On this day in music history: March 23, 1985 – “Dream Into Action”, the second album by Howard Jones is released. Produced by Rupert Hine, it is recorded at Farmyard Studios in Cotswolds, UK from Late 1984 – Early 1985. Differing from his successful debut “Human’s Lib”, in which the British synth-pop musician had been a virtual “one man band”, his follow up features more outside musicians including the TKO Horns (Dave Pleurs, Alan Whetton, Jim Patterson, Brian Maurice), background vocalists Afrodiziak (featuring Claudia Fontaine, Naomi Thompson, and a pre-Soul II Soul Caron Wheeler), and The Effervescents. The album is the worldwide commercial breakthrough for Jones, spinning off three singles in the US including “Things Can Only Get Better” (#5 Pop), “Life In One Day” (#19 Pop), and “Like To Get To Know You Well” (#49 Pop). The albums’ success is such that it spins off a six track EP titled “Action Replay” featuring five remixed versions of songs from “Dream” along with a re-recorded version of the album cut “No One Is To Blame” (produced by Phil Collins). “Blame” is released as a single a year later in March of 1986, becoming his biggest US hit (#4 Pop). The tracks “Specialty” & “Why Look For The Key” on the UK release are pulled from the US edition, and are replaced with “Like To Get To Know You Well” and “Bounce Right Back”. “Why Look” is issued as the B-side of “Things Can Only Get Better”, while “Specialty” makes its US debut on the “Action Replay” EP. In 2010, “Dream” is remastered and reissued as an expanded edition CD (Europe only), with all of the tracks from the UK and US versions of the album. The album is remastered and reissued again in November of 2018 by Cherry Red Records, as a two CD + DVD deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original twelve song album (UK edition), plus five additional bonus tracks. The second disc features twelve bonus tracks, including 12" remixes and non-LP B-sides. The DVD portion includes rare television performances, and all of the original music videos for the singles. It is also reissued in “Super Deluxe” box set, containing all of the aforementioned contents, and a vinyl picture disc of the full album. The vinyl edition is also issued separately, pressed on translucent green vinyl. “Dream Into Action” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number ten 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 19, 1990 – “Violator”, the seventh studio album by Depeche Mode is released. Produced by Depeche Mode and Flood, it is recorded at PUK Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark, The Church, Master Rock Studios in London, Axis Studios in New York City and Logic Studios in Milan, Italy from May 1989 – January 1990. After years of cultivating an ever growing and loyal fan base around the world, the synth-pop band from Basildon, Essex, UK return to the studio in the Spring of 1989 to record the follow up to “Music For The Masses”. Depeche Mode co-produce their new album with Flood (aka Mark Ellis), best known for his work with U2, Ministry, and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. Unlike previous Depeche Mode albums which stick very rigidly by Martin Gore’s original song demos, the band take a different approach when recording the final tracks. With Gore writing songs with very skeletal arrangements, it allows the others more freedom in helping shape them in the studio, often with great results that were not originally envisioned. The full album’s release is proceeded by the single “Personal Jesus” (#28 Pop, #3 Modern Rock, #12 Club Play), in late August of 1989. Issued nearly seven months in front of “Violator”, the hypnotic guitar driven single gives Depeche Mode their first top 40 single in the US since “People Are People” over four years before. It also becomes the band’s first Gold single stateside. It is Depeche Mode’s breakthrough album on a worldwide basis, and their most commercially successful in the US. The album spins off three additional singles including “Enjoy The Silence” (#8 Pop, #1 Modern Rock, #6 Club Play), “Policy Of Truth” (#15 Pop, #1 Modern Rock, #2 Club Play) and “World In My Eyes” (#52 Pop, #17 Modern Rock, #6 Club Play). All of the accompanying music videos, are directed by Dutch born photographer and director Anton Corbijn. The band support the album with the extensive “World Violation” Tour throughout 1990. “Violator” spends a total of seventy four weeks on the US album chart. In 2006, the album is remastered and reissued as a high definition Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) with bonus tracks, including a bonus DVD featuring the documentary “Depeche Mode 1989–90 (If You Wanna Use Guitars, Use Guitars)”, along with “Violator” remixed into DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. Originally issued in very limited quantities on vinyl, it is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2014 and again in 2016. “Violator” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 17, 1978 – “This Year’s Model”, the second album by Elvis Costello is released. Produced by Nick Lowe, it is recorded at Eden Studios in London from Late 1977 – Early 1978. Issued as the follow up to “My Aim Is True”, it is the first album to be credited to Elvis Costello & The Attractions. Musically it differs noticeably from Costello’s debut, with drummer Pete Thomas, bassist Bruce Thomas and keyboardist Steve Nieve providing dynamic and solid support. It spins off three singles including “Pump It Up”, “Radio, Radio” (included on the US pressing), “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea”. Early pressings of the LP come with a bonus 7" featuring “Stranger In The House” backed a cover of The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat”. Original UK album covers feature a deliberate error on them (designed by F-Beat Records graphic artist Barney Bubbles), with the “E” from Elvis and the “T” from This cropped off on the left, and the color registration marks clearly visible on the right. The US album cover uses an alternate cover photo, that does not have the deliberate graphics error. Reissued numerous times since making its CD debut in the mid 80’s, Hip-O Records remastered and reissues “Model” in 2007, with a double disc Deluxe Edition with bonus track and a full live concert released in 2008. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab also issues the title as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2010, with UMe also releasing it as part of their “Back To Black” series in 2015. The MoFi and UMe LP’s use the original UK cover artwork. “This Year’s Model” peaks at number four on the UK album chart, number thirty on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 16, 1984 – “Talk Show”, the third album by The Go-Go’s is released. Produced by Martin Rushent, it is recorded at Genetic Sound Studios in Reading, Berkshire, UK from Spring – Fall 1983. When The Go-Go’s sophomore album “Vacation” falls short of the multi-platinum sales of their debut album “Beauty And The Beat”, the band decide that a change is necessary. Rather than working with Richard Gotterher (The Strangeloves) again, the band with opt to go with Human League producer Martin Rushent. In order to keep tight control over the sessions, Rushent insists that The Go-Go’s come to the UK and work at his studio nearly forty miles outside of London, feeling that the isolation will allow them to remain focused and avoid distractions while recording. The sessions are tense between the band and Rushent, as in fighting between the band members, and issues with substance abuse continue to take their toll. There is a significant rift between Rushent and drummer Gina Schock when the producer threatens replace her with a drum machine, feeling that her playing is not up to par during the sessions. After several months in the studio, the album is finally completed, the band return to the US. The album title is meant to be a satirical statement about The Go-Go’s behind the scenes drama being so intense, that it would be enough to “get them a week on a major talk show”. In spite of positive critical notices upon its release, it sells even less than “Vacation”, failing to reach Gold status in the US. It spins off three singles including “Head Over Heels” (#11 Pop), “Turn To You” (#32 Pop), and “Yes Or No” (#84 Pop). The bands rapidly deteriorating relationships result in guitarist Jane Wiedlin quitting the band after their “Prime Time Tour” in support of the album. Replacing Wiedlin with Paula Jean Brown (on bass with Kathy Valentine switching to rhythm guitar), The Go-Go’s officially call it quits in May of 1985 after playing the Rock In Rio festival, and not recording another album of all original material again until 2001. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued in 1999. In 2016, UK label Edsel Records releases a newly remastered CD, with ten additional bonus tracks, including non-LP B-sides, single mixes and live tracks. “Talk Show” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: March 16, 1983 – “Burning Bridges” (aka “Naked Eyes”), the debut album by Naked Eyes is released (US release date is on April 4, 1983). Produced by Tony Mansfield, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from Mid 1982 – Early 1983. Both students at the University Of Bath in England, Pete Byrne (lead vocals) and Rob Fisher (keyboards) meet in 1979. They form Neon and release the single “Making Waves/Me I See You” in 1980. The band expands to include future Tears For Fears members Roland Orzabal, Curt Smith and Manny Elias, but split in December of 1981. Byrne and Fisher form Naked Eyes in 1982 and continue to write songs together. They attract the attention of EMI Records who quickly sign them. Working with producer Tony Mansfield (Captain Sensible, a-ha, The B-52’s), Naked Eyes record at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. While recording, they decide to do a cover of one their favorite songs. Fans of British female pop vocalists such as Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black, another fave is Sandie Shaw. Shaw’s version of the Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned “(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me” (originally recorded by Dionne Warwick) is a UK smash, hitting #1 in the Fall of 1964. In Naked Eyes hands, it is given a dramatic makeover, changing the tempo and creating a modern arrangement to make it their own. Surprisingly, when it is issued in the UK in September of 1982, it receives a tepid reaction, stalling at #59. Their next single “Voices In My Head” fares worse, failing to chart. Completing the rest of their album by the beginning of 1983, it is titled “Burning Bridges” and it too flops upon release. The US branch of their label EMI-America is undaunted by the duo’s lack of success on their own turf, and release “Always Something There To Remind Me” (#8 Pop, #37 Club Play, #31 AC) in February of 1983. It becomes a multi-format hit in the US, paving the way for the full length album. It is re-titled “Naked Eyes” for release in North America, with different cover artwork, the track listing shifted, with “The Time Is Now” and “A Very Hard Act To Follow” being excised and used as single B-sides. “Remind Me” is followed by “Promises