On this day in music history: December 9, 1972 – “Hot August Night”, the tenth album by Neil Diamond is released. Produced by Tom Catalano, it is recorded at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, CA on August 24, 1972. It is Diamond’s second live album, the twenty two track double LP set is taken from a single performance recorded on August 24, 1972 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, CA, in the middle of a run of ten sold out shows at the famed outdoor venue. It is a huge critical and commercial success for Diamond, and establishes his reputation for dynamic live performances captured on the album. It also is his final release for MCA Records before signing a lucrative and long term contract with Columbia Records. The album spins off three sequels released in 1977 (“Love At The Greek”), 1987 (“Hot August Night II”) and 2009 (“Hot August Night/NYC”). The album is remastered and reissued as a two CD set in 2000, and again in 2012 for its fortieth anniversary with additional tracks that were cut due to the time constraints of vinyl. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, the original version is reissued by UMe in 2012, and reissued again in 2017. “Hot August Night” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1972 – “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Helen Reddy and Ray Burton, it is the first US chart topper for the Australian born singer. After struggling and suffering numerous setbacks since arriving in the US in 1966, Helen Reddy lands her first chart hit with a cover of “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” (#13 Pop) from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” in June of 1971. Her first album also features a song titled “I Am Woman” co-written with fellow Australian musician Ray Burton. The original version receives little notice, but Reddy is asked to re-record the song for the film “Stand Up and Be Counted” starring Jacqueline Bisset, Steve Lawrence, and Loretta Swit. The new version features members of The Wrecking Crew playing on the track including Mike Deasy (guitar), Jim Gordon (drums), Michael Melvoin (piano), future James Taylor and Phil Collins side man Leland Sklar (bass) and background vocalists Clydie King, Vanetta Fields and Shirlie Matthews. Released as a single in May of 1972, “Woman” stalls at #97 on the Hot 100 on July 8, 1972 before falling off the chart. Undaunted, Reddy’s husband and manager Jeff Wald uses his considerable promotional skills to book his wife on various television variety and talk shows to re-promote the single. Positive response from female viewers to the song spreads to radio stations who are flooded with calls to play the record. Re-entering the Hot 100 at #87 on September 16, 1972, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. “I Am Woman” becomes an anthem and rallying cry for the women’s equal rights movement as a result of its huge popularity. Reddy wins a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1973, and in her memorable acceptance speech, she thanks her husband and “God, because she makes everything possible.” “I Am Woman” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1972 – “Me And Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 3 weeks on December 16, 1972. Written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert, it is the biggest hit for the Philadelphia, PA born R&B/Jazz singer. Gamble and Huff meet Paul at a local Philadelphia club in 1967 and begin working together shortly afterward. After several attempts to write a hit for the singer fail, they finally come up with a song that perfectly balances R&B and pop with Billy’s jazz vocal style. Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios with members of MFSB and arranged by Bobby Martin, it is the first single from Paul’s album “360 Degrees Of Billy Paul” on September 13, 1972. The song about an extramarital affair is the third R&B chart topper, and first number pop single for the fledgling Philadelphia International label. The single wins Paul a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1973. Songwriters Gamble, Huff and Gilbert also later collaborate on “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, originally writing it for Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in 1975. A cover version by Thelma Houston becomes a worldwide hit, topping the pop and R&B singles charts in 1977. It is also covered by The Dramatics and by Michael Buble. In 2000, Billy Paul’s original recording is used in a television commercial for Nike sportswear featuring track star Marion Jones. At the time, Paul had not received any royalty payments on the song in twenty seven years. He files a lawsuit against Gamble & Huff, their publishing company Assorted Music, Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment for back royalties. He wins the lawsuit and receives a sizable settlement and future royalties generated by his version of the song. Regarded as not only one of the greatest “Philly Soul” records of all time, but one of the best singles of the 70’s, “Me And Mrs. Jones” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2018. “Me And Mrs. Jones” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1966 – “A Quick One”, the second album by The Who is released (US release is in May 1967 under the title “Happy Jack”). Produced by Kit Lambert, it is recorded at IBC Studios and Pye Studios in London from September – November 1966. Issued one year and one week after their debut release “My Generation”, The Who’s second full length is an important turning point in the band’s career, as it marks Pete Townshend’s first foray into composing a “rock opera” in the form of the title track. The nine minute long suite of songs at the end of the album’s second side tells a story about a wife’s infidelity while her husband is away. “A Quick One While He’s Away” is also semi autobiographical, as it is the first time that Pete Townshend writes about the periods of separation from his parents as a young boy (in the opening