Category: 90’s

On this day in music history: March 20, 1990 -…

On this day in music history: March 20, 1990 – “Poison”, the first album by Bell Biv DeVoe is released. Produced by Bell Biv DeVoe, Carl Bourelly, Elliott “Dr. Freeze” Straite, Darren LaVance “D’Lavance” Sullivan, Hank Shocklee, Keith Shocklee, Eric “Vietnam” Sadler, Hiram Hicks,Timmy Gatling and Alton “Wokie Stewart, it is recorded at Echo Sound Studios, M’Bila Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA, George Tobin Studio in North Hollywood, CA, Greene Street Studios, and Battery Studios in New York City from Mid 1989 – Early 1990. After the tour for the album "Heart Break”, New Edition lead vocalists Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill both throw themselves into recording solo projects as the group takes what is an extended hiatus. This down time leaves Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe and Michael Bivins at loose ends as to what to do in the interim. Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis suggest that they form their own group. Pitching the idea to MCA Records executive Jheryl Busby, he gives them the green light to record an album. Initially calling themselves “Bell, Bivins & DeVoe”, they shorten it to “Bell Biv DeVoe”. BBD work with a host of producers on the album including Public Enemy’s production team The Bomb Squad, Dr. Freeze (Color Me Badd), Carl Bourelly (D-Nice, Hi-Five), Alton “Wokie” Stewart (Stephanie Mills, Keith Sweat), and Timmy Gatling (formerly of Guy). Considered the “dark horses” of New Edition, when word gets out about the project, expectations are not very high. When the title track “Poison” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) is released on February 24, 1990, the public are immediately taken aback by it. Razor sharp funky, street smart and infectious, the song is an instant smash. It shoots to the top of the R&B singles chart less than two months later, making a fast crossover to the pop charts.The public is surprised yet again when the full album appears. Its masterful blend of R&B, New Jack Swing, Hip Hop flavored beats, and innovative use of sampling (sparking the groups own description of its sound as “Hip Hop smoothed out on the R&B tip, with a pop feel appeal to it.”), breaks new ground for mainstream R&B and pop music. It spins off a total of five singles including “Do Me!” (#4 R&B, #3 Pop), “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?” (#1 R&B, #26 Pop), “When Will I See You Smile Again?” (#3 R&B, #63 Pop), and “She’s Dope!” (#9 R&B). In time, “Poison”, comes to be regarded as one of the best R&B albums of 90’s, marking the beginning of a sea change in R&B, opening the door for numerous artists that follow in the decade to come. A year and a half after the albums release, it inspires a spin off remix album titled “WBBD-Bootcity!: The Remix Album”, featuring 12" remixes of several cuts. It too is successful, going Gold by the end of 1991. “Poison” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number five on the Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 19, 1990 -…

On this day in music history: March 19, 1990 – “Violator”, the seventh studio album by Depeche Mode is released. Produced by Depeche Mode and Flood, it is recorded at PUK Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark, The Church, Master Rock Studios in London, Axis Studios in New York City and Logic Studios in Milan, Italy from May 1989 – January 1990. After years of cultivating an ever growing and loyal fan base around the world, the synth-pop band from Basildon, Essex, UK return to the studio in the Spring of 1989 to record the follow up to “Music For The Masses”. Depeche Mode co-produce their new album with Flood (aka Mark Ellis), best known for his work with U2, Ministry, and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. Unlike previous Depeche Mode albums which stick very rigidly by Martin Gore’s original song demos, the band take a different approach when recording the final tracks. With Gore writing songs with very skeletal arrangements, it allows the others more freedom in helping shape them in the studio, often with great results that were not originally envisioned. The full album’s release is proceeded by the single “Personal Jesus” (#28 Pop, #3 Modern Rock, #12 Club Play), in late August of 1989. Issued nearly seven months in front of “Violator”, the hypnotic guitar driven single gives Depeche Mode their first top 40 single in the US since “People Are People” over four years before. It also becomes the band’s first Gold single stateside. It is Depeche Mode’s breakthrough album on a worldwide basis, and their most commercially successful in the US. The album spins off three additional singles including “Enjoy The Silence” (#8 Pop, #1 Modern Rock, #6 Club Play), “Policy Of Truth” (#15 Pop, #1 Modern Rock, #2 Club Play) and “World In My Eyes” (#52 Pop, #17 Modern Rock, #6 Club Play). All of the accompanying music videos, are directed by Dutch born photographer and director Anton Corbijn. The band support the album with the extensive “World Violation” Tour throughout 1990. “Violator” spends a total of seventy four weeks on the US album chart. In 2006, the album is remastered and reissued as a high definition Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) with bonus tracks, including a bonus DVD featuring the documentary “Depeche Mode 1989–90 (If You Wanna Use Guitars, Use Guitars)”, along with “Violator” remixed into DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Originally issued in very limited quantities on vinyl, it is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2014 and again in 2016. “Violator” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Surf guitar legend Dick Dale (born Richard A…

