Category: pop

On this day in music history: June 17, 1987 – …

On this day in music history: June 17, 1987 – “Everlasting”, the eleventh studio album (twelfth overall) by Natalie Cole is released. Produced by Reggie Calloway, Vincent Calloway, Jerry Knight, Aaron Zigman, Dennis Lambert, Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Marcus Miller, Eddie Cole, Andy Goldmark and Bruce Roberts, it is recorded at Larrabee Sound Studios, Studio 55, Encore Studios, One On One Studios, Oh Henry Studios, Yamaha Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Soundcastle Studio Center, Image Recording Studios, Ocean Way Studios, Lion Share Studios in Hollywood, CA, Conway Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA, House Of Music in West Orange, NJ, Messina Music, 39th Street Music in New York City and 5th Floor Recording in Cincinnati, OH from Late 1986 – Mid 1987. Finally overcoming a years long addiction to drugs by the mid 80’s, Natalie Cole begins to rebuild her career in earnest. Though that is an uphill climb as Cole’s record sales have declined steadily since the turn of the decade. Wary of her reputation during the height of her substance abuse problems, many record labels are unwilling to sign her. However, Cole finds ardent supporters in music executives Gerry Griffith and Bruce Lundvall, at EMI imprint Manhattan Records. Looking to engineer a comeback for Natalie, they pair the singer with a host of top producers including Midnight Star members Reggie and Vincent Calloway, Dennis Lambert, Marcus Miller, and Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. Titled “Everlasting”, the first single is the up tempo groover “Jump Start” (#2 R&B, #13 Pop, #28 Club Play), written and produced by the Calloway brothers. It is an out of the box smash, sending out the word that Cole was back in a major way. The third single is a cover of the Bruce Springsteen rocker “Pink Cadillac” (#9 R&B, #5 Pop, #1 Club Play). Produced by veteran pop and R&B producer Dennis Lambert, it is given an effervescent and funky dance pop reinvention. It’s an even bigger hit, and Natalie Cole’s first top ten pop hit since “Our Love” in 1978. Also given a hot house flavored remix by Robert Clivilles and David Cole (aka C+C Music Factory), “Cadillac” also becomes a huge club hit, topping the Billboard dance chart. The album spins off two more singles including the ballad “I Live For Your Love” (#4 R&B, #13 Pop, #2 AC). and a cover of “When I Fall In Love” (#31 R&B, #95 Pop, #14 AC), originally made famous by her father Nat King Cole. “Everlasting” successfully re-starts Natalie Cole’s recording career, earning her first Gold album in nearly a decade. It begins one of the greatest “second acts” in music history, hitting its peak with the album “Unforgettable… With Love” in 1991. “Everlasting” peaks at number eight on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty two on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: June 17, 1985 – …

On this day in music history: June 17, 1985 – “Single Life”, the eleventh album by Cameo is released. Produced by Larry Blackmon, it is recorded at Quadraphonic Sound Studios in New York City from December 1984 – March 1985. Continuing to charge ahead after the success of the R&B chart topper “She’s Strange” and its namesake Gold album, Cameo head back into the studio in late 1984 to begin work on their next release. Having progressively evolved their sound since “Alligator Woman” in 1982, the band maintain their razor sharp funkiness while incorporating the latest musical technology into their sound. After the release of the previous album, guitarist Charlie Singleton steps away from Cameo as a full time member to pursue a solo career, but continues to contribute as a side man in the studio on subsequent albums. And though not an official member of the band, keyboardist Kevin Kendrick also becomes a significant force creatively. The first taste of Cameo’s next album comes with the funky mid tempo track “Attack Me With Your Love” (#3 R&B, #39 Club Play), co-written by band leader Larry Blackmon and Kendrick. Though technically not a concept album, many of the songs on “Single” center around the ins and outs of relationships. The title track “Single Life” (#2 R&B, #26 Club Play) is released as a single in September of 1985. It makes a pointed and timely statement about wanting an intensely passionate relationship, but remaining free to pursue other options. The song adds the ironic coda of the whistle from Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” (played as a hook on a synthesizer), to drive home the point of potential dangers of casually fooling around in the age of AIDS. “Life” is another R&B smash, and like its predecessor “She’s Strange” becomes a sizeable hit in the UK, hitting #15 on the charts and becoming their biggest hit to date there. It spins off a third single with the mellow, and melancholy “A Good-Bye” (#76 R&B). Issued as the B-side of the title track, the jazzy “I’ve Got Your Image” also becomes a favorite of Cameo fans both on record and when performed live. The success of “Single Life” helps set the stage for the worldwide success of the next album “Word Up”, just over a year later. “Single Life” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number sixty two on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: June 17, 1985 – …

