Category: progressive rock

On this day in music history: December 3, 1976…

On this day in music history: December 3, 1976 – The photo shoot for Pink Floyd’s album “Animals” goes awry. The photo session goes wrong, when the thirty foot tall, helium filled inflatable pig suspended above the Battersea Power Station in London, breaks free from its moorings and floats away. An All Points Bulletin is issued to aircraft flying in the area to be on the lookout for “a giant flying pig”. The balloon eventually lands in a cow pasture in near by Kent. It is discovered by the owner of the farm, furious that the giant pig has frightened his cows. Eventually the final cover art for the album features the pig superimposed against the background.

On this day in music history: November 30, 197…

On this day in music history: November 30, 1979 – “The Wall”, the eleventh album by Pink Floyd is released (US release date is on December 8, 1979). Produced by Bob Ezrin, David Gilmour, James Guthrie and Roger Waters, it is recorded at Super Bear Studios, Studio Miraval in La Val, France, CBS 30th Street Studios in New York City, The Village Recorder, Cherokee Studios and The Producers Workshop in Los Angeles, CA from January – November 1979. The progressive rock bands’ follow up to their previous release “Animals”, is a concept album exploring themes of abandonment and isolation Waters feels. Never having known his own father, who is an RAF pilot during WWII, is killed before he is born. It also explores the poor treatment Waters received at the hands of school teachers, feeling oppressed by his over protective mother, and the end of his first marriage. The concept for what becomes “The Wall” has its genesis in the 1977 “Animals” tour, with Waters feeling that there is an increasing barrier growing between himself and the bands’ fans. The albums’ minimalist artwork is designed by artist Gerald Scarfe and Roger Waters. When the band play the album for their US label CBS Records, they are initially “unimpressed” and are reluctant to release the ambitious twenty-six track two LP set. Waters eventually prevails in the project being released as intended. It is a huge critical and commercial success, becoming the largest selling album of 1980. It spins off three singles including “Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2” (#1 Pop) and “Run Like Hell” (#53 Pop). Pink Floyd launches an equally ambitious tour to reproduce their masterpiece on stage. The show features the band performing in part behind a forty foot tall wall of white cardboard bricks, that is gradually built up during their performance, as well as elaborate lighting and other stage props. Various animated sequences created by Gerald Scarfe are projected on the wall during certain songs. Because of the prohibitively high production costs, it is only performed in four cities (Los Angeles, CA, Uniondale, NY, Dortmund, West Germany and London, UK) on multiple nights, for a total of only thirty one performances. In spite of every show being sold out on the tour, Pink Floyd still loses nearly a million dollars on the venture. Plans to release complete footage of the concerts have been continually scotched by the band over the years, and to date only excerpts have been seen by the public. Audio from the London shows at Earls Court are released as the album “Is There Anybody Out There? The Wall Live 1980–81” in March of 2000. Reissued numerous times on CD and vinyl since the 80’s, it is most recently remastered and reissued on 180 gram vinyl in August of 2016. “The Wall” spends fifteen weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 23x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Double Diamond Certification.

