Category: power pop

On this day in music history: August 26, 1964 …

On this day in music history: August 26, 1964 – “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks is released. Written by Ray Davies, it is the first major hit for the North London based rock band. Having released two previous singles that fail to make an impact, The Kinks are pressured by their UK label Pye Records to deliver a hit record, or be dropped from the label. After Davies writes “You Really Got Me”, he and the band try the song with a number of different arrangements before finding the right one. The Kinks record the track with American producer Shel Talmy at IBC Studios in London in July 1964. The singles trademark overdriven distorted guitar tone is achieved by lead guitarist Dave Davies slicing the speaker cone of his guitar amp with a razor blade. It is also one of the first rock songs to feature power chords (perfect 5ths and octaves) rather than major or minor triads. This lays the template for the hard rock and heavy metal music genres that follow in the years to come. The song hits #1 in the UK and #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 28, 1964. One of the records that help define the 60’s “British Invasion” era, it has also been covered many times over the years. Most notably by Van Halen on their self-titled debut album in 1978. Ray and Dave Davies also record a live version of “You Really Got Me” with The Smithereens in 1991. “You Really Got Me” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.

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On this day in music history: August 25, 1979 …

On this day in music history: August 25, 1979 – “My Sharona” by The Knack hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks. Written by Doug Fieger and Berton Averre, it is the biggest hit for the Los Angeles, CA based rock band. The song originated from a riff and drum groove inspired by The Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’” and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles “Going To A Go-Go”, written by guitarist Berton Averre. It is also inspired by Doug Fieger’s girlfriend Sharona Alperin (who also appears on the 45 picture sleeve) who he has recently met and become involved with. The songs’ trademark stuttering vocals by Fieger also pays homage to The Who’s “My Generation”. Entering the Hot 100 at #86 on June 23, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. Selling nearly two million copies, the single reaches that status faster than any single since The Beatles “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. The huge success of “My Sharona” also sends their debut album “Get The Knack” to number one, topping the Billboard Top 200 for five weeks. “Sharona” is also ranked the number one single of 1979 by Billboard Magazine. The song is later spoofed by Cheech Marin in “Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie” in 1980, and in part is the inspiration for Michael Jackson writing “Beat It”, after producer Quincy Jones suggests that Jackson “write a rock song like "My Sharona”. Run DMC sample the song as the basis for “It’s Tricky” in 1986, which later results in a lawsuit when the sample was used without authorization. The matter is settled out of court. The Knack’s song is revived in 1994 when it is included in the Ethan Hawke directed film “Reality Bites”. “Sharona” is reissued as single (in remixed form), charting a second time peaking at #91 on the Hot 100. The song is also used by comedian Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live in an ongoing sketch called “Janet Reno’s Dance Party”, where Ferrell plays the former US Attorney General. “My Sharona” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: August 25, 1949 – Gene Simmo…

Born on this day: August 25, 1949 – Gene Simmons, bassist and vocalist of KISS (born Chaim Weitz in Tirat Carmel (Haifa), Israel). Happy 70th Birthday, Gene!!

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On this day in music history: August 24, 1964 …

On this day in music history: August 24, 1964 – “Tobacco Road” by The Nashville Teens is released. Written by John D. Loudermilk, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the rock & roll band from Weybridge, Surrey, UK. Formed in 1962 by vocalists Art Sharp and Ray Phillips, the band also includes John Hawken (piano), John Allen (guitar), Barry Jenkins (drums) and Pete Shannon (bass). Heavily influenced by American rock & roll musicians such as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lewis and Carl Perkins, The Nashville Teens find themselves backing their idols when they travel to the UK to tour and also in Hamburg, Germany. Also lovers of country music from the US, that inspires the bands name. In March of 1964, The Teens are spotted by music entrepreneur Don Arden (father of Sharon Osbourne, and future manager of Black Sabbath and Electric Light Orchestra), who is immediately taken by their hard hitting sound, and becomes their manager. Arden brings the band to the attention of producer Mickie Most (The Animals, Herman’s Hermits) who helps them land a contract with Decca Records. For their first single, The Nashville Teens record a cover version of the song “Tobacco Road”. Written by American songwriter John D. Loudermilk, who also penned the classics “A Rose and a Baby Ruth”, “Indian Reservation”, “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”, and “Sittin’ In The Balcony”, the song is semi-autobiographical account of his early years growing up in Durham, NC. Recorded at Kingsway Studios in London in May of 1964, The Nashville Teens give the song a raw, rollicking arrangement and pile driving attack that is one of the precursors to what becomes categorized as “garage rock”. Released in the UK on June 26, 1964, “Tobacco Road” quickly races into the top ten, peaking at #6. It is released in the US on Decca subsidiary London Records in late August, also becoming a solid hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #90 on September 12, 1964, it peaks at #14 on November 7, 1964. The band tour the US, also appearing on music programs including Shindig and Hullabaloo. In spite of a promising start, Decca and London’s promotion of The Teens is poor following their breakthrough hit, instead concentrating their attention on label mates The Rolling Stones and The Moody Blues. As a result, the bands follow up singles “Google Eye” (#117 Bubbling Under) and “Find My Way Back Home” (#98 Pop) both fail to make an impression, and The Nashville Teens never make the US charts again. They also do not fare much better back home in the UK, with them landing their last chart single in 1966 with the ironically titled “The Hard Way”. In spite of this, The Nashville Teens version of “Tobacco Road” makes a lasting impression, with the song being covered numerous times over the years. It is also recorded by Lou Rawls, Jefferson Airplane, Bobby Gentry, The Blues Magoos, Eric Burdon & War, Rare Earth, Edgar Winter, The Shocking Blue, Spooky Tooth, Mud, and David Lee Roth.

