On this day in music history: October 11, 1972 – “Caravanserai”, the fourth album by Santana is released. Produced by Carlos Santana and Mike Shrieve, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in San Francisco, CA from February 21 – May 5, 1972. The album marks the beginning of major changes in Santana musically and personnel wise. Several members including Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, David Brown and Michael Carabello leave the band either prior to or during recording sessions for the album. Rolie and Schon goes on to form Journey the following year, Brown play with Boz Scaggs (before rejoining Santana from 1973 – 1976), The music is more jazz oriented and experimental than the bands previous three releases. Though it is successful, it marks the beginning of Santana’s decline in commercial popularity after initially peaking with their previous album. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003. “Caravanserai” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 10, 1969 – “Hot Rats”, the second solo album by Frank Zappa is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at T.T.G. Studios, Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA, and Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA from July 18 – August 30, 1969. His first album since disbanding The Mothers Of Invention, it consists of largely instrumental jazz influenced material and feature guest musicians Shuggie Otis, Max Bennett, Don “Sugarcane” Harris, Jean-Luc Ponty and Captain Beefheart. Technologically more advanced than his previous works, it is Zappa’s first to be recorded on a 16-track multi-track recorder, which he utilizes the expanded technology to the fullest, overdubbing numerous keyboard and horn parts (played by musician Ian Underwood) as well as using techniques like varispeed to change the texture and sound of instruments. Dedicated to his new born son Dweezil, “Hot Rats” goes on to be one of Zappa’s most popular and acclaimed recordings. The albums enigmatic infrared cover photo taken by Andee Nathanson, features Miss Christine Ann Frka of the acapella girl group The GTO’s, peeping out of an empty lily pond on the estate of actor Errol Flynn. The artwork and photo collage on the inside gatefold of the LP is designed by Cal Schenkel, also responsible for the cover art on Zappa’s “Cruisin’ With Ruben And The Jets” and “Uncle Meat” albums. When the album is reissued on CD in 1987, Zappa extensively remixes and edits the tracks, making them longer than the first LP issue. Eventually, the original 1969 mixes are reissued on vinyl in 2009 and on CD in 2012. “Hot Rats” peaks at number one hundred seventy three on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: October 1, 1982 – “The Nightfly”, the debut solo album by Donald Fagen is released. Produced by Gary Katz, it is recorded at Soundworks Digital Audio/Video Studios, Automated Sound in New York City, and Village Recorders in Los Angeles, CA from Mid 1981 – Mid 1982. Following the demise of Steely Dan after the release of their seventh album “Gaucho”, Donald Fagen begins work on his first solo album. With nearly all of the material being written by Fagen himself, the album is an autobiographical look at his childhood growing up in suburban New Jersey during the 50’s and early 60’s. It features a number of top notch musicians, many of which had played on past SD albums including Larry Carlton, Rick Derringer, Steve Khan, Hugh McCracken, Dean Parks (guitars), Chuck Rainey, Anthony Jackson, Will Lee, Abraham Laboriel, Marcus Miller (bass), James Gadson, Ed Greene, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Jordan (drums), Michael Omartian, Greg Phillinganes, Rob Mounsey (keyboards), Michael Brecker (tenor saxophone), and Randy Brecker (flugelhorn, trumpet). The album is a critical and commercial success, earning several Grammy nominations, including ones for Song Of The Year, and Album Of The Year in 1983. Recorded and mixed on digital recording equipment (Mitsubishi 32 track digital multi-track), the album is as lauded for its outstanding sound quality as it is for its musical content, being a pivotal release in digital recording gaining popularity in the 80’s and beyond. It spins off two singles including “I.G.Y. (What A Beautiful World)” (#26 Pop, #8 AC, #54 R&B), and “New Frontier” (#70 Pop, #34 AC). A favorite of audiophiles since its original release, the album is released as a half-speed mastered LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 1983. It is later remastered and reissued as a DVD-A disc by Warner Bros Records in 2003, featuring the original stereo mix, a newly remixed 5.1 surround mix, and the original music video for “New Frontier” as an added bonus. Rhino Records also reissues the album as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2010. It is also issued as a hybrid SACD disc in Japan in 2011, including the original stereo mix, and the 5.1 surround mix, remixed by Elliot Scheiner. The classic title is reissued as a limited edition double vinyl “One-Step Series” LP box set by the label on October 13, 2017. Mastered at 45 RPM, the set is limited to 6,000 numbered copies. “The Nightfly” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, number twenty four on the R&B album chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 23, 1977 – “Aja”, the sixth album by Steely Dan is released. Produced by Gary Katz, it is recorded at Village Recorders in West Los Angeles, CA, Producer’s Workshop, ABC Recording Studios, Sound Labs in Hollywood, CA, Warner Bros Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA, and A&R Studios in New York City from January – July 1977. Following the critically and commercially successful “The Royal Scam”, Steely Dan record what becomes the most musically ambitious and biggest selling album of their career. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen work with a team of top notch studio musicians on project including Chuck Rainey (bass), Bernard Purdie, Jim Keltner, Steve Gadd, Paul Humphrey, Rick Marotta (drums), Joe Sample, Victor Feldman, Paul Griffin, Michael Omartian (keyboards), Larry Carlton, Dean Parks, Denny Dias, Jay Graydon, Steve Khan (guitars), Tom Scott, Wayne Shorter (saxophones), Venetta Fields, Shirlie Matthews, Clydie King, Rebecca Louis, and Michael McDonald (background vocals). The albums title comes from the name of a Korean woman married to the brother of one of Donald Fagen’s high school friends. The elegant and enigmatic cover photo (taken by photographer Hideki Fujii) is of Japanese fashion model Sayoko Yamaguchi. The albums’ seamless blend of jazz and R&B influenced pop resonates with the public and critics alike. It spins off three singles including “Peg” (#11 Pop), “Deacon Blues” (#19 Pop) and “Josie” (#26 Pop). A favorite of audiophiles for many years for its meticulous production and outstanding sonics, the album is remastered and reissued numerous times on vinyl and CD by specialty labels like Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Cisco Music and MCA Records. In the late 90’s, plans to re-release “Aja” with new a 5.1 surround mix as had been done previously for “Gaucho”, have to be scrapped when it is discovered that the 24-track multi-track masters for “Black Cow” and the title track are missing from Universal Music’s tape archive. To date, the masters have not been found. The album is most recently remastered and reissued as a high resolution DSD UHQCD by Universal Japan in June of 2018. In 2011, “Aja” is added to the United States National Recording Registry of The Library Of Congress, as being deemed culturally, historically and aesthetically important. “Aja” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 7, 1973 – “Over-Nite Sensation”, the seventeenth album by Frank Zappa is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at Bolic Sound in Inglewood, CA and Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA from March 19 – June 1, 1973. After the more fusion jazz oriented “Waka/Jawaka” and “The Grand Wazoo”, Frank Zappa once agains take another musical detour with his next release. “Over-Nite Sensation marks an important turning point in Zappa’s career, combining jazz, rock and funk, he produces a more accessible sound that brings him a wider audience and generates some of his most commercially successful work. The fifth Zappa album to feature keyboardist George Duke, "Sensation” is the first to include new drummer Ralph Humphrey and percussionist Ruth Underwood (the wife of long time Mothers band member Ian Underwood), who also become essential players during this era. Featuring guest appearances by violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, singer Ricky Lancelotti and Tina Turner and the Ikettes, the album features some of his best known and loved songs including “Dinah-Moe Humm”, “I Am The Slime”, “Zomby Woof” and “Montana”. Originally released on CD in 1995, it is remastered in 2012, and also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2013. “Over-Nite Sensation” peaks at number thirty two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 19, 1972 – “Chicago V”, the fifth album by Chicago hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 9 weeks. Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from September 20 – 29, 1971. Recorded in just nine days, it is the bands first single LP release. Physically and creatively exhausted after a three year long cycle of having recorded three double album sets (plus a four LP live album box set), and touring extensively to support them, the band decides to take a more direct approach with their fifth album. Stepping away from the lengthy and elaborate music suites that dominated their previous LP’s, they put an emphasis on songs that are shorter in length and more radio friendly. Eight of the albums ten tracks are written by keyboard player and vocalist Robert Lamm including the hit singles “Saturday In The Park” (#3 Pop) and “Dialogue Pts. 1 & 2” (#24 Pop). “Chicago V” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 10, 1972 – “Chicago V”, the fifth album by Chicago is released. Produced by James William Guericio, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from September 20 – 29, 1971. The album is the bands first single LP release following their previous four (three were 2 LP sets, followed by a 4 LP live box set), instead opting for shorter songs rather than extended pieces and side long suites. Robert Lamm will be the dominant creative driving force of the album, writing eight of its ten songs. Recorded in a relatively brief nine days of studio time, it spins off two hit singles including “Saturday In The Park” (#3 Pop) and “Dialogue Pts. I & II” (# 24 Pop), becoming their most successful album to date. It becomes Chicago’s first chart topping album, spending nine weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200 beginning on August 19, 1972. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003 by Rhino Records, with three additional bonus tracks. It is also issued as a high resolution DVD-A disc, featuring a 5.1 surround mix. The 5.1 mix is also reissued by Rhino in Japan in 2011, with a 180 gram vinyl LP reissue released by Friday Music in 2012. “Chicago V” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 6, 1973 – “Countdown To Ecstasy”, the second studio album by Steely Dan is released. Produced by Gary Katz, it is recorded at The Village Recorder in Santa Monica, CA and the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO in Early 1973. Issued as the follow up to their successful debut “Can’t Buy A Thrill”, the album is written and recorded during breaks from touring to support the previous album. Original band member and singer David Palmer leaves the band prior to the sessions, leaving Donald Fagen as the sole lead vocalist. Upon its release, the album is well received by critics, but lacks a major hit single (“Show Biz Kids” (#61 Pop) and “My Old School” (#63 Pop), and initially sells far less than their first. The cover features a watercolor painting by Fagen’s then girlfriend Dorothy White. When record company execs complain that there only three figures in the painting instead of five (like there are in the band), two others are painted into the background. First released on CD in the mid 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 1998, with liner notes written by Becker and Fagen. “Countdown To Ecstasy” peak at number thirty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 31, 1976 – “The Royal Scam”, the fifth album by Steely Dan is released. Produced by Gary Katz, it is recorded at ABC Studios in Los Angeles, CA and A & R Studios in New York City from November 1975 – March 1976. The duos second album since retiring from the road, it stands in noticeable contrast to the largely piano dominated “Katy Lied”. “Scam” is more guitar based than their previous work, and features top flight guitarists such as Larry Carlton, Elliott Randall and Dean Parks playing on various tracks. Several other musicians who are or will become regular contributors to Steely Dan’s albums including Chuck Rainey (bass), Bernard Purdie (drums) Victor Feldman (percussion), and Paul Griffin (keyboards) are featured. The albums cover artwork feature a painting by artist Zox of skyscrapers morphing into monsters with a photograph of a vagrant man sleeping on a park bench. The painting had originally been created for a Van Morrison album tentatively titled “Naked In The City”, but Morrison abandons the project leaving the image unused. When Becker and Fagen are in need of artwork for the cover of their album, they contact their friend photographer and art director Ed Caraeff. He recommends the Zox painting, and superimposes the photo of the man on the bench for the final image. The album spins off two singles (three in the UK) including “The Fez” (#59 Pop) and “Kid Charlemagne” (#82 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999 by original recording engineer Roger Nichols, featuring newly written liner notes by Becker and Fagen, as well as restoring the original inner sleeve artwork and lyrics missing from previous CD releases. It is also released as a high resolution SHM-CD in Japan in 2008. “The Royal Scam” peaks at number fifteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: April 28, 1969 – “Chicago Transit Authority”, the debut album by the Chicago Transit Authority is released. Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from January 27 – 30, 1969. Formed in 1967, the band are originally known as The Big Thing before changing their name to the Chicago Transit Authority in 1968. That same year, they meet record producer James William Guericio who also becomes their manager, helping them to secure a deal with Columbia Records. Relocating to Los Angeles, CA, they go through months of intensive rehearsals and writing sessions, before going to New York in early 1969 to record their first album. Recorded in just three days, they will have enough material for not only one, but two albums. CBS initially balks at the idea of releasing a two record set on new band. Insistent on releasing the album as it was originally conceived, the band and Guericio have to agree to take a cut in royalty payments as well as allow the label to price the album at a slightly lower rate than the normal list price for a double LP set. Once released, the twelve track double album initially gets off to a slow start but finds success through heavy touring and support from FM underground radio. It spins off four singles including “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” (#7 Pop) and “Beginnings” (#7 Pop). Reissued numerous times since its original release, most recently the album is remastered and reissued as a limited edition hybrid SACD by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. “CTA” is also reissued as a 180 double vinyl LP by Rhino in 2010 (along with a DVD-A disc featuring the original quadraphonic stereo mix in DTS surround sound), and by Friday Music in 2015. “Chicago Transit Authority” peaks at number seventeen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.