Born on this day: September 5, 1946 – Singer, songwriter and musician Freddie Mercury of the legendary rock band Queen (born Farrokh Bulsara in Stone Town, Zanizbar, East Africa). Happy Birthday to this rock music icon on what would have been his 73rd Birthday.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1974 – “Dancing Machine”, the eighth album by The Jackson 5ive is released. Produced by Hal Davis, it is recorded at Motown Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from April – May 1973, June 1973 – July 1974. The album includes the smash title track (#1 R&B, #2 Pop), and spins off two other singles, including “Whatever You Got, I Want” (#38 Pop, #3 R&B) and “I Am Love” (#5 R&B, #15 Pop). The title track “Dancing Machine” originates on the groups previous album “Get It Together” but is remixed and edited when it becomes a popular LP cut, and is later released as a single. The albums third single “I Am Love” also receives significant play in clubs at the time of its release. The simmering seven and a half minute long track features a slow almost ballad like intro for the first half of the song, before exploding into an uptempo funk/rock groove, which creates a sensation on the dance floor. In time, “Love” is regarded as a seminal track in the genre of what becomes known as “proto-disco”. The success of the album pulls the group out of the slump they experienced during the previous two years, though it makes them hungry to take more creative control of their music and career, resulting in their exit from Motown in 1975 for Epic Records.“Dancing Machine” peaks at number sixteen on the Billboard Top 200, though oddly does not chart on the R&B album chart.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1973 – “Buckingham Nicks”, the sole album by Buckingham Nicks is released. Produced by Keith Olsen, it is recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA from Early – Mid 1973. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks meet while both were high school students in Atherton, CA. They become romantically involved and musical collaborators in the band Fritz. Both eventually drop out of college, moving to L.A. to pursue their mutual goal of making it in music business. Taking odd jobs to support themselves, Lindsey and Stevie begin recording demos of their songs, when not long after they meet recording engineer and producer Keith Olsen of Sound City Studios. Olsen take the duo under his wing, living in his home for a time with Nicks working as Olsen’s housekeeper. They also meet Ted Feigan and Lee LaSeffe who shop the pairs demos around and secure them a deal with Polydor Records. The album is recorded with a number of top L.A. studio musicians including Jim Keltner (drums), Jerry Scheff (bass) Jorge Calderón (percussion) and Waddy Wachtel (guitars). Despite high hopes for its success, Polydor does very little to promote it. The project is a commercial flop and the duo are dropped from the label. Disappointed by the failure, the duo resume working day jobs to get by. A little more than a year after, fate intervenes when Mick Fleetwood is in town looking for a studio to record Fleetwood Mac’s next album. While at Sound City, Keith Olsen plays the track “Cryin’ In The Night” from Buckingham Nicks’ album to demonstrate the recording console. Very impressed by what he hears, Fleetwood asks Lindsey to join the band. Buckingham agrees, but only if Mick takes Stevie as a member also. He consents, and the pair officially join Fleetwood Mac on New Years Day of 1975. The song “Crystal” from the duos album is re-recorded and featured on their first album with Fleetwood Mac. With their rise to stardom in Fleetwood Mac, fans discover the “Buckingham Nicks” album, turning it into a cult classic. Never charting on the Billboard Top 200, it charts only briefly on Billboards Catalog (#28) and Midline LP charts (#43) in 1983 after the release of Fleetwood Mac’s “Mirage”, before going out of print. To date, there has never been an official CD release, though it has been widely bootlegged, with as many as an additional dozen unreleased tracks surface. A demo recording of “Without You” from the sessions is released on Apple iTunes April of 2013, “Stephanie” (on a promo CD from Buckingham titled “Words and Music (A Retrospective)” in 1992) and “Long Distance Winner” (on Nicks’ “Enchanted” box set), presently remain the only officially sanctioned releases associated with the album to date, though talk continues about an official reissue of the original album.