Category: power pop

On this day in music history: July 8, 1981 – &…

On this day in music history: July 8, 1981 – “Beauty And The Beat”, the debut album by The Go Go’s is released. Produced by Richard Gottehrer and Rob Freeman, it is recorded at Penny Lane Studios, The Record Plant and Sound Mixers Studios in New York City from April – May 1981. Having started on the underground punk rock scene in Los Angeles in the late 70’s, The Go-Go’s make their recording debut in 1980. They release the first version of “We Got The Beat” through UK indie label Stiff Records. The single generates significant buzz back home in the US, but the Go-Go’s have difficulty securing a record contract. I.R.S. Records signs them, after numerous rejections from other labels, telling them bluntly that a self contained all female band won’t be successful in a male dominated music industry. The band work with songwriter and producer Richard Gottherer, originally one third of the 60’s band and songwriting team The Strangeloves (“I Want Candy”, “My Boyfriend’s Back”) and Rob Freeman. To record their full length debut, the band relocate to New York City to work with Gottherer and Freeman. Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin write the bulk of the albums eleven tracks with Kathy Valentine and Belinda Carlisle also contributing. The first single “Our Lips Are Sealed” (#20 Pop) penned by Wiedlin and Terry Hall of the UK ska band The Specials (later of Fun Boy Three), comes about after the pair become romantically involved while The Go-Go’s are touring with The Specials. With Hall having a girlfriend back home, they write the song as a sly and ironic reference to the affair while trying outwardly to keep it under wraps. The albums now iconic cover photo features the Go-Go’s with their faces covered in cold cream and with their hair and bodies wrapped with bath towels. Before the photo shoot, the bands manager Ginger Canzoneri warns the girls not to get anything on the towels as she “needs to return them to Macy’s” after the photo session. Initial copies of the cover artwork feature a beige tinted background, which is changed to the more common blue tinted background on later issues. The album initially gets off to a slow start, but quickly picks up steam after the release of the second single, the re-recorded version of “We Got The Beat” (#2 Pop) is issued in January of 1982. From there, “Beauty And The Beat” takes off like a rocket, with The Go-Go’s making history as the first all female band to score a number one album on the Top 200 in the US. Originally released on CD in the mid 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2011 for its thirtieth anniversary as a two disc deluxe edition, with the second CD featuring a live concert recorded at The Metro Club in Boston on August 20, 1981. The title is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP pressed on pink translucent vinyl. “Beauty And The Beat” spends six weeks at number one 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: June 11, 1979 …

On this day in music history: June 11, 1979 – “Get The Knack”, the debut album by The Knack is released. Produced by Mike Chapman, it is recorded at MCA Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA in April 1979. The first album by the Los Angeles, CA. based power pop band is recorded live in the studio with few overdubs, in just eleven days for a cost of only $18,000. Boosted by a huge publicity campaign by Capitol Records, the album becomes a massive seller out of the gate. Anchored by the huge hit single “My Sharona” (#1 Pop), “Get The Knack” becomes the fastest selling album released by Capitol since The Beatles US debut album Meet The Beatles in 1964. The album reaches Gold status in only thirteen days, and is certified Platinum in less than a month. The albums front and back cover are also inspired by the Fab Four, as well as the original vinyl LP and 45’s are issued with reproductions of Capitol’s vintage 60’s era labels. Viewed as a response the anti-Disco backlash that is reaching its crescendo at this time, the band and the album is hailed by fans and many rock critics as “the return of rock & roll”. But not long after the record becomes successful, a groundswell of backlash against The Knack develops. People offended by the bands often raunchy lyrics laced with sexual innuendo, and feeling they are trying to compare or align themselves to The Beatles legacy is a turn off to many. An artist in San Francisco launches the “Knuke The Knack” campaign in response to the negative publicity. The album spins off a second single with “Good Girls Don’t” (#11 Pop), but will not repeat the success of “My Sharona.” The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002, with five additional bonus tracks added to the original twelve song track listing. It is also remastered and reissued as a limited edition hybrid SACD and 180 gram LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2017. It is also reissued on vinyl by Capitol Records in 2017, as part of the label’s 75th anniversary reissue program. The album is pressed as a standard 180 gram black vinyl LP, and as a limited edition white vinyl exclusive through The Sound Of Vinyl website. The white vinyl release is accidentally pressed using the censored version of “(She’s So) Selfish”, originally issued as a promo 45 for Canadian radio stations. Get The Knack spends five weeks at number one 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: May 23, 1984 – &…

