came from is basically folk rock .
16 World In Harmony-Fleetwood Mac-from Middle Of The Road (1972). This is a bonus track somewhere now, but in 1972 it was the last unreleased recording by the Peter Green with the group, shortly after Then Play On.
17 What Is Love -The Collectors-from Some Of Our Friends Are (1968). All I can tell you about this lovely folky drone-chant that sounds like it could’ve been made anytime including yesterday, is that it was released in 1968, and that after two albums some of the members became Chilliwack.
18 Subways-Urban Verbs- from Troublemakers (1980). They’re from DC, and I know nothing about them, except the founder was Robbie Frantz, brother of Chris Talking Heads Frantz.
19 Biology II-Halfnelson-Produced by Todd Rundgren, this is Sparks before they were Sparks. From The Whole Burbank Catalog (1972), This song really bothered me in 1972, but now it’s an old favorite.
20 Then I'd Be Satisfied With Life-Tiny Tim. You probably remember the novelty Tiptoe Through The Tulips. Also from Some Of Our Friends Are, this song is fairly straight country.
21 T For Texas-The Everly Brothers- another from Song Book. If there is such a thing as “progressive country”, this arrangement of a Jimmie Rodgers song is it. One of the only times Phil sings lead.
22 The Illiad-Ed Sanders-Formerly of The Fugs, and from The Big Ball, This song shows how little the population of Dumbfuckistan (rednecks) has evolved.
23 Let's Burn Down The Cornfield-Randy Newman-Looney Tunes And Merrie Melodies. From his second album which also includes his original of Mama Told Me Not To Come. This spooky song features Ry Cooder’s slide guitar, in fact, it sounds like something off one of Ry’s albums with a guest vocalist.

Thanks for listening.



Jeff said...

Great post. Looking forward to enjoying the music without worrying about getting the card back in time.

William Repsher said...

This looks like great fun. I believe all the labels had those bargain-priced compilations of songs from artists on their roster. What I remember more is the inner paper sleeves on albums festooned with album covers and artists I didn't know at all (but apparently on Warners or Elektra, etc.). A lot of British bands I didn't know at the time because they just didn't register greatly in America (Status Quo, Blodwyn Pig, Sopwith Camel, Frankie Miller, etc.) with albums I'd never seen at the local Listening Booth. It says something about major labels at the time that they carried dozens of artists who weren't quite making it big for multiple albums ... then again if it wasn't for artists like Van Morrison having key multiple-album runs with hit singles, a lot of their catalog fell into this category, too!

Anonymous said...

never knew that Three Man Army were on a WEA affiliate. That song is better than most of their post-"Third of a Lifetime" (the only one u need to have) catalog and the various Gurvitz brothers projects

dogbreath said...

Crikey, the weekend mix lives on! Nice collection of choices from the huge archive of tracks on those loss leader albums which, as the converse to the above, brought a whole phalanx of at the time unheard and unknown US acts - some excellent, some like Tiny Tim - into my musical world. Many thanks for the weekend ear candy.

Robin said...

Can't wait to listen! Loved hearing about the "oppressors":) and you getting your radio fix when they weren't around.

Thank you.

Dave said...

BBJ, this was a great idea. You are often so cranky in your comments it's fun to listen to music you respond to favorably.

I haven't heard the Truckaway song in more than 40 years. It still holds up well. I think the Brian Wilson influence is clear, but I think "Bluegreens" also foreshadows his work on Norman Greenbaum's album, "Spirit in the Sky." Along with his work with Sopwith Camel, he is at least a fascinating producer-arranger.

Thanks for "World in Harmony." I don't think I've heard it before.

Dave F.

A walk in the woods said...

Well, this looks groovy! Nice reminiscences on the Loss Leader comps. Looking forward to hearing what caught your ear the most out of all of them. Thanks!


BBJ -- great stuff.

This mix is wicked and weird -- and I mean that in the best possible sense!


buzzbabyjesus said...

It was fun putting together.

Bruce Kelly said...

Now this I HAVE TO hear.


buzzbabyjesus said...

I enjoyed all the comments, but "wicked and weird" is hard to beat.

I can live with cranky, especially in the morning.