On this day in music history: September 24, 1969 – “New York Tendaberry”, the third album by Laura Nyro is released. Produced by Laura Nyro and Roy Halee, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from September 1968 – July 1969. Recorded as an ode to the prolific and gifted singer, songwriter and musician’s hometown New York City, much of the album features Nyro accompanied by her own piano playing. A self taught musician, Nyro relies heavily on co-producer/engineer Roy Halee as a liaison between herself and the other musicians to help her fully realize her musical ideas. This considerably slows down the recording process, and the duo spend over ten months in the studio working on the album. Compared to the previous release “Eli And The Thirteenth Confession”, the material reflects on the darker side of love and relationships, and feature more stripped down arrangements. The album becomes Nyro’s most commercially successful album, yielding a number of classics that are covered by other artists. Among them are “Save The Country” (The 5th Dimension) and “Time And Love” (Barbra Streisand, The Supremes, Melba Moore). Originally released on CD in 1990, the album is remastered and reissued in 2002 with two additional bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl for nearly three decades, “Tendaberry” is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2008 by UK reissue label Pure Pleasure Records. It is reissued again, as a limited edition 180 gram pressing by Analog Spark Records in 2016. “New York Tendaberry” peaks at number thirty two on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1966 – “Cherish” by The Association hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Terry Kirkman, it is the first number one single from the Los Angeles based pop/rock band. Singer and songwriter Terry Kirkman writes the ballad while he is a member of folk-rock band The Men in 1964. When Kirkman’s Men band mate Mike Whelan leaves to join The New Christy Minstrels, the band add it to their stage act and begin performing it live. Initially they are interested in recording the song, but when the deal to buy the publishing falls through, Kirkman keeps the song instead, offering it up when he co-founds The Association in 1965. “Cherish” is recorded in a garage converted into a recording studio owned by Gary Paxton. When the finished record clocks in at nearly three and a half minutes, producer Curt Boettcher edits it down to 3:13 for single release. Though the timing is listed on the label as an even 3:00 to fool AM radio programmers that refuse to play records running over the three minute mark. Issued as the follow up to their first hit “Along Comes Mary” (#7 Pop), the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #66 on August 27, 1966, it rockets to the top of the chart four weeks later. Shortly afterward, Valiant Records’ distributor Warner Bros. Records pay over one million dollars for the label specifically to secure the bands contract. Regarded as a pop classic, “Cherish” is covered by numerous artists over the years, including David Cassidy whose recording of the song returns it to the top ten, peaking at #9 on the Hot 100 on December 25, 1971. It is also recorded by The Four Tops, Petula Clark, Nina Simone, Ray Conniff, The Lettermen, Dizzy Gillespie, Pat Metheny, Roger Williams, Floyd Cramer, Ed Ames, and Jodeci. The Association’s original recording is featured several television programs including “The Wonder Years”, “The Simpsons”, “The Nanny” and “Six Feet Under”. "Cherish" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1966 – “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep” by The Temptations hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on October 1, 1966. Written by Norman Whitfield and Eddie Holland, is the fourth R&B chart topper for the Motown vocal quintet. Written early on in his tenure as a staff songwriter and producer at Motown, Norman Whitfield collaborates with fellow songwriter Eddie Holland on “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep”. The instrumental track is originally recorded on April 14, 1964 in Motown Studio A in Detroit, featuring The Funk Brothers providing instrumental support, specifically bassist James Jamerson and “Master Of The Shuffle”, drummer Richard “Pistol” Allen, and is arranged by Paul Riser. For unknown reasons, the track is shelved for over two years before The Temptations record their vocals. Other versions of the song are released by The Miracles and Jimmy Ruffin (the brother of Tempts lead vocalist David Ruffin) before The Temptations rendition. Billie Jean Brown, head of Motown’s Quality Control selects the song for single release, initially over the groups objections, who think it will not be a hit. Released on August 4, 1966, the group are quickly proven wrong as it races up the R&B and pop singles charts simultaneously, becoming the third of four number one R&B hits The Temptations score during 1966. “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1966 – “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In The Shadow?” by The Rolling Stones is released. Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it is the thirteenth US and fourteenth UK single by the legendary rock band from London, UK. The track is recorded at IBC Studios in London from August 31 – September 2, 1966. Recorded early in the sessions for the bands next album “Between The Buttons”, the song is issued as a stand alone single, making its first appearance on an LP on the UK edition of their first greatest hits compilation “Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)” in November 1966, and in the US on the compilation “Flowers” in June 1967. The song is their first to incorporate guitar feedback as well as a horn section. The bands’ record label (Decca in the UK and London in the US) issues the single with what The Stones feel to be an inferior rough mix of the song (obscuring the tracks strong rhythm section) in order to rush it out to the marketplace. The picture sleeve for “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby” features a photograph of The Rolling Stones dressed in drag, taken by photographer Jerry Schatzberg in New York City. For the US release of the single, the satirical drag photo is considered “controversial” and is regulated to the back side of the sleeve, while another picture of the band (shot with a fish eye lens) also used as the cover photo the UK edition of “Big Hits (High Tide And Green Grass)” is used on the front instead. Film footage of the photo shoot is also included in the documentary “25×5: The Continuing Adventures Of The Rolling Stones” released in 1989. “Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In The Shadow?” peaks at #5 on the UK singles chart and #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 29, 1966.
