On this day in music history: September 21, 1985 – “Fishbone”, the debut EP by Fishbone is released. Produced by David Kahne, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA and Eldorado Recording Studios in Burbank, CA from Late 1984 – Mid 1985. Friends since junior high school, the core of Fishbone is formed around brothers John Norwood Fisher (bass) and Phillip “Fish” Fisher (drums) “Dirty Walt” A. Kibby II (vocals, trumpet), Kendall Jones (guitar, keyboards), and Christopher Dowd (keyboards, vocals). The group begin jamming and rehearsing at the Fishers home in South Central Los Angeles. At this time, all five are bussed to another high school in the San Fernando Valley, where they meet Angelo Moore (vocals, saxophone). First calling themselves Megatron, they change their name to Fishbone with Moore as lead singer. Having a wildly eclectic and manic music style that includes funk, R&B, rock, ska and punk, Fishbone establishes themselves on L.A.’s thriving underground punk scene quickly becoming an attraction and developing a following. Fishbone are discovered by Columbia Records A&R man and producer David Kahne in 1983 when they’re playing a club. He offers to sign the band and take them into the studio. Kahne and Fishbone emerge from the studio with a six track EP featuring all original material written by mostly by guitarist Kendall Jones with contributions from Norwood and Angelo. The bands now trademark “fishbone” logo featured on the back cover is designed by producer David Kahne using an early version of the MacPaint illustrating program on an Apple MacIntosh personal computer. Original vinyl pressings have the message “THANKS MOMMA FISH” etched into the run out groove on both sides, in tribute to Norwood and “Fish” Fisher’s mother. The EP spins off two singles including “? (Modern Industry)” and “Party At Ground Zero”. The closing track “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” also becomes a major fan favorite. In spite of only a limited promotional push from Columbia Records, the EP sells especially well in the Southern California region thanks to major support from stations like KROQ and 91X, and finds pockets of support in other areas when Fishbone tours in support of it. “Fishbone” does not chart on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 13, 1988 – “Truth And Soul”, the second album by Fishbone is released. Produced by David Kahne, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA from Late 1987 – Mid 1988. The second full length album by the multi-faceted and multi-talented L.A. based band sees them expanding beyond their ska, punk and funk music roots, incorporating more thought provoking social commentary into their lyrics, clearly pointed out on tracks such as “Subliminal Fascism”, “Slow Bus Movin’ (Howard Beach Party)”, and “Ghetto Soundwave”. It spins off the hits “Ma And Pa” and their cover of the Curtis Mayfield classic “Freddie’s Dead”, the latter of which gives the band its first major MTV exposure. The album is remastered and reissued in 2012 by UK label Eastworld Recordings. It is also reissued by Asbestos Records in 2014, pressed on red vinyl. “Truth And Soul” peaks at number one hundred fifty three on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 2, 1980 – “Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables”, the debut album by the Dead Kennedys is released. Produced by Norm and East Bay Ray, it is recorded at Möbius Music Studios in San Francisco, CA from May – June 1980. The Dead Kennedys are formed after guitarist East Bay Ray (Raymond Pepperell) decides to put a band together after attending a show at the Mabuhay Gardens in SF. Taking out a newspaper ad, it is answered by Eric Reed Boucher (“Jello Biafra”) (lead vocals), Geoffrey Lyall (“Klaus Flouride”) (bass), Carlos Cadona (“6025”) (rhythm guitar) and Bruce Slesinger (“Ted”) (drums). Their name generates controversy immediately, with SF Chronicle columnist Herb Caen criticizing the Dead Kennedys for their moniker being in poor taste. Like the bands lyrics which often carry stinging political commentary and a highly satirical world view, their name comments on “the death of the American Dream” after the assassinations of JFK and Robert Kennedy. Jello and Ray form their own label Alternative Tentacles Records. Shortly after, they release their first single “California Über Alles”, taking a satirized jab at California governor Jerry Brown, comparing his “hippie-fascist” vision of America to the German Third Reich. It is followed by the equally controversial “Holiday In Cambodia”, a dig at the lifestyles upwardly mobile “self righteous Americans” juxtaposed to the brutal genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge by Cambodian dictator Pol Pot. Re-recording their first two singles, their first album consists of thirteen originals and a cover version of Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas”. The front cover features a photo of several police cars on fire. The picture is taken during the White Night Riot in SF, with members of the gay community rioting after former city supervisor Dan White’s light sentence, for the murders of Mayor George Moscone and openly gay supervisor Harvey Milk. The original back cover features a photo of the band Sounds Of Sunshine, is used after Klaus Flouride finds it at a garage sale. It’s altered placing The Dead Kennedys logo on the drum kit, and skulls and crossbones on the other instruments. The band are threatened with a lawsuit when the unauthorized use is discovered. The cover is reprinted with the SOS band members heads chopped off. Eventually, the photo is removed and replaced with an image of four elderly people sitting in a living room with the Alternative Tentacles logo affixed to a picture on the wall. Though receiving a poor reception from mainstream critics and never charting in the US, the album becomes an underground classic, and is regarded as a seminal and landmark punk rock album. Reissued numerous times over the years and even bootlegged when out of print, it is most recently remastered and reissued in 2008 by Cherry Red Records. “Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables” peaks at number thirty three on the UK album chart.
