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Why some A&M albums are so rare

Michael Hagerty

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Flipping through some back issues of Billboard at the amazing worldradiohistory.com site (which has back issues), and found a blurb from a 1972 A&M distributors meeting, in which Jerry Moss was decrying the practice of cut-outs (unsold inventory being sold to wholesalers who then would sell the album far below list price---often as low as 99 cents). Jerry's point was that you're far less likely to spend $5.98 for a new album if you know you can get overstock in a year for a buck or two.

Then, Jerry said A&M's practice was to buy back overstock (to the tune of $400,000 of unsold inventory in 1971) and destroy the albums.

If I had known that before, I'd forgotten it---and I don't know how long that was A&M's practice (I found a lot of the 1969 A&M/CTi product in cutout bins in 1970), but it explains why a lot of the lesser-selling LPs are difficult to find---because the overstock never made it into homes at discount prices.
 

Rudy

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It's too bad they didn't store those for five or more years, then release them as cut-outs. That also explains why I've seen so few used copies of A&M cutouts in the bins.

I remember seeing some very popular albums (on Atlantic) a year or two after they peaked on the charts (one of them had one of Atlantic's biggest hit singles on it--6 weeks at #1, and they were still turning out hits when these records went to cut-out). One was 99 cents, the other $1.99. Yes, I bought both eventually.
 

Steve Sidoruk

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The real irony is that back in the day, we never gave any thought about at some point, these albums would cease to exist and not be replaceable. Not all made it to CD or some other digital source. That A&M Records would cease to exist. And, that the keeper of the master tapes would be so lax as to allow them to be destroyed in a fire! I have multiple copies of many A&M albums and singles and I would think long and hard about giving any of them up, given the above circumstances.
 

Bobberman

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As the old saying goes "Ideas Have Consequences " as we have seen over the Last 50 plus knowing now what we didn't know previously which is why we been told "Hold on to what you have".
 

Michael Hagerty

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It's too bad they didn't store those for five or more years, then release them as cut-outs.
Jerry was very bottom-line oriented. I remember reading somewhere over the decades that the mother discs for any album that was not in print were also destroyed to save storage costs. There's nothing in this article about it, but I'm guessing the vinyl, cardboard and paper from the albums A&M bought back and destroyed were probably sold to recyclers.

In fact, now I wonder if the inner sleeves printed on recycled paper in the very early 70s were recycled from previous A&M albums...
 

LPJim

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Recycling was catching on in the early '70s to the extent vinyl as well as paper got reused. It was not always the most practical idea. I recall having to replace a record that skipped even though I bought it factory sealed. White fllecks of paper were readily visable on a close inspection of the disc. Apparently no one took time to separate them from the vinyl in the repressing process. What a mess.

jB
 

Michael Hagerty

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Recycling was catching on in the early '70s to the extent vinyl as well as paper got reused. It was not always the most practical idea. I recall having to replace a record that skipped even though I bought it factory sealed. White fllecks of paper were readily visable on a close inspection of the disc. Apparently no one took time to separate them from the vinyl in the repressing process. What a mess.

jB
Yep. In my experience, MCA was the worst offender. Took six copies of Elton John’s CAPTAIN FANTASTIC to get one that played properly.
 

Rudy

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Some of the Motown records from the early 80s were equally bad. I never looked closely enough to see if anything was embedded in the vinyl, but I'm pretty sure they used MCA to press the records. Some records, I went through multiple copies to get one that was playable.

The paper bits are probably from the labels.
 

GDB2LV

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and most every over pressed record they made was in the cut out section at Thrifty Drug Store from $1.99-3.99. They had tons of them. Especially the various artists collections Late 60’s to late 70’s.
 

Rudy

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and most every over pressed record they made was in the cut out section at Thrifty Drug Store from $1.99-3.99. They had tons of them. Especially the various artists collections Late 60’s to late 70’s.
Motown used to have these 3-LP Anthology sets. I only purchased one of them (the Stevie Wonder) and for being three LPs, it was really cheap. I bought most of my Stevie as early 80s reissues, along with other early to mid 80s releases on Motown and Tamla, and they were always questionable in quality. The promo pressings of 12" singles often weren't too bad though. They were one label I was relieved to see come out on CD--some of their earliest collection series sound excellent to this day.
 

GDB2LV

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Yes! Every major artist or group had one. Even The Marveletts and Martha and Vandellas with only a couple of actual hits still had one. They were all 3 record sets, each cover was a different color from the other artist or group. The best ones were Marin Gaye, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Four Tops and The Temptations. I think they were pressed before Stevie Wonder did Talking Book, and his new synth sound. They were about $10-11 new. At least that’s what we sold them for.
 

