Industry veteran Clive Davis was known for his golden ear as president of CBS Records from 1967 until he was abruptly fired in 1973 for allegedly spending nearly a hundred grand in corporate cash on his son Fred's bat mitzvah. Davis landed on his feet at Columbia Pictures soon after as an advisor for the studio's various music interests, including their labels Bell, Colgems, and Colpix.
The studio staked Davis to the tune of ten million dollars as he combined the labels into a new venture he christened Arista Records. The scans above are part of a four-page spread in the November 23, 1974, issue of Billboard announcing the label's roster and staff. Arista's first 45s were released in February 1975 by several of the artists featured in the ad, most of whom were inherited from Bell Records.
Flash-forward about a decade, to the dawn of the compact disc revolution. After releasing their inaugural wave of compact discs in 1983, Arista released their own compilation, Arista's Perfect 10, in 1984. The disc featured ten tracks from ten Arista CDs by the nine artists listed on the cover, with the Alan Parsons Project going back for seconds. Besides the uncredited cover model, the most striking thing about the cover image is the rather large "Sony Portable Compact Disc Player" (which is how it is credited on the back of the CD case) in the model's hand.
That CD player also appears on the cover of Arista's Perfect 10 Rides Again, released in 1985. The cover model also receives a credit this time as "Christina" but is she the same girl? Longtime cycling enthusiasts will no doubt recognize the bike Christina is straddling as a Gios but to be fair it is labeled as such even for us cycling novices. Like its predecessor, Arista's Perfect 10 Rides Again also features ten tracks by the nine artists listed on the cover with the Alan Parsons Project once again represented by two tracks, including the late Seventies stereo store demo track "I Robot" that opens the disc.
In 1986, for the third year in a row, Arista rolled out its own label compilation. Arista's Perfect 10 III was portrayed as the sequel it was right on the cover, which cleverly incorporated the cover art of the first two discs in the Arista's Perfect 10 series. For the first time in the series brief history, there were no tracks from the Alan Parsons Project; Aretha Franklin assumed the two tracks per disc mantle this time around. After buying the first two discs, I took a pass on this one as it just didn't have any compelling tracks as I already owned the Billy Ocean and Aretha Franklin albums on vinyl but that didn;t stop me from recreating each Arista's Perfect 10 disc as a Spotify playlist. And if you know me at all, you know that I like to go above and beyond what the record labels did so I made four more ten track playlists in The Perfect 10 mold while resisting the obvious temptation to make single artist compilations by Arista stars like Barry Manilow (who is curiously absent from The Perfect 10 Series) and Whitney Houston.
Arista's Perfect 10 For The Win was the next logical step, featuring some of the label's biggest-selling and highest-charting tracks from throughout the Eighties.
Arista's Perfect 10 Back For The Nineties features even more chart toppers than its predecessors, including two of the longest running Number Ones in the entire nearly-sixty-year history of the Hot 100.
Arista's Perfect 10 Beatin' The Aughts is, of course, a compilation of Arista's hits from the awkwardly named decade that followed the Nineties at the turn of the century.
For the fourth playlist beyond the original three Arista Perfect 10's, I returned to the label's first decade and the first 45 I ever bought that featured the Arista logo: "Saturday Night" by the Bay City Rollers. There are three other songs among the ten on this playlist I bought as 45s and I really enjoy all ten tracks on Arista's Perfect 10 Seventies.