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1967 – The Beatles begin recording “I Am The Walrus” at Abbey Road Studios in London in Studio One. Written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon – McCartney), the finished song is a combination of three others that Lennon had been working on. Inspired while tripping on acid, Lennon incorporates imagery from the Lewis Carroll poem “The Walrus And The Carpenter” (taken from the book “Through The Looking-Glass”), only later realizing the author was making a comment on capitalism and that the walrus is actually the villain of the story. When The Beatles begin work on the song, it is their first time back in the studio following the death of their manager Brian Epstein. The song becomes a centerpiece of the “Magical Mystery Tour” television film and album (initially released in the UK as a double 7” EP set). The band are accompanied on the track by an orchestra and choir (The Mike Sammes Singers) arranged by producer George Martin. When the song reaches the mixing stage, Lennon will come up with the idea of incorporating live radio feed from a BBC broadcast Shakepeare’s “King Lear” (Act IV, Scene VI). During one of the mono mixes, the broadcast is included in the mix. However, this causes a minor problem when it comes to the stereo mix. Since the mix with the King Lear dialogue was mixed only in mono, a “fake stereo” mix have to be fabricated from that portion of the mono mix. “I Am The Walrus” also appears on the B-side of “Hello Goodbye” when it is released as a single on November 24, 1967. The US 45 released by Capitol Records includes an extra instrumental passage between the third and fourth verses of the song. This part is edited out of all other released versions of the song. ”I Am The Walrus” peaks at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 23, 1967.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1964 – “House Of The Rising Sun” by The Animals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Traditional: Arranged by Alan Price, it is the first and biggest hit for the Newcastle, UK based band. The song is a remake of a folk ballad (the original writer is unknown) that is believed to date back to eighteenth century England. British immigrants brought the song to America where its lyrics about being set in New Orleans were incorporated into the song. The song becomes a part of many folk musicians repertoires with versions recorded by Woody Guthrie, Glenn Yarborough, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan. Its hit potential is realized after the enthusiastic response it receives when The Animals play it live while touring the UK as Chuck Berry’s opening act. The band take a day off the tour, flying down to London from Liverpool to cut the track. Recorded at Kingsway Studios (later renamed De Lane Lea Studios) in London in just one take on May 18, 1964. The song is given a stunning and dramatic re-arrangement (credited to keyboardist Alan Price, but actually all of the members participated in its creation) which turns it into an instant classic. Clocking in at four and a half minutes, it is initially considered too long for radio airplay and the bands UK label (EMI Records’ Columbia label) are hesitant to release it as a single. Producer Mickie Most convinces them to issue it, and the record takes off immediately. An edited version (clocking in at 2:58) is released by MGM Records when it is picked up for US release. Entering the Hot 100 at #60 on August 8, 1964, it vaults to the top of the chart just four weeks later. Regarded by many as the definitive recording of the song, “Sun” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. “House Of The Rising Sun” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1985 – “Party All The Time” by Eddie Murphy is released. Written and produced by Rick James, it is the third single release and biggest hit for the comedian and actor from New York City. By 1985, comedian Eddie Murphy has become a huge star. First conquering the small screen on Saturday Night Live, he rescues it from cancellation at the beginning of the 80’s. Murphy then tapes the iconic HBO comedy concert “Delirious” in 1983, and the album “Eddie Murphy: Comedian”, earning him a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Recording. At the same time, his film career explodes with the huge box office hits “48 Hours”, “Trading Places” and “Beverly Hills Cop”. Though renowned for his impressions of music icons like Stevie Wonder, James Brown and Elvis Presley, people are taken aback when Eddie decides to record a non-comedy music album. Though many actors have tried and failed to make music, Murphy’s label Columbia Records give the thumbs up to make an album. Eddie calls out to several high profile musical friends including Lionel Richie and Prince. When both are too busy to participate, Murphy calls Stevie Wonder and Rick James, who both help with the album. Eddie and his crew (including older brother Charlie Murphy), fly out to Rick’s hometown of Buffalo, NY, recording in his studio dubbed “The Joint”. Rick comes up with the up tempo “Party All The Time” for Eddie. Initially, the comedian is only supposed to be in Buffalo for one day. However fate has other plans, when a late winter blizzard snows them in for a week. When the album titled “How Could It Be” is released, critics are harsh in their assessment Murphy’s attempts at singing. Though much of the snark and cynicism falls