On this day in music history: November 26, 197…

On this day in music history: November 26, 1971 – “Fragile”, the fourth album by Yes is released in the UK (US release is on January 4, 1972). Produced by Yes and Eddy Offord, it is recorded at Advision Studios in London in September 1971. Making their recording debut in 1969 with their self titled debut album, Yes record “Time And A Word” and “The Yes Album” over the next two years, while building a solid following throughout Europe and in the US. Yes gain valuable exposure opening for other bands including Iron Butterfly and Jethro Tull. With the latter album gaining the band their first hit in the UK and a sizable toehold in the US, they begin writing material for their fourth album in mid 1971. Staying in a rented farmhouse in Devon, Yes continue writing and rehearsing the new songs they’ve written. It is the first album to feature new keyboardist Rick Wakeman who replaces Tony Kaye midway through pre-production. Guitarist Steve Howe and Wakeman become essential elements in the evolution of Yes’ sound, bringing their interest in classical music and training into the musical landscape. Originally intending to record a double album consisting of both live recordings and studio material, Yes end up dropping the idea when they realize the amount of time it will take to create such a project. They also initially intend to come to US to work with Atlantic Records’ staff producer and engineer Tom Dowd at Criteria Studios in Miami, but does not pan out. Instead, the band work with Eddy Offord who has engineered their previous two albums, having been promoted to co-producer status on “The Yes Album”. Anchored by the track “Roundabout” (#13 US Pop), it is the bands’ breakthrough on a worldwide basis and is regarded as a landmark progressive rock album. The LP’s cover artwork is illustrated by artist Roger Dean, who goes on to design several album covers for the band including their famous logo (first used on the follow up “Close To The Edge”). The album is remastered and reissued a number of times over the years, most recently being reissued in 2015 in the UK as a CD/high resolution Blu-Ray Audio set. The redbook CD contains the original stereo mix of the album, with the Blu-Ray disc featuring new stereo and 5.1 surround sound mixes by Steven Wilson, along side the original stereo mixes also presented in high resolution. “Fragile” peaks at number seven on the UK album chart, number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 22, 198…

On this day in music history: November 22, 1988 – “The Delicate Sound Of Thunder”, the fourteenth album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at The Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, L.I., NY from August 19 – 23, 1988. Recorded live during a five night stand on the US leg of Pink Floyd’s tour in support of their most recent studio album “A Momentary Lapse Of Reason”, the fifteen track double live LP features in concert performances of several Floyd classics as well as newer material. The cassette and CD configurations includes the track “Us And Them”, which is cut of the vinyl release due to time constraints. There are also an additional seven songs played on the shows that are cut from the final track listing. The shows the live album is culled from are also filmed, providing a major part of the live concert footage for the home video release “Pink Floyd In Concert – Delicate Sound Of Thunder” (released on VHS and Laserdisc in June of 1989). The album is most recently remastered and reissued on CD in 2016, also reissued as a two LP 180 gram set in 2017. “The Delicate Sound Of Thunder” peaks at number eleven on both the UK album chart and Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 19, 197…

On this day in music history: November 19, 1979 – “Joe’s Garage Acts II & III”, the twenty ninth studio album by Frank Zappa is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at Village Recorders, Studio B in Los Angeles, CA from September 17 – November 19, 1979. The second of two albums released just two months apart, the ten track double album is a rock opera centering around the character “Joe”, following his journey through the music business. Filled with Zappa’s stinging guitar work, tempered with his trademark satirical and often scatalogical humor. The album also takes sharp aim at religion (particularly the Catholic church and Scientology), and the censorship of music. The latter of which foreshadows the musicians’ opposition against the Parents Music Research Center (PMRC) formed by the wives of Washington senators and businessmen in the mid 80’s. “Garage” also features musical backing from members of what becomes the popular new wave band Missing Persons. “Joe’s Garage Acts II & III” peaks at number fifty three on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: November 18, 197…

On this day in music history: November 18, 1974 – “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, the sixth album by Genesis is released. Produced by Genesis and John Burns, it is recorded at Island Mobile Studios in Wales, UK from August – October 1974. The twenty three track double LP is a concept album centering around the character Rael and his surreal odyssey while searching for his brother John. The majority of the songs are written by the band with the exception of Peter Gabriel who is largely absent from the writing and rehearsal sessions due to his wife experiencing major complications while having their first child. When Gabriel returns, he’ll insist on writing and in some cases re-writing lyrics to certain songs which creates friction between band members during the recording sessions. It becomes their most successful release to date in the US, and is regarded as one of the best progressive rock albums of all time. It also is the final album to feature original lead vocalist Peter Gabriel, who leaves the band following the subsequent tour in support of the record. Originally issued on CD in 1985, it is remastered and reissued in 1994. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a double vinyl 180 gram LP in 2001. The album is reissued again in 2007 as a double hybrid SACD + DVD set (Europe only, then Japan in 2009), remixing it into 5.1 surround sound. Along with the multi-channel mix, the DVD disc also includes interviews with Genesis and a rare television appearance from 1974. The set comes packaged in a 5" x 5" hardbound book sleeve. “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” peaks at number ten on the UK album chart, number forty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 17, 197…

