🎶 Pick a Dozen 12 A&M albums that best represented the label

Highlighting the Pick a Dozen series

Rudy

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If you had to choose 12 A&M albums that best represented or defined the label from 1962 to 1989 (when the label was sold), which ones would you pick? One tip might be to think of your unique way of introducing the A&M label to someone who is not familiar with it. For this list, A&M-affiliated labels like CTi and Horizon, the Latin American divisions like Almo International and AyM Discos, etc. are all fair game. You may also offer multiple lists; however, they cannot be a "part one/part two" to extend your choices to 24, for example. Instead, they can be different themes. (One might be best sellers, where another might be critical picks or personal favorites, or perhaps a jazz, R&B/funk or rock theme.)

As usual, rule #1 is to choose only a dozen albums.

Rule #2--only one album choice from a single artist; Rule #2A--a group and solo artist can be considered two different artists (TJB vs. Herb, Humble Pie vs. Peter Frampton, etc.).

My list is forthcoming, once I finalize my thoughts on a handful. Let's see your picks!
 
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JOv2

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I'm already going against policy by limiting mine to 1962-70 -- but that's all I really know...
  1. Herb Alpert / !!Going Places!! (SP 4112)
  2. Chris Montez / The More I See You (SP 4115)
  3. The Sandpipers / Guantanamera (SP 4117)
  4. Claudine Longet / The Look Of Love (SP 4129)
  5. Burt Bacharach / Reach Out (SP 4131)
  6. Sergio Mendes / Look Around (SP 4137)
  7. Lee Michaels / (s/t) (SP 4140)
  8. Baja Marimba Band / Do You Know the Way to San Jose? (SP-4150)
  9. Procol Harum / A Salty Dog (SP 4179)
  10. Joe Cocker / With A Little Help from My Friends (SP 4182)
  11. Fairport Convention / (s/t) (SP 4185)
  12. Blodwin Pig / Ahead Rings Out (SP 4210)
 

tomswift2002

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1. Carpenters “A Song For You”
2. Richard Carpenter “Time”
3. Karen Carpenter “Karen Carpenter”
4 Supertramp “Famous Last Words”
5. Rita Coolidge “007: Octupussy”
 

Rudy

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1. Carpenters “A Song For You”
2. Richard Carpenter “Time”
3. Karen Carpenter “Karen Carpenter”
4 Supertramp “Famous Last Words”
5. Rita Coolidge “007: Octupussy”
Seven more to go!

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Harry

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Here, pictured, are the twelve I've picked. Explanations below.

DozenA&MAlbums.jpg


WHIPPED CREAM & OTHER DELIGHTS - Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass - This album remains both a best seller and one that's iconic. It is perhaps the one album to represent or define the A&M label.

FOOL ON THE HILL - Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - I picked this as both a fan favorite and a really good album. It featured both some big hit singles, and some exceptional Brazilian sounds.

FAMILY PORTRAIT - Various A&M Artists - This is one I picked to be a catch-all of sorts. It includes many of the classic-era artists like the Baja Marimba Band, Claudine Longet, Chris Montez, and spreads out to the CTi era with Wes Montgomery, Tamba 4, and Herbie Mann.

MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF - Burt Bacharach - One of the song-meister's better albums, it represents the importance that Burt's music played in the A&M label.

CLOSE TO YOU - Carpenters - This is the album that launched A&M's "cash-cow" act, Karen & Richard Carpenter. With two of their early big hits, it's still a classic album to this day.

TAPESTRY - Carole King - Released on A&M abroad, but on Ode70 here in the States, it was both recorded and distributed by A&M. A monster hit album in its day and beyond.

TEASER & THE FIRECAT - Cat Stevens - One of A&M's best import acts, the UK's Island Records album was released here in the States on A&M. Part of the big album duo with TEA FOR THE TILLERMAN.

RISE - Herb Alpert - No longer relying on the old Tijuana Brass sound, Herb spread his wings as a solo artist with a monumental hit with "Rise". This solo album is exceptional.

BREAKFAST IN AMERICA - Supertramp - Still a staple of "Classic Rock Radio", this is one of the iconic rock albums that A&M released.

