The Mothers of Invention photographed by Bruce McBroom, 1967.
The Mothers of Invention photographed by Bruce McBroom, 1967.
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: September 25, 1967 – “Strange Days”, the second album by The Doors is released. Produced by Paul A. Rothchild, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA from May – August 1967. With their debut album finally taking off with the release of “Light My Fire” the same month, The Doors begin recording the follow up.This time, the band have more advanced technology at the their disposal, recording on an eight track multi-track tape machine. They also have one of the first Moog synthesizers built to experiment with. Having previously covered Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill’s “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)”, many of the songs on “Strange Days” have a darker and moodier feel like that German cabaret song. That feel is most apparent in the first single “People Are Strange” (#12 Pop), though many of the songs were written at the same time as their debut and represents what they have in reserve. Those songs include “Moonlight Drive”, based on a poem written by Jim Morrison and “My Eyes Have Seen You”. The cover photos are taken by photographer Joel Brodsky, though do not feature The Doors themselves. Instead it uses a group of street performers including a strong man, a musician, a juggler, acrobats and twin dwarfs (seen individually on the front and back), in an alley way. With these type of performers hard to come by even in New York, a cab driver is commandeered and paid $5 to participate in the photo shoot, with Brodsky’s assistant standing in as the juggler. The Doors themselves are represented on the cover in the form of a poster on the alley wall with the album title posted underneath it. In spite of this, Elektra Records affixes a sticker to the shrink wrap to make it more easily identifiable as a Doors album. Released only nine and a half months after their debut, “Strange Days” starts off strong but quickly loses momentum and sells considerably less. It spins off two singles including “Love Me Two Times” (#25 Pop), with the closing track “When The Music’s Over” also becoming an airplay favorite. Issued with both dedicated mono and stereo mixes, part of the original press run of mono LP jackets are printed in error with the stereo LP prefix “EKS” on the sleeve spine instead of “EKL” as indicated on the front and back. Originally issued on CD in 1985, it is remastered and reissued in 1999, and is reissued again for its fortieth anniversary in 2007 with new remixes. The album is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Rhino Records in 2009. “Strange Days” is also issued with 5.1 surround remixes (and the original stereo mixes) as a hybrid SACD by Analogue Productions in 2013. The mono mix of the album, out of print since 1968, is reissued as 180 gram vinyl LP on Record Store Day in April of 2015, individually numbered and limited to 12,500 copies. “Strange Days” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Remembering rock music icon Jimi Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle, WA. Changed to James Marshall Hendrix at age two.) – November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970
On this day in music history: September 10, 1966 – “Revolver”, the seventh album by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 6 weeks. Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London from April 6 – June 21, 1966. The album marks the beginning a new phase in the bands’ career musically and artistically, and is praised as one of their greatest works. Standing in stark contrast to their previous release, the largely acoustic based “Rubber Soul”, “Revolver” sees The Beatles exploring new musical and sonic territory, with most of the songs being electric guitar based. Though others touch on the use of orchestral instruments (“Eleanor Rigby”), Indian music (“Love You To”), and psychedelia (“She Said, She Said”, “I’m Only Sleeping”, “Tomorrow Never Knows”). It spins off the double A-sided single “Yellow Submarine” (#2 Pop) and “Eleanor Rigby” (#11 Pop). Paul McCartney receives a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (R&R) Solo Vocal Performance for “Eleanor Rigby”, and artist Klaus Voorman receives a Grammy Award for Best Album Cover, Graphic Arts for the albums innovative cover artwork in 1967. In recognition of its ongoing musical and cultural influence, “Revolver” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. The album is remastered and reissued in 2009, with the stereo version being available both individually, and as part of the stereo box set. The original mono mixes (out of print since the late 60’s, with the except of a limited UK vinyl LP reissue in 1982) is released on CD for the first time as part of “The Beatles In Mono” box set. The eleven track US edition is released in January of 2014 both individually, and as part of the “The Beatles – The US Albums” box set. And the UK mono LP is reissued as part of the mono LP box set in September of 2014. “Revolver” is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1967 – The Beatles begin recording “I Am The Walrus” at Abbey Road Studios in London in Studio One. Written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon – McCartney), the finished song is a combination of three others that Lennon had been working on. Inspired while tripping on acid, Lennon incorporates imagery from the Lewis Carroll poem “The Walrus And The Carpenter” (taken from the book “Through The Looking-Glass”), only later realizing the author was making a comment on capitalism and that the walrus is actually the villain of the story. When The Beatles begin work on the song, it is their first time back in the studio following the death of their manager Brian Epstein. The song becomes a centerpiece of the “Magical Mystery Tour” television film and album (initially released in the UK as a double 7” EP set). The band are accompanied on the track by an orchestra and choir (The Mike Sammes Singers) arranged by producer George Martin. When the song reaches the mixing stage, Lennon will come up with the idea of incorporating live radio feed from a BBC broadcast Shakepeare’s “King Lear” (Act IV, Scene VI). During one of the mono mixes, the broadcast is included in the mix. However, this causes a minor problem when it comes to the stereo mix. Since the mix with the King Lear dialogue was mixed only in mono, a “fake stereo” mix have to be fabricated from that portion of the mono mix. “I Am The Walrus” also appears on the B-side of “Hello Goodbye” when it is released as a single on November 24, 1967. The US 45 released by Capitol Records includes an extra instrumental passage between the third and fourth verses of the song. This part is edited out of all other released versions of the song. ”I Am The Walrus” peaks at #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 23, 1967.
