Category: 70’s

On this day in music history: July 12, 1976 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1976 – “Still The One” by Orleans is released. Written by John and Johanna Hall, it is the sixth single release for the pop/rock band from Woodstock, NY. Formed in 1972 by John Hall (guitar, vocals), Wells Kelly (drums, percussion, keyboards, vocals), and brothers Lance (bass, vocal) and Larry Hoppen (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), the band are signed to ABC Records in 1973 after playing the club and college circuit. Their first two albums released (“Orleans” and “Orleans II”) fail to produce any hits, and are dropped. Their luck changes when they meet producer and engineer Chuck Plotkin (Bruce Springsteen) in late 1974, after playing at Max’s Kansas City. Then the head of A&R for Asylum Records, Plotkin signs Orleans to the label and produce them. Their third album “Let There Be Music” released in March 1975, features a re-recorded version of the song “Dance With Me” (#6 Pop), becoming their first major hit. For the follow up, they are joined by second drummer Jerry Marotta. While writing material for the bands fourth album, guitarist and songwriter John Hall along with his then wife Johanna write “Still The One”. The initial idea comes to Johanna while doing the couples laundry, meditating on the ups and downs of long term relationships, while emphasizing a strong and loving bond. Quickly grabbing the nearest piece of paper, she writes the lyrics on the back on an envelope. Later showing what she’s written to John, he writes chords for the song in only fifteen minutes. “Still” is recorded in the Spring of 1976 at the Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA (engineered by Val Garay and Greg Ladanyi). Released as the first single from “Waking And Dreaming”, it is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on July 31, 1976, it peaks at #5 on October 23, 1976, becoming Orleans biggest hit. After its run on the charts, the song receives another boost when ABC uses the song extensively in ads to promote their programming line ups in 1977 and 1979. With the departure of John Hall from Orleans in 1977, the band continue on, and manage to score one more top 40 single with “Love Takes Time” (#11 Pop) in 1979. In later years, the album cover of “Waking And Dreaming” taken by photographer Gary Heery (Frank Zappa, Eddie Money), is lampooned and frequently mentioned on “worst album covers of all time” lists. The image features the band posed shirtless and appearing to be totally nude (though the photo is cropped above the waist) with their arms around each other. Originally intended to symbolize the bands friendship and solidarity, it appears to many as unintentionally homoerotic and humorous. Becoming a US Congressman in the late 2000’s, John Hall publicly expresses his disapproval to George W. Bush and John McCain when both use “Still The One” during their Presidential campaigns without permission. “Still The One” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1975 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1975 – “The Hustle” by Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Hot 100 on July 26, 1975 for 1 week. Written by Van McCoy, it is the biggest hit for the Washington D.C. born and raised producer, arranger and composer. McCoy composes the instrumental after seeing couple do the dance in a New York disco. Working with famed producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore (Sam Cooke, The Stylistics), the track is recorded at Media Sound Studios in New York City. The sessions feature a number of top notch studio musicians performing on the track including Steve Gadd and Rick Marotta (drums), Eric Gale and John Tropea (guitars), Richard Tee (electric piano), Gordon Edwards (bass), and piccolo player Philip Bodner playing the song’s signature melody line. The strings are arranged by famed New York concertmaster Gene Orloff. Released on Hugo & Luigi’s (co-owned with film producer Joseph E. Levine) Avco Records in March of 1975, the song quickly becomes a smash on the dance floor, making its way on to pop and R&B radio. The single wins Van McCoy a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1976. “The Hustle” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1971 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1971 – “Maggot Brain”, the third album by Funkadelic is released. Produced by George Clinton, it is recorded at Universal Studios in Detroit, MI from Late 1970 – Early 1971. Having established themselves with their self-titled debut and “Free Your Mind… And Your Ass Will Follow” in 1970, Funkadelic cultivate a sizable and loyal cult following with their unique brand of R&B, Funk and psychedelic rock influenced by the band’s prolific intake of LSD. The songs on their third album address concerns such as class and racial inequality, interpersonal relationships, the need for unity among people, and the ongoing war in Vietnam. The albums’ mesmerizing title track recorded in only a single take is its centerpiece. A nearly ten and a half minute long opus, featuring an epic solo by guitarist Eddie Hazel is inspired when George Clinton, who is tripping on acid, tells Hazel to play like he has just heard that his mother had died, and to put his emotions into his solo. Prior to the release of “Maggot Brain”, original members Hazel, Tawl Ross, Billy “Bass” Nelson, and Tiki Fulwood leave the band over financial and business disputes with Clinton. In spite of this, “Maggot Brain” becomes another success for Funkadelic, and its status as an important and influential album grows as the years pass. Numerous bands including Santana, Pearl Jam, Widespread Panic and Gov’t Mule cover “Maggot Brain” in live performances. The album  spins off three singles including “Can You Get To It” (#44 R&B, #93 Pop), “Hit It And Quit It” and “You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks” (#42 R&B, #91 Pop). It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2005 with three bonus tracks, including an alternate mix of the title track. The albums striking cover photos of a black woman (fashion model Barbara Cheeseborough) buried up to her neck and screaming (with a skull posed the same way on the back), taken by photographer Joel Brodsky (The Doors), become iconic images. Reissued on CD and vinyl numerous times over the years, most recently the vinyl LP edition is issued by 4 Men With Beards Records in 2014. Besides the standard black vinyl pressing, the label also issues limited edition colored vinyl LP’s (1,000 copies each) on orange, blue and white marbled, purple, and “Chocofunkalatte"vinyl. “Maggot Brain” peaks at number fourteen on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number One Hundred Eight on the Top 200.