away, when “Party All The Time” becomes a legitimate hit. Entering the Billboard R&B singles chart at #90 on September 14, 1985 and at #82 on the Hot 100 on October 5, 1985, “Party” races up the charts. The single peaks at #8 on the R&B singles chart on November 23, 1985, #19 on the Club Play chart, and #2 on the Hot 100 on December 28, 1985. “Party” holds the runner up position on the pop singles chart for three weeks, but is unable to dislodge Lionel Richie’s monster hit “Say You, Say Me” from the top spot. The success of the million selling single also propels the album to Gold status Eddie Murphy’s later vocal albums “So Happy” (1989) and “Love’s Alright” (1992), are much less successful. In later years, “Party All The Time” makes the infamous Blender Magazine list of the “50 Worst Songs of All-Time”, coming in at number seven. Murphy last resurfaced on the music front in 2013, with the reggae flavored single “Red Light” featuring Snoop Dogg (digital release only). He is also working on a new album, though it has yet to be released. “Party All The Time” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1982 – “It’s Hard”, the tenth album by The Who is released. Produced by Glyn Johns, it is recorded at Turn Up-Down Studio in Surrey, UK in June 1982. Recorded at producer/engineer Johns home studio, “It’s Hard” is The Who’s last album of new studio material for twenty four years. Though their previous album “Face Dances” is commercially successful, the band members are divided on the material composed by Townshend. During the period that follows, Pete is still struggling with alcohol and substance abuse which has reached a crisis point. Taking a much needed hiatus, Townshend receives treatment from Dr. Meg Patterson to overcome his drinking and drug problems. Newly sober, Townshend comes to band rehearsals with only two new songs ready. Taking inspiration from The Clash, Pete writes a number of songs taking on political issues and his struggles with addiction, most notably in “"I’ve Known No War”, “One Life’s Enough”, and “Eminence Front” (#5 Mainstream Rock). The album receives a glowing review from Rolling Stone magazine upon its release, though some critics and fans are not as receptive to the shift away from their classic “arena rock” sound, that saw them at the peak of their success in the 70’s. Lead singer Roger Daltrey is also later critical of the album, stating “it should never have been released. I had huge rows with Pete…”, and “the record company wanted a record out and they wanted us to do a tour”. It spins off two singles including “Athena” (#28 Pop, #3 Mainstream Rock). The band support the album with a “farewell tour” in the Fall of 1982/Winter 1983. When it is reissued on CD in 1997, it is dramatically remixed from its original release, which is most noticeable on the albums two singles which featured an odd off centered placement of the vocals in the original mixes. The reissue also includes four live bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP, by Polydor/Geffen/UMe in 2015. The same year, “Eminence Front” is featured prominently in a television ad campaign for Chevrolet pick up trucks. The song is also featured in the film version of the hit HBO series “Entourage” also in 2015. “It’s Hard” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1982 – “Abracadabra” by the Steve Miller Band hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks (non-consecutive). Written by Steve Miller, it is the third and final number one single for the Milwaukee, WI born guitarist. The title track from Miller’s twelfth album, it marks the return to pop commercial success for the veteran musician. After the back to back successes of “Fly Like An Eagle” and “Book Of Dreams” in 1976 and 1977, Miller takes a four year hiatus from the music business, leaving his longtime home base of San Francisco, CA for a spread in rural Oregon. He returns in 1981 with the album “Circle Of Love” which sells poorly and garners little radio support. Quickly rebounding to the tight, melodically driven pop/rock that made him a superstar in the mid 70’s, Miller records the “Abracadabra” album in short order. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on May 29, 1982, it climbs to the top fourteen weeks later. “Abracadabra” spends one week at the top, then yields to Chicago’s “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” for 2 weeks, then regains its bullet, giving it enough upward chart momentum to retake the number one spot for an additional week. “Abracadabra” also hits number one in an additional five countries around the world. On October 30, 1982, it sets a Billboard chart record for the biggest drop out of US Top 10 when it falls from #10 to #48 in one week, leaving the chart entirely two weeks later. During the singles run on the charts, Capitol Records issues two different pressings of the single. The original press run (w/ the maroon Capitol label, some copies also packaged with a picture sleeve) feature the edited version