On this day in music history: December 8, 1967 – “Their Satanic Majesties Request”, the sixth UK (and eighth US) LP by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by The Rolling Stones, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London from February 9 – October 23, 1967. Following the release of “Between The Buttons” in early 1967, various distractions including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones being arrested on drug charges (all are acquitted), and general lack of focus on music, leads to producer and manager Andrew Loog Oldham resigning from The Rolling Stones organization. In spite of this, the band begin recording another album, influenced by psychedelia, and experimenting freely in the studio. Producing themselves for the first time, the sessions are erratic and drag on for several months. As soon as a month before its scheduled release, there is doubt that the material can be molded into a cohesive work. A final running order is worked out, and it is ready for release. The album is greeted with a highly mixed reception. Coming six months after The Beatles’ universally heralded “Sgt. Pepper”, The Stones album is largely written off as a self indulgent, ill conceived and pale imitation. Original LP pressings come with a 3D lenticular cover designed by and photographed by Michael Cooper, having also shot the “Sgt. Pepper” cover. Like “Pepper” which features a doll wearing a sweater with “Welcome The Rolling Stones” on the front, The Stones pay tribute to The Fab Four in return by featuring small pictures of them in the cover art work. The 3D cover is discontinued after the first pressing, due to high costs to reproduce it. Though it sells well initially, interest and sales trail off quickly. In later years, though the band are mostly dismissive of it, they perform “2000 Light Years From Home” and “She’s A Rainbow” (#25 Pop) live over the years. KISS also covers “2000 Man” on their album “Dynasty” in 1979. In time, “Their Satanic Majesties” garners more favorable opinion, attaining cult classic status. “Rainbow” is later featured on the series “American Horror Story”, and in several TV commercials. It is remastered and reissued in 2002 as a hybrid SACD. It is reissued on vinyl in 2013, with some import editions replicating the original 3D cover. The mono mix, out of print since the late 60’s, is reissued on CD for the first time and on 180 gram vinyl as part of “The Rolling Stones In Mono” box set in September of 2016. It’s also released as a double vinyl LP and hybrid SACD (with the mono and stereo mixes) in September of 2017. The LP jacket replicates the original 3D lenticular cover. “Their Satanic Majesties Request” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, spending six weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 7, 1991 – “Achtung Baby”, the seventh studio album by U2 hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 1 week. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, it is recorded at Hansa Ton Studios in Berlin, Germany, STS Studios, Elsinore Studios and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland from October 1990 – September 1991. the band re-invent their sound, experimenting with industrial, electronic dance rhythms and alternative rock. The result win the veteran Irish band a new generation of fans and regains critical favor lost on their previous album “Rattle And Hum”. It spins off five singles including “Mysterious Ways” (#9 Pop) and “One” (#10 Pop). “Baby” becomes U2’s second largest selling album after “The Joshua Tree” with worldwide sales of over eighteen million copies. It wins a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1993, with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno winning the Producer Of The Year Grammy (Non-Classical) (tied with L.A. Reid & Babyface) for their work on the album. “Achtung Baby” is reissued for its twentieth anniversary in 2011 in various editions including a mammoth ten disc box set containing six CD’s, four DVD’s, five 7" vinyl singles and other memorabilia connected with the album. "Achtung Baby" is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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On this day in music history: December 1, 1968 – “Head”, the sixth album by The Monkees is released. Produced by The Monkees and Gerry Goffin, it is recorded at California Recorders, Wally Heider Studios, and Original Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA from February – August 1968. Issued as the soundtrack to the band’s feature length film of the same name, it is compiled by actor Jack Nicholson who also co-wrote the script. Influenced by the work of musician Frank Zappa (who also appears in the film), the album features songs intercut with dialogue from the film (in a fashion similar to The Mothers Of Invention’s “We’re Only In It For The Money”). The albums’ highly experimental and psychedelic sound alienates the bands’ teen fan base and is resoundingly ignored by radio. The albums’ unique packaging using aluminized polyethylene film (designed to look like a mirror) creates major manufacturing problems for RCA Records, causing their printing presses to break down. In spite of its poor commercial performance during its initial release, in time both the film and album attains cult classic status among Monkees fans. It spins off one lone single with the Gerry Goffin and Carole King penned “Porpoise Song” (#62 Pop), and its B-side “As We Go Along” (#106 Pop), written by King and Toni Stern. In 2010, Rhino Records’ Rhino Handmade label issues a three CD boxed edition of the album both the mono and stereo mixes of the album, as well as previously unreleased alternate takes, an open ended interview (originally released to radio stations), and a bonus 7" single with instrumental versions of “Porpoise Song” and “As We Go Along”. The album is also reissued in 2011, with the album cover art replicating the original 1968 reflective “mirror” cover. It is reissued again, pressed on clear vinyl as part of “The Monkees Classic Album Collection” for Record Store Day in April of 2016.
