Category: hard rock

On this day in music history: July 17, 1982 – …

On this day in music history: July 17, 1982 – “Screaming For Vengeance”, the eighth studio album by Judas Priest is released. Produced by Tom Allom, it is recorded at Ibiza Sound Studios in Ibiza, Spain in Early 1982. After having their commercial breakthrough in the US with the albums “British Steel” and “Point Of Entry”, Judas Priest return to the studio in early 1982 to record their eighth album. Once again, they record on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza (for tax purposes)The veteran heavy metal bands eighth release is their most successful to date in the US, spinning off two singles including “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” (#67 Pop, #4 Mainstream Rock) and “Electric Eye” (#38 Mainstream Rock). The band also tour extensively in support of the album and other metal bands such as Iron Maiden, Krokus and Uriah Heep opening for them on the US leg. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001, with two additional bonus tracks added. The expanded reissue is also released as a double vinyl LP by Back On Black Records in 2010, pressed on green, yellow, orange and standard black vinyl. “Screaming For Vengeance” peaks at number seventeen 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: July 9, 1970 – &…

On this day in music history: July 9, 1970 – “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by Rare Earth is released. Written by Cornelius Grant, Eddie Holland and Norman Whitfield, it is the fourth single release for the Detroit, MI based rock/funk band. A cover of The Temptations 1966 classic, the band work with the songs original producer and co-writer Norman Whitfield, giving it a stunning, extended psychedelic make over. Clocking in at over eleven minutes on the LP, it is edited down to just over three and a half minutes for single release. Issued as the first single from the bands’ third album “Ecology”, “(I Know) I’m Losing You” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and number twenty on the R&B singles chart on October 3, 1970. Rare Earth’s version of “(I Know) I’m Losing You” is also  sampled by the rap duo Black Sheep on the track “Try Counting Sheep” on their 1991 debut album “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”.

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On this day in music history: July 7, 1986 – &…

On this day in music history: July 7, 1986 – “Eat ‘Em And Smile”, the full-length debut solo album by David Lee Roth is released. Produced by Ted Templeman, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City, Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA and Can-Am Recorders in Tarzana, CA from Late 1985 – Early 1986. Following the Platinum selling success of his EP “Crazy From The Heat”, Roth initially plans on making his first full album in a similar vein, recording covers of lounge, pop and standards. He scraps the idea to make a straight ahead rock album more like his work in Van Halen. Roth assembles a band of top notch musicians that include guitar virtuoso Steve Vai, bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Gregg Bissonette. The album is well received upon its release and spins off four singles including “Yankee Rose” (#16 Pop, #10 Mainstream Rock), and Goin’ Crazy" (#66 Pop, #12 Mainstream Rock). Along side the standard release, Roth releases an alternate version of the album titled “Sonrisa Salvaje”, with all of the songs sung in Spanish.  The Spanish version is remastered and reissued on CD by Friday Music in 2007. Out of print on vinyl for nearly twenty years, the original English language version is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2011. “Eat ‘Em And Smile” peaks  at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 20, 1978 – …

On this day in music history: June 20, 1978 – “Double Vision”, the second album by Foreigner is released. Produced by Keith Olsen, it is recorded at the Atlantic Recording Studio in New York City, and Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA, from December 1977 – March 1978. Issued fifteen months after their eponymously titled debut, the band work with veteran rock producer Keith Olsen (Fleetwood Mac, Journey, Heart) on their sophomore release. The album is even more successful than their first, spinning off three hit singles including the top five hits “Hot Blooded” (#3 Pop), and the title track (#2 Pop). The album’s cover artwork is issued with three different variations. The initial pressing features a mostly brown background, with the title printed below the photo of the band, and band logo printed in light green. The second pressing released later in 1978, the background is changed to a blue tint, with the album title placed above the band photo and under the Foreigner logo (also printed in blue). The third pressing released in 1979, the background has a purple tint, with the title in the same position as the second cover, with the band logo printed in purple. Original pressings are also issued with custom grey silver labels, and a custom inner sleeve with printed lyrics. “Hot Blooded” is later featured in the film “Vision Quest” in 1985, and is sampled on Tone Loc’s Platinum selling single “Funky Cold Medina” in 1989. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002 with two additional live bonus tracks. It is also reissued as a hybrid SACD and 180 gram vinyl LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2011. “Double Vision” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 17, 1991 – …

