Monday, May 30, 2005
Thumbs Up? The Pop Culture Idiot Celebrates Pickwick Records
Yeah, Elvis didn't excatly look like that during his movie era, did he? Liars...
You see the "P"? The Pickwick label means quality...
For its utter worthlessness and ubiquity, I celebrate Pickwick Records. This was always a budget label. But I’ve got to hand it to them that fact didn’t impede the label from being more gauche, stingy and irrelevant than it already was.
Who can forget how Pickwick inserted itself into the whatever of popular music. By a certain point it obtained the tapes of everyone from the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, classic Motown and pretty much a bit of all of the labels. Of course Pickwick couldn’t do it alone. The aforementioned labels had to lease the masters regardless of what Pickwick was known to do with them and that’s exactly what they did. Certainly many remember the atrocities Pickwick committed to their favorite songs and albums, but Pickwick isn’t applauded for its maverick spirit. And for that fact, I’ll do the celebrating. I love Pickwick Records.
This label, with its far reaching path of destruction is probably most noted for the way it ruined the perfectly good efforts it got hold of for some reason or another. The label often shaved off tracks in an “executive” decision so an album like the Jackson 5’s Maybe Tomorrow would come up a bit short in the songs department. In other atrocities, Pickwick always replaced the cover art of the album with inferior graphics too. Want dubious sound? You’ve got it, also Pickwick was known to often goose up the masters for no apparent reason. For that we say, job well done.
Wrecking the discographies of notable acts wasn’t the labels only pastime. Pickwick also had a truckload of junk albums from acts “sounding” like popular acts of the day. You know, stuff like the Songs of James Taylor by the Fire and Rain Band. Oddly enough that wasn’t a title, but you get the idea.
For all of those music fans who want to see how Pickwick is doing now? It’s too late. Pickwick went out of business by the early 80’s. None of their BS made it to the digital age and isn’t that great news?
First Hand Knowledge of Pickwick’s Fiendish Handiwork:
Jimi Hendrix-Jimi- Remember when finding some tape or something from Hendrix was all the rage? This 1975 release takes the cake. Certainly many labels, including Reprise, Capitol as well as many little labels weren’t above raiding the vaults. Often some good music was found there. Not on this trip. This album is full of mid 60’s doggerel playing, grunts and “spontaneous” laughs ‘n stuff. Oh yeah, this isn’t Jimi Hendrix.
The Jackson 5-Stand/Maybe Tomorow-Well this makes sense, doesn’t it. Get a group that’s slightly fading from the charts, sign a contract with a label like Pickwick, flood the market with inferior product and you’re off to the races. Maybe Tomorrow is the original release with omitted tracks. Stand? Well I’m not sure what it is, looks to be a mix of things with the songs from Goin’ Back to Indiana taking precedent. Foul. By 1974 Motown sent a lot of its product down Pickwick lane for no apparent reason. A few years later Motown also hit the budget line with its own crappy label Natural Resources. It followed the cheap label paradigm of suspicious masters, poor graphic art and a low, low price. The cover of Pickwick’s version of Maybe Tomorrow ended up being the cover of the 2005 Universal set the Jackson 5 Gold. Still doesn’t look that great.
Pickwick/RCA/Camden/Elvis- Like Big E didn’t have enough trouble. During the time Presley was trying to reestablish the non corny portion of his recording career, Pickwick/RCA/ Camden made sure that job was more difficult than it had to be. Above is one of the many, many gems and shoddy efforts Pickwick offered in the name of Elvis. As for Elvis, his work seemed to be more available on 8 track in comparison to vinyl. Wow, isn’t that reassuring…