On this day in music history: December 6, 1983 – “Japanese Whispers”, the fifth album by The Cure is released. Produced by Robert Smith, Chris Parry, Steve Nye and Phil Thornalley, it is recorded from November 1982 – April 1983. The set is a compilation put together by the band’s UK label Fiction Records (released in the US initially on Sire Records), and collects their recently released singles “Let’s Go To Bed”, “The Walk” and “The Lovecats” along with their respective B-sides. It remains in print for many years, until it is deleted when compilation albums “Standing On A Beach/Staring At The Sea” and the B-sides box set “Join The Dots”, include all of the material featured on “Whispers”. However, due to its long standing popularity with Cure fans, it is reissued once more on CD in 2006 (Europe only). “Japanese Whispers” peaks at twenty six on the UK album chart, and #181 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: November 12, 1984 – “Hatful Of Hollow” by The Smiths is released. Produced by John Porter, The Smiths, Roger Pusey and Dale “Buffin” Griffin it is recorded at BBC Radio 1 and Jam Studios in London from Spring 1983 – Summer 1984. The bands’ first compilation album, it is issued just seven months after their debut release. The album compiles single A and B-sides released in the UK, and contains several tracks recorded BBC Radio 1 originally broadcast on shows by DJ’s John Peel and David Jensen. The track “How Soon Is Now?” originally issued as a B-side in the UK is reissued in both the UK and US as a separate A-side in 1985. In spite of its UK success, the album is not released in the US until 1993. Also in 1993, a limited editon vinyl pressing of the album, pressed on two 10" discs is issued in the UK and Europe. “How Soon” is added to US edition of the bands’ second studio album “Meat Is Murder” in 1985. “Hollow” is remastered and reissued on CD and as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2011. “Hatful Of Hollow” peaks at number seven on the UK album chart.
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 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. In November of 2018, the album is reissued as a limited edition pressing (5,500 copies), on red vinyl for Black Friday Record Store Day. “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: 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. 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. Another limited edition LP, pressed on grey vinyl is issued as an exclusive through big box retailer Target in 2019. “Nevermind” is certified 10x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, receiving a Diamond Certification.
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. Out of print on vinyl since its original release, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in December of 2018. “Peepshow” peaks at number sixty eight on the Billboard Top 200 becoming the bands second highest charting album in the US.
On this day in music history: August 26, 1985 – “The Head On the Door”, the sixth album by The Cure is released. Produced by Robert Smith and Dave Allen, it is recorded at Angel Studios in London from Early – Mid 1985. Following the UK success of their previous album “The Top”, Cure leader Robert Smith, continue to expand the bands more pop based sound (but maintaining their characteristic dark edge) begun on the previous effort with their next release. “Door” is the first to introduce new members Boris Williams (drums) and Porl Thompson (guitar, keyboards) and marks the return of bassist Simon Gallup to the band. The album is a pivotal release in the bands career as it is their first release to receive significant support in the US from both college radio and the burgeoning commercial Modern Rock radio format, as well as video outlets like MTV which increases the bands fan base beyond its small but loyal cult following. It spins off two hit singles including “In Between Days” (#99 US Pop, #15 UK) and “Close To Me” (#13 UK). In 2006, a 2 CD Deluxe Edition album is released. The first disc is a remastered version of the original album, with the second disc featuring Robert Smith’s original instrumental demo recordings, early band demos, and three live bootleg tracks recorded in Paris in December of 1985. Out of print on vinyl for nearly twenty years, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2008, and reissued again in 2016. “The Head On The Door” peaks at number fifty nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the by the RIAA.