On this day in music history: June 17, 1991 – “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”, the ninth studio album by Van Halen is released. Produced by Andy Johns, Ted Templeman and Van Halen, it is recorded at 5150 Studios in Hollywood, CA from March 1990 – April 1991. The albums’ title is inspired when Sammy Hagar, wanting to stir things up and make a statement against the tide of censorship sweeping the media at the time, suggests that the band title their latest album “F***”. Hagar’s friend, boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini tells him that the expletive “f***” is actually an acronym for the phrase “for unlawful carnal knowledge”. The album also marks the return of the bands original producer Ted Templeman, whom the band had been estranged from for many years. In spite of mostly mixed reviews from critics upon its release, it is warmly received by the bands loyal fans. It spins off four singles including “Poundcake” (#1 Album Rock) and “Right Now” (#2 Album Rock, #55 Pop). The latter is supported by a music video (directed by Mark Fenske) whose unique concept and graphic style makes it an instant staple on MTV, winning three Video Music Awards including Video Of The Year in 1992. The album also wins Van Halen their first (and so far only) Grammy Award for Best Hard Performance in 1992. “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” enters the Billboard Top 200 at number one, spending three weeks at the top, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 15, 1989 – …

On this day in music history: June 15, 1989 – “Bleach”, the debut album by Nirvana is released. Produced by Jack Endino, it is recorded at Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, WA from December 1988 – January 1989. The first album by the Aberdeen, WA grunge rock band is recorded in only thirty hours of studio time at a cost of only $606.17. Second guitarist Jason Everman finances the recording of the album in spite of not playing a note on it. Guitarist/songwriter and lead singer Kurt Cobain credits him anyway as a gesture of thanks. Issued on small Seattle indie rock label Sub Pop Records, the album sells about 40,000 copies during its initial release, but rises significantly in prominence following Nirvana’s hugely successful second album “Nevermind” in 1991. “Bleach” finally charts on the Billboard Top 200 in 1992 peaking at #89. It tops the Catalog album sales chart on May 7, 1994 one month after Kurt Cobain’s death. A limited number of copies of the original LP release are pressed on white vinyl. Subsequent reissues are pressed on numerous colors including marbled pink, clear red, swirled aqua blue, marbled bottle green, marbled purple. In 2009, the album is remastered and reissued for its twentieth anniversary. The LP configuration is issued as a double vinyl set  (exclusively sold through retailer Newbury Comics) featuring a live performance recorded at the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, OR in February of 1990. The LP’s also also pressed in multiple colors including white, blue marbled black and purple marbled black. “Bleach” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 14, 1968 – …

On this day in music history: June 14, 1968 – “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, the second album by Iron Butterfly is released. Produced by Don Casale, it is recorded at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, CA, and Ultra-Sonic Studios in Hempstead, Long Island, NY in Early 1968. The San Diego, CA based psychedelic rock band, after having gone through numerous personnel changes since forming two years earlier in 1966, return to the studio in early 1968 to record the follow up to their debut release “Heavy” issued in January of 1968. The albums centerpiece is the title track, clocking in at an epic 17:05, it takes up the entire second side of the LP. The final track recorded for the album, the song is originally titled “In The Garden Of Eden” but lead singer and organist Doug Ingle slurs the words due to being drunk while recording the track. The master take of “Vida” is captured in a single take with the final recording having only meant to be a sound check before formal recording began. The engineer happened to have the tape rolling during the sound check, and once the band hears the results, decide that another take is not necessary. Also released as a severely edited single (#30 Pop) for AM radio airplay (2:53), “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” quickly becomes the bands signature song and establish them as an influential and seminal band in hard rock and instrumental in the development of heavy metal music. The song is later covered by Boney M., Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band and Slayer. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is also brilliantly parodied on “The Simpsons” on the episode “Bart Sells His Soul”, originally airing on October 8, 1995. Bart tricks Reverend Lovejoy’s congregation into singing the song, handing out sheet music and making the parishioners believe that is a hymn titled “In The Garden Of Eden” by “I. Ron Butterfly”. The gag ends with the elderly church organist collapsing on the keyboard after playing the seventeen minute long song. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 1995 with two additional bonus tracks, also being reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Rhino Records in 2009. A limited edition LP pressing of the classic album is issued for Record Store Day in 2010. Another pressing, pressed on clear splatter colored “psychedelic” 180 gram vinyl is released as part of Rhino’s “Start Your Ear Off Right” series in January of 2017, and is limited to 4,000 copies. That issue also replicates the original 60’s era Atco labels found on the initial pressing, with the LP jackets constructed of heavy cardboard (rather than printed on white posterboard like modern LP’s), with the cover artwork slicks pasted to them like the original release sleeves. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 12, 1972 – …

