HISTORY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

A well-funded off-shoot of MGM movie studios which entered the record business in 1946 as a way to sell music from their soundtracks and soon branched into popular music and thanks to their corporate bankroll and mainstream pop aims soon became viewed as a major label, albeit not at the same level as the existing majors (RCA, Decca, Columbia, Capitol and Mercury).

The initial focus was on the movie soundtracks which weren’t altogether suited for the 78 RPM format at the time, requiring too much editing to fit the content on the limited disc space which also compromised fidelity. As a result they began to record pop music as well and soon had a thriving manufacturing operation centered in New Jersey which also served to press records from independent competitors to supplement to their own output.

MGM naturally focused on more high-end music but ironically achieved their greatest success early on by signing up and coming country artist, Hank Williams, who dominated that field. Their rock output was rather spotty for years, briefly highlighted in the 1950’s by Conway Twitty before he became a country artist, but by the 1960’s they’d acquired a fairly decent roster of talent which included The Animals, Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs, Lou Christie, The Royalettes and Herman’s Hermits, though their acquisition of Roy Orbison after his run of hits at Monument was a disappointment as his commercial fortunes took an immediate downturn, though he still charted regularly.

As typical of their mainstream aspirations from the start, they tended to have their best success with a series of young pop acts who they merely HOPED would be considered rock enough to give them cachet in that area, such as Connie Francis in the 1950’s, The Cowsills in the 1960’s and The Osmonds in the 1970’s. It didn’t work and by the 1970’s they had become only a minor player in rock, their biggest stars being (briefly) Eric Burdon & War and Gloria Gaynor.

They achieved longer lasting impact with labels they consequently bought or distributed, such as Verve and Kama Sutra, whose rock artists were few in number but more impactful than most who recorded for MGM.
 
 
MGM RECORDS REVIEWED TO DATE ON SPONTANEOUS LUNACY:
 
 
BIG JOE TURNER: Mardi Gras Boogie (3) (MGM 10274; September, 1948)
BIG JOE TURNER: Messin’ Around (4) (MGM 10321; November, 1948)
BIG JOE TURNER: So Many Women Blues (3) (MGM 10321; November, 1948)
BIG JOE TURNER: I Don’t Dig It (version 2) (3) (MGM 10397; April, 1949)
BIG JOE TURNER: Married Woman Blues (4) (MGM 10492; July, 1949)
BIG JOE TURNER: Boogie Woogie Baby (3) (MGM 10492; July, 1949)