On this day in music history: August 17, 1991 – “Can You Stop The Rain” by Peabo Bryson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #52 on the Hot 100 on August 3, 1991. Written by John Bettis and Walter Afanasieff, it is the second chart topping single for the R&B/Pop vocalist from Greenville, SC. First establishing himself as a major R&B star beginning in 1978 with “Reaching For The Sky”, his major label debut for Capitol Records. Scoring three Gold albums (including duets with Natalie Cole and Roberta Flack) and string of hit singles, Peabo Bryson experiences a period in the early 80’s when the hits become less frequent. He bounces back in a major way in 1983 when he reunites with Roberta Flack on the album “Born To Love”, landing a multi-format smash with “Tonite I Celebrate My Love” (#5 R&B, #16 Pop, #4 AC). In 1984, Bryson leaves Capitol for Elektra Records which pays immediate dividends with the album “Straight From The Heart” and the single “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” (#6 R&B, #10 Pop, #1 AC). However, after three more top 40 singles, the hits trail off, with the singer releasing three more albums over the next four years before parting ways with Elektra. Re-connecting briefly with Capitol in 1989, Peabo scores his biggest solo hit to date in early 1990 with a cover of Al Wilson’s classic “Show & Tell” (#1 R&B). In spite of the “All My Love” album spinning off one more hit with the title track (#6 R&B), Bryson leaves Capitol in late 1990, signing with Columbia Records. The singer is paired with several producers for his first album for the label including musician Walter Afanasieff. Working previously as a session musician with producer Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Sister Sledge), Peabo Bryson is the first major artist Afanasieff works with as a producer. Producing two tracks for the album, Afanasieff writes the music for what becomes the ballad “Can You Stop Rain”, with lyricist John Bettis (“Human Nature”, “Top Of The World”) writing the words. Track is recorded with the producer playing all of the instruments, with Claytoven Richardson, Jeanie Tracy, Kitty Beethoven, Melisa Kary, Sandy Griffith on background vocals. The title track from Bryson’s fifteenth album, “Can You Stop The Rain” is released on May 4, 1991. The single quickly becomes and R&B, Quiet Storm and Adult Contemporary smash, propelling the album to Gold status in the US. The success of “Can You Stop The Rain” puts the veteran R&B singer back on solid ground, leading to future smash duets with Celine Dion and Regina Belle with “Beauty & The Beast” (#9 Pop) and “A Whole New World” (#1 Pop, #21 R&B) from the Disney animated classics “Beauty & The Beast” and “Aladdin”. Both singles earn Peabo Bryson Grammy Awards for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1992 and 1994.
On this day in music history: August 17, 1987 – “Substance”, the fifth album by New Order is released. Produced by New Order, it features material recorded from 1981 – 1987. The twelve track double LP compilation consists of the 12-inch single mixes and their respective B-side dub mixes. The CD and cassette versions feature track listings that are expanded to twenty four and twenty eight tracks respectively (including “1963”, the B-side of “True Faith”). The album also includes the newly recorded track “True Faith” (#4 UK) which becomes their first top 40 single in the US (#32 Pop). “Faith” is also supported by abstract and surreal music directed by French/Moroccan choreographer and mime artist Philippe Decouflé (The Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”), that receives widespread play on MTV and other video outlets. The albums’ packaging is designed by graphic artist Trevor Key of Peter Saville Associates with the initial pressings featuring the artist name and title embossed on the front. Subsequent re-pressings feature flat text printing to save on printing costs. “Substance” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, number thirty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 17, 1983 – “Delirious” by Prince is released. Written and produced by Prince, it is thirteenth single release for the singer, songwriter and musician from Minneapolis, MN. Prince records the basic track (playing all of the instruments himself) for “Delirious” at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood on May 9, 1982, with additional overdubs recorded at Prince’s home studio outside of Minneapolis, MN. The song is a substitution for “Turn It Up” which was recorded earlier during the “1999” sessions. Prince feels that “Delirious” is a much stronger track than “Turn it Up” which is bumped from the final running order of the album and to this day remains unofficially released, but has surfaced in bootleg form. The US pressing of the single is issued with a limited edition poster sleeve that unfolds into a calendar that becomes a collector’s item. The single also includes the non-LP B-side “Horny Toad”. Issued as the third single from the “1999” album, “Delirious” becomes Prince’s second top 10 pop single in the US, peaking at #8 on the Hot 100 on October 22, 1983 and #18 on the R&B singles chart. Originally clocking in at 3:56 on the album, the single is released with some pressings containing the album version, and another edited down by over one full minute to 2:36. In recent years, a significantly longer version of the master take running just over six minutes surfaces, circulating as a high quality bootleg among fans.
