The Times Mirror (LA Times) announced the first employee, Howard Thompson in October 1993. The paper also ran several blurbs that Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss would open their new label with Atlantic Records. Instead, they went with Geffen Records and established offices for Almo Sounds, Inc. in Los Angeles and Almo Sounds, Ltd. in London in 1994. The Los Angeles office was in the same building as Rondor Music International on North La Cienega Boulevard. The London office was on Heathmans Road.
Almo Sounds initial distribution agreement was through Geffen Records in the U.S., through Pinnacle in Great Britain, MCA for the European market, Festival in Australia and Pioneer in Japan. The company was supported by official web sites in both the United States and Great Britain.
Almo Sounds registered two trademarks. First was "Almo" that was filed on February 17, 1994 and registered on August 20, 1996. The second, Almo Sounds, Inc. trademark, was first used commercially in February 1995. It was filed with the U.S. Patent Office on March 20, 1995, and was registered on January 28, 1997. Both trademarks were still live in 2003.
Music videos were released under Almo Sounds & Sights.
Among the first artists signed to the new label were Gus and Angel Corpus Christi signed in 1994. The Irish group The Prayer Boat signed in November. Their single and video "Dark Green" were released in July 1995. In March 1995, Almo Sounds released its first album, White Courtesy Phone by Angel Corpus Christi. Gus's self-titled album, due to the long time recording it, was released in 1996. In England, Almo Sounds signed Jan Cyrka in 1994 but he did not release any recordings for Almo Sounds.
In April 1995, Almo Sounds opened its Nashville office. Almo Sounds was made a division of Rondor Music International. Almo Sounds also had an office in New York, again housed with Rondor Music at 110 Green Street.
The release of Sheree Ford-Payne's self-titled album on June 4, 1995, was Almo Sounds' first R&B product. In the U.K., Almo Sounds signed Peter Bruntnell.
Also in 1995, Garbage was signed to Almo Sounds only in the U.S. and Canada. (The group's records would be released on Mushroom in the United Kingdom. Mushroom licensed Garbage products to BMG in Japan, Sony in Australia and to other distributors.) Garbage's first single "Vow" was issued in a metal sleeve.
Almo Sounds was quick to achieve chart success with Garbage. Garbage would be the only Almo Sounds act to chart on either Billboard's Pop Album and Pop Singles chart. Their initial album was a Top 20 in August 1996 and spent 81 weeks on the Billboard chart. By 1998, the album sold 1.7 million copies in the U.S. and another 1.7 million copies internationally. It was certified gold and platinum in both the U.S. and Great Britain.
Garbage placed singles on the charts every year from 1995 through 1999. Of those singles, one was Top 40 and four were Top 100. They won awards from BMI, MTV Europe Music, Melody Maker and Rolling Stone.
In 1996, Almo Sounds entered a distribution agreement with Festival Records for Australia. In February, Ralph Simon was named Almo Sounds President in Great Britain. He determined to bring international acts to Almo Sounds and to Rondor Music International.
Among the artist news in 1996, Herb Alpert released his Second Wind album on Almo Sounds in April. The title may have been a nod to the fact that this was Alpert's first album not to carry the A&M Records logo and that Almo Sounds was like A&M in its early days, a small label that gave him pleasure. Also in, Orphic Soop and Funky DL were signed in Britain while Gillian Welch, Manbreak and Lazlo Bane were signed in the U.S.
In a familiar story for Alpert and Moss labels, Welch was signed as a songwriter to Almo/Irving Rondor in Nashville. Said Welch in an interview for Tower Records, "[David Conrad, Almo/Irving's top executive in Nashville] said, 'I love what you do and we'll figure out what to do with it.'" She was signed to Almo Sounds by Jerry Moss. Welch's first album "Revival" would be a Grammy® nominee. Lazlo Bane was a page from the Tijuana Brass. The Lazlo Bane signed to Almo Sounds was only Chad Fischer. After signing, Fischer assembled the group that recorded and toured for the album 11 Transistor. Funky D.L. also signed with Almo Sounds in the U.K. and released two singles and an album.
Promotion for Paul Jefferson's "Check Please" CD single included a green leather restaurant check holder, button, pen, biography and lyric sheet.
