Capsule Records’ favourite tax scam tracks

This month Capsule Records‘ are diving in to tax scam records, albums that were manufactured in the 1970s in the United States to deliberately lose money. Seems crazy, right? The team at Capsule have picked out their favourite tracks for BOTI, making for a great little playlist.

Here’s how it worked: labels would inflate the number of units produced to report a loss, allowing them to write the material off and get tax credits. Often, these labels would acquire demo tapes from artists or studios and then release them without the artist’s consent. As a result, unfinished demos, rarities and oddities were released that previously would have been lost or forgotten about. Many are now collectors’ items.

Thèse are some of our favourites: 

Madcliff – ‘It Takes A Little Time

Written by Chris Hills and Chico Waters, and recorded by Madcliff in 1977, Mad Cliff was the band’s only album and it contains the original versions of two tracks (‘I Like It’ and ‘Goin’ To The Disco’), which Chris would go on to record with his other group, The Players Association. The album is excellent and has a broad range of soul, funk and disco tracks.

Chris Hills – ‘If You Were Mine’

Speaking of Chris Hills, he also wrote and recorded this track featuring Chico Waters again, on the Comin’ Outta The Ghetto album.

Sounds Of The City Experience – ‘Come On And Stay With Me’

This one is a personal favourite. It was released on Tiger Lily Records in 1976. As the name Sounds Of The City Experience suggests, the group sing about their lives in the Bronx during the 1970s. And, as a result of the record being made without the intention to release it, there was no pressure from the record company to make a hit, which gives the track a real feeling of freedom and enjoyment. If you’re looking to listen to more of this album, we have it in store and on our website.

Elderberry Jak – ‘You’re The One’

There are many bootlegs of Long Overdue, the album this track comes from. It was initially released by the infamous tax-dodging Album World label and later by another label called Forrest. What makes all these bootlegs laughable is that they often didn’t get the band’s name right. The reissue on the Forrest label had a missing ‘r’ in the band’s name…

Bobby Boyd – ‘Ain’t What You Know’

This is a great soul tune from Bobby Boyd. You’ll find it on his eponymous album, which was also released on Tiger Lily Records in 1976. Check out our website for more Bobby Boyd releases.

Tax scam labels used musicians for profit and financial mischief. Often it was an artist’s only chance to release something and, as a result, this left them open to exploitation by many labels. The upside of this, of course, is that it gave some unheard gems an audience! 

Capsule Records