'Loss Leaders' Series & PRO

By swagski
updated over 10 years ago

As the Warner label was undergoing its metamorphosis toward corporate domination, there was a point in time in which the autonomous and innovative directions of Mo Austin and Joe Smith merged. One such concept was the "Loss Leaders" mail-order compilations, begun in 1969, which eventually trailed off as new sales strategies in the music market swamped its viability.

It is interesting to note that Frank Zappa & Herb Cohen's independent labels of Straight and Bizarre Records gained 2 "Zapped" releases in this series to themselves. Many of the liner notes were written by Barry Hansen. A number of "Loss Leader" releases were auto-coupled. Some of this mail-order stock did find its way into the retail market outside of the US & Canada.

Note: The series is prefixed PRO (for PROmotion). Other releases of a promotional nature (NOT "Loss Leaders") had this prefix. I have added them for cat# continuity.

Listed in order of release.
(Ignore left-hand numbering - the numbering is shown in comment)
The list is, of course, reliant on the database and relies on my transcribing the bumph when and as I find it. PM me with info if you feel inclined.

From a typical "Loss Leader" liner;

The best, Biggest bargains on record! The Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders.

You can't buy these albums in a store; they are available only by mail, for the ridiculously low price of $2 for the doubles, $1 for "Zapped".

We can get away with that low price because these celebrated artists and this benevolent record company have all agreed not to make a profit on this venture. We (and they) feel it's more important that these samples of musical joy be heard.

If you're as suspicious of big record companies as we feel you have every right to to be, we avert your qualms with the following High Truths:
• This is new stuff, NOT old tracks dredged out of our Dead Dogs files. If our Accounting Department were running this company, they'd charge you $9.96 for each double album. But they're not. Yet.
• We are not 100 per cent benevolent. It's our fervent hope that you, dear consumer, will be encouraged to pick up more of what you hear on these special albums at regular retail prices.
• That you haven't heard much of this material we hold obvious. Over 8,000 new albums glut the market (and airwaves) each year. Some of our Best Stuff has to get overlooked. Or underheard. Underbought. Thus, we're trying to get right to you Phonograph Lovers, bypassing the middlemen.
• Each album is divinely packaged, having been designed at no little expense by our latently talented Art Department.
The WORDS OF WARNING: Warner / Reprise put out all kinds of albums, but only one kind of inner sleeve (this one). For those of you who have serious reservations about Youth, Artistic License, and Hard Rock, we recommend you stick to our "Schlagers!" epic. We suggest this mostly because we hate getting nasty letters.

As we mentioned earlier, these albums are not available in any store. If you want them (indeed, how can you resist?) you have to fill in the coupon and send it off, with your loot, to Loss Leaders, Room 215, Warner / Reprise Records, Burbank, Calif. 91505.

(The coupon appears at the top of the liner, along with a pictorial representation of albums on offer at the foot - with artists & tracks listed. The reverse of liner shows 2 lists; Artists on Warner Bros. and Artists on Reprise).

The coupon text also says;
SMALL PRINT DEPT: Make checks payable to Warner Bros. Records. Allow about six weeks for the clowns in our mail room and U.S. Postal People to get back to you. Offer only good in U.S. & Canada, because Customs is such a pain.

  1. 27 For Sale from $6.19

    1st in the series
    Warner Bros. PRO 331 (1969). With 4-page insert.

    "What we have here, to be out front about it, are some of our favorite records by 23 of the artists currently recording for Warner Bros.-Seven Arts and Reprise Records. We have put this double album together not only for our own enjoyment — since it includes worthy singles that never made it commercially as well as tracks from current albums — but hopefully to win new friends for some very creative people.

    The Sinatras, the Dean Martins, the Petula Clarks have their own songbooks. This one is for those of you who may never have heard of Van Morrison but remember "Brown Eyed Girl". Who are interested to know that Jethro Tull and Pentangle, The are both outselling Sammy Davis Jr. Who dig The Mothers of Invention and are wondering what Frank Zappa is up to now."