On this day in music history: May 23, 1984 – “All Over The Place”, the debut album by The Bangles is released. Produced by David Kahne, it is recorded at Crystal Sound Studios, Soundcastle Studios in Hollywood, CA and Skyline Recording Studios in Topanga, CA from Late 1983 – Early 1984. Formed in Los Angeles, CA in 1981, the band originally consist of Susanna Hoffs (lead vocals, guitar), sisters Vicki Peterson (lead guitar, vocals) and Debbi Peterson (drums, vocals). Influenced by bands including The Beatles and The Byrds, they initially call themselves The Bangs. Their first single “Getting Out Of Hand” is released on their own label Downkiddie Records. In 1982, Annette Zilinskas (bass, vocals) is added to the line up. They’re signed to Faulty Products, a sub label of I.R.S. Records run by Police manager Miles Copeland. They’re then paired with legendary punk producer Craig Leon (The Ramones), to record a five song EP. They discover there is another band called The Bangs, and are forced to change their name. After writing down various substitutes including the self effacing “Bang-less”, it’s amended to The Bangles. They follow it up with a 12" single titled “The Real World”, but end up back at square one when their label folds. Shortly after, Zilinskas leaves to start her own band Blood On The Saddle. She’s replaced by former Runaways vocalist and bassist Michael Steele. Having remixed “The Real World” 12", David Kahne is also an A&R man for Columbia Records, signing The Bangles to the label in 1983. The band’s organic sound stands out from the slick, overproduced pop music of the 80’s. Their debut album features nearly all original material written by Susanna and Vicki, including the first single “Hero Takes A Fall”. Though it doesn’t chart, “Hero” receives significant play on MTV. It’s seen by music superstar Prince, who quickly becomes a fan of the band, especially Hoffs. He later reaches out to them, to offer up a song titled “Manic Monday”, that changes the course of their lives and career. The follow up is “Going Down To Liverpool”, written by former Soft Boys and Katrina And The Waves guitarist Kimberly Rew. Sung by Debbi Peterson, it too receives attention for its video, which is directed by Hoffs’ mother Tamar Simon Hoffs. The clip features actor Leonard Nimoy playing the band’s chauffeur. Heavy college radio play, and touring with Huey Lewis & The News and Cyndi Lauper, also give The Bangles crucial exposure. It helps propel their debut album on to the US album chart, where it charts for thirty weeks. Originally released on CD in 1986, “All Over The Place” is reissued by Wounded Bird Records in 2008, and again by Cherry Pop Records in 2010. Both CD releases contain one bonus track each. “All Over The Place” peaks at number eighty on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: May 23, 1979 – &…

