On this day in music history: September 25, 1980 – “Triumph”, the thirteenth album by The Jacksons is released. Produced by The Jacksons, it is recorded at Capitol Studios, Hollywood Sound, Davlen Sound, Devonshire Sound, Westlake Audio in Hollywood, CA and Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA from June 1979 – June 1980. Even before the release of his landmark album “Off The Wall”, Michael Jackson reunites with his brothers in the Summer of 1979 to begin work on the follow up to the Platinum selling “Destiny”. With the huge success of that album, the group take full creative control of the new project (the previous album was supervised by former Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer Bobby Colomby and Mike Atkinson, listed as executive producers), handling the production chores and writing all nine of the new album’s songs themselves. The group are supported by a team of top notch studio musicians, many of whom have played on the previous album including Michael Sembello, David Williams, Phil Upchurch, Paul Jackson, Jr. (guitars), Nathan Watts, Mike McKinney (bass), Ollie E. Brown (drums), Paulinho DaCosta (percussion) and The Seawind Horns (Jerry Hey, Kim Hutchcroft, Bill Reichenbach, and Larry Hall). It is a major critical and commercial success upon its release, and is regarded as one of The Jacksons’ best efforts. It spins off four singles including “Lovely One” (#2 R&B, #12 Pop, #1 Club Play), “Heartbreak Hotel” (later re-titled “This Place Hotel” on later pressings) (#2 R&B, #22 Pop), “Can You Feel It” (#30 R&B, #77 Pop, #1 Club Play), and “Walk Right Now” (#50 R&B, #73 Pop, #5 Club Play). The Jacksons also supports the album with an extensive tour in 1981 that is recorded for the double live album “Jacksons Live!”, released in November of 1981. “Triumph” is remastered and reissued on CD in November of 2008 (exclusively through Circuit City, before going into wide release in February of 2009) with three bonus tracks. “Triumph” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart (becoming their first chart topping album since “Maybe Tomorrow” in 1971), peaking at number ten on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1982 – “1999” by Prince is released. Written and produced by Prince, it is the eleventh single release for the singer, songwriter, musician and producer from Minneapolis, MN. Written about “a party at the end of world”, the lyrics touch on widespread fears of the escalation of “The Cold War”, and the impending threat of global thermal nuclear war between the United States and the then Soviet Union (Russia). The song’s message encourages listeners to enjoy the time we do have, best expressed in the lyric “life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last”. The somewhat dark undercurrent present in the lyrics are masked by the exuberant, funky track, with its point being missed by many who only viewed it as a party song. One of the last songs recorded for the album, the basic tracks are recorded at Prince’s home studio on Kiowa Trail (“The Purple House”) in Chanhassen, MN in late July/early August of 1982. The song features Prince sharing lead vocals with band members Lisa Coleman, Jill Jones, and Dez Dickerson. Initially, he had planned for everyone to sing the entire song in unison, but during mixing of the single he hits upon the idea of having them sing lines on their own then all together on the chorus. The songs music video is directed by Bruce Gowers (Queen, Michael Jackson), and is shot at the Minneapolis Armory (with the full stage set up) during rehearsals for the “Triple Threat Tour”. It is one of three promotional clips filmed that week along with “Automatic” and “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”. The single is backed with the non album B-side “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore”. Featuring Prince singing lead and background vocals to his own piano accompaniment, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 26, 1982. “How Come” is included on the compilation “The Hits/B-sides” in 1993, and on the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s film “Girl 6” in 1996. “1999” peaks at #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in December of 1982 also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on December 4, 1982, and initially peaking at number #44 on the Hot 100. After the top ten chart success of “Little Red Corvette”, Warner Bros re-promotes “1999” at US top 40 pop radio in the late Spring of 1983. It re-enters the Hot 100, and peak at #12 on July 23, 1983. Prince re-records “1999” in late 1998, releasing it on his NPG Records imprint (as a seven track EP) after Warner Bros reissues the original version. The original re-charts again, peaking at #40 on the Hot 100 on January 16, 1999, with the remake peaking at #58 on the R&B album chart, and #150 on the Top 200 on February 20, 1999.