Category: new wave

On this day in music history: July 31, 1981 – …

On this day in music history: July 31, 1981 – “KooKoo”, the debut solo album by Debbie Harry is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City from Early – Mid 1981. Right on the heels of Blondie’s successful “Autoamerican” album, the band take a hiatus from touring and recording. In the interim, lead singer Debbie Harry decides to record her first solo album. To produce the record, Harry approaches Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic, fresh off the huge success of producing Diana Ross’ “diana” album. Harry and her boyfriend (and Blondie band mate) Chris Stein had met Nile and Bernard two years earlier at The Power Station recording studio, while Blondie were recording their album “Eat To The Beat” and Chic are in an adjoining studio recording “Risqué”. Striking up an immediate friendship, Edwards and Rodgers agree to produce Debbie’s first solo release. Working in close collaboration, the quartet craft an album that is a hybrid of Blondie’s rock and new wave sound married to Chic’s trademark R&B and funk sound, with elements hip hop which Blondie had successfully incorporated into their number one single “Rapture”. Featuring the members of Chic backing Harry in the studio, the album also features backing vocals by Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald V. Casale of Devo. It spins off two singles including “Backfired” (#43 Pop) and “The Jam Was Moving” (#82 Pop). Though well received on its musical merits, the album attracts even more attention and controversy for its striking cover artwork. Designed by Oscar winning Swiss artist H.R. Giger (“Alien”), the cover and inner sleeve feature photos of Harry taken by British photographer Brian Aris that Giger superimposes the images with metal skewers going through the singers face and neck. Initially, Chrysalis Records plans to promote the album with large posters of the cover art, but the idea is nixed in many areas by officials find the images disturbing. Though the same photos are used in television spots for the album without stirring up any further controversy. Giger also directs the music videos for “Backfired” and “Now I Know You Know”. A cult favorite of Harry’s fans, “KooKoo” also lays the template for the later groundbreaking musical and commercial successes that Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers have producing David Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, The Power Station and Robert Palmer later in the decade. Originally released on CD in the early 90’s, the album is remastered and reissued by Razor & Tie Records in 1999, including the 12" mix of “Backfired” as an additional bonus track. It is reissued and remastered again in 2011 by Gold Legion Records, also adding the extended mixes of “The Jam Was Moving” and “Inner City Spillover” as bonus tracks. “KooKoo” peaks at number twenty 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: July 23, 1982 – …

On this day in music history: July 23, 1982 – “Vacation”, the second album by The Go-Go’s is released. Produced by Richard Gottherer, it is recorded at Studio 55, Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA and Indigo Ranch in Malibu, CA from March – May 1982. Making chart history when their debut album “Beauty And The Beat” hits the top of the Billboard Top 200, the band head right back into the studio to begin recording the follow up. But with their new found fame and success, drugs, drinking, excessive partying along with swelling egos and infighting cause the ties between the once unified quintet to begin fraying. All of these issues have a noticeable effect on the creative process. Working once again with producer Richard Gottherer, they record the album in just over two months, with Jane Wiedlin writing or co-writing eight of the twelve songs on the finished record. With Charlotte Caffey’s heroin addiction beginning to escalate, her presence in the studio is minimal. The title track “Vacation” (#8 Pop) originates as a song written by bassist Kathy Valentine prior to joining The Go-Go’s. Caffey and Wiedlin help re-tool it for the band. When it is issued in late June of 1982, it is one of the first released as a cassette single as well as on 7" vinyl. The song is also incorporated into the album’s cover artwork. The initial idea comes from band manager Ginger Canzoneri, who relays it to A&M Records art director Mick Haggerty (Supertramp, Styx, Split Enz). Showing him a vintage postcard with female water skiers on it, Haggerty decides to create a similar image for The Go-Go’s cover. He finds out about a water skiing show at Cypress Gardens in Florida, and goes on location to shoot both still images for the LP and also film footage for the music video. Once the images are collected, Haggerty cleverly superimposes the faces of the five Go-Go’s (taken at another photo shoot) on to the bodies of the water skiers. The video for “Vacation” is shot on the Chaplin Stage at A&M Studios in a single day, with the water skiing sequences using the footage being rear projected with close ups of the band inter cut with the real water skiers. Once released, the album receives largely mixed reviews and sells far less than the double-Platinum plus predecessor. It spins off a second single with “Get Up And Go” (#50 Pop) in the Fall of 1982. The track “Speeding” (the B-side of “Get Up”) also recorded during the “Vacation” sessions, is left off of the album and instead is included on the soundtrack to the film “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” released in August of 1982. “Vacation” also earns a Grammy nomination for Best Album Package (for Haggerty) in 1983. Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 1999. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued in 2017 by Universal/UMe. “Vacation” peaks at number 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: July 22, 1977 – …