At the 1996 Grammys®, Garbage was nominated for Best New Artist and its single "Stupid Girl" was nominated for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a duo or Group with Vocal.
Imogen Heap's demo was given to Jerry Moss who offered her a contract with Almo Sounds. She signed with the label in April. Other 1997 additions to the artist roster were Bekka and Billy, Bijou Phillips , the Pulsars and Billy Yates and Boom Boom Mancini in Great Britain. By the end of 1997, there were ten artists signed to Almo Sounds in the U.S. and nearly the same number signed in Great Britain.
Bekka and Billy and Bijou Phillips all had ties to Alpert and Moss. Bekka Bramlett Bramlett's mother, Bonnie, was a member of Joe Cocker's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour and often sang background vocals for his projects and on fellow "Mad Dogs" member Rita Coolidge A&M Records dates. Billy Burnette was signed to A&M Records when he was 11 years old and released a single for them. Bijou Phillips was the second generation of her family to join an Alpert and Moss label. Her mother, Michelle Phillips, recorded an album for A&M in the mid-1970s.
Of all the artists signed, Red Velvet Relief and Tweaker (Chris Vrenna) would not have releases on Almo Sounds. Vrenna recorded "Attraction to All Things" but released it after he left Almo Sounds.
In 1997, Almo Sounds had a subsidiary in Great Britain named Almost. Billboard called Almost, "a further development vehicle for young writers and bands." Funky DL was Almost's first artist.
On February 25, 1998, Almo Sounds changed its distribution agreement to Interscope Records via Universal Music and Video Distribution. The first album to be distributed was Version 2.0 by Garbage. Internationally, the album was released in standard format and in a limited edition of 20,000 copies that included three bonus tracks.
Almo Sounds had two Grammy® nominations for Album of the Year and Best Rock Album with Version 2.0 by Garbage.
In 1999, as they often did at A&M Records, Alpert and Moss released a charity recording, Return of the Grievous Angel: a Tribute to Gram Parsons. The album featured Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and The Cowboy Junkies.
Signed Chris Vrenna/Tweaker but did not release any recordings for ALMO Sounds due to its sale to Universal Music Group.
The single "The Look of Love" by Herb Alpert was nominated for a Grammy® in the Best Pop Instrumental Performance category and the single "Special" by Garbage was nominated in the Best Rock Song category. At the MTV Video Music Awards, "Special" won for best special effects on September 9, 2000.
As word spread that Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss were negotiating the sale of Rondor Music International, some artists asked to be released from the label, especially those who had key man clauses in their contracts guaranteeing them Alpert or Moss's guidance. Several artists bought back their albums saying that they signed with Almo Sounds on the strength of the owners and because they wanted to be on a smaller label that could devote more time to supporting their careers.
The agreement to sell Rondor to Universal Music Group was reached in the Spring, details resolved through the Summer, and on August 3, 2002, Universal Music Group announced that it bought Rondor Music International. Almo Sounds, however, remains an independent company with a distribution arrangement for its existing recordings through Universal Music Group.
Almo Sounds web sites in the U.S. and Great Britain.
Executive Suite. Times Mirror, October 22, 1993.
Almo Sounds Establishes London Office. J. Clearke-Meads. Billboard, July 30, 1994.
Alpert, Moss Link Label with Geffen. Melinda Newman. Billboard, October 22, 1994.
Billboard Bulletin. Irv Lichtman. Billboard, August 20, 1994 and March 18, 1995.
Alpert, Moss Expand Label to Nashville. Edwin Morris. Billboard, April 15, 1995.
Almo Part of Rondor's New Shoots. Jim Bessman. Billboard, May 13, 1995.
Almo Makes First Foray into R&B; Ford-Payne Set Boasts Old-School Flavor. David Nathan. Billboard, May 13, 1995.
Almo's Strong Lead in Jefferson. Billboard, June 1, 1996.
Simon Revamps Almo U.K.: Former Label Exec Emphasizes Int'l Acts. Nigel Hunter. Billboard, July 6, 1996.
Billboard, Almo Inks Distrib. Deal with Interscope: Pact Allows Flexibility in Exploring New Genres. C. Rosen. January 17, 1998.
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Billboard magazine articles
ALMO Sounds web sites in U.S. and Britain (defunct)
ALMO Sounds employees