SOLITUDE STANDING - Suzanne Vega - The song's "Luka" and "Tom's Diner" were big staples in the 80s as videos entered the picture.

ES FACIL AMAR - Lani Hall - During the 80s, A&M opened up to include music for the Latin market by opening the AyM Discos imprint. Herb's wife Lani Hall was a big part of the successes on that label with this Grammy-winning album.

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS - Amy Grant - Representing the really good and perennial Christmas album that A&M released in this classic by Amy Grant. Others on the label were the old Tijuana Brass album, Carpenters two classic Christmas albums, and the whole VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS series.
 

Rudy

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The A&M anniversary box set was sort of hit or miss at times, but it was still a good look at how broad A&M's musical selections were.

Here is one such list I came up with. Some appear to be cliché choices but those are also are major accomplishments for the label. And I tried to touch on many of A&M's styles here.

  1. Herb Alpert & TJB: Whipped Cream & Other Delights -- This put Herb and the label on the map, and iconic in that the album and especially its cover image are so heavily identified with the 1960s.
  2. Roger Nichols and the Small Circle of Friends: self-titled -- One could try to pick from all of A&M's early "light pop" catalog (how does one pick??), but this album seemed to invoke the spirit of all of those in one place, while also highlighting one of the most important composers in the A&M stable. It's a cult classic today.
  3. Brasil '66: Look Around -- This catches Sergio with an album that still had its roots from the debut Brasil '66 album while stretches out to feature Lani Hall in two of her best-known performances: "Like a Lover" and "So Many Stars." It's tough to pick any of the albums beyond this one due to their being so uneven--they try too hard to stretch for a hit, while also burying the music in unnecessary syrupy strings. This album finds a tasteful sweet spot in the catalog.
  4. Carpenters: A Song for You -- In my opinion, a creative peak in terms of production as well as top notch songwriting and performance.
  5. Burt Bacharach: Futures -- I could have chosen the self-titled album due to its instrumental nature, but this challenging album casts Burt into unfamiliar territory with a cast largely made up of post-Hal David lyricists. (This album came after their notorious three-way split from each other and Dionne Warwick). It's difficult to get to know, but perhaps the most rewarding, capturing the Bacharach magic in a new setting.
  6. Tamba 4: We and the Sea -- This was a tough choice, as I wanted to include one CTi pick and casting aside Jobim's Wave is hard to do. But this one is way more challenging and perhaps the highlight of all the CTi albums in the A&M catalog.
  7. Quincy Jones: The Dude -- Yeah, I know...it's not jazz. But Q was never one to sit still. This album revealed Quincy to be a pop music hitmaker with the two James Ingram hits "Just Once" and "Find One Hundred Ways," charting the course that would lead to Q later producing the biggest selling pop album of all time. Q's influence also played a major role in the Brothers Johnson albums.
  8. Supertramp: Crime of the Century -- While Breakfast in America took the band into the mainstream and gave the group their most enduring hits, Crime is an artistic peak along with being their early breakthrough. It is also a well-engineered record.
  9. Styx: The Grand Illusion -- One of A&M's most popular groups. A difficult choice here as Paradise Theater is often considered by some as the band's best album, and the two albums prior to Illusion were quite interesting as well (with Equinox featuring the original lineup with John Curulewski, and Crystal Ball featuring Tommy Shaw's debut). Yet this one first nailed the modern Styx format we all came to know, and had strong songwriting throughout.
  10. The Police: Reggatta de Blanc -- I could easily list four of the five Police albums in a list like this one, for various reasons, as they are all different yet I like them nearly equally. And Synchronicity is still a masterpiece, and also a host to A&M's longest-running #1 single (eight weeks at the top for "Every Breath You Take"). But Reggatta seems like perhaps the purest of the Police sound, heavy on the reggae/rock style and featuring two of their signature tunes ("Message in a Bottle" and "Walking on the Moon").
  11. Joe Jackson: Look Sharp! -- Jackson's career took many stylistic twists and turns, making this another difficult choice. Most of his A&M albums are a treat. But Look Sharp! debuted Jackson to the world (and the charts) and featured consistently good songwriting throughout.
  12. Janet Jackson: Control -- After fizzling with two mediocre albums based on a theme of "Michael's baby sister" (example: "Say You Do" ripped off way too much of "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"), Control brings on board the ace production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and their clean, concise formula energized her performance while also churning out plenty of R&B hits. This album, her third, is what launched her career.
 

