On this day in music history: October 17, 1998 – “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Ed Robertson, it is the biggest hit for the rock band from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. Formed in 1988, Barenaked Ladies begins a duo with Ed Robertson and Steven Page. The pair attend the same school, but do not become friends until meeting each other, following a Peter Gabriel concert. Both sharing an interest in music, Robertson and Page bond further, as counselors at a music camp. Their name comes about, while seeing Bob Dylan live, amusing themselves when they become bored during the show. In 1989, they begin writing songs, making their first recordings on a four track tape machine. The five song demo tape titled “Buck Naked”, is sold at early gigs. Barenaked Ladies send their demos out to record labels, but are rejected by all. They soon invite brothers Andy (percussion) and Jim Creeggan (bass), two friends from music camp to join them. This line up records another demo tape titled “Barenaked Lunch”, featuring “Be My Yoko Ono” and “If I Had A $1,000,000”. Andy Creeggan leaves in 1990, and is replaced by Tyler Stewart on drums. When Andy returns in 1991, it is primarily on keyboards. They then record their self-titled third indie tape release. Including a cover of Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” and “Brian Wilson”, it outsells their previous releases. The EP piques the interest of Sire Records, who sign them in 1992. Their first three albums, all perform well in Canada, also developing a following from college radio in the US. Kevin Hearn joins as their new keyboardist, when Andy Creeggan leaves for good in 1995. Feeling primed for mainstream success, they record their fourth album “Stunt” with former Prince recording engineers turned producers David Leonard and Susan Rogers. Full of the band’s uniquely quirky and humorous songs, one of the standouts is “One Week”. It features stream of consciousness rap like verses sung by Ed Robertson (the choruses sung by Steven Page). It’s framed around a couple having an argument, while name checking people and making pop cultural references. Those include LeAnn Rimes, Aquaman, Sting, Harrison Ford, and references to The X-Files, tantric sex, Snickers candy bars, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and Japanese director Akira Kurosawa to name a few. The song is accompanied by an equally frenetic and funny music video directed by McG (“Charlie’s Angels”). In one sequence, Ed Robertson and Steven Page are in a car chase, driving replicas of the General Lee from The Dukes Of Hazzard and the Ford Gran Torino from Starsky & Hutch. Entering the Hot 100 at #3 on October 3, 1998, it leaps to the top of the chart two weeks later. Spending exactly “one week” on top, “One Week” propels the “Stunt” album to 4x Platinum status in the US.

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On this day in music history: October 17, 1990 – “The Geto Boys”, the third album by The Geto Boys is released. Produced by DJ Ready Red, Doug King, John Bido and Johnny C, it is recorded at Rap-A-Lot Recording Studios and Rivendell Recorders in Houston, TX from Mid 1988 – Mid 1990. Making their debut around the same time as N.W.A., The Geto Boys from the notoriously rough Fifth Ward in Houston, TX, quickly become underground gangsta rap icons thanks to their first two albums “Making Trouble” and “Grip It! On That Other Level”. Featuring gritty and funky beats made on an E-mu SP-1200 sampler/drum machine, the rhymes of Scarface, Willie D. and Bushwick Bill contain often violent, profane, sexually explicit and misogynist imagery with elements of horror or gore. Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin is a fan of the group and offers to sign them to his label Def American, at the time being distributed by Geffen Records (then part of Warner Bros). Rubin along with engineer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots) remixes all twelve tracks from “Grip It!” (also re-recording the vocals on several songs) along with “Assassins” from their debut. When the finished album is turned in to Geffen, the sh*t literally hits the fan, with executives at the label being highly offended by its lyrical content, especially the tracks “Mind Of A Lunatic” and “Assassins”. Geffen’s CD manufacturer Sony DADC (Digital Audio Disc Corporation) also refuses to press CD’s of the album for the same reason. Rubin instead arranges for Warner Bros subsidiary label Giant Records to handle distribution and marketing, with WEA Manufacturing pressing the CD and manufacturing cassettes. In addition the Parental Advisory sticker on the front cover, an additional disclaimer is added, baring the legend, “Def American Recordings is opposed to censorship. Our manufacturer and distributor, however, do not condone or endorse the content of this recording, which they find violent, sexist, racist, and indecent”. Though most mainstream critics react negatively to the content of the album, on the opposite side, many in the rap music community praise it