Category: pop

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On this day in music history: April 27, 1970 – “Spill The Wine” by Eric Burdon & War is released. Written by Charles Miller, Howard E. Scott, B.B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Harold Brown, Thomas “Papa Dee” Allen and Lee Oskar, it is the debut single release for the R&B/Funk band from Long Beach, CA. In 1962, friends Howard Scott (guitar, vocals) and Harold Brown (drums, vocals) form The Creators, with Charles Miller (saxophone, vocals), Morris “B.B.” Dickerson (bass, vocals) and Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan (keyboards, vocals). Backing singer Little Johnny Hamilton, the band record for Dore Records. By 1968, their line up also includes Thomas “Papa Dee” Allen (percussion, vocals). Changing their name to Nite Shift in 1969, they’re hired to back L.A. Rams Defensive End Deacon Jones, who is pursuing a singing career. Playing at a club in North Hollywood, Nite Shift are seen by former Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, producer Jerry Goldstein (The Strangeloves) and Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar. Looking for new musicians, Burdon and Goldstein approach the band about working together. Adding Oskar to the line up, they change their name to War. Steve Gold, an executive from MGM Records is interested in recording them. With Burdon living in San Francisco, Gold books them into Wally Heider Studios (now Hyde Street Studios) in January of 1970. During one session, Lonnie Jordan comes into the control room, where the others are sharing a bottle of wine. He knocks over the bottle, spilling it right into the mixing desk. With that studio out of commission, they go into the other studio and jam. Improvising a Latin groove on the spot, Eric comes up with the phrase “Spill The Wine”, to acknowledge the incident, and writing the lyrics to “celebrate women”. Laying it down on tape, they go back and lay down passages of Burdon’s then girlfriend, talking in Spanish. Recording the rest of their first album “Eric Burdon Declares War” in just three days, MGM releases “Spill The Wine” as a single. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #99 on May 23, 1970, it peaks at #3 thirteen weeks later on August 22, 1970. After recording a second album (“The Black-Man’s Burdon”) later in 1970, Burdon leaves and they continue without him. Regarded as one of the great “Summer songs” of all time, “Spill The Wine” establishes War as a innovative musical force, throughout the 70’s and into the early 80’s. “Wine” is covered by The Isley Brothers, A Lighter Shade Of Brown and Michael Hutchence. The original version is featured in the films Boogie Nights, Remember The Titans, and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. “Magic Mountain”, the non-LP B-side of Burdon & War’s hit, is sampled twice by De La Soul on “Potholes In My Lawn” and “Pass The Plugs”. UK trip hop band Portishead also samples it on the track “Wandering Star”. “Spill The Wine” is certified Gold in the US the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 26, 1985 – “Nervous Night”, the second album by The Hooters is released. Produced by Rick Chertoff, it is recorded at The Record Plant in New York City and Studio 4 in Philadelphia, PA from Mid 1984 – Early 1985. Following the success of band members Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian work on Cyndi Lauper’s “She’s So Unusual”, they team up with her producer and former band mate Chertoff to record their second full length release (and major label debut). The band take their name from the melodica, a harmonica/keyboard hybrid (made by Hohner) that is nicknamed “the hooter” by the band members. The instrument played by keyboardist and vocalist Rob Hyman, also becomes a key element of their sound. The album initially gets off to a slow start until they receive major exposure by opening the US portion of “Live Aid” at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985. It spins off four singles including “And We Danced” (#21 Pop) and “Day By Day” (#18 Pop). “Nervous Night” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 25, 1980 – “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow is released. Written by Kurtis Walker, Larry Smith, James B. Moore, Robert Ford, Jr. and Russell Simmons, it is the second single and biggest hit for the rap music pioneer from New York City. Hailing from Harlem, NY, Kurtis Blow (born Kurtis Walker) makes history when he becomes the first rapper on a major label, when he signs with Mercury Records in 1979. He hits pay dirt immediately with the instant classic “Christmas Rappin’” in late 1979, which quickly sells over a half million copies. For the follow up, Kurtis along with manager (and future Def Jam Records co-founder) Russell