Category: 70’s

On this day in music history: May 20, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1977 – “In The City”, the debut album by The Jam is released. Produced by Vic Smith and Chris Parry, it is recorded at Stratford Place in London in March 1977. Heavily influenced by the 60’s mod culture in London and by bands like The Kinks and The Who, the punk/new wave trio from Woking, Surrey, UK led by guitarist and vocalist Paul Weller will stand out significantly from their contemporaries. Unlike other British punk bands of the era, The Jam often dress in sharp tailored suits, (rather than the ripped and safety pinned clothing that many other bands wore), and are more musically influenced by the 60’s pop and R&B music that mod teens of the era listened and danced to. The band immediately make their impact felt in their home country with their critically acclaimed and commercially successful debut, also earning them a solid cult following in the US. The album spins off two singles including “All Around The World” (#13 UK) and the title track (#40 UK). Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 2008 in Japan as an SHM-CD. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued in 2013 as a 180 gram vinyl LP, as part of UMe’s “Back To Black” vinyl reissue series. “In The City” peaks at number twenty on the UK album chart.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1976 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1976 – “Changesonebowie”, the eleventh album by David Bowie is released. It is the first compilation of Bowie’s hits on RCA Records from 1969 to 1976. The album also marks the first appearance of the track “John I’m Only Dancing” on an album. The song had been previously issued as a stand alone single in September of 1972. The first 1,000 copies of the UK LP have the “sax version” of the song, a re-recorded version cut in January of 1973. It issued as a single in the UK in April of 1973, using the same catalog number as the first pressing. The compilation subsequently switches out the “sax version” with the original release on future pressings. “Ziggy Stardust” is also issued as a single A-side in tandem with the compilations release to help promote it. “Changesone” is also briefly reissued on CD in 1985 by RCA, but is quickly withdrawn after Bowie acquires the rights to his master recordings. The album also spawns a sequel compilation titled “Changestwobowie” released in November of 1981. After both titles are deleted, another Bowie hits album titled “Changesbowie” featuring tracks from both albums with songs from the “Let’s Dance” and “Tonight” albums (originally released on EMI-America Records) is released in 1990, while Bowie’s catalog is distributed by Rykodisc. It too is deleted when the Bowie’s catalog is licensed to EMI Records worldwide. On May 20, 2016, the album is reissued on vinyl for the first time in over two decades, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of its original release. Parlophone/WMG presses the new reissue on black and limited edition clear 180 gram vinyl. “Changesonebowie” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 20, 1946 – Pop music ico…

Born on this day: May 20, 1946 – Pop music icon and Academy Award winning actress Cher (born Cherilyn Sarkasian La Pierre in El Centro, CA). Happy 73rd Birthday, Cher!!

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1974 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1974 – “Rags To Rufus”, the second album by Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan is released. Produced by Bob Monaco, it is recorded at Quantum Recording Studios in Torrance, CA from December 1973 – February 1974. Originally known as Ask Rufus when they form in 1971, the band originally consists of former American Breed (“Bend Me, Shape Me”) members Kevin Murphy (keyboards), Chuck Colbert Jr., Willie Weeks (bass), Lee Graziano (drums), Al Ciner (guitar), James Stella and Paulette McWilliams (vocals). They’re signed to Epic Records and record an album, which is shelved and they are dropped. Manager and producer Bob Monaco helps them to land another contract, this time with ABC/Dunhill Records. Before it’s recorded, Weeks is replaced by Dennis Belfield, Stella is replaced by Ron Stockert, and Graziano by Andre Fischer. During this time McWilliams becomes close friends with a young Chicago based singer named Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens), who initially joins as a background singer. Paulette eventually decides to leave, grooming Khan to replace her. Shortening their name to Rufus, they release their debut album in July of 1973 (#44 R&B, #174 Pop), then quickly beginning work on the follow up. In spite of being very pregnant with her first child Indira Milini (born December 21, 1973), Chaka delivers powerful vocals throughout. During the sessions, Rufus receive a visit in the studio by R&B and pop superstar Stevie Wonder, who had become aware of them through their cover of his song “Maybe Your Baby” on their first album. Wonder offers to write the band a song for them, initially coming up with one titled “Come and Get This Stuff”. Chaka tells Stevie bluntly that she doesn’t like it. Stunned at the rejection, Wonder asks Khan what her birth sign is, to which she replies “Aries-Pisces”. Stevie comes back with another song titled “Tell Me Something Good” (#3 R&B and Pop). It also features future members Tony Maiden (talk box, guitar), and Nate Morgan (keyboards), though both are uncredited. Putting her unique vocal stamp on the unusually structured but ultra funky song, “Tell Me” becomes a crossover smash. The single wins Rufus and Chaka Khan their first Grammy Award For Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group in 1975. It is followed by the equally funky “You Got The Love” (#1 R&B, #14 Pop), co-written by Khan and former Stevie Wonder guitarist Ray Parker, Jr., pushing the album past the million mark in sales. First released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued by Geffen/Universal Japan in 2004, packaged in a mini-LP sleeve. “Rags To Rufus” peaks at number four on the Billboard R&B album chart and Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 19, 1948 – Singer, songw…

Born on this day: May 19, 1948 – Singer, songwriter, model and actress Grace Jones (born Beverly Grace Jones in Spanish Town, Jamaica). Happy 71st Birthday, Grace!!

