On this day in music history: December 8, 1967 – “Their Satanic Majesties Request”, the sixth UK (and eighth US) LP by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by The Rolling Stones, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London from February 9 – October 23, 1967. Following the release of “Between The Buttons” in early 1967, various diversions including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones being arrested on drug charges (all of which are acquitted), and general lack of focus on music, lead to producer and manager Andrew Loog Oldham resigning from The Rolling Stones organization. In spite of this, the band begin recording another album, influenced by psychedelic rock. Producing themselves for the first time, the sessions are erratic and drag on for several months. As late as a month before the albums’ scheduled release, there is doubt that the material recorded can be molded into a cohesive work. A final running order is worked out, and it is ready for release. The album is greeted with highly mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. Coming six months after The Beatles’ universally heralded “Sgt. Pepper”, The Stones album is largely written off as a self indulgent, ill conceived and pale imitation. Original LP pressings come with a 3D lenticular cover designed by and photographed by Michael Cooper, having also shot the “Sgt. Pepper” cover. Like “Pepper” which features a doll wearing a sweater with “Welcome The Rolling Stones” on the front, The Stones pay tribute to The Fab Four in return by featuring small pictures of them worked into the cover art work. The 3D cover is discontinued after the first pressing, due to high costs to reproduce it. Though it sells well initially, interest and sales trail off quickly. In later years, though the band are mostly dismissive of it, the band do perform “2000 Light Years From Home” and “She’s A Rainbow” (#25 Pop) live over the years. KISS also covers “2000 Man” on their album “Dynasty” in 1979. In time, the album garners a more favorable opinion, attaining cult classic status. “She’s A Rainbow” is later featured in an episode of “American Horror Story”, and in several television commercials. It is remastered and reissued in 2002 as a hybrid SACD, and on vinyl in 2013, with some import editions replicating the original 3D cover. The mono version, out of print since the late 60’s, is remastered and reissued on CD for the first time and on 180 gram vinyl as part of “The Rolling Stones In Mono” box set in September of 2016. For its 50th anniversary, it is released as a double vinyl LP and hybrid SACD set including both the mono and stereo mixes in September of 2017. The LP jacket replicates the original 3D cover. “Their Satanic Majesties Request” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, spending six weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 1, 1968 – “Head”, the sixth album by The Monkees is released. Produced by The Monkees and Gerry Goffin, it is recorded at California Recorders, Wally Heider Studios, and Original Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA from February – August 1968. Issued as the soundtrack to the band’s feature length film of the same name, it is compiled by actor Jack Nicholson who also co-wrote the script. Influenced by the work of musician Frank Zappa (who also appears in the film), the album features songs inter cut with dialogue from the film (in a fashion similar to The Mothers Of Invention’s “We’re Only In It For The Money”). The albums’ highly experimental and psychedelic sound alienates the bands’ teen fan base and is resoundingly ignored by radio. The albums’ unique packaging using aluminized polyethylene film (designed to look like a mirror) creates major manufacturing problems for RCA Records, causing their printing presses to break down. In spite of its poor commercial performance during its initial release, in time both the film and album attains cult classic status among Monkees fans. It spins off one lone single with the Gerry Goffin and Carole King penned “Porpoise Song” (#62 Pop), and its B-side “As We Go Along” (#106 Pop), written by King and Toni Stern. In 2010, Rhino Records’ Rhino Handmade label issues a three CD boxed edition of the album both the mono and stereo mixes of the album, as well as previously unreleased alternate takes, an open ended interview (originally released to radio stations), and a bonus 7" single with instrumental versions of “Porpoise Song” and “As We Go Along”. The album is also reissued in 2011, with the album cover art replicating the original 1968 reflective “mirror” cover. It is reissued again, pressed on clear vinyl as part of “The Monkees Classic Album Collection” for Record Store Day in April of 2016. “Head” peaks at number forty five on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 27, 1967 – “Magical Mystery Tour” by The Beatles is released in the US (UK release date is on December 8, 1967). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Olympic Studios in London from April 25 – November 7, 1967. The album serves as the soundtrack to an hour long film shown on the BBC on December 26, 1967. After receiving overwhelmingly negative reviews following its UK airing, plans for broadcast in the US are immediately canceled. While the record is issued in the UK as a six track double EP, it is released in the US as an eleven track LP duplicating the picture book included with the EP, except blown up to 12 x 12 size. The US LP also includes the A and B sides of all of the band’s singles released during 1967. It is the last Beatles album to be issued with separate mono and stereo mixes in the US, with the mono LP being pressed in small quantities, it becomes a rare and sought after collector’s item in later years. Three of the albums’ five songs “Penny Lane”, “Baby You’re A Rich Man”, and “All You Need Is Love” are originally presented on the original US pressing in “duophonic” re-channelled stereo since none of these had been mixed into true stereo at the time. Between 1969 and 1971, stereo mixes for these tracks are made and first surface on the German EMI release of the album in 1971. The US version of the LP is finally released in the UK in 1976 after years of strong import sales. The rare US mono version of the album makes its CD debut in September of 2009 on the “Beatles In Mono” box set, replicating the original vinyl LP artwork (in a mini LP gatefold jacket), with the vinyl being reissued in September of 2014. “Magical Mystery Tour” spends eight weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: November 27, 1942 – Rock guitar icon Jimi Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix, legally changed to James Marshall Hendrix). Happy Birthday to this legendary musician on what would have been his 76th Birthday.