of the song at a slightly faster speed than the full LP version. The second pressing (w/ the black rainbow color band Capitol label), features the same edited version, but with the track at the correct original speed and pitch. It is not known if the faster speed copies were pressed in error or not. “Abracadabra” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1982 – “Jump To It” by Aretha Franklin hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also peaking at #24 on the Hot 100 on October 9, 1982. Written by Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller, it is the eighteenth R&B chart topper for legendary “Queen Of Soul”. After a landmark stint at Atlantic Records which results in seventeen number one singles on the R&B chart, six chart topping albums and ten Grammy Awards, Aretha Franklin leaves the label in late 1979 when Clive Davis of Arista Records approaches her, wanting to restore the R&B icon to commercial prominence. Franklin’s first two albums for her new label, “Aretha” (1980) and “Love All The Hurt Away” (1981) both perform decently on the R&B charts, but are sales disappointments (in spite of the latter winning a Grammy Award in early 1982), moving between 300-350,000 copies each. During this time, Luther Vandross ascends to the top of the R&B charts with his debut album “Never Too Much”. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Vandross is asked what he wants to do next after his initial success. Luther replies, “I’d wrestle Bruno Sammartino for a chance to produce Aretha Franklin.” Clive Davis reads this, and phone Vandross, asking him if he’s serious about what he said. A huge fan of Aretha’s since his teenage years, Luther emphatically confirms his statement to Davis. Soon after, Franklin and Vandross talk on the phone, and agree to work together. While appearing as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” in February of 1982, Luther comes up with the idea for “Jump To It” with bassist Marcus Miller, with the pair writing the song quickly. Recorded with same musicians featured on “Never Too Much”, “Jump To It” also features a chorus of backing vocalists including Cissy Houston, Brenda White, Fonzi Thornton, Michelle Cobbs, Phillip Ballou, Tawatha Agee and Luther himself. Released in late June of 1982, “Jump To It” is an immediate hit on R&B radio, on club dance floors, and a solid hit on top 40 pop radio. The success of “Jump To It” gives Aretha Franklin her first number one R&B single and album in over six years, with the album achieving Gold status and earning a Grammy nomination.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1976 – “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the third US chart topper for the trio of brothers from the Isle Of Man, UK. Issued as the first single from the bands fourteenth album “Children Of The World”, the single and album mark a major turning point in the Bee Gees career. Having previously worked successfully with producer Arif Mardin on their comeback release “Main Course”, Mardin is not able to work with the group on the follow up, when the Bee Gees label RSO Records changes distribution from Atlantic Records to Polydor in 1976. Mardin is an Atlantic staff producer exclusively at the time and isn’t permitted to work with artists not on the label. Having gained experience from all they have learned about producing records from their mentor, the Bee Gees take over the production duties themselves with assistance from engineers Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson who become their co-producers. “You Should Be Dancing” is recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL in early 1976 with the Bee Gees band including Alan Kendall (lead guitar), Blue Weaver (keyboards), Dennis Bryon (drums), Joe Lala (percussion) along with Barry Gibb (rhythm guitar) and Maurice Gibb (bass). Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash happens to recording his album “Illegal Stills” in adjoining studio, also sits in on a session playing percussion. Entering the Hot 100 at #67 on July 4, 1976, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. A little more than a year after its release, “You Should Be Dancing” is featured prominently in the film “Saturday Night Fever” when it is used in an electrifying dance sequence featuring John Travolta, that is one of the films highlights. At the time of the singles original release, a slightly longer version of “Dancing” is issued as a promotional 12" single. Also featured on another promo 12" single issued to promote the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack in 1977, this mix finally sees its first commercial release in 1990 on the box set “Tales From The Brothers Gibb – A History In Song – 1967 – 1990”. The extended mix is also reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day in April of 2015, on a limited edition 12" single titled "Bee Gees: Extended EP". "You Should Be Dancing" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.