For day three of Pure Pop Radio’s exclusive countdown to Record Store Day 2015, I thought it would be fun to revisit the freedom I experienced in my late teens, driving around Long Island, visiting various secondhand record stores and snagging treasures beyond my wildest dreams.
(Click on the image to enlarge)
Right from the start of my record collecting days, I was a completist, or at least I tried very hard to be! I had seen the advertisements for Warner Brothers’ Loss Leaders, a series of one- and two-record sets (and even one three-record set) that compiled tracks from the company’s releases and rarities from both new and established WB artists (the releases were plugged on the company’s records’ inner sleeves). The artwork for the sleeves was colorful and exciting to look at, and the liner notes were full of great information and (sometimes) more than a smidge of attitude. Plus, the cost for the two-disc goodies was a measly two bucks (until the end of the series). How could you go wrong?
I drove my car everywhere I could in the hopes of getting as many, or all, of the available Loss Leaders as possible. Classics such as the first Leader, The 1969 Warner Reprise Songbook, and 1970’s soft-sounding compilation Schlagers!, which featured Trini Lopez, Frank Sinatra and the San Sebastian Strings, as well as Randy Newman, Petula Clark and Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, were must-haves. Until I left Long Island after graduating college in 1977 and moved to Delaware to start my radio career, I motored up and down the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway and other highways and byways in search of as many Leaders as I could find, all available for as little as 50 cents apiece.
The Loss Leaders weren’t difficult to find, but it did take a lot of driving and wearing out of shoe leather to collect them. What I consider the treasure of the entire series didn’t become the crown of my collection until I moved to Brooklyn, New York in the 1980s. Walking toward Manhattan Beach one sunny day, my wife and I found a little record store that proved to be a goldmine of treasures. There, I found the only three-record set in the Leaders series, Looney Tunes Merrie Melodies, a box that featured on its cover a takeoff on the Warner Brothers cartoon logo, with Elmer Fudd center stage, and presented artists such as James Taylor, Harpers Bizarre (“If We Ever Needed the Lord Before”) and Van Dyke Parks (“On the Rolling Sea When Jesus Speaks to Me”). Showing off the Leaders’ fun and edgy attitude, one of the faux commercials in the set concludes with the tag line, “Warner Brothers Records: The shiny black chips you eat with your ears.”
Today, with a few holes still in my Leaders collection, I continue my pursuit of owning every entry in the series. And now, here in 2015, I am very, very close!
Read a quite detailed fun and informative history of the Warner Brothers Loss Leaders series by clicking here. Another detailed series history, played out in a survey of every release, two at a time, can be experienced by clicking here. More fun you can not have!
All record collectors can relate to the feeling you get when you’re this close to putting your hands on a particular platter to complete part of your collection. It’s quite exhilarating (even after all these years!)!
– Alan Haber
Trax on Wax, in Catonsville, Maryland, is the official record store of Pure Pop Radio. When in the Baltimore area, we recommend that you make Trax on Wax your number one vinyl destination. Visit Trax on Wax’s website by clicking here.