On this day in music history: November 25, 1967 – “Incense And Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by John Carter and Tim Gilbert, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the psychedelic pop/rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Formed from the bands Thee Sixpence and Waterfyrd Traene in 1966, the original line up consists of Mark Weitz (keyboards, vocals), Randy Seol (drums, percussion, vocals), Ed King (lead guitar, vocals), Lee Freeman (rhythm guitar, harmonica, vocals), Gary Lovetro (bass, vocals), and George Bunnell (bass, vocals). The band hear the song “Incense And Peppermints” by way of demo given to their producer Frank Slay by songwriter John Carter who penned it with his roommate Tim Gilbert, while he is a student at the University of Colorado and performing in a band called Rainy Daze. Carter is initially considered to sing the song, but when the rest of the band are unimpressed with his vocals, they have their friend Greg Munford (who is only sixteen years old at the time) to sing lead vocals on the track. The song is initially released as the B-side of “The Birdman of Alkatrash” on indie label All-American Records in mid 1967. When “Incense” begins generating a buzz, it attracts the interest of MCA Records who re-release it on their Uni imprint. But before they do, the band change their name from Thee Sixpence to Strawberry Alarm Clock, while looking at an issue of Billboard Magazine, and a band member closes his eyes and his finger lands on The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Entering the Hot 100 at #88 on September 30, 1967, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The band score another top 40 single with “Tomorrow” (#23 Pop) in February of 1968. The Strawberry Alarm Clock go through a number of line up changes before finally disbanding in 1971. Guitarist Ed King goes on to join Lynyrd Skynyrd, co-writing the band’s classic “Sweet Home Alabama” and remaining with them until 1975. John Carter also co-writes Sugarloaf’s second major hit “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” (#9 Pop) in 1974. He also establishes himself as a major player in the music business as an A&R man and record producer at Atlantic Records and Capitol Records. While at Capitol, Carter works with Bob Seger and The Steve Miller Band, as well as signing The Motels, Bob Welch, Sammy Hagar and is the guiding force behind Tina Turner’s comeback in the 80’s. “Incense” is also featured prominently in the film and on the soundtrack for “Austin Powers – International Man Of Mystery” in 1997. “Incense And Peppermints” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 24, 1966 – The Beatles begin recording “Strawberry Fields Forever” at Abbey Road Studios in London. After a three month vacation, the band return to the studio to begin work on the follow up to “Revolver”. The first song recorded is a new composition of John Lennon’s titled “Strawberry Fields Forever”. Lennon writes the song in Almeria, Spain while filming “How I Won The War” with director Richard Lester in the early Fall of 1966. One take of the song is recorded that evening, though changes dramatically and grows more complex over the month that it takes to complete the track. The song marks the beginning of a new era in The Beatles creativity that changes the face of popular music yet again. Strawberry Fields is name of a Salvation Army orphanage around the corner from Lennon’s childhood home in Liverpool, where he would attend garden parties in the summer. Once in the studio, the song evolves from a gentle, sparsely arranged ballad to a heavily scored piece with horns and strings complimenting the basic track. The finished version of the song consists of two separate versions. Lennon likes the first half of the first remake and the second half of the other. He suggests to producer George Martin that the two be edited together, which at first seems to not be possible since they are recorded in different keys and tempos. Martin discovers that by increasing the speed of one and slowing down the other recording, that they match. Originally intended to be part of the bands’ next album (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”), “Strawberry Fields Forever” is instead issued as one half of a double A-sided single in February 1967 (w/ “Penny Lane”). The band films a promotional clip for the song on January 30 – 31, 1967 in Sevenoaks, Kent, UK, directed by Swedish television director Peter Goldman. “Strawberry Fields Forever” peaks at #2 on the UK singles chart and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
On this day in music history: November 16, 1968 – “Electric Ladyland” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 2 weeks. Produced by Jimi Hendrix, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London and The Record Plant in New York City from July – December 1967, January 1968, and April – August 1968. The third and final album of new material released by the band, the sixteen track double LP set is a musical tour de force, showcasing Hendrix’s musical diversity. It features several of Hendrix’s best known songs including “Crosstown Traffic”, “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)”, “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp” and his cover of Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” (#20 Pop), which becomes his biggest chart single in the US. The album also features guest musicians such as Steve Winwood, Al Kooper, Brian Jones, Jack Casady, and Dave Mason. To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the album is remastered and reissued as a deluxe edition box set on November 9, 2018. Consisting of either three CDs + one Blu-ray disc, or as a six LP vinyl set, it contains