Simmons, and producers Larry Smith (Run DMC, Whodini), J.B. Moore and Robert Ford come up with an idea destined for his debut album. Taking the word “break”, the song muses on its multiple meanings, a humorous and serious play on the word itself, and how they are all applied to life in general. The first lyrics refer to “brakes on a bus, brakes on a car” (automobiles), “breaks to make you a superstar” (luck and chance) to “But these here breaks will rock your shoes” (referring to break beats in Hip Hop music). The track is recorded at Greene Street Recording Studios in New York City with musicians Jimmy Bralower (drums, percussion), Tom “T-Bone Wolk (bass) (Hall & Oates), John Tropea (guitar), J.B. Moore (electric piano), Denzil Miller (piano, clavinet), and Jamie Delgado (timbales). Released in the Spring of 1980, "The Breaks” creates an immediate sensation at street level, which like The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” only months before, goes overground very quickly. “The Breaks” peaks at #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, #9 on the Club Play chart and #87 on the Hot 100. With the overwhelming majority of its sales on the 12" single containing the full 7:41 track, it sells over 500,000 copies in the US, becoming only the second 12" in history to be officially certified Gold by the RIAA. “The Breaks” becomes one of the definitive songs of Hip Hop and a pop cultural touchstone, helping to popularize and bring the culture to a worldwide audience. In later years, the song is sampled, interpolated and referred to in other songs. Kurtis Blow’s original version is featured in the video games “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City”, “True Crime: New York City”, “Scarface: The World Is Yours” and “Dance Central 2”. “The Breaks” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 25, 1966 – “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” by Dusty Springfield is released. Written by Pino Donaggio, Vito Pallavicini, Vicki Wickham and Simon Napier-Bell, it is the ninth single release and biggest hit for the pop vocalist from London, UK. Since making her solo debut in late 1963, Dusty Springfield places one hit after another. In January of 1965, she appears at the Italian Song Festival in San Remo, performing “Tu Che Ne Sai?” (English: “What Do You Know?”). Though not qualifying for the final competition, Springfield hears “Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)” (English: “I, Who Can’t Live (Without You)”, sung by Pino Donaggio and US singer Jody Miller. Though Dusty doesn’t understand the Italian lyrics, it moves her to tears. Acquiring an acetate copy of demo, Springfield waits more than year to record it. In the meantime, Donaggio records “Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)” for the film Vaghe stelle dell’Orsa. His version hits #1 in Italy in March of 1965. In early 1966, Dusty decides it’s time to record the song. On March 9, 1966, the track produced by Johnny Franz and arranged by Ivor Raymonde, is recorded at Philips Records’ Studios in London. Needing English lyrics, Springfield turns to her friend Vicki Wickham, the producer of the music series Ready Steady Go!, and her manager Simon Napier-Bell (The Yardbirds, Wham!) for help. While having dinner together, the pair agree to pen the lyrics. They come up with a chorus and first verse lyric, riding in the back a taxi. Wickham and Bell later go back to the her flat to finish it. But with neither understanding the original Italian lyrics, they devise a concept on their own. They set out to write an “anti-love song” originally titled “I Don’t Love You”. They change it to “You Don’t Love Me”, then to “You Don’t Have to Love Me”. It’s finally adjusted to “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”, to fit the melody. Springfield records her vocal the next day on March 10, 1966. Unhappy with the acoustics in the vocal booth, she sings in the outer stairwell. Ever the perfectionist, Dusty records forty seven takes before she’s finally satisfied. Released in the UK on March 25, 1966, “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” leaps to number one on April 28, 1966, becoming her lone chart topper in her home country. Issued by Philips Records in the US after its UK release, it becomes a smash. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #76 on May 21, 1966, it peaks at #4 eight weeks later on July 16, 1966, becoming her highest charting single in the US. Becoming a pop standard, “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” is covered by Elvis Presley, Robert Goulet, Vic Damone, Lynn Anderson, Cher, Tom Jones, Luis Miguel, Taylor Dayne, and Clay Aiken to name a few. Though Dusty Springfield’s recording is still regarded as the definitive version of the song.