Surf guitar legend Dick Dale (born Richard Anthony Monsour in Boston, MA) – May 4, 1937 – March 16, 2019, RIP

On this day in music history: March 17, 1992 -…

On this day in music history: March 17, 1992 – “Ingénue”, the second solo album by K.D. Lang is released. Produced by Greg Penny, Ben Mink and K.D. Lang, it is recorded at Vancouver Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from Early – Late 1991. The second solo release by the Canadian born singer finds her moving away from the country sound of her previous work toward pop and torch songs. Nine of the albums ten songs are written by Lang and songwriting partner Ben Mink. The albums concept centers around “cabaret” styled songs, inspired after Mink shows Lang an old photograph of his parents drinking and carousing, with a violin and accordion player also in the picture. Using these more traditional instruments in a contemporary musical setting, creates a unique and interesting hybrid that is unlike anything else at the time. Veteran jazz musician Gary Burton also is featured on the album, playing vibraphone and marimba. The track “Constant Craving” is nearly tossed out by Lang and Mink when they’re unhappy with song, feeling that it is “too commercial”, and are dissatisfied with the first version. Leaving only the click track and one piece of percussion from the original track, they re-record the rhythm track in another key, adding new drums and other instruments. Once completed and released, the album is well received by the public, broadening k.d. lang’s audience and winning her new fans along the way. It spins off three singles including “Constant Craving” (#38 Pop, #2 AC) and “Miss Chatelaine”, it becomes the singer’s successful album. It receives five Grammy nominations including Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year” (for “Constant Craving”) and Album Of The Year. Lang wins a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for “Craving” in 1993. To commemorate its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2017, “Constant Craving” is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original ten song album. Disc two features eight tracks from Lang’s MTV Unplugged performance from March of 1993. Given a very limited release on vinyl in 1992 (Europe and Asia only), the album is remastered and reissued as a double LP set, with the second LP featuring the MTV Unplugged tracks. “Ingénue” peaks at number eighteen 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: March 17, 1990 -…

On this day in music history: March 17, 1990 – “The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)” by Quincy Jones Featuring Al B. Sure!, James Ingram, El DeBarge and Barry White hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #31 on the Hot 100 on April 14, 1990. Written by Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, Siedah Garrett and El DeBarge, it is third R&B chart topper for the veteran producer, arranger and songwriter. Recording his first studio album since since “The Dude” in 1981, Quincy Jones assembles an exemplary group of both veteran and up and coming musicians and vocalists to be featured on the new album. The collaboration begins with Quincy coming up with the concept of “The Secret Garden”, envisioning it as four men courting the same woman, with each verse describing how they will win her affection. The initial idea for the song is inspired by the book “My Secret Garden” by Nancy Friday. Long time Jones collaborator Rod Temperton comes up with the main chord changes for “The Secret Garden”. Jones invites El DeBarge to contribute, who flys to L.A. help complete the song with Temperton, Jones and Garrett, with all four writing the lyrics. Al B. Sure! fresh off of the huge success of his debut album “In Effect Mode”, and prior to that having been selected by Jones as the recipient of the Sony Innovator Award, is also asked to participate. “Q” also invites Barry White to add the songs “piece de resistance” by singing the final verse, and laying down one of his signature love raps. Stevie Wonder is originally to be among the vocalists on the song, but is replaced by James Ingram when he unable make the session. With the line up of singers in place, each bring their “A” game when it comes time to record their vocals. The nearly seven minute long magnum opus is issued as the second single from the “Back On The Block” album in January of 1990. The seductive ballad follows the previous release “I’ll Be Good To You” (w/ Ray Charles and Chaka Khan) to the top of the R&B singles chart. “The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Suite)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 14, 1995 -…

