Discussion in 'A Small Circle of Friends: The Music Forum' started by pogWo4life, Nov 9, 2017.
Here are my 2:
Point of Grace
Chuck Barris ( he would have been a great comedy novelty act for them) before his rise to game show stardom
Some big bands could have been on the CTI label...Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Count Basie etc. All were around then and touring.
As a fan of The Corrs, I'd always wished that they could have been on the A&M label. The closest that came to reality was The Corrs' appearance on a single by Sheryl Crow called "C'mon, C'mon".
Instead of leaving A&M after recording some singles and songs which were archived for several years, what if Ole Waylon Jennings had stayed with the label instead of going to RCA? He would have had a long career at A&M and possibly own an interest in the label. According to an autobiography Herb & Jerry made a generous offer trying to convince the future outlaw to stay.
LPJIM, was it a Waylon autobiography? Jerry hasn't done one has he? (We know Herb hasn't...) I'd love to read some inside stuff on A&M. Are the Carpenters' bios the closest we can get to that?
Yes, there was a chapter about Waylon's time with A&M in his autobiography. I read this many years ago after tracking down a copy of his 1969 album 'DON'T THINK TWICE' (SP 4238). The tracks, with some singles that were not on the album, were recorded in 1963-64. When his RCA version of "MacArthur Park" became a hit in '69 A&M soon took his earlier work out of the vaults. He spoke very highly of Herb and Jerry while explaining they had divergent visions for his career. While he pictured himself more pure country they envisioned a more folk/pop direction. He also expressed gratitude for getting released from his A&M contract without complications, although he missed out on the opportunity to own a piece of the firm. Imagine how different things could have been.
What really surprised me over the years is that as artist-centric as A&M was, they did not sign Prince. Warner Bros. really took a gamble on signing Prince, but then look what happened...his sixth album, accompanied with a film, blew the lid off and he was charting #1s on Billboard. Prince also spun off bands such as The Time, Vanity Six, Madhouse, Sheila E., Mazarati, etc. As a consolation prize though, A&M did have Janet Jackson. While her first album did somewhat OK on R&B/funk radio, and her second album Dream Street sank without a trace, she would team with the alumni from The Time, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, to produce Control, which similarly had a fantastic chart run and launched her recording career. Jesse Johnson, another alumnus from The Time, released a few albums on A&M that had more of a cult following than anything.
Here's another big one, again, surprising due to the artist-centric label: Steely Dan. And, Donald Fagen. They were definitely an "outsider" group for sure, their music going above the heads of many. Steely Dan recorded their seven classic albums for ABC (later MCA, with Gaucho), then split up. Fagen signed with Warner Bros. and all four of his solo recordings, plus the three post-MCA Steely Dan albums, were released on labels that were either a subsidiary of or distributed by Warner's. They never had huge chart success, except for a few Top 40 hits back in the day. A&M's consolation prize was the Rosie Vela Zazu album, which featured Fagen and Becker on selected tracks (separately, though), and production by Steely Dan producer Gary Katz.
The strong Jazz-influences make Steely Dan's creative duo a good fit for what A&M represents (at least, to me).
In fact, I had mentioned wishing I could have heard a Brasil '66 (-style arrangement of) the title track from "Aja." It would have sounded great with the female + male voices in harmony (maybe just parallel octaves)?
See the thread: "Songs that Sergio should have arranged, and Lani should have sung"
Say, didn't A&M turn down the Beatles?
Bill Withers would have been a good fit on A&M. I gather from later interviews that he regrets the pressure Columbia put on him to make hit records, vs. letting him record what he wanted to. I think the industry BS is what pushed him out of the music scene. His Sussex albums were distributed in the UK by A&M, but that was the extent of the involvement.
I read somewhere that Herb said That He Didn't know The Beatles were availible around 1963 just as A&M was in its beginning. And he Regretted not signing them but as mentioned before He didn't know they were availible had he known think about How different A&M would have been
Listen, what you said about Prince: A&M DID try to sign him up! I've talked about this before; I believe around the time of his passing that I mentioned that I read that a lot of labels were blown away Prince's demos because his music was so fresh and innovative, that they felt they had to have him on their labels. From what I understand,(and I'm going on memory by what I read a good while back) that Columbia,Warner, and A&M had a bidding war going on to sign him up to their respective labels. Herb, Jerry and Gil Friesen all told Prince that if he signed with A&M, that he would not only be able to do what he wanted, but he would get a big amount of money and a mansion in Beverly Hills to boot!
However, Prince said in an interview with Right On! magazine that he had a lot of labels bidding for him, but he said he didn't like the way they talked musically. The labels said that they wanted him to do his music with orchestras, like adding tubas and cellos to his sound, and that just wasn't him.(he said these were "odd things" for him.) They were more than likely probably trying to turn him into a disco singer, which was the rage back at the time that they were interested in him. Tubas and cellos were those "odd things" that was in disco music if you all remember at that time back then. Warners, though, gave him complete autonomy to do what he wanted, and he said that he liked that; he liked the way Warner Bros. talked. So, he signed with them instead, and as they say, the rest is history.
Bill Withers' Sussex releases were on A&M in some countries. I have some A&M Records of Japan albums featuring Withers... I believe this was because of A&M having a relationship with Sussex...
Given the way Sussex imploded, they would have been a good label to buy out. Heck, there is a local band that recorded on Sussex that went national with a hit record (Gallery, "Nice To Be With You", recorded here at GM Studios in East Detroit back in the early 70s). But I don't recall A&M ever buying up the assets of another label. Starting and/or distributing other labels? Sure.
I think Sussex had a distribution deal with A&M. A&M Records of Japan did a nice 10 volume 10th anniversary series with loads of photos and a terrific gatefold. Volume 7 is "Singers and Songwriters" and features Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Bill Withers, Emitt Rhodes, Miguel Rios and maybe a couple others. I'll have to check when I get home.