Category: 80’s

On this day in music history: October 15, 1983 – “Ain’t Nobody” by Rufus & Chaka Khan hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #22 on the Hot 100 on December 3, 1983. Written by David “Hawk” Wolinski, it is the fifth and final chart topper for the veteran R&B band fronted by lead singer Chaka Khan.  Originally a member of the Chicago based garage band Shadows Of Knight (“Gloria”), Wolinski joins Rufus as a second keyboardist in 1978, after working as a side musician for Minnie Riperton. He quickly becomes a major creative force within the band, writing (or co-writing) several hits including “Hollywood”, “Everlasting Love”, “Street Player”, “Any Love” and the chart topping “Do You Love What You Feel”. He comes up with the initial idea for “Ain’t Nobody” in 1982 while working with musician Michael Sembello. The song had been considered for inclusion on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album when the songwriter offers it to Jackson’s producer Quincy Jones. Rufus’ producer Russ Titelman convinces Wolinski to hold on to the song. Rufus records it with Chaka Khan as one of four new studio recordings on their final album “Stompin’ At The Savoy”. Another unique characteristic of the record is its drum pattern, played both by drummer John Robinson (live drums) and by keyboardist Wolinski on a Linn LM-1 drum machine. Not wanting to play it with a straight 4/4 time signature, the pair create the songs’ distinctive syncopated rhythm. “Ain’t Nobody” earns Rufus their second Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 1984. The song is also featured prominently in the film and on the soundtrack of “Breakin’” in 1984.

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On this day in music history: October 14, 1985 – “The Jets”, the debut album by The Jets is released. Produced by Don Powell and David Rivkin (aka David Z.), it is recorded at Paul Stark’s Nicollet Studios in Minneapolis, MN, Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA and Devonshire Sound Studios in Burbank, CA from Early – Mid 1985. Originally from the South Pacific island of Tonga, the Wolfgramm family move to the US during the 70’s. Members of the Mormon church, their parents Maikeli “Mike” and Vaké encourage their brood of seventeen children’s interest in music. The eight eldest, LeRoy, Eddie, Eugene, Haini, Rudy, Kathi, Elizabeth and Moana form a band. Originally known as Quasar (after the brand of TV set), they change their name to The Jets, taking inspiration from the Elton John song “Bennie And The Jets”. All of the kids learn to play instruments and sing, and are performing Polynesian music, as well as pop and R&B covers. The family end up stranded in Minneapolis, when the gig they have performing there abruptly ends. Their booking agent introduce them to former Motown Records exec Don Powell. Impressed by The Jets’ youthful energy and being a self contained band, Powell comes out of retirement, to become their manager. Forming the production company Twin Town Sound, he signs them and secures a deal with MCA Records in 1984. Powell then calls on musician friends Aaron Zigman and Jerry Knight (Raydio, Ollie & Jerry), to write and co-produce material for The Jets debut album. Zigman and Knight come up with a blend of R&B influenced pop, that perfectly suits The Jets (then ranging in age between 11 and 19 years old). Co-producing the album is engineer David Z., the brother of Prince & The Revolution drummer Bobby Z. The first single “Curiosity” (#8 R&B, #21 Club Play) in September of 1985. However, it is the follow up “Crush On You” (#3 Pop, #4 R&B, #4 Club Play), that cause the floodgates to fly open. Featuring Elizabeth and Moana on co-lead vocals, it becomes a worldwide hit, also hitting the top five in the UK. The album spins off a third single, “Private Number” (#47 Pop, #28 R&B). Shifting away from the sound of the three previous singles, is the ballad “You Got It All” (#3 Pop, #2 R&B, #1 AC). Penned by singer and songwriter Rupert Holmes (“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”, “Him”), the song was inspired by Holmes’ daughter Wendy, who had passed away from a brain tumor. Only 12 when she records her lead vocal, Elizabeth Wolfgramm sings it with a degree of sensitivity and maturity, that belies her tender age. It becomes a multi-format smash, topping the AC chart, but narrowly missing the top spot on the R&B chart when it is held off by Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait Awhile”. “The Jets” peaks at number sixteen on the Billboard R&B album chart, number seventeen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 14, 1985 – “Listen Like Thieves”, the fifth album by INXS is released. Produced by Chris Thomas, it is recorded at Rhinoceros Studios in Sydney, Australia from March – August 1985. After gaining a significant following outside of their native Australia with their previous albums “Shabooh Shoobah” and “The Swing”, INXS’ fifth release marks the beginning of a long and prosperous working relationship with producer Chris Thomas (The Sex Pistols, The Pretenders, Elton John). Thomas proves to be a demanding taskmaster in the studio. Just