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.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1986 – “Brotherhood”, the fourth album by New Order is released. Produced by New Order, it is recorded at Jam Studios in London, Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland and Amazon Studios in Liverpool, UK from Early – Mid 1986. Stylistically, the album combines the bands earlier post-punk roots with the electronic dance sound that broadens their audience throughout the decade. The centerpiece of the album is the single “Bizarre Love Triangle”, which provides New Order with their breakthrough in the US. Though it fails to chart on the Hot 100, the song is a huge hit on the dance chart (thanks to remixes by Shep Pettibone) peaking at #4 on the Billboard Club Play chart and #8 on the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart. For the track “Every Little Counts”, the band devises an ending to the song in which it sounds like the needle is skipping off the end of the record, indirectly paying homage to the end of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” which UK vinyl copies featured a concentric inner groove that plays over and over again (on turntables without an auto return tonearm) until the needle is lifted off of the record. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2009, as a double disc deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original ten song album, with disc two featuring 12" remixes and the non-LP B-sides issued at the time. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Rhino Records. “Brotherhood” peaks at number nine on the UK album chart, and number one hundred sixty one on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1991 – “Nevermind”, the second album by Nirvana is released. Produced by Butch Vig, it is recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA, Smart Studios in Madison, WI and Devonshire Studios in North Hollywood, CA from April 1990, May – June 1991. Releasing their debut album “Bleach” on Seattle based indie label Sub Pop in 1989, Nirvana are disappointed when it sells only 40,000 copies initially. Deciding that the only way to reach a wider audience is to sign with a major label, the band are courted by several labels, but eventually sign with Geffen Records subsidiary DGC Records. Working previously with engineer and producer Butch Vig in 1990, he is chosen to produced their second album. With exception of the track “Polly” (recorded at Smart Studios in Madison, WI in April 1990), the bulk of Nirvana’s major label debut is recorded in Southern California during the Spring of 1991. When the album is originally mastered, engineer Howie Weinberg accidentally leaves off the final track “Endless, Nameless”, which was tacked on the end of the master tape, proceeded by ten minutes of blank leader tape in between. The mistake isn’t caught until after the first press run of CD’s and cassettes are manufactured. The first 20,000 copies of “Nevermind” exclude the hidden track, but is corrected on all future pressings. When it is released, initial expectations are low with only 46,251 copies being shipped. Thanks to the breakout success of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (#6 Pop), the album reaches gold status in under thirty days, and platinum two weeks after that. It spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200 on January 11, 1992. The massive and unexpected success of the album affects a major sea change in not only the music industry, but in popular culture with the rise of the grunge music phenomenon of the early to mid 90’s. To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its release in 2011, “Nevermind” is remastered and reissued as a four CD + DVD deluxe edition. Disc one features the original thirteen track album, with nine additional bonus tracks. Disc two features the previously unreleased “Smart Studios Sessions” recordings, and two tracks from a BBC in-studio appearance on DJ John Peel’s radio show. Disc three contains the original unreleased Devonshire Studios mixes. Disc four features a complete live concert recorded at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, WA on October 31, 1991. The DVD features the complete film of the concert, and all four original music videos from the album. The box set also comes in a slip case, with a ninety page hardbound book, and a double sided poster. Reissued on vinyl numerous times since its initial limited release in 1991, it is most recently remastered and released as a 180 gram LP in 2017. “Nevermind” is certified 10x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, receiving a Diamond Certification.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1977 – “Talking Heads: 77”, the debut album by Talking Heads is released. Produced by Talking Heads with Tony Bongiovi and Lance Quinn, it is recorded at Sundragon Studios in New York City from Late 1976 – Mid 1977. The band’s first album contains several songs were written during the bands’ residency at the legendary punk rock club CBGB’s in New York City. The single “Psycho Killer” (#92 Pop) becomes one of their signature tunes and one of their most enduring. The album is remastered and reissued as a DualDisc CD in 2005 with one side featuring a standard redbook CD with five bonus tracks, and the other side containing a DVD-A (DVD Audio) version of the album with the original stereo mix and a high definition 5.1 Surround mix (remixed by E.T. Thorngren and Jerry Harrison), with two live performance videos of the band performing “Pulled Up” (Live at Sproul Plaza in Berkeley, CA in 1978) and “I Feel It In My Heart” (Live at The Kitchen in New York City in 1976). It is also reissued as a 180g LP on Record Store Day in April of 2009, making it available on vinyl for the first time in over twenty years. “Talking Heads: 77” peaks at number ninety seven on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 12, 1984 – “Stop Making Sense”, the seventh album by Talking Heads is released. Produced by Gary Goetzman, it is recorded at The Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, CA in December 1983. Recorded during the tour in support of the bands then current album “Speaking In Tongues”, the album is issued as the companion piece to the live concert film directed by Jonathan Demme (“The Silence Of The Lambs”, “Philadelphia”). Talking Heads main line up is augmented with additional musicians including Bernie Worrell (keyboards), Alex Weir (guitar), Lynn Mabry and Ednah Holt (backing vocals). The original LP release contains only nine songs and is heavily edited in order to fit it on one album, and also comes wrapped in a full color picture book. A second variant of the LP package is released along with the standard release. The limited edition version is printed without the torso photo of David Byrne on front and instead is stark white, with the graphics in black print. It also comes with a twenty page booklet with photos and storyboard sketches by Byrne created for the staging of the concert. In 1999, a remastered and expanded edition of the album is released featuring the complete performance, matching the contents of the fifteenth anniversary theatrical re-release of the film. “Stop Making Sense” peaks at number forty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1988 – “Peepshow”, the ninth album by Siouxsie & The Banshees is released. Produced by Siouxsie And The Banshees and Mike Hedges, it is recorded at Marcus Recording Studios in London from January – March 1988. The pioneering British post punk/goth rock bands first album of all new material in over two years, it is the first to introduce new members keyboardist Martin McCarrick and guitarist Jon Klein who replace guitarist and keyboardist John Valentine Carruthers. It spins off three singles including “The Killing Jar” (#2 Modern Rock) and the innovative, backwards masking track “Peek-a-Boo” (#1 Modern Rock, #53 Pop) which is the first single to top the newly established Modern Rock chart in Billboard Magazine. The songs chorus quote from the 30’s Tin Pan Alley pop song “Jeepers Creepers” (written by Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer), resulting in the band giving the authors a co-writing credit to avoid legal action. “Peek-a-Boo” is also supported by a visually striking music video, becoming an MTV favorite, breaking out from the channels alternative rock program “120 Minutes” into heavier rotation. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2014, with three additional bonus tracks. “Peepshow” peaks at number sixty eight on the Billboard Top 200, becoming the bands second highest charting album in the US.