On this day in music history: June 21, 1988 – “Long Live The Kane”, the debut album by Big Daddy Kane is released. Produced by DJ Marley Marl it is recorded at Unique Recording in New York City and Marley’s House Of Hits in Queens, NY circa 1987 – 1988. Recorded mostly at producer Marley Marl’s home recording studio, with Kane often writing lyrics to fit beats already made by Marley, or composing them on the spot as the tracks are assembled. The Brooklyn born rapper’s debut album immediately establishes his reputation for writing highly articulate rhymes and metaphors, earning Kane a large and loyal fan base among Hip Hop fans and his peers. It spins off four singles including “Set It Off”, “I’ll Take You There” and “Ain’t No Half Steppin’”. In time, it is regarded by many to be one of the best rap albums of all time. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, the album is first remastered and reissued as a double LP set in 2003. It is reissued again as a limited edition, numbered (300 copies) single LP by UK reissue label Omerta, Inc. in 2017, on purple and gold swirl 180 gram vinyl. It is issued along side another non-limited, non-numbered colored vinyl LP edition pressed on split purple and black vinyl. “Long Live The Kane” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 21, 1982 – “Night And Day”, the fifth album by Joe Jackson is released. Produced by Joe Jackson and David Kershenbaum, it is recorded at Blue Rock Studio in Soho, New York City from January – February 1982. Never one to stay one spot for very long musically, Joe Jackson follows his muse, changing his musical course consistently over his first four albums. In search of other musical inspiration, Jackson leaves the UK and moves to New York, to fuel his creativity. Intrigued by both Latin music and rhythms as well as the songs of great American composers like Cole Porter and George and Ira Gershwin, he takes all of these influences and incorporates them into his own songwriting. At this time, Jackson also dismisses nearly all of his original band with the exception of bassist Graham Maby, and retaining drummer Larry Tolfree who had played on “Jumpin’ Jive”. He also adds Sue Hadjopoulos (percussion, flute, backing vocals), Ricardo Torres (percussion), Ed Rynesdal (violin), Al Weisman and Grace Millan (backing vocals). Jackson himself also looks to add more “colors” to his own arsenal by incorporating synthesizers and other keyboards like the Yamaha electric baby grand piano, Rhodes electric piano and the Hammond B-3 organ throughout. Once the songs are written, the sessions with co-producer David Kershenbaum move very quickly, recording and mixing the entire album in just a few weeks. Split into two thematic album sides (the “Night Side” and the “Day Side”), the songs flow seamlessly into each other, taking the listener on journey that perfectly captures the time and place in which it was created. It spins off three singles including “Steppin’ Out” (#6 Pop), “Breaking Us In Two” (#18 Pop) and “Another World”. Though it isn’t issued as a single in the US, “Real Men” also attracts attention for its subject matter about sexuality, gender identity, and challenging the stereotypes of traditional male masculinity. It is accompanied by a music video directed by Steve Barron (The Human League, Toto, Michael Jackson), perfectly underscoring the lyrics. Upon its release, “Night And Day” is a major critical and commercial success, becoming Joe Jackson’s best selling album. “Steppin’ Out” earns Jackson two Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Record Of The Year in 1983. The album is later remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition in 2003. The first disc contains the original nine song album, with the second disc consisting of demo recordings, and five tracks each from Jackson’s film soundtrack to “Mike’s Murder” and the live album “Joe Jackson Live 1980-86”. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued by Music On Vinyl in 2011. It is remastered and reissued again as a 180 gram LP by Intervention Records in 2016. “Night And Day” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 21, 1975 – “Give The People What They Want” by The O’Jays hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, and peaking at #45 on the Hot 100 on June 7, 1975. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, it is the third R&B chart topper for the vocal trio from Canton, OH. Written primarily by Kenny Gamble, he would often use The O’Jays as the vehicle for many of his and Leon Huff’s “message songs”, due to the groups forceful and soulful delivery. Gamble are inspired to write the song, wanting to draw attention to the plight of the less fortunate in his hometown of Philadelphia, and to others hit hard by the bad economy of the mid 70’s, and by the lack of opportunities in inner city areas. Issued as the first single from the groups tenth studio album (eleventh overall) “Survival”. The R&B chart success of “Give The People What They Want” drives sales of the album to Gold status in the US, making it their third full length to reach that plateau. In 1990, EPMD samples the song as the basis for their hit “Give The People”.