movement “Her Man’s Been Gone”), living with his maternal grandmother, and the sexual abuse he suffers at the hands of one of her male friends (“Ivor The Engine Driver”). The mini opera is the genesis for Townshend’s later works “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia”. The other three members of the band also contribute songs to the album including John Entwistle’s “Boris The Spider”. The band’s US label Decca Records retitles the album “Happy Jack”, after their then current single (#24 Pop) which is added to the track listing. The cover artwork is illustrated by British pop artist Alan Aldridge (The Beatles, Elton John). Released on CD in 1988 with its original mono mix, the US CD release is issued in stereo with five tracks in re-channeled stereo. It is remastered and reissued in 2005, with some tracks newly remixed into stereo. The track “Whiskey Man” is still in fake stereo with the majority of the remaining tracks in mono. The mono version of the album is reissued as 150 and 200 gram vinyl pressings by Classic Records in 2005, with another reissue in 2015. “A Quick One/Happy Jack” peaks at number four on the UK album chart and number sixty seven on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1966 – “Fresh Cream”, the debut album by Cream is released. Produced by Robert Stigwood, it is recorded at Rayrik Studios and Ryemuse Studios in London from July – October 1966. The first release by the British rock super group is the first release on manager/producer Stigwood’s newly formed Reaction Records in the UK, and will be released by Atlantic Records subsidiary Atco in the US. Featuring a mixture of covers and original material, it includes some of the bands’ signature songs including their first single “I Feel Free” and the blues standards “I’m So Glad”, “Spoonful” and “Rollin’ And Tumblin’”. The US version of the album differs from its UK counterpart by deleting “Spoonful”, replacing it with “I Feel Free” and moving the latter to the start of the first side. When the album is reissued by RSO Records in 1977, it is restored to its original UK track listing. A later LP reissue in 1985 reinstates “I Feel Free” to the track listing, with all subsequent CD releases containing both songs. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the album’s original release, it is releases a three CD + Blu-ray audio disc box set in January of 2017. The first three CD’s feature remastered versions of the original mono and stereo mixes of the album, single versions, alternate takes, and BBC radio broadcast recordings. The Blu-ray disc features high definition audio (24 bit/96k) of the mono stereo mixes, B-sides. It is also issued as a limited edition six LP vinyl set. “Fresh Cream” peaks at number six on the UK album chart, number thirty nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1962 – “Meet The Supremes”, the debut album by The Supremes is released. Produced by Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Raynoma Liles, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from October 1960 – September 1962. It features the first four singles released by the group during 1961 and 1962, including “I Want A Guy”, “Let Me Go The Right Way”, “Buttered Popcorn”, and “Your Heart Belongs To Me”. All fare poorly on the charts which lead people around Motown to dub them the “no hit” Supremes, in spite of the labels’ best writers and producers efforts to come up with a hit single for the group. “Meet” is reissued in early 1965 (originally issued in mono only) it is remixed in true stereo with different cover artwork, after their breakthrough success with the “Where Did Our Love Go? album”. Original copies of “Meet The Supremes” are among the rarest of the early Motown LP’s and command up to $500 for a near mint copy today. In 2010, the album is remastered and reissued as a two CD edition through Hip-O Select Records, with the mono and stereo versions of the original album along with alternate versions and seven live tracks recorded in 1964.
On this day in music history: December 8, 1990 – “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” by Stevie B. hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on January 19, 1991. Written by Warren Allen Brooks, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and producer from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Born Steven Bernard Hill, Stevie B. is involved in music from an early age, forming the band LUV in high school with friend and future R&B star Howard Johnson (“So Fine”, “Keepin’ Love New”). After the band splits following Johnson’s departure to join Niteflyte (“If You Want It”), Stevie continues to make music on his his own, starting his own label Midtown Records and releasing the singles “Sending Out For Love” under his own name, and “Boy Toy” under moniker Friday Friday Featuring Stevie B.. Then in 1987, he records and releases the song “Party Your Body”, an uptempo dance track that becomes a huge hit in Miami and several other cities where Freestyle is popular like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The record attracts the attention of New York based dance label LMR Records who signs Stevie, and re-releases the single early in 1988. A string of other hits follow including “Dreamin’ Of Love”, “Spring Love” and “I Wanna Be The One”. By 1990, LMR has aligned itself with major label RCA Records as the singer is working on his third album “Love & Emotion”. Looking for a change of pace from his dance oriented material, Stevie records the ballad “Because I Love You”, written by co-collaborator Warren Allen Brooks who has also penned four other songs on the album including the title track. Issued as the second single from the album in September of 1990, the song is an across the board smash, hitting the pop and AC charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on October 6, 1990, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. After spending a month at the top of the US singles chart, “Because I Love You” is also a hit internationally, hitting the top