Category: modern rock

On this day in music history: May 13, 1985 – “…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1985 – “Low-Life”, the third studio album by New Order is released. Produced by New Order, it is recorded at Jam and Brittania Row Studios in London from Mid – Late 1984. Continuing the musical evolution begun on their previous album “Power, Corruption And Lies”, New Order incorporate more synthesizers, sequencers, and samplers into their traditionally instrument based post-punk sound. With these changes they break new ground in the dance music genre, setting the course for their greatest successes throughout the rest of the decade. Upon its release, it is regarded as one of their best albums, spinning off two singles including “The Perfect Kiss” (#46 UK, #5 US Club Play) (video directed by Oscar winning director Jonathan Demme), and “Sub-culture” (#63 UK, #35 US Club Play). The original UK pressing of the LP features a transparent paper outer sleeve with the band name printed on it, with the jacket featuring individual photos of the band members. Drummer Stephen Morris is featured on the front, though the photos may be interchanged to show any of the other three through the transparency. It is the only New Order album to feature pictures of the band. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2008 as a two disc collector’s edition. The first disc features the original eight song album. Disc two includes B-sides, dub mixes and the full 12" mixes of “The Perfect Kiss”, “Sub-Culture” and the single “Shellshock”, originally issued on the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack in early 1986. Out of print on vinyl for twenty years, “Low-Life” is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2009.“Low-Life” peaks at number seven on the UK album chart, and ninety four on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: May 10, 1994 – &…

On this day in music history: May 10, 1994 – “Weezer” (aka “The Blue Album”), the debut album by Weezer is released. Produced by Ric Ocasek, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City from August – September 1993. Formed in 1992 by lead guitarist and vocalist Rivers Cuomo, drummer Patrick Wilson, bassist Matt Sharp and rhythm guitarist Jason Cropper, Weezer are playing live gigs only months afterward. Continuing to rehearse and write songs, within a year, the band begin drawing major label attention and are signed to Geffen subsidiary DGC Records in 1993. The band are paired with Cars co-founder and lead singer Ric Ocasek who signs on to produce their debut album. During the recording, Jason Cropper quits the band and he is replaced by Brian Bell. Weezer’s unique musical sensibility which combines punk and metal attitude with strong power pop guitar riffs and hooks, are counterbalanced by the band’s own shy and nerdy demeanor. The first single “Undone – The Sweater Song”, is supported with a quirky and innovative low budget video directed by Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich”, “Adaptation”), that becomes an immediate hit on MTV. Jonze also directs the video for the follow up single “Buddy Holly” (#2 Modern Rock, #18 Hot 100 Airplay), in which the band are digitally morphed into clips from the classic sitcom “Happy Days”, playing on stage in Arnold’s Drive-In. Using the same green screen techniques employed by Industrial Light & Magic on the film “Forrest Gump”, Weezer’s performance footage is seamlessly blended in with the film clips from the series. Also featuring a cameo appearance by actor Al Molinaro, the video is another huge MTV favorite, winning four MTV VMA awards in 1995 including Best Alternative Video and Breakthrough Video. The album spins off a third and final single with “Say It Ain’t So” (#7 Modern Rock, #51 Hot 100 Airplay). In time, Weezer’s debut album will come to be regarded as one of the best albums of the 90’s. In 2004, it is remastered and reissued as a two disc Deluxe Edition. The first disc features the original ten track album, with disc two containing fourteen tracks, including B-sides, unreleased track, live acoustic recordings and alternate mixes. Originally released on vinyl in very limited quantities in 1994, it is reissued briefly in 2002 by Geffen Records. In 2012, it is released as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, pressed on blue marbled vinyl, and by Back To Black (UK & Europe on standard black vinyl). A hybrid SACD is also issued by the label in 2014. Another vinyl reissue released by Geffen/UMe with Direct Metal Mastering, and includes a poster is released in 2016. “Weezer” peaks at number sixteen 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: May 6, 1986 – “S…