On this day in music history: June 21, 1975 – “Love Will Keep Us Together” by The Captain & Tennille hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, it is the first chart topping single for the husband and wife duo. The song is originally recorded by Sedaka in 1973 and included on his album “The Tra-La Days Are Over”. The album is a collaboration between the singer/songwriter and the band 10cc. It is not released in the US, but tracks from the set are issued in November 1974 on the US compilation “Sedaka’s Back”. It is here that The Captain & Tennille hear the song, and record it for their debut release on A&M Records. As a nod to Neil Sedaka, Toni Tennille name checks him by singing the line “Sedaka is back” during the play out section of the song. Issued as a single in March of 1975, their version quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #98 on April 19, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “Love Will Keep Us Together” wins the Grammy Award for Record Of The Year, and is ranked the top single of 1975 by Billboard Magazine. The Captain & Tennille also record a Spanish language version of the track (“Por Amor Viviremos”, translated by Armando Martinez) that also charts, peaking at #49 on the Hot 100 on September 13, 1975. “Love Will Keep Us Together” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 21, 1971 – “I Just Want To Celebrate” by Rare Earth is released. Written by Nick Zesses and Dino Fekaris, it is the seventh single release by the psychedelic/R&B/rock band from Detroit, MI. Scoring two gold selling albums and a pair of top ten pop hits in rapid succession in 1970 with their rocking and funky covers of The Temptations classics “Get Ready” and “(I Know) I’m Losing You”, Rare Earth keep rolling forward into the next year. The Detroit based band are first major success that R&B powerhouse Motown Records have with a white rock & roll band. The label specifically creates the Rare Earth imprint named after the band with the intent of breaking the band on FM underground radio, rather than placing them on the Motown or Tamla imprints. Rare Earth originally consists of band members Pete Rivera (lead vocals, drums), Gil Bridges (flute, saxophone, percussion, vocals), Eddie Guzman (congas, percussion), Kenny James (keyboards), John Persh (bass, vocals) and Rod Richards (guitar, vocals). After their first two Motown albums “Get Ready” and “Ecology”, Richards and James leave the band and are replaced by Ray Monette (guitar) and Mark Olson (keyboards, vocals). Their fourth album is produced by the band and Motown staff producer and Tom Baird, best known for co-writing Bobby Taylor And The Vancouvers’ hit “Does Your Mama Know About Me?”, also working with Gladys Knight & The Pips and Diana Ross. As well as writing their own material, Rare Earth often recorded cover versions of R&B songs and material provided by Motown’s songwriting staff. The latter is the case with the song “I Just Want To Celebrate”, written by Nick Zesses and Dino Fekaris. The soulful rocker is chosen as the first single from “One World”. Entering the Hot 100 at #79 on July 17, 1971, it peaks at #7 on September 11, 1971, becoming Rare Earth’s third and final top ten pop single. The band manage to score only one more Top 40 pop hit with a cover of the Bee Gees’ song “Warm Ride” (#39 Pop) in June of 1978. Though their run of hits ends, it is not the last that Rare Earth is heard from. During the 90’s and beyond, “I Just Want To Celebrate” is sampled numerous times including by N.W.A. (“Real N****z Don’t Die”), Foxy Brown (“BWA”), and Ghostface Killah (“We Celebrate”). The song is also featured in dozens of television commercials (Ford, AT&T, Nicoderm), films and television programs including “Three Kings”, “A Knight’s Tale”, “Land Of The Lost” and “Entourage”.
On this day in music history: June 21, 1948 – Columbia Records introduces the 33 1/3 RPM long playing LP at a press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Developed by Columbia engineer Peter Carl Goldmark, he begins work on the project in 1939 as the successor to the 78 RPM record. Earlier in the 1930’s, Columbia had tested the slower speed with a 10-inch record, but is quickly phased out when various technical problems arise. The real breakthrough occurs when Goldmark and his team creative the “microgroove”. Measuring only .003 of an inch, it increases the playing time to just over 20 minutes per side to maintain optimal sound quality. The new records are pressed using polyvinyl chloride rather than the carbon and shellac compound used to manufacture 78 RPM records for nearly fifty years. Vinyl records prove to not only be more durable than the easily breakable 78’s, they also have benefit of a quieter playing surface. The first long playing LP released by Columbia Records is the “Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E Minor” with soloist Nathan Milstein, and Bruno Walter conducting the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York (catalog number ML 4001). The album is reissued as a limited pressing on vinyl for its fiftieth anniversary in 1998 by Classic Records. Happy 70th Birthday to the vinyl LP!!
