Category: pop

On this day in music history: November 11, 1981 – “The Jacksons Live!” by The Jacksons is released. Produced by The Jacksons, it is recorded at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, NY, Providence Civic Center in Providence, RI, The Omni in Atlanta, GA, and Madison Square Garden in New York City on August 16, July 22, August 2, and August 18, 19, 1981. Recorded during their “Triumph Tour” of North America in 1981, the album is compiled from tour stops in Buffalo, NY, Providence, RI, Atlanta, GA and New York City, NY. The fourteen track two LP set includes live versions of Jacksons, Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson solo material. The Jacksons are backed by a solid rhythm section that includes Jonathan Moffett (drums), David Williams (guitar), Mike McKinney (bass), Bill Wolfer (keyboards), Alan “Funt” Prater, Broderick “Mac” McMorris, Cloris Grimes and Wesley Phillips (horns). The show is choreographed by Michael, Marlon and Jackie, and features visual illusions created by magician and illusionist Doug Henning. Many of the shows on the tour are professionally filmed for future use, but to date have never been legitimately released. Though clips from various performances have circulated as bootlegs among fans for many years. The tracks “Things I Do For You” b/w “Working Day And Night” are issued as a commercial single in February of 1982. The Jackson 5 medley titled “ Medley: a. I Want You Back, b. ABC, c. The Love You Save” (b/w the live performance version of “Rock With You”), is serviced as a promotional single to radio, and becomes an airplay favorite on R&B stations. The original vinyl LP comes packaged in a gatefold sleeve, with full color inner sleeves featuring various live performance photos of the group. Later vinyl re-pressings omit these custom sleeves, and the regular domestic CD reissue re-print these images inside the booklet in black & white rather than in color. To date, the album has yet to be reissued in any form by Sony Legacy. In spite of the original master tapes being remastered by Joseph Palmaccio nearly a decade before now. “The Jacksons Live!” peaks at number ten on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 11, 1978 – “C’est Chic”, the second album by Chic is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at The Power Station Studios in New York City from Mid – Late 1978. Buoyed by the success of their their Gold selling debut album, Chic returns to the studio in the Spring of 1978 to work on their sophomore release. With original lead vocalist Norma Jean Wright departing the band for a solo career, Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin become the lead voices for Chic. While working on their own album, Edwards and Rodgers also concurrently produce an album for Philadelphia based family group Sister Sledge after Atlantic Records executives let them choose whatever act on the company roster they want to work with. The song “He’s The Greatest Dancer”, originally intended to go on Chic’s album is given to Sister Sledge, while “I Want Your Love” (#5 R&B, #7 Pop) written with the intent of giving it to the Sledges, is instead placed on “C’est Chic”. The albums’ cornerstone track, “Le Freak” (#1 Pop and R&B) is inspired by an incident at the legendary Studio 54 disco on New Year’s Eve of 1977, when the producers are invited by singer Grace Jones to discuss working with her. Edwards and Rodgers are met with the club’s infamous “velvet rope” door policy and are not admitted. They instead go to Nile’s apartment around the corner, and begin jamming on a riff that starts with the refrain “ahhh, f*** off!!!, which evolves into “ahhh, freak out!!” With “Le Freak” being issued as the lead single, the album quickly takes off, becoming Chic’s biggest seller and today is regarded as a landmark album of the Disco Era. The front and back cover photos are taken by legendary photographer Joel Brodsky (The Doors, Ohio Players, Funkadelic). Beyond the albums’ two hit singles, the lead track “Chic Cheer” also becomes a dance floor favorite, later being sampled on singer Faith Evans’ hit “Love Like This” in 1998 and on Fatman Scoop’s “Be Faithful”. Originally issued on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued by Warner Japan in 1998, packaged in a mini-LP sleeve (w/ HDCD encoding). Out of print on vinyl for nearly thirty years, the album is  reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2013. The album is remastered again, by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios. It’s reissued as part of the box set “The Chic Organization: 1977 -1979” as a five CD, or four LP + 12” single half speed mastered vinyl set, on November 23, 2018. The vinyl edition is also issued separately, coming with an OBI strip detailing the half-speed mastering process. “C’est Chic” spends eleven weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number four on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 11, 1978 – “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #21 on the Hot 100 on December 