On this day in music history: November 30, 1986 – “In Your Face”, the full length debut album by Fishbone is released. Produced by David Kahne, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA, Ocean Way Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA from June – September 1986. Having found success with their self-titled EP released in September of 1985, Columbia Records options a full album from Fishbone. Working once again with producer David Kahne, the L.A. based band write all of the material on their full length debut, drawing on all of their musical influences from funk and R&B, to ska and punk rock. Fishbone’s musical versatility along with their over the top energy and wry sense of humor produce another solid set. However, with CBS Records unsure of how to properly market the band, and with radio’s propensity to segregate artists based on color and musical style, the album largely falls through the cracks and fails to reach a wide audience. In spite of this, Fishbone continue to build a loyal following in part by landing a spot as the opening act for then label mates the Beastie Boys in early 1987, who are touring in support of their hugely successful album “Licensed To Ill”. “Face” spins off two singles including “It’s A Wonderful Life (Gonna Have A Good Time)” and “When Problems Arise”. The latter is accompanied by a memorable music video by Saturday Night Live short film director Gary Weis and choreographer Toni Basil. The album’s cover artwork features close up photos of the band on the front and back (taken by photographer John Scarpati). The original LP release features the artist, title graphics, track listing and a UPC barcode on both sides, making it difficult for fans and record store retailers to tell which side is the front and which is the back. Though it does include a “Parental Advisory” sticker on the outer shrinkwrap of the sleeve, indicating it is the front side. “In Your Face” does not chart on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 23, 1979 – “Metal Box”, the second album by Public Image Ltd. is released. Produced by Public Image Limited, it is recorded at The Manor Studios in Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxfordshire, UK, The Townhouse Studios, Advision Studios, Gooseberry Sound Studios, and Rollerball Rehearsal Studios in London from March – October 1979. The initial release (60,000 copies) is pressed on three 12" singles mastered at 45 RPM and packaged in a metal 16mm film can embossed with the band’s logo. However, because of the expensive packaging and the records themselves are susceptible to damage (during shipping and removal from the can). Over time, the film cans also have a tendency to oxide and rust, if they are not stored in a cool, dry place. The LP is reissued in February 1980 as “Second Edition” on two LP’s packaged in a gatefold sleeve. The album is regarded as a landmark release of the post punk era. During the 90’s, it is also reissued in a miniature replica film can for some CD releases of the album. “Metal Box” peaks at number eighteen on the UK album chart, and number one hundred seventy one on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 18, 1985 – “Psychocandy”, the debut album by The Jesus And Mary Chain is released. Produced by The Jesus And Mary Chain, it is recorded at Southern Studios in Wood Green, London, UK from Early – Mid 1985. Formed in their hometown of East Kilbride, Scotland in 1980, brothers Jim and William Reid originally call themselves The Poppy Seeds, then Death By Joey before changing their name to The Jesus And Mary Chain in 1983. Purchasing a Tascam Portastudio, the brothers begin recording demos of the songs they’ve written, and begin sending them out to record labels in the UK. By early 1984, they recruit band members Douglas Hart (bass) and Murray Danglish (drums) (later replaced by Bobby Gillespie) to fill out the line up. The band are signed to indie label Creation Records by its founder Alan McGee and release the single “Upside Down” in late 1984. The record hits number one on the UK indie singles chart, but The Jesus And Mary Chain’s tenure at Creation is brief. In early 1985, they are quickly signed to WEA International distributed Blanco y Negro Records, and to the newly revived Warner Bros. subsidiary Reprise Records in the US. The bands’ unique blend of psychedelic tinged pop, tempered with guitar feedback quickly establishes them as pioneers of what becomes known as the “shoegazer movement” and precursors of alternative rock. The album itself garners raves from critics (landing on many publications’ best of lists), and earning the band a devoted following. It will spin off four singles including “Never Understand” (#47 UK), “Some Candy Talking” (#13 UK) and “Just Like Honey” (#45 UK). “Honey” is later featured in the film “Lost In Translation” in 2003. After the original Reprise CD goes out of print, it is re-released by American Recordings in the US in 1994. Remastered and reissued