On this day in music history: August 29, 1977 – “Lust For Life”, the second album by Iggy Pop is released. Produced by David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Colin Thurston (aka “The Bewlay Brothers”), it is recorded at Hansa Studios By The Wall in West Berlin, Germany from April – June 1977. Having produced Pop’s solo debut “The Idiot” the year before, David Bowie returns to the studio with Iggy in mid April of 1977, only a month after that album arrives in stores to record the follow up. The album is also co-produced by Iggy along with engineer Colin Thurston who later engineers Bowie’s “Heroes” album, becoming a success producer in his own right through his work with numerous artists including Duran Duran and Talk Talk. The trio dub themselves “The Bewlay Brothers” after the song on the album “Hunky Dory”. With guitarist Carlos Alomar in tow, “Lust” also features musical support from Ricky Gardiner (lead guitar), Bowie (keyboards, piano, organ, backing vocals) and brothers Hunt (drums, bass, backing vocals) and Tony Sales (bass, guitar, backing vocals), the sons of comedian Soupy Sales. Rejuvinated both creatively and physically after moving Berlin in late 1976 to beat his severe cocaine addiction, Bowie writes or co-writes seven of the the nine songs included on “Lust For Life” including the now iconic title track. The song is inspired by sound of the morse code opening that David hears while listening to Armed Forces Radio one day. The distinctive and hard hitting back beat on “Lust” played by Hunt Sales, is taken directly from “The Motown Sound”, specifically The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” and Martha & The Vandella’s “I’m Ready For Love”, but played with a more intense and punkish drive. “The Passenger”, written by guitarist Gardiner is another stand out on the album and becomes another one of Iggy Pop’s signature songs over time. Once released, the album becomes the most successful of Pop’s career internationally. It is in part fueled by a now legendary and infamous appearance that Iggy makes on the UK music show “TopPop”, where he literally destroys part of the stage set during his energetic performance. It makes a lesser splash in the US, after RCA abruptly pulls the plug on its promotional efforts to focus on selling Elvis Presley catalog, in the wake of the rock & roll legend’s death two weeks before. In later years, “Lust For Life” is featured in various media including the films “Desperately Seeking Susan” and most notably at the opening of “Trainspotting”. The album is first released on CD in 1990 on Virgin Records who purchases the rights to Pop’s three RCA albums. It is remastered and reissued on vinyl in 1997, and is reissued again by 4 Men With Beards in 2009, with limited pressings on clear red, purple and yellow vinyl in 2016. And finally it is reissued by Virgin/UMe in 2017 on standard black vinyl and clear vinyl. “Lust For Life” peaks at number one hundred twenty on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: August 21, 1987 – “The $5.98 E.P. – Garage Days Re-Revisited” by Metallica is released. Produced by Metallica, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA and Conway Studios in Los Angeles, CA in July 1987. Still reeling after the death of their friend and co-founding member Cliff Burton, the surviving members of Metallica find it difficult to work for several months. Even with Burton’s replacement Jason Newsted having proved his mettle and having survived an intense “hazing period” during his initial months as a band member, Metallica are still having a hard time writing new material for the follow up to “Master Of Puppets”. The pressure to come up with a new release nearly causes the band to implode. Things are further complicated when guitarist and lead vocalist James Hetfield breaks his wrist while skateboarding, forcing the band to take even a longer hiatus from the studio. We he recovers, they come up with a different plan to continue. In order to get back up and running, and break in their new bassist, Metallica decide to record an EP rather than a full album with original material. The five song vinyl EP (also issued on CD with the amended title “The $9.98 EP”) features covers of some of the bands favorite New Wave, British Heavy Metal and Hardcore Punk songs. Metallica includes the list price in the title to insure that fans are not overcharged for it by retailers. The EP goes out of print in the 90’s, and becomes a much sought after and high priced collectible among fans until it is reissued in 1998 in expanded form as “Garage, Inc.”