On this day in music history: August 16, 1985 – “Freaky Styley”, the second album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is released. Produced by George Clinton, it is recorded at United Sound Studios in Detroit, MI in May 1985. Following their self-titled debut released a year before, The Red Hot Chili Peppers tap P-Funk founder George Clinton to produce their sophomore effort. The band actually move into Clinton’s home for a brief period to bond with the funk legend, and to work on song ideas. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis, withdrawing from his heroin habit, begin using cocaine to counter the effects of his withdrawal. The album marks the recording debut of guitarist and founding member Hillel Slovak who returns to the band after a brief stint in the band What Is This?. The album also features guest appearances from Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker and Gary Shider. It spins off three singles including “Jungle Man”, “Catholic School Girls Rule” and “Hollywood (Africa)”. “Freaky Styley” does not chart on the Billboard Top 200, but steady catalog sales brings its worldwide sales to over 650,000 copies.
On this day in music history: August 16, 1975 – “Honey”, the seventh album by the Ohio Players is released. Produced by the Ohio Players, it is recorded at Paragon Recording Studios in Chicago, IL from February – June 1975. Making the leap to Mercury Records only a year before, pays immediate dividends for the Ohio Players. The band’s first albums for the label, “Skin Tight” and “Fire” both sell over a million copies a piece, with both also yielding million selling singles with their respective title tracks. Striking while the iron is still hot, they head back into the studio, while “Fire” is sitting at the top of the charts to work on the follow up. With all seven members contributing to the material, their next album is completed by the Summer of 1975. Following the credo of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, the Ohio Players come up with another solid album. Titled “Honey”, it plays to the band’s strengths, mixing R&B, funk, rock and jazz. The first single is the ultra smooth and jazzy “Sweet Sticky Thing” (#1 R&B, #33 Pop). With that and title track, the septet extend the concept to album’s cover art work. Known for bold and highly provocative album covers since release of “Pain” in 1971, the band pull out all of the stops once again, to stop fans in their tracks at the record store. They hire art director Jim Ladwig and Playboy Magazine photographer Richard Fegley, to create the artwork. The front cover and inner gatefold feature nude photos of Panamanian born model and Playboy Playmate Ester Cordet. Strategically posed to mask any real frontal nudity, Cordet’s body is covered in honey, with the front cover showing her eating the sweet nectar from a jar. The striking images win “Honey” a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover in 1976. The photo shoot also creates one of the many urban myths, that sprout up around the second single “Love Rollercoaster” (#1 R&B, #1 Pop). A high pitched scream heard during the songs’ breakdown, lead some to claim that it was the sound of Cordet being scaled by honey that had been heated. The original rumor about the scream is started by a radio DJ in Northern California, who claims a woman was murdered during the recording session, and the incident was captured on tape. A third rumor surfaces, with the scream being the sound of someone falling to their death, off of a rollercoaster also proves to be untrue. With the band remaining tight lipped about all of the above, it helps to fuel record sales, with “Honey” becoming their largest selling album of all. It spins off a third single with the funk/rock infused “Fopp” (#9 R&B, #30 Pop), which is later given a hard rock makeover by Soundgarden. Along with its original stereo mix, the album is also issued in quadraphonic stereo (LP and 8-Track tape). The quad mix is reissued by DTS Entertainment, as a DVD-A disc in 2001. Originally released on CD in 1991, it is remastered and reissued by Universal Japan in 2014. “Honey” spends three weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number two on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 16, 1968 – “Fire” by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown is released. Written by Vincent Crane, Arthur Brown, Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker, it is the second single (US debut) and biggest hit for the rock band from London, UK. Formed in 1967, original line up