Saturday, September 27, 2008
Reprise was formed in 1960 by Frank Sinatra in order to allow more artistic freedom for his own recordings. He had earlier been with Capitol Records, but was upset when Capitol issued an album, Come Fly with Me, whose cover had a picture of him in front of an airplane with a Trans-World Airlines (TWA) logo. He believed Capitol and TWA were profiting together from his image, and left him out.
Reprise's artists included Sinatra's longtime friend Dean Martin, who was a singer and comedian, with a popular television show. Sinatra's daughter,Nancy Sinatra, became a recording artist and singer, and signed with her father's label. (His advice to her, whoever she signed with, was to "Own your own masters", and she did that. Years later, her catalog was valuable, and she earned more money from her records than if she was not their owner.) Reprise also released records by Jimi Hendrix, and later Neil Young.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
London arose from the split in ownership between the British branch of Decca Records and that same company's USA branch; the American London label released British Decca records in the USA, since it could not use the "Decca" name there. They were noted for their classical albums made in then state-of-the-art stereophonic sound. Such artists as Georg Solti, Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti made many, if not all, of their recordings for the company.
The London name was also used by British Decca in the UK market to release American labels which British Decca licensed, such as Imperial, Chess, Dot, Atlantic, Specialty and Sun, as well as the first few UK releases from Motown. In the sixties more licensing deals were made with Big Top, Monument, Parrot, Philles and Hi. (An unusual feature was the letter code in the numbering system: see Catalog numbering systems for single records.) On Radio Luxembourg, the label was known as "London American".
In America , the label was best known as the American imprint of the pre-1971 recordings of The Rolling Stones ( now owned by ABKCO ) . The label also originally issued some early LPs and singles by Texas based band ZZ Top. ( That catalog went to Warner Brothers in the 1980s )
In the late seventies London signed deals with the legendary Bomp! Records and with Big Sound in Connecticut. This changed the label in the eyes of many from a backwater into something a little more "edgy" compared to the pedestrian contemporary releases from parent company Decca.
After British Decca was acquired by PolyGram in 1979, London followed a more independent course with subsidiary labels as Slash, Pete Tong's Essential Records and FFRR.
Universal Music Group (the owner of American Decca) acquired PolyGram in 1998; however, by this time, London Records had become a semi-independent label within the PolyGram group operated by Roger Ames. When Ames moved to the Warner Music Group, he "took" the label with him, and so London's recent back catalogue was acquired by Warner, which licensed the London name from Decca (which still owns the trade mark and pre-PolyGram back catalogue). The name is still used, mainly for UK-based artists, and for ex-Factory Records artists. Notable artists published by the current incarnation of London, London Records 90, include New Order, Happy Mondays, and Shakespear's Sister.
After PolyGram took over British Decca, classical music albums recorded by British Decca continued to be released on the London label in the U.S., with a logo similar to the Decca classical label logo, until American Decca owner Universal Music bought British Decca owner PolyGram in 1998, after which they were all reissued on the original British Decca label in the U.S.
The London pop music catalogue owned by Universal Music is managed by Polydor Records.
Island Records was founded in Jamaica in 1959 by Chris Blackwell and Graeme Goodall, taking its name from the 1955 Alec Waugh novel, subsequent film and Harry Belafonte hit song 'Island in the Sun'.
The company relocated to the UK in May 1962. Until Blackwell sold the label to PolyGram in 1989, Island was the largest indie record label in history.
In the mid-1970s, Island operated its own record pressing plant, but had problems with quality control; many records were defective and had to be returned.
Island (UK) contracted EMI to manufacture and distribute their works, from 1972-1977, when higher vinyl prices forced Island to a lower quality manufacturer. EMI regained the duty in 1987.
The Electric and Musical Industries Ltd formed in March 1931 from the merger of the UK Columbia Graphophone Company and the Gramophone Company, famous at the time for its record label "His Master's Voice".
From its beginning, the company was involved in both the manufacture of recording and playback equipment and the provision of music to play on its machines.
EMI released its first LPs in 1952 and its first stereophonic recordings in 1955 (first on reel-to-reel tape and then LPs, beginning in 1958).
In 1957, to replace the loss of its long-established licensing arrangements with RCA Victor and Columbia Records (Columbia USA cut its ties with EMI in 1951), EMI entered the American market by acquiring 96% of the stock of Capitol Records.
From 1960 to 1995 their headquarters, "EMI House," was at 20 Manchester Square. The stairwell is on the cover of the Beatles' "Please Please Me" album.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
MCA entered the recorded music business in 1962 with the purchase of the New York-based US Decca Records branch (established in 1934), including Coral Records and Brunswick Records. As American Decca owned Universal Pictures, MCA assumed full ownership of Universal and made it into the top film studio in town, producing hit after hit. In 1966, MCA formed Uni Records and in 1967 purchased Kapp Records.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Capitol Records is a major United States-based record label owned by EMI and located in Hollywood, California and New York City as part of Capitol Music Group. Capitol's parent EMI is one of the "big four" music companies, the others being Universal Music, Sony BMG and Warner Music. Its former headquarters building, the Capitol Tower, is a major landmark near the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Among the more famous artists who have recorded for Capitol Records are Richard Marx, Tina Turner, Nat King Cole, Megadeth, Peggy Lee, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, Kylie Minogue, the Beastie Boys, Coldplay, Oasis and Radiohead.