On this day in music history: November 17, 1972 – “Seventh Sojourn” the eighth album by The Moody Blues is released. Produced by Tony Clarke, it is recorded at Decca Tollington Park Studios in London from May – September 1972. Issued as the follow up to the acclaimed and successful “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”, The Moodies latest album proves to be a difficult undertaking for them. The complex arrangements and the intense and often overly political subject matter of the material presents a constant challenge to them throughout the four month long recording sessions. So much so that the projected follow up release is shelved, and the band take a three year hiatus following a tour. It spins off two singles including “I’m Just A Singer(In A Rock And Roll Band)” (#12 Pop) and “Isn’t It Strange?” (#29 Pop). However, both are overshadowed by the belated success of “Nights In White Satin” on the US charts, peaking at #2 in November of 1972. Originally released on CD in 1986, it is also reissued as a DTS audio disc, featuring a 5.1 surround mix of the album. It is remastered and reissued as a hybrid SACD in 2007 (Europe only), containing the original stereo mix and the 5.1 multi-channel mix. The 2007 reissue also contains four additional bonus tracks, followed by a standard redbook CD in 2008 with the same bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2014. “Seventh Sojourn” spends five weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 10, 196…

On this day in music history: November 10, 1967 – “Days Of Future Passed”, the second album by The Moody Blues is released (US release date is on November 11, 1967). Produced by Tony Clarke, it is recorded at Decca Recording Studios in West Hampstead, London from May – November 1967. By late 1966, The Moody Blues are at a crossroads musically and professionally after their initial success. The band go through personnel changes, and begin moving away from playing R&B and blues covers after their second proposed album “Look Out” is shelved. Thousands of pounds in debt to Decca and with their contract about to expire, comes an unlikely solution. Hugh Mendl, the head of A&R suggests that The Moodies record a rock & roll version of classical composer Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9. Mendl explains to them that the purpose of the album is to launch Decca’s newly established Deram label, and to also demonstrate the label’s new Deramic Stereo Sound (DSS) recording process. Giving them full creative control, they agree to the project. Working along side conductor Peter Knight and the London Festival Orchestra, “Days Of Future Passed” is conceived as a concept album depicting life through the course of a single day. It is a cycle of seven songs complete with orchestral interludes and spoken passages by keyboardist Mike Pinder, who also uses a Mellotron throughout for instrumental sounds and effects. Regarded as the beginnings of “progressive rock”, the mixture of lush orchestral accompaniment and psychedelic rock makes an immediate impact upon its release in the UK. However in the US, it takes considerably longer for it to find its audience and make a similar impact. Initially released as a single in January of 1968, “Nights In White Satin” fails to chart in the US. The follow up release “Tuesday Afternoon” (#24 US Pop) fares much better. “Nights” belatedly becomes a huge hit, peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 in November of 1972. The revival of that song also sends “Days” into the top five. In time, it becomes one of the definitive albums of the era. “Days” is remixed in 1978, when the masters of some songs on the original 1967 mix, have deteriorated and become unusable. The year before, it is also remixed into quadraphonic stereo and released on open reel tape. It is also released as a DTS audio disc in 2001 with a 5.1 surround mix. The album is reissued numerous times over the years, being most recently remastered in 2006 as a two disc Deluxe Edition. They are hybrid SACD’s featuring the stereo and new 5.1 surround mixes on the first disc, with the second featuring mono single edits, outtakes and recordings from a BBC radio broadcasts recorded in September 1967 and January 1968. It is also reissued as 180 gram vinyl LP by Friday Music in 2012. “Days Of Future Passed” 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: November 7, 1983…

