Category: 80’s

On this day in music history: May 20, 1980 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1980 – “Unmasked”, the eighth studio album by KISS is released. Produced by Vini Poncia, it is recorded at The Record Plant in New York City from January – March 1980. Following the Platinum selling “Dynasty” album and tour, KISS again collaborate with songwriter and producer Vini Poncia (Ringo Starr, Leo Sayer), who had produced and contributed material to their previous release. Ponicia is heavily involved in the project, also co-writing eight of the new albums eleven tracks. “Unmasked” is last studio album to feature the bands original line up, though drummer Peter Criss actually has no involvement in the recording of the album. His drum parts are played by session drummer Anton Fig (uncredited), who played on the majority of the previous album “Dynasty”. Criss’ only involvement in the project is when he appears in the music video for the first single “Shandi” (#47 Pop). The drummer is fired from the band for his erratic, drug fueled behavior. It is another fifteen years before he unites with the band at a Kiss Fan Convention on June 17, 1995. Unlike previous albums, KISS does not support the album with a tour in US, with the only live performance being a one off show at The Palladium in Hollywood, CA, with Peter Criss’ replacement, drummer Eric Carr. They mount an international tour, playing Australia, France, Italy, Germany, and the UK where the project fares much better commercially. The album spins off three singles including “Talk To Me”, and “Tomorrow”. Remastered and reissued on CD in 1997, it is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2014. “Unmasked” peaks at number thirty five 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: May 19, 1986 – &…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1986 – “So”, the fifth studio album by Peter Gabriel is released. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Peter Gabriel, it is recorded at Ashcombe Studios, near Bath, England from May 1985 – March 1986. It is Gabriel’s second collaboration with producer Lanois (having worked together on the “Birdy” Soundtrack in 1984), the songs are a mixture of his more experimental progressive rock sounds and world music combined with more radio friendly, pop oriented material. The results yield his biggest selling album, spinning off five singles including “Sledgehammer” (#1 US Pop, #4 UK), “Big Time” (#8 US Pop, #13 UK), and “In Your Eyes” (#26 US Pop). The albums cover artwork is designed by graphic artist Peter Saville (New Order, Factory Records), and is the first to feature a clear photo of Gabriel on the front. It is also the first of his solo albums to bear a proper title, which he comes up with off the cuff, liking its simplicity and the fact that it had no specific meaning. In 1989, “In Your Eyes” is prominently featured in the Cameron Crowe written and directed film “Say Anything”, in a highly memorable scene featuring actor John Cusack, blasting song on a boombox outside his girlfriend’s (Ione Skye) window. The songs exposure in the film and soundtrack album, leads to it being re-released and charting a second time, peaking at #41 on the Hot 100 in July of 1989. In 2012, a three CD reissue to commemorate the album’s twenty fifth anniversary is released, containing a remastered version of the original album and a live concert recorded in Athens, Greece in 1987 during the “So World Tour”. A further box set edition is also released including the aforementioned contents along with a disc of demo recordings, two DVD’s including the Athens concert, the Classic Albums documentary on the making of the album, a remastered vinyl pressing of the LP, and a vinyl 12" single including two unreleased tracks and an alternate piano version of “Don’t Give Up”. “So” hits number one on the UK album album chart, peaking at number two 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: May 19, 1980 -…

On this day in music history: May 19, 1980 – “Fame – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Michael Gore, it is recorded at Media Sound Studios, C.I. Recording Studios, A&R Recording Studios and Columbia 30th Street Studios in New York City from April – May 1979. Issued as the soundtrack to the Alan Parker directed film about students attending the New York High School of Performing Arts, it stars Irene Cara, Gene Anthony Ray, Lee Curreri, Barry Miller, Maureen Teefy and Paul McCrane. Parker approaches Giorgio Moroder who had won an Oscar for composing the score to his film “Midnight Express”, to work on “Fame”. Moroder declines as he is busy working with Donna Summer. The director also asks Jeff Lynne of ELO who also busy. Ultimately musician Michael Gore is hired, who co-writes six of the nine songs. The music is recorded prior to the start of filming in July of 1979. Three of the songs are performed by Irene Cara. The title track (#4 Pop, #1 Club Play) is co-written by Gore and Dean Pitchford, featuring a group of backing vocalists that includes Luther Vandross who is also the vocal arranger on the track. The song is the albums’ break out single, becoming a pop radio and club smash. “Fame” also earns Gore and Pitchford the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1981. The follow up single, the ballad “Out Here On My Own” (#19 Pop, #20 AC) also sung by Cara is co-written by Gore along with his sister pop vocalist Lesley Gore, also earning an Oscar nomination. It marks the first time in history that two songs from the same film, are nominated in the same category. Paul McCrane (Montgomery MacNeil) performs “Dogs In The Yard” and “Is It Okay If I Call You Mine?”, the latter of which is written by him. “Red Light” (#1 Club Play, #41 Pop, #40 R&B) performed by Linda Clifford is another stand out, featured in a memorable scene. Like the film itself, the soundtrack becomes a major success, and a pop cultural phenomenon at a time when film musicals are considered well past their prime. It launches Irene Cara’s career as a recording artist, having performed on Broadway, on television and in film since childhood. “Fame” is spun off into a successful TV series in 1982, running for six seasons. The title track and soundtrack become belated hits in the UK two years after the films release, when both are reissued after the debut of the series. Both top the UK singles and album charts in July of 1982, with the album being succeeded at number one by “The Kids From Fame” album. Originally released on CD in 1990, the original soundtrack is remastered and reissued in 2003, including three bonus tracks not on the original album. “Fame – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 19, 1945 – Singer, songw…

