Category: jazz rock

On this day in music history: July 10, 1972 – …

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.

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On this day in music history: July 6, 1973 – &…

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.

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On this day in music history: May 31, 1976 – &…

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.

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On this day in music history: April 28, 1969 -…

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.

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On this day in music history: March 29, 1975 -…

On this day in music history: March 29, 1975 – “Blow By Blow”, the seventh album by Jeff Beck is released. Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Air Studios in London in October 1974. Following the break up of Beck, Bogert & Appice, Beck delves into session work, and even auditioning for the Rolling Stones after Mick Taylor’s departure from the band. Eventually, he decides to return recording himself, approaching veteran producer George Martin about working together. Martin agrees with Beck to recording an all instrumental album. Recording with a small group which includes Max Middleton (keyboards), Phil Chen (bass), and Richard Bailey (drums and percussion), the result is one of the best selling and acclaimed rock/jazz fusion albums of all time. Stevie Wonder contributes two songs (“Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” and “Thelonius”) and playing on one track (uncredited). An audiophile favorite, the album is remastered and reissued a number of times over the years. Epic Records reissues the title as a Half Speed Mastered LP, Gold CD and as a single layer SACD. The latter also features the original quadraphonic stereo mix released after the standard stereo LP. It is also remastered and reissued by Analogue Productions in 2015 as a double vinyl 180 gram LP, mastered at 45 RPM. A hybrid SACD featuring the original stereo and quadraphonic mixes follows in 2016.“Blow By Blow” 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: March 29, 1969 -…

On this day in music history: March 29, 1969 – “Blood, Sweat & Tears”, the second album by Blood, Sweat & Tears hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 7 weeks (non-consecutive). Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at CBS Studios in New York City from August 2 – October 22, 1968. After their debut album “Child Is Father To The Man” is released to critical acclaim, but low sales, original lead singer and keyboardist Al Kooper leaves the band and is replaced with Anglo/Canadian vocalist and songwriter David Clayton Thomas. More streamlined and pop oriented than their debut, it is the first album recorded on CBS’ newly installed Ampex sixteen-track multi-track recorder. It spins off three top five singles including “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy” (#2 Pop), “Spinning Wheel” (#2 Pop), and “And When I Die” (#2 Pop). A huge critical and commercial success, it wins the band the Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1970. Regarded as a landmark album of the era, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002. “Blood, Sweat & Tears” is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 25, 1976 -…

On this day in music history: March 25, 1976 – “Romantic Warrior”, the sixth album by Return To Forever is released. Produced by Chick Corea, it is recorded at The Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO in February 1976. Featuring a shifting line up since forming in 1972, band leader and founder Chick Corea takes Return To Forever in yet another bold direction. In 1973, the band move away from their original latin flavored sound with the departure of original members Airto Moreira, Flora Purim and Joe Farrell. Keeping only original bassist and co-founder Stanley Clarke, the band is reconfigured as a quartet with Steve Gadd (drums) and Bill Connors (guitar). However Gadd drops out when he is unable to tour due to his lucrative work as a first call session drummer. He is replaced by Lenny White, and they cut their third album “Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy”. Connors then departs to pursue a solo career. Corea recruits a then nineteen year old virtuoso guitarist named Al Di Meola to fill that slot. With his addition, they incorporate elements of progressive rock that lead them their greatest success. Departing from Polydor Records in 1975 after the Grammy winning “No Mystery”, the band sign with Columbia Records. RTF record their next album at Chicago producer James William Guericio’s Caribou Ranch studio. Though not technically a concept album, “Romantic Warrior” does follow a medieval theme in the song titles, and in certain instances instrumentally. Having locked in musically on their previous two releases, the band record the project quickly, completing it in just a few short weeks. The album’s magnum opus is its closing track “The Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Parts 1 & 2)”. Running nearly eleven and a half minutes, it begins with a central riff before all four musicians spread out and square off, trading off hair raising solos before returning the main vamp and reaching its conclusion. Sporting a flawless blend of fusion jazz, funk and progressive rock, the album quickly connects with the public. “Warrior” becomes Return To Forever’s best selling release, and is today regarded as one of the best fusion jazz albums of all time. However, even with that success, Chick Corea makes the surprising decision to dismiss Lenny White and Al Di Meola. Both immediately resume their solo careers, while Corea recruits new members and records one more studio album and a live set before disbanding RTF entirely in 1978. Originally released on CD in 1990, “Romantic Warrior” is remastered and reissued in 1999. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is finally remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Music On Vinyl in 2011. “Romantic Warrior” peaks at number three on the Billboard Jazz album chart, number twenty three on the R&B album chart, number thirty five on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 9, 1975 – …

On this day in music history: March 9, 1975 – “Katy Lied”, the fourth studio album by Steely Dan is released. Produced by Gary Katz, it is recorded at ABC Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA from November 1974 – January 1975. The album’s title is a play on the word “katydid”, the species of grasshopper that appears on the LP’s cover (taken by Fagen’s then girlfriend Dorothy White). Several of the songs are piano based, with the duo utilizing keyboardist Michael Omartian to play on many of the tracks. For the sessions, Becker and Fagen use a seven foot long Bosendorfer grand piano (at the time costing over $13,000), which they talk their label ABC Records into paying for. The album features numerous top flight musicians including Crusaders member Wilton Felder (bass), Chuck Rainey (bass), Victor Feldman (percussion), Rick Derringer, Hugh McCracken, Larry Carlton, Dean Parks, Elliott Randall (guitar), Hal Blaine (drums), Michael McDonald (background vocals) and future Toto members David Paich (keyboards) and Jeff Porcaro (drums). Only twenty one years old at the time, Porcaro plays drums on nine of the albums’ ten tracks. Becker and Fagen experience major technical difficulties when the dbx noise reduction system malfunctions, rather than using the industry standard Dolby A noise reduction while mixing the album. In spite of efforts to correct the problem, they are unable to fix it entirely. Nearly deciding to scrap the album altogether, Becker and Fagen release it as is but have refused to listen to it since. It spins off two singles including “Black Friday” (#37 Pop) and “Bad Sneakers” (#103 Pop). In 1978, the audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab issues a half speed mastered pressing of the album. It sells poorly upon its release, and is deleted not long after. Though it ends up becoming a sought after collector’s item after it goes out of print, commanding as much as $300 – 400 for a sealed copy. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999. “Katy Lied” peaks at number thirteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: January 11, 1971…

On this day in music history: January 11, 1971 – “Chicago III”, the third album by Chicago is released. Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from Late November – Early December 1970. It is the third consecutive double LP set from the prolific rock band in less than two years. The songs are written and recorded during breaks when the band tours exhaustively in the previous year, as a result, much of the material takes on a more serious tone and reflects their lengthy periods away from home. Three of the albums’ four sides are taken up by extended suites each demonstrating the bands’ ongoing musical experimentation. Though it does not yield any big radio hits like the previous three albums, it becomes their highest charting album to date, spinning off two singles including “Free” (#20 Pop) and “Lowdown” (#35 Pop). First remastered and reissued on CD in 2002, a limited edition reissue is released by Friday Music in 2013. “Chicago III” spends two weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

Born on this day: January 10, 1948 – Singer, s…

Born on this day: January 10, 1948 – Singer, songwriter, musician and co-founder of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen (born Donald Jay Fagen in Passaic, NJ). Happy 71st Birthday, Donald!!!