Category: progressive rock

On this day in music history: October 10, 1970 – “Atom Heart Mother”, the fifth album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from February – August 1970. The first self produced album by the band (though executive produced by longtime producer Norman Smith), it marks the end of their “psychedelic period” moving toward writing more tightly structured songs. “Atom Heart Mother” also marks the first time that Pink Floyd work with then Abbey Road staff engineer Alan Parsons, who becomes a valuable technical asset to the band, on this and especially “The Dark Side Of The Moon”. The first side of the album featuring the title track is a nearly twenty four minute long suite (made up of six movements) featuring additional orchestration by the EMI Pops Orchestra and choir vocals by the John Alldis Choir. The albums iconic cover photographs taken by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis is in response to the bands request for “something plain” on the cover. Thorgerson drives out to a cow pasture in Hertfordshire and takes the photos for the front, inner gatefold and back cover. Unlike previous albums, the cover does not contain any text with the band’s name, album title, track listing, or even any pictures of the band. This becomes a main feature of Pink Floyd’s albums throughout the rest of their career. It is also the first Pink Floyd album to be mixed into quadraphonic sound, first being released on 8-Track tape and and as a vinyl LP. Reissued on CD and vinyl various times over the years, the album is remastered and reissued on 180 gram vinyl in 2016. “Atom Heart Mother” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number fifty five 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: October 10, 1969 – “Hot Rats”, the second solo album by Frank Zappa is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at T.T.G. Studios, Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA, and Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA from July 18 – August 30, 1969. His first album since disbanding The Mothers Of Invention, it consists of largely instrumental jazz influenced material and feature guest musicians Shuggie Otis, Max Bennett, Don “Sugarcane” Harris, Jean-Luc Ponty and Captain Beefheart. Technologically more advanced than his previous works, it is Zappa’s first to be recorded on a 16-track multi-track recorder, which he utilizes the expanded technology to the fullest, overdubbing numerous keyboard and horn parts (played by musician Ian Underwood) as well as using techniques like varispeed to change the texture and sound of instruments. Dedicated to his new born son Dweezil, “Hot Rats” goes on to be one of Zappa’s most popular and acclaimed recordings. The albums enigmatic infrared cover photo taken by Andee Nathanson, features Miss Christine Ann Frka of the acapella girl group The GTO’s, peeping out of an empty lily pond on the estate of actor Errol Flynn. The artwork and photo collage on the inside gatefold of the LP is designed by Cal Schenkel, also responsible for the cover art on Zappa’s “Cruisin’ With Ruben And The Jets” and “Uncle Meat” albums.  When the album is reissued on CD in 1987, Zappa extensively remixes and edits the tracks, making them longer than the first LP issue. Eventually, the original 1969 mixes are reissued on vinyl in 2009 and on CD in 2012. “Hot Rats” peaks at number one hundred seventy three on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: October 3, 1983 – “Genesis”, the twelfth album by Genesis is released. Produced by Genesis and Hugh Padgham, it is recorded at The Farm in Chiddingfold, Surrey, UK from May – August 1983. Following the successful tour and subsequent live album “Three Sides Live”, the band return to the studio for the first time in two years to record the follow up to “Abacab”. For the first time, all three members co-write every song together, rather than bringing finished material into the studio to record. Hugh Padgham also moves into the role as co-producer, with the band following his initial work with Genesis as a recording engineer on “Abacab”, and on Phil Collins’ first two solo albums. The album is also referred to by fans as “The Mama Album”, which becomes the bands highest charting UK single, “Shapes” or “Yellow Shapes” because of the yellow Tupperware “Shape O Toy Ball” plastic shapes featured on the cover artwork. It becomes their most successful album to date, spinning off four singles including “That’s All” (#6 US Pop, #16 UK), and “Mama” (#4 UK, #73 US Pop).  In 2007, the album is remastered and reissued on CD, and features a bonus DVD with the music videos for all of the singles, with the audio remixed into 5.1 surround. The video also includes vintage footage of Genesis rehearsing for the “Mama Tour” mounted in support of the album. “Genesis” is also reissued on vinyl in Europe in November of 2013 to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of its original release. “Genesis” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: September 6, 1943 – Roger Waters (born George Roger Waters in Leatherhead, Surrey, UK), Singer, songwriter and bassist for legendary rock band Pink Floyd. Happy 76th Birthday, Roger!

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On this day in music history: August 10, 1970 – “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” the ninth album by The Mothers Of Invention is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at Apostolic Studios, A&R Studios, and The Factory in New York City, T.T.G. Studios In Hollywood, CA, Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA, Philadelphia Arena in Philadelphia, PA, Royal Festival Hall in London, Town Hall in Birmingham, UK, Criteria Studios and Thee Image in Miami, FL from December 1967 – June 1969. The third release on Frank Zappa’s Bizarre Records imprint (through Warner/Reprise), the album consists of live and studio tracks recorded over a two year period, and is released after Zappa disbands The Mothers. The LP’s brilliantly subversive and iconic cover art is illustrated by artist Neon Park. Park’s painting is based on both the September 1956 issue of “Man’s Life” magazine depicting a man being attacked by weasels and a 1953 advertisement for Schick electric shavers. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued in 2012 by The Zappa Family Trust on the re-established Zappa Records. The vinyl LP, out of print since the late 80’s, is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” peaks at number one hundred eighty nine on the Billboard Top 200.