Born on this day: May 19, 1945 – Singer, songwriter and musician Pete Townshend (born Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend in Chiswick, London, UK. Happy 74th Birthday, Pete!!

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On this day in music history: May 18, 1985 – &…

On this day in music history: May 18, 1985 – “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Mainstream Rock chart for 3 weeks on April 20, 1985. Written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff, it is the biggest hit for the Anglo/Scottish rock band fronted by lead singer Jim Kerr. Written as the theme song to the John Hughes directed coming of age comedy/drama “The Breakfast Club”, Forsey initially approaches Billy Idol, Bryan Ferry and Cy Curnin (lead singer of The Fixx) to record the song, all of them decline. Simple Minds are also asked to do the song, and turn it down before being persuaded by their US label A&M Records to record it. The band create their own arrangement and record the track in about three hours. Released as a single on January 21, 1985, four weeks before the film arrives in theaters, it quickly becomes a hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #90 on February 23, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The full unedited version of the track (running over six and a half minutes) is issued as a 12" single, along with the shorter 45 version (also featured on the soundtrack album). In the US, A&M Records issues the 7″ and 12″ singles in a title sleeve with Celtic themed crosses on the front and back.

The second and more common printing of the 7″ sleeve, adds a mini of “The Breakfast Club” soundtrack cover art work (adding info about the song’s inclusion on the soundtrack album), shortly after its release.

In time, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is regarded as an iconic song of the era, and remains one the most popular and frequently played 80′s records on radio today.

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On this day in music history: May 18, 1985 – &…

On this day in music history: May 18, 1985 – “Fresh” by Kool & the Gang hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Club Play chart for 1 week on May 4, 1985, and peaking at #9 on the Hot 100 on June 8, 1985. Written by James “J.T.” Taylor, Sandy Linzer and Kool & The Gang, it is the eighth chart topping single for the veteran R&B/Funk band from Jersey City, NJ. The original idea for what become “Fresh” comes from lead singer J.T Taylor who had written it prior to joining Kool & The Gang in 1978. Showing it to drummer George Brown, Brown changes the original groove to what it becomes on the finished recording. They invite songwriter Sandy Linzer (“A Lover’s Concerto”, “Native New Yorker”, “Let’s Hang On”, Working My Way Back To You") to help finish the song. Linzer come up with the title and write the lyrics. Released as the second single from Kool & The Gang’s eighteenth studio album “Emergency” in March of 1985, it quickly follows its predecessor “Misled” (#3 R&B, #10 Pop), into the top ten on the pop and R&B charts. The song becomes one of the bands most popular and frequently played songs, both on radio and live. “Fresh” is also supported by a pair of 12" dance mixes, one remixed by co-producer Jim Bonnefond, John Rollo and Kendall Stubbs, and another by Mark S. Berry, that become huge on club dance floors around the world. The song is supported by a music video that spoofs the fairy tale “Cinderella” and features actress and singer Telma Hopkins as “Cinderella” (with dance and acrobatic doubles also playing the female lead, in far away shots) and J.T. Taylor as the prince. “Fresh” unseats USA For Africa’s “We Are The World” from the top spot on the R&B singles chart in the Spring of 1985.

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On this day in music history: May 18, 1981 – &…

On this day in music history: May 18, 1981 – “Knights Of The Sound Table”, the seventh album by Cameo is released. Produced by Larry Blackmon, it is recorded at H&L Recording Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ and The Power Station in New York City from December 1980 – January 1981. With their sixth album “Feel Me” in record stores only two months, Cameo continue their break neck pace of recording and touring, returning to the studio between tour dates to begin work on yet another. Like many of their previous releases, bandleader and drummer Larry Blackmon has a hand in co-writing all of the material. When the album is released in the Spring of 1981, barely seven months after the previous one, the funky horn driven first single “Freaky Dancin” (#3 R&B, #45 Club Play), gives Cameo another hit right out of the box. It is followed by the breezy funk of “I Like It” (#25 R&B). Though not released as a commercial single in the US (UK only), the track “Don’t Be So Cool” featuring singer Nona Hendryx as a boastful and haughty socialite, begins receiving play on radio and on club dance floors as an album cut. Well received by fans at the time of its release, it becomes their fourth consecutive Gold album. But like its predecessor, “Knights Of The Sound Table” is seen as a “transitional” album for the New York City based funk band. It is also the last Cameo album to feature the bands large self contained line up of ten members. That number is cut virtually in half with the release of the next album “Alligator Woman” in March of 1982. “Knights” makes its long awaited CD debut in Japan in 1992, and is remastered and reissued in the US in 1995. It is remastered and reissued in Japan in 2008, with UK reissue label Soul Brother Records re-releasing the title in 2013. Universal Japan reissues it a third time in 2015, as a limited edition SHM-CD as part of their Universal JB & Funk 1000 Best Collection series. “Knights Of The Sound Table” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty four on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 17, 1988 – &…