On this day in music history: May 6, 1986 – “Standing On A Beach/Staring At The Sea" by The Cure is released. Produced by Robert Smith, Chris Parry, Mike Hedges, Steve Nye, Phil Thornalley, and David M. Allen, it is recorded at Morgan Studios in Willesden, UK, RAK Studios, Genetic Studios, Garden Studios, Trident Studios and Angel Studios in London from November 1978 – July 1985. The album is the bands second singles compilation (after “Japanese Whispers”), containing material from the British goth/alternative rock bands first six studio albums. The different configurations of the album that are released feature varying track listings, as well as different titles. The original vinyl LP version (titled “Standing On A Beach”) includes thirteen tracks, with the CD and cassette version (titled “Staring At The Sea”) containing seventeen tracks on the CD, adding four additional tracks. The cassette edition contains a total of twenty five tracks, including thirteen additional non-LP single B-sides. The LP version takes its title from a lyric in the bands first single “Killing An Arab” which leads to the band putting a disclaimer sticker on the album when it is misconstrued as being anti-Arab. The cover artwork features a photo of a retired fisherman named John Button on the front, who is also featured in the music video for “Killing An Arab”. The album is also accompanied by the release of a music video compilation titled “Staring At The Sea – The Images” (released on VHS and Laserdisc), which has the same track listing as the CD release. The compilation is promoted by a re-release of The Cure’s 1979 single “Boys Don’t Cry” that features a newly recorded lead vocal by Robert Smith, and is noticeably remixed from the original version. Though ironically, this version is only issued commercially as a single in the UK (promotional 7" and 12" only in the US), and is not included on the album (the original version is). “Standing On A Beach/Staring At The Sea” peaks at number four on the UK album chart, number forty eight 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: May 4, 1993 – “R…

On this day in music history: May 4, 1993 – “Rid Of Me”, the second studio album by PJ Harvey is released. Produced by Steve Albini, it is recorded at Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, MN in December 1992. Following up her critically acclaimed debut album “Dry” from the year before, British musician Polly Jean Harvey and her band come to the US to work with famed indie rock producer Steve Albini (Pixies, The Jesus Lizard, Nirvana) on their second album. The album is recorded over a two week period, with the bulk of the recording being done in only three days. Its hard edged “claustrophobic sound” combined with Harvey’s highly personal lyrics and wildly dynamic vocals, makes an immediate impact. Upon its release, “Rid” draws major acclaim and praise from both the underground and mainstream rock press as well as fans. In time, it is regarded as one of the best alternative rock albums of the 90’s. The album’s now iconic cover shot (taken by photographer Maria Mochnacz in her bathroom) features a photo of Harvey posed topless (cropped at the upper chest) swinging her wet hair upward. The photo is taken in total darkness with the camera flash providing the only illumination for the final image. “Rid Of Me” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, and one hundred fifty eight on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: May 3, 1982 – &l…

On this day in music history: May 3, 1982 – “After The Snow”, the second studio album by Modern English is released. Produced by Hugh Jones and Modern English, it is recorded at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, UK in Early 1982. The second release by the British post punk/new wave band is issued the UK by influential indie label 4AD Records, and is picked up for US release by Warner Bros distributed Sire Records. The album gains the band a foothold in the US charts when the video for “I Melt With You” (#18 UK, #78 US Pop) receives significant play on MTV, increasing in popularity when it is included in the film “Valley Girl” in 1983. Despite its low chart position and the band’s “one hit wonder” status, it is later regarded as a cornerstone of 80’s pop music. Modern English re-record the song in 1990 when they sign with TVT Records (#76 Pop), even recording it again for a third time in 2010 for the Mark Pellington directed film of the same name. “Melt” goes on to be featured in television commercials, and has been covered by several other artists including Jason Mraz, Good Riddance, Bowling For Soup and Sugarcult. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is reissued in a limited edition of 1,000 copies by Drastic Plastic Records in 2016, on standard black and white vinyl. “After The Snow” peaks at number thirteen on the UK album chart, number seventy eight 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 3, 1982 – “P…