for its inventive use of samples (considering the limitations of the technology used), and the authoritative vocals of the groups three principal members. Not long after the album is released, The Geto Boys run into a problem with musician Steve Miller, who objects to the use of his song “The Joker” on the track “Gangster Of Love”. The original pressing is deleted and reissued with the sample being replaced by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” in its place. This turns the original CD, cassette and rare vinyl pressings into expensive and sought after collector’s items. “The Geto Boys” peaks at number sixty seven on the Billboard R&B album chart and number one hundred seventy one on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: October 17, 1989 – “The Sensual World”, the sixth album by Kate Bush is released (UK release date is on October 16, 1989). Produced by Kate Bush, it is recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland, Abbey Road Studios and The Angel Studios in London from Late 1986 – Mid 1989. Nearly three years in the making, it is the official follow up to the successful and acclaimed “Hounds Of Love”. Many of the albums songs reflect on relationships, particularly on unrequited and unexpressed love. The title track is inspired by James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses”. It spins off three singles including “This Woman’s Work” (featured in the film and soundtrack to “She’s Having A Baby” prior to the albums’s release) and “Love And Anger”. “This Woman’s Work” is covered by R&B singer Maxwell twice. First on his live “MTV Unplugged” album in 1997, and then another version is recorded for his third studio album “Now” in 2001. “Sensual” also receives a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album in 1990. Out of print on vinyl since its initial release, it is remastered and reissued (along with the CD version) in 2018, on Bush’s own label Fish People Records. “The Sensual World” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number forty three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 17, 1988 – “Giving You The Best That I Got”, the third album by Anita Baker is released. Produced by Michael J. Powell, it is recorded at Encore Studios in Burbank, CA, Yamaha International Recording in Glendale, CA, Sound Suite Studio, Gnome Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Hitsville Studios in Hollywood, CA and TMF Studios in New York City from Late 1987 – Mid 1988. Issued as the follow up to her multi-platinum, Grammy winning breakthrough “Rapture”, Baker’s label Elektra Records pressures the singer to hand the album in by a certain date, when they feel she is taking an excessive amount of time mixing the record. Her then manager Sherwin Bash takes early mix down reels from the studio, with the intent of giving them to the label for manufacture. When Baker finds out, she orders that the tapes be returned immediately and destroyed. When the album is finally mixed to her satisfaction, the master tapes are turned in to Elektra. The album is a huge critical and commercial success upon its release, spinning off three singles including “Just Because” (#1 R&B, #14 Pop) and the title track (#1 R&B, #3 Pop). It also wins Baker three Grammy Awards including her second wins for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female in 1989. “Giving You The Best That I Got” spends eight weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, four weeks at the top of the Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 17, 1987 – “Lost In Emotion” by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on October 3, 1987. Written and produced by Full Force, it is the second chart topping single for the R&B/Freestyle group from New York, NY. Fresh off the success of their 1985 Platinum selling debut, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam return to the studio with Full Force to work on their sophomore release “Spanish Fly”. It quickly hits paydirt with the Motown influenced first single “Head To Toe”, topping the pop and R&B singles charts in June of 1987. While writing songs for the groups’ second album, Full Force takes inspiration from “The Motown Sound” again when the band are listening to Mary Wells’ greatest hits album. The song that becomes “Lost In Emotion” is inspired by Wells’ hits “Two Lovers” and “You Beat Me To The Punch”. The songs retro feel combined with Lisa Lisa’s sweet voice proves just as irresistible as its predecessor to fans and radio, when it is released as a single in July of 1987. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on August 1, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. “Lost In Emotion” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 17, 1987 – “Bad” by Michael Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 2 weeks on October 24, 1987. Written by Michael Jackson, it is the seventh R&B  and pop (eleventh overall) chart topper for “The King Of Pop. The title track from Michael Jackson’s seventh album is originally conceived as a duet between pop superstar and Prince. Portrayed as fierce rivals in the mainstream media, Jackson and producer Quincy Jones conceives the idea of the two megastars collaborating together. Jones contacts Prince about the idea, but declines the invitation, feeling the song will be a hit without him. The single features a number musicians that have played on previous Michael Jackson albums including Greg Phillinganes, Michael Boddicker (synthesizers), John Robinson (drums), David Williams (guitar), Jerry Hey, Gary Grant (trumpets), Kim Hutchcroft, Larry Williams (saxophones) and Paulinho Da Costa (percussion) Veteran jazz organist Jimmy Smith adds the crowning touch to the track, playing the Hammond B-3 organ solo on the track. The song is also backed by an elaborate eighteen minute long short film directed by Martin Scorsese, debuting in a half hour long special on CBS on the albums’ release date of August 31, 1987. The film also features one of the first appearances by a then unknown actor named Wesley Snipes. Released as the second single on September 7, 1987, it is another immediate smash. "Bad” is parodied by comedian “Weird Al” Yankovic in 1988 as “Fat”, even parodying Jackson’s short film which wins Yankovic a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Video in 1989. The video is parodied a second time for the anthology film “Moonwalker” in 1988. Titled “Badder”, the clip features child actors and dancers filling the roles originally played by Jackson and the other actors and dancers in the original. The song is also used to hilarious effect in the animated film “Despicable Me 3” in 2017, in a sequence with supervillain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) moonwalking on the water in swim fins. Michael Jackson’s original recording of “Bad” is also included on the soundtrack for the film.

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On this day in music history: October 17, 1981 – “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” by Christopher Cross hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 4 weeks on September 26, 1981. Written by Christopher Cross, Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen, it is the second and final chart topping single for the San Antonio, TX born singer, songwriter and musician. The song is featured as the theme for the hit comedy “Arthur” starring Dudley Moore, Sir John Gielgud, and Liza Minnelli. Cross is asked to sing the theme for the film by songwriter Burt Bacharach, and invited to collaborate on the song. The lyric “when you get caught between the moon and New York City” comes from an unfinished song written by Australian born songwriter and musician Peter Allen (former husband of singer and actress Liza Minnelli) and songwriter Carole Bayer Sager (later married to Bacharach from 1982 – 1991). That line forms the basis of the song, with the rest of the music and lyrics being written around it. Released in tandem with the film in July of 1981, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #71 on August 17, 1981, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “Arthur’s Theme” wins the Academy Award for “Best Original Song” in 1982, becoming the eighth song of the rock era to win the award. The Oscar win tops a phenomenal two years of success for Cross, who sees a reversal of his good fortune with his second album “Another Page” in early 1983 when the albums first two singles under perform on the charts. Though the album is certified Gold (and scores a belated hit with “Think Of Laura” (#9 Pop)), it falls far short of the multi-platinum sales (5x Platinum in the US) his self-titled debut album. “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 17, 1980 – “The River”, the fifth album by Bruce Springsteen is released. Produced by Bruce Springsteen, Jon Landau and Steven Van Zandt, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City from March 1979 – August 1980. Following the release of his previous album for “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” (recorded after forced three year layoff, due to legal issues with former manager Mike Appel) and the extensive tour, Bruce Springsteen wastes no time composing material for his first album of the new decade. Block booking himself and The E Street Band into The Power Station in New York City, initially the project is to be a single LP titled “The Ties That Bind”, and is originally scheduled for a Fall 1979 release. Always known as a prolific songwriter, Springsteen ends up writing more than fifty new songs for the album, and spending a year and a half in the recording studio. The material is a mixture of exuberant upbeat rockers and serious darker songs reflecting on relationships, and the personal and economic hardships many are facing during the late 70’s and early 80’s recession. The album is expanded to two LP’s, paring it down to twenty tracks. Considered a risky move to release a double album at a time when the music industry is experiencing a major downturn in business, CBS Records releases it as Bruce wishes it to be. The album is proceeded by