On this day in music history: March 14, 1995 – “Elastica”, the debut album by Elastica is released. Produced by Marc Waterman and Elastica, it is recorded at Various Studios in London from September 1993 – November 1994. Formed in mid 1992 by former Suede members Justine Frischmann (lead vocals, guitar) and Justin Welch (drums), they are joined by bassist Annie Holland and lead guitarist Donna Matthews. Within a year, the band release their first single “Stutter” on UK indie label Deceptive Records. The hook laden, punky guitar based track featuring Frischmann’s distinctive lead vocal is an immediate underground sensation, selling out of its initial pressing of 2,000 copies in just one day. The buzz created by the single quickly attracts major label attention in the US, with Elastica being signed to Geffen subsidiary DGC Records. In the interim, the band release two more singles which hit the UK top forty before the full album is completed. Three tracks on the album feature Blur keyboardist Damon Albarn (Frischmann’s boyfriend at the time) credited under the pseudonym “Dan Abnormal”. Once released, it is an instant hit, entering the UK album chart at number one. Led in the US by the single “Connection” (#2 Modern Rock, #53 Pop, #40 Mainstream Rock), it is quickly embraced by Modern Rock radio, with the music video going being featured heavily on “120 Minutes” before going into heavy regular rotation on MTV. With their success in the UK and US comes controversy, when Elastica are sued for plagiarism by post punk bands Wire and The Stranglers when the songs “Line Up” and “Connection” use riffs from “I Am The Fly”, “Three Girl Rhumba” and “No More Heroes”. The lawsuits are settled out of court, and the band tours the world extensively in support of their debut album. Regarded as one of the quintessential albums of the “Brit-Pop” movement, it spins off a total of five singles. The US CD release contains the extra track “See That Animal”, left off of the UK edition. The limited vinyl LP also comes packaged with a booklet, with the UK pressing including a 7" flexidisc featuring a cover of the Adam Ant song “Cleopatra”. The vinyl LP is reissued in the US on Record Store Day in April of 2014, pressed on red vinyl and limited to 2,000 copies. “Elastica” peaks at number sixty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 12, 1991 – “Out Of Time”, the seventh album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Scott Litt and R.E.M., it is recorded at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY, John Keane Studios in Athens, GA, Soundscape Studios in Atlanta, GA and Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN from September – October 1990. After touring in support of “Green”, their first album for Warner Bros. Records, R.E.M. take a year long hiatus before starting work on the the follow up. When they reconvene, the band members decide to make an album that stands in stark contrast to the previous one. Writing songs on non traditional instruments like mandolin, acoustic guitars and organ, R.E.M. uses this instrumentation as the basis for much of the new album. The mood and feel of the completed album is quieter compared to the bands normally electric guitar based sound, most prominent on the first single “Losing My Religion” (#4 Pop), which features guitarist Peter Buck playing the mandolin as a lead instrument. The song is accompanied by a surreal and visually striking music video directed by Punjabi born filmmaker Tarsem Singh. Filled with religious imagery and based on Indian cinema, the video becomes an immediate fan favorite, broadening R.E.M.’s audience way beyond their original core fan base. The video wins six MTV WMA Awards including Video Of The Year. It also spins off three singles including “Shiny Happy People” (w/ Kate Pierson of The B-52’s) (#10 Pop) and “Radio Song” (w/ KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions) (#48 Mainstream Rock). At the time of its original release, Warner Bros issues some promo copies of the CD in a limited edition “portfolio” package, featuring ten postcards, with the CD featuring a custom “wood grain” label and the outer packaging printed on vellum. To commemorate its twenty fifth anniversary in 2016, “Out Of Time” is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original eleven track album, with the second disc featuring nineteen previously unreleased demos. The European edition contains a third CD with a full live concert, and a Blu-ray disc with hi-rez versions of the album remixed into 5.1 surround sound. It also includes music videos and a documentary on the making of the album. It is also reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. The huge critical and commercial success, it gives R.E.M. the biggest selling album of their career. It is nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning three including Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, Best Alternative Album and Best Music Video Short Form in 1992. “Out Of Time” spends two weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 8, 1994 – “The Downward Spiral”, the second studio album by Nine Inch Nails is released. Produced by Trent Reznor and Flood, it is recorded at Le Pig in Beverly Hills, CA, The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA and A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid – Late 1993. Following Nine Inch Nails successful stint on the first Lollapalooza Tour in 1991 and release of the EP “Broken” the following year, Trent Reznor begins writing material NIN’s second full length release. Having gone through a long and ardous battle to extricate himself from his former label TVT Records as well as struggling with drug addiction, Reznor channels his emotions and the raw, aggressive energy of the bands live performances into the new material. “Spiral” is a concept piece chronicling the “downward spiral” of a man, ending with his attempt at suicide. Part of the recording takes place in the home (10050 Cielo Drive in Beverly