On this day in music history: May 17, 1988 – “Tougher Than Leather”, the fourth album by Run-DMC is released. Produced by Run-DMC, Davy D. and Rick Rubin, it is recorded at Chung King Studios, Unique Recording Studios, Electric Lady Studios, Greene St. Recording Studios in New York City and Ian London Studios in East Islip, NY from Mid 1987 – Early 1988. Having achieved unprecedented success for a rap group with their their third album “Raising Hell”, Run-DMC tour extensively during 1986 and 1987. Ambitious to not only maintain their newly found star status, but go to the next level, the group not only plan a new album, but a feature film as well. Run-DMC return to the studio to work on their fourth album “Tougher Than Leather”. Working again with Rick Rubin, the group also collaborate with David “Davy D.” Reeves (“One For The Treble (Fresh)”) on the album. Musically, “Leather” differs noticeably from its predecessor. With contemporaries like Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim and Boogie Down Productions rapidly changing the face of Hip Hop, Run-DMC also look to diversify their sound. Though not technically a soundtrack album, it also features several songs in the film they are set to star in. Also titled “Tougher Than Leather”, the film is co-written and directed by Rick Rubin. The group star as themselves, out to solve the murder of their friend and roadie Runny Ray (Raymond White). “Leather” also features cameos and musical performances by Slick Rick and The Beastie Boys. The film receives universally negative reviews upon its release in September of 1988, and is in and out of theaters quickly. So far, it has only been given a brief release on VHS tape, but has remained out of print for over thirty years. The album fairs significantly better, spinning off four singles including “Run’s House” (b/w “Beats To The Rhyme”) (#10 R&B), “Mary, Mary” (#29 R&B, #75 Pop), “I’m Not Going Out Like That” (#40 R&B) and “Papa Crazy”. Though it sells decently, it falls far short of the triple Platinum sales of “Raising Hell”, with many fans feeling that “Tougher Than Leather” pales in comparison to the previous album. In 2001, director Kevin Smith uses the title song in his film and on the soundtrack of “Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back”. “Leather” is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999, when Profile Records is absorbed by Arista. A second CD reissue in 2005 includes four bonus tracks, including the holiday single “Christmas In Hollis”. Out of print on vinyl since its original release, its reissued by Music On Vinyl in 2014, and again by Get On Down Records in 2017. “Tougher Than Leather” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number ten on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 17, 1986 – “…

On this day in music history: May 17, 1986 – “The Greatest Love Of All” by Whitney Houston hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 5 weeks on April 26, 1986, and peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on May 10, 1986. Written by Michael Masser and Linda Creed, the song is originally recorded by George Benson in 1977 for the Muhammad Ali biopic “The Greatest”. Famed Philly Soul lyricist Creed’s inspiration for writing the lyrics in part, come from her own struggle with breast cancer which she had recently been diagnosed when commissioned to write the song. Whitney Houston personally selects the song to record for her 1985 debut album, working with co-writer Masser who also produces the single. The original LP version is actually issued as the B-side of her first single “You Give Good Love”, but is remixed for single release (as an A-side) and is issued in March of 1986, quickly becoming Houston’s third pop chart topper. Sadly, songwriter Linda Creed loses her battle with breast cancer on April 10, 1986, just five weeks before the song tops the pop charts. She is only thirty six years old at the time. “The Greatest Love Of All” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 17, 1986 – &…

On this day in music history: May 17, 1986 – “On My Own” by Patti LaBelle & Michael McDonald hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 3 weeks on June 14, 1986. Written and produced by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, it is the second solo chart topper for the veteran Philadelphia, PA born R&B vocalist, and the second chart topping for McDonald. Issued as the first single from the album “Winner In You”, LaBelle initially cuts the track twice with producer Richard Perry. When the results are disappointing, songwriters Bacharach and Sager offer to produce the song instead. They re-cut the track with a group of crack L.A. studio musicians that include pop music producers David Foster and Peter Wolf (synthesizers), Dann Huff (guitars), Neil Stubenhaus (bass), Greg Phillinganes (Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer), Carlos Vega (drums), Paulinho DaCosta (percussion) and Burt Bacharach himself (piano). LaBelle adds her vocals, but all agree that something is still missing. LaBelle invites singer Michael McDonald to add his vocals to the song, turning it into a duet. Besides recording their vocals at separate times, the two singers are also in different cities when the music video is filmed, pairing them together in split screen. In fact, the two vocalists do not actually meet each other in person until they perform the song live on The Tonight Show. “On My Own” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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