Category: progressive rock

On this day in music history: May 15, 1981 – &…

On this day in music history: May 15, 1981 – “Long Distance Voyager”, the tenth studio album by The Moody Blues is released. Produced by Pip Williams, it is recorded at Threshold Studios in West Hampstead, London and RAK Studios in St. John’s Wood, London from February 19, 1980 – Mid April 1981. The bands first new release since “Octave” nearly three years before, it is the first to introduce new keyboardist Patrick Moraz, replacing original founding member Mike Pinder. The project is The Moodies first to be recorded in their own studio (having purchased the old Decca Recording Studios in London) The album in part takes its title from the names of the spacecrafts launched by NASA in 1977, with some of the songs following a theme related to them. Spinning off three singles including “Gemini Dream” (#12 Pop), and “The Voice” (#15 Pop), it is a major critical and commercial success both in the US and the UK. Originally released on CD in 1986, it is remastered and reissued in 1997, with the single edit of “The Voice as a bonus track. It is also issued as an SHM-CD in Japan in 2008, and again in 2014 as a single layer SACD SHM-CD, packaged in a mini-LP gatefold sleeve. "Long Distance Voyager” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number seven on the UK album chart, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 28, 1969 -…

On this day in music history: April 28, 1969 – “Chicago Transit Authority”, the debut album by the Chicago Transit Authority is released. Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from January 27 – 30, 1969. Formed in 1967, the band are originally known as The Big Thing before changing their name to the Chicago Transit Authority in 1968. That same year, they meet record producer James William Guericio who also becomes their manager, helping them to secure a deal with Columbia Records. Relocating to Los Angeles, CA, they go through months of intensive rehearsals and writing sessions, before going to New York in early 1969 to record their first album. Recorded in just three days, they will have enough material for not only one, but two albums. CBS initially balks at the idea of releasing a two record set on new band. Insistent on releasing the album as it was originally conceived, the band and Guericio have to agree to take a cut in royalty payments, as well as allow the label to price the album at a slightly lower rate, than the normal list price for a double LP set. Once released, the twelve track double album initially gets off to a slow start, but finds success through heavy touring and support, from FM underground radio. It spins off four singles including “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” (#7 Pop) and “Beginnings” (#7 Pop). Reissued numerous times since its original release, most recently the album is remastered and reissued as a limited edition hybrid SACD by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. “CTA” is also reissued as a 180 double vinyl LP by Rhino in 2010 (along with a DVD-A disc featuring the original quadraphonic stereo mix in DTS surround sound), and by Friday Music in 2015. “Chicago Transit Authority” peaks at number seventeen 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: April 7, 1967 – …

On this day in music history: April 7, 1967 – FM Underground radio is launched at KMPX 106.9 in San Francisco, CA. Having grown tired of the grind of AM Top 40 radio, broadcasting legend DJ Tom Donahue, pioneers the free-form album rock radio format, which puts the focus on rock album cuts, rather than the tight and often restrictive Top 40 pop formatting that plays strictly hit singles. KMPX broadcasts from a studio at 50 Green Street in San Francisco’s North Beach district. The station both changes the face of commercial radio and is instrumental in breaking new artists like The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. However, Donahue’s time at the station lasts less than a year. Splitting his time between the San Francisco station and sister station KPPC in Pasadena, CA, the strain of working both stations causesthe veteran DJ/Program Director’s relationship with owner Leon Crosby to breakdown, leading to Donahue’s ouster from the station. In a show of solidarity, the staff of KMPX strike after Crosby replaces Donahue with Bob Prescott as PD. The strike lasts for eight weeks, in which time Crosby fires all of the original staff and replace them with DJ’s mined from other stations around the country. Upset by what has transpired, a number of prominent rock musicians, including The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones ask KMPX to refrain from playing their music as a show of support for the deposed station workers. By May of 1968, Tom Donahue and several former KMPX staffers are working at rival station KSAN (owned by Metromedia Broadcasting).