On this day in music history: August 23, 1967 – “Are You Experienced?” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience is released in the US (UK release date is on May 12, 1967). Produced by Chas Chandler, it is recorded at De Lane Lea Studios, CBS Studios, and Olympic Studios in London from December 13, 1966 – April 3, 1967. Released two months after his star making performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, the groundbreaking album makes inroads on FM underground radio stations around the country. Many of the tracks become rock radio staples including “Purple Haze”, “Foxy Lady”, “Fire” and the title track. US release of the album differs significantly from its original UK counterpart. Though both contain eleven songs, the US version omits the tracks “Remember”, “Red House”, and “Can You See Me”, replacing them with “Purple Haze”, “Hey Joe” and “The Wind Cries Mary”, all first issued as singles in the UK. The running order is also shuffled for US version. The omitted tracks from the original UK LP subsequently surface on the US version of the compilation album “Smash Hits” in April of 1968 (again with the UK version containing a slightly different track listing). The US release of the album also features completely different cover artwork than the UK release, replacing the original cover photo with the now famed “fish eye lens” shot of the band taken by photographer Karl Ferris. The front and back cover graphics are designed by Warner Bros/Reprise Records art director Ed Thrasher. Over the years, “Experienced” is regarded as one of the most influential rock albums of all time.The album is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, and is added to the National Recording Registry by the Library Of Congress in 2005. “Are You Experienced?” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200 fourteen months after its release, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Strawberry Alarm Clock and Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Ed King (born Edward C. King in Glendale, CA) – September 14, 1949 – August 22, 2018, RIP
On this day in music history: August 19, 1967 – “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the fourteenth US chart topper for “The Fab Four”. The Beatles are asked to represent England as part of the first worldwide satellite broadcast “Our World”. The only request that the organizers will make, is that the band come up with a song containing a simple message that the worldwide audience watching can understand. Having just released the landmark “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band” two weeks before, the band quickly begin work on the song. John Lennon comes up with and writes the majority of what becomes “All You Need Is Love”, with Paul McCartney helping him complete it. The basic track is recorded at Olympic Studios in Barnes, London on June 14, 1967. The band performs the song on the live television broadcast from Studio One at Abbey Road Studios on June 25, 1967. Lennon sings his lead vocal live on the program, but also records it again following the broadcast. The program is seen by over 400 million people in twenty six countries. The song is rush released as a single on July 7, 1967. Entering the Hot 100 at #71 on July 22, 1967, it leaps to the top of the chart just four weeks later. “All You Need Is Love” and its B-side “Baby You’re A Rich Man” (#34 Pop), (recorded on May 11, 1967) are both included on the US LP release of “Magical Mystery Tour” when it is released in late November of 1967. The song is also included in the animated feature “Yellow Submarine” and on its soundtrack album. The Our World footage of The Beatles performing “All You Need Is Love”, originally transmitted in black and white, is restored and digitally colorized when it is included in “The Beatles Anthology” series in November of 1995. “All You Need Is Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 12, 1968 – “Cheap Thrills”, the second album by Big Brother And The Holding Company is released. Produced by John Simon, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City (studio tracks) and the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, CA (live tracks) from March – May 1968. Following the bands breakthrough performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967, they are approached by Clive Davis, then the head Columbia Records who is eager to sign them. At the time, Big Brother are signed to independent label Mainstream Records, who release their self titled debut album in August of 1967. It takes several months for the band to be extricated from their Mainstream contract and sign with Columbia, which takes place in early 1968. Once freed from their prior obligations, they are paired with producer John Simon (The Band), and begin work on their second album. The initial plan is to record Big Brother in concert, producing an album that captures the band’s electric live performances. When the results are lackluster due to the band’s inability to consistently play in tune and in time, they record much of the album in Columbia’s New York recording studio, with the closing track “Ball And Chain” being recorded at Winterland in San Francisco (though the original release erroneously credits it being recorded at the Fillmore East in New York). Originally titled “Sex, Dope, and Cheap Thrills”, Columbia Records refuses to release it with that title, and make the band revise it. The albums iconic cover art by underground artist Robert Crumb (Zap Comix) is first intended to appear on the back of the LP jacket with a photo of Janis Joplin on the front. Joplin is so enamored with Crumb’s artwork that it is put on the front instead. Anchored by the hit single “Piece Of My Heart” (#12 Pop), it is major success. When Columbia originally issues the LP along with the standard stereo version, the label presses a very limited amount of the mono version (an estimated 3000 – 5000 copies only), before quickly deleting it, turning it into a highly priced and sought after collector’s item. The rare mono mix of the album is reissued in November of 2012 as a limited edition 180g vinyl LP pressing for Black Friday Record Store Day. “Cheap Thrills” spends eight weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.