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Film and television actress Denise Nickerson…

Film and television actress Denise Nickerson (born in New York City) – April 1, 1957 – July 10, 2019, RIP

On this day in music history: July 10, 1979 – …

On this day in music history: July 10, 1979 – “Low Budget”, the seventeenth studio album by The Kinks is released. Produced by Ray Davies, it is recorded at The Power Station and Blue Rock Studios in New York City from January – June 1979. Following the release of “Misfits”, The Kinks second album for Arista, the band undergo a series of personnel changes. Bassist Andy Pyle and keyboardist John Gosling depart to work on a project together. They are replaced by former Argent bassist Jim Rodford and former Pretty Things keyboardist Gordon John Edwards, though Edwards quits before recording begins on “Low Budget”. Ray Davies himself plays keyboards during the recording sessions for “Low Budget”. Boasting a harder rocking guitar dominated sound than most of their 70’s era work, it quickly finds favor with the bands loyal fan base, becoming second best selling album of their career. It spins off three hit singles including the rock/disco flavored “(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman” (#41 Pop), which is also issued as an extended 12" single in advance of the album. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999 with three additional bonus tracks. “Low Budget” peaks at number eleven 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: July 10, 1976 – …

On this day in music history: July 10, 1976 – “Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Bill Danoff, it is the biggest hit for the Washington D.C. based pop vocal quartet. The group consists of two couples led by husband and wife Bill and Kathy “Taffy” Danoff, who had previously sung background vocals and co-wrote (as “Fat City”) John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads” in 1971. In early 1976, Starland Vocal Band are signed to Denver and producer Milt Okun’s newly established label Windsong Records (distributed by RCA). The song is inspired while Bill Danoff is eating at a restaurant called Clyde’s in Washington DC, when he sees a section of the menu called “afternoon delight”. Taking that for a title, Danoff goes home and write it later that day. The songs mildly provocative lyrics (with the title being a double entendre for mid afternoon sex), anchored by the groups immaculate four part harmonies, it becomes a solid hit in short order. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on May 8, 1976, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The single wins the group two Grammy Awards including Best New Artist of 1976. The success of “Afternoon Delight” leads to CBS giving the group their own mid-Summer variety series, “The Starland Vocal Band Show”. The series only runs six weeks before it’s canceled, but is noteworthy as it features a then unknown David Letterman as a series regular and writer on the show. “Afternoon Delight” is also featured in numerous films including “Good Will Hunting”, “Boogie Nights”, “Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy”, and on the TV series “Glee”. “Afternoon Delight” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: July 10, 1939 – R&B voca…

Born on this day: July 10, 1939 – R&B vocal legend Mavis Staples (born in Chicago, IL). Happy 80th Birthday, Mavis!!

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On this day in music history: July 10, 1972 – …

On this day in music history: July 10, 1972 – “Son Of Schmilsson”, the eighth album by Harry Nilsson is released. Produced by Richard Perry, it is the recorded at Trident Studios and Apple Studios in London from March – April 1972. Coming off of the hugely successful “Nilsson Schmilsson” album, Harry Nilsson finds himself under pressure from his record label RCA and producer Richard Perry to repeat that success with the follow up. True to form, Nilsson chooses to go in the opposite direction creatively, following his muse and writing songs to suit his own eclectic tastes and sardonic sense of humor. At the time, he is in the process of divorcing his second wife Diane and writes the very catchy, funny and bluntly sarcastic “You’re Breaking My Heart”. The choruses end with the singer dropping the F-bomb throughout, to drive the point home. The albums next to last track “I’d Rather Be Dead” features a chorus of elderly men and women singing along, also reflects his state of mind at the time. The album features many of the same musicians who played on the previous album including Klaus Voorman (bass), Chris Spedding, John Uribe (guitars), and Bobby Keys (saxophone), as well as George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Peter Frampton, Lowell George, and Ray Cooper. The recording sessions are filmed for a documentary titled “Did Somebody Drop His Mouse?”, but is not released. Some of this footage is later featured in the Nilsson documentary “Who Is Harry Nilsson, And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him?”. Though not as commercially successful as its predecessor, it is well received by the public. It spins off two singles including “Spaceman” (#23 Pop) and “Daybreak” (#39 Pop). The albums cover feature a black and white photo of Nilsson dressed as Count Dracula at the top of a staircase, with the image being staged at George Harrison’s home Friar Park in Henley On Thames, Oxfordshire, UK. Original vinyl LP copies were pressed with custom labels utilizing vintage Victor 78 RPM styled labels. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2013 as part of the box set “Nilsson – The RCA Albums Collection”, containing six additional bonus tracks. “Son Of Schmilsson” peaks at number twelve 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: July 10, 1972 – …

On this day in music history: July 10, 1972 – “Chicago V”, the fifth album by Chicago is released. Produced by James William Guericio, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from September 20 – 29, 1971. The album is the bands first single LP release following their previous four (three were 2 LP sets, followed by a 4 LP live box set), instead opting for shorter songs rather than extended pieces and side long suites. Robert Lamm will be the dominant creative driving force of the album, writing eight of its ten songs. Recorded in a relatively brief nine days of studio time, it spins off two hit singles including “Saturday In The Park” (#3 Pop) and “Dialogue Pts. I & II” (# 24 Pop), becoming their most successful album to date. It becomes Chicago’s first chart topping album, spending nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200 beginning on August 19, 1972. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003 by Rhino Records, with three additional bonus tracks. It is also issued as a high resolution DVD-A disc, featuring a 5.1 surround mix. The 5.1 mix is also reissued by Rhino in Japan in 2011, with a 180 gram vinyl LP reissue released by Friday Music in 2012. “Chicago V” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Film and television actor Rip Torn (born Elm…

Film and television actor Rip Torn (born Elmore Rual Torn Jr. in Temple, TX) – February 6, 1931 – July 9, 2019, RIP