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On this day in music history: April 24, 1989 – “Full Moon Fever”, the first solo album by Tom Petty is released. Produced by Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Mike Campbell, it is recorded at M.C. Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Rumbo Recorders in Canoga Park, CA, Sunset Sound Studios, Conway Studios in Hollywood, CA, Devonshire Studios in North Hollywood, CA and Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA from Late 1987 – Mid 1988. After releasing The Heartbreakers’ album “Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough)” in the Spring of 1987, Tom Petty decides to record an album on his own. When he tells his bandmates, it causes tension among them. Drummer Stan Lynch is especially vocal about his displeasure. Petty moves ahead with the project anyway, with guitarist Mike Campbell assisting. To co-produce the album, Tom hires Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne. At the start of recording, the songs are written in Campbell’s garage studio, with the album having a working title of “Songs From The Garage”. Petty, Campbell, Lynne and drummer Phil Jones (Waddy Wachtel), play most of the instruments. Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench and bassist Howie Epstein also contribute. Later in the recording, they are joined by George Harrison, Roy Orbison and Jim Keltner, whom Petty and Lynne have worked with on The Traveling Wilburys album. Tom presents then the finished solo album to his label. In spite of a string of Gold and Platinum selling albums, Tom Petty has had a strained relationship with MCA Records. After playing it for then label boss Irving Azoff, the executive tells Petty he “doesn’t hear any singles” and refuses to release it. Shocked by the reception he receives, Tom goes back and records two more songs, then waits. By 1989, Azoff has left MCA to start his own label Giant Records, and Petty resubmits the album now called “Full Moon Fever”, to the new regime. This time, they love it and put it out immediately. Led by the single “I Won’t Back Down” (#12 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock), “Fever” receives a rapturous response from fans. It spins off four more singles including “Runnin’ Down A Dream” (#23 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock), “Free Fallin’ (#7 Pop, #17 AC), and "A Face In The Crowd” (#46 Pop, #5 Mainstream Rock). “Full Moon Fever” becomes the biggest selling studio album of Tom Petty’s career. The original CD release contains a brief spoken monologue, hidden in the gap between tracks five and six. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2016, as an SHM-CD by Universal Japan. Only given a limited pressing on vinyl in 1989, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP also in 2016, as part of the box set “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – The Complete Studio Albums Volume 1 (1976-1991)”. “Full Moon Fever” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 24, 1980 – “Cameosis”, the fifth album by Cameo is released. Produced by Larry Blackmon, it is recorded at H&L Studios in Englewood Cliffs, NJ in Late 1979. Riding high off of the success of their fourth album “Secret Omen” and the back to back hits “I Just Want To Be” (#3 R&B) and “Sparkle” (#10 R&B), Cameo quickly return to the studio in the Fall of 1979 to record the follow up. The resulting album sees nine piece R&B/Funk band enjoying their first taste of pop crossover success, and becomes their best seller to date. It spins off two singles including “We’re Goin’ Out Tonight” (#11 R&B) and “Shake Your Pants” (#10 R&B). The album also marks the final appearance of vocalist Wayne Cooper, whose distinctive falsetto vocals are heard on several of Cameo’s hits (including the two singles from “Cameosis”), leaving the band after the albums release for an abortive attempt at a solo career. Cooper passes away in 1984 at the age of 28. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1996. “Cameosis” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number twenty five on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 22, 1985 – “Around The World In A Day”, the seventh studio album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at the Flying Cloud Warehouse in Eden Prairie, MN, Mobile Audio Studio, St. Paul, MN, Sunset Sound and Capitol Studios in Hollywood, CA from January – December 1984. The second album credited to Prince & The Revolution, it is issued only ten months after “Purple Rain”. Though Warner Bros wants Prince to continue to tour in support of his hugely successful album, to maximize its sales worldwide, Prince has other ideas. Bored with touring, the musician insists that his next album be released as soon as the last single from the previous album falls from the charts. The new album is the first in a number of musical departures that Prince takes in his career. Much of the albums first half has a distinctively psychedelic influence, with the rest being balanced out with funk, pop and gospel sounds. Initially it is released with minimal publicity and without a single until nearly a month later. Prince suggests that “Paisley Park” be the first single (which is released in the UK), but with US radio already giving “Raspberry Beret” heavy airplay as an LP cut, Warner Bros in the US insists that it be issued instead. The album receives favorable reviews, and a positive reaction from fans. It spins off three singles including “Raspberry Beret” (#2 Pop) and “Pop Life” (#7 Pop). The initial CD packaging of the album comes in a three panel cardboard long box that unfolds (showing the song lyrics, like the LP’s inner gatefold) with the actual CD inside of a mini cardboard sleeve (of the album cover artwork), inserted into a slot inside the longbox. This packaging is discontinued after the initial press run, and the CD comes in a regular jewel case on subsequent re-pressings. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued in September of 2016, replicating the original LP packaging and the “Balloon Boy” hype sticker. “Around The World In A Day” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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