Rudy

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FAMILY PORTRAIT - Various A&M Artists - This is one I picked to be a catch-all of sorts. It includes many of the classic-era artists like the Baja Marimba Band, Claudine Longet, Chris Montez, and spreads out to the CTi era with Wes Montgomery, Tamba 4, and Herbie Mann.
I probably could have chosen this over the Roger Nichols album, now that I think of it. Or another of the handful of multi-artist collections of the early years like Music Box.
 

Bobberman

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Here are my picks
1. WHIPPED CREAM AND OTHER DELIGHTS- Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass obviously a very definitive A&M album
2.Lucille Starr The French song I chose this for the fact its a very Early A&M album as they were slowly Expanding their roster of artists along with Herb Alpert Being in the Producer's role
3. THOSE WERE THE DAYS Julius Wechter and the Baja Marimba Band this to me was A definitive album and the group was at its peak
4. THE CARPENTERS CLOSE TO YOU- This One stands Out as A&M took a Gamble on them and After one unsuccessful first album This one Made up or it.
5. CAT STEVENS GREATEST HITS a definitive look at His A&M hits and in my opinion still delightful to listen to
6.STYX THE GRAND ILLUSION a personal favorite and a Rock classic and Defines A&Ms late 70s
contributions to the Rock genre very well
7 HERB ALPERT RISE the album that helped signaled the end of the disco era and Brought Herb a top 10 hit
8 LANI HALL COLLECTIBLES this compilation is a good sample of Lani's work for A&M and similar to the Adult contemporary MOR sound A&M was producing at that time
9 JANET JACKSON CONTROL This made Her a superstar and Jam and Lewis productions were very much everywhere on A&M and others and this style of music continued even after The label was sold
10 JOE JACKSON NIGHT AND DAY not only a hit album but there's a variety of styles it reminded me of some of the older A&M artists styles but yet it was fresh and different the hit single Steppin out has a rhythm that at first reminded me of That mid tempo shuffle style Herb sometimes used in his songs and there's even a little bit of Jazz influence too
11.WES MONTGOMERY A&M CLASSICS CD 1987 definitive of the Jazz portion of A&Ms early days at least I think it was Your mileage may vary.
12 SERGIO MENDES 1983 the beginning of his second A&M tenure although it was less Brazilian music and more Pop like other A&M Artists and others of the era for me it was part of the 80s soundtrack
These are only a few examples of what I think defined A&M
HONORABLE MENTION goes to BILLY CRYSTAL MAHVELOUS as it was one of the very few A&M comedy albums in the discography and it had a huge hit with " You Look Mahvelous" and also one of my favorites
 

GDBY2LV

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1. Whipped Cream- every store that carried records had that front and center for years. Iconic cover, people bought it just for the picture.
2. Mad Dogs & Englishmen-Joe Cocker
3. Tapestry—Carole King
4. Tea For The Tillerman-Cat Stevens
5 A Song For You-Carpenters
6. Frampton Comes Alive-Peter Frampton
7. Breakfast In America-Supertamp
8. Syncronicity-Police
9. Styx-Grand Illusion
10. Control-Janet Jackson
11. Night & Day-Joe Jackson
12. Tuesday Night Music Club-Sheryl Crow
Mostly based on what I had to constantly reorder because they were big sellers for us. A couple are just personal favorites.
 

Rudy

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HONORABLE MENTION goes to BILLY CRYSTAL MAHVELOUS as it was one of the very few A&M comedy albums in the discography and it had a huge hit with " You Look Mahvelous" and also one of my favorites
It was also likely the only successful comedy album the label had. 😁 Crystal was red hot at the time, and his cohorts had deals on other labels or chose to stick to video.
 

