Category: power pop

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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On this day in music history: April 13, 1973 -…

On this day in music history: April 13, 1973 – “Aladdin Sane”, the sixth album by David Bowie is released. Produced by Ken Scott and David Bowie, it is recorded at Trident Studios in London, and RCA Studios in New York City and Nashville, TN from October 6, 1972 – January 24, 1973. Issued as the follow up to his watershed album “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars”, the LP’s title is a pun on the term “a lad insane”. Bowie records the album in between US tour dates in support of the “Ziggy Stardust” album. Featuring a harder rock edge than the previous album, it reflects the manic atmosphere in which it was created. It spins off four singles in the UK (two in the US) including “The Jean Genie” (#2 UK, #71 US Pop) and “Drive In Saturday” (#3 UK). The albums iconic cover shot (taken by photographer Brian Duffy, and designed by graphic artist Freddie Burretti), featuring a head shot of Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona with a lightning bolt painted on his face, become among the most recognizable and parodied in rock music history. Reissued numerous times over the years, the album is most recently remastered in 2015 as part of the “Five Years – 1969 – 1973” box set on vinyl and CD. To commemorate the forty fifth anniversary of its release, “Sane” is released as a limited edition 180 gram LP, pressed on silver vinyl on April 13, 2018. “Aladdin Sane” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number seventeen 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: April 11, 1983 -…

On this day in music history: April 11, 1983 – “Murmur”, the debut album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Don Dixon and Mitch Easter, it is recorded at Reflection Studios in Charlotte, NC from January 6 – February 23, 1983. After recording and releasing their first single “Radio Free Europe” on small indie label Hib-Tone Records in 1981, R.E.M. are signed by I.R.S. Records (then distributed by A&M Records) just a few months later. Their first release for I.R.S. is the five song EP “Chronic Town” in August of 1982. Its modest success gives the label confidence for R.E.M. to record a full album. The band initially begin recording their first album in December 1982 with producer Stephen Hague (OMD, The Pet Shop Boys), but soon part ways when they have differences over musical direction. Instead they once again work with Mitch Easter, co-producer of their EP along with Don Dixon. Unlike Hague, Dixon and Easter take a mostly hands off approach while working with R.E.M., letting the bands creative process move forward organically. The bands unique and distinctive sound lead by Peter Buck’s bright, chiming guitar, Mike Mills’ melodic bass lines and Bill Berry’s solid back beat give them a classic but still contemporary feel. Those elements combined with lead singer Michael Stipe’s often cryptic lyrics, further obscured by singing them in a indistinct manner, sets them apart from their contemporaries. Stipe’s propensity for singing in this manner lead many to wryly nicknaming the album “Mumble”. It spins off two singles including the re-recorded version of their indie debut “Radio Free Europe” (#78 Pop, #25 Mainstream Rock). First released on CD in 1984, it is remastered and reissued in 1995. It is also reissued as a 24K gold CD and half-speed mastered LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 1995. To commemorate the album’s twenty fifth anniversary, it is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition. The first disc contains the original twelve song album. The second disc features a complete live concert recorded at Larry’s Hideaway in Toronto, CDN in 1983. Other bonus tracks include a radio spot advertising the album. Out of print on vinyl for nearly twenty years, “Murmur” is reissued as a 180 gram LP through Universal’s “Back To Black” vinyl reissue series in 2009. “Murmur” peaks at number thirty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold by the RIAA.

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