Promises” (#11 Pop, #32 Club Play, #19 AC) in the Summer. For its US release, “Promises” is remixed by DJ John “Jellybean” Benitez, with one of the mixes featuring his then girlfriend and future pop megastar Madonna, adding additional vocals to the track. The album spins off a third and final single with “When The Lights Go Out” (#37 Pop) in the Fall of 1983. Out of print for many years, the album is remastered and reissued on CD by Cherry Pop Records in 2012. The reissue features the original twelve song UK album and six additional bonus tracks, including 12" dance remixes and non LP B-sides. “Burning Bridges” (aka “Naked Eyes”) peaks at number thirty two on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: March 13, 1984 – “Heartbeat City”, the fifth album by The Cars is released. Produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and The Cars, it is recorded at Battery Studios in London from July 1983 – January 1984. Following the release of their fourth album “Shake It Up” and the subsequent tour, The Cars take a year off to rest, and for band members Ric Ocasek and Greg Hawkes to work on solo projects. When they reunite in mid 1983, they relocate to London to work with producer “Mutt” Lange, fresh off of his successes with AC/DC and Def Leppard. After working with Roy Thomas Baker on their previous albums, the band find that Lange works in a far different manner. Meticulously building the rhythm tracks from the ground up, drummer David Robinson does not play live drums on the album at all, instead the drum tracks are created from samples of drums and played back through a Fairlight CMI synthesizer. Without losing their quirky and eclectic edge, the band create an albums worth of songs (written almost entirely by Ocasek alone) that maintain those qualities, but are radio friendly and accessible. It spins off five singles including “You Might Think” (#7 Pop), “Magic” (#12 Pop), “Drive” (#3 Pop) and “Hello Again” (#20 Pop, #8 Club Play). The singles are supported by a series of clever eye catching music videos beginning with the first single “You Might Think”. The clip is directed by Jeff Stein (“The Kids Are Alright”) and features fashion model Susan Gallagher. The tongue in cheek video is one of the first to utilize computer generated graphics and effects. The clip is an instant hit on MTV, and later in 1984 wins the very first VMA award for Video Of The Year. The videos for “Magic”, which features Ocasek appearing to walk on water, “Drive” featuring model Paulina Porizkova (later married to Ric Ocasek) and directed by Oscar winning actor Timothy Hutton. “Hello Again” is directed by and featuring a cameo by pop art icon Andy Warhol. All four videos become staples on MTV, and other music video channels throughout the year. “Heartbeat City” also spins off an accompanying home video release, featuring all of the clips made for the album (with the clips of “Panorama” and “Shake It Up” added) and a featurette on the making of the “Hello Again” video. The album cover outer gatefold features the painting “Art-O-Matic Loop Di Loop” by English pop artist Peter Phillips. The album is remastered and reissued as a hybrid SACD and as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2016. The album is also reissued as an expanded deluxe edition in 2018. “Heartbeat City” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 12, 1980 – “Glass Houses”, the seventh album by Billy Joel is released. Produced by Phil Ramone, it is recorded at A&R Studios in New York City from May – August 1979. With the huge back to back commercial and Grammy winning triumphs of “The Stranger” and “52nd Street”, Billy Joel is one of the biggest pop stars in the world by 1979. Even with all of this success, rock critics remain the musician’s biggest detractors. Chiding him as “a balladeer” and a “soft rocker”, Joel takes offense to the criticism, feeling he’s being unfairly pigeonholed as being musically one dimensional. Having a grown up with a great passion for rock & roll, Billy is determined to prove there is another side to him. Influenced both by the music he grew up on, and by punk and new wave music that changed the face of rock & roll in the late 70’s, Joel begins writing songs with a harder edge. Working once again with producer Phil Ramone, and recording with his touring band which include Liberty DeVitto (drums), Doug Stegmeyer (bass), Russell Javors (rhythm guitar), David Brown (lead guitar) and Richie Cannata (saxophone, flute, organ), the album is recorded during a four month break between the international and US legs of the “52nd Street” tour. Led by the rocker “You May Be Right” (#7 Pop) as the album is released, fans and critics are both surprised and impressed by the harder rocking sound of the song and several other tracks. The album spins off a total of four singles including Joel’s first chart topper “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me (#1 Pop), "Don’t Ask Me Why” (#19 Pop) and “Sometimes A Fantasy” (#36 Pop). The albums now iconic cover photo, featuring a shot of Billy about to throw a rock through the front facade of a glass house, is taken in front of his waterfront home in Oyster Bay on Long Island. The album is nominated for two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year, winning for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance in 1981. One of the earliest titles to be issued on CD in 1983, the album is remastered and reissued in 1998, as an Enhanced CD featuring the music videos for “All For Leyna”, “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” and “Sometimes A Fantasy”. It is also reissued on vinyl by Friday