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On this day in music history: May 19, 1975 – “…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1975 – “Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy”, the ninth studio album by Elton John is released. Produced by Gus Dudgeon, it is recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO from June – July 1974. After the successful “Caribou” album, the prolific musician returns to the Caribou Ranch recording studio in the Colorado Rockies to record his next release. The concept album is an autobiographical account of Elton John and Bernie Taupin and the struggles they faced at the beginning of their musical careers. The single “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” (#4 Pop), is about John’s half hearted suicide attempt while he’s engaged to a woman, faced with choosing her over his music career (and still struggling with his sexual orientation at the time). His friend and former band mate Long John Baldry convinces him to break off the engagement (whom John’s refers to in the song as “Sugar Bear”). The album also marks the last time that John records with drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray until the “Too Low For Zero” album in 1983. “Captain Fantastic makes history when it becomes the first album to ever enter the Billboard Top 200 at number one. For the original LP release, a limited number of promotional copies are pressed on translucent brown vinyl, with each album jacket autographed by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1995 with the stand alone singles “Philadelphia Freedom” (#1 Pop), “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (#1 Pop), and Elton’s cover of the John Lennon penned “One Day A Time” (B-side of “Lucy”), added as bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, the album is remastered and reissued in 2017. “Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy” spends seven weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 19, 1951 – Ramones lead …

Born on this day: May 19, 1951 – Ramones lead vocalist Joey Ramone (born Jeffrey Ross Hyman in Forest Hills, NY). Happy Birthday to this punk rock icon on what would have been his 68th Birthday.

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On this day in music history: May 19, 1973 – &…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1973 – “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” by Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on April 28, 1973, also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on May 5, 1973. Written and produced by Stevie Wonder, it is the third pop chart topper for the Motown superstar. Issued as the follow up to the chart topping “Superstition”, it is the second single from the album “Talking Book”. The track features singers Jim Gilstrap and Gloria Barley singing the songs first chorus before Stevie sings the first verse. The original LP and hit single mixes of the song differ, as the single version adds a horn section that not present on the original album version. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on March 17, 1973, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The song quickly becomes a pop standard, being covered by numerous artists over the years including Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Tom Jones, and Johnny Mathis to name a few. “Sunshine” also wins Stevie a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, one of four Grammy Awards he picks up in 1974. When accepting his award for the single, Wonder thanks the audience by saying “I would like to thank all of you for making this night the sunshine of my life!” Stevie Wonder’s version of “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002.

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On this day in music history: May 19, 1972 – &…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1972 – “Honky Château”, the fifth studio album by Elton John is released. Produced by Gus Dudgeon, it is recorded at the Château d’Hérouville in Hérouville, France in January 1972. After releasing three full albums in 1971, including “Madman Across The Water”, the “Friends – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” and the live “11-17-70”, Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin continue their workaholic pace into the next year. To record his next album, Elton and producer Gus Dudgeon record at the Château d’Hérouville, an 18th century French chateau located about forty miles northwest of Paris. The thirty room house, complete with a pool and tennis courts, also houses a professional recording studio. It is the first full album to feature John recording with his road musicians bassist Dee Murray, drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone, setting the template for his most successful work during the 70’s. The album differs from his previous work as it is the first to not feature a string section since his debut release “Empty Sky” (though it features violin player Jean-Luc Ponty on two tracks). “Château” is also the last Elton John album to be released on the Uni Records imprint in the US and Canada, as the label is absorbed into MCA. It spins off two singles including “Honky Cat” (#8 US Pop, #31 UK) and “Rocket Man” (#6 US Pop, #2 UK). The remastered CD of the album released in 1995, includes one unreleased bonus track (alternative take of “Slave”) from the original recording sessions. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, the album is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2012 as part of the box set “5 Classic Albums” in 2012. “Château” is also reissued as a stand along vinyl release in 2017. “Honky Château” spends five weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number two on the UK album chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 19, 1971 -…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1971 – “Aretha Live At The Fillmore West”, the second live album by Aretha Franklin (twentieth overall) is released. Produced by Jerry Wexler, it is recorded at the Fillmore West Auditorium in San Francisco, CA on March 5, 6 and 7, 1971. Seven months after the release of the “Spirit In The Dark” album, “The Queen Of Soul” plays a sold out three night stand at the famed San Francisco venue owned by concert promoter Bill Graham. The idea for the shows which are specifically recorded for a live album, is suggested by producer Jerry Wexler, connecting Franklin with the “hippie audience” in San Francisco. Along with her standard repertoire, she also performs covers of songs by The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Stephen Stills and Bread. For the concerts, Aretha is backed by many of the same musicians that have supported her on her studio recordings including Cornell Dupree (guitar), Bernard “Pretty” Purdie (drums), Jerry Jemmott (bass), King Curtis (saxophone, band leader), Truman Thomas (piano), The Memphis Horns (Wayne Jackson, Andrew Love) and The Sweethearts Of Soul (Brenda Bryant, Margaret Branch, Pat Smith) (background vocals). Musician Billy Preston (organ) also sits in with the band during the shows. The audience responds rapturously to the electrifying performances, which become a career highlight for Aretha Franklin. During the final night, she is joined on stage by Ray Charles who plays electric piano and duets on during the encore of “Spirit In The Dark”. The full performance of Aretha and Ray’s reprise of “Spirit” runs more than nineteen minutes, is pared down to eight and a half minutes when its included on the original album. The three nights of concerts are edited down to a ten track album. The public response to the album is swift and wildly enthusiastic, with many R&B radio stations playing large portions of it on the air. In 2005, an expanded version of the landmark album is released as a four CD box set titled “Don’t Fight The Feeling: The Complete Aretha Franklin & King Curtis Live At Fillmore West”. The box set limited to only 5,000 copies is released through the Rhino Handmade imprint. The following year, a two CD version is released, with the first disc featuring longer versions of the tracks which had been cut for time, on the original release. The second disc contains thirteen tracks and alternate performances from all three nights. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, the original 1971 version of the album is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by 4 Men With Beards Records. “Aretha Live At The Fillmore West” spends five weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number seven on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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