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On this day in music history: March 29, 1975 -…

On this day in music history: March 29, 1975 – “Blow By Blow”, the seventh album by Jeff Beck is released. Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Air Studios in London in October 1974. Following the break up of Beck, Bogert & Appice, Beck delves into session work, and even auditioning for the Rolling Stones after Mick Taylor’s departure from the band. Eventually, he decides to return recording himself, approaching veteran producer George Martin about working together. Martin agrees with Beck to recording an all instrumental album. Recording with a small group which includes Max Middleton (keyboards), Phil Chen (bass), and Richard Bailey (drums and percussion), the result is one of the best selling and acclaimed rock/jazz fusion albums of all time. Stevie Wonder contributes two songs (“Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” and “Thelonius”) and playing on one track (uncredited). An audiophile favorite, the album is remastered and reissued a number of times over the years. Epic Records reissues the title as a Half Speed Mastered LP, Gold CD and as a single layer SACD. The latter also features the original quadraphonic stereo mix released after the standard stereo LP. It is also remastered and reissued by Analogue Productions in 2015 as a double vinyl 180 gram LP, mastered at 45 RPM. A hybrid SACD featuring the original stereo and quadraphonic mixes follows in 2016.“Blow By Blow” peaks at number four 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: March 23, 1978 -…

On this day in music history: March 23, 1978 – “…And Then There Were Three…”, the ninth studio album by Genesis is released in the US (UK release is on April 7, 1978). Produced by David Hentschel and Genesis, it is recorded from September – October 1977 at Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek, NL. The albums’ title refers to the departure of guitar Steve Hackett who quits prior to the recording sessions, reducing Genesis to a trio of drummer and lead vocalist Phil Collins, guitarist and bassist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks. The album also sees them bridging the gap between their earlier progressive rock roots, moving toward more tightly structured pop songs. It is their most successful release to date, spinning off two singles including their first US hit “Follow You, Follow Me” (#23 Pop). “ First released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 1994, and again in 2007, with the latter release also being issued as a hybrid SACD + DVD. The SACD contains a high definition remaster of the stereo mix, while the DVD features a 5.1 surround remix of the album. The DVD also includes original music videos, new interviews with the members of Genesis, a vintage documentary from the band’s 1978 tour, and still photos from the era. …And Then There Were Three” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, number fourteen 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: March 22, 1980 -…

On this day in music history: March 22, 1980 – “Another Brick In The Wall Pt.II” by Pink Floyd hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Roger Waters, it is the biggest hit single and lone chart topper for the British progressive rock band from Cambridge, UK. Waters writes the song as a rebuke against the rigid and often oppressive environment he encountered in school as a child. For the songs chorus, the band has engineer James Guthrie record a group of kids, mostly boys ranging in age from ten to fifteen years old from North London to sing on the track. Guthrie fills an entire 24 track tape with stereo pairs of tracks of the kids singing it in various ways. Issued as the first single from bands landmark concept album “The Wall” on January 8, 1980, it quickly becomes a breakout smash on top 40 radio, a rare occurrence for Pink Floyd, who had never relied on singles to sell large quantities of albums. Entering the Hot 100 at #77 on January 19, 1980, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. First edition pressings of the 45 come packaged in a picture sleeve with custom label artwork designed by Gerald Scarfe, though reverts to a standard Columbia label (in the US) or Harvest label (in the UK and other foreign territories) with generic company sleeves when the initial pressing sells out. The chart topping success of the single helps propel “The Wall” to sales of 23x Platinum (11.5 million double album sets), making it one of the best selling albums of all time. An alternate mix of the song appears on the Pink Floyd compilation “A Collection Of Great Dance Songs” in 1981. It features the clean intro of the hit single version, but also includes the coda from the end of the album version, with the headmaster admonishing his students. “Another Brick In The Wall Pt. II” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 22, 1974 -…

On this day in music history: March 22, 1974 – “Apostrophe (‘)”, the eighteenth album by Frank Zappa is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, Bolic Sound, Inglewood, CA and Paramount Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid 1969 – Early 1974. The album is the follow up to the prolific guitarist and songwriter’s commercial breakthrough “Over-Nite Sensation”, featuring shorter, more tightly structured songs tinged with Zappa’s trademark humor. Like many Zappa projects, the material is culled from a number of different sources recorded at various times over a five year period, though the main sessions take place from mid 1973 to early 1974. Featuring his main band of the period that includes George Duke (keyboards), Ruth Underwood (percussion), Napoleon Murphy Brock (saxophone, vocals), and Ralph Humphrey (drums), it also features a number of guest musicians including Tina Turner and The Ikettes (background vocals), Jack Bruce (bass), Jim Gordon (drums), Jean-Luc Ponty (violin), Don “Sugarcane” Harris (violin) and John Guerin (drums). The album includes the classics “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow”, and “Nanook Rubs It”, and becomes Zappa’s best selling album to date. Originally released on CD in 1995, it is remastered and reissued on CD in 2012, and as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2014. In 2016, The Zappa Family Trust releases “The Crux Of The Biscuit”, an album comprised of alternate mixes, alternate takes and live versions of tracks from the album, including one track that first surfaced on the posthumous triple album set “Läther” in 1996. “Apostrophe (‘)” peaks at number ten 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: March 21, 1983 -…

