A little background on the company that released the recent 'unofficial' 3-CD boxed set
In usual circumstances the recent mid-price reissue of two M albums – New York, London, Paris, Munich and The Official Secrets Act – would scarcely have excited much interest. But the albums marked a potential landmark for mid-price since they were the first releases from Westside, the new label run by Bob Fisher and Tony Rounce – two of the most experienced specialists in the field.
Fisher and Rounce spent seven years establishing Castle's Sequel and Essential labels, where they pioneered mid-price archive reissues. At Westside they expect to do a similar job with MCI. The M albums have been followed by everything from ska collections to rare Della Reese material to Move and Procol Harum boxed sets. The label is promising to follow its lively opening gambit with a veritable deluge of 'nine or ten quality releases a month' next year, much of it previously unissued material from the Ace and Philadelphia catalogues.
Westside already has a prolific release schedule right through to January, 1999 and in addition to archive product from Teddy Pendergrass, Archie Bell, Timmy Thomas and Little Anthony, the label is particularly excited by the rarity value of its compilations, notably a triple boxed set label anthology of The Roulette Story ('57 – '77).
'We're starting as we mean to go on, both in terms of quality and quantity,' says Westside general manager Tony Rounce. The label is delighted with the dealer activity already achieved and is claiming big demand for its two most ambitious releases to date – three-CD boxed sets of The Move (Movements) and Procol Harum (30th Anniversary Anthology). (Read all about it)
'Roy Wood has even been doing radio and press interviews legitimising the Move collection, which has helped tremendously. And we've already done 7,000 units in a month on Procol Harum, which is amazing for a £20 boxed set,' says Rounce. This success flies in the face of opinion that the well of resaleable archive material is drying up. A rich fund of material remains for anyone prepared to seek it out, with a ready-made market eager to buy at the right price.
Collectable material has to be found, however, and Westside staff spend a huge amount of time seeking out artists with little contemporary representation. Della Reese is a good example. There was only one CD available of her Fifties material, on mail order only. Accordingly, the Reese albums The Jubilee Years 1954 –1959 and At Mr Kelly's / Story Of The Blues (two for the price of one) were among the first batch of Westside issues.
'It's just a question of spotting a gap in the market. We appeal to the specialist collector,' says Rounce. 'And being part of the MCI group also carries a lot of weight with the likes of Smiths and Menzies who otherwise might not want to get involved with us. Thus we get the best of both worlds.'
Thanks to Mike Lee for spotting and submitting this
More about Procol Harum and Westside Records