On this day in music history: August 17, 1979 – “Drums And Wires”, the third album by XTC is released. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it is recorded at The Townhouse Studios in London from June – July 1979. Working with producer Lillywhite (U2) and engineer Hugh Padgham (Genesis, Phil Collins), it features the bands first big UK single “Making Plans For Nigel” (#17 UK) which also provides the band with their initial exposure in the US. The album is issued with differing track listings in various countries, with the first 20,000 copies coming with a two or three track 7" single featuring the songs “Chain Of Command”, “Limelight”, and/or “Life Begins At The Hop”. The initial US pressing of the LP (initially released on RSO Records and later reissued on Geffen Records) features the single version of “Ten Feet Tall”, while other pressing include the first recorded version. In 2014, the album is remastered and reissued in the UK on CD, DVD-A and Blu-Ray disc, with a newly remixed 5.1 surround mix. “Drums And Wires” peaks at number thirty four on the UK album chart, and number one hundred seventy four on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: August 17, 1968 – “People Got To Be Free” by The Rascals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also peaking at #14 on the R&B singles chart on September 28, 1968. Written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, it is the third chart topper and biggest hit for the New York City based band. The song is written as a plea for racial tolerance and understanding during the height of the civil rights movement. It is inspired in part by an incident in Florida when the band are threatened by a group of rednecks after their tour vehicle breaks down while on the road. The recent assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy are also pivotal events that influence Cavaliere and Brigati when they write the song. The track is recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City on May 14, 1968. Released as a stand alone single on July 1, 1968, the songs message strikes an immediate chord with the public, quickly becoming a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #64 on July 20, 1968, it streaks to the top of the chart four weeks later. Though released at the time The Rascals issue their first greatest hits album “Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits”, “People Got To Be Free” does not make its LP debut until eight months later in March of 1969, when it is included on the bands next studio album “Freedom Suite”. “People Got To Be Free” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 17, 1959 – “Kind Of Blue” by Miles Davis is released. Produced by Teo Macero and Irving Townsend, it is recorded at Columbia Records 30th Street Studios in New York City on March 2, 1959 and April 22, 1959. Recorded in two sessions six weeks apart, it features Davis backed by musicians John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly. The songs are created by Miles giving the musicians chord changes based on musical modes rather than traditional chord progressions, then improvising on those changes. The original LP release of “Kind Of Blue” is a source of confusion among musicians and fans for years when the three tracks (“So What”, Freddie Freeloader", and “Blue In Green”) on the first side of the album are a quarter tone sharper than originally played. The problem turns out to have been caused by one of the two tape machines recording the session running slower than the other. The album is not reissued with the songs at the correct pitch until 1992. All reissues from that time on are mastered using the back up 3-track session tapes cut during the initial recording session. The album goes on to become one of the most popular and influential jazz recordings of all time. Having taken over thirty years for the album to sell over million copies, its sales explode during the peak of the CD boom, tripling in sales during the 90’s and 2000’s. For the album’s 50th anniversary, Sony Music releases a three disc edition featuring the original album along with alternate takes of “Flamenco Sketches” and “Freddie Freeloader” (w/ the false start), along with in studio dialog recorded during the sessions. The second disc includes live recordings featuring the sextet, with the third disc being a DVD featuring a documentary about the development and recording of the landmark album along with the rarely seen television program “The Sound Of Miles Davis” originally aired on April 2, 1959. The album is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1992, and in 2002 is added to the National Recording Registry by the Library Of Congress.“Kind Of Blue” is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.