On this day in music history: March 21, 1983 – “The Final Cut”, the twelfth studio album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Roger Waters, James Guthrie and Michael Kamen, it is recorded at Mayfair Studios, Olympic Studios, Abbey Road Studios, Eel Pie Studios, Audio International Studios, RAK Studios, Hookend Studios, and The Billiard Room from July – December 1982. Written entirely by Roger Waters, it is initially intended to serve as the soundtrack for the Alan Parker directed adaptation of “The Wall” (with the working title “Spare Bricks”), but with the UK’s involvement in the Falkland Islands War, Waters alters the content to be an anti-war statement instead. Sessions are tense, with all of the band members (particularly Waters and Gilmour) arguing frequently. Unlike many of Pink Floyd’s album covers, which are designed by Storm Thorgerson of Hipgnosis, Roger Waters creates the cover art work for “The Final Cut” himself, with assistance from his then brother-in-law, photographer and filmmaker Willie Christie. The album is also accompanied by a short film (also directed by Christie), consisting of videos for the songs “The Gunner’s Dream”, “The Final Cut”, “The Fletcher Memorial Home” and “Not Now John”. Released to mostly mixed reviews, it ends up being Waters final album with Pink Floyd. First issued on CD in the mid 80’s, the album is remastered and reissued in 1997 and in 2004, with the latter including “When The Tigers Broke Free” as a bonus track. A new 180 gram vinyl pressing remastered by James Guthrie, Joel Plante and Bernie Grundman is released in January of 2017, following the CD reissue one year earlier. “The Final Cut” peaks at number six 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: March 19, 1971 -…

On this day in music history: March 19, 1971 – “Aqualung”, the fourth album by Jethro Tull is released in the UK (US release is on May 3, 1971). Produced by Ian Anderson and Terry Ellis, it is recorded at Island Studios in London from December 1970 – February 1971. A concept album (though the band state otherwise) about “the distinction between religion and God”, it quickly becomes a staple of album rock radio after its release, spinning off the classics “Locomotive Breath” and the title track. The two LP sides are subtitled after their lead tracks “Aqualung” and “My God”. The album is Jethro Tull’s most successful, selling over seven million copies worldwide. Original US Reprise LP pressings feature a slightly shorter version of “Aqualung” with three seconds edited off of the intro. The albums’ famous cover artwork features a watercolor painting by American artist Burton Silverman of a shabbily dressed man with long hair and a beard. Silverman is commissioned to create the painting from a photograph taken by Ian Anderson’s wife, of a homeless man she sees standing next to the Thames River. The album is remastered and reissued several times, in 1996 and 1998 with six bonus tracks. It is reissued again for its fortieth anniversary in 2011, remixed and remastered by Steven Wilson (due to an excessive amount of deterioration and damage on the original master tapes) adding an additional fourteen bonus tracks. Also reissued as a 180 gram LP, the vinyl edition also includes a booklet with liner notes and photos from the CD/DVD box set, as well as an mp3 download card of the full album. “Aqualung” peaks at number four on the UK album chart, number seven 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: March 3, 1979 – …

On this day in music history: March 3, 1979 – “Sheik Yerbouti” by Frank Zappa is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, The Palladium in New York City, Hemmerleinhalle, Neunkirchen am Brand, Germany, Deutschlandhalle in Berlin, Germany and Konserthuset Götaplatsen in Goteborg, Sweden from September 25, 1974, October 26 – 28, 1977, and January 24 – 28, February 24 – 28, 1978. The eighteen track double album is compiled mostly from live shows recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London and The Palladium in New York City, which are then augmented with studio overdubs. It is the first album released on Zappa’s own label Zappa Records (distributed by Mercury/Phonogram). The songs are highly satirical and sexually explicit in nature including “Dancin’ Fool”, “Broken Hearts Are For Assholes”, “Baby Snakes” and “Bobby Brown Goes Down”. The albums title is a pun on the KC & The Sunshine Band hit “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty”, with the album cover featuring a photo of Zappa wearing a sheikh’s caftan and a keffiyeh (traditional Arab headdress). First reissued on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued in 1995 and again in 2012. The album is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2015. “Sheik Yerbouti” peaks at number twenty one on the Billboard Top 200.