  2. 21 For Sale from $2.85

    2nd in the series
    Warner Bros. PRO 336 (1969). With 4-page insert.
    (Sub-titled "Son Of Songbook")

    Awaiting> October 10, 1969
    Frank Zappa, Fleetwood Mac & The Kinks
    3rd in the series (Possibly? WTBC)
    PRO 351 (1969)

  3. 43 For Sale from $2.00

    4th in the series
    Warner Bros. PRO 358 (1970). 2xLP With 4-page insert. Notes by Richard Goldstein.

  4. 34 For Sale from $2.00

    5th in the series
    Warner Bros. PRO 359 (1970). 2xLP With 4-page insert.

  5. 40 For Sale from $4.00

    6th in the series
    PRO 368 Warner. Bros (1970). (Single LP) Notes by John Mendelsohn
    (Different track content to 1st issue)

  6. 20 For Sale from $3.00

    7th in the series
    PRO 368 Bizarre (1970). (Single LP) Notes by John Mendelsohn

  7. 23 For Sale from $3.51

    8th in the series
    PRO 423 (1970). 3xLP

  8. 25 For Sale from $2.00

    9th in the series
    PRO 443 (1971). (Single LP)

    Various Artists - The Warner/Reprise Radio Show
    PRO 463 (1971). (Single LP)
    Various Artists - The Warner/Reprise Radio Show II
    PRO 473 (1971). (Single LP)
    Awaiting> Hot Platters
    12th in the series
    PRO 474 (1971). 2xLP
    Sides titled:
    1. Rock Salad
    2. Stout-Hearted Stew
    3. Kin Casserole
    4. Blue Plate Special
    A mail-order promo example on a singles sleeve
    for this release: Hot Platters
    Awaiting:> Various Artists - Together
    13th in the series
    PRO 486 (1971). (Single LP)

  9. 28 For Sale from $1.11

    14th in the series
    PRO 496 (1971). (Single Sampler LP)
    A "JBL" product promotion for loudspeakers
    Various Artists - Warner/Reprise Display Case, Volume 2
    PRO 508 (1971). (2xLP)
    Various Artists - KYA 1260 Great Rip-Off Album
    PRO 509 (1971).

  10. 2 For Sale from $4.99

    17th in the series
    PRO 512 (1972) 2xLP Notes by Barry Hansen.

    Awaiting> Various Artists - Middle Of The Road
    18th in the series
    PRO 525 (1972) 2xLP 4-page insert. Notes by Barry Hansen
    Green Warner Bros. label.
    Side 1 - Friendly Freeways
    Side 2 - Sensuous Skyways
    Side 3 - Pensive Pathways
    Side 4 - Homeward Highways

  11. 19 For Sale from $3.50

    19th in the series
    PRO 529 (1972) 2xLP

    20th in the series
    Various Artists - Warner Brothers Display Case 7
    PRO 530 (1972) 2xLP

  12. 7 For Sale from $7.99

    21st in the series
    PRO 532 (1972) 2xLP
    Various Artists - Warner Brothers Display Case 8
    Various Artists - Voter Registration Spots
    PRO 534 (1972)
    Various Artists - Warner Brothers Display Case 9
    PRO 538 (1972) 2xLP
    Various Artists - Days Of Wine And Vinyl
    24th in the series
    PRO 540 (1972) 2xLP Notes by Barry Hansen.
    Various Artists - Warner Brothers Display Case 10
    PRO 542 (1973) 3xLP Boxed set
    Various Artists - Burbank's Greatest Hits
    PRO 548 (1973) 3xLP
    Various Artists - Hit Sounds Of Merrie Melodies
    PRO 550 (1973) 2xLP Set
    (This was not a Mail-order offer, but sold through
    in-store & retail promotion)

  13. 10 For Sale from $4.20

    28th in the series
    PRO 569 (1973) 2xLP set with 4-page insert.
    Notes by Barry Hansen

