Category: experimental

On this day in music history: October 14, 1977…

On this day in music history: October 14, 1977 – “Heroes”, the thirteenth album by David Bowie is released. Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti, it is recorded at Hansa Studios by the Wall in West Berlin, East Germany from July – August 1977. The second release in David Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy” (issued just nine months after “Low”), Bowie once again collaborates on several songs with Brian Eno. The pair come up with rough sketches of songs without melodies and lyrics, which are composed during the actual sessions. Bowie is heavily influenced by the atmosphere of Berlin while living in the city. This is reflected on several songs, particularly the albums epic title track, which tells the story of two lovers who meet at the Berlin Wall. Part of the lyrics to “Heroes” are inspired when Bowie asks producer Tony Visconti to leave him alone in the studio control room to write. While staring out the window of the studio, David sees Visconti embrace and kiss backing vocalist Antonia Maass (Visconti who was married to singer Mary Hopkin at the time, but having an affair with Maass) outside by the wall. King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp travels to Berlin from the US to play on the album, recording all of his lead guitar parts in one day. Bowie is also backed by his regular group of musicians including Carlos Alomar (guitar), Dennis Davis (drums) and George Murray (bass).  It is the only album of the “Trilogy” to be entirely recorded in the city of Berlin, with the studio located only 500 yards from the Berlin Wall. The album is mixed at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland after the tracking sessions conclude. Upon its release and in the years following, it is regarded as one of the best albums of David Bowie’s career. Bowie’s 2013 album “The Next Day”, features an obscured version of photographer Masayoshi Sukita’s iconic cover photo from “Heroes” as its front cover. First released on CD in 1984, it is remastered and reissued in 1991 with two additional bonus tracks. It is also issued as a limited edition, numbered 24K gold CD by Rykodisc using the 20-bit SBM (Super Bit Mapping) process. “Heroes” is reissued again in 1999, when Bowie’s catalog is moved to Virgin/EMI, but without the added bonus tracks. The album is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl in 2017 as part of the box set “A New Career In A New Town – 1977 – 1982”. “Heroes” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, and number thirty five on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: October 12, 1979…

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 of the album 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: October 10, 1970…

On this day in music history: October 10, 1970 – “Atom Heart Mother”, the fifth album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from February – August 1970. The first self produced album by the band (though executive produced by longtime producer Norman Smith), it marks the end of their “psychedelic period” moving toward writing more tightly structured songs. The first side of the album featuring the title track is a nearly twenty four minute long suite (made up of six movements) featuring additional orchestration by the EMI Pops Orchestra and choir vocals by the John Alldis Choir. The albums iconic cover photographs taken by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis is in response to the bands request for “something plain” on the cover. Thorgerson drives out to a cow pasture in Hertfordshire and takes the photos for the front, inner gatefold and back cover. Unlike previous albums, the cover does not contain any text with the band’s name, album title, track listing, or even any pictures of the band. This becomes a main feature of Pink Floyd’s albums throughout the rest of their career. It is also the first Pink Floyd album to be mixed into quadraphonic sound, first being released on 8-Track tape and and as a vinyl LP. Reissued on CD and vinyl various times over the years, the album is remastered and reissued on 180 gram vinyl in 2016. “Atom Heart Mother” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number fifty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 12, 19…

On this day in music history: September 12, 1980 – “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”, the fourteenth studio album by David Bowie is released. Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City and Good Earth Studios in London from February – April 1980. Slightly less experimental than his famous “Berlin Trilogy” series of albums, Bowie takes a different approach during the composing process by having many of the songs completed before entering the studio, rather than improvising and writing lyrics at the last minute. The album is also the last to feature the artists long time rhythm section of guitarist Carlos Alomar, drummer Dennis Davis and bassist George Murray, who have appeared on every Bowie album since “Station To Station” in 1976. Guitarists Pete Townshend, Robert Fripp, Chuck Hammer and E Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan also guest on the album. “Scary Monsters” restores Bowie’s commercial and critical success in the UK and the US, spinning off three singles including “Ashes To Ashes” (#1 UK, #101 US Pop) and “Fashion” (#5 UK, #70 US Pop). Reissued numerous times since making its CD debut in 1984, the album is most recently remastered and reissued in 2017. “Scary Monsters” is reissued on CD and 180 gram vinyl, as stand alone releases, and as part of the box set “David Bowie – A New Career In A New Town (1977 – 1982)” .  "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)“, hits number one on the UK album chart, and peaking at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: September 10, 19…