On this day in music history: July 22, 1977 – “My Aim Is True”, the debut album by Elvis Costello is released (US release is in November 1977). Produced by Nick Lowe, it is recorded at Pathway Studios in London circa Late 1976 – Early 1977. After six years of performing in pubs and clubs around his native Liverpool, Costello receives his big break in 1976 when he submits demo recordings of several songs to Stiff Records in the hopes of being signed to the new label. Initially, the label is only interested in him as a staff songwriter (for musician Dave Edmunds), but are persuaded to sign him as a recording artist. The album is recorded in twenty four hours of studio time (cut in six four hour sessions at a cost of £1,000) spread out over several weeks. Recording with members of the band Clover, Costello often takes time off (calling in sick) from his day job as a data entry clerk in order to rehearse and record the material. It spins off the classics “Alison” and “(The Angels Want To Wear My) Red Shoes”. Originally released as a stand alone single in the UK in October of 1977, the track “Watching The Detectives” is added to the US version of the album, when it is issued four months after its UK release. The original US LP cover art also differs from its UK counterpart, with the UK version featuring the front cover photo in black & white, with the background on the back airbrushed pink, beige, blue, green, purple, yellow, orange or crimson red. The US version features the front cover photo airbrushed yellow, with the back cover photo, using either a yellow or white background.  A mid 80’s reissue of the album reverts to the original UK cover with the black & white front photo, and yellow background back cover. The album is remastered and reissued numerous times over the years since its first CD release in 1986, with expanded reissues on Rykodisc and Rhino Records. “My Aim” is also reissued as a hybrid SACD in Japan by Hip-O Records in 2011, with 180 gram vinyl LP pressing released by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2009, and UMe in 2015. “My Aim Is True” peaks at number thirty two 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: July 20, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: July 20, 1980 – “New Clear Days”, the debut album by The Vapors is released. Produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, it is recorded at Basing Street Studios and The Town House Recording Studios in London from Late 1979 – Mid 1980. Formed in 1978, The Vapors consist of David Fenton (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Howard Smith (drums), Edward Bazalgette (lead guitar) and Steve Smith (bass, vocals). Their break comes early on when they’re seen by Jam bassist Bruce Foxton while playing the pub circuit. Foxton offers to co-manage them along with Paul Weller’s father John. Shortly after, they are touring as the opening act for The Jam. The Vapors sign to United Artists Records, working with The Jam’s producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven. Releasing the single “Prisoner” in the Fall of 1979, it fails to make a ripple in the charts. With Fenton writing the songs, their debut album is completed over the next few months. Their fortunes turn around with the release of “Turning Japanese” (#3 UK, #36 US Pop) in February of 1980. The song becomes a smash in the UK, leading to its release around the world. An urban myth about what the song title really means, lead to some US stations refusing to play it. A rumor spreads that it is actually “a euphemism for masturbation”. In truth, the lyrics are about the angst experienced in youth and it having an unexpected outcome. In the US, United Artists promote the single by pressing a special 7" white vinyl disc shaped like a Japanese flag. The album title “New Clear Days” is a pun on “nuclear days”, with the cover art of a weatherman pointing at a map of England with a radioactive symbol and a mushroom cloud over London. The title and cover art are commentary over the cold war and conflicted views over the use of nuclear power. It spins off two other singles including “Waiting For The Weekend” and “News At Ten” (#44 UK). The chart performance of “News” is scuttled in the UK when a strike at the BBC pre-empts “Top Of The Pops”, cutting off a major source of public exposure for the record. BBC-1 radio also refuses to play the record after the band appear on rival network ITV. Their momentum in the US is impeded when United Artists is abruptly shuttered, with the record being transferred to Capitol subsidiary Liberty Records. The US release of “New” features a shifted running order, and omits the track “America”. In spite of their “one hit wonder” status, “Turning