23, 1978. Written by Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson, it is the first solo chart topper for the lead singer of the R&B band Rufus. After recording five albums with Rufus, Chaka Khan begins work on her first solo album with producer Arif Mardin (Aretha Franklin, Average White Band, the Bee Gees) in early 1978. While searching for material to record, Mardin finds the song “I’m Every Woman”, written by Ashford & Simpson, who Khan had recently collaborated with on Quincy Jones’ R&B chart topper “Stuff Like That”. The husband and wife duo play the demo for Mardin off of an acetate disc they had recorded some years before. The producer writes out the chord changes and lyrics, before coming up with a new arrangement. Recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City, the track features musicians such as AWB members Steve Ferrone (drums), Hamish Stuart and Onnie McIntyre (guitars and background vocals), bassist Anthony Jackson, guitarist Phil Upchurch and keyboard player Richard Tee. An instant R&B radio and club classic upon its release in September of 1978, it also crosses over into the pop Top 30 before the end of the year. Whitney Houston covers “Woman” (#4 Pop and R&B) for “The Bodyguard” soundtrack in 1992, and Khan makes a cameo appearance in the music video. “I’m Every Woman” is the first of three solo number one singles for Chaka Khan, with that single propelling the accompanying album “Chaka” to Gold status in the US.

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On this day in music history: November 11, 1978 – “MacArthur Park” by Donna Summer hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also peaking at #8 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Jimmy Webb, it is the first number one single for the legendary “Queen Of Disco”. The song is originally written in 1967 by songwriter Jimmy Webb (“Up, Up And Away”, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix”) for The Association, and is conceived as part of a side long cantata for the bands’ album “Birthday”. When The Association pass on recording the cantata, Webb excerpts “MacArthur Park” from the piece and record it with actor Richard Harris. His version, clocking in at a then unheard of 7:20, is a huge hit (#2 Pop) in spite of its length. Donna Summer records the song in 1978 as part of a seventeen and a half minute long suite for the fourth side of her double album “Live And More!”. Her medley consists of “MacArthur Park” as well as the songs “One Of A Kind” and “Heaven Knows” (the latter also being released as single in early 1979 (#4 Pop, #10 R&B). Edited down from its epic side long duration to a more radio friendly length, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on September 9, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. A few months later, Summer meets Webb while she is recording her next album “Bad Girls” in Hollywood. He takes her out to the parking lot, and shows her a brand new Ferrari he’s purchased, telling the singer with a big smile, “you bought me that!!”. “MacArthur Park” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 11, 1975 – “Gratitude”, the seventh album by Earth, Wind & Fire is released. Produced by Maurice White, Charles Stepney and Joe Wissert (live tracks), it is recorded in Chicago, IL, Los Angeles, CA, St. Louis, MO, Atlanta, GA, Boston, MA, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, and Washington DC from Late 1974 – Mid 1975 (live tracks) and Hollywood Sound, Wally Heider Studios in Hollywood, CA in June 1975 (studio tracks). Following their huge breakthrough success with “That’s The Way Of The World”, Columbia Records requests another album from the band for release in time for the 1975 Christmas holiday season. Not having enough time or new material written to record a brand new studio album, they begin recording their live shows. The finished album is a two LP set with three sides of live material and a fourth side with five new songs. It is also released with the lower list price of $7.98 ($8.98 cassette and 8-track) rather than the normal $11.98 or $12.98 price for a double album. It spins off the hits “Sing A Song” (#1 R&B, #5 Pop) and “Can’t Hide Love (#11 R&B, #39 Pop). "Gratitude” is regarded by many fans and critics as one of the best live recordings of all time. The album is remastered and reissued in 1999 on a standard redbook CD and single layer SACD. It is remastered again in 2011 for the box set “Earth, Wind & Fire – The Columbia Masters”, and in 2012 as a two disc high resolution Blu-Ray disc in Japan, replicating  the original album packaging in mini-LP form. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued by Friday Music in 2015, as a limited edition pressed on blue vinyl. Another LP reissue pressed on standard black vinyl is released by Sony Music also in 2015. “Gratitude” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, six weeks (non-consecutive) at the top of the R&B album chart, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 10, 1986 – “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live 1975-85” by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band is released. Produced by Jon Landau, Chuck Plotkin and Bruce Springsteen, it is recorded in various locations from October 18, 1975 – September 30, 1985. The first career spanning album to document Springsteen’s legendary live performances, it is released as a forty song compilation issued on five LP’s, three CD’s and three cassettes. The box set is compiled from a decades’ worth of live performances, and in response to fans persistent requests for a high quality release of that material, in the place of bootlegs. Sequenced mostly in chronological order, it begins in 1975 when Bruce Springsteen makes his commercial breakthrough with “Born To Run”, and ending with the “Born In The USA” tour in 1985. “Live 1975-85” ships over 1.5 million copies, setting a sales record for a multi-album set. The album spins off two singles including “War” (#8 Pop), and “Fire” (#46 Pop). The single release of “Fire” features the non-LP B-side “Incident On 57th Street”. Clocking in at 10:03, it is one of the longest tracks ever cut on to one side of a 7" single disc. The live compilation enters the Billboard Top 200 at #1, making it the first album since Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In The Key Of Life” achieved that feat in October of 1976. Originally released in a 12" x 12" box for all three configurations, the album is reissued on CD in 1997 in a 6" x 12" box with the booklet sized down in similar fashion, and in 2002 the packaging is reconfigured again with the three CD set being reduced to a jewel case sized box housed in an outer slip case. “Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Live 1975-85” debuts at number one on the Billboard Top 200, spending seven weeks at the top and is certified 13x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.

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On this day in music history: November 10, 1983 – “Rebel Yell”, the second album by Billy Idol is released. Produced by Keith Forsey, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City from Late 1982 – Early 1983. Following the success of the EP “Don’t Stop” and his self-titled debut release, Billy Idol returns to the studio with producer Keith Forsey to work on his second full length release. The inspiration for album’s title comes to Idol while attending a party with The Rolling Stones. Drinking “Rebel Yell” Kentucky bourbon, the singer thinks the name would make a good song title. When the recording sessions begin, many of the tracks are laid down using a Linn LM-1 drum machine to play the basic rhythm on the songs. Thommy Price, the drummer for the band Scandal is recording in an adjoining studio, and is invited by Idol and Stevens to add live drums to the album. Eventually Price leaves Scandal and join Idol’s band. The album is Idol’s most successful, with Idol (and or) guitarist Steve Stevens penning all of the songs. It spins off five hit singles including “Eyes Without A Face” (#4 Pop), “Flesh For Fantasy” (#29 Pop) and the title track (#46 Pop). The distinctive “ray gun” sound effects on Stevens’ guitar solo on the title track, are achieved by using a Lexicon PCM 41 digital delay processor plugged into the signal path on his guitar. Turning up the modulation on the device creates the machine gun like stutter effect, which is painstakingly punched in and edited while recording overdubs. Stevens simplifies the process later on, by using an actual plastic toy ray gun pointed at his guitar’s pickups. Original vinyl copies of “Rebel Yell” are issued with the standard blue and white Chrysalis labels, and with custom black labels with blue and white text. Also the vinyl LP release lists the album sides as “3” and “4”, instead of “1” and “2”. The LP copies are pressed with custom black labels with blue print, or stock blue and white Chrysalis labels. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1999 with five additional bonus tracks included. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2017. The album is issued as limited edition pressing on translucent blue vinyl, by the online site The Sound Of Vinyl in November of 2018, to commemorate the 35th anniversary of its original release. Another limited vinyl release, pressed on translucent red vinyl, is issued as an exclusive through retailer Urban Outfitters (limited to 1,000 copies) on November 2, 2018. “Rebel Yell” peaks at number six 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: November 10, 1980 – “The Jazz Singer – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Bob Gaudio, it is recorded at Arch Angel Studios, The Record Plant Mobile 3, Dawnbreaker Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Sunset Sound and Cherokee Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid 1979 – Early 1980. Issued as the soundtrack to the film starring Neil Diamond and Laurence Olivier, it is a contemporary remake of the 1927 film starring Al Jolson, the first motion picture to feature a synchronized soundtrack. While the film receives mixed reviews and tepid box office returns, like Diamond’s soundtrack for the ill-fated “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, the album is a huge success.  