On this day in music history: May 3, 1982 – “Pornography”, the fourth studio album by The Cure is released. Produced by Phil Thornalley and The Cure, it is recorded at RAK Studio One in London from January – February 1982. Part three in a trilogy of albums that includes “Seventeen Seconds” and “Faith”, much of the material is written and recorded while The Cure is in a state of flux. With leader Robert Smith battling depression, drug use and in-fighting threaten to tear the band apart. The situation becomes so intense that it drives bassist Simon Gallup to quit after the sessions conclude, reducing the band to a duo of just Smith and Laurence Tolhurst. At first, The Cure’s label Fiction Records is not enamored of the record and feels that it will not sell. The band’s manager Chris Parry has co-producer Phil Thornalley “polish up” the track “The Hanging Garden” (#34 UK) for single release, feeling it has the best chance of being a potential hit. In spite of the labels doubts, it becomes a career defining release for the band, and a high water mark for the goth music genre and subculture. Only The Cure’s second album to receive a release in the US, it is licensed to A&M Records, before being reissued by Elektra Records in 1988 who acquires the band’s back catalog after signing with them. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2005, as a two disc Deluxe Edition. The first disc features the original eight track album, with the second disc containing fourteen bonus tracks including demos and live performances from the time of its original release. “Pornography” peaks at number eight on the UK album chart.

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On this day in music history: May 2, 1983 – &l…

On this day in music history: May 2, 1983 – “Power, Corruption & Lies”, the second studio album by New Order is released. Produced by New Order, it is recorded at Britannia Row Studios in Islington, London, UK in March 1982. Released as the follow up to New Order’s debut “Movement, their sophomore release marks a notable change in the bands instrumental make up, incorporating more synthesizers and drum programming, and moving away from their original guitar based sound. The album title is taken from graffiti spray painted on the outside of a Cologne, Germany art gallery. The cover artwork designed by graphic artist Peter Saville features a reproduction of the painting "A Basket Of Roses” by French artist Henri Fantin-Latour. Saville add a a color based code to the upper right hand corner the album cover, that when decoded spells out the album title and the bands name. This color coding is also used on the singles for “Blue Monday” and “Confusion”. The artwork for “Power” is also issued as a postage stamp by the Royal Mail Service in the UK in 2010. The US release of the album is amended to include the single “Blue Monday” (issued only as 12" in the UK at the time). In time, it is regarded an important and influential album in the post-punk, synth-pop genres. To commemorate its twenty fifth anniversary in 2008, “Power” is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original eight song UK release. The second disc features eight bonus tracks, including the singles “Blue Monday”, “Thieves Like Us” and “Confusion”, dub mixes and instrumental versions. Long out of print on vinyl, the album is remastered and reissued in 2015. Pressed on 180 gram vinyl, it faithfully reproduces the original Factory Records LP packaging, also coming with an mp3 download card. The LP receives another pressing in 2017, limited to only 1,000 copies. Pressed on silver vinyl, the limited edition release is available exclusively at the Manchester Art Gallery, during a Joy Division/New Order exhibition running from June 30 – September 3, 2017. The limited pressing sells out, and has now become a coveted collector’s item among New Order fans. “Power, Corruption & Lies” peaks at number four on the UK album chart.

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On this day in music history: May 1, 1989 – &l…