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On this day in music history: August 24, 1964 …

On this day in music history: August 24, 1964 – “Have I The Right?” by The Honeycombs is released. Written by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the pop band from North London, UK. Originally known as The Sheratons and formed in November of 1963 by hairdresser turned guitarist Martin Murray, the band also features Murray’s salon assistant Ann “Honey” Lantree (drums), her brother John Lantree (bass), and mutual friends Alan Ward (guitar) and Denis D’Ell (Dalziel) (lead vocals). Being one of the first British pop bands to feature a female drummer, the band begin playing in small clubs and pubs in and around London. While they are performing at the Mildmay Tavern in February of 1964, they are seen by songwriters Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley. Impressed by the unique band, the pair arrange an audition with producer Joe Meek, best known for having produced the worldwide hit “Telstar” for The Tornados and Johnny Leyton’s “Johnny Remember Me”. Meek is also impressed and agrees to work with them. Working out of the recording studio in Meek’s Islington apartment, they record the Howard and Blaikley penned “Have I The Right?”. Wanting to put emphasis on the rhythm, especially Honey Lantree’s forceful drumming, Meek also records the band stomping on the wooden stairs to the studio. He captures the sound with five microphones fastened to the banister with bicycle clips. Once completed, the producer shops the song around to various labels, and being turned down by several. Finally, Louis Benjamin at Pye Records hears it, likes what he hears and agrees to sign them. He suggests a name change, dubbing them The Honeycombs, making a sly reference to their drummers nickname and to Honey and Martin’s day jobs as hairdressers. Released in the UK in mid June of 1964, the song is an immediate smash, racing to number one on the UK singles chart and unseating Manfred Mann’s “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”. “Have I The Right?” is licensed to Interphon Records in the US, a subsidiary label of Vee Jay Records. It quickly repeats its European chart success, riding the first wave of The British Invasion in the US begun by The Beatles. Entering the Hot 100 at #90 on September 19, 1964, “Right” sprints up the chart, peaking at #5 on November 14, 1964. Just as the record is peaking, Martin Murray quits and is replaced by Peter Pye. Interphon quickly follows up their debut with “I Can’t Stop” which stops literally outside the top 40, stalling at #48 on January 23, 1965. It is the last US chart entry for the band, even after they sign with Warner Bros in the Spring of 1965 as Vee Jay is beginning to implode financially. The band release as handful of singles, none of which chart, though they continue to find success in other parts of the world before disbanding in 1967. However, “Have I The Right?” endures as a British Invasion era classic, being covered by The Dead End Kids and The Dead Kennedys.

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On this day in music history: August 14, 1971 …