as the sessions are about to wrap, the producer tells the band that out of the material they have recorded, he still doesn’t hear a “hit”. Guitar player and keyboardist Andrew Farriss pulls out a demo tape of a song he’s been working on tentatively titled “Funk Song No. 13”. Farriss plays it for lead singer Michael Hutchence, who pens the lyrics for it overnight. The finished song is re-titled “What You Need” (#5 Pop). The band rehearse it on a Sunday and then record it in its entirety on Monday. INXS publicly performs the song for the first time, during their segment of the Live Aid worldwide telecast in July of 1985, months before the albums release. Issued as the second single from the album, it is the bands breakthrough hit in America, bolstered by an innovative rotoscope animated music video directed by Richard Lowenstein and Lyn-Marie Milbourn. It spins off three other singles including “This Time” (#81 Pop), “Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)”, and the title track (#54 Pop). It gives the band their biggest album to date in the US, setting the stage for the commercial and artistic pinnacle they achieve with the follow up “Kick”. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2011, and is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Music On Vinyl. It is also reissued as a standard weight LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2013, as part of their “Silver Label” reissue series. The album is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2017. “Listen Like Thieves” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: October 14, 1958 – Singer, songwriter and musician Thomas Dolby (born Thomas Morgan Robertson in London, UK). Happy 61st Birthday, Thomas!!

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On this day in music history: October 14, 1983 – “She’s So Unusual”, the debut album by Cyndi Lauper is released. Produced by Rick Chertoff, William Wittman and Cyndi Lauper, it is recorded at the Record Plant in New York City from December 1, 1982 – June 30, 1983. Having spent nearly a decade of singing in various cover bands, Lauper suffers numerous hard knocks, including damaged vocal chords, the break up of her band Blue Angel after the failure of their lone album, and personal bankruptcy. Her luck turns around in 1981 when she meets David Wolff while singing in a local bar in New York City. Wolff becomes her manager, helping her to secure a record deal with CBS/Epic subsidiary Portrait Records in 1982. Paired with producer Rick Chertoff, he brings in his friends Rob Hyman (keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals), and Eric Bazilian (bass, guitar, backing vocals) (of The Hooters), drummer Anton Fig, bassist Neil Jason, singer/songwriter Jules Shear and Ellie Greenwich (backing vocals) to play on the album. Initially getting off to a slow start, things pick up steam rapidly when the music video for the first single “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” (#2 Pop) goes into heavy rotation on MTV, and other video outlets at the end of the year. It launches the Queens, NY born vocalist into pop superstardom, with Lauper becoming the first female artist in history to spin off four top five singles from one album, including “Time After Time” (#1 Pop), “She Bop” (#3 Pop), and “All Through The Night” (#5 Pop). “Unusual” spends 65 weeks in the top 40 alone (77 weeks total on the Top 200), winning Cyndi the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1985. It also wins a second Grammy for Best Album Package. The memorable front and back cover photos were taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz at Coney Island in New York City. The album is first remastered and reissued on CD in 2000. It is remastered and reissued again in 2014 for its 30th anniversary on CD and clear vinyl. A special two CD boxed edition is also released with the second disc containing nine bonus tracks. The box unfolds into a 3D diorama mock up of Cyndi’s bedroom from the “Girls” video. It also comes with a paper cut out of the singer, and sheet of vinyl colorforms with various outfits to dress the doll with. The Japanese edition includes “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” as a bonus track, and a DVD with an hour long documentary. The boxed edition also comes with a twenty four page full color booklet, fully annotated and featuring dozens of rare and previously unpublished photos. In 2019, a limited edition LP pressed on yellow vinyl is issued as an exclusive at Barnes & Noble. “She’s So Unusual” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 14, 1983 – “Twist Of Fate” by Olivia Newton-John is released. Written by Stephen Kipner and Peter Beckett, it is the thirty sixth single release for the pop vocalist and actress from Cambridge, UK. After the huge success of “Physical” and second greatest hit album (“Olivia’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2”), Olivia Newton-John teams up again with her friend and “Grease” co-star John Travolta for the film “Two Of A Kind”. The romantic comedy also features a soundtrack album with songs from major artists including Chicago, Journey, Patti Austin, and