The album is reissued on vinyl again in July of 2019, as part of Rhino’s “Summer Of ‘69” series, pressed on silver vinyl.
“Head” peaks at number forty five on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 24, 1966 – The Beatles begin recording “Strawberry Fields Forever” at Abbey Road Studios in London. After a three month vacation, the band return to the studio to begin work on the follow up to “Revolver”. The first song recorded is a new composition of John Lennon’s titled “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Lennon writes the song in Almeria, Spain while filming “How I Won The War” with director Richard Lester in the early Fall of 1966. One take of the song is recorded that evening, though changes dramatically and grows more complex over the month that it takes to complete the track. The song marks the beginning of a new era in The Beatles creativity that changes the face of popular music yet again. Strawberry Fields is name of a Salvation Army orphanage around the corner from Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool, where he would attend garden parties in the summer. Once in the studio, the song evolves from a gentle, sparsely arranged ballad to a heavily scored piece with horns and strings complimenting the basic track. The finished version of the song consists of two separate versions. Lennon likes the first half of the first remake and the second half of the other. He suggests to producer George Martin that the two be edited together, which at first seems to not be possible since they are recorded in different keys and tempos. Martin discovers that by increasing the speed of one and slowing down the other recording, that they match. Originally intended to be part of the bands’ next album (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”), “Strawberry Fields Forever” is instead issued as one half of a double A-sided single in February 1967 (w/ “Penny Lane”). The band films a promotional clip for the song on January 30 – 31, 1967 in Sevenoaks, Kent, UK, directed by Swedish television director Peter Goldman. “Strawberry Fields Forever” peaks at #2 on the UK singles chart and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
On this day in music history: November 19, 1991 – “Achtung Baby”, the seventh studio album by U2 is released. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, it is recorded at Hansa Studios in Berlin, Germany, Elsinore Studios in Dalkey, Ireland, STS Studios and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland from October 1990 – September 1991. It marks the beginning of a major shift in U2’s musical direction. The album takes its title from a line in the Mel Brooks comedy “The Producers”, both as a tongue in cheek reference to the bands’ recording in Germany, and to add some levity to intensity of the music contained on it. Initial sessions for the album take place at Hansa Studios in Berlin which prove so arduous that the band nearly breaks up in frustration. The writing and recording of the track “One” (#10 Pop) allows them to regroup and creatively refocus their efforts, leading the way to the rest of the albums’ completion. The resulting work is a huge critical and commercial success, spinning off five singles including “Mysterious Ways” (#9 Pop) and “Even Better Than The Real Thing” (#32 Pop). The albums’ cover art, designed by Steve Averill, features a series of various photos (taken by photographer Anton Corbijn) also includes a full frontal nude picture of bassist Adam Clayton on the back cover. The original limited vinyl LP release features this photo uncensored, while the CD pressing includes the photo with an “X” drawn over Clayton’s private parts. The album is remastered and reissued to commemorate its twentieth anniversary in October of 2011, including a single CD, a double CD “Deluxe Edition”, and double vinyl LP releases (with a bonus 12" EP featuring remixes, pressed on blue vinyl). Also released is a “Super Deluxe” that contain six CD’s, four DVD’s and a ninety-two page hardbound book. And finally, a limited (to only six hundred copies) and numbered “Über Deluxe” edition containing all of the contents of the Super Deluxe version, plus the double LP set, and reproductions of all of the albums’ singles pressed on clear vinyl, and packaged with their corresponding picture sleeves. It also features a copy of Propaganda, the bands’ fan club magazine, art prints of the album cover artwork, four badges, stickers, and a pair of Bono’s “Fly” sunglasses. The vinyl LP is reissued as a stand alone release in 2018, pressed as a double 180 gram set. “Achtung Baby” debuts at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 17, 