On this day in music history: May 23, 1979 – “Dynasty”, the seventh studio album by KISS is released. Produced by Vini Poncia, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios and The Record Plant in New York City from January – February 1979. Following up the four solo albums released by the individual band members just nine months before, it is the KISS’ first studio effort since 1977’s “Love Gun”. Giorgio Moroder is originally slated to produce the album, but has to bow out due to scheduling conflicts (he is working with Donna Summer on the “Bad Girls” album at that time). Songwriter and producer Vini Poncia, who had worked on Peter Criss’ solo album is enlisted to helm the project. Ironically, Criss has little involvement in the recording sessions, being sidelined by drug problems and injuries sustained in a car accident, playing on only one track (“Dirty Livin’). Studio drummer Anton Fig is hired to fill in, playing on the remaining tracks. The album is also supported by the bands largest and most ambitious tour to date. Though the band sees a major shift in their audience, with much younger fans in attendance which has a polarizing effect on KISS’ fan base. The album spins off two singles including disco influenced "I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (#11 Pop) and “Sure Know Something” (#47 Pop). Remastered and reissued on CD in 1997, it is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2014, making it available in that format for the first time in twenty five years. “Dynasty” peak at number nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1977 – “In The City”, the debut album by The Jam is released. Produced by Vic Smith and Chris Parry, it is recorded at Stratford Place in London in March 1977. Heavily influenced by the 60’s mod culture in London and by bands like The Kinks and The Who, the punk/new wave trio from Woking, Surrey, UK led by guitarist and vocalist Paul Weller will stand out significantly from their contemporaries. Unlike other British punk bands of the era, The Jam often dress in sharp tailored suits, (rather than the ripped and safety pinned clothing that many other bands wore), and are more musically influenced by the 60’s pop and R&B music that mod teens of the era listened and danced to. The band immediately make their impact felt in their home country with their critically acclaimed and commercially successful debut, also earning them a solid cult following in the US. The album spins off two singles including “All Around The World” (#13 UK) and the title track (#40 UK). Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 2008 in Japan as an SHM-CD. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued in 2013 as a 180 gram vinyl LP, as part of UMe’s “Back To Black” vinyl reissue series. “In The City” peaks at number twenty on the UK album chart.

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On this day in music history: May 16, 1970 – &…

On this day in music history: May 16, 1970 – “Live At Leeds”, the first live album by The Who is released. Produced by Kit Lambert and The Who, it is recorded at Leeds University in Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, UK on February 14, 1970. Following The Who’s extensive tour in support of the rock opera “Tommy”, they have accumulated over eighty hours of live recordings from the tour. Unwilling to take up the task of listening to and editing the hours and hours of tapes, they are destroyed (to prevent bootlegging). The band decide to start fresh, recording their performances at Leeds University and University Of Hull on February 14 and 15th, 1970. Technical problems with the Hull show recordings lead to them being shelved. The best parts of the Leeds show is compiled for the originally released LP, with the album package designed to look like a bootleg LP. The original vinyl LP comes in a pocketed gatefold sleeve with numerous inserts and a poster. The inserts include facsimiles of lyric sheets, copies of artist contracts, publicity photos and hand bills. The custom LP labels feature handwritten text with the legend “Crackling Noises O.K.. Do Not Correct!!”. Subsequent reissues of the album do away with the deluxe packaging, to save on manufacturing costs. Enthusiastically received upon its release, “Leeds” is not only regarded as one of The Who’s finest moments, but as one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. In 1995, the entire set (minus the “Tommy” performance) is released on CD for the first time, with a further reissue in 2001 when it is issued as a two CD Deluxe Edition also featuring “Tommy” (from the Hull University performance) played live in its entirety. Finally, a four CD set for “Leeds” 40th anniversary is released with both the complete Leeds and Hull shows. “Live At Leeds” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, number four 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: May 10, 1994 – &…

On this day in music history: May 10, 1994 – “Weezer” (aka “The Blue Album”), the debut album by Weezer is released. Produced by Ric Ocasek, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City from August – September 1993. Formed in 1992 by lead guitarist and vocalist Rivers Cuomo, drummer Patrick Wilson, bassist Matt Sharp and rhythm guitarist Jason Cropper, Weezer are playing live gigs only months afterward. Continuing to rehearse and write songs, within a year, the band begin drawing major label attention and are signed to Geffen subsidiary DGC Records in 1993. The band are paired with Cars co-founder and lead singer Ric Ocasek who signs on to produce their debut album. During the recording, Jason Cropper quits the band and he is replaced by Brian Bell. Weezer’s unique musical sensibility which combines punk and metal attitude with strong power pop guitar riffs and hooks, are counterbalanced by the band’s own shy and nerdy demeanor. The first single “Undone – The Sweater Song”, is supported with a quirky and innovative low budget video directed by Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich”, “Adaptation”), that becomes an immediate hit on MTV. Jonze also directs the video for the follow up single “Buddy Holly” (#2 Modern Rock, #18 Hot 100 Airplay), in which the band are digitally morphed into clips from the classic sitcom “Happy Days”, playing on stage in Arnold’s Drive-In. Using the same green screen techniques employed by Industrial Light & Magic on the film “Forrest Gump”, Weezer’s performance footage is seamlessly blended in with the film clips from the series. Also featuring a cameo appearance by actor Al Molinaro, the video is another huge MTV favorite, winning four MTV VMA awards in 1995 including Best Alternative Video and Breakthrough Video. The album spins off a third and final single with “Say It Ain’t So” (#7 Modern Rock, #51 Hot 100 Airplay). In time, Weezer’s debut album will come to be regarded as one of the best albums of the 90’s. In 2004, it is remastered and reissued as a two disc Deluxe Edition. The first disc features the original ten track album, with disc two containing fourteen tracks, including B-sides, unreleased track, live acoustic recordings and alternate mixes. Originally released on vinyl in very limited quantities in 1994, it is reissued briefly in 2002 by Geffen Records. In 2012, it is released as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, pressed on blue marbled vinyl, and by Back To Black (UK & Europe on standard black vinyl). A hybrid SACD is also issued by the label in 2014. Another vinyl reissue released by Geffen/UMe with Direct Metal Mastering, and includes a poster is released in 2016. “Weezer” peaks at number sixteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 30, 1982 -…