the single “Hungry Heart” (#5 Pop), a song that Springsteen writes and intends to give to the Ramones to record. His manager Jon Landau convinces him to record it himself. Also featuring background vocals by Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman (aka “Flo & Eddie”) of The Turtles, the song is an instant smash, becoming “The Boss’” first US top ten single. The album is heralded as an artistic and commercial triumph, becoming Springsteen’s most successful to date. It spins off an additional single with “Fade Away” (#20 Pop), several other tracks including “Out In The Street”, “Independence Day”, “Sherry Darling”, “Stolen Car”, “Cadillac Ranch”, and the title track all become fan favorites and staples of Springsteen’s epic live performances. “The River” is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl in November of 2014, initially issued in a box set collection, though the vinyl LP release is made available individually in April 2015. A four CD/three DVD (or two Blu-ray discs) box set titled “The Ties That Bind: The River Collection” is released to commemorate the thirty fifth anniversary of the landmark album. The box set is released on December 4, 2015, and is proceeded by release of the outtake track “Meet Me In The City”, which Springsteen and The E Street Band perform on Saturday Night Live on December 20, 2015. “The River” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 17, 1964 – “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, it is the biggest hit for the London based pop quintet. Formed in 1962 by South African born keyboardist Manfred Mann, the band originally call themselves The Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers. They establish themselves as part of the thriving British blues scene in London along with contemporaries including The Yardbirds, Alexis Corner, and The Rolling Stones. When they land a record contract with EMI Records HMV label in 1963, Manfred Mann’s producer John Burgess insists on a name change, and adapt their keyboardist and bandleaders name as their new moniker. After scoring a handful of hits in their native UK, they record a cover of the song “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”, written by the husband and wife songwriting team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich. Newly married at the time it was written, Barry and Greenwich perfectly express their newly wedded bliss, with the title being a clever euphemism for a “sexual dalliance”. Originally written for and recorded by The Exciters (“Tell Him”) as “Do-Wah-Diddy”, their version is only a minor hit, peaking at #78 on the Hot 100 on January 25, 1964. Manfred Mann records their version after lead singer Paul Jones discovers the song in his record collection. Issued in the UK first in July of 1964, it is an immediate smash, leaping to number one on August 13, 1964. Licensed to Ascot Records (distributed by United Artists) in the US, it quickly becomes a hit on American radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #58 on September 5, 1964, it streaks to the top of the chart six weeks later. Regarded as one of the great party anthems of all time, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” is covered by a wide variety of artists including Jan & Dean, Andrew Gold, and the 2 Live Crew. Bill Murray and Harold Ramis sing the song during a marching sequence in the film “Stripes” in 1981.

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On this day in music history: October 17, 1964 – “12 x 5”, the second US album by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, it is recorded at Regent Sound Studios in London and Chess Studios in Chicago, IL from February 25, May 12, June 10 – 11, 24 – 26 and September 28 – 29, 1964. The album includes the first songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (under the pseudonym “Nanker Phelge”), after manager Andrew Oldham tells them that if they want to build on their success, that they have to come with original material. Oldham literally locks the pair up in a kitchen and tells them that they can’t come out until they’ve written a song. While on their first trip to the US in the Summer of 1964, the band records several tracks at Chess Records studio in Chicago. The five songs the band records in the US are released in the UK as an EP titled “5 x 5”. The Stones US record label London takes those songs and expands it to a full LP with the singles “It’s All Over Now” (#26 Pop), and “Time Is On My Side” (#6 Pop), along with their respective B-sides and three other songs that are included on their second UK album “Rolling Stones No. 2”. When the album is remastered and reissued in 2002, it includes the full unedited version of the instrumental “2120 South Michigan Avenue”. It is also remastered and reissued on LP in 2014 pressed on clear vinyl, with the original mono version being re-released as part of the “Rolling Stones In Mono” box set on September 30, 2016. “12 x 5” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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