On this day in music history: September 10, 1966 – “Revolver”, the seventh album by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 6 weeks. Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from April 6 – June 21, 1966. The album marks the beginning a new phase in the bands’ career musically and artistically, and is praised as one of their greatest works. Standing in stark contrast to their previous release, the largely acoustic based “Rubber Soul”, “Revolver” sees The Beatles exploring new musical and sonic territory, with most of the songs being electric guitar based. Though others touch on the use of orchestral instruments (“Eleanor Rigby”), Indian music (“Love You To”), and psychedelia (“She Said, She Said”, “I’m Only Sleeping”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”). It spins off the double A-sided single “Yellow Submarine” (#2 Pop) and “Eleanor Rigby” (#11 Pop). Paul McCartney receives a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Solo Vocal Performance for “Eleanor Rigby”, and artist Klaus Voorman receives a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts for the albums innovative cover artwork in 1967. In recognition of its ongoing musical and cultural influence, “Revolver” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. The album is remastered and reissued in 2009, with the stereo version being available both individually, and as part of the stereo box set. The original mono mixes (out of print since the late 60’s, with the except of a limited UK vinyl LP reissue in 1982) is released on CD for the first time as part of “The Beatles In Mono” box set. The eleven track US edition is released in January of 2014 both individually, and as part of the “The Beatles – The US Albums” box set. And the UK mono LP is reissued as part of the mono LP box set in September of 2014. “Revolver” is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 5, 196…

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 5, 1966 -…

On this day in music history: August 5, 1966 – “Revolver”, the seventh album by The Beatles is released (US release date is on August 8, 1966). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from April 6 – June 21, 1966. The album marks the beginning a new phase in the bands’ career musically and artistically, and is praised as one of their greatest works. Standing in stark contrast to their previous release, the largely acoustic based “Rubber Soul”, “Revolver” sees The Beatles exploring new musical and sonic territory, with most of the songs being electric guitar based. Though others touch on the use of orchestral instruments (“Eleanor Rigby”), Indian music (“Love You To”), brass (“Got To Get You Into My Life”) and psychedelia (“She Said, She Said”, “I’m Only Sleeping”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”). It spins off the double A-sided single “Yellow Submarine” (#2 Pop) and “Eleanor Rigby” (#11 Pop). Paul McCartney receives a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Solo Vocal Performance for “Eleanor Rigby”, and artist Klaus Voorman receives a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts for the albums innovative cover artwork in 1967. Some original UK mono pressings contain an alternate mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Doctor Robert” printed “Dr. Robert” on the side two label, which is withdrawn and corrected on subsequent re-pressings. First issued on CD in 1987, the album is remastered and reissued in 2009, with the stereo version being available both individually, and as part of the stereo box set. The original mono mixes (out of print since the late 60’s, with the except of a limited UK vinyl LP reissue in 1982) is released on CD for the first time as part of “The Beatles In Mono” box set. The eleven track US edition is released in January of 2014 both individually, and as part of the “The Beatles – The US Albums” box set. And the UK mono LP is reissued as part of the mono LP box set in September of 2014, and as an individual release. “Revolver” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, for its ongoing historic and cultural significance. “Revolver” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.

On this day in music history: July 30, 1969 – …

On this day in music history: July 30, 1969 – “In A Silent Way”, the thirty third studio album by Miles Davis. Produced by Teo Macero, it is recorded at CBS 30th Street Studios, Studio B in New York City on February 18, 1969. Recorded in one session, it is an important turning point in Davis’ career as it marks the beginning of his “Electric Period”. Moving forward from his previous two albums “Miles In The Sky” and “Filles De Kilimanjaro” which are the first to incorporate electric instruments into his sound, even more emphasis is placed on the electric guitar and electric piano on “Silent”. Broken up into two side long suites (edited and sequenced by Davis’ producer Teo Macero), the album features support from several of Miles’ regular sidemen including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland, Joe Zawinul and Tony Williams. The decision to make such a dramatic musical shift proves to be very controversial at the time, among many jazz purist fans and critics who feel “betrayed” by the change. At the same time, it earns praise from more open minded jazz and rock critics, winning Davis a new generation of fans, paving the way for his next release, the landmark “Bitches Brew” the following year. Originally released on CD in the early 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2002 with one alternate takes as a bonus track. It is also reissued as an SACD, featuring both the original stereo mix and a 5.1 surround multi-channel mix. Sony Legacy also reissues the album as a 180 gram LP in 2008. “In A Silent Way” peaks at number three on the Billboard Jazz Album chart, number forty on the R&B album chart, and number one hundred thirty four on the Top 200.