AM Matt

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Phil Collins 1981 album "Face Value" on Atlantic (which I got for my birthday on May 5, 1981 when I just turned 16 years old) had scratches in the song "In The Air Tonight" so my older brother had to return the album not once or twice but 3 times!!!
 

AM Matt

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The Head East self titled A&M 1978 album (arrow sign) (which has the song "Since You Been Gone") also had scratches which I bought back in August of 1984!!
 

Rudy

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The Stevie Anthology was perfect for me--it covered enough of everything prior to Music Of My Mind so I wasn't missing out on anything. The only album prior to that was the debut, 12 Year Old Genius. I'm now thinking I didn't buy it as a cut-out, but it was still inexpensive for a 3-LP set.
 

Michael Hagerty

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Continuing to prowl through the back issues of Billboard--by 1973, the Arab oil embargo had resulted in a shortage of PVC for vinyl. There are several stories about the labels experimenting with extenders (compounds that would allow them to get more vinyl from less petroleum) and, in the December 15, 1973 issue, a front page story on the first 45s made from recycled vinyl and the quality issues that were apparent from the start.

https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-Billboard/70s/1973/Billboard 1973-12-15.pdf
 

LPJim

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Finally recalled the LP containing white flecks of recycled labels and vinyl. It was the 1971 FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS album on A&M (SP 4295). It was a used copy scored for a buck, which turned out to be tuition to the school of experience.

JB
 

Rudy

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The experience in the 70s is probably what pushed A&M to go for the translucent vinyl of the 80s in order to get more "audiophile".
Virgin vinyl was all the rage later in the 70s and into the 80s. Mobile Fidelity got its start as an audiophile label by using the blend of premium vinyl that JVC used in Japan (which I'm thinking might have been used to press quad discs). And enough buyers were disgusted enough with the quality of poor recycled vinyl that it became a hit. KC600 (which A&M used) was one of a handful of formulas out there. The A&M Audiophile series was pressed alongside the Mobile Fidelity LPs at JVC in Japan, so it has the brown hue. KC600 was the purplish-blue. Quiex...no idea what color that one was. Some labels have virgin vinyl that wasn't translucent. It isn't so much the translucency that makes the vinyl quieter though, but it's a great way to see what you own. Some labels like Super Disk used the good vinyl but it was solid black. All of this no doubt attributed to the cheapening of the LP via recycled vinyl.
 

DAN BOLTON

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Continuing to prowl through the back issues of Billboard--by 1973, the Arab oil embargo had resulted in a shortage of PVC for vinyl. There are several stories about the labels experimenting with extenders (compounds that would allow them to get more vinyl from less petroleum) and, in the December 15, 1973 issue, a front page story on the first 45s made from recycled vinyl and the quality issues that were apparent from the start.

https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-Billboard/70s/1973/Billboard 1973-12-15.pdf
I remember those days very vividly...a lot of gray singles crossed our way at my college radio station. Indeed, they were good for about a dozen plays, then they were junk. We carted them as soon as we got them...we had to.
 

Michael Hagerty

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I remember those days very vividly...a lot of gray singles crossed our way at my college radio station. Indeed, they were good for about a dozen plays, then they were junk. We carted them as soon as we got them...we had to.
That was the beginning for a lot of stations of going all-cart with their music, Dan.

I was fortunate enough to do a morning show 20-plus years ago with Charlie Van Dyke (KLIF, CKLW, KFRC, KGB, KHJ, KRTH and the voice of God for at least one TV station in seemingly every market in America). He was Program Director at KHJ during this bad vinyl crisis and he said that they took a very simple stand with the record labels---if the vinyl is garbage, it's not getting on our air.

Being in Hollywood, Charlie says quite often within an hour of a complaint call to a label, a messenger would arrive with a pristine copy on reel-to-reel tape for dubbing to cart.
 

Michael Hagerty

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On a consumer level, there's no question the vinyl quality issues pushed a lot of people to tape. Ironic, since 8-Tracks were pretty much always crap and cassettes weren't awesome in the early-mid-70s, either---but at least they didn't skip.

It seemed a lot longer at the time, but it really only was 8 or 9 years from crap vinyl to the first CDs.
 

Bobberman

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On a consumer level, there's no question the vinyl quality issues pushed a lot of people to tape. Ironic, since 8-Tracks were pretty much always crap and cassettes weren't awesome in the early-mid-70s, either---but at least they didn't skip.

It seemed a lot longer at the time, but it really only was 8 or 9 years from crap vinyl to the first CDs.
I remember some of the crap vinyl which makes me glad I was very selective I thought the CDs at the time were were the best solution and they were for a long time
 

RichardWarner

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Yes, I remember Jerry Moss's comments about destroying cut-outs. For a brief time around 1970, I remember a few A&M titles like Crystal Illusions being available on Pickwick. I was a teenager but thought — uh-oh — A&M is having money troubles.
 
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