On this day in music history: September 22, 1980 – Geffen Records is officially established. Founded by record executive David Geffen, the label is distributed in conjunction with Warner Bros Records. It is not Geffen’s first record company, having established Asylum Records in 1970, then selling it to Warner Communications in 1975. The first artists signed to the Geffen label include Donna Summer, John Lennon and Elton John. Over the years, the labels roster includes artists such as Don Henley, Asia, Quarterflash, Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Guns ‘N’ Roses, Sonic Youth, Cher, Jennifer Holliday, Kylie Minogue, and Irene Cara. The label’s distinctive logo is designed by famed graphic artist Saul Bass. When Geffen’s contract with Warner Bros ends in 1990, the company is sold to MCA Music Entertainment, and their parent company Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (aka the Panasonic Corporation) for $800 million in company stock. The deal makes Geffen a billionaire and he stays on with the label until 1995 when he leaves to start Dreamworks SKG with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Geffen Records eventually is merged with Interscope and A&M Records in 1999 after Universal Music Group combines the labels with MCA Records. From 2003 on, all catalog and artists formerly on MCA and its numerous imprints carry the Geffen Records logo.
On this day in music history: September 17, 1985 – “Here’s To Future Days”, the fifth album by the Thompson Twins is released. Produced by Nile Rodgers and Tom Bailey, it is recorded at Marcadet Studios and Guillaume Tell Studios in Paris, France and Skyline Studios in New York City from Early – Mid 1985. Issued as the follow up to the hugely successful “Into The Gap”, the band start the album with longtime producer Alex Sadkin, but the sessions are aborted when Tom Bailey is suffering from nervous exhaustion, is ordered to rest by his doctors. Nile Rodgers is enlisted to take over production, scrapping the material previously recorded and starting fresh. The album spins off three singles including “Lay Your Hands On Me” (#6 Pop) and “King For A Day” (#8 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition in 2008, with five bonus tracks on disc one. The second disc features thirteen tracks of 7" and 12" remixes of the singles and their respective B-sides. "Here’s To Future Days" peaks at number twenty on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 17, 1984 – “All The Rage”, the debut album by General Public is released. Produced by General Public with Gavin MacKillop and Colin Fairley, it is recorded at AIR Studios, The Townhouse Studios, Redan Studios, The Lot in London, Genetic Studios in Reading, Berkshire, UK, and The Manor Studios in Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire, UK from Late 1983 – Mid 1984. Formed after the break up of The (English) Beat, General Public is fronted by former members Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger and features former members of Dexy’s Midnight Runners and The Specials. Mick Jones of The Clash also plays on several tracks but leaves the band to form Big Audio Dynamite, and does not appear in any band photographs. He is replaced by guitarist Kevin White before the album is released. It spins off three singles including “Tenderness” (#27 Pop) and “Never You Done That” (#105 Pop Bubbling Under). “Tenderness” is featured in the teen comedies “Weird Science” and “Clueless”, and is regarded as an 80’s pop classic. “All The Rage” peaks at number twenty six on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1977 – “Talking Heads: 77”, the debut album by Talking Heads is released. Produced by Talking Heads with Tony Bongiovi and Lance Quinn, it is recorded at Sundragon Studios in New York City from Late 1976 – Mid 1977. The band’s first album contains several songs were written during the bands’ residency at the legendary punk rock club CBGB’s in New York City. The single “Psycho Killer” (#92 Pop) becomes one of their signature tunes and one of their most enduring. The album is remastered and reissued as a DualDisc CD in 2005 with one side featuring a standard redbook CD with five bonus tracks, and the other side containing a DVD-A (DVD Audio) version of the album with the original stereo mix and a high definition 5.1 Surround mix (remixed by E.T. Thorngren and Jerry Harrison), with two live performance videos of the band performing “Pulled Up” (Live at Sproul Plaza in Berkeley, CA in 1978) and “I Feel It In My Heart” (Live at The Kitchen in New York City in 1976). It is also reissued as a 180g LP on Record Store Day in April of 2009, making it available on vinyl for the first time in over twenty years. “Talking Heads: 77” peaks at number ninety seven on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 13, 1986 – “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock, it is the biggest hit for the new wave pop-rock band from Los Angeles, CA fronted by lead singer Terri Nunn. Having written Oscar winning music for films such as “Midnight Express” and “Flashdance”, composer and producer Giorgio Moroder is asked by film producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to contribute to the soundtrack of their film “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, and Anthony Edwards. Paired with lyricist Tom Whitlock, they write the soundtracks two biggest hits “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away”. Both songs are offered to Berlin. Initially, “Danger Zone” (#2 Pop) is planned as a duet, but is passed on to Kenny Loggins when the band declines to record it. Used as the “love theme” for the film, “Take My Breath Away” is an immediate hit with film audiences and record buyers. Entering the Hot 100 at #96 on June 21, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The song wins the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1987, earning Moroder his third Oscar and becoming the thirteenth song in the rock era to achieve that honor. The success of Berlin’s single propels the “Top Gun” soundtrack to number one for five weeks (non-consecutive) on the Billboard Top 200, and going 9x Platinum in the US. “Take My Breath Away” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 13, 1985 – “How To Be A… Zillionaire”, the third album by ABC is released. Produced by Martin Fry and Mark White, it is recorded at Jacobs Studios in Farnham, Surrey, UK from November 1984 – June 1985. Making a major splash with their classic debut album “The Lexicon Of Love”, ABC decide to take a dramatic left turn with the hard edged, guitar oriented “Beauty Stab”. The results are epically disastrous, receiving overwhelmingly negative criticism and poor sales. Following the release of “Beauty”, ABC is reduced to a duo of Martin Fry and Mark White. Looking to recover from those set backs, the pair begin working on new material. Taking note of former producer Trevor Horn’s work on Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s groundbreaking “Welcome To The Pleasuredome”, they reinvent their sound with a slick high tech edge. To assist them with accomplishing this, Fry and White enlist the help of drummer Keith LeBlanc and guitarist Skip “Little Axe” McDonald formerly of the Sugarhill Records house band and of the pioneering industrial funk/dub band Tackhead. Also on board are guitarist David Williams (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Chanson), trumpeter Guy Barker, keyboardist Don Snow (Squeeze, Lene Lovich), drummer Chris Whitten (Paul McCartney, The Waterboys) and former Ikette vocalist P.P. Arnold. Along with that top notch studio talent, ABC also take the visual aspect of the music into consideration as well. They add journalist Eden (Fiona Russell Powell), briefly in the pre-ABC band Vice Versa and musician and photographer David Yarritu. Other than contributing some spoken vocals, Eden and Yarritu are mostly added for their unique look used for the album packaging and music videos. The bright and colorful packaging for the album package and single picture sleeves are designed by ABC along with artist Keith Breeden of the famed British graphic arts company Assorted Images. The artwork is also incorporated into the accompanying music videos. Fairing only modestly in the UK, “How To Be… A Zillionaire” performs much better in the US, restoring the bands commercial fortunes. Led by the single “Be Near Me” (#9 Pop, #1 Club Play, #11 AC), it becomes ABC’s first top ten single stateside. The song also becomes a club smash via a dramatic remix (titled the “Munich Dance Mix”), adding a heavier back beat, wah wah guitars and samples from The Silver Convention’s disco classic “Get Up And Boogie”. The album spins off a total of three singles (four in the UK) including “(How To Be A) Millionaire” (#20 Pop, #4 Club Play) and “Vanity Kills” (#91 Pop, #5 Club Play). When “Zillionaire” is issued on CD, it features altered artwork from the UK and US covers, and contain 12" mixes of four songs as added bonus tracks. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 1998, and again in 2005 with eight additional bonus tracks. “How To Be A… Zillionaire” peaks at number thirty on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 12, 1984 – “Stop Making Sense”, the seventh album by Talking Heads is released. Produced by Gary Goetzman, it is recorded at The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, CA in December 1983. Recorded during the tour in support of the bands then current album “Speaking In Tongues”, the album is issued as the companion piece to the live concert film directed by Jonathan Demme (“The Silence Of The Lambs”, “Philadelphia”). Talking Heads main line up is augmented with additional musicians including Bernie Worrell (keyboards), Alex Weir (guitar), Lynn Mabry and Ednah Holt (backing vocals). The original LP release contains only nine songs and is heavily edited in order to fit it on one album, and also comes wrapped in a full color picture book. A second variant of the LP package is released along with the standard release. The limited edition version is printed without the torso photo of David Byrne on front and instead is stark white, with the graphics in black print. It also comes with a twenty page booklet with photos and storyboard sketches by Byrne created for the staging of the concert. In 1999, a remastered and expanded edition of the album is released featuring the complete performance, matching the contents of the fifteenth anniversary theatrical re-release of the film. “Stop Making Sense” peaks at number forty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 12, 1980 – “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”, the fourteenth studio album by David Bowie is released. Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City and Good Earth Studios in London from February – April 1980. Slightly less experimental than his famous “Berlin Trilogy” series of albums, Bowie takes a different approach during the composing process by having many of the songs completed before entering the studio, rather than improvising and writing lyrics at the last minute. The album is also the last to feature the artists long time rhythm section of guitarist Carlos Alomar, drummer Dennis Davis and bassist George Murray, who have appeared on every Bowie album since “Station To Station” in 1976. Guitarists Pete Townshend, Robert Fripp, Chuck Hammer and E Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan also guest on the album. “Scary Monsters” restores Bowie’s commercial and critical success in the UK and the US, spinning off three singles including “Ashes To Ashes” (#1 UK, #101 US Pop) and “Fashion” (#5 UK, #70 US Pop). Reissued numerous times since making its CD debut in 1984, the album is most recently remastered and reissued in 2017. “Scary Monsters” is reissued on CD and 180 gram vinyl, as stand alone releases, and as part of the box set “David Bowie – A New Career In A New Town (1977 – 1982)” . "Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)“, hits number one on the UK album chart, and peaking at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 8, 1986 – “Crash”, the fifth album by The Human League is released. Produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, it is recorded at Flyte Tyme Studios in Minneapolis, MN from Early – Mid 1986. Following the lackluster response to their previous album “Hysteria”, it is also compounded the departures of their long time producer Martin Rushent and band member/songwriter Jo Callis. An attempt to record an album with producer Colin Thurston (Duran Duran, Talk Talk) during much of 1985 also comes to little, and is shelved. With their UK label Virgin concerned that their biggest act is stagnating, they suggest a different choice to produce them. The label recommends that American producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, work with The Human League. Fans of the producers work with The SOS Band and Change, especially lead singer Phil Oakey, they agree to the idea. The band travel to Minneapolis to work with Jam & Lewis in early 1986. However, the initial good feeling and intentions that the project begins with, quickly go south. The sessions end acrimoniously over production control, and what Jam & Lewis feel is the bands’ lackadaisical work ethic in the studio. With Jimmy and Terry cutting most of the basic tracks themselves, the other members contribute only minimally to the recording process. The producers also reject much of the material penned by the band, which also adds to the tension. Frustrated over his lack of participation during the sessions, keyboardist Philip Adrian Wright also leaves band upon completion of the album. It spins off three singles including “I Need Your Loving” (#44 Pop, #52 R&B), “Love Is All That Matters”, and “Human” (#1 Pop, #3 R&B, #1 Club Play, #3 AC). Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 2005, with the 12" extended mixes of all three singles as added bonus tracks. “Crash” peaks at number twenty four on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 8, 1986 – “Bouncing Off The Satellites”, the fifth album by The B-52’s is released. Produced by Tony Mansfield, it is recorded at Skyline Studios in New York City in July 1985. Coming over three years after their last release “Whammy!”, “Satellites” is the last to feature the bands original guitarist Ricky Wilson, who passes away before recording is completed. Musically, the album picks up where “Whammy!” leaves off. One of the things that sets it apart from its predecessors, is the fact “Satellites” features no live drumming, using a drum machine throughout. Keith Strickland along with the assistance of outside studio musicians, finishes recording the basic tracks for the album. It spins off three singles including “Summer Of Love” (#3 Club Play) and “The Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland” (#10 Club Play). Saddened over the loss of Wilson, the band do not promote the album or tour in support of it, instead going into seclusion to contemplate their future. Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued as a SHM-CD by Warner Japan in 2017. Also, the 12" version of “Summer Of Love” is given a limited reissue by Rhino Records in July of 2017, as part of their “Summer Of Love” reissue series. The new pressing replicates the packaging of the original release, but is pressed on clear red vinyl. “Bouncing Off The Satellites” peaks at number eighty five on the Billboard Top 200.