Category: progressive rock

On this day in music history: October 11, 1977…

On this day in music history: October 11, 1977 – “Point Of Know Return”, the fifth album by Kansas is released. Produced by Jeff Glixman, it is recorded at Woodland Sound in Nashville, TN and Studio In The Country in Bogalusa, LA from June – July 1977. Issued as the follow up to their breakthrough release “Leftoverture”, Kansas continue to build on their new found success with their next album. Recorded during a break in the bands breakneck touring schedule, “Point Of Know Return” further establishes and refines Kansas’ signature sound. It is an immediate success, surpassing its predecessor in sales, and becoming their best selling studio album. It spins off three singles including the classic “Dust In The Wind” (#6 Pop), which guitarist and vocalist Kerry Livgren initially writes as a exercise for guitar while learning how to play finger picking style. His wife overhears him playing the chord progression and then suggest that he write lyrics for it. Livgren spots the line “for all we are is dust in the wind” in a book of Native American poetry. The same philosophy is also found biblical scripture in verse Genesis 3:19 (“…for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”). The album sees the band at their commercial peak, with “Wind” becoming an FM rock radio staple as well as being used in television commercials (Liberty Mutual Insurance, Subaru), and referenced in films and TV shows such as “Old School”, “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, The Simpsons and “Family Guy”. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002, with two additional bonus tracks added. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Friday Music in 2010, and by Music On Vinyl in 2014. “Point Of Know Return” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: October 11, 1972…

On this day in music history: October 11, 1972 – “Caravanserai”, the fourth album by Santana is released. Produced by Carlos Santana and Mike Shrieve, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in San Francisco, CA from February 21 – May 5, 1972. The album marks the beginning of major changes in Santana musically and personnel wise. Several members including Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, David Brown and Michael Carabello leave the band either prior to or during recording sessions for the album. Rolie and Schon goes on to form Journey the following year, Brown play with Boz Scaggs (before rejoining Santana from 1973 – 1976), The music is more jazz oriented and experimental than the bands previous three releases. Though it is successful, it marks the beginning of Santana’s decline in commercial popularity after initially peaking with their previous album. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003. “Caravanserai” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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

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. 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.

On this day in music history: October 10, 1969…

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.

On this day in music history: October 3, 1983 …

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.

On this day in music history: September 20, 19…

On this day in music history: September 20, 1982 – “Love Over Gold”, the fourth album by Dire Straits is released. Produced by Mark Knopfler, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City from March 8 – June 11, 1982. After releasing their first three albums in a relatively brief two and a half year period between 1978 and 1980, band leader and guitarist Mark Knopfler’s brother, keyboardist and second guitarist David Knopfler leaves Dire Straits over creative and personal differences, departing for a solo career. His place is taken by keyboardist Alan Clark and guitarist Hal Lindes who make their recording debut the band on their fourth release. Drummer Pick Withers also leaves the band two months after the sessions conclude, and he is replaced by Terry Williams. The style and sound of the material is more spacious and atmospheric, compared to the bands previous efforts which becomes the catalyst for Mark Knopfler’s later soundtrack composing work. The albums title comes from graffiti that Knopfler sees spray painted on a wall, across the street from his London council flat. It is also the bands first release, to be recorded and mixed entirely on digital recording equipment. The project marks the band’s first time working with engineer Neil Dorfsman, who becomes a trusted technical collaborator, and eventual co-producer of their next studio album “Brothers In Arms”. The song “Private Dancer” is written during the sessions, but is later given to Tina Turner to record when he feels the lyrics are more suited for a female singer. Originally released on CD in 1983, it is remastered and reissued in 2000 and also as a 180 gram vinyl LP by UK reissue label Simply Vinyl the same year. It is also reissued on 180 gram vinyl by Warner Bros in the US in 2010. “Love Over Gold” peaks at number nineteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 14, 19…

On this day in music history: September 14, 1981 – “Abacab”, the eleventh studio album by Genesis is released. Produced by Genesis, it is recorded at The Farm in Chiddingfold, Surrey, UK from May – June 1981. The album continue the bands move away from their original progressive rock sound toward a more accessible mainstream rock sound (as on their previous album “Duke”). During the sessions, the band actually discard a full albums worth of material when they feel it too closely resembles what they’ve done before. As on Collins’ solo debut “Face Value”, Genesis also augment their sound with Earth, Wind & Fire’s horn section The Phenix Horns (on the track “No Reply At All). Initially, the change in musical direction is not a welcome change to some of the bands longtime fans, but widens their fan base, especially in the US. Three songs from the recording sessions “Paperlate”, “Me And Virgil”, and “You Might Recall” are left off the album and later released in the UK as the EP “3 x 3”, and in the US and other territories on the album “Three Sides Live”. “Abacab” is even more successful than its predecessor, spinning off four singles including “No Reply At All” (#29 Pop), “Man On The Corner” (#40 Pop), and the title track (#26 Pop). The albums cover art designed by artist Bill Smith comes in four color variations with the artwork and title graphics embossed on the initial pressings. The album is remastered and reissued in 1994, then again in 2007, CD + DVD set. The DVD disc features a newly remix 5.1 surround version of the album, with four music videos, interviews and a still photos gallery. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Rhino Records in 2015. “Abacab” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 13, 19…