On this day in music history: September 23, 1967 – “People Are Strange” by The Doors is released. Written by The Doors, it is the third single release for the rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Written in early 1967, the initial idea for “People Are Strange” comes while Jim Morrison and Robby Kreiger are hiking to the top of Laurel Canyon. Feeling depressed at the time, Morrison’s lyrics reflect his feelings of alienation, outsider status, and vulnerability. Though the song is penned by Morrison and Krieger alone, the entire band receives writing credit. The musicial portion of the song is also inspired and influenced by The Doors’ fascination with European cabaret music (explored on tracks such as “The Crystal Ship” and their cover of Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” on their debut album). The song is issued as the first single from the bands second album “Strange Days”, two days before the LP. “People Are Strange” peaks at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 28, 1967. “Strange” is covered a number of times over the years, most notably by Echo & The Bunnymen, whose version appears in the film “The Lost Boys” in 1987.
On this day in music history: September 23, 1967 – “The Letter” by The Box Tops hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Wayne Carson Thompson, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the Memphis, TN quintet fronted by lead singer Alex Chilton. Songwriter Wayne Carson Thompson (“Always On My Mind”) is inspired to write “The Letter” when his father comes up with the lyric “give me a ticket for an aeroplane”. Thompson quickly write the rest of the lyrics and melody around that line. Once the song is complete, Thompson takes it to his friend, producer Chips Moman who also own American Recording Studios in Memphis, TN. Moman in turn tells his songwriting partner Dan Penn about the song. Penn is working with a young rock band featuring a sixteen year old lead vocalist named Alex Chilton. Penn hears the song and decide that it is perfect for his young charges first release. Recorded in the Spring of 1967, the band (with songwriter Thompson also playing guitar on the session) cut the track in about eight hours, recording thirty takes to come up with the final master. For the final touch, producer Dan Penn overdubs the sound of an airplane flying over toward the end of the song. When Moman objects to the addition, Penn threatens to cut up the tape with a razor blade rather than remove the sound effect. Moman allows it to remain on the finished record. At the time the band records the single, they do not have a name. One of the members jokingly suggests that people “send in 50 cents and a box top” with their possible group name. From that, the band are dubbed “The Box Tops”. Released in July of 1967 on Bell Records Mala imprint, “The Letter” quickly becomes a huge hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on August 12, 1967, it leaps to the top of the chart six weeks later. The song is covered by a number of artists including The Arbors, The Ventures and Don Fardon. Joe Cocker has the second most successful recording of the song when his version hits #7 on the Hot 100 in June of 1970. “The Letter” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 22, 1969 – “The Band”, the second album by The Band is released. Produced by John Simon, it is recorded at 8841 Evanview Drive in West Hollywood, CA and The Hit Factory in New York City from Early – Mid 1969. Issued as the follow up to their acclaimed debut “Music From Big Pink”, The Band decide on a dramatic change of scenery to work on their next release. The album is recorded in a rented home in the Hollywood Hills owned by entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr.. The home’s pool cabana is converted into a recording studio for the duration of the sessions. It yields a number of classic songs including “Up On Cripple Creek” (#25 Pop), “Rag Mama Rag” (#57 Pop), and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. The LP cover features a sepia toned photo of the band by photographer Elliot Landy, becomes known as “The Brown Album” by fans for the brown colored border around the front and back of the album jacket. The original US vinyl pressing of the album cut by mastering engineer Bob Ludwig (indicated by the initials “RL” in the run out groove), is made using the first generation master tapes, is regarded as the best sounding pressing of the LP. Subsequent cuts use 1:1 safety copies including later reissues due to the original masters either being lost or not being accessible. “The Band” is first remastered and reissued in 2000 on CD with seven additional bonus tracks including alternate versions of several songs, and the non-LP B-side “Get Up Jake” in true stereo for the first time (originally issued as the B-side of “Ain’t Got No Home” in 1973, erroneously