On this day in music history: September 24, 1996 – “Sheryl Crow”, the second album by Sheryl Crow is released. Produced by Sheryl Crow, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders, Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA, and Kingsway Studios in New Orleans, LA from Early – Mid 1996. Following up her multi-platinum, multiple Grammy winning debut “Tuesday Night Music Club”, Crow returns to the studio with producer Bill Bottrell. Bottrell abruptly leaves the project in a dispute over musical direction, with Crow taking over the production duties herself. The album features a number of guest musicians including Neil Finn (of Crowded House), Steve Berlin (of Los Lobos), Jim Keltner and Pete Thomas. It spins off three singles including “If It Makes You Happy” (#10 Pop) and “Everyday Is A Winding Road” (#11 Pop). The album is also the subject of a minor controversy over the lyrics to the song “Love Is A Good Thing” in which one line states, “Watch out sister, watch out brother, watch our children while they kill each other with a gun they bought at Wal-Mart discount stores”. This leads to the mass market retailer banning the album from being carried in their stores when Crow refuses to change the lyrics, or remove the song from the album. The album wins two Grammy Awards for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance (for “If It Makes You Happy”) and Best Rock Album in 1997. “Sheryl Crow” peaks at number six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1991 – “The Low End Theory”, the second album by A Tribe Called Quest is released. Produced by A Tribe Called Quest, Skeff Anselm, and Pete Rock it is recorded at Battery Studios, Greene Street Studios, Soundtrack Studios and Jazzy Jay Studio in New York City from Late 1990 – Mid 1991. Issued as the follow up to the New York based rap group’s acclaimed debut “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm”, the group make a conscious effort to surpass what they have done both musically and lyrically on their debut. Prior to its recording, original member Jarobi White leaves the group to pursue other interests. The groundbreaking Hip Hop album fuses jazz and R&B samples, creating a more stripped down and laid back sound, but maintaining a street oriented edge.The album also features guest appearances from jazz bassist Ron Carter, Busta Rhymes, Charlie Brown and Dinco D. of Leaders Of The New School, Lord Jamar and Sadat X from Brand Nubian, Diamond D, and vocalist Vinia Mojica. Universally praised within and outside the Hip Hop community upon its release, it goes on to become one of the most influential rap albums of all time. It spins off three singles including “Check The Rhime” (#1 Rap, #59 R&B), “Jazz (We Got)” (#19 Rap) and “Scenario” (#6 Rap, #42 R&B, #59 Pop). Originally given only a commercial release on vinyl in Europe on its initial release, “Theory” is only issued in edited form (deleting the tracks “Skypager” and “Vibes And Stuff” due to time constraints) as a very rare promo only single vinyl LP release in the US, along side the commercial CD and cassette. Due to popular demand, the full album is finally given a commercial release in the US on double vinyl in 1996, and remains in print to this day. “The Low End Theory” peaks at number thirteen on the Billboard R&B album chart, number fifty eight on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1991 – “Nevermind”, the second album by Nirvana is released. Produced by Butch Vig, it is recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA, Smart Studios in Madison, WI and Devonshire Studios in North Hollywood, CA from April 1990, May – June 1991. Releasing their debut album “Bleach” on Seattle based indie label Sub Pop in 1989, Nirvana are disappointed when it sells only 40,000 copies initially. Deciding that the only way to reach a wider audience is to sign with a major label, the band are courted by several labels, but eventually sign with Geffen Records subsidiary DGC Records. Working previously with engineer and producer Butch Vig in 1990, he is chosen to produced their second album. With exception of the track “Polly” (recorded at Smart Studios in Madison, WI in April 1990), the bulk of Nirvana’s major label debut is recorded in Southern California during the Spring of 1991. When the album is originally mastered, engineer Howie Weinberg accidentally leaves off the final track “Endless, Nameless”, which was tacked on the end of the master tape, proceeded by ten minutes of blank leader tape in between. The mistake isn’t caught until after the first press run of CD’s and cassettes are manufactured. The first 20,000 copies of “Nevermind” exclude the hidden track, but is corrected on all future pressings. When it is released, initial expectations are low with only 46,251 copies being shipped. Thanks to the breakout success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (#6 Pop), the album reaches gold status in under thirty days, and platinum two weeks after that. It spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200 on January 11, 1992. The massive and unexpected success of the album affects a major