On this day in music history: August 14, 1971 – “Who’s Next”, the fifth album by The Who is released. Produced by The Who and Glyn Johns, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London from March – May 1971. The project is initially planned by Pete Townshend as the follow up to the band’s landmark “Tommy” as an even more ambitious rock opera and film titled “Lifehouse”. The overall concept of the piece loses direction during the initial recording, causing friction among the band members and major falling out between Townshend and producer Kit Lambert. Scrapping the initial recordings, The Who start over again with producer Glyn Johns. Townshend takes several of the songs from the abandoned “Lifehouse” project (along with one song written by John Entwistle), shaping them into the final version of the album. The LP’s now iconic cover photo is taken by photographer Ethan Russell (“Get Back/Let It Be”), features a shot of the band on top of a coal slag heap (staged to look as if they had just urinated on a concrete piling) in the mining town of Easington Colliery in Country Durham, UK. The album yields some of The Who’s best known and loved songs including “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Baba O’Riley”, and “Behind Blue Eyes”. In 2003, Universal Music Group releases a 2 CD Deluxe Edition of the album featuring a remastered version of the original album, with the second disc including previously unreleased outtakes recorded during the initial sessions for the the album in March of 1971 at The Record Plant in New York City. As well as becoming rock radio staples and anthems, many songs from “Who’s Next” have been used in other media over the years. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” has appeared in films and television programs, including as the theme for the series “CSI Miami”. “Baba O’Riley” has also been featured in numerous films and TV programs as well, and has served as the intro music for Los Angeles Lakers during home games. “Going Mobile” and “Behind Blue Eyes” have also appeared in commercials for various products. The album is spotlighted in an episode of the series “Classic Albums” in 2006, and is also inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2007. “Who’s Next” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number four 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: August 7, 1990 -…

On this day in music history: August 7, 1990 – “Bellybutton”, the debut album by Jellyfish is released. Produced by Albhy Galuten and Jack Joseph Puig, it is recorded at Bill Schnee Studio, Studio 55 and Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1989 – Early 1990. Formed out of the remains of the band Beatnik Beatch, drummer and lead vocalist Andy Sturmer and keyboardist Roger Manning co-found Jellyfish in 1989, adding guitarist Jason Faulkner to the line up. The critically acclaimed debut album by the San Francisco based band draws upon a number of musical influences, most notably the harmonically driven pop sounds of such artists as The Beach Boys, Queen, XTC, Badfinger, and Wings. With their record label (Charisma/Virgin) unsure how to market the innovative and eclectic bands debut, it only finds minimal commercial success. However, the band attracts a passionate and loyal following, based on its spirited live performances and radio support they receive from College and Alternative Rock radio. The album spins off three singles including “The King Is Half Undressed” and “That Is Why”. After being out of print for many years (with the exception of a Japanese import CD released in 1999), the album is remastered and reissued in 2012 by Omnivore Records as a limited edition vinyl LP (on blue vinyl), making it available for the first time in more than twenty years in that format. In 2015 it is reissued as a double CD deluxe edition, also featuring live recordings and original song demos. “Bellybutton” peaks at number one hundred twenty four on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: July 23, 1982 – …

On this day in music history: July 23, 1982 – “Vacation”, the second album by The Go-Go’s is released. Produced by Richard Gottherer, it is recorded at Studio 55, Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA and Indigo Ranch in Malibu, CA from March – May 1982. Making chart history when their debut album “Beauty And The Beat” hits the top of the Billboard Top 200, the band head right back into the studio to begin recording the follow up. But with their new found fame and success, drugs, drinking, excessive partying along with swelling egos and infighting cause the ties between the once unified quintet to begin fraying. All of these issues have a noticeable effect on the creative process. Working once again with producer Richard Gottherer, they record the album in just over two months, with Jane Wiedlin writing or co-writing eight of the twelve songs on the finished record. With Charlotte Caffey’s heroin addiction beginning to escalate, her presence in the studio is minimal. The title track “Vacation” (#8 Pop) originates as a song written by bassist Kathy Valentine prior to joining The Go-Go’s. Caffey and Wiedlin help re-tool it for the band. When it is issued in late June of 1982, it is one of the first released as a cassette single as well as on 7" vinyl. The song is also incorporated into the album’s cover artwork. The initial idea comes from band manager Ginger Canzoneri, who relays it to A&M Records art director Mick Haggerty (Supertramp, Styx, Split Enz). Showing him a vintage postcard with female water skiers on it, Haggerty decides to create a similar image for The Go-Go’s cover. He finds out about a water skiing show at Cypress Gardens in Florida, and goes on location to shoot both still images for the LP and also film footage for the music video. Once the images are collected, Haggerty cleverly superimposes the faces of the five Go-Go’s (taken at another photo shoot) on to the bodies of the water skiers. The video for “Vacation” is shot on the Chaplin Stage at A&M Studios in a single day, with the water skiing sequences using the footage being rear projected with close ups of the band inter cut with the real water skiers. Once released, the album receives largely mixed reviews and sells far less than the double-Platinum plus predecessor. It spins off a second single with “Get Up And Go” (#50 Pop) in the Fall of 1982. The track “Speeding” (the B-side of “Get Up”) also recorded during the “Vacation” sessions, is left off of the album and instead is included on the soundtrack to the film “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” released in August of 1982. “Vacation” also earns a Grammy nomination for Best Album Package (for Haggerty) in 1983. Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 1999. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued in 2017 by Universal/UMe. “Vacation” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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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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