Music in 2010, with audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab releasing a hybrid SACD and a double vinyl 180 gram LP set mastered at 45 RPM in 2012 and 2013 respectively. “Glass Houses” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 7, 1983 – “The Hurting”, the debut album by Tears For Fears is released (US release date is April 11, 1983). Produced by Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum, it is recorded at Cresent Studios in Somerset, Bath, UK, Brittania Row Studios and Abbey Road Studios in London from Early 1982 – Early 1983. Originally part of the mod/new wave band Graduate, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith form the duo Tears For Fears in 1981, with their new name being inspired by Dr. Arthur Janov’s “primal scream therapy” in which patients purge themselves of personal traumas and pain that has often been repressed since childhood. Friends since the age of thirteen, Orzabal and Smith both come from broken homes and have been raised by their mothers. They use this as the basis for the songs that make up their debut album. It is a concept album about “feelings of abandonment, rejection and anger”, facing them and dealing with those emotions. In spite of the albums somewhat dark and morose subject matter, it is an immediate hit in TFF’s home country making them major pop stars, also gaining them a toehold of support in the US that later develops into worldwide success. It spins off three top five singles in the UK including “Change” (#4 UK, #73 US Pop), “Mad World” (#3 UK), and “Pale Shelter” (#5 UK). The original UK version of the album features a photo of a child, sitting with his hands covering his face, against a stark white background. The international release with replace this image with a photo of Orzabal and Smith standing at the bank of a river (the same image is used for the UK single picture sleeve for “Mad World”), looking away from the camera. A remastered 3 CD + 1 DVD deluxe edition of the album is released in October of 2013, with the second disc featuring remixes, single edits and demo versions, the third disc containing live performances recorded for DJ John Peel’s radio program, BBC radio and two further performances recorded in concert. The fourth disc contains the first DVD release of the “In My Mind’s Eye” concert video, recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon in London in December of 1983 and originally released on VHS and laserdisc in November of 1984. “The Hurting” spends one week at number one on the UK album chart and is certified Platinum in the UK by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry, peaking at number seventy three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 5, 1984 – “Human’s Lib”, the debut album by Howard Jones is released. Produced by Rupert Hine and Colin Thurston, it is recorded at Farmyard Studios in Buckinghamshire, UK and Chipping Norton Studios in Oxon, UK from Mid – Late 1983. The eldest of four children, Howard Jones begins taking piano lessons as a child. The Jones family relocate to Canada while Howard is a teenager, and joins his first band. Jones then returns to the UK to attend the Royal Northern College of Music. Influenced by synth pop pioneers OMD and keyboard innovators like Keith Emerson and Stevie Wonder, Jones embraces synthesizer technology. During this time, he re-settles in his childhood hometown of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Working up an act as a virtual one man band, Jones performs mostly his own original songs, with mime artist Jed Hoile. By 1983 the musician is in search of a record deal. He sets up a showcase at the Marquee Club in London, inviting record label A&R execs to see and hear him perform. Howard is signed to WEA International Records in mid 1983. Working with veteran producer and engineer Colin Thurston (David Bowie, Duran Duran), he records the track “New Song” (#3 UK, #27 US Pop). Recorded using only a Roland Juno-60 synthesizer and TR-808 drum machine, the bouncy single is an immediate hit. Given the OK by WEA to record a full album, Jones is paired with producer Rupert Hine (The Fixx, Tina Turner). Before the album is completed, the follow up single “What Is Love?” (#2 UK, #33 Pop) is released in November of 1983. The album titled “Human’s Lib”, goes in the UK album chart right at number one. Released in the US in mid June of 1984 by Elektra Records, American audiences also embrace the British synthesizer whiz. In the UK, “Lib” yields two more hits with “Hide & Seek” (#12 UK) and “Pearl In The Shell” (#7 UK). The latter features Ian Dury & The Blockheads member Davey Payne and recording engineer Stephen Tayler on saxophones, the only other musicians besides Jones who play on the album. The success of “Human’s Lib” sets the stage for Howard Jones’ even larger success internationally in 1985 and beyond. Remastered and reissued on CD in 2010, “Lib” is reissued again in 2018 as a two CD + DVD deluxe edition. The two CD’s feature the original album with 7" and 12" versions, rough mixes, instrumentals and demos. The DVD contains rare TV performances and music videos. It is also released as a super deluxe box set featuring the aforementioned contents, a third CD, a second DVD featuring a full live concert, a replica of Jones’ original four song cassette demo, and the full album pressed as a picture disc with artist Steg’s cover artwork. The LP is also released as a stand alone, pressed on white vinyl. “Human’s Lib” spends two weeks at number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number fifty nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the UK by the BPI.