sea change in not only the music industry, but in popular culture with the rise of the grunge music phenomenon of the early to mid 90’s. To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its release in 2011, “Nevermind” is remastered and reissued as a four CD + DVD deluxe edition. Disc one features the original thirteen track album, with nine additional bonus tracks. Disc two features the previously unreleased “Smart Studios Sessions” recordings, and two tracks from a BBC in-studio appearance on DJ John Peel’s radio show. Disc three contains the original unreleased Devonshire Studios mixes. Disc four features a complete live concert recorded at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA on October 31, 1991. The DVD features the complete film of the concert, and all four original music videos from the album. The box set also comes in a slip case, with a ninety page hardbound book, and a double sided poster. Reissued on vinyl numerous times since its initial limited release in 1991, it is most recently remastered and released as a 180 gram LP in 2017. “Nevermind” is certified 10x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, receiving a Diamond Certification.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1991 – “Blood Sugar Sex Magik”, the fifth album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is released. Produced by Rick Rubin, it is recorded at The Mansion in Los Angeles, CA from May – June 1991. Making the jump from their former long time label EMI-America, it is the bands first album for Warner Bros Records. Initially, the band were going to sign with Epic Records, but pull out of the deal at the last minute when negotiations with the label end up lasting several months. When lead singer Anthony Kiedis has a chance meeting with Warner Bros chairman Mo Ostin that is a major turning point in the bands decision not to sign with Sony Music. Working with Def Jam/Def American Records founder Rick Rubin, The Chili Peppers record the album in a mansion once owned by magician Harry Houdini. All of the band members live in the house for the during of the recording, except for drummer Chad Smith who refuses, when he believes that the house is haunted. The sessions are highly productive and set the stage for the bands long awaited mainstream breakthrough. It spins off four singles including “Give It Away” (#73 Pop, #1 Modern Rock) “Under The Bridge” (#2 Pop, #6 Modern Rock), “Suck My Kiss” (#15 Modern Rock), and "Breaking The Girl" (#19 Modern Rock), becoming their most successful album. The recording sessions are also filmed and released as hour long documentary titled “Funky Monks” in 1991. US promo CD copies of the album are issued with a full four color silkscreen label, of different breeds of red roses on a solid white background. Stock copies are issued with two color silkscreen print, of the artist name and title written in a circle around the perimeter of the disc. Originally issued on vinyl in the US as a promo only double LP and commercially in Europe, it is remastered and reissued as a limited edition LP vinyl set, pressed on red vinyl for Black Friday Record Store Day in 2011. It is also issued on standard black vinyl in 2012. “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 22, 1992 – “Broken”, the first EP by Nine Inch Nails is released. Produced by Trent Reznor and Flood, it is recorded at Hell Studios in New Orleans, LA, Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, WI, South Beach Studios in Miami Beach, FL, The Village Recorder in West Los Angeles, CA, A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA and Le Pig Studios in Beverly Hills, CA from March – August 1992. Spending nearly two years touring in support of the debut album “Pretty Hate Machine”, Trent Reznor begins altering the arrangements of those songs, taking on an even more aggressive feel. A major turning point comes when the band are invited to perform on the first Lollapalooza Tour. NIN’s energetic and often chaotic sets, becomes one of the most talked about acts on the tour. Reznor faces pressure from his label to record a second album, and repeat the same formula. Reznor refuses, and asks to be released from his contract. They refuse, and he goes into hiding. Working with engineer and producer Flood (aka Mark Ellis), Reznor records under assumed names to prevent TVT from seizing the tapes and releasing them. Trent rents and sets up a studio in the former home of director Roman Polanski and actress Sharon Tate at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon, the scene of the grisly murders of Tate and four others by members of the Manson Family. The eight songs that appear on “Broken” are a radical departure from “Pretty”. Put through layers of distortion and effects, then edited and sequenced on an Apple MacIntosh computer, they become the sonic back drop for Reznor’s equally intense vocals. With the EP completed, Reznor starts his own label Nothing Records, aligning with Interscope Records head Jimmy Iovine, who strikes a deal with TVT to release him from his contract. The EP is an immediate critical and fan favorite, spinning off two