On this day in music history: June 12, 1972 – “School’s Out”, the fifth album by Alice Cooper is released. Produced by Bob Ezrin, it is recorded at The Record Plant in New York City and the Alice Cooper Mansion in Greenwich, CT from February – April 1972. Having finally found their sound with the albums “Love It To Death” and “Killer”, Alice Cooper are at last ready for their close up. Their third release with producer Bob Ezrin, Alice Cooper’s manager moves them into a rented mansion, to live, rehearse and record in. The project evolves into a concept album about “lost youth after leaving school”. The title track “School’s Out” (#7 Pop) becomes the lynch pin for the album. Inspired in part by a line from a Bowery Boys movie, the song brilliantly captures the anticipation of watching the clock wind down to the end of the school year. The feeling is brilliantly projected in the sing-a-long chorus of “School’s out for Summer… School’s out forever…”. Then to drive the point home, the track ends with the sound of a school bell ringing, and creating the eerie and jarring effect of it slowing down and abruptly stopping, by grabbing the tape reels on the machine manipulating them by hand. Released as a single in late April of 1972, “School’s Out” is an instant classic, becoming Alice Cooper’s lone top ten pop hit. The single (issued in mono), differs noticeably from the stereo album mix, in that it does not feature the same school bell effect, ending on a fade rather than a dead stop like the stereo version. The concept is also incorporated into the album packaging. Including a calendar in the artwork of “Killer”, they decide on something even more elaborate for “School’s Out”. The band hire graphic artist Craig Braun, famous for helping create the iconic cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” (with a working zipper in front). The Alice Cooper LP features a cover shot of a vintage wooden school desk, with the band members having carved their names and initials into the desk top. The package is designed to open like a desk, revealing the record itself housed in a plastic inner sleeve, and wrapped in a pair of girl’s panties (made of paper and colored either pink, white, yellow or blue). It becomes instantly iconic, earning a Grammy nomination for Best Album Cover in 1973. The panties are discontinued after the initial pressing, when they’re found to be a fire hazard. The original desk, is on display at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.Originally released on CD in 1988, it is most recently remastered and reissued as an SHM-CD by Warner Japan in 2011. Out of print on vinyl for many years, it is reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2010, packaged in a standard gatefold sleeve. “School’s Out” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 31, 1948 – Drumming lege…

Born on this day: May 31, 1948 – Drumming legend John Bonham of Led Zeppelin (born John Henry Bonham in Redditch, Worcestershire, UK). Happy Birthday to “Bonzo” on what would have been his 71st Birthday.

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On this day in music history: May 27, 1968 – &…

On this day in music history: May 27, 1968 – “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf is released. Written by Mars Bonfire, it is the third single and biggest hit for the Canadian-American rock band. Originally known as The Sparrows, the band is formed in 1967 lead singer and guitarist John Kay (born Joachim Fritz Krauledat). Initially based near Toronto, Canada, the band move to L.A. in search a record deal. A deal with Columbia Records results in one session, with that material being shelved. They are then signed to Dunhill Records by staff producer Gabriel Mekler, who re-dub them Steppenwolf, after the novel by German author Herman Hesse. By the Fall of 1967, the line up consists of Kay, Goldy McJohn (keyboards), Michael Monarch (guitar, backing vocals), Rushton Moreve (bass, backing vocals) and Jerry Edmonton (drums, backing vocals). Initially, the band begin recording at United Western Studios in Hollywood, but after receiving complaints that they’re too loud, they relocate to American Recording Company on Sunset Blvd. Once settled in the studio with Mekler and recording engineer Richard Podolor (Three Dog Night), Steppenwolf quickly get to work. A mix of originals and covers, they record their first album in only two days. Among those songs is one written by drummer Jerry Edmonton titled “Born To Be Wild”. Originally having a slower tempo, he pens it under the pseudonym “Mars Bonfire”, taking “Bonfire” from a highway billboard. Initially offering it to another band, Steppenwolf decide to record it, changing the arrangement. In October of 1967, Dunhill releases their first single “A Girl I Knew”, which does not chart. It is followed in February of 1968 by the band’s cover of Don Covay’s “Sookie Sookie” which also misses the Hot 100. With Steppenwolf’s self titled debut album also released by this time, Dunhill pulls a third single titled “Everybody’s Next One” with “Born To Be Wild” placed on the B-side. At first there is little interest from radio in “Everybody’s”, when DJ Reb Foster of radio station KRLA begins playing “Born To Be Wild” instead. Within weeks, “Wild” becomes the A-side by default. Entering the Hot 100 at #70 on July 13, 1968, it rockets to #2 six weeks later on August 24, 1968. The first rock song to coin the term “heavy metal”, “Born To Be Wild” becomes a biker and counterculture anthem. A status that is further immortalized when actor and director Dennis Hopper uses the song in the iconic film “Easy Rider” the following year. “Wild” is widely covered, with versions by Slade, Link Wray, Etta James, Blue Öyster Cult, and Status Quo to name a few. Steppenwolf’s original recording has been used in numerous other films and television shows, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002. “Born To Be Wild” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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