Hills, CA) that actress Sharon Tate and four others are murdered by the Manson Family in August of 1969. Not long after Reznor moves out, it is demolished and a new home is built on the site. Reznor keeps the front door from the house as a souvenir. Spinning off two singles including “The March Of The Pigs” and “Closer”, it is a commercial and artistic triumph, not only becoming Nine Inch Nails most successful release, but in time is regarded as a landmark Industrial Rock album. The visually stunning music video for the latter directed by Mark Romanek draws immediate attention upon its release. Taking inspiration from variety of sources including filmmakers The Brothers Quay and artists Francis Bacon, George Tooker and Joel Peter-Wilkin, it features graphic imagery, some of which has to be edited for content when shown on television, also censoring the profanity in the chorus. Not wanting a conventional look, Romanek and Reznor use discontinued, expired film stock which is further treated in post production to give it an aged and distressed look. Controversial and visually masterful, the video for “Closer” is regarded as one of the best of the era, and is ranked number one on VH-1’s list of the “20 Greatest Music Videos of All Time”. Though not released as a commercial single, the final track “Hurt” receives significant airplay. It earns a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Song in 1996. It achieves another level of poignancy, when it is covered by Johnny Cash in 2002. In 2004 to commemorate the tenth anniversary, it is reissued as a two hybrid SACD deluxe edition with remastered versions of the original stereo mixes, remixed into 5.1 surround sound, and extended remixes. It is also issued as a double sided DualDisc with one side being a DVD-A with the multi-channel mix and and music videos for “The March Of The Pigs”, “Closer” and “Hurt”. “The Downward Spiral” debuts at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 8, 1994 – “Superunknown”, the fourth studio album by Soundgarden is released. Produced by Michael Beinhorn and Soundgarden, it is recorded at Bad Animals Studios in Seattle, WA from July – September 1993. Work on the Seattle based rock bands fourth release begins in mid 1992 while they are on the road in support of their previous album “Badmotorfinger”, writing the songs over the next year. The band work with producer Michael Beinhorn (formerly of the band Material), best known for his work with The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Herbie Hancock. A major critical and commercial success upon its release, the album is the bands mainstream breakthrough, becoming an airplay staple on both alternative and mainstream rock radio. It spins off five singles including “Black Hole Sun” (#1 Mainstream Rock), “Spoonman” (#3 Mainstream Rock), and “Fell On Black Days” (#4 Mainstream Rock) and winning two Grammy Awards including Best Metal Performance (“Spoonman”) and Best Hard Rock Performance (“Black Hole Sun”) in 1995. The album is also issued as a limited edition vinyl double LP set, pressed on colored (orange, blue, green, and clear) vinyl. It is remastered and reissued for its 20th anniversary in 2014, as a two disc edition with the second CD featuring demos, B-sides and live tracks. The album is also issued as a five disc (4CD’s + Blu-ray disc) Super Deluxe Edtion featuring even more bonus material. The DVD-A disc includes a high resolution Blu-ray disc featuring new 5.1 surround mixes. “Superunknown” debuts at number one on the Billboard Top 200, spending one week at the top, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 1, 1994 – “Mellow Gold”, the third album by Beck is released. Produced by Beck Hansen, Tom Rothrock, Rob Schnapf, and Karl Stephenson, it is recorded at Bongload Studios, and Beck Hansen Home Studio in Los Angeles, CA from Mid To Late 1993. After making the rounds of L.A. clubs and coffeehouses, Beck begins recording song demos in the living room of his apartment. Passing the tapes on to interested parties, they eventually begin to attract attention from various people within the music industry. Beck meets producers Tom Rothrock, Rob Schnapf and their business associate Bradshaw Lambert. The trio run the indie label Bong Load Custom Records, and sign Beck to their label. After the release of the single “Loser” in March of 1993, which generates major airplay throughout Southern California, it sparks a bidding war from numerous major labels. Eventually Beck signs a non-exclusive deal with Geffen Records in December of 1993 that also allows him to release material through independent channels as well. The major label debut from the L.A. based musician is an eclectic mix of live instrumentation, augmented with samples. The surprise pop crossover success of “Loser” (#1 Modern Rock, #10 Pop) driven in part from MTV putting the video in heavy rotation on its show “120 Minutes” and featuring it as a “Buzz Bin” clip, brings the formerly underground artist a large mainstream audience, moving from Alt-rock to commercial rock radio. It spins off three singles including “Pay No Mind (Snoozer)”, and “Beercan”. Originally released on vinyl on a limited basis in 1994, it is reissued by Simply Vinyl in 1998. “Gold” is also reissued in a limited edition of 1,000 gold vinyl copies in 2000. It’s reissued again in 2016 to commemorate the twenty fifth anniversary of Bong Load Records. The 180 gram LP is pressed on red and black “smoke” vinyl, and is limited to 2,016 individually numbered copies. “Mellow Gold” 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: March 1, 1993 – “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?”, the debut album by The Cranberries is released. Produced by Stephen Street, it is recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland and Surrey Sound Studios in Leatherhead, Surrey, UK from Mid 1992 – Early 1993. Originally formed in 1989 as The Cranberry Saw Us by brothers Noel (guitar) and Mike Hogan (bass) with their friends Fergal Lawler (drums) and