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Born on this day: July 29, 1953 – Geddy Lee, bassist and lead vocalist of Rush. (born Gary Lee Weinrib in North York, Ontario, Canada). Happy 66th Birthday, Geddy!!

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On this day in music history: July 23, 1971 – “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”, the seventh album by The Moody Blues is released. Produced by Tony Clarke, it is recorded at Wessex Studios in London from November 1970, January – March 1971. The progressive rock bands seventh release takes its title from the student mnemonic from the notes on the treble clef of the scale. The album features the track “Procession” which is the only song to be written by all five members of the band, and includes the notes E-G-B-D-F of the treble clef played on the piano in the song. “Favour” is also the last Moodies album to feature use of the mellotron, which has been a staple element of their sound since “Days Of Future Passed”. It is The Moody Blues’ most successful and highest charting album to date, spinning off the hit single “The Story In Your Eyes” (#23 Pop). First issued on CD in the mid 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 1997, with Universal Japan also releasing it as a SHM-CD in 2008 and a limited SACD in 2010. “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour” peaks at number two 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: June 29, 1968 – “A Saucerful Of Secrets”, the second studio album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Norman Smith, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from August, October 1967 and January – April 1968. The bands follow up to their debut “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” is recorded sporadically over a period of eight months, largely because of Syd Barrett’s increasing mental instability due to his excessive consumption of psychedelic drugs. Guitarist David Gilmour is brought in to take Barrett’s place, becoming a permanent member of the band in March 1968. The album features songs such as “Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun” and the title track, both of which become staples of their live performances. The enigmatic cover art for the album is designed by Hipgnosis, making Pink Floyd the first EMI act (besides The Beatles) to have their album covers designed by someone other than EMI’s art department). It is the beginning of a four decade long association with the graphic design company. Reissued on CD numerous times since its first digital release in 1987, it is most recently reissued in 2011. The album is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2016, with the album sleeve using a printed version of the original UK “flip back” jacket design, and pressed with the original 60’s era UK Columbia labels. The rare mono mix of “Secrets”, out of print since its initial release, is remastered and reissued on Record Store Day in April of 2019. The 180 gram vinyl LP, is limited to 6,500 copies in the US and Canada, and the same number for the European continent. “A Saucerful Of Secrets” peaks at number nine on the UK album chart, and does not chart on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: June 3, 1982 – “Eye In The Sky”, the sixth album by The Alan Parsons Project is released. Produced by Alan Parsons, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from Late 1981 – Mid 1982. Enjoying a string of successful albums, Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson make a conscious decision to break with their past work. Where as previous albums centered around a specific concept or having the songs tied together thematically, they go in the opposite direction. In part it is a response to critics that feel their concept albums, were “pretentious”. Taking that caveat off of themselves, they simply write material as they feel is right and suits the end product. The song that becomes title track of The Alan Parsons Project’s next album comes from an unlikely place. An avid gambler in his off time, Eric Woolfson visits a casino and while there, is given a tour of the facility, including its surveillance system. Referred to by the staff as “the eye in the sky”, Woolfson is intrigued by the phrase, having heard it coined before in other contexts. Telling his creative partner his idea, the pair write the song together. But when it comes time to record, things do not fall into place as easily. Coming up with a suitable arrangement proves to be painstaking. So much so, that Parsons is ready to discard the song. Fortunately, they persist and it’s completed. Released in tandem with the album and much to their surprise, “Eye In The Sky” (#3 Pop and AC, #11 Mainstream Rock) (sung by Woolfson) becomes a multi-format smash in the US and their biggest hit single. Its striking cover artwork is designed by Hipgnosis. Featuring the Eye Of Horus on a soft green background, the image is an ancient Egyptian symbol symbolizing “protection, royal power and good health”. Original pressings feature the eye embossed in gold foil, which is discontinued on later issues. “Eye” spins off two more singles including Psychobabble (#57 Pop) sung by vocalist Elmer Gantry and “Old And Wise” sung by former Zombies lead singer Colin Blunstone. For its twenty fifth anniversary in 2007, it is remastered and reissued on CD, with six additional bonus tracks added. In 2017, the classic title is released as an lavish thirty fifth anniversary box set. The box contains three CD’s, a Blu-ray disc, a double vinyl LP, 7" flexi-disc, poster and a sixty page hardcover book. “Eye In The Sky” peaks at number seven 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: June 3, 1972 – “Obscured By Clouds”, the seventh studio album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at the Château d’Hérouville, Hérouville in Île-de-France, France from February 23 – 29 and March 23 – 27, 1972. The album features music (six tracks with vocals and four instrumentals) from the soundtrack of director Barbet Schroeder’s (“Single White Female”) film “La Vallée” (“The Valley”). It is the bands’ second collaboration with the French film director, having composed the music for his 1969 film “More”. Pink Floyd will record “Clouds” just prior to the sessions for their next studio album “The Dark Side Of The Moon” at Abbey Road Studios in London beginning in June. Working under a tight schedule, the band complete the recording of their film score in just two weeks of studio time, following Schroeder’s rough cut of the film to create specific music cues and interludes. The albums’ enigmatic cover art (designed by regular graphic collaborators Hipgnosis) features a deeply out of focus photo of a man sitting in a tree. Remastered and reissued various times since making its CD debut in 1986, it is most recently reissued in 2011. The vinyl LP, out of print since 1990, is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. The album packaging replicates the original UK cover artwork, with the LP jacket having rounded die cut corners and the original hype sticker spotlighting the film. “Obscured By Clouds” peaks at number six on the UK album chart and number forty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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