of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown consists of Arthur Brown (lead vocals), Vincent Crane (organ), Sean Nicholas Greenwood (bass) and Drachen Theaker (drums). The band quickly attract attention not only for their music, but for the antics of their flamboyant front man. Boasting an impressive vocal range of four octaves, Brown also becomes known for outlandish on stage theatrics, inspired in part by American R&B singer Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. He dresses in long flowing robes, either wearing heavy ghoulish make up or metallic masks covering much of his face. Then for an even more striking touch, wearing a metal helmet that is doused in lighter fluid and set on fire. The band are signed to Track Records in the UK, after Pete Townshend sees them at the UFO Club in London. Having grown up in post-war England, Brown comes to know many people who were adversely affected by the horrors and hardships brought on by war, including post traumatic stress disorder. The band compose a cycle of songs about a man facing his inner demons, forming a loose concept for the album. “Fire” is written as the centerpiece of “Tales From the Neurotic Nights Of Hieronymous Anonymous” aka the “Fire Suite”. “Fire” features Brown on vocals, Crane on organ and organ bass pedals and Theaker on drums. After its completed, Lambert and Stamp seek US distribution for the record. They play it for Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, who immediately loves the music and concept of the band, but notices drummer Theaker’s problems with keeping time. Lambert and Crane add horns and strings to make the tracks sound fuller, and in many cases cover up the scattershot drumming. Released in the UK first on June 14, 1968, “Fire” is an immediate sensation, leaping to number one within a month. Issued in the US a month later, the single follows a similar trajectory. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on September 7, 1968, it rockets to #2 six weeks later on October 19, 1968, unable to budge The Beatles’ epic “Hey Jude” from the top spot. In spite of this major success, the band does not reach the charts again. Their second album “Strangelands” is shelved after the band implodes in June of 1969. Though their time in the spotlight is brief, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown’s influence endures, inspiring future shock rockers like Alice Cooper, KISS, Mercyful Fate and Marilyn Manson. The song later adds co-writing credits for Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker, when they discover “Fire” uses part of the melody of their song “Baby You’re A Long Way Behind”. “Fire” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 16, 1962 – “I Call It Pretty Music, But… (The Old People Call It The Blues) Pts 1 & 2”, the debut single by Little Stevie Wonder is released. Written by Berry Gordy, Jr. and Clarence Paul, the young singer and musician (born Stevland Hardaway Judkins) is brought to Motown founder and chairman Berry Gordy’s attention by Miracles member Ronnie White after his brother Gerald sees Stevie perform at a friends house. White is so impressed, that he arranges for the then eleven year old to audition for Gordy. Motown quickly signs Stevie and pairs him with Motown staff producer and songwriter Clarence Paul. It is Paul that gives the singer his professional surname after hearing someone exclaim, “that boy is a wonder!” Paul and Gordy co-write Wonder’s debut release, which features another newly signed Motown artist named Marvin Gaye playing drums on the song. Motown initially markets the twelve year old singer as “a young Ray Charles”. The two sides of the single stand in stark contrast from each other, with part one having a straight ahead uptempo R&B sound, while part two is slower and has a more traditional blues feel. Initial pressings of the 45 are issued in a picture sleeve showing Wonder singing into a microphone. Though “I Call It Pretty Music, But… (The Old People Call It The Blues) Pts 1 & 2” bubbles under the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at #101, and does not chart on the R&B singles chart, it marks the beginning of Stevie Wonder’s over fifty year association with Motown Records.
When I started this blog here in October of 2011, it was to indulge and share my passion for music with others. In just a few years, “Behind The Grooves” has grown from just a handful of followers to over 21,000 here on Tumblr alone. These posts require extensive research and many hours to write and edit, and are the product of my own personal diligence and dedication.