1971 – “Live-Evil”, the thirty eighth album by Miles Davis is released. Produced by Teo Macero, it is recorded at The Cellar Door in Washington DC on December 19, 1970, and at Columbia Studio B from February – June 1970. The half live/half in studio recorded double LP set consists of eight extended electric based jams featuring Davis supported by musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Michael Henderson, Jack DeJohnette, Billy Cobham, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Airto Moreira, and Keith Jarrett. Originally conceived as a continuation of the landmark “Bitches Brew”, it differs greatly from its predecessor by incorporating more rock and funk elements. It is well received upon its release and is considered a pioneering jazz/funk recording, as well as one of the cornerstones of Davis’ “Electric Period”. The albums’ distinctive cover art was created by artist Mati Klarwein, best known for the cover art on Davis’ “Bitches Brew” and Santana’s “Abraxas”. Davis tells Klarwein that he wants something representing “life” on the front cover, and something representing “evil” on the back". The front features a painting of a pregnant African woman, while the back features a grotesque looking amphibian like creature in a powered wig clutching its belly. The latter painting is inspired by a picture that the artist sees of infamous FBI director J. Edgar Hoover on the cover of Time Magazine. Originally released on CD in the early 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 1997, issued in a digipak, and eventually standard jewel case configuration. Out of print on vinyl for nearly three decades, it’s remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by 4 Men With Beards Records in 2011. It’s reissued again by Music On Vinyl in 2016. “Live-Evil” peaks at number one hundred twenty five on the Billboard Top 200, and number four on the Jazz chart.
On this day in music history: November 11, 1968 – “Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono is released (UK release date is on November 29, 1968). Produced by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, it is recorded at Kenwood Sun Room (John Lennon home studio) in Weybridge, Surrey, UK on May 19, 1968. The avant garde recording is the result of an all night recording session consisting of tape loops combined with minimal instrumentation, sound effects, and ad-libbed dialogue between Lennon and Ono. The album becomes infamous for its cover art which feature photos of the couple naked on both the front and back of the LP. The photos are taken by Lennon with a time delayed camera, while he and Ono are living in a London flat in Montagu Square owned by Ringo Starr. This stirs up such great controversy that Apple Records’ US distributor Capitol Records and UK distributor EMI refuse to handle the album (though do actually press the LP). Tetragrammaton Records distributes it in the US, while Track Records distributes it in the UK (limited to only 5,000 copies). Retailers outraged by the nudity on the cover, only agree to sell it if it is packaged in a brown paper bag. Though in one instance, 30,000 copies of the album are seized from a distributor in New Jersey. Treated more as a curiosity by fans, it still manages to sell over 25,000 copies in the US. The album is officially reissued in the US by Rykodisc in 1997. “Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins” peaks at number one hundred twenty four on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: October 12, 1979 – “Tusk”, the twelfth album by Fleetwood Mac is released. Produced by Fleetwood Mac, Ken Caillat and Richard Dashut, it is recorded at The Village Recorder and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, CA from Mid 1978 – Mid 1979. Issued as the highly anticipated follow up to the multi-million selling “Rumours”, the sprawling twenty track double LP set costs over $1 million to record with the band spending more than a year in the studio. With Lindsey Buckingham’s musical interests turning toward punk rock and new wave, he has a strong influence over the work in progress. It receives largely mixed reviews from critics and fans, bewildered by the largely experimental nature of the record, and put off by the high retail list price ($15.98) affect album sales. Sales are also hurt by large numbers of people recording it off the air, when the RKO radio network previews the album in its entirety prior to its release. It ends up selling about one fifth of the ten million copies that “Rumours” had sold to that date. In later years, “Tusk” is re-evaluated and receives greater appreciation for its musical invention, and willingness to push