GDBY2LV

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The Cheech & Chong albums on the associate label, Ode Records, were all pretty big sellers.
Ethel Merman Disco and Bill Saluga-Dancin’ Johnson get honorable mentions…..🤣
 
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Mike Blakesley

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I can't really argue with the lists presented by Harry and GDBY2LV. Several of the albums noted aren't my personal favorites by those artists, but they're all definitely A&M-defining.

I would probably try to stick something by Joan Armatrading in there somewhere. She was never a huge seller for the label nor a favorite of mine, but she was a definite symbol of A&M's commitment to their artists -- if you didn't hit right away, they would let you keep plugging away until you did. Phil Ochs is another example of this. Neither of them ever hit the "big time" but you can't argue with A&M giving them plenty of shots.
 

Mr Bill

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Wow! Another fun one! I'm enjoying thses new discussion-inspiring threads by JOv2 and now Rudy, our grand maestro!

For this one I again need to think about it... essentially 4 albums from each of three decades is how I'm going to approach it. That's pretty limiting in some ways, yet I'm up for the challenge. Even before others started replying I KNEW Fsmily Portrait was going to be one of my choices for the first decade! Glad to see like minds on that one!

(I also detect the part "however, they cannot be a "part one/part two" to extend your choices to 24" is directed at me, given my (not-so) sly work of adding "bonus tracks" to Rudy's Herb Alpert challenge!)

So I end up with 3 boxed sets of four each, the boxes representing each of the three decades...

1960s
Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass Whipped Cream and Other Delights (obviously)
Various Artists Family Portrait (best sampler showing the diversity of the label)
Various Artists Audio Masters Plus (Vol 1) (issued in 1983, the contents are for the most part representative of the CTi imprint in the 1960s)
Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66 Fool On The Hill

1970s

Carole King Tapestry (repesents the significance of Lou Adler's Ode Records... I'd use a sampler, but I don't believe the was an "Ode-Only" sampler produced)
Supertramp Breakfast In America (obviously)
Peter Frampton Frampton Comes Alive (I may switch this to Styx's Grand Illusion)
Herb Alpert Rise

1980s

Joe Jackson Night & Day
Various Artists I.R.S. Greatest Hits Vols 2 & 3 (best sampler showing the diversity of the imprint)
Police Zenyatta Mondatta (though I prefer the two albums that followed this, ZM was thier breakthru LP)
Amy Grant Unguarded (showed that while "mellow pop" was no longer at the top of the charts, A&M still catered to "that kind" of music)

A&M Japan had a wonderful 10 album series in the late 70s that played on Rudy's one suggested theme of different categories. I only ever managed to find Volume 7 Singer/Song-writer. Other volumes included "Jazz," "Big Screen," "Blockbusters" and several others.

--Mr Bill
 
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Rudy

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Peter Frampton Frampton Comes Alive
That was another difficult album to leave off the list--it was one of those records that everyone into rock seemed to own back in the day. I may do another list in this thread that emphasizes the rock side of A&M.
 

GDBY2LV

Well-Known Member
It was hard to leave off Nazareth- Hair Of The Dog, and Chuck Mangione-Feels So Good too. Procol Harum and Ozark Mountain Daredevils….but 12 was the max. I never understood the popularity of Peter Frampton. Especially a semi expensive double album, 8-track or cassette. We sold 100’s. Great for business, and A&M though. 👍
 

Harry

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Yeah, there was a bunch I left off. I was never a big fan of The Police - I know I'm in the minority there - and Joe Jackson never did anything for me. And Frampton wasn't in my wheelhouse either.

I'd considered the Herb/Hugh album as I think it was a game changer for Herb. And I left off and Captain & Tennille or Rita Coolidge or Chuck Mangione. There just wasn't room for everyone.
 

rockdoctor

Well-Known Member
This is a tough choice but here goes. In no particular preference order:
Claudine Longet-Claudine
Herb Alpert and TJB-Whipped Cream
Sandpipers-Guantanamera
Carole King Tapestry
Sergio Mendes and Brasil'66-Look Around.
Carpenters- Close To You
The Lou Reizner production of Tommy
Captain and Tennille-Love Will Keep Us Together
Pablo Cruise- Worlds Away
Rita Coolidge-Satisfied
Burt Bacharach- Make It Easy On Yourself
Lani Hall- Sun Down Lady

These are some of my favorites and those that I have on CD get played when I am traveling and some of my scouts have found them quite interesting.
 