On this day in music history: March 14, 1995 – “Elastica”, the debut album by Elastica is released. Produced by Marc Waterman and Elastica, it is recorded at Various Studios in London from September 1993 – November 1994. Formed in mid 1992 by former Suede members Justine Frischmann (lead vocals, guitar) and Justin Welch (drums), they are joined by bassist Annie Holland and lead guitarist Donna Matthews. Within a year, the band release their first single “Stutter” on UK indie label Deceptive Records. The hook laden, punky guitar based track featuring Frischmann’s distinctive lead vocal is an immediate underground sensation, selling out of its initial pressing of 2,000 copies in just one day. The buzz created by the single quickly attracts major label attention in the US, with Elastica being signed to Geffen subsidiary DGC Records. In the interim, the band release two more singles which hit the UK top forty before the full album is completed. Three tracks on the album feature Blur keyboardist Damon Albarn (Frischmann’s boyfriend at the time) credited under the pseudonym “Dan Abnormal”. Once released, it is an instant hit, entering the UK album chart at number one. Led in the US by the single “Connection” (#2 Modern Rock, #53 Pop, #40 Mainstream Rock), it is quickly embraced by Modern Rock radio, with the music video going being featured heavily on “120 Minutes” before going into heavy regular rotation on MTV. With their success in the UK and US comes controversy, when Elastica are sued for plagiarism by post punk bands Wire and The Stranglers when the songs “Line Up” and “Connection” use riffs from “I Am The Fly”, “Three Girl Rhumba” and “No More Heroes”. The lawsuits are settled out of court, and the band tours the world extensively in support of their debut album. Regarded as one of the quintessential albums of the “Brit-Pop” movement, it spins off a total of five singles. The US CD release contains the extra track “See That Animal”, left off of the UK edition. The limited vinyl LP also comes packaged with a booklet, with the UK pressing including a  7" flexidisc featuring a cover of the Adam Ant song “Cleopatra”. The vinyl LP is reissued in the US on Record Store Day in April of 2014, pressed on red vinyl and limited to 2,000 copies. “Elastica” peaks at number sixty six 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: March 14, 1995 -…

On this day in music history: March 14, 1995 – “Me Against The World”, the third album by 2Pac is released. Produced by Easy Mo Bee, Sam Bostic, D-Flizno Production Squad, Brian G, Shock G, Johnny “J”,  Mike Mosley,  Tony Pizarro,  Soulshock & Karlin,  Le-morrious “Funky Drummer” Tyler and Moe Z.M.D., it is recorded at Enterprise Studios in Burbank, CA, Soundcastle Studios in Hollywood, CA, Pure Studios in San Diego, CA, Unique Recording Studios, Quad Recording Studios in New York City, Mobboss Studios in Oakland, CA, Westlake Audio and Echo Sound Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1993 – Mid 1994. Coming off the success of his first Platinum selling album “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.”, various incidents in the prolific rapper and actor’s personal life during 1993 and 1994 threaten to upend his career, but does not slow down his creativity. The tone of the material 2pac’s third release is more personal and introspective than the previous two, dealing with his struggles growing up and the ones he faces during its creation. The album is led by the single “Dear Mama” (#1 Rap, #3 R&B, #9 Pop), written for and dedicated to Tupac’s mother, former Black Panther and political activist Afeni Shakur. The single becomes 2Pac’s biggest hit to date, and in 2010 is selected for preservation by the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress, becoming only the third hip hop single to receive that honor. It also spins off two other singles including “So Many Tears” (#6 Rap, #21 R&B, #44 Pop) and “Temptations” (#13 Rap, #35 R&B, #68 Pop). The album enters the R&B and pop album charts at number one while Tupac is serving time in prison, making him the first artist to ever have a chart topping album while incarcerated. The album is regarded by many as one of 2Pac’s best and most personal works. “Me Against The World” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart and Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 13, 1999 -…