ten in ten foreign countries including the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. Stevie B. scores another top 40 hit with the follow up “I’ll Be By Your Side” (#12 Pop), he is unable to match the success of his chart topping hit. Still a popular concert draw, Stevie is still recording, having released his most recent album “The King Of Hearts” in 2014. “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 8, 1984 – “Out Of Touch” by Daryl Hall & John Oates hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Club Play Chart for 2 weeks on November 17, 1984, peaking at #8 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #24 on the R&B singles chart on December 1, 1984. Written by Daryl Hall and John Oates, it is the sixth and final chart topping pop single for the Philadelphia, PA based duo. For the follow up to the critically and commercially successful “H2O” album, they decide to shake up their successful hit making formula by enlisting the assistance of Arthur Baker whose acclaimed work as a producer and remixer co-produces the track (as well as the rest of the album w/ H&O and engineer Bob Clearmountain), giving it a harder dance influenced edge. Working together at Electric Lady Studios in the Summer of 1984, they emerge from the studio with another highly successful album. Issued as the first single from their twelfth album “Big Bam Boom” in September of 1984, it is an immediate smash. The song is accompanied by a tongue in cheek music video directed by Jeff Stein (“The Who – The Kids Are Alright”, The Cars’ “You Might Think”, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ “Don’t Come Around Here No More”). Entering the Hot 100 at #48 on September 29, 1984, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The chart topping success of “Out Of Touch” helps drive sales of the accompanying album to 2x Platinum status in the US. The edited version of the 12" dance mix (featuring edits by The Latin Rascals) used for the music video, which also incorporates a excerpt of “Dance On Your Knees”, is first issued on a 12" single in the UK only. It is finally issued in the US on the CD compilation “ Playlist : The Very Best Of Daryl Hall & John Oates” in 2008.
On this day in music history: December 8, 1980 – “Joy And Pain”, the fourth album by Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly is released. Produced by Maze, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA from March – September 1980. Coming off their third consecutive Gold album “Inspiration”, Maze return to the studio in 1980 to begin work on the follow up. Prior to recording, drummer Ahaguna Sun and lead guitarist Wuane Thomas leave the band and are replaced by Billy (Shoes) Johnson and Ron Smith. Working from their San Francisco Bay Area home base, Maze record at the famed Record Plant Studios just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. As with the previous albums, all of the material is composed bandleader and front man Frankie Beverly. The end result is Maze’s strongest effort to date. Proceeded by the single “Southern Girl” (#9 R&B), the album is another immediate smash. The follow up “The Look In Your Eyes” (#29 R&B) also hits the top thirty on the R&B singles chart that Fall. Though it is not released as a single in the US, it is the album’s title track that makes the longest lasting impact. Running seven and a half minutes in length, “Joy And Pain” becomes an instant classic, and a centerpiece of the band’s live performances. Featuring relatively spare instrumentation using a drum machine, electric piano, synthesizer, guitar and bass, its popularity and influence on R&B music is long lasting. The song is covered numerous times, including versions by Avant, Donna Allen, and Kamal Brown. “Joy” is also sampled and interpolated in Hip-Hop with several artists borrowing from it, most notably Rob Base & DJ EZ-Rock, Kelly Price, and Coolio. As with previous albums, the striking cover artwork for “Joy And Pain” is painted by artist Shusei Nagaoka (Earth, Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra), also responsible for creating Maze’s distinctive “hand” logo. First remastered and reissued on CD in 1995 by Razor And Tie Records, is remastered and reissued again by Capitol Records in 1999, as two-fer CD set with “Inspiration”. It is reissued a third time in 2004 as a stand alone CD on Capitol’s Right Stuff imprint. “Joy And Pain” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty one on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 8, 1979 – “Babe” by Styx hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Dennis DeYoung, it is the biggest hit for the rock band from Chicago, IL. In middle of a string multi-Platinum selling albums, Styx continues their hot streak as the 70’s come to a close, as they begin work on their ninth album. “Cornerstone” sees Styx moving away from the progressive rock of their previous work, refining their formula to more mainstream pop/rock sound. During the sessions, lead singer and keyboardist Dennis DeYoung writes the ballad “Babe” for his wife Suzanne as a birthday present. Recording it as a demo with just drummer John Panozzo and bassist Chuck Panozzo, the song is not originally intended for the album in progress, until band members James “J.Y.” Young and Tommy Shaw convince DeYoung that it should be included. When they find that DeYoung’s original demo cannot be improved upon, J.Y. overdubs a guitar solo to the track, and the song is slotted into the finished album. Released as the first single from “Cornerstone” in September of 1979, “Babe” is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 on October 6, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “Babe” is later included on the soundtrack to the Adam Sandler film “Big Daddy”, and is covered by R&B singer Alexander O’Neal and Dutch pop group Caught In The Act. In spite of the songs’ ongoing popularity, Styx stop performing “Babe” live after Dennis DeYoung is fired from the band in 1999. “Babe” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.