On this day in music history: November 7, 1983 – “90125”, the eleventh album by Yes is released. Produced by Trevor Horn, it is recorded at SARM West Studios and AIR Studios in London from January 1982, and November 1982 – July 1983. By 1980, founding members lead vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman depart Yes, moving on to solo projects. Their places are taken by Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn. This line up is short lived, recording and releasing the album “Drama” before Yes disbands completely in December of 1980. After the split, Downes goes on to form Asia with former Yes guitarist Steve Howe, bassist John Wetton and former Emerson Lake & Palmer drummer Carl Palmer. South African born guitarist Trevor Rabin tries out for the guitarist spot in Asia, but ends up connecting with Yes members Chris Squire and Alan White. The trio forms a new band calling themselves Cinema, and begin working on material (including songs that Rabin had written for a solo project), and recording an album in late 1982. The project takes a major turn in the Spring of 1983 when Chris Squire plays some of the work in progress for Jon Anderson. Anderson like the songs so much, that he is invited to participate in the sessions. Without it being intended, the album turns into a reunion of Yes, though keyboardist Tony Kaye sits out much of the recording, not getting along with producer Horn (most of the keyboards are played by Rabin). Yes’ modern streamlined sound differs noticeably from their classic progressive rock period, but in turn wins them a whole new generation of fans. It spins off three singles including Owner Of A Lonely Heart” (#1 Pop), and “Leave It” (#24 Pop). The video for “Leave It”, directed by Godley & Creme, is produced with eighteen variations. A making of documentary for the clip is aired on MTV in early 1984, with all of the variations being aired only once. The album is titled after the catalog number assigned to it, with the distinctive cover graphics being designed using the Robograph 1000 system, utilizing an Apple IIE computer (by graphic artist Garry Mouat at Assorted Images). Yes wins a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the track “Cinema” in 1985. First issued on CD in 1984, the album is remastered and reissued in 2004, with six additional bonus tracks. It is also reissued as a hybrid SACD by Warner Music Japan in 2014. The vinyl edition is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2009. It is reissued by Rhino Records as a limited edition picture disc for Black Friday Record Store Day in November of 2017. Rhino again reissues it on limited edition vinyl (6,500 copies), as part of their “Back To The 80’s” reissue series in July of 2018. Replicating the original LP packaging, it is pressed on pink, yellow and blue tri-color vinyl. “90125" peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 3, 1979…

On this day in music history: November 3, 1979 – “Hydra”, the second album by Toto is released. Produced by Tom Knox and Toto, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA and Reggie Fisher Recording Studio in Studio City, CA from January – May 1979. While their self titled debut album is still riding high in the charts, the L.A. based band return to the studio to record their sophomore release. Sporting a harder progressive rock edge on many tracks, “Hydra” differs significantly from its multi-Platinum selling predecessor. To casual fans and radio programmers, the startling change up in musical direction is puzzling, and without a major hit single to drive sales, leads to it not being as well received commercially as the first. However, the album attains cult classic status among many fans of the band, and becomes a favorite of audiophiles for the excellent quality of the engineering and production throughout. It spins off three singles including “99” (#26 Pop), inspired by the George Lucas sci-fi cult classic “THX 1138”, “St. George And The Dragon” and “All Us Boys”. The original LP is packaged in a gatefold with the vinyl sporting custom art labels, with the cover graphics, label text, and lyric sheet calligraphy designed by famed graphic artist Mike Manoogian (Rod Stewart, Lionel Richie, Stevie Nicks). In 2001, Sony Music reissues the album as a single layer hi-resolution SACD disc, that becomes a sought after collector’s item after it goes out of print. The same remaster is also issued for a standard “redbook” CD released in Japan in 2005, replicating the original gatefold LP packaging in mini-LP form, with the original custom LP label silk screened on to the disc itself. And in 2011, “Hydra” is reissued on vinyl by the Music On Vinyl label, making it available in that format for the first time in over twenty years. “Hydra” peaks at number thirty seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.