Category: 80’s

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On this day in music history: April 26, 1985 – “Nervous Night”, the second album by The Hooters is released. Produced by Rick Chertoff, it is recorded at The Record Plant in New York City and Studio 4 in Philadelphia, PA from Mid 1984 – Early 1985. Following the success of band members Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian work on Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual”, they team up with her producer and former band mate Chertoff to record their second full length release (and major label debut). The band take their name from the melodica, a harmonica/keyboard hybrid (made by Hohner) that is nicknamed “the hooter” by the band members. The instrument played by keyboardist and vocalist Rob Hyman, also becomes a key element of their sound. The album initially gets off to a slow start until they receive major exposure by opening the US portion of “Live Aid” at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985. It spins off four singles including “And We Danced” (#21 Pop) and “Day By Day” (#18 Pop). “Nervous Night” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 25, 1980 – “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow is released. Written by Kurtis Walker, Larry Smith, James B. Moore, Robert Ford, Jr. and Russell Simmons, it is the second single and biggest hit for the rap music pioneer from New York City. Hailing from Harlem, NY, Kurtis Blow (born Kurtis Walker) makes history when he becomes the first rapper on a major label, when he signs with Mercury Records in 1979. He hits pay dirt immediately with the instant classic “Christmas Rappin’” in late 1979, which quickly sells over a half million copies. For the follow up, Kurtis along with manager (and future Def Jam Records co-founder) Russell Simmons, and producers Larry Smith (Run DMC, Whodini), J.B. Moore and Robert Ford come up with an idea destined for his debut album. Taking the word “break”, the song muses on its multiple meanings, a humorous and serious play on the word itself, and how they are all applied to life in general. The first lyrics refer to “brakes on a bus, brakes on a car” (automobiles), “breaks to make you a superstar” (luck and chance) to “But these here breaks will rock your shoes” (referring to break beats in Hip Hop music). The track is recorded at Greene Street Recording Studios in New York City with musicians Jimmy Bralower (drums, percussion), Tom “T-Bone Wolk (bass) (Hall & Oates), John Tropea (guitar), J.B. Moore (electric piano), Denzil Miller (piano, clavinet), and Jamie Delgado (timbales). Released in the Spring of 1980, "The Breaks” creates an immediate sensation at street level, which like The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” only months before, goes overground very quickly. “The Breaks” peaks at #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, #9 on the Club Play chart and #87 on the Hot 100. With the overwhelming majority of its sales on the 12" single containing the full 7:41 track, it sells over 500,000 copies in the US, becoming only the second 12" in history to be officially certified Gold by the RIAA. “The Breaks” becomes one of the definitive songs of Hip Hop and a pop cultural touchstone, helping to popularize and bring the culture to a worldwide audience. In later years, the song is sampled, interpolated and referred to in other songs. Kurtis Blow’s original version is featured in the video games “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”, “True Crime: New York City”, “Scarface: The World Is Yours” and “Dance Central 2”. “The Breaks” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 24, 1989 – “Full Moon Fever”, the first solo album by Tom Petty is released. Produced by Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Mike Campbell, it is recorded at M.C. Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Rumbo Recorders in Canoga Park, CA, Sunset Sound Studios, Conway Studios in Hollywood, CA, Devonshire Studios in North Hollywood, CA and Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA from Late 1987 – Mid 1988. After releasing The Heartbreakers’ album “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)” in the Spring of 1987, Tom Petty decides to record an album on his own. When he tells his bandmates, it causes tension among them. Drummer Stan Lynch is especially vocal about his displeasure. Petty moves ahead with the project anyway, with guitarist Mike Campbell assisting. To co-produce the album, Tom hires Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne. At the start of recording, the songs are written in Campbell’s garage studio, with the album having a working title of “Songs From The Garage”. Petty, Campbell, Lynne and drummer Phil Jones (Waddy Wachtel), play most of the instruments. Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench and bassist Howie Epstein also contribute. Later in the recording, they are joined by George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jim Keltner, whom Petty and Lynne have worked with on The Traveling Wilburys album. Tom presents then the finished solo album to his label. In spite of a string of Gold and Platinum selling albums, Tom Petty has had a strained relationship with MCA Records. After playing it for then label boss Irving Azoff, the executive tells Petty he “doesn’t hear any singles” and refuses to release it. Shocked by the reception he receives, Tom goes back and records two more songs, then waits. By 1989, Azoff has left MCA to start his own label Giant Records, and Petty resubmits the album now called “Full Moon Fever”, to the new regime. This time, they love it and put it out immediately. Led by the single “I Won’t Back Down” (#12 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock), “Fever” receives a rapturous response from fans. It spins off four more singles including “Runnin’ Down A Dream” (#23 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock), “Free Fallin’ (#7 Pop, #17 AC), and "A Face In The Crowd” (#46 Pop, #5 Mainstream Rock). “Full Moon Fever” becomes the biggest selling studio album of Tom Petty’s career. The original CD release contains a brief spoken monologue, hidden in the gap between tracks five and six. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2016, as an SHM-CD by Universal Japan. Only given a limited pressing on vinyl in 1989, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP also in 2016, as part of the box set “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – The Complete Studio Albums Volume 1 (1976-1991)”. “Full Moon Fever” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 24, 1980 – “Cameosis”, the fifth album by Cameo is released. Produced by Larry Blackmon, it is recorded at H&L Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ in Late 1979. Riding high off of the success of their fourth album “Secret Omen” and the back to back hits “I Just Want To Be” (#3 R&B) and “Sparkle” (#10 R&B), Cameo quickly return to the studio in the Fall of 1979 to record the follow up. The resulting album sees nine piece R&B/Funk band enjoying their first taste of pop crossover success, and becomes their best seller to date. It spins off two singles including “We’re Goin’ Out Tonight” (#11 R&B) and “Shake Your Pants” (#10 R&B). The album also marks the final appearance of vocalist Wayne Cooper, whose distinctive falsetto vocals are heard on several of Cameo’s hits (including the two singles from “Cameosis”), leaving the band after the albums release for an abortive attempt at a solo career. Cooper passes away in 1984 at the age of 28. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1996. “Cameosis” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number twenty five on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 22, 1985 – “Around The World In A Day”, the seventh studio album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at the Flying Cloud Warehouse in Eden Prairie, MN, Mobile Audio Studio, St. Paul, MN, Sunset Sound and Capitol Studios in Hollywood, CA from January – December 1984. The second album credited to Prince & The Revolution, it is issued only ten months after “Purple Rain”. Though Warner Bros wants Prince to continue to tour in support of his hugely successful album, to maximize its sales worldwide, Prince has other ideas. Bored with touring, the musician insists that his next album be released as soon as the last single from the previous album falls from the charts. The new album is the first in a number of musical departures that Prince takes in his career. Much of the albums first half has a distinctively psychedelic influence, with the rest being balanced out with funk, pop and gospel sounds. Initially it is released with minimal publicity and without a single until nearly a month later. Prince suggests that “Paisley Park” be the first single (which is released in the UK), but with US radio already giving “Raspberry Beret” heavy airplay as an LP cut, Warner Bros in the US insists that it be issued instead. The album receives favorable reviews, and a positive reaction from fans. It spins off three singles including “Raspberry Beret” (#2 Pop) and “Pop Life” (#7 Pop). The initial CD packaging of the album comes in a three panel cardboard long box that unfolds (showing the song lyrics, like the LP’s inner gatefold) with the actual CD inside of a mini cardboard sleeve (of the album cover artwork), inserted into a slot inside the longbox. This packaging is discontinued after the initial press run, and the CD comes in a regular jewel case on subsequent re-pressings. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued in September of 2016, replicating the original LP packaging and the “Balloon Boy” hype sticker. “Around The World In A Day” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 19, 1980 – “Call Me” by Blondie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks. Written by Giorgio Moroder and Deborah Harry, it is the second chart topping single for the New York based New Wave/Rock band fronted by lead singer Debbie Harry. Written as the theme song for the Richard Gere film “American Gigolo”. Moroder originally approaches Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac to co-write and perform the song, but declines when her label Modern Records will not grant permission for her to participate on the project. Next, Moroder asks Blondie lead vocalist Debbie Harry if she is interested. She agrees and begins working with the producer. Originally titled “Man Machine”, with a rough lyric written in by Moroder, Debbie feels the original words don’t transfer well to English. After looking at rough cut of the film, it gives the singer the proper inspiration to write new lyrics and melody. Harry writes the lyrics and records her vocals in just a few hours of studio time. Released in early February of 1980, the single is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on