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 the genre’s first fifteen years, their most notable artist during that stretch being Ivory Joe Hunter who was with them for two years in between his more historically well-known stops at King and Atlantic, even though it was with MGM where he firmly established his rock credentials at the dawn of the 1950’s. But strangely that success with some major rock hits didn’t lead to the company actively seeking out more of the same, as their next real impact was made in the late ’50’s by Conway Twitty before he became a country artist.

By the mid-1960’s they’d managed to acquire a fairly decent roster of second tier 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. They could never land a truly major act at the peak of their popularity however and 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 fool anyone however 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.
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)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: I Almost Lost My Mind (9) (MGM 10578; December, 1949)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: S.P. Blues (8) (MGM 10618; January, 1950)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: I Need You So ★ 10 ★ (MGM 10663; March, 1950)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Leave Her Alone (4) (MGM 10663; March, 1950)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Let Me Dream (4) (MGM 10733; June, 1950)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Gimme A Pound O’ Ground Round (2) (MGM 10733; June, 1950)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Old Man’s Boogie (5) (MGM 10761; August, 1950)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Living A Lie (2) (MGM 10761; August, 1950)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Don’t You Believe Her (3) (MGM 10818; October, 1950)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: You Thrill Me (5) (MGM 10861; December, 1950)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: I Found My Baby (3) (MGM 10899; January, 1951)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: I Ain’t Got No Gal No More (4) (MGM 10899; January, 1951)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: I Can’t Resist You (4) (MGM 10951; March, 1951)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Is My Pop In There? (3) (MGM 10963; April, 1951)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: When I Lost You (2) (MGM 10995; June, 1951)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Wrong Woman Blues (4) (MGM 11052; September, 1951)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Blue Moon (2) (MGM 11132; December, 1951)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: U Name It (5) (MGM 11132; December, 1951)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: Where Shall I Go (4) (MGM 11165; February, 1952)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: I Will Be True (4) (MGM 11195; March, 1952)
IVORY JOE HUNTER: I Get That Lonesome Feeling (4) (MGM 11263; June, 1952)