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1977 – “Keep It Comin’ Love” by KC & The Sunshine Band hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on October 1, 1977. Written by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, it is the fourth R&B chart topper for the R&B Disco/Funk band from Hialeah, FL. With the back to back chart topping singles “Get Down Tonight” and “That’s The Way (I Like It)” under their belts, KC & The Sunshine band continue their hit streak into 1976 when they release their fourth studio album titled “Part 3”. The lead single “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” released ahead of the album in May quickly become the bands third number one pop and R&B hit. Two more singles “I Like To Do It” (#4 R&B, #37 Pop) and their fourth chart topper “I’m Your Boogie Man” (#1 Pop & R&B) follow. Employing a similar writing technique used on “That’s The Way (I Like It)”, KC and bassist Richard Finch use the title “keep it comin’ love” along with the refrain “don’t stop it now, don’t stop it no, don’t stop it now, don’t stop” as repetitive hooks to sear it in the listeners memory. The song is the final track on the album, directly segueing out of “I’m Your Boogie Man”. With many club DJ’s playing both cuts back to back, it is a natural for a future single release. After “Boogie Man” peaks, KC & The Sunshine Band’s label TK Records issues “Keep It Comin’ Love” nine months after the initial release of “Part 3” in July of 1977. It quickly follows its predecessor up the charts, becoming the bands fourth million selling single, with the album also crossing the million mark in sales. It stops short of the top on the Hot 100, holding at #2 for three weeks when it is unable to unseat either Meco’s “Star Wars/Cantina Band” and Debby’s Boone’s “You Light Up My Life”.
On this day in music history: September 23, 1978 – “Got To Get You Into My Life” by Earth, Wind & Fire hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #9 on the Hot 100 on September 16, 1978. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the fourth chart topping single for the legendary R&B/Funk band led by musician, singer, songwriter and producer Maurice White. In 1977, Earth, Wind & Fire are asked by film director Michael Schultz (“Car Wash”, “Which Way Is Up?”) and producer Robert Stigwood to be part of an ambitious musical film adaptation of The Beatles music. The film in question is “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, with the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton leading an all star cast of actors and musicians. After agreeing to record a song and appear in the film, Earth, Wind & Fire are given a choice of two songs. They choose “Got To Get You Into My Life”, from the 1966 album “Revolver”. The Beatles version is belatedly released as a single in 1976, ten years after “Revolver”, to promote the compilation album “Rock ‘N’ Roll Music”. It becomes a surprise hit, peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 on July 24, 1976. Featuring one of the first uses of brass instruments on a Beatles record, the song is a natural for EWF to do, possessing one of the greatest horn sections around in The Phenix Horns (Don Myrick, Louis Sattterfield, Rahmlee Michael Davis, Michael Harris). Not content to do just a straight ahead cover version, bandleader Maurice White and the other members of Earth, Wind & Fire proceed to put their own distinctive and unique musical stamp on The Fab Four’s R&B flavored classic. Just as the band are completing work in their next studio album “All ‘N’ All”, “Got To Get You Into My Life” is recorded at Northstar Studios in Boulder, CO in October of 1977. Following the sessions to cut the song, the band film their performance for “Sgt. Pepper’s”, before embarking on another tour. Chosen as the first single from soundtrack album in July of 1978, it is an immediate smash. However, the film does not fare nearly as well, going down in history as an epic cinematic disaster. Though Earth, Wind & Fire emerge from the carnage completely unscathed, in fact receiving praise for their spirited appearance in the film. The success of EWF’s cover gives them their fourth R&B chart topper, helping the “Sgt. Pepper’s” soundtrack cross the 3x Platinum mark in the US. That album is ironically also regarded as a failure due to RSO Records pressing and shipping over eight million copies, two thirds of which are returned to distributor Polygram within weeks of its release. “Got To Get You Into My Life” is also included on “The Best Of Earth, Wind & Fire Volume 1” in November of 1978, which to date has sold over six million copies in the US alone. “Got To Get You Into My Life” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 21, 1985 – “Fishbone”, the debut EP by Fishbone is released. Produced by David Kahne, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA and Eldorado Recording Studios in Burbank, CA from Late 1984 – Mid 1985. Friends since