On this day in music history: June 20, 1995 – “HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I”, the ninth studio album by Michael Jackson is released. Produced by Michael Jackson, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Dallas Austin, David Foster, Bill Bottrell and R Kelly, it is recorded at The Hit Factory Studios, and Sony Music Sudios, New York; Record One, Ocean Way Studios, Larrabee Sound Studios, Westlake Audio, Soundcastle Studios, Todd A.O. Scoring Stage, and Warner Brothers Scoring Stage in Los Angeles, CA, Flyte Tyme Studios in Minneapolis, MN and Chicago Recording Company in Chicago, IL from September 1994 – March 1995. The thirty song double CD set (also issued as a triple LP vinyl box set) features one disc of fifteen Michael Jackson classics and a second disc with fifteen new songs. The album was originally intended to be a greatest hits compilation titled “Decade” which was to include a couple of new songs. Jackson continues working on the project until he has acquired more than a dozen new songs, many of which reflect his often tumultuous relationship with the media. The album is backed by an unprecedented marketing and media campaign. The first single “Scream” (#5 Pop a duet with his sister Janet Jackson is supported by a cutting edge video (directed by Mark Romanek) at a cost of over $7 million. The clip wins a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1996. It also spins off a number one single with the follow up “You Are Not Alone” (written and produced by R. Kelly). “HIStory” spins off several singles and sells over twenty million units worldwide. However, still smarting from negative tabloid press (especially in the US), and with Sony Music in the US prematurely pulling the plug on its promotional efforts, affecting how the album is received there. Though it immediately sells more than two million copies domestically, it is looked upon as a commercial disappointment at the time. In 2001, the greatest hits half of the package is issued separately, titled “Greatest Hits: History Volume 1”. Overseas, the track “Earth Song” is released as a single, topping the UK singles chart for six weeks in December 1995 and January 1996, also hitting #1 in Germany, Scotland, Switzerland and Iceland. “HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I” debuts at number one on the Billboard Top 200, spending two weeks at the top of the Top 200 and R&B album charts, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 20, 1989 – “Batman (Motion Picture Soundtrack)”, the eleventh album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN from June, October, December 1988 and February – March 1989. In December of 1988, Prince receives a call from director Tim Burton from the set of “Batman”. The director tells him that he is using “1999” and “Baby I’m A Star” as temporary tracks in a rough cut of the film. Burton asks if he would consider contributing some new music. At first, Prince is hesitant to make a commitment due to his busy schedule, but accepts an invitation to come to London in January of 1989 where the film is in production. Prince’s enthusiasm is sparked by seeing a rough cut and agrees to participate. The first two songs presented are “Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic” and “200 Balloons”. When Burton tells Prince that they aren’t what he had in mind, those two are substituted with “Partyman” and “Trust”. The majority of Prince’s music is recorded in only six weeks, with the previously recorded “Scandalous”, “Electric Chair” and “Vicki Waiting” (originally titled “Anna Waiting”) also being included. Another song titled “Dance With The Devil” is discarded when Prince feels that it is “too dark”. He replaces it with another that he writes virtually overnight. Sampling parts of “200 Balloons”, “The Future”, “Electric Chair” and “Rave Unto The Joy Fantastic” along with dialogue from actors Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger and Jack Nicholson, Prince creates “Batdance” (#1 Pop and R&B). Mashed up along with dialogue cleverly inserted throughout, it’s selected as the lead single. Like the film which is an immediate box office smash, Prince’s “Batman” album is also a runaway hit. It spins off five singles including “Partyman” (#18 Pop, #5 R&B), “The Arms Of Orion” (Featuring Sheena Easton) (#36 Pop), “Scandalous” (#5 R&B) also issued in extended form as “Scandalous Sex Suite” with additional vocals by Kim Basinger. Prince’s album is also released as a limited edition CD. It comes packaged in a five inch circular black metal film can embossed with the Batman logo, and a twenty page booklet featuring still photos and song lyrics. Fans excitement for the release creates an instant demand for it, and quickly sells out. However, its collectability is greatly diminished when Warner Bros floods the market with more copies as the demand quickly tapers off. Due to the complex licensing issues for Batman, Prince has to agree to sign over his song publishing rights, meaning that those songs are not permitted to appear on any Prince hit compilations for many years. Though “Batdance” finally appears on the compilation “Prince 4Ever” in November of 2016. “Batman (Motion Picture Soundtrack)” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number five on the R&B album chart, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.