  14. 14 For Sale from $9.99

    Pick Of The Crop

    PRO 588 Capricorn Label 2xLP

  15. 26 For Sale from $2.94

    PRO 591 2xLP Notes by Barry Hansen

  16. 25 For Sale from $3.74

    PRO 596 2xLP Notes by Barry Hansen
    Lenny Bruce - The Law, Language And Lenny Bruce
    PRO 598 (Warner-Spector) EP

  17. 8 For Sale from $7.95

    PRO 604 (1975) 2xLP

    Various Artists - Peaches, Volume 2
    PRO 605 (1975) 2xLP

    Various Artists - I Didn't Know They Still Made Records Like This
    PRO 608 (1975) 2xLP
    Various Artists - The Works

    PRO 610 (1975) 2xLP Notes by Barry Hansen
    1st issues with Palm Tree labels
    2nd issues with grey labels
    Various Artists - The Force

    PRO 611 (1975) 2xLP
    (As PRO 596, but no notes)
    1st issues with Palm Tree labels
    2nd issues with grey labels

    Calhoun - Soul Man / Soul Man Pt2
    PRO 627 (Warner-Spector)(1976) 12"
    Various Artists - Supergroup

    PRO 630 (1976) 2xLP
    Various Artists - The People's Record

    PRO 645 (1976) 2xLP Notes by Barry Hansen
    Various Artists - Cook Book

    PRO 660 (1977) 2xLP
    Various Artists - Limo

    PRO 691 (1977) 2xLP Notes by Barry Hansen
    Various Artists - Collectus Interruptus: 26 New & Astounding Exposés of Erotic Earfuls

    PRO A 726 (1978) 2xLP Notes by 'Steven X. Rea'.
    Grey labels

    The Last Waltz Promo - The Band, Bob Dylan & Others
    PRO A 737 (1978)
    ("Last Waltz" album cuts)

    Set The World On Fire
    PRO A 738 (Bearsville)(1978)
    (Picture disc promo for label)

    Various Artists - Pumping Vinyl
    PRO A 773 (1979) 2xLP Notes by Barry Hansen.

    Various Artists - Warner Brothers 20th Anniversary Album In Sound & Picture
    PRO A 775 (1978) 6xLP
    (Limited issue of 3,000)
    Various Artists - A La Carte

    PRO A 794 (1979) 2xLP
    (Compiled by 'Sequins Ink', Nina Franklin, Linda York, Ellen Pelissero)

  18. 29 For Sale from $1.33

    PRO A 796 (1979) 2xLP
    Grey labels
    Various Artists - Eclipse

    PRO A 828 (1980) 2xLP Notes by Jim Bickhart.

    Sly & The Family Stone - Remember Who You Are
    PRO A 830 (1979)
    Various Artists - Gold Medal Stamper

    PRO A 841 (1980) 2xLP

  19. 25 For Sale from $8.10

    (The last of the 'Loss Leaders")
    PRO 857 (1980) 2xLP
    The following promos then released;

    Various Artists - Roadie
    PRO A 861 (1980) Soundtrack, promotion only.
    Various Artists - Roadie
    PRO A 885 (1980) Soundtrack, promotion only.
    Various Artists - US Marine Corps b/w Toys For Tots
    PRO A 981 (1980) 7" single.
    Little Feat - Hoy-Hoy!
    PRO A 984 (1981)
    Various Artists - Appetizers
    PRO A 992 (1981)
    Various Artists - First Decade
    WEA 10 (1981) 3xLP
    Celebrating the first 10 years of Warner-Elecktra-Asylum.
    (Limited to 1,000).
    Various Artists - Dance Rhythm 'N' Rock New Music Seminar Mixer
    PRO A 2061 (1983)
    Various Artists - If the Shoe Fits
    PRO A 2093 (1983)
    Various Artists - The New Tradition Is the Winning Tradition
    PRO A 2744 (1987) Warner/Reprise/Curb
    Various Artists - Yulesville
    PRO A 2896 (1988) Red vinyl.
    Various Artists - Winter Warnerland
    PRO A 3328 (1988) 2xLP (1 red & 1 green vinyl)
    Paul Simon Interview & "Graceland"
    WBMS 140 (1986) 2xLP