On this day in music history: March 13, 1999 – “Believe” by Cher hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the Club Play chart for 4 weeks on December 12, 1998. Written by Brian Higgins, Stuart McLennen, Paul Barry, Steven Torch, Matthew Gray and Timothy Powell, it is the fourth solo chart topping single (fifth overall) for the pop music icon and Academy Award winning actress. After focusing on her film career for much of the 90’s, Cher turns her attention back music when she signs to the UK division of Warner Bros Records in 1998. Working with dance music producers including Junior Vasquez, Todd Terry, Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling, it is the singer’s first dance oriented album in nearly twenty years since the release of her Casablanca albums “Take Me Home” and “Prisoner”. Rather than going for the retro-disco sounds of those works, the new material is cutting edge and in step with the current techno dance phenomenon dominating the club music scene. British songwriter and producers Taylor and Rawling (Gina G, Danni Minogue), presents Cher with the song “Believe”. She asks them to re-write the lyrics a number of times before agreeing to record the song. After recording Cher’s vocals, the producers hit upon the idea of processing some of the vocals with a Digitech Talker (aka “Autotune” processor). At first, they are nervous to play the track with the altered vocals, but once Cher hears what they’ve done, she immediately loves it. Warner Bros initially does not like the autotuned vocals and wants the effect removed, but the singer insists they remain as they are. “Believe” is an immediate smash in the UK, spending seven weeks at number one. Warner Bros in the US picks up the record for release on the back of its UK chart success. Entering the Hot 100 at #99 on December 20, 1998, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. Cher makes history by having the longest time span between her first number one single (“I Got You Babe”) and “Believe”, which is thirty three years, seven months and three weeks. She also becomes the second oldest artist in Billboard chart history to top the Hot 100 (Louis Armstrong is the record holder at sixty two years, ten months and one week old at the time “Hello Dolly” is at number one), as she is fifty three years, nine months and three weeks old at the time “Believe” tops the chart. The single is also a massive worldwide hit, topping the charts in twenty three countries. “Believe”  wins Cher her first Grammy Award for Best Dance Recording in 2000, also receiving a nomination for Record Of The Year. “Believe” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 12, 1994 -…

On this day in music history: March 12, 1994 – “The Sign” by Ace of Base hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks (non-consecutive). Written by Jonas “Joker” Berggren, it is the biggest hit for the pop quartet from Gothenburg, Sweden. Band leader and keyboardist Jonas Berggren writes “The Sign” in 1993 after the release of Ace Of Base’s first album titled “Happy Nation” in Europe. It is initially intended to be the first single off their second album, when fate has other plans. When Arista Records A&R man Richard Sweret hears the song, he knows immediately that it is a smash, and should included on the US release of their album. “The Sign” along with “Don’t Turn Around” and “Living In Danger”, are added to the US release. Issued as the follow up to “All That She Wants” on December 21, 1993, “The Sign” takes off even faster than its predecessor. Entering the Hot 100 at #68 on January 1, 1994, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The single spends four consecutive weeks at number one, falling back to number two for four weeks behind R. Kelly’s “Bump And Grind”, then regaining the top spot for an additional two weeks on May 7, 1994. In all, “The Sign” spends a total of forty one consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, including thirty three weeks in the top forty, and twenty one weeks in the top ten. The singles extraordinary staying power makes it, one of longest continuous chart runs in the history of the Billboard pop singles chart. The song is featured in several movies and television shows including “Pitch Perfect”, “South Park” and “American Dad!”. “The Sign” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 12, 1991 -…

On this day in music history: March 12, 1991 – “Out Of Time”, the seventh album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Scott Litt and R.E.M., it is recorded at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY, John Keane Studios in Athens, GA, Soundscape Studios in Atlanta, GA and Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN from September – October 1990. After touring in support of “Green”, their first album for Warner Bros. Records, R.E.M. take a year long hiatus before starting work on the the follow up. When they reconvene, the band members decide to make an album that stands in stark contrast to the previous one. Writing songs on non traditional instruments like mandolin, acoustic guitars and organ, R.E.M. uses this instrumentation as the basis for much of the new album. The mood and feel of the completed album is quieter compared to the bands normally electric guitar based sound, most prominent on the first single “Losing My Religion” (#4 Pop), which features guitarist Peter Buck playing the mandolin as a lead instrument. The song is accompanied by a surreal and visually striking music video directed by Punjabi born filmmaker Tarsem Singh. Filled with religious imagery and based on Indian cinema, the video becomes an immediate fan favorite, broadening R.E.M.’s audience way beyond their original core fan base. The video wins six MTV WMA Awards including Video Of The Year. It also spins off three singles including “Shiny Happy People” (w/ Kate Pierson of The B-52’s) (#10 Pop) and “Radio Song” (w/ KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions) (#48 Mainstream Rock). At the time of its original release, Warner Bros issues some promo copies of the CD in a limited edition “portfolio” package, featuring ten postcards, with the CD featuring a custom “wood grain” label and the outer packaging printed on vellum. To commemorate its twenty fifth anniversary in 2016, “Out Of Time” is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original eleven track album, with the second disc featuring nineteen previously unreleased demos. The European edition contains a third CD with a full live concert, and a Blu-ray disc with hi-rez versions of the album remixed into 5.1 surround sound. It also includes music videos and a documentary on the making of the album. It is also reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. The huge critical and commercial success, it gives R.E.M. the biggest selling album of their career. It is nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning three including Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, Best Alternative Album and Best Music Video Short Form in 1992. “Out Of Time” spends two weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.