singles including “Happiness In Slavery” (#13 Modern Rock) and “Wish” (#25 Modern Rock). The latter wins NIN their first Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1993. The CD version is originally released with six of the tracks on the main disc, with the last two “Physical” and “Suck” on a bonus 3 inch CD limited to 250,000 copies. The disc is reconfigured with a track listing from 1 to 99, with ninety one second tracks of silence before the final two tracks play. “Broken” spins off a companion six track EP titled “Fixed”. Originally given only limited commercial release on vinyl in 1992, “Broken” is remastered and reissued in August of 2017. The current vinyl release faithfully replicates the original single sided 12" EP, but features a spiral etching of various song lyrics, instead of a silent groove on one side. The EP also comes packaged with the original bonus 7", and adds a newly created booklet with photos and liner notes. “Broken” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 21, 1993 – “Yes I Am”, the fourth album by Melissa Etheridge is released. Produced by Melissa Etheridge and Hugh Padgham, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1993. Enjoying a steady staircase climb to success since the release of self-titled debut album in 1988, Melissa Etheridge continues to grow her loyal fan base with her next two albums “Brave And Crazy and "Never Enough”. Though out to her family and close friends for many years, Etheridge remains private about her sexuality to the general public until January of 1993. While appearing at the Triangle Ball, an LGBTQ gala to celebrate the Inauguration of President Bill Clinton, she makes the proud declaration, “I’m very proud to say I’ve been a lesbian all my life”. At the same time, Etheridge also decides to return her musical roots when writing and recording her next album. Delving deeper into herself and previous life experiences, the songs take on an even more personal tone. To help produce her new album, Etheridge turns to veteran producer and engineer Hugh Padgham, best known for his work with artists like The Police, Genesis, Sting and Phil Collins. Retaining bassist Kevin McCormick and drummer Mauricio-Fritz Lewak from the previous two albums, Etheridge and Padgham utilize veteran studio musicians including Waddy Wachtel (guitar) and Pino Palladino (bass). Ian McLagan and Scott Thurston of The Small Faces and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers respectively, are brought in to play keyboards during the sessions. The resulting album titled “Yes I Am”, gives the musician her long awaited breakthrough into mainstream rock success, and is her biggest selling release. The first single “I’m The Only One” (#8 Pop, #10 Mainstream Rock, #1 AC) is a multi format smash, kicking down the door to the full album’s rise up the charts. “Yes” spins off three more singles including “Come To My Window” (#25 Pop, #22 Mainstream Rock, #4 AC) (featuring actress Juliette Lewis in the music video) and “All American Girl” (#24 Mainstream Rock). The album earns three Grammy nominations, winning Etheridge her second Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1995. “Yes I Am” peaks at number fifteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 18, 1990 – “Tom’s Diner” by DNA Featuring Suzanne Vega is released. Written by Suzanne Vega, it is the tenth single release for the singer and songwriter from New York City. Written in the early 80’s while Vega is a college student, the narrative is formed while she is sitting at the diner counter while having a cup of coffee and people watching. In the lyrics, she makes reference to reading the paper and seeing a story about an “actor who died while he was drinking”, but is believed to be William Holden. Another inspiration comes from Vega’s friend, photographer Brian Rose, stating that his work was like he “saw his whole life through a pane of glass”, much like the way she was watching people through the front of the window. She records two versions of “Tom’s Diner” on her second album “Solitude Standing”. The first is an a cappella take at the beginning, with a reprise at the end of the album featuring piano and guitar. “Tom’s Diner” is released as the B-side of “Solitude Standing” in the US and as an A-side in Europe. It is only a minor hit overseas, peaking at #58 on the UK singles chart. A couple of years later, it resurfaces in a dramatically different context. In 1990, British dance music producers DNA (aka Nick Batt and Neal Slateford) remix “Tom’s Diner”, sampling the a cappella vocal off of Vega’s record, and creating their own track around her voice. The remix is pressed up as a bootleg 12" and soon begins receiving play in clubs in the UK. Very quickly there is a huge demand for the record, and they release it under the title “Oh Suzanne”, selling it under the counter at record stores. When the UK branch of A&M Records catches wind of the illegal remix, their first thought is to take legal action against DNA. However, when Suzanne Vega hears what the producers have done with her song, she has another idea. Vega encourages A&M to purchase the rights and release it legitimately. Issued as a single in Europe first in July, it is an instant smash, rocketing to #2 on the UK singles chart, hitting #1 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The buzz is so strong on the other side of the Atlantic, that A&M in the US releases the single in mid-September after it sells briskly as an import. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on October 13, 1990, it peaks at #5 on December 22, 1990, also peaking at #10 on the R&B singles chart, #7 on the Modern Rock chart and #13 on the Club Play chart. Shortly after the DNA and Suzanne Vega remix charts, rapper Nikki D. samples it for her hit “Daddy’s Little Girl” (#1 Rap, #31 R&B, #19 Club Play) in 1991. DNA also remix Vega’s “Rusted Pipe” in similar fashion, but with less successful results. A&M assembles and releases a compilation titled “Tom’s Album” with the aforementioned songs as well as cover versions of “Tom’s Diner by After One and Bingo Handjob (aka R.E.M. and Billy Bragg). "Tom’s Diner” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 17, 1996 – “Fashion Nugget”, the second album by Cake is released. Produced by Cake, it is recorded at Pus Cavern and Paradise Studios in Sacramento, CA from Late 1995 – Mid 1996. Formed five years earlier by lead singer John McCrea, the band release their debut album, the self financed and released “Motorcade Of Generosity” in 1994. It receives solid reviews and acclaim in the local indie rock scene, earning them a solid and loyal following. When the band are playing a gig at The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, CA, they are approached by local radio DJ Bonnie Simmons who offers to manage them. This leads to the band being signed to Capricorn Records, who reissue their first album. Shortly after, they return to the studio to begin work on the follow up. The second release by the Sacramento, CA based band is their breakthrough album. Finding favor immediately at Modern Rock radio, their second album spins off three singles including “The Distance” (#4 Modern Rock, #35 Hot 100 Airplay), and their cover of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” (#28 Modern Rock). “Fashion Nugget” peaks at number thirty six on the Billboard Top 200, number one on the Heatseekers chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 17, 1996 – “First Band On The Moon”, the third album by The Cardigans is released. Produced by Tore Johansson, it is recorded at Tambourine Studios in Malmö, Sweden from September 1995 – June 1996. The Swedish alternative rock band make their US debut two years earlier when tracks from their first two albums combined for their first domestic release “Life”. Issued on Chicago indie label Minty Fresh Records, the album earns them a cult following in the US. The buzz created by “Life” attract interest from major American Record labels, with Mercury Records signing the band. The Cardigans major label debut becomes their breakthrough on a worldwide basis when the single “Lovefool” (#1 Billboard Hot Airplay & Top 40 Mainstream) receives a high profile boost when it is also included on the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s film “Romeo + Juliet” (starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes). “First Band On The Moon” peaks at number thirty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 17, 1991 – “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II”, the third and fourth albums by Guns ‘N’ Roses are released. Produced by Mike Clink and Guns ‘N’ Roses, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA, The Record Plant, Studio 56, Image Recording, Conway Studios, Metalworks Studios and Skip Saylor Studios in Los Angeles, CA from June 1990 – June 1991. Issued as the follow ups to the their breakthrough album “Appetite For Destruction”, the band make a major personnel change when original drummer Steven Adler (struggling with drug dependency) is fired and replaced with former Cult drummer Matt Sorum. G ‘N’ R also add keyboardist Dizzy Reed to the band. Recorded over the period of a year, the band record enough material for not one but two albums. Guns ‘N’ Roses decide to split the project into two separate albums, rather than selling it as double CD set. The albums are highly anticipated by fans, with many retailers opening at midnight on the day of its release to sell it. “Illusion I” and Illusion II" sell 685,000 and 770,000 copies respectively during their first week. They spin off several hit singles including “November Rain” (#3 Pop), “Don’t Cry” (#10 Pop), and You Could Be Mine" (#29 Pop) (featured in the film Terminator II: Judgment Day") “Use Your Illusion II” debuts at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and “Use Your Illusion I” at #2. The vinyl LP releases of the albums are reissued in 2008, with subsequent repressings in 2012, 2015 and 2016. Both albums are remastered and reissued as limited edition SHM-CD’s by Universal Japan in 2016, and on standard weight vinyl LP’s. “Use Your Illusion I” is certified 5x Platinum by the RIAA and “Use Your Illusion II” is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.