as a DualDisc in 2006, “Psychocandy” is also reissued in September of 2011 as a double CD/+ DVD set with the second CD featuring the A and B-sides of their first single on Creation Records, single B-sides, radio sessions recorded by legendary DJ John Peel and the bands’ original Portastudio demos recorded in 1984 and 1985. The DVD features the original music videos, and several television performances. “Psychocandy” peaks at number forty five on the UK album chart, is certified Gold in the UK by the BPI, and peaks at number one hundred eighty eight on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 17, 1986 – “Infected”, the second album by The The is released. Produced by Warne Livesey, Matt Johnson, Roli Mosimann and Gary Langan, it is recorded at The Garden Studios in London from Early 1985 – Mid 1986. Following the critically acclaimed major label debut “Soul Mining” released in 1983, musician Matt Johnson the mastermind behind The The spends the next two and a half years writing and conceiving the follow up. The subject matter of the songs cover a number of topics and concerns including world politics (specifically the US military involvement in the Middle East), the social class status of Great Britain and interpersonal relationships. Matt Johnson co-produces the album with Warne Livesey best known for his work with Midnight Oil, along with Swiss born musician Roli Mosimann (That Petrol Emotion, New Order, Skinny Puppy) and recording engineer Gary Langan (Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ABC). Johnson is supported by a large group of established studio musicians and friends including Dan K. Brown (The Fixx) (bass), Guy Barker (trumpet), Bashiri Johnson (percussion), Steve Brown (bass), Judd Lander (harmonica), Tessa Niles (background vocals), Neneh Cherry (vocals), and Anne Dudley (The Art of Noise) (arranger). During the production of the album, Johnson and his manager Some Bizarre Records founder Stevo Pearce talk The The’s label into advancing them nearly $700,000 to film a series of music videos as a visual accompaniment to the album. Much to their surprise, the label gives them the money. The already ambitious project is kicked up another notch when Matt Johnson works with cutting edge and visionary directors including Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, Mark Romanek, and Tim Pope on the visuals. The clip for the title track “Infected” along with “Mercy Beat” are filmed on location in the Peruvian jungle of Iquitos in South America. The video for the title song is inspired by German director Werner Herzog’s surreal film “Fitzcarraldo”. The finished product is released as a long form video companion piece to the full length LP. The album is well received by fans and critics alike, becoming The The’s best selling album (selling more than a million copies worldwide), and is regarded as a Post Punk/Modern Rock classic. It spins off four singles in the UK including “Slow Train To Dawn” (#64 UK), “Heartland” (#29 UK), and “Sweet Bird Of Truth” (#88 UK). “Infected” peaks at number fourteen on the UK album chart, certified Gold in the UK by the BPI, peaking at number eighty nine on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: October 20, 1980 – “Boy”, the debut album by U2 is released. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it is recorded at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland from March – September 1980. The Irish rock band’s first album was originally to have been produced by Joy Division producer Martin Hannett, but he drops out of the project, still bereaved over the suicide of JD’s lead singer Ian Curtis. Many of the songs focus on the trials and tribulations experienced during adolescence. The album spins off two singles including “I Will Follow” which givea the Irish band a toehold in the US, peaking at #20 on the Mainstream Rock charts. They support the album by touring the UK and US. The original European release of the album features a photograph of a young Irish boy named Peter Rowen. He is the younger brother of Virgin Prunes vocalist “Guggi” (aka Derek Rowen), a childhood friend of lead singer Bono. Peter is also featured on the cover of several other U2 albums and singles over the years including on the cover of “War” in 1983. The original US LP cover instead includes a photo of the band when the American arm of Island Records fears the band will be accused of pedophilia by featuring a bare chested, waifish looking pre-pubescent child on the cover. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2008, with a deluxe boxed edition (issued in Europe and South America only) featuring a bonus with single edits, B-sides and live tracks. The set also comes packaged with a T-shirt featuring the original album cover photo printed on the front, and the members of U2 on the back. First released on CD in 1986, it is remastered and reissued in 2008. The US reissue is a two disc set with the first containing the original twelve song album. The second disc contains fourteen additional bonus tracks including alternate mixes, single edits and previously unreleased live performances. The UK release features the same track listing, with a limited edition set containing a T-shirt which is sold exclusively through HMV record stores in the UK. The album is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP the same year. “Boy” peaks at number sixty three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 12, 1981 – “October”, the second album by U2 is released. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas in April 1981 and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland from July – August 1981. Immediately after the end of the tour in support of their debut album “Boy”, U2 begin writing material for their sophomore release. The song “Fire” is actually written and recorded while the band are taking a break from their first tour, recording it at Island Records’ founder Chris Blackwell’s Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas. The remainder of the sessions take place over the Summer at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin. With Bono, the Edge and Larry Mullen, Jr. involved in the Shalom Fellowship, a Christian faith group that three members belong to, is influential in the songs written for the new album. With bassist Adam Clayton not sharing the same spiritual values as the other three, and with Bono, Edge and Larry torn between the “rock & roll lifestyle” they’re living and their faith, it threatens to tear the band apart. Having come from a family where his parents were Catholic and Protestant respectively, Bono is able to reconcile the differences between his religious beliefs and drive to be a successful musician after manager Paul McGuinness convinces him not to leave the band. U2 suffer another set back during the recording sessions when Bono loses a briefcase filled with lyrics for the in progress songs, leading him to largely improvise new ones during the two months it takes to complete the recording. The album is initially met with a mixed and decidedly less enthusiastic response than their debut “Boy”, and for many years is the lowest selling album of U2’s career. In later years, the transitional release is reassessed more favorably and is seen as the bridge to their next album “War” and beyond. It spins off two singles including “Fire” (#35 UK, #4 IRE) and “Gloria” (#55 UK, #10 IRE). In the US, the music video for “Gloria” is the first clip from U2 to receive significant airplay on MTV, which helps increase their exposure and growing fan base. “October” is remastered and reissued on CD in 2008, as a standard single disc, a deluxe two disc edition with the second CD containing live tracks and the songs “A Celebration”, “Trash, Trampoline and the Party Girl”, and “J. Swallo”, previously released on singles only. A remix of the track “Tomorrow” issued on the compilation album “Common Ground” is also included. “October” peaks at one hundred four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 10, 1995 – “Tragic Kingdom”, the third album by No Doubt is released. Produced by Matthew Wilder, it is recorded at Total Access Recording Studios in Redondo Beach, CA, The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA, Santa Monica Sound Recorders, Mars Recording, 4th Street Recording in Santa Monica, CA, NRG Studios, Clear Lake Audio in North Hollywood, CA, Rumbo Recorders in Canoga Park, CA, Grandmaster Recorders, North Vine Studios in Hollywood, CA and Red Zone Studios in Burbank, CA from March 1993 – October 1995. Following the commercial failure of their self-titled debut album released in early 1992, No Doubt take time to regroup and plan their next move. Eric Stefani (lead singer Gwen Stefani’s older brother, keyboardist and main songwriter) disillusioned with the indifference their first album is met with, remains a band member but begins to pursue other interests, going to work as an animator on the hit series “The Simpsons” before departing the band altogether in 1995. The bands label Interscope Records pairs them with producer Matthew Wilder (“Break My Stride”) to begin the process of recording their “make or break” album. During this time, Gwen and bassist Tony Kanal end their seven year relationship. Initially heartbroken over the split, it provides the singer with the inspiration for the lyrics of several songs that wind up on the finished album. No Doubt spends the better part of two and a half years working on and off on the album, finally finishing in the Fall of 1995. The title “Tragic Kingdom” is a wry word play on “The Magic Kingdom”, the other moniker for Disneyland in the bands home base of Anaheim, CA. Proceeded by the single “Just A Girl” (#23 Pop, #10 Modern Rock) featured prominently in the classic teen comedy “Clueless”, the album initially gets off to a slow start, not entering the chart until January of 1996. It’s only when the third single “Don’t