On this day in music history: June 17, 1985 – “Crush”, the sixth studio album by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark is released. Produced by Stephen Hague and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, it is recorded at Amazon Studios in Liverpool, UK from Late 1984 – Spring 1985. Following the release their previous album “Junk Culture” and the singles “Tesla Girls” and “Locomotion”, OMD continue to move forward and evolve musically. The band ignore criticism from British music critics from New Musical Express and Melody Maker, blatantly thrashing it. The follow up “Crush” marks the beginning of a new musical direction for the Liverpudlian synth pop band. They consciously move away from their experimental electronic dance music of their previous work, towards a more accessible mainstream pop sound. It is the bands’ first album to be co-produced by Stephen Hague (The Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Erasure), and is aimed primarily at the US record market. It significantly increases their previously underground fan base in the US, giving them their first taste of mainstream success. The album spins off two singles including “Secret” (#63 Pop) and their first US top 40 hit “So In Love” (#26 Pop). “Crush” peaks at number thirteen on the UK album chart and number thirty eight on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: June 17, 1983 – …

On this day in music history: June 17, 1983 – “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” by Culture Club is released. Written by Michael Craig, Roy Hay, Jon Moss and George O’Dowd, it is the fifth US single release for the pop band from London, UK. A fixture on London’s downtown club scene since his teens, George O’Dowd (aka “Boy George”) forms Culture Club in 1981, after an on again off again stint singing with the band Bow Wow Wow. Signed to Virgin Records in 1982 after being previously rejected by EMI Records, they begin recording their debut album in the Spring of that year. One song written after the initial demos recorded by the band, is the bouncy and upbeat “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”. As Culture Club’s main lyricist, George’s words were often cryptic and ambiguous on the surface, often masking a deeper hidden meaning. In the case of “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”, it speaks of the singer’s ambition for his band to be “the next big thing”, and doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal. And like many other Culture Club songs, the lyrics are also squarely aimed at drummer Jon Moss, whose often tumultuous relationship with Boy George often provided inspiration. Ironically or not so ironically, the songs’ musical arrangement is a play on Bow Wow Wow’s drums of Burundi percussion heavy sound. Included on the bands’ debut album “Kissing To Be Clever”, “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” is released in the US and Canada as the follow up to “Time (Clock Of The Heart)” by Epic Records. It is not released in the UK or the rest of Europe, with Virgin having issued “Church Of The Poison Mind” instead in April of 1983. To promote “Tumble”, Culture Club film a music video for the song directed by Zelda Barron. Band members Mikey Craig, Roy Hay and Jon Moss actually take tap dance lessons for a scene in the clip, but the idea is scrapped and another sequence is filmed in its place. The video also features a cameo appearance by future super model Naomi Campbell, then twelve years old at the time, as a part of a tap dancing chorus line. The video becomes an immediate fixture on MTV during the Summer of 1983, and is another hit for the band. Entering the Hot 100 at #64 on July 2, 1983, it peaks at #9 on August 27, 1983, eight weeks later. Their third consecutive top ten hit, Culture Club are the first band since The Beatles to pull three top ten hits from a debut album in the US. Along with the original single version, “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” is remixed by Jon Moss and producer Steve Levine. It is released as a 12" single shortly after the 45, becoming a sizable club hit, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Club Play chart. “Tumble” is spoofed by musician Frank Zappa on the song “Tinsel-Town Rebellion” on the live album and concert video “Does Humor Belong In Music?” released in 1986. “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” is also later featured in the Adam Sandler film “Billy Madison” in 1995.