Japanese” goes on to become a new wave classic, and is later featured in the films “Sixteen Candles”, “Romy And Michelle’s High School Reunion” and “Charlie’s Angels”. “Turning Japanese” is reissued as a limited edition 7" single on Record Store Day in April of 2018. The album is released on CD in 2000 by UK label Captain Mod Records with eight additional bonus tracks. “New Clear Days” peaks at number forty four on the UK album chart, and number sixty two on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: July 19, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: July 19, 1980 – “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me” by Billy Joel hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Billy Joel, it is the first chart topping single for the singer, songwriter and musician from Hicksville, Long Island, NY. The song is inspired by a conversation that Joel has with his publicist and manager over his image, and his unwillingness to change or conform to current trends. All of this is influential in the stylistic turn that Billy Joel takes with his seventh album “Glass Houses”. Featuring a more straight ahead rock sound than his previous work, it becomes one of his most successful and acclaimed works. Issued as the follow up to the albums first single “You May Be Right” (#7 Pop) in early May of 1980, “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me” is a smash right out of the gate. Entering the Hot 100 at #38 on May 24, 1980, it climbs to the top the charts eight weeks later. The success of the single drives the “Glass Houses” album to over 5x Platinum status (as certified by the RIAA) in the US alone. The music video for the song, a performance clip features Joel singing a live vocal to the original track. “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 18, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: July 18, 1980 – “Closer”, the second album by Joy Division is released. Produced by Martin Hannett, it is recorded at Brittania Row Studios in Islington, London from March 18 – 30, 1980. Originally formed in 1976 by Bernard Sumner (guitar) and Pete Hook (bass), the two friends decide to buy instruments and form a band after seeing The Sex Pistols perform in their hometown of Manchester. Along with their mutual friend Terry Mason (drums), they also ask Martin Gresty to sing lead. When Gresty turns them down, they go in search for a lead singer by placing an advertisement in a local Virgin Records store. The ad is answered by Ian Curtis, another childhood friend who is also an avid fan of the punk rock scene. Initially calling themselves Warsaw after the David Bowie song “Warszawa”, they play their first gig on May 29, 1977 along side The Buzzcocks, Penetration and John Cooper Clarke. Warsaw go through a succession of drummers after Mason steps aside to manage the band. Third drummer Steve Brotherdale is replaced by Curtis’ former school mate Stephen Morris in August of 1977. The band also abandon their original name after only three months when they discover there is a London punk band called Warsaw Pakt. They rename themselves Joy Division, after the name of the forced sex slavery wing of Nazi concentration camps, referred to the in the novella “House Of Dolls”. After releasing their first EP “An Ideal For Living” in 1978, they sign with Manchester based indie label Factory Records. Releasing their debut album “Unknown Pleasures” in June of 1979, the band increase their already loyal following and begin writing material for the follow up. With their rise in popularity, singer Ian Curtis’ personal problems also begin to overwhelm him. Suffering from epilepsy, Curtis begins having frequent seizures, becoming increasingly depressed as his marriage also is failing. He pours his emotions into the lyrics of Joy Division’s songs, most poignantly in the non-album single “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (#13 UK), and others like “Atrocity Exhibition”, “Isolation” and “A Means To An End”. The band complete the recording of their second album “Closer” in less than two weeks, at Brittania Row Studios in London, owned at the time by Pink Floyd. Two months before it’s released, Ian Curtis commits suicide on May 18, 1980, by hanging himself. He is only twenty three years old at the time. When “Closer” is released, it is very well received and is praised as a post-punk masterpiece. Surviving members Sumner, Hook and Morris (with his girlfriend and later wife Gillian Gilbert) form New Order out of the ashes of Joy Division, going on to even greater success during the 80’s and beyond. “Closer” hits number one on the UK Indie Album chart, peaking at number six on the UK Album chart, and is certified Gold in the UK by BPI.

