Category: jazz rock

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.

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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.

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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.

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On this day in music history: July 30, 1969 – “In A Silent Way”, the thirty third studio album by Miles Davis is released. 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.

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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 – “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 – “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 – “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 – “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 – “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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