Boz Scaggs. Olivia herself contributes three solo tracks to the soundtrack, and the duet “Take A Chance” with Travolta. One of the solo tracks by Newton-John is “Twist Of Fate”, written by Stephen Kipner (“Physical”, “Heart Attack”, and Peter Beckett of the band Player (“Baby Come Back”, “This Time I’m In It For Love”). “Fate” marks a departure from Olivia Newton-John’s previous singles, in sporting a more rock based synthesizer sound. The single is produced by David Foster, who has graduated from working as a studio musician and Grammy winning songwriter, into an in demand producer after helping engineer Chicago’s major comeback. Unfortunately for Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, lightning does not strike twice at the box office, when “Two Of A Kind” is a critical and commercial favor. Fortunately, it doesn’t prevent the soundtrack album or “Twist Of Fate” from becoming successful. The single is a smash right out of the gate, with the picture sleeve sporting sexy black & white photos of Newton-John clad in dark sunglasses, taken by photographer Herb Ritts. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #49 on November 5, 1983, it peaks at #5 nine weeks later on January 7, 1984. Along with the standard 7" release, “Twist” is given an extended 12" club mix by Arthur Baker, with edits by The Latin Rascals (both uncredited). Initially released in the US as a promo for club DJ’s and radio by MCA Records, due to public demand it’s issued as the B-side of the 12" for the follow up “Livin’ In Desperate Times” (#31 Pop) in early 1984. “Take A Chance”, the B-side of “Twist Of Fate” becomes a surprise hit on AC radio, peaking at #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Even more surprising, after nearly fifteen years of non stop hits, “Twist Of Fate” is Olivia Newton-John’s last US top ten hit to date.

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On this day in music history: October 14, 1982 – “Friend Or Foe”, the debut solo album by Adam Ant is released. Produced by Adam Ant and Marco Pirroni, it is recorded at Townhouse Studios in London from Early – Mid 1982. Progressing from their punk rock roots to achieving major pop stardom in the UK and across the rest of Europe within five years, Adam & The Ants disband only four months after the release of their third and most successful album “Prince Charming” in March of 1982. Ambitious to strike out on his own, Adam Ant (born Stuart Goddard) takes guitarist Marco Pirroni with him and the pair begin working on Adam’s first solo album. Building on the musical template than made Adam & The Ants a huge success, they also incorporate brass instruments into the mix. The duo write eleven of the twelve songs on Ant’s solo debut, producing and playing guitar and bass respectively, and are supported in the studio by musicians Bogdan Wiczling (drums, percussion), Martin Drover (trumpet, flugelhorn), Jeff Daly (saxophone), Jude Kelly (vocals), Sam Brown, Sonia Jones and Vicki Brown (backing vocals). European fans get their first taste of Adam Ant as a solo act in May 1982 with the release of the first single “Goody Two Shoes” (#1 UK, #12 US Pop). Co-produced with former Ants drummer Chris Hughes (Tears For Fears), the song is written about Ant’s run ins with the British tabloid press, invading his privacy in attempts to dig up dirt on the pop star. Issued in the US in tandem with the album, it becomes Adam Ant’s breakthrough and biggest hit. The original UK single release of “Goody Two Shoes” differs noticeably from the album version which is issued in the US as a single. The UK single features Hughes on drums, and the album version/US single includes a re-recorded drum track played by Wiczling. It spins off two more singles including “Desperate But Not Serious” (#33 UK, #66 US Pop) and the title track (#9 UK). “Friend Or Foe” becomes a major success in the US and propels him beyond the cult following garnered stateside with Adam & The Ants. Originally released on CD in 1985, it is remastered and reissued in 2005 with twelve additional bonus tracks including the UK single version of “Goody”, demo recordings and outtakes. “Friend Or Foe” peaks at number five on the UK album chart, number sixteen 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: October 14, 1982 – “Zapp II”, the second album by Zapp is released. Produced by Roger Troutman, it is recorded at 5th Floor Recording Studios in Cincinnati, OH, and Sound Room East Studios in Detroit, MI from Late 1981 – Mid 1982. Following the success of the band’s Gold selling debut and Roger’s solo debut “The Many Facets Of Roger” (also going Gold), Troutman and the rest of Zapp returns to the studio in late 1981 to work on their sophomore release. Preceded in the summer by the single “Dance Floor (#1 R&B, #62 Pop),  it is another smash for the Dayton, OH based funk band. It spins off another hit with the follow up "Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)” (#10 R&B). Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued by Warner Music Group Japan in 2015, as part of their Warner 80’s Soul Classics Best Collection 1000 Series.  "Zapp II" peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, 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: October 14, 1981 – “Controversy”, the fourth album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at Uptown Studio (Kiowa Trail Home Studio) in Chanhassen, MN, Sunset Sound and Hollywood Sound in Hollywood, CA from April – July 1981. Released one year to the week after of his previous album, the ribald and controversial “Dirty Mind”, the fourth release by Prince marks the beginning of major changes in the prolific musicians sound and songwriting. Much like his previous albums, it features Prince playing nearly all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals by himself. Much of the album is recorded in Prince’s home studio in Chanhassen, MN (aka “The Purple House”), upgrading the studio with an Ampex 24-track multi-track recorder and Soundcraft 3B console. The remaining songs, overdubbing and final mixing is completed at Sunset Sound and Hollywood Sound in Hollywood, CA. “Controversy” is the first album in which he uses his newly acquired Linn LM-1 drum machine, which becomes a cornerstone of Prince’s classic 80’s era work. The albums eight songs run a diverse gamut from fans and the media’s obsession with Prince’s private life, sexuality and personal beliefs (the title track), the musicians then unfettered obsession with sex (“Sexuality”, “Do Me Baby”, “Private Joy”,“Jack U Off”), to commentary about the then recent news stories like the Atlanta child murders, the Abscam Scandal, the assassination attempt on President Reagan, the murder of John Lennon (“Annie Christian”), and his concerns over the escalation of the Cold War between the United States and the then Soviet Union (“Ronnie Talk To Russia”). The title track “Controversy” (#3 R&B, #70 Pop) like “Uptown” from the previous album, touches upon the public and the media’s intense obsession with the enigmatic star’s personal life, race, religious beliefs and sexuality.  It spins off three singles including “Let’s Work” (#9 R&B) and “Do Me Baby”. The track “Sexuality” is issued as a single outside of the US only, but the music video shot for the song is seen by American fans on various video shows. The original LP pressing also comes packaged with a poster of Prince standing in his shower clad in only black bikini underwear. The album is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2011 by Warner Bros/Rhino Records, making the title available on vinyl for the first time in nearly twenty years. It replicates the original album packaging including the poster. It is also reissued on cassette tape along with several other classic Prince albums in 2016. “Controversy” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty one on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 14, 1980 – “Faces”, the tenth album by Earth, Wind & Fire is released. Produced by Maurice White, it is recorded at George Massenburg/ARC Studios in West Los Angeles, CA, AIR Studios in Montserrat, W.I., Davlen Sound Studios in North Hollywood, CA, Wally Heider/Filmways Studio in Hollywood, CA and Royce Hall – UCLA in Westwood, CA in May – September 1980. Issued as the follow up to the multi-Platinum selling “I Am”, the fifteen track double album features band members Maurice and Verdine White, Al McKay, Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn and Ralph Johnson either writing songs together, or with outside collaborators including Brenda Russell, David Foster, and James Newton Howard. Coming off of seven platinum or multi-platinum selling albums in a row, the initial response to “Faces” by the public and critics is somewhat muted since it does not yield a major hit single. This is due in part to CBS Records’ lackluster promotional support of the project. Frustrated by the labels lax support of the project, Maurice White voices his displeasure to the company. He is then bluntly told by a CBS executive, “if your records don’t sell themselves, don’t expect us to sell them for you”. In later years, it is reassessed and regarded as one of Earth, Wind & Fire’s finest and most stylistically diverse works. White himself sites “Faces” as his personal favorite out of Earth, Wind & Fire’s catalog. It is also the last album to feature rhythm guitarist Al McKay who leaves the band shortly after it is released. Also, it is the first Earth, Wind & Fire album not to be supported by an accompanying tour which affects its sales. It spins off three singles including “Let Me Talk” (#8 R&B, #44 Pop), “You” (#10 R&B, #48 Pop), and “And Love Goes On” (#15 R&B, #59 Pop). Original LP pressings feature the artist name and title embossed in gold ink on the gatefold jacket, coming packaged with an oversized poster of the band. It is remastered and reissued on CD by UK reissue label BBR Records in 2010, featuring the single edits of “You”, “And Love Goes On” and the promo 12" mix of “Let Me Talk” as bonus tracks. It is also reissued on CD in 2011 (minus bonus tracks) as part of the box set “Earth, Wind & Fire – The Columbia Masters”. “Faces” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number ten on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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