Born on this day: June 17, 1943 – Singer, song…

Born on this day: June 17, 1943 – Singer, songwriter, producer and musician Barry Manilow (born Barry Alan Pincus in Brooklyn, NY). Happy 75th Birthday, Barry!!

On this day in music history: June 17, 1978 – …

On this day in music history: June 17, 1978 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks, also peaking at #11 on the R&B singles chart on July 15, 1978. Written by Barry, Robin, Maurice and Andy Gibb, it is the third consecutive chart topper for the singer and songwriter from The Isle Of Man, UK. While his debut single “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” and the accompanying album “Flowing Rivers” are steadily climbing the charts in the US and abroad, singer Andy Gibb, with the assistance of his older brothers the Bee Gees begin work on his second album. All four brothers collaborate on “Shadow Dancing” while the Bee Gees are filming “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in L.A. in mid 1977. Recording begins at Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles, CA, with overdubs and final mixing completed at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL. Released as a single in April 1978, it becomes another smash for the youngest Gibb brother. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on April 15, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. At only twenty years old, Andy Gibb becomes the first solo artist in history to have his first three singles reach number one in the US, achieving this feat in just eleven months. The song is ranked the top single of 1978 by Billboard Magazine. "Shadow Dancing” is later used on the long running animated series “South Park”, in the episode “Tom’s Rhinoplasty” originally airing on February 11, 1998. The song humorously underscores a scene where the boys teacher Mr. Garrison is strutting down the street after having cosmetic surgery, that makes him look like actor David Hasselhoff. “Shadow Dancing” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: June 17, 1978 – …

On this day in music history: June 17, 1978 – Jefferson Starship play the second of two concerts at The Freilichtbühne Loreley (Loreley Open-Air Theatre) in St. Goarhausen, West Germany, when the gigs goes horribly wrong. Touring in support of their then latest album “Earth, on the first night (June 16, 1978), the band fails to appear, causing angry fans to ransack the stage. The second night is even more of a disaster, when lead singer Grace Slick shows up extremely drunk and belligerent. Slurring her words and singing off key throughout, she begins to berate the audience calling them "Nazis” and taunting them with the phrase “who won the war?”. The incident touches off a riot, with the enraged audience causing over a million dollars in damage to the venue (which ironically had been originally constructed just prior to World War II by The Third Reich for cultural events) and the bands equipment. Highly embarrassed by her actions, Slick voluntarily quits the band, not returning until early 1981 when Jefferson Starship records their album “Modern Times”.

On this day in music history: June 17, 1966 – …

On this day in music history: June 17, 1966 – “Bus Stop” by The Hollies is released (US release date is on July 8, 1966). Written by Graham Gouldman, it is the twelfth single release (ninth US) for the pop band from Manchester, UK. Formed in 1962 by childhood friends Allan Clarke and Graham Nash, The Hollies is an outgrowth of the pair having begun as a duo years earlier during the skiffle craze that has swept England during the late 50’s. Naming themselves in tribute to musical hero Buddy Holly, the bands line up is solidified by 1963, and also includes Eric Haydock (bass), Tony Hicks (lead guitar) and Bobby Elliott (drums). The Hollies are signed to EMI subsidiary Parlophone Records after being seen at the Cavern Club in Liverpool by Ron Richards, who also becomes their producer. The band score ten top twenty hits in the UK over the next two years, but are barely able to make a dent in the US charts. That changes in late 1965 with the release of “Look Through Any Window” (#4 UK, #32 US Pop), penned by songwriter and future 10cc bassist Graham Gouldman. It is the then nineteen year old Gouldman that writes The Hollies first major American hit. The initial idea for what becomes “Bus Stop” comes while Graham is riding the No. 95 bus from his day job at a men’s outfitters, back to his family’s home in Broughton Park, Salford. Already having the title, he tells his playwright father Hyme about his idea. Mr. Gouldman comes up with the songs opening line “bus stop, wet day, she’s there I say, please share my umbrella”. Inspired by his father’s words, much of the rest of the song falls into place quickly. Graham writes the songs middle eight section, while riding the bus on the same route to work the next day. A short time later, Graham shows the song to The Hollies, who immediately agree to record it. “Bus Stop” is recorded at Abbey Road Studios (Studio Three) in London on May 18, 1966, with the band cutting the final version within an hour and fifteen minutes. Released in the UK first, “Bus Stop” is an immediate smash, climbing to #5 on the singles chart. Issued three weeks later by The Hollies American label Imperial Records, it becomes their big breakthrough hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #98 on July 23, 1966, it peaks at #5 on September 17, 1966, matching its UK chart peak. The success of “Bus Stop” not only continues their run of hits in their home country, but also paving the way to their success on a worldwide basis. The song is also covered by Herman’s Hermits, Gene Pitney, The Classics IV, and Material Issue who record it for The Hollies tribute album “Sing Hollies In Reverse” in 1995.