On this day in music history: July 24, 1993 – …

On this day in music history: July 24, 1993 – “Zooropa”, the eighth studio album by U2 hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 2 weeks. Produced by Flood, Brian Eno and The Edge, it is recorded at The Factory, Windmill Lane Studios and Westland Studios in Dublin, Ireland from February – May 1993. Recorded during breaks in U2’s “Zoo TV World Tour”, it is originally intended to be only an EP release to promote the European leg of the tour. The band take a different approach than with previous albums, jamming and then having Eno and Flood piece together sections, forming them into finished songs. Bono would then write lyrics, and record his vocals as the compositions came together. In spite of the unconventional method of writing and recording, the sessions are so productive that they yield a full albums worth of new material. Continuing in the vein of U2’s previous album “Achtung Baby”, it is even more experimental in its sound and scope. The album is led by the minimalist track “Numb”, featuring a monotone lead vocal by The Edge. Island and the band promote the single in part by issuing it, as a non-descript vinyl 12" single with only the title printed on the label, crediting the producer as “Fee Dognoodle”

(an anagram of Edge, Eno, Flood).

“Zooropa” also features a guest appearance by Johnny Cash on the final track “The Wanderer”. Though it is well received upon its release, it trails far behind its predecessor in sales. It spins off three singles including “Lemon” (#3 Modern Rock) and “Stay (Faraway, So Close)” (#15 Modern Rock, #61 Pop). The album also wins the band a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1994. “Zooropa” is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: July 18, 1968 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1968 – “Anthem Of The Sun”, the second album by The Grateful Dead is released. Produced by Dave Hassinger and The Grateful Dead, it is recorded at RCA Victor Studio A in Hollywood, CA, American Recording Company in Century City, CA, Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles, CA, Eureka Municipal Auditorium in Eureka, CA, Eagles Auditorium in Seattle, WA, Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR, Coast Recorders in San Francisco, CA, Carousel Ballroom in San Francisco, CA, Kings Beach Bowl in Lake Tahoe, CA, Century Sound Studios and Olmstead Studios in New York City from September 1967 – March 31, 1968. Once again working with recording engineer and producer Dave Hassinger, The Grateful Dead begin work on their sophomore release, just six months after their debut. Determined to capture their live on stage sound in the studio, Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh painstakingly piece together the tracks, using parts that have been recorded in a controlled studio environment along with parts of live performances of the same material. Frustrated with the extremely slow pace that the band is working at, Hassinger quits the project midway through. The Dead recruit their sound man Dan Healy to assist them, and the sessions resume back in San Francisco. “Anthem” also marks the first appearance of longtime Dead and Jerry Garcia collaborator Robert Hunter, who pens the lyrics for the song “Alligator”, co-written by bassist Phil Lesh and keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Taking full advantage of their contract with Warner Bros which allows them unlimited studio time, they continue tweak and rework the songs over a period of six months. The resulting album is a wide ranging psychedelic collage mixed specifically to emphasize that intent. Though reaction to it is mixed upon its release, in time the experimental “Anthem” is regarded as groundbreaking, laying the groundwork for the follow up album “Aoxomoxoa” which brings The Grateful Dead’s musical vision into clearer focus. “Anthem Of The Sun” is remixed and reissued in 1972 with alternate cover artwork, changing the cover background from purple to white, with different title and artist graphics than the original issue. The album is remastered and reissued on CD (with HDCD encoding) in 2001, using the original 1968 mix, restoring the original cover art and containing three live bonus tracks. Though the high definition digital download release uses the 70’s remix version. In 2011, it is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Rhino Records, also using the original mix. “Anthem Of The Sun” peaks at number eighty seven on the Billboard Top 200.