Musical Archaeology part 12 – Samplers

From our anonymous musical correspondent, who does not want to admit they remember the 60s....

Who remembers ‘The Sampler’ – the way in the 60s and 70s for a student to buy affordable and great music from mega artists, established artists and new acts?

If you couldn’t afford £1.80 for an album by your favourite or new artist (which would probably have at least one or two B sides and ‘fillers’) then the ‘Sampler’ was the vinyl for you. Long before the ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ series in the 1980 (and I do have the first one without a number!) you might by a sampler which was a compilation album generally offered at a reduced price (often 75p or 99p) to showcase a selection of artists signed to a particular record label.

The format became popular in the late 1960s as record labels sought to promote artists whose work was primarily available in album rather than single format, and therefore had little opportunity to gain exposure through singles-dominated radio airplay. Most samplers showcased already-released material so that as well as sampling the artist they sampled the albums from which the tracks were drawn.

CBS’s The Rock Machine Turns You On, or Liberty Records' Gutbucket, and Island Records' You Can All Join In were the first samplers issued in the UK and Europe at a discount price, setting the standard for those to follow. Many of the most important and innovative folk and rock artists of the time featured on the samplers of their respective record labels, particularly in the UK, and as a result their work reached an audience which would have otherwise been inaccessible. Amongst the most well regarded, and subsequently collectable, were those from Island Records, CBS, Decca Records, Liberty Records, Vertigo Records and Harvest Records. By the end of the 1970s, however, the format became less relevant.

My personal favourites were The Age of Atlantic, The New Age of Atlantic, Fill Your Head with Rock (which, inter alia, introduced me to Janis Joplin and the marvellous Johnny Winter –see You Tube clip) and Nice Enough to Eat.

Just look at what less than a quid would buy you – on beautiful vinyl!









1. Comin' Home - Delaney & Bonnie
2. Tonight - MC5
3. Black Hearted Woman - Allman Brothers Band
4. Survival - Yes
5. I'm a Good Woman - Cold Blood
6. Whole Lotta Love - Led Zeppelin
7. Termination - Iron Butterfly
8. The Last Time - Dada
9. Communication Breakdown - Led Zeppelin
10. Wash, Mama, Wash - Dr John
11. Need Love - Vanilla Fudge
12. Broken Arrow - Buffalo Springfield

Or this -

1. Cajun Woman - Fairport Convention
2. At The Crossroads - Mott The Hoople
3. Better by You, Better Than Me - Spooky Tooth
4. We Used To Know - Jethro Tull
5. Woman - Free
6. I Keep Singing That Same Old Song - Heavy Jelly
7. Sing Me A Song That I Know - Blodwyn Pig
8. Forty Thousand Headmen - Traffic
9. Time Has Told Me - Nick Drake
10. 21st Century Schizoid Man - King Crimson
11. Gungamai - Quintessence
12. Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal - DR. Strangely Strange











..and you’ve got to hear the great Johnny Winter

Any of you Spend Matters Music Geeks have similar reminiscences?


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Voices (2)

  1. The Guitar Man:

    ‘B and T’ – now you’re talking!

  2. bitter and twisted:

    No, too young, but you must buy the Nuggets Box Set

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