On this day in music history: May 1, 1989 – “Disintegration”, the eighth studio album by The Cure released. Produced by David M. Allen and Robert Smith, it is recorded at Hookend Recording Studios in Checkendon, Oxfordshire, UK from November 1988 – February 1989. After the breakthrough success of The Cure’s 1987 album “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me”, bandleader Robert Smith finds himself at odds, with the tidal wave of fame and mainstream exposure, that comes his way. Newly engaged to his childhood sweetheart Mary Poole, she and Smith move to the Maida Vale district of London, in semi seclusion to get away from the press and fans. Feeling pressured to follow up “Kiss Me”, and depressed at the prospect of turning thirty, Smith begins taking LSD to cope. The result is a return to the bands dark, gothic sound of years past. Upon hearing the finished album, The Cure’s US record label Elektra Records feel that Smith and the band have committed “commercial suicide”, by making a deliberately “gloomy” record. They even go as far as asking Smith, to push back the release date of the album, feeling that it is “willfully obscure”. To everyone’s surprise, it becomes The Cure’s most commercially successful album. “Disintegration” also is the final Cure album to credit founding member Laurence “Lol” Tolhurst, who is fired during the recording sessions. Originally The Cure’s drummer and later keyboardist, his contributions to the band diminish throughout the 80’s, as his drinking and drug taking escalate. It’s later revealed that Tolhurst did not play on the album at all, but Robert Smith gives his old friend partial songwriting credit along with the other band members. It spins off four singles including “Fascination Street” (#1 Modern Rock, #46 Pop), “Lullaby” (#5 UK, #74 US Pop) and “Love Song” (#2 US Pop, #18 UK), the latter becomes The Cure’s biggest single in the US. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2010 as triple CD deluxe edition, featuring the original album on the first disc, the second disc featuring demos and tracks as works in progress. The third CD features an expanded version of the live album “Entreat” (titled “Entreat Plus”) including all twelve songs from “Disintegration” performed live. It is also reissued on vinyl as a 180 gram double vinyl LP, releasing the full album in that format in its entirety for the first time. Original LP pressings released on a single disc omitting “Homesick” and “Last Dance”. This is done to improve the vinyl LP’s sound quality. At nearly seventy two minutes, the full album is too long to fit on two LP sides comfortably.  "Disintegration" peaks at number three on the UK album chart, number twelve 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: April 30, 1996 -…

On this day in music history: April 30, 1996 – “To The Faithful Departed”, the third album by The Cranberries is released. Produced by Bruce Fairbairn and The Cranberries, it is recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland from November – December 1995. Coming off of the multi-Platinum success of their first two albums “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” and “No Need To Argue”, The Cranberries keep moving, even after the exhaustive grind of recording and touring over the previous two and a half years. After the tour for “Argue”, the band return the studio almost immediately after it concludes in the Fall of 1995. Looking to move away from the softer sound of their previous albums, they make an unpredictable choice in selecting the producer for their next release. Best known for his work with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and AC/DC, Bruce Fairbairn seems like a highly unlikely choice for the Irish alt-rock band. The album’s title makes reference to losses experienced in The Cranberries inner circle, including mentor Denny Cordell and Dolores O’Riordan’s beloved grandfather, who had both passed during the recording of the album, and is dedicated to their memories. The harder edge the band adopts on “Departed” meets with mixed results from the band’s fans. Receiving critical praise, it sells substantially less (1.5 million copies in the US) compared to five million for their debut and seven million plus for their sophomore release. The album is reissued in 2002 as “To The Faithful Departed (The Complete Sessions 1996-1997)”, and features four additional bonus tracks from the original recording sessions, but left off the first release. “To The Faithful Departed” peaks at number four 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: April 30, 1984…

On this day in music history: April 30, 1984 – “The Top”, the fifth studio album by The Cure is released. Produced by David M. Allen, Chris Parry and Robert Smith, it is recorded at Genetic Studios, Garden Recording Studios, and Trident Studios in London from Late 1983 – Early 1984. After the surprise chart success of the singles “Let’s Go To Bed”, “The Walk” and “The Love Cats” in The Cure’s home country of Great Britain, Robert Smith decides to move the band away from its dark and morose goth-rock sound. Smith moves towards more accessible and pop oriented material, but still maintains a quirky and experimental edge. At this point, the band consists mainly of Smith and keyboardist Laurence Tolhurst, with bassist Simon Gallup having quit prior to the sessions, and the other members having left prior to that time. “The Top” is virtually a solo album by Smith with him playing most of the instruments himself, augmented by Tolhurst who has switched from playing drums to keyboards, drummer Andy Anderson, saxophonist Porl Thompson (later switching to guitar) and bassist Phil Thornalley. It spins off the single “The Caterpillar” (#14 UK). It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2006 as a two CD Deluxe Edition. The first disc contains the original ten track album, with disc two featuring demos, rough mixes and live performances. Long out of print on vinyl, it is reissued in Europe for Record Store Day in 2012 as a limited edition gold vinyl pressing. It is reissued on vinyl in the US by Rhino Records in 2016. “The Top” peaks at number ten on the UK album chart and number one hundred eighty on the Billboard Top 200.

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