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On this day in music history: August 15, 1981 – “I’m In Love” by Evelyn (“Champagne”) King hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #40 on the Hot 100 on September 12, 1981. Written by Kashif, it is first R&B chart topper for the Philadelphia, PA born R&B vocalist. The title track and first single from her fourth album, “I’m In Love” is the beginning of a major career resurgence for King, whose career has experienced a major down turn following her initial success with the million selling hit singles “Shame” and “I Don’t Know If It’s Right” from her Platinum selling debut album “Smooth Talk”. Paired with producer Morrie Brown and songwriter/musicians Kashif and Paul Laurence Jones III, the production team and singer hit it off immediately and begin working together. “I’m In Love” goes on to be highly influential during the 80’s and beyond, marking the beginning of a major shift in the way that R&B and dance records are produced. With record company budgets tightening during this period, self contained R&B bands begin to fall by the wayside, in favor of producer/musicians often playing many of the instruments themselves. Kashif and Jones pioneer this movement, by combining live instrumentation and programmed elements such as drum machines and synthesizers, creating a unique musical hybrid. “I’m In Love” is later sampled as the basis of the song “R&B Junkie” by Janet Jackson in 2004.
On this day in music history: August 15, 1981 – “Endless Love” by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 9 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 7 weeks on August 22, 1981, and the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on September 5, 1981. Written by Lionel Richie, it is the theme for the Brooke Shields film of the same name. The duet comes about when Richie is asked by director Franco Zeffirelli and producer Jon Peters to write an instrumental theme for their film. The two change their minds and request that the song have lyrics and make it a duet with a female artist. Motown executive Suzanne DePasse suggests Diana Ross, though at the time has just recently left Motown for RCA Records. Hearing Lionel’s song, Diana agrees to sing the duet. Both singers have to adjust their busy schedules in order to record together. Ross is in the middle of a concert engagement in Lake Tahoe at the time, and Richie is also busy recording “In The Pocket”, his final album with the Commodores. The two arrange to record their vocals at a small recording studio in Reno, NV, only fifty miles away from the casino where Ross is performing. The two begin recording their vocals at 3:30 in morning and within an hour and a half complete their work on the track. Though the film itself is not well received, the title song is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #54 on July 11, 1981, it leaps to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Endless Love” receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, with Diana Ross and Lionel Richie performing the song on the live Oscar telecast in 1982. The song becomes a major hit once again when it is covered by Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey in 1994 (#2 Pop, #7 R&B).“Endless Love” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 15, 1981 – “Pretenders II”, the second album by The Pretenders is released. Produced by Chris Thomas, it is recorded at Wessex Studios in London and EMI Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France from Late 1980 – Mid 1981. With the major success of their self-titled debut album, The Pretenders feel palpable pressure from their record label to quickly follow it up with another album. But the band are unable to comply due to the lack of having new songs written. Work begins on their sophomore effort in late 1980, with much of the material being written while the band is touring in support of the previous album, recording during breaks in their busy schedule. The twenty month gap between albums is filled by the release of the stand alone singles “Message of Love” and “Talk of the Town” in the UK, which are also both included on a five track EP titled “Extended Play” in the US (released in March 1981). The album is reissued in 2006 as two CD edition with a remastered version of the original album on disc one, with the second disc containing live versions of several songs, demos and alternate takes. The album is remastered and reissued by Rhino Records in 2006 as a double CD set, with the second disc containing a live concert recorded at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on September 4, 1981. Audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab also releases the album as a hybrid SACD in 2010. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Demon Records in 2015. “Pretenders II” peaks at number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 15, 1980 – “Panorama”, the third album by The Cars is released. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City and Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1980. The Boston based Rock/New Wave band’s third effort marks a departure from the sound they have established with their two previous multi-platinum albums (“The Cars”, “Candy-O”), going with a more aggressive and experimental style. The reaction from critics and fans is mixed, resulting in lower sales than they have previously experienced. The album spins off three singles including “Touch And Go” (#37 Pop), “Don’t Tell Me No” and “Gimme Some Slack”. Originally released on CD the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as part of “The Cars – The Elektra Years” box set (also issued on vinyl) in June of 2016. It is also issued separately on CD with four additional bonus tracks, and as a 180 gram double vinyl LP in July of 2017. “Panorama” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.