Category: progressive rock

On this day in music history: August 10, 1970 …

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, b…

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 – …

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 – …

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 – &…

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 – &…

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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On this day in music history: June 1, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: June 1, 1977 – “I Robot”, the second album by The Alan Parsons Project is released. Produced by Alan Parsons, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from December 1976 – March 1977. Entering the music business at only eighteen years old, Alan Parsons is hired as an assistant recording engineer at Abbey Road Studios. Parsons’ first major credit is working on The Beatles’ albums “Abbey Road” and “Let It Be”. He goes on to work with numerous EMI artists including The Hollies and Paul McCartney. Parsons earns his greatest fame as an engineer working with Pink Floyd, recording their landmark album “The Dark Side Of The Moon”. Also a musician and songwriter, Alan looks to become a recording artist himself. Parsons meets fellow musician and artist manager Eric Woolfson in the canteen at Abbey Road in 1974. Alan asks Eric to become his manager and also collaborate on a musical project. The concept involves a rotating line up of musicians and vocalists to support Parsons in the studio. Calling themselves The Alan Parsons Project, their debut “Tales Of Mystery And Imagination” is released by Charisma Records (UK) and 20th Century Records (US) in May of 1976. Signing to Arista Records in late 1976, the pair begin work on the follow up. It is an ambitious song cycle based on sci-fi author Isaac Asimov’s classic “I, Robot” stories, exploring human interaction with robotic artificial intelligence. Written entirely by Parsons and Woolfson, the album feature a number of guest musicians and vocalists including members of the band Pilot, and Hollies lead singer Allan Clarke. Only a modest seller in their home country, the album becomes a major success in the US and other parts of the world. It spins off two singles including “I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You” (#36 Pop) and “Don’t Let It Show” (#92 Pop), becoming an FM rock radio staple. Also noted for its excellent mix and rich sonics, “I Robot” becomes a favorite of audiophiles. It becomes one of the largest selling titles for audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, after it is released as a half speed mastered LP in 1982, then as a UHQR boxed edition set in 1983. MFSL reissues it on CD in 1985, after making its digital debut in 1984. It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2007, featuring five bonus tracks. That is followed by an expanded two CD edition in 2013, with the first disc containing the original ten song album, and disc two featuring fourteen additional bonus tracks. “Robot” is also reissued on vinyl by Music On Vinyl and Arista/Sony Legacy. Mobile Fidelity also reissues it as a hybrid SACD and double LP set, mastered at 45 RPM and pressed on 180 gram vinyl in 2016. “I Robot” peaks at number nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: May 29, 1995 – &…

On this day in music history: May 29, 1995 – “Pulse” by Pink Floyd is released (US release is on June 6, 1995). Produced by James Guthrie and David Gilmour, it is recorded at Festa Nazionale dell’Unità in Modena, Italy, the Cinecittà in Rome, Italy, Niedersachsenstadion in Hannover, Germany and Earl’s Court in London from August 17, September 17, October 13 – 23, 1994. Recorded live during the UK and European legs of the “Division Bell” tour in 1994, the majority of the album is compiled from the band’s two week run of performances at Earl’s Court in London. The second disc of the album includes “The Dark Side Of The Moon” performed in its entirety as well as a performance of “Astronomy Domine”, which had not been performed live by the band since the early 70’s. The original CD release of the album comes with a flashing red LED light (powered by two AA batteries) in the spine. A limited edition four LP vinyl version of the album is also released (with “One Of These Days” included as a bonus track, also included on the cassette release). An accompanying home video release is issued in tandem with the album. Out of print since its original release in 1995, the vinyl LP box set is reissued on May 18, 2018, pressed on 180 gram vinyl and faithfully replicating the original packaging and booklet. “Pulse” enters the UK album chart and the Billboard Top 200 at number one, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 26, 1973 – &…

On this day in music history: May 26, 1973 – “Frankenstein” by The Edgar Winter Group hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Edgar Winter, it is the biggest hit for the blues/rock band fronted by Texas born keyboardist Edgar Winter. The song originates as an extended in studio jam. The rock instrumental derives its title from an in joke between band members, due to the number of splices made in the final master version of the song, and also to describe the songs heavy, lumbering beat. The song is also unique in the fact that is one of the first to use an ARP 2600 synthesizer, for its extended and mind bending keyboard solos. It is the last track recorded for Winter’s “They Only Come Out At Night” album (produced by former McCoys (“Hang On Sloopy”) guitarist Rick Derringer), it is initially released as the B-side to the track “Hangin’ Around”. Only after DJ’s begin playing the flip side, and due to enthusiastic public response Epic Records re-issues the single with a different B-side (“Undercover Man”), and later re-releasing “Hangin’ Around” in late 1973. Entering the Hot 100 at #98 on March 10, 1973, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. “Frankenstein” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 25, 1973 – “…

On this day in music history: May 25, 1973 – “Tubular Bells”, the debut album by Mike Oldfield is released. Produced by Tom Newman, Simon Heyworth and Mike Oldfield, it is recorded at The Manor in Oxfordshire, UK from Autumn 1972 – Spring 1973. The album consists of two side long movements featuring Oldfield playing nearly all of the instruments. Vivian Stanshall (of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band) is featured as the voice of the “master of ceremonies”. The eclectic piece is rejected by numerous record labels as being “unmarketable” and “non-commercial”, until Richard Branson, the owner of The Manor Studios hears the album and agrees to release it. It is the first release on the newly established Virgin Records label. The record receives a major boost when director William Friedkin uses part of the first movement in his film “The Exorcist”. Its exposure in the film (also issued as a edited single #31 UK, #7 US Pop) leads to its worldwide popularity. The albums iconic cover artwork featuring a bent “tubular bell” is designed by graphic artist Trevor Key. “Bells” is also remixed and released in quadraphonic stereo in 1975. Reissued numerous times over the years since its original release, the quad stereo release from the mid 70’s, is remastered and reissued as a multi-channel hybrid SACD in 2001. The album is given new stereo remixes in 2009, that is released as part of a lavish boxed ediiton that contains three CD’s, a DVD-V disc and a vinyl copy of the original 1973 mix. “Tubular Bells” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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