RCA Australia Compilations
Click or tap image for track listing and cover images.
Despite the cover date, the record states P.1974
|VCL1-0118||A Mother as Lovely as You||Various||1976||–|
|VAL1-0123||Big Truck Hits||Various||1976||–|
|SP189||Bush Ballads – Australia’s Greats||Various||1977||–||–|
|Star-306||1984 – The Beat||Various||1984||–|
RCA was many things, but it sure wasn’t the best at putting out compilations.
RCA was a strange company in Australia. It didn’t release many pop compilations in Australia under its own name, but it did under the Readers Digest company name. There are many Country and Western releases though.
The RCA company started to record in Australia at about the same time as CBS setup. This resulted in quite a few singles in the 1970s, from Digger Revell & the Denvermen to Lori Balmer with Tommy Tycho.
There is at least one RCA compilation from the late 1960s, and that is Supercharged. It contains mostly overseas hits, but includes one Australian song – Max Merritt and the Meteors, Western Union Man. This was the start of a period of non action for almost two years. They returned in the 1971 with another Max Merritt song. A steady stream of records followed, but apart from Renee Geyer, and to a lesser extent Alison MacCallum, they had little success with Australian bands.
Meanwhile over at Reader Digest the records were pumped out at an increasing rate. Starting with 78s from the 1940s of an obscure composer, through to a the present CD collections. There are over 1800 on Discography, not all are Australian of course…
“In 1983, Arista Records (owned by the German Bertelsmann group) sold 50% of its shares to RCA. In 1985, Bertelsmann and RCA formed a joint venture called RCA-Ariola International. In 1985 General Electric purchased RCA for US$6.3 billion, primarily to acquire NBC. GE then sold its 50% stake in RCA-Ariola to its partner Bertelsmann and the company was renamed the Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG). BMG brought back the lightning bolt logo to make clear that RCA Records was no longer co-owned with the other RCA entities which GE sold or closed. BMG also revived the “RCA Victor” label for musical genres other than country, pop and rock. In 2004, Bertelsmann (currently one of the three largest media conglomerates in the world) and the Japanese Sony Coporation merged their music holdings into a joint venture called Sony BMG. A move which, ironically, united the former RCA labels with those of their long-time competitor CBS, which had been acquired by Sony in the late 1980s.” Milesago
We’ll keep on looking.
Listings to follow…
Readers Digest is a publishing and marketing company head-quartered in the United States. Their Australian operation is based in Sydney.
Readers Digest compilations date back to at least the 1950s, and were available by mail-order only to ‘members’. They were albums in the true sense of the word. Each “book” of ten records was bound in heavy cardboard. Each collection of records was based on a theme. Of the dozen or so sets I have seen the cover proudly boasts that the recordings were made by RCA.
By the 1970s the book style album format was changed to a box with each of the eight records having a tabbed sleeve. Many of the sets of this period were also available as sets of cassettes.
The Readers Digest sets continued on into the 2000s, by this stage being issued on Compact Disc. They are still being issued. Anyone for 80 Classic Duets?
In contrast to other RCA Australian pressings that are to say the least of variable quality, Readers Digest issues are of high quality. This was probably due the limited number of tracks on each side of the record.
Unfortunately the Readers Digest collections’ packaging is large, heavy, and cumbersome, particularly the book type albums. Early collections are generally classical music by now obscure conductors, and have not stood the test of time. Later boxed sets and CDs can have some memorable music, but it is not hard to find this material on multiple other sources.