On this day in music history: April 30, 1982 – “One On One”, the sixth studio album by Cheap Trick is released. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker, it is recorded at Pierce Arrow Recorders in Evanston, IL from Late 1981 – Early 1982. Following the release of their fifth album “All Shook Up” with producer George Martin, Cheap Trick work with veteran rock producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, Journey, The Cars) for their sixth full length release. At this time, the band sees its first personnel shift in many years. Original bassist Tom Petersson leaves the band in 1981, being replaced by Jon Brant. When work begins on “One On One”, guitarist Rick Nielsen actually plays bass on most of the album, with Brant playing on only three tracks. It spins off three singles including “If You Want My Love” (#45 Pop) and “She’s Tight” (#65 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued on CD as part of the box set “Cheap Trick – The Complete Epic Albums Collection” in 2012. It is also released individually as a 180 gram vinyl LP by German label Steamhammer Records in 2013. “One On One” peaks at number thirty nine on the Billboard Top 200.

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Born on this day: April 27, 1947 – Singer, son…

Born on this day: April 27, 1947 – Singer, songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Pete Ham of Badfinger (born Peter William Ham in Swansea, Wales, UK). Happy Birthday to Pete on what would have been his 72nd Birthday.

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On this day in music history: April 23, 1976 -…

On this day in music history: April 23, 1976 – “Ramones”, the debut album by the Ramones is released. Produced by Craig Leon, it is recorded at Plaza Sound, Radio City Music Hall in New York City from February 2 – 19, 1976. Fixtures on the New York punk rock scene since forming in 1974, the Ramones come to the attention of Sire Records A&R man Craig Leon (Blondie, Joshua Bell), through their manager Danny Fields, by way of a demo album the band records with producer Marty Thau. Leon signs the band to the label in November of 1975. The first album by Forest Hills, Queens, NY punk quartet is recorded in just seven days (spread over a two week period) for a cost of $6,400. Consisting of both covers and originals, it is widely praised by rock critics and the Ramones solid fan base. The album goes on to help define and popularize the punk music genre and culture, inspiring and influencing numerous bands and artists that follow in their wake. The album is remastered and reissued in 2001 with eight additional bonus tracks added, including demo versions and the single mix of “Blitzkrieg Bop”. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2011, pressed on blue vinyl with a bonus 7" of “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” b/w “California Sun/I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You” that is limited to only 500 copies. To commemorate the album’s fortieth anniversary in 2016, it is released as a limited three CD + LP Deluxe Edition. The CD’s include stereo and mono mixes of the original album on disc one, with the second disc containing outtakes and demos. Disc three features two live performances recorded at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, CA on August 12, 1976. The set also comes with a 180 gram vinyl LP featuring the mono mix of the album, and a 12" x 12" hardbound book with photos and extensive liner notes. The anniversary box is remastered by Sean Magee and Sam Okell, and executive produced by Bill Inglot. “Ramones” peaks at number one hundred eleven on the Billboard Top 200.

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