The Average White Band’s self-titled sophomore album dominated the charts in 1974, led by the hit track “Pick Up the Pieces,” which peaked at #1 on the Billboard’s Hot 100. Now 50-years later the album is available for the first time as a quadrophonic release on Blu-ray from Rhino Records. The album has been transferred from the original half-inch 4-channel quad masters in 192kHz / 24-bit 4.0 DTS HD Master Audio, and also transferred from the original stereo masters at 192kHz / 24-bit 2.0 stereo.
When the band was in the midst of crafting their sophomore album for MCA, they were faced with rejection at the label’s Los Angeles office. MCA dismissed the record, yet AWB was undeterred, they turned around and presented those same tapes to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, who promptly signed the group to that label. The subsequent rerecording of the album for Atlantic Records resulted in the global triumph of "Pick Up the Pieces," forever altering the band’s destiny.
In retrospect, while this blunder doesn’t match Decca's rejection of The Beatles, this misjudgment still haunted MCA, and has become known as a regrettable misstep in the annals of music history. Signing with Atlantic Records actually was a founding aspiration for the band since the label boasted half of the records the group cherished.
During that era, Atlantic Records wielded significant influence in soul, R&B, and funk, seamlessly accommodating the Average White Band despite assumptions. Their major hit, "Pick Up the Pieces," led many to believe the band was of African American origin. Contrary to expectations, this was a white band hailing from Scotland.
Coming down from Scotland, the band initially assembled in London and officially formed over the summer of 1971. With their subsequent move to the USA, the MCA debut LP's lukewarm reception, and the pivotal switch to Atlantic set the stage for their breakthrough second LP, "AWB." Guitarist Onnie McIntyre remarked, 'We kind of heralded the disco era, although we were never a disco band. Pick Up the Pieces initially thrived in clubs before crossing over to radio and mainstream success,"
Unfortunately, tragedy struck with the untimely death of drummer Robbie McIntosh due to a drug overdose. Atlantic Records provided crucial support, urging the group to return to the studio and find a new drummer. Steve Ferrone, a friend of Robbie's, happened to be in Los Angeles and emerged as the natural choice.
The album itself boasts stylish tracks, including the robust "Person to Person" with a Tower of Power like funk vibe. While "Pick Up the Pieces" claimed the spotlight, other gems like "You Got It" and "Work to Do" showcase the band's innovative funkiness, picking up where the Isley Brothers left off.
The band’s enduring success certainly goes back to “AWB” and now one can enjoy it on a modern format in high resolution quad and stereo on a shiny new Blu-ray disc.
Released January 19, 2024.
Blu-ray Audio featuring DTS HD Master Audio 192kHz / 24-bit 4.0 Quad and 2.0 Stereo mixes. Also available on streaming platforms with different mastering..
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About the Author
Wesley is a lifelong music enthusiast. He started his career in the recording industry in New York City as an audio engineer, producer, and studio manager. Subsequently he toured across America as a guitarist with the short-lived band Land's Crossing. After many years in the technology sector and amassing a substantial vinyl and CD collection, he delved into immersive audio and created Hi-Res Edition to share with other listeners about the sound quality and discrete mixes available on many formats. He recently upgraded his system to 5.1.4 Dolby Atmos and continues to seek out and share about the best sounding releases.