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On this day in music history: July 15, 1983 – …

On this day in music history: July 15, 1983 – “The Crossing”, the debut album by Big Country is released. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it is recorded at The Manor in Oxfordshire, UK and RAK Studios in London in May 1983. Formed in 1981, Big Country goes through a number of personnel changes before before their classic line up is in place in 1982. For their debut album, the band are paired with producer Steve Lillywhite, best known for his work with U2 and Peter Gabriel. The first release by the rock band from Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland firmly establishes them and their trademark sound, a solid rhythm section with twin lead guitars played by Stuart Adamson and Bruce Watson. The album spins off two hit singles including “In A Big Country” (#17 Pop) and “Fields Of Fire” (#52 Pop), and is the most successful album for the Scottish band. The original LP release is issued with three different color variations for its sleeve artwork, coming red, blue and green. It is first remastered and reissued in 2002, with the “Wonderland” EP included as bonus tracks on the CD. It is remastered again in 2012 as a two CD deluxe edition to commemorate its 30th anniversary. The first disc features the original ten track album, plus seven bonus tracks. The second disc features demos and outtakes.  The expanded edition is also reissued as a double vinyl set, also in 2012. “The Crossing” peaks at number eighteen 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: July 13, 1985 – …

On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – “A View To A Kill” by Duran Duran hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Duran Duran and John Barry, it is the second US chart topper for the Birmingham, UK based pop/rock band. The members of Duran Duran are invited to write the theme for the fourteenth James Bond film after bassist John Taylor meets Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli at a party. This encounter leads to the two sides talking seriously about composing the title song. Broccoli then introduces Duran Duran to score composer John Barry who co-writes and arranges the song with the band. Fresh off of working on The Power Station project, producer and musician Bernard Edwards of Chic produces the song. The track is recorded at CTS Studios and Maison Rouge in London, with Barry conducting a sixty-piece orchestra, augmenting Duran Duran’s instrumentation. The recording sessions become so contentious (particularly between Nick Rhodes and Andy Taylor), that the band members end up overdubbing their parts separately. Released in early May of 1985, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #43 on May 18, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “A View To A Kill” is the only Bond theme to top the US pop singles chart, and is the last Duran Duran single to feature all five original band members until they reunite in 2001. Prior to “Kill” reaching the summit, the two highest charting Bond themes are Wings’ “Live And Let Die” and Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better” (from “The Spy Who Loved Me”), both peaking at #2 on the Hot 100. On the same day the single hits number one, Duran Duran perform it at Live Aid in Philadelphia. Lead singer Simon LeBon unintentionally hits a bad note during the song on the live telecast. This faux pas leads to it being excised from the band’s set on the Live Aid DVD box set, and has not been rebroadcast since. After the original track is cut, Duran Duran along with Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero create an extended remix of “Kill” with the intent of issuing it along side the original single version. For reasons unknown, this version is shelved and remained unheard by the public for nearly thirty years. Mysteriously, it surfaces online on the Soundcloud  and YouTube websites in November of 2014. Since then it has been widely circulated among Duran Duran fans. To date, no official release of the 12" remix has been officially sanctioned by the band.  "A View To A Kill" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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

On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – “Songs From The Big Chair” by Tears For Fears hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 5 weeks (non-consecutive). Produced by Chris Hughes, it is recorded at Wool Hall Studios in Beckington, Somerset, UK, and Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany from Late 1983, February – November 1984. After releasing the stand alone single “The Way You Are” in the UK in late 1983, it performs under expectations after three consecutive top five singles in the UK charts (from their debut album “The Hurting”), stalling at #24. Deciding that a change in musical direction is necessary, Tears For Fears initially begin the recording sessions for their second album with producer Jeremy Green. The track “Mother’s Talk” is the first song recorded. When the band is unhappy the end results, Green is replaced with TFF’s original producer Chris Hughes (Adam & The Ants, Wang Chung), and the recording sessions begin again. The albums title is inspired by the novel and television film “Sybil”, about a young woman with thirteen different personalities who only feels safe in her psychiatrist’s chair. It is the duos most successful album, spinning off four hit singles including “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (#1 Pop), “Shout” (Pop #1), and “Head Over Heels” (#3 US Pop). In 2006, Universal Music Group reissues the album as a 2 CD Deluxe Edition featuring remixes, single edits, and B-sides. In 2014, a 4 CD + 2 DVD remastered Super Deluxe Box Set to commemorate the album’s 30th anniversary is released as well as a newly remastered vinyl LP edition. “Songs From The Big Chair” is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – “Revenge”, the sixth album by Eurythmics is released. Produced by David A. Stewart, it is recorded at Conny’s Studio in Cologne, Germany and Studio Grand Armee in Paris, France in Early 1986. Following the success their previous album “Be Yourself Tonight”, Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox continue to move away from the synthesizer and drum machine based music of their previous work, towards a more band oriented pop/rock sound. The album features guest musicians such as drummer Clem Burke from Blondie, bassist Phil Chen (Rod Stewart) and arranger Michael Kamen. It spins off four singles including the first release “Missionary Man” (#14 Pop), which wins Eurythmics their first Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1987. The duo also undertake an extensive world tour to support it, also releasing a live concert video in 1987 titled “Eurythmics Live” (directed by Geoff Wonfor (“The Beatles Anthology”) filmed during the Australian leg of the tour. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2005, with six additional bonus tracks added. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP on July 6, 2018. The reissue replicates the original LP packaging, and also includes an mp3 download card of the full album. “Revenge” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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