listed on the single as being from their live album “Rock Of Ages”). It is also reissued as a hybrid SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) and vinyl LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2013. The album is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, and is selected for preservation by The National Recording Registry of The Library Of Congress in 2009, for its ongoing historic and cultural significance. “The Band” peaks at number nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 22, 1969 – The music series “The Music Scene” premieres on the ABC television network. The debut episode of the weekly show (hosted mostly by comedian David Steinberg) features Crosby Stills Nash & Young, James Brown, Three Dog Night, Buck Owens & The Buckaroos, Tom Jones, and Oliver. Promotional film clips of The Beatles’ “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” and John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance” are also shown in the episode. In spite of good reviews, it only fares modestly in the Nielsen ratings, when it is put up against major ratings draws such as the long running “Gunsmoke” on CBS and “Laugh-In” on NBC. “The Music Scene” runs for only seventeen episodes before it is canceled, with the final program airing on January 12, 1970.
On this day in music history: September 21, 1968 – “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Country singles chart for 3 weeks on September 28, 1968. Written by Tom T. Hall, it is the biggest hit for the country and gospel singer born Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson. Born and raised in Stamford, TX in 1945, Stephenson marries Mickey Riley and give birth to a daughter, before moving to Nashville to work as a secretary at the offices of music publisher Passkey Music. While working at the publisher that Riley sings on numerous song demos, one of which is heard by Mercury Records staff producer Shelby Singleton. Believing in her potential, Singleton signs her as the first artist on his newly established Plantation Records imprint through Mercury. Written by country music legend Tom T. Hall, the songs narrative is about a young widowed mother in a small southern town, being berated by the local P.T.A. (Parent Teachers Association) at her daughter’s school, when they don’t approve of her manner of dress and supposed “loose” morals. The woman stands up to the people, pointing out their shortcomings and exposing their great hypocrisy. Released as a single in late July of 1968, it is an immediate smash, selling 1.7 million copies in just two weeks, and quickly rising up the country and pop singles charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on August 24, 1968, it rockets to the top of the chart four weeks later. At the time of its release, it takes the single largest leap up the Hot 100 when it moves from its debut position of #81 to #7 in its second week. Jeannie C. Riley becomes the first female country artist in history to top both the pop and country singles charts at the same time. This does not occur again until 1981 when Dolly Parton tops both charts simultaneously with “9 To 5”. Riley also wins a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1969. “Harper Valley P.T.A.” later inspires a hit television movie starring actress Barbara Eden (“I Dream Of Jeannie”). The movie is spun off into a TV series running on NBC in 1981-82. “Harper Valley P.T.A.” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 21, 1963 – “Blue Velvet” by Bobby Vinton hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Easy Listening chart for 8 weeks on September 7, 1963. Written by Lee Morris and Bernie Wayne, it is the second chart topping single for the pop vocalist born Stanley Robert Vinton, Jr.. Written in 1950, the song is a hit for singer Tony Bennett the following year, peaking at number sixteen on the Billboard Best Sellers chart. It is also recorded by R&B/Doo Wop vocal group The Clovers in later 1954. Their version peaks at number fourteen on the Rhythm & Blues chart in February of 1955. Vinton’s version is recorded at Columbia Studios in Nashville, TN in just two takes at the end of the session. The song features such top studio musicians as Floyd Cramer, Boots Randolph, Grady Martin, and Charlie McCoy. Released in late July of 1963, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #78 on August 10, 1963, it races to the top of the chart six weeks later. Bobby Vinton’s recording of “Blue Velvet” in part inspires David Lynch’s 1986 film of the same name, and is heard several times throughout, by Vinton and is sung by actress Isabella Rossellini. “Velvet” becomes a belated hit in England in 1990 when it is featured in a commercial for Nivea body lotion. The re-release hits number two on the UK singles chart, also peaking at number seven in Australia and number nine in Korea.