Niall Quinn (vocals), the first line up lasts barely a year before Quinn leaves the band. Advertising in a local newspaper for a new singer, the ad is answered by an aspiring eighteen year old singer named Dolores O’Riordan. Immediately impressed with her voice, O’Riordan is asked to join the band. Changing their name to The Cranberries, with the help of Xeric Studios owner Pearse Gilmore, the band record a three track demo EP. Titled “Nothing Left At All” it is released on cassette, selling a mere 300 copies. The band record a second demo which includes early versions of “Linger” and “Dreams” is sent out to various UK record labels. The demo attracts attention from the UK music press and label executives, touching off a bidding war. The Cranberries are signed to Island Records by legendary A&R man and producer Denny Cordell (Joe Cocker, The Move, Procol Harum, Leon Russell, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) in 1992. After an abortive first start at recording their first album with Gilmore, he is fired and they start again. They are then paired with producer Stephen Street, best known for his work with The Smiths and Blur. The Cranberries unique sound, combining Celtic influenced melodies with pop, modern rock and topped by Dolores O’Riordan’s immediately distinctive voice, is not an immediate hit with the public. With “Dreams” being released in September of 1992, it nor the album itself garner much response. “Linger” is issued next, and it flops also. It’s only after touring as the opening act for Britpop band Suede that it gives The Cranberries the wide exposure they need. When their album is released in the US, it also gets off to a slow start with Island initially shipping only 18,000 copies. “Linger” (#8 Pop) is released a second time and takes off on modern rock, then mainstream pop radio. “Dreams” (#14 Pop Airplay, #42 Pop, #15 Modern Rock) is reissued also, helping propel the album to multi-platinum status and turning the shy young Irish band into unlikely pop stars. It is remastered and reissued in 2002 as “Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can’t We? (The Complete Sessions 1991-1993)”, featuring five additional bonus tracks including remixes and non album B-sides. It is also reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2017, on black and red vinyl. “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 27, 1989 – “Oranges And Lemons”, the tenth album by XTC is released. Produced by Paul Fox, it is recorded at Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, CA in Late 1988. Under pressure from their record label to produce a hit and paired with a first time producer (who later goes on to produce The Sugarcubes, 10,000 Maniacs, Phish), sessions for the album will not always go smoothly. In spite of all this, the end result is the bands most successful album in the US, spinning off two singles including “Mayor Of Simpleton” (#1 Modern Rock) and “King For A Day” (#11 Modern Rock). The albums title is inspired by song lyric from their previous album, which in itself refers to an old English nursery rhyme. Remastered and expanded reissues of the album featuring new 5.1 surround remixes by Steven Wilson, and the original stereo on CD and blu-ray, and an audiophile LP pressing on 180g vinyl are released on Partridge’s label Ape House Records on October 30, 2015. “Oranges And Lemons” peaks at number twenty eight on the UK album chart, and number forty four on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: February 25, 1992 – “Little Earthquakes”, the solo debut album by Tori Amos is released. Produced by Tori Amos, Eric Rosse, Davitt Sigerson and Ian Stanley, it is recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, CA, Stagg Street Studios in Van Nuys, CA, SquawkBox Studios, in Los Angeles, CA, and Strawberry Studios in Stockport, Greater Manchester, UK from Mid 1990 – Late 1991. A few years after an unsuccessful stint as the frontwoman for the synthpop band Y Tori Kant Read, Atlantic Records gives the songwriter and musician the opportunity to record her first solo project after hearing a ten song demo she has recorded in the interim. The new album is recorded in three phases, initial sessions take place with producer Davitt Sigerson (The Bangles), then at Rosse’s home studio in Los Angeles, and final sessions with former Tears For Fears keyboardist Ian Stanley in London. Much of the material on the album is autobiographical, focusing on Amos religious upbringing, self discovery, sex, bad relationships, childhood and early adult traumas including the harrowing “Me And A Gun” which depicts her own experience of being sexually assaulted. Bolstered by the tracks “Silent All These Years”, and “Crucify”, it is warmly received by Modern Rock radio. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2015 as a double disc deluxe edition, with the second disc featuring eighteen additional bonus tracks. “Little Earthquakes” peaks at number fifty four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 25, 1990 – “Blue Sky Mining”, the seventh album by Midnight Oil is released. Produced by Warne Livesey and Midnight Oil, it is recorded at Rhinoceros Studios in Sydney, Australia from Mid – Late 1989. Issued as the follow up to their Platinum selling US breakthrough “Diesel And Dust”, the album takes on an even more political stance than previous efforts, with the title track addressing the plight of Australian miners exposed to asbestos in the Wittenoom mine in Western Australia. The album spins off four singles including “Blue Sky Mine” (#1 Mainstream and Modern Rock) and “Forgotten Years”. Initial copies of the LP is pressed on clear blue vinyl as is the promotional 12" for “Blue Sky”. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2013 by reissue label Culture Factory, packaged in a mini-LP replicating the original album jacket design. “Blue Sky Mining” hits number one on the Australian album chart, number twenty on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.