February 16, 1980, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “Call Me” is ranked the top single of year by Billboard Magazine. Three versions of the song are released. The version released on the “American Gigolo” soundtrack on Polydor Records runs 8:04 and is also serviced as a promotional 12" single to club and radio DJ’s. Blondie’s label Chrysalis Records releases the single edit clocking in at 3:32, and the third being a Spanish language version titled “Llámame” released on Salsoul Records on a 12" single. “Call Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 14, 1980 – “British Steel”, the sixth album by Judas Priest is released. Produced by Tom Allom, it is recorded at Startling Studios in Ascot, UK from January – February 1980. After an extended world tour to promote their previous studio release “Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather” and the subsequent live album “Unleashed In The East”, Judas Priest return to the studio at the beginning of 1980 to work on their next full length LP. The band record the album on the English country estate (Tittenhurst Park) formerly owned by John Lennon (now owned by Ringo Starr). It is their first album to feature all original material written by the band, and the first to include new drummer Dave Holland (replacing Les Binks). The album is the British heavy metal bands breakthrough release in the US, and includes the classics “Breaking The Law” and “Living After Midnight”. “Law” is promoted with a music video directed by Julien Temple (“The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle”, “Absolute Beginners”). The plot of the video involves the band holding up a bank (with guitars), breaking into the vault and robbing it of a gold record award for their own album. The video and song are later parodied on the MTV series “Beavis & Butthead”, and on an episode of “The Simpsons”. Judas Priest’s original version is also featured on the video game Guitar Hero Live. The album is remastered and reissued in 2010 as a CD/DVD 30th anniversary edition with the CD including two live bonus tracks. The DVD features live performances, and a documentary on the making of the album. It is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by UK label Simply Vinyl in 2001, with a later reissue from Sony Legacy in 2008. And in 2010. UK reissue label Back On Black releases various pressings of “Steel” on red, clear, blue and standard black vinyl, also as a limited edition picture disc. “British Steel” peaks at number four on the UK album chart, number thirty four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 13, 1984 – “Street Talk”, the solo debut album by Steve Perry is released. Produced by Steve Perry and Bruce Botnick, it is recorded at Record One Studios in Sherman Oaks, CA from Late 1983 – Early 1984. With Journey at the peak of their success by 1983, they take their first hiatus. Recording nearly an album a year, and then touring extensively since lead singer Steve Perry’s arrival in late 1977, the break is needed. During the down time, drummer Steve Smith records with his jazz fusion band Vital Information. No stranger to side projects, guitarist Neal Schon has recorded with keyboardist Jan Hammer (Schon & Hammer). Then Schon puts together HSAS (Hagar Schon Aaronson Shrieve), including Sammy Hagar, Kenny Aaronson and Michael Shrieve. Fearful that it will interfere with Journey, Perry voices his concern to both Schon and the band manager Herbie Herbert. When Herbert says that he can’t stop Neal from doing what he wants to do, Steve decides to make a solo album himself. When the singer tells his label Columbia Records, that he wants to record on his own, initially they are less than enthused. They’re concerned that he’ll make an overly expensive, self indulgent album that won’t sell. He convinces them he’ll complete it in reasonable time and not go over budget. Perry then contacts his former Alien Project band mate (also of Kim Carnes’ backing band) Craig Krampf (drums) to assist him. Also collaborating with Randy Goodrum (Chicago, Toto, Anne Murray), Steve Perry enlists Bruce Botnick (The Doors, Eddie Money) to co-produce. They put together a team of musicians that include Bob Glaub, Chuck Domanico (bass), Michael Landau, Waddy Wachtel (guitars), Bill Cuomo, Duane Hitchings (keyboards), and Steve Douglas (saxophone). With no outside pressure, the recording sessions go quickly. Though Perry’s unmistakable voice is front and center, his first solo outing differs noticeably from Journey. Returning to his pop and R&B music roots, it stands apart from his superstar band’s arena rock bombast. “Street Talk” is led by “Oh Sherrie” (#3 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock, #33 AC), written for Perry’s then girlfriend Sherrie Swafford, who also appears in the music video. The album spins off three more singles including “She’s Mine” (#21 Pop, #15 Mainstream Rock) “Strung Out” (#40 Pop, #17 Mainstream Rock) and “Foolish Heart” (#18 Pop, #2 AC). Though he finds success on his own, Steve Perry returns to Journey, and does not record another solo album (“For The Love Of Strange Medicine”) until 1994. “Street Talk” is remastered and reissued on CD in 2006, with five additional bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it’s reissued as a 180 gram LP by Music On Vinyl in 2011. “Street Talk” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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