demos, studio outtakes live recordings and a documentary on the making of the landmark album. The live recording is taken from a concert recorded at the Hollywood Bowl on September 14, 1968, featuring several songs from the then as yet released new album. The Blu-ray disc features a new 5.1 surround mix of the full album, remixed by original recording engineer Eddie Kramer. Regarded as a landmark 60’s album, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. Electric Ladyland" is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 2, 1967 – “Disraeli Gears”, the second album by Cream is released. Produced by Felix Pappalardi, it is recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City in May 1967. The albums title is inspired by a conversation that drummer Ginger Baker has with Eric Clapton and one of the bands’ roadies about Clapton wanting to buy a racing bicycle. The roadie named Mick Turner comments, “it’s got them Disraeli Gears”, meaning to say “derailleur gears” instead. The title is a pun on the aforementioned “derailleur gears” and 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli. Recorded in just three and a half days, it spins off the classics “Sunshine Of Your Love” (#5 Pop), “Strange Brew” and “Tale Of Brave Ulysses”, and today is regarded as one of the best rock albums of the era. Though it is released in late 1967, “Disraeli Gears” is slow to take off. The singles “Strange Brew” b/w “Tale Of Brave Ulysses” and “Spoonful”, both released ahead of the album, only make a minor dent in the charts. Though it enters the Billboard pop album chart in early December of 1967, it literally takes months for it to gain momentum. Atlantic Records releases “Sunshine Of Your Love” the same month (with some early copies listing the band as “The Cream”), but intially stalls at #36 on the Hot 100 on March 2, 1968 before doing an about face and falling off the chart. It is only after the release of Cream’s next album, the epic double LP “Wheels Of Fire” does “Sunshine” come roaring back to life. It re-enters the chart at #52 on July 6, 1968 and begins its final climb into the top five, over eight months after its initial release. The single is belatedly issued in the UK in October of 1968, peaking at #25. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1998, followed by a double CD Deluxe Edition in 2004 featuring the original stereo and mono versions of the album with demos and outtakes included as bonus tracks. In and out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is most recently remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2015. The mono version is reissued as a limited edition half speed mastered LP in 2016. Regarded as one of the landmark albums of the 60’s, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.“Disraeli Gears” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 26, 1967 – “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”, the debut album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Norman Smith, it is recorded at EMI Abbey Road Studios in London from February 21 – May 21, 1967. Formed by Roger Waters (bass) and Nick Mason (drums) and Richard Wright (keyboards, guitar), they are joined by Syd Barrett (vocals, guitar) in mid 1965. It is Barrett that comes up with the name Pink Floyd, after blues musicians Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. Originally playing more R&B influenced music, their sound begins to evolve. They become the talk of London’s underground music scene, with record labels courting the band. They’re signed to EMI Records’ Columbia label by former Abbey Road engineer Norman Smith. They record their first single “Arnold Layne” b/w “Candy And A Currant Bun” (#20 UK) during January and February, and is issued in March of 1967. Prior to its release, the band record their debut album with Syd Barrett as the driving creative force. The tracks include “Interstellar Overdrive”, an early staple of Pink Floyd’s live shows along with “Astronomy Domine”. The now iconic “kaleidoscopic” cover photo is taken by photographer Vic Singh. Released in the UK first in early August of 1967 (mono mix, followed by the stereo version in September), “Piper” quickly establishes them as leaders of the British psychedelic rock movement. Soon after, Syd Barrett’s mental state deteriorates, fueled his increasing intake of LSD. Held back in the US until October to coincide with their first tour, it is released on Capitol’s Tower Records imprint. The US version contains nine songs instead of eleven, dropping “Domine”, “Bike” and “Flaming”, adding the single “See Emily Play”. Shortly after making their US debut at the Winterland Ballroom on November 4, 1967, the tour is aborted when Barrett’s condition worsens. Making a now infamous appearance on singer Pat Boone’s TV show, Syd stares blankly into the camera instead of lip synching to the song “Apples And Oranges”. The band return home, and guitarist David Gilmour is added as a back up for Barrett. It marks the beginning of the end of Syd Barrett’s tenure in the band, leaving in mid 1968. Reissued many times including a three CD set, it is most recently remastered and reissued on CD in 2011. A 180 gram vinyl LP (stereo mix) is released in 2016. The original mono mix, is reissued as a limited edition 180 gram LP for Record Store Day in April Of 2018. It comes housed in a psychedelic, gold embossed outer sleeve and is packaged with a poster. The LP sleeve replicates the original UK tab back cover. Other than a brief European reissue in 1997, it marks the first time the mono mix has been available since 1968. “The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn” peaks at number six on the UK album chart, number one hundred thirty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.