Transatlantic Group

Trailer and Leader

Cisco Houston Xtra 1002. Note ‘Produced by Folkways Records USA’

Xtra was a mid-price label from Transatlantic, but operated rather differently to other mid-price labels, like Pye’s Golden Guinea, EMI’s Music For Pleasure or CBS’s Embassy.

A large part of the US Folkways catalogue was released on Xtra.

In true Transatlantic form, releases could be meticulously documented, as in the 1966 2 LP bos set, Rural Blues.

The Rural Blues 2 LP box set 1966

To some of us the inner notes sheet veers on obsessive. As in OCD:

Then Xtra was used for initial releases rather than recycling albums from a couple of years or more ago. Hamish Imlach was a mainstay for new Xtra material:

Hamish Imlach saw his LP designs as two sided.

It took a long time for him to tire of the joke, but he had by 1972.

A couple of Peter Bellamy albums went straight to Xtra, not to Transatlantic first. It wasn’t unprecedented …Golden Guinea had done it with records like Joe Brown’s A Picture of You in 1962, assuming it would reach a greater audience tempted by the lower price.

Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy releases were a decade old Folkways releases, issued on Xtra in 1968 and 1969.

The McCalmans

This Scots trio survived the business from 1964 through to 2010, recording thirty-one albums for various labels. Their Smuggler LP was on Xtra and must havedone well, because the next two albums were full Transatlantic.

Smuggler: The McCalmans, Xtra LP 1975

Watt Nicol

Every Watt Nicol LP was Xtra, not Transatlantic. The number of LPs indicate the label’s patience with an artist who is really, really not making any waves whatsoever. Would he have been allowed to make six albums with any other label? He doesn’t get a single track on the 4CD box set.

n 1968 Watt Nicol’s paen to the emerging Scottish National Party, Remote Control (The Ballad of Winnie Ewing) was a topical but crass political song.