Mr Bill

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It's fun to read other's selections on this thread. While I selected Frampton Comes Alive, it was solely because of its populaity -- not because I liked. I never much cared for Frampton (or Humble Pie) and the fact that one A&M employee told me at the time it saved the label at a point where all labels were struggling in large part due to the rising cost of plastic, because it is oil-based, and we were in an energy crunch at the time.

The late 70s were good to A&M with Styx and Supertramp delivering winning albums as well as instrumental music maing a nice comeback for them in the form of Chuck Mangione and Herb Alpert (and Frank Mills for another label... probably the last time instrumentals made any impact on the charts).

I felt bad leaving off many of my favorites from all thrree decades. Captain and Tennille, Rita Coolidge, Bacharach, Phil Ochs, Cheech & Chong, Mangione, Carpenters, Lani Hall and many minor players (chart wise) that were major players on my turntable! (RandyAndy, Oingo Boingo, Payola$, Squeeze, Split Enz, Hazel O'Connor, Yellow Magic Orchestra, many on the Horizon imprint...)

--Mr Bill
 

carlitos

Member
1. Herb Alpert. This guys in love with you
2. Herb alpert presentsSergio Menedes y Brasil 66
3.Chris Montes,The more I see you
4.Claudine Longet. Love is blue
5.Baja Marimba Band.As time go by.
6.Phil ochs.Pleasures of the harbour
7.Sandpipers.The spanish album
8.Astrud Gilberto.Cti Album
9.George Benson.The other side of Abbey Road
10,Carole King.Pearls
11.Rita Coolidge.Satisfied
12.Joe Cocker. Mad dogs
 

LPJim

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Looking over the lists I pondered what makes A&M unique as opposed to other labels. For me it's their history of making "stars" out of songwriters who could just as easily remained in the background, cranking out tunes for other artists. My list honors talented writing rather than fame and/or chart postion.

Burt Bacharach REACH OUT
Boyce & Hart TEST PATTERNS
A.C. Jobim WAVE
The Merry-Go-Round LIVE (introduced the talents of Emmitt Rhodes)
Phil Ochs PLEASURES OF THE HARBOR
Steve Young ROCK SALT & NAILS (penned "Seven Bridges Road" for the Eagles to have a hit later)

Flying Burrito Bros. GILDED PALACE OF SIN
Melvin Van Peebles BRER SOUL (pioneered rap far ahead of its time)
Supertramp (self-titled 1st album) --- no hits for a long time, but A&M believed in them and were rewarded
Gayle Caldwell 'SP 4196' -- wrote 'Cycles' for Sinatra hit
Milton Nascimento COURAGE
Carole King WRITER.

That's 12 but it only scratches the surface.


JB
 
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Rudy

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I never understood the popularity of Peter Frampton. Especially a semi expensive double album, 8-track or cassette. We sold 100’s. Great for business, and A&M though. 👍

While I selected Frampton Comes Alive, it was solely because of its populaity -- not because I liked. I never much cared for Frampton (or Humble Pie) and the fact that one A&M employee told me at the time it saved the label at a point where all labels were struggling in large part due to the rising cost of plastic, because it is oil-based, and we were in an energy crunch at the time.

I don't think I have any Frampton in my stash here, but I am of the same mindset. His records are not my cup of tea (but not bad though--he did have a few catchy tunes up his sleeve and I get the appeal), but anyone my age who was into arena rock had a copy of this album--if they had Journey, Kansas, Boston, Eagles, or especially KISS, they'd have this Frampton set.

That is partly why I'm itching to make another list for this thread, but one that emphasizes the rock albums that A&M hosted. The tough part is limiting it to one artist selection in the list, as I could easily double up on Styx and Supertramp records if given a chance.

Another idea for a list? What about those low-key, under-the-radar albums that could only have been released by A&M? Records like Sundown Lady, Primal Roots, Road (Paul Winter Consort), and several others that come to mind also represent the variety A&M offered.

My list honors talented writing rather than fame and/or chart postion.
👍👍 That is an angle I hadn't thought of!
 
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