junior high school, the core of Fishbone is formed around brothers John Norwood Fisher (bass) and Phillip “Fish” Fisher (drums) “Dirty Walt” A. Kibby II (vocals, trumpet), Kendall Jones (guitar, keyboards), and Christopher Dowd (keyboards, vocals). The group begin jamming and rehearsing at the Fishers home in South Central Los Angeles. At this time, all five are bussed to another high school in the San Fernando Valley, where they meet Angelo Moore (vocals, saxophone). First calling themselves Megatron, they change their name to Fishbone with Moore as lead singer. Having a wildly eclectic and manic music style that includes funk, R&B, rock, ska and punk, Fishbone establishes themselves on L.A.’s thriving underground punk scene quickly becoming an attraction and developing a following. Fishbone are discovered by Columbia Records A&R man and producer David Kahne in 1983 when they’re playing a club. He offers to sign the band and take them into the studio. Kahne and Fishbone emerge from the studio with a six track EP featuring all original material written by mostly by guitarist Kendall Jones with contributions from Norwood and Angelo. The bands now trademark “fishbone” logo featured on the back cover is designed by producer David Kahne using an early version of the MacPaint illustrating program on an Apple MacIntosh personal computer. Original vinyl pressings have the message “THANKS MOMMA FISH” etched into the run out groove on both sides, in tribute to Norwood and “Fish” Fisher’s mother. The EP spins off two singles including “? (Modern Industry)” and “Party At Ground Zero”. The closing track “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” also becomes a major fan favorite. In spite of only a limited promotional push from Columbia Records, the EP sells especially well in the Southern California region thanks to major support from stations like KROQ and 91X, and finds pockets of support in other areas when Fishbone tours in support of it. “Fishbone” does not chart on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 21, 1985 – “Oh Sheila” by Ready For The World hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 and Hot Dance Club Play charts for 1 week on October 12, 1985. Written by Melvin Riley, Jr., Gordon Strozier and Gerald Valentine, it is the biggest hit for the R&B/Funk band from Flint, MI. The band get their start in 1982 when they are discovered by local radio personality The Electrifying Mojo from WJLB in Detroit. The following year, they record and release their debut single “Tonight” on their own Blue Lake record label. The amount of local airplay it receives attracts the attention of MCA Records R&B executive Jheryl Busby, who quickly signs them and re-releases the song nationally. “Tonight” peaks at #6 on the R&B singles chart in early 1985. The follow up “Deep Inside Your Love” peaks in the same position a few months later. “Oh Sheila” is released as their third single from their self-titled debut album in July of 1985, quickly rising up the R&B charts and becoming a crossover smash. Many misconstrue the song as being about singer/musician Sheila E., as well as for its Prince influenced sound, but the band deny that it is true.
On this day in music history: September 20, 1975 – “Fame” by David Bowie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks (non-consecutive). also peaking at #21 on the R&B singles chart on October 18, 1975. Written by David Bowie, Carlos Alomar, and John Lennon, it is the first US chart topper for the British rock superstar born David Robert Jones. The song comes about after Bowie meets John Lennon in New York during the sessions for the “Young Americans” album. While most of the album is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia with Tony Visconti producing, “Fame” is recorded at Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village with producer Harry Maslin, with the initial riff coming from Bowie’s guitarist Carlos Alomar. Lennon comes up with title (also playing guitar and singing background vocals), with Bowie writing the lyrics. Released in June of 1975 as the albums second single, it quickly finds favor on both pop and R&B radio stations. Entering the Hot 100 at #90 on June 28, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. After one week on top, the single is bumped from the number one spot on September 27, 1975, yielding to John Denver’s double A-sided hit “Calypso/I’m Sorry” for one week, “Fame” rebounds and regains the number one position for one more week on October 4, 1975. New remixes of the classic song titled “Fame 90” are remixed by engineer Jon Gass (Babyface), Arthur Baker, and D.J. Mark “The 45 King. The 45 King mix features rap verses by Queen Latifah. The remixes are released as a 12” single, and “The Gass Mix” is also included on the soundtrack of the film “Pretty Woman”, and the hits compilation “Changesbowie”. “Fame” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.