On this day in music history: September 13, 1972 – “Close To The Edge” the fifth album by Yes is released. Produced by Eddy Offord and Yes, it is recorded at Advision Studios in London from Early – Mid 1972. After the huge commercial breakthrough success of their then current album “Fragile” and the tour that follows, Yes will not stop to rest on their laurels,  and immediately begin work on what is their most ambitious work to date. Composed of only three tracks, it is dominated by two extended side long suites titled “Close To The Edge” and “And You And I” (consisting of four movements per side that are linked together) clocking in at eighteen and nineteen minutes each. The first half written by lead singer Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe, is inspired by German author Herman Hesse’s novel “Siddartha”, which at the time is being read by Anderson, who is fascinated by the main character’s quest for spiritual enlightenment. The theme of spirituality also extends to the albums second half “And You And I”, with further musical contributions from the other band members. The cover artwork designed by artist Roger Dean is the first to feature the now famous “Yes” bubble logo that become synonymous with the band. The album is released to a rapturous reception by fans and critics alike, and is widely regarded to be one of the best progressive rock albums of all time, also becoming Yes’ commercially successful release. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2008. The vinyl edition is remastered and reissued again in 2012. In 2013, the album is given new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes by Steven Wilson, and released as a CD + Blu-ray disc deluxe edition. “Close To The Edge” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 12, 19…

On this day in music history: September 12, 1975 – “Wish You Were Here”, the ninth album by Pink Floyd is released (US release date is on September 13, 1975). Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from January – July 1975. Conceived as a concept album by Roger Waters feelings about the music industry, the songs “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Wish You Were Here” are dedicated to former band mate Syd Barrett, whose drug fueled breakdown had forced him to leave the band. Both songs take on an added poignancy when Barrett turns up at the studio unannounced on June 5, 1975 while the band are recording the album. Overweight with a shaved head and eyebrows, he is virtually unrecognizable to his former band mates when they first see him. All are saddened and deeply affected by the brief encounter. It is also the last time they ever see Barrett before his death in 2006. The albums now iconic cover art is designed by long time collaborator Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis. The front cover photo (taken on the back lot of Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, CA) features a shot of two business men shaking hands, with one of them on fire, symbolizing how musicians often get burned by record companies in the business end of the music industry. The original UK and US album covers use alternate photos, with later reissues featuring the UK cover shot. The LP was then covered in either black or dark blue shrink wrap featuring a large graphic sticker with the band name and title printed on it. Though it receives mixed reviews from critics, it becomes the bands fastest selling album to date, with advanced orders topping a quarter million in the UK and nearly one million in the US. Reissued numerous times since making its CD debut in 1984, it is most recently remastered and reissued in 2011. It is released as an extensive “Immersion Box Set”, containing two CD’s, two DVD’s and a Blu-ray disc. The CD’s contain the original stereo mix of the album on disc one, with the second containing six previously unreleased live tracks, studio outtakes and alternate mixes. The DVD’s and Blu-ray discs contain multi channel remixes including 5.1 surround mixes and original quadraphonic stereo mixes, and video of live performances. It is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2016. “Wish You Were Here” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 8, 198…

On this day in music history: September 8, 1987 – “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”, the thirteenth album by Pink Floyd is released (UK release is on September 7, 1987). Produced by Bob Ezrin and David Gilmour, it is recorded at the Astoria Houseboat Recording Studio in Hampton, Middlesex, UK, Britannia Row Studios in London, and A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from October 1986 – May 1987. The project begins its life as David Gilmour’s third solo album, but evolves into a Pink Floyd album (the first without co-founder Roger Waters) after original members Nick Mason and Rick Wright are invited to participate in the sessions. It also features musical support from a number of guest musicians including Tony Levin (bass), Jim Keltner, Carmine Appice (drums), Tom Scott (saxophone), and Patrick Leonard (synthesizers). The album differs from previous Pink Floyd albums, in that it does not follow a central theme or concept, and instead is simply a collection of unrelated songs. “Reason” also marks the return of producer Bob Ezrin, who works with the band for the first time since “The Wall” in 1979. It spins off three singles including “Learning To Fly” (#70 Pop, #1 Mainstream Rock), and “On The Turning Away” (#1 Mainstream Rock). Following the release of “Reason”, former bassist and chief songwriter Roger Waters sues the others over what he feels is unauthorized use of the Pink Floyd name. He is unsuccessful in his attempt, and the band continue without him.  The album is most recently remastered and reissued on CD in 2011, and as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2016. “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.