On this day in music history: June 16, 1990 – …

On this day in music history: June 16, 1990 – “Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)” by Quincy Jones Featuring Tevin Campbell hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #75 on the Hot 100 on the same date. Written by George Johnson, Louis Johnson and Siedah Garrett, it is the fourth R&B chart topper for the legendary producer, composer and arranger born Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr.. “Tomorrow” is originally composed as an instrumental by George and Louis Johnson, and included on The Brothers Johnson’s 1976 debut album “Look Out For #1”. During the recording of “Block”, Jones discovers the twelve year old singer from Waxahatchie, TX named Tevin Campbell. Impressed with the young singers vocal prowess, he searches for a song for him to record on the album. Jones asks singer/songwriter Siedah Garrett (also one of his proteges) to write lyrics for the previously instrumental “Tomorrow”. The song also features jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright performing the sax solo. Issued as the third single from producer/arranger Quincy Jones’ album “Back On The Block”, in March of 1990, “Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)” is the third consecutive R&B chart topper from “Back On The Block”. The chart topping success of the song, is followed by Tevin Campbell beginning a successful recording career starting with his first album “T.E.V.I.N.” in 1991. Campbell also makes a cameo appearance in Prince’s third film “Graffiti Bridge”, performing the hit single “Round And Round”, written and produced by the superstar musician.

On this day in music history: June 16, 1990 – …

On this day in music history: June 16, 1990 – “It Must Have Been Love” by Roxette hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Per Gessle, it is the third US chart topping single for the pop music duo from Halmstad, Sweden. Two years before Roxette make their breakthrough in the US with their first number one single “The Look” and the album “Look Sharp”, they are still making in roads to success across the European continent. With the German branch of their label EMI unable to secure airplay for their records in that country, an executive suggests that they record a holiday single to be released while the group are on a promotional tour of the country. Gessle writes “It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted)”, making reference to the ending of a relationship, and feelings of loneliness during the holiday in the wake of that break up. In the end, EMI Germany passes on releasing the song, but is released in Sweden where it becomes a top ten hit. In 1989, after Roxette hit the American charts in a major way with four back to back hits, they are asked to contribute a song for an upcoming film soundtrack. EMI Records executive Ron Fair is supervising the soundtrack for the film “Pretty Woman” along with Touchstone Pictures Senior VP of Music Chris Montan. They contact Per, asking him to write a song for the film. Gessle agrees, sending several demos, and their past recordings not released in the US. When Fair and Montan hear the original version of “It Must Have Been Love”, they know immediately they have found the right song for the film. Also playing it for director Garry Marshall, he re-edits the film in order for the song to be added to the soundtrack. Some minor changes are made to the original recording, including adding some new instrumentation, background vocals, and lead singer Marie Fredriksson changing the lyric “a hard Christmas day” to “a hard winter’s day”. With the film “Pretty Woman”, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere becoming a huge hit at the box office, the accompanying soundtrack follows suit. Released as the second single from the soundtrack on March 20, 1990, “Love” quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #67 on April 7, 1990, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The success of “It Must Have Been Love”, propels the “Pretty Woman” soundtrack to number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA. One of the most played singles on radio during the 90’s and 2000’s, “It Must Have Been Love” receives an award from the music publishing society BMI in 2014, for more than five million plays on radio since its release. “It Must Have Been Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.