Speak” is released to radio, that the album is propelled into orbit. “Speak” is not issued as a commercial single in the US, making it ineligible to chart on the Hot 100 (according to Billboard’s original chart criteria), but spends sixteen weeks at the top of the radio airplay chart. No Doubt tours exhaustively in support of the project, spending over two years on the road. The bands’ energetic live performances, led by Gwen Stefani’s charismatic and electric stage presence turn them into a top draw. They receive a pair of Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best Rock Album in 1997. “Don’t Speak” also receives Grammy nominations for Song Of The Year and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals in 1998. “Tragic Kingdom” spends nine weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 10x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.
On this day in music history: October 9, 1979 – “The Fine Art Of Surfacing”, the third album by The Boomtown Rats is released. Produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Phil Wainman, it is recorded at Phonogram Studios in Hilversum, NL in Early – Mid 1979. The album marks a departure from the Irish bands punk roots, showing even more diverse musical influences. Many of the albums songs are influenced by a trip that lead singer and bandleader Bob Geldof takes to the US to promote the band, prior to entering the studio to record “Surfacing”. It is anchored by the classic single “I Don’t Like Mondays” which is inspired by an incident at a San Diego elementary school on January 29, 1979, when a teen aged girl named Brenda Ann Spencer goes on a random shooting spree. In the melee, Spencer shoots eleven people, killing two and injuring nine. After Spencer is arrested for the crime, the authorities ask her why she did it, and Spencer is infamously quoted as saying “I don’t like Mondays” as her reason. The single is a smash in the UK and the bands native Ireland, hitting #1 both countries. It only peaks at #73 in the US, when it is banned from airplay by many radio stations over public shock from the senseless and violent incident. “The Fine Art Of Surfacing” peaks at number seven on the UK album chart, and number one hundred three on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: October 8, 1980 – “Remain In Light”, the fourth album by Talking Heads is released. Produced by Brian Eno, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in The Bahamas and Sigma Sound Studios in New York City from July – August 1980. The bands third and final collaboration with producer Brian Eno, many of the albums songs are inspired by experiments with African polyrhythms and recording the basic tracks in pieces then looping and editing the final results. Talking Heads also bring in outside musicians such as King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew and singer Nona Hendryx. The final product is a genre defying and innovative work that receives great praise from fans and critics alike. The albums distinctive cover artwork, features photos of the four band members with red computer rendered masks obscuring their faces (except for their eyes, noses, and mouths). The design is created by drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth in cooperation with Walter Bender from MIT (Massachusetts Institute Of Technology). The process involved in creating the computer generated rendering, proves to be very arduous and time consuming, due to the limited amount of computer memory available. It spins off two singles including the classic “Once In A Lifetime” (#103 Pop). In 2006, the album is remastered and reissued with four unfinished outtakes from the original recording sessions in 2006. The same year, it is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Rhino Records. “Remain In Light” peaks at number nineteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 1, 1984 – “Red Sails In The Sunset”, the fifth album by Midnight Oil is released. Produced by Nick Launay and Midnight Oil, it is recorded at Victor Aoyama Studio in Tokyo, Japan from June – August 1984. After the success of their breakthrough third album “10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1”, Midnight Oil work once again with producer and engineer Nick Launay (INXS). Being very socially conscious, many of the songs focus on concerns about the environment, politics, materialism, and the ever looming threat of nuclear war at the time. The latter concern is expressed in albums striking cover artwork by Japanese artist Tsunehisa Kimura, featuring a painting of Sydney Harbour after the devastation of a nuclear bomb strike. The single “Best Of Both Worlds” receives significant airplay on MTV and enters the US charts. Originally released on CD in 1985, is is remastered and reissued by Sony Music in Australia in 2014. “Red Sails In The Sunset” hits number one on the Australian album chart, and peaks at number one hundred seventy seven on the Billboard Top 200.