boundaries. It spins off three singles including “Sara” (#7 Pop) and the title track (#8 Pop). Fleetwood Mac tours the world extensively in support of the album, spending eighteen months on the road, and releasing a double live album (“Fleetwood Mac Live”) taken from the tour in December of 1980. When “Tusk” is originally released on CD in the mid 80’s, it features the edited single version of “Sara” instead of the full 6:22 LP version. This is done since the album runs over the original seventy four minute time limit set for a single CD. The full version makes its CD debut in 1988 on “Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits” (the 2002 “Very Best Of Fleetwood Mac” set), and is restored to the original album when it is remastered in 2004. The 2004 reissue also includes a bonus CD featuring demos, alternate takes and previously unreleased tracks. The original twenty track album is reissued on vinyl by Warner Bros’ Rhino Records reissue division in 2012. It is also reissued as a sprawling Super Deluxe box set in 2015. The set includes five CD’s with remastered versions of the original album, outtakes, live tracks, single mixes and edits, and DVD-A disc with new 5.1 surround mixes and high definition audio of the stereo mix. Also included is the remastered double vinyl LP. An another version of the album featuring the alternate outtakes, from the 2015 five CD deluxe edition is released as a limited double vinyl album titled “The Alternate Tusk” for Record Store Day in April of 2016. “Tusk” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1967 – The Beatles begin recording “I Am The Walrus” at Abbey Road Studios in London in Studio One. Written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon – McCartney), the finished song is a combination of three others that Lennon had been working on. Inspired while tripping on acid, Lennon incorporates imagery from the Lewis Carroll poem “The Walrus And The Carpenter” (taken from the book “Through The Looking-Glass”), only later realizing the author was making a comment on capitalism and that the walrus is actually the villain of the story. When The Beatles begin work on the song, it is their first time back in the studio following the death of their manager Brian Epstein. The song becomes a centerpiece of the “Magical Mystery Tour” television film and album (initially released in the UK as a double 7” EP set). The band are accompanied on the track by an orchestra and choir (The Mike Sammes Singers) arranged by producer George Martin. When the song reaches the mixing stage, Lennon will come up with the idea of incorporating live radio feed from a BBC broadcast Shakepeare’s “King Lear” (Act IV, Scene VI). During one of the mono mixes, the broadcast is included in the mix. However, this causes a minor problem when it comes to the stereo mix. Since the mix with the King Lear dialogue was mixed only in mono, a “fake stereo” mix have to be fabricated from that portion of the mono mix. “I Am The Walrus” also appears on the B-side of “Hello Goodbye” when it is released as a single on November 24, 1967. The US 45 released by Capitol Records includes an extra instrumental passage between the third and fourth verses of the song. This part is edited out of all other released versions of the song. ”I Am The Walrus” peaks at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 23, 1967.
On this day in music history: August 10, 1970 – “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” the ninth album by The Mothers Of Invention is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at Apostolic Studios, A&R Studios, and The Factory in New York City, T.T.G. Studios In Hollywood, CA, Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA, Philadelphia Arena in Philadelphia, PA, Royal Festival Hall in London, Town Hall in Birmingham, UK, Criteria Studios and Thee Image in Miami, FL from December 1967 – June 1969. The third release on Frank Zappa’s Bizarre Records imprint (through Warner/Reprise), the album consists of live and studio tracks recorded over a two year period, and is released after Zappa disbands The Mothers. The LP’s brilliantly subversive and iconic cover art is illustrated by artist Neon Park. Park’s painting is based on both the September 1956 issue of “Man’s Life” magazine depicting a man being attacked by weasels and a 1953 advertisement for Schick electric shavers. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued in 2012 by The Zappa Family Trust on the re-established Zappa Records. The vinyl LP, out of print since the late 80’s, is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” peaks at number one hundred eighty nine on the Billboard Top 200.