It spins off three singles including “Love On The Rocks” (#2 Pop), “America” (#8 Pop) and “Hello Again” (#6 Pop), becoming Neil Diamond’s biggest selling album. Originally released by Capitol Records in 1980, the rights to the soundtrack album revert to Diamond’s long time record label Columbia Records in 1996, when it is remastered and reissued on CD. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a limited 180 gram LP by Capitol Records in 2017, both to commemorate Neil Diamond’s 50th anniversary as a recording artist, and the 75th anniversary of Capitol Records. “The Jazz Singer – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” 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: November 10, 1979 – “Heartache Tonight” by the Eagles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bob Seger and J.D. Souther, it is the fifth chart topping single for the L.A. based rock band. After the huge critical and commercial triumph of the Eagles fifth studio album “Hotel California”, there is intense pressure put on the band by their record label, and by themselves to repeat that success. However, the grind of non stop touring and recording through the 70’s find the band exhausted and tapped out creatively. Looking for inspiration, Don Henley and Glenn Frey collaborate with fellow musicians outside of the band to get the creative juices flowing again. “Heartache Tonight” is written in a jam session at Glenn Frey’s house, when friend and fellow Detroit native Bob Seger comes to visit. The pair finish the song with mutual friend, musician and songwriter J.D. Souther and Frey’s band mate Don Henley. Issued as the first single from the band’s sixth album “The Long Run” on September 18, 1979, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #52 on October 6, 1979, streaking to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Heartache Tonight also wins the Eagles a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1980. "Heartache Tonight” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 10, 1978 – “Holy Ghost” by The Bar-Kays is released. Written by Henderson Thigpen, Eddie Marion and James Banks, it is the twentieth single release for the R&B/Funk band from Memphis, TN. Enjoying both triumph and enduring tragedy, The Bar-Kays are rightfully acknowledged as soul survivors. After the loss of Ronnie Caldwell, Phalon Jones, Carl Cunningham and Jimmy King, all of whom perish with singer Otis Redding in a plane crash in December of 1967, it initially seems that the band is over. However, bassist James Alexander who had been traveling on another plane, and trumpeter Ben Cauley, the lone survivor of the crash, rebuild The Bar-Kays with new members. The reformed band includes Harvey Henderson (saxophone), Michael Toles (guitar) Ronnie Gorden (organ), and Willie Hall (drums). Former Temprees vocalist Larry Dodson joins the band in 1970 becoming their lead singer. By 1975, Stax Records is in major trouble, due to mismanagement and a disastrous alliance with CBS Records, seals the venerable R&B label’s fate. In the Fall of that year, The Bar-Kays record several songs including a funky mid tempo groove titled “Holy Ghost”. Featuring Larry Dodson’s fiery lead vocals, a couple of versions are recorded. Before the album can be completed, Stax is involuntarily forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December 19, 1975, abruptly shuttered. All of its assets are then seized on January 12, 1976. Suddenly without a record label, The Bar-Kays are at loose ends, but quickly bounce back and are signed to Mercury Records, where they enjoy even greater success. Even with the demise of Stax Records, it makes a surprising re-dux, with The Bar-Kays as unlikely flag bearers. After Stax’s assets are liquidated, the label’s famed catalog eventually sees the light of day again. In 1978, Stax is purchased by Berkeley, CA based Fantasy Records. Going through the tapes, Fantasy discovers The Bar-Kays unfinished album (titled “Money Talks”) from 1975, completing it with outside studio musicians. Among those songs is “Holy Ghost”, released just before their third Mercury album “Light Of Life”. Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, “Holy Ghost” becomes an R&B smash, peaking at #9 on the Billboard R&B chart on Feburary 3, 1979. It out charts all three of the bands recent Mercury singles. Also released as an extended 12" single, it becomes a sensation on the dance floor in part due to its extended timbale break. That breakdown also becomes a favored break beat by Hip Hop DJ’s, and becomes a crate staple. The song and the band are also name checked on The Sugarhill Gang’s classic “Rapper’s Delight” later in 1979. It’s also sampled on M/A/R/R/S’ classic “Pump Up The Volume”, the Beastie Boys “Hey Ladies” and Def Jef’s “Give It Here” to name a few.

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