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. “Atom Heart Mother” also marks the first time that Pink Floyd work with then Abbey Road staff engineer Alan Parsons, who becomes a valuable technical asset to the band, on this and especially “The Dark Side Of The Moon”. 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 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.
On this day in music history: August 16, 1968 – “Fire” by The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown is released. Written by Vincent Crane, Arthur Brown, Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker, it is the second single (US debut) and biggest hit for the rock band from London, UK. Formed in 1967, original line up of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown consists of Arthur Brown (lead vocals), Vincent Crane (organ), Sean Nicholas Greenwood (bass) and Drachen Theaker (drums). The band quickly attract attention not only for their music, but for the antics of their flamboyant front man. Boasting an impressive vocal range of four octaves, Brown also becomes known for outlandish on stage theatrics, inspired in part by American R&B singer Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. He dresses in long flowing robes, either wearing heavy ghoulish make up or metallic masks covering much of his face. Then for an even more striking touch, wearing a metal helmet that is doused in lighter fluid and set on fire. The band are signed to Track Records in the UK, after Pete Townshend sees them at the UFO Club in London. Having grown up in post-war England, Brown comes to know many people who were adversely affected by the horrors and hardships brought on by war, including post traumatic stress disorder. The band compose a cycle of songs about a man facing his inner demons, forming a loose concept for the album. “Fire” is written as the centerpiece of “Tales From the Neurotic Nights Of Hieronymous Anonymous” aka the “Fire Suite”. “Fire” features Brown on vocals, Crane on organ and organ bass pedals and Theaker on drums. After its completed, Lambert and Stamp seek US distribution for the record. They play it for Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, who immediately loves the music and concept of the band, but notices drummer Theaker’s problems with keeping time. Lambert and Crane add horns and strings to make the tracks sound fuller, and in many cases cover up the scattershot drumming. Released in the UK first on June 14, 1968, “Fire” is an immediate sensation, leaping to number one within a month. Issued in the US a month later, the single follows a similar trajectory. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on September 7, 1968, it rockets to #2 six weeks later on October 19, 1968, unable to budge The Beatles’ epic “Hey Jude” from the top spot. In spite of this major success, the band does not reach the charts again. Their second album “Strangelands” is shelved after the band implodes in June of 1969. Though their time in the spotlight is brief, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown’s influence endures, inspiring future shock rockers like Alice Cooper, KISS, Mercyful Fate and Marilyn Manson. The song later adds co-writing credits for Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker, when they discover “Fire” uses part of the melody of their song “Baby You’re A Long Way Behind”. “Fire” 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.
On this day in music history: August 11, 1969 – “Barabajagal”, the seventh album by Donovan is released. Produced by Mickie Most, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London in May 1968, and American Recording Company in Los Angeles, CA November 1968 and May 1969. The album features musical backing by The Jeff Beck Group (on the title track) as well as background vocals from Graham Nash, Mike McGear (aka Michael McCartney), Rod Stewart, Lesley Duncan and Madeline Bell. It spins off two singles including the double A-sided single “Atlantis” / “To Susan On The West Coast Waiting” (#7 Pop) and the title track (#36 Pop). The album also marks the end of Donovan’s long term collaboration with producer Mickie Most, with Most shifting his attention to his newly formed label RAK Records, signing artists such as Hot Chocolate, The Arrows, Smokie, and Suzi Quatro. “Atlantis” is later used in a memorable scene in director Martin Scoresese’s “Goodfellas” in 1990. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued in 2005. The album is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Music On Vinyl in 2013, the first release of the album in that format in nearly thirty years. “Barabajagal” peaks at number twenty three on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: August 7, 1990 – “Bellybutton”, the debut album by Jellyfish is released. Produced by Albhy Galuten and Jack Joseph Puig, it is recorded at Bill Schnee Studio, Studio 55 and Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1989 – Early 1990. Formed out of the remains of the band Beatnik Beatch, drummer and lead vocalist Andy Sturmer and keyboardist Roger Manning co-found Jellyfish in 1989, adding guitarist Jason Faulkner to the line up. The critically acclaimed debut album by the San Francisco based band draws upon a number of musical influences, most notably the harmonically driven pop sounds of such artists as The Beach Boys, Queen, XTC, Badfinger, and Wings. With their record label (Charisma/Virgin) unsure how to market the innovative and eclectic bands debut, it only finds minimal commercial success. However, the band attracts a passionate and loyal following, based on its spirited live performances and radio support they receive from College and Alternative Rock radio. The album spins off three singles including “The King Is Half Undressed” and “That Is Why”. After being out of print for many years (with the exception of a Japanese import CD released in 1999), the album is remastered and reissued in 2012 by Omnivore Records as a limited edition vinyl LP (on blue vinyl), making it available for the first time in more than twenty years in that format. In 2015 it is reissued as a double CD deluxe edition, also featuring live recordings and original song demos. “Bellybutton” peaks at number one hundred twenty four on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: August 5, 1966 – “Revolver”, the seventh album by The Beatles is released (US release date is on August 8, 1966). 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”), brass (“Got To Get You Into My Life”) 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. Some original UK mono pressings contain an alternate mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Doctor Robert” printed “Dr. Robert” on the side two label, which is withdrawn and corrected on subsequent re-pressings. First issued on CD in 1987, 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, and as an individual release. “Revolver” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, for its ongoing historic and cultural significance. “Revolver” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.