. Out of print for nearly thirty years in its original form, the EP is reissued on limited edition 180 gram orange colored and standard black vinyl, cassette and CD on April 13, 2018. The vinyl reissue also comes with a mp3 download card of the full EP contents. The CD edition also comes packaged in a cardboard long box, like the original 1987 release, with the added feature of the box sporting a lenticular cover. “The $5.98 E.P. – Garage Days Re-Revisited” peaks at number twenty eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 3, 1972 – “Obscured By Clouds”, the seventh studio album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at the Château d’Hérouville, Hérouville in Île-de-France, France from February 23 – 29 and March 23 – 27, 1972. The album features music (six tracks with vocals and four instrumentals) from the soundtrack of director Barbet Schroeder’s (“Single White Female”) film “La Vallée” (“The Valley”). It is the bands’ second collaboration with the French film director, having composed the music for his 1969 film “More”. Pink Floyd will record “Clouds” just prior to the sessions for their next studio album “The Dark Side Of The Moon” at Abbey Road Studios in London beginning in June. Working under a tight schedule, the band complete the recording of their film score in just two weeks of studio time, following Schroeder’s rough cut of the film to create specific music cues and interludes. The albums’ enigmatic cover art (designed by regular graphic collaborators Hipgnosis) features a deeply out of focus photo of a man sitting in a tree. Remastered and reissued various times since making its CD debut in 1986, it is most recently reissued in 2011. The vinyl LP, out of print since 1990, is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. The album packaging replicates the original UK cover artwork, with the LP jacket having rounded die cut corners and the original hype sticker spotlighting the film. “Obscured By Clouds” peaks at number six on the UK album chart and number forty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 29, 1982 – “Combat Rock”, the fifth studio album by The Clash is released (UK release date is on May 14, 1982). Produced by The Clash and Glyn Johns, it is recorded at Ear Studios in London in September 1981, Electric Lady Studios in New York City from November 1981 – January 1982 and Wessex Studios in London in April 1982. Following the epic triple album “Sandinista!” in 1980, The Clash continue forward by refusing to stay in one place musically, or be pigeonholed creatively. In the interim, the band record and release the stand alone single “This Is Radio Clash” (#47 UK, #17 US Club Play) in late 1981, which is first new song to emerge from the sessions of their next full length release. The album in progress is originally conceived as a double LP with the working title “Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg”. However, intense squabbling over music direction during the sessions (initially produced by Mick Jones) results in them scrapping their original concept. Producer and engineer Glyn Johns is brought in to oversee the production, and the material is pared down to a single album instead. It is the bands most successful album, spinning off four singles including “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” (#17 UK first release, #45 US Pop, #1 UK 1991 reissue) their US biggest hit “Rock The Casbah” (#8 US Pop and Club Play, #30 UK, #15 UK 1991 reissue). In the US, Epic Records services radio stations with a limited edition picture disc LP with a camouflage pattern and 10 x 7 sticker insert, that becomes a rare and sought after collector’s item. Initial pressings contain a commercial for “2000 Flushes” on the track “Innoculated City”, that is removed from subsequent re-pressings to avoid legal action against the band. “Combat Rock” also marks the beginning of the end for the band. It is the last Clash album to feature members Mick Jones and Topper Headon who are both fired from the band, Jones for being at odds with Joe Strummer, and Headon for his increasingly out of control heroin addiction. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2000, with 180 gram vinyl LP reissues by Music On Vinyl in Europe and Sony Legacy in the US in 2013. “Combat Rock” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 20, 1977 – “In The City”, the debut album by The Jam is released. Produced by Vic Smith and Chris Parry, it is recorded at Stratford Place in London in March 1977. Heavily influenced by the 60’s mod culture in London and by bands like The Kinks and The Who, the punk/new wave trio from Woking, Surrey, UK led by guitarist and vocalist Paul Weller stand out significantly from their contemporaries. Unlike other British punk bands of the era, The Jam often dress in sharp tailored suits, (rather than the ripped and safety pinned clothing that many other bands wore), and are more musically influenced by the 60’s pop and R&B music that mod teens of the era listened and danced to. The band immediately make their impact felt in their home country with their critically acclaimed and commercially successful debut, also earning them a solid cult following in the US. The album spins off two singles including “All Around The World” (#13 UK) and the title track (#40 UK). Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 2008 in Japan as an SHM-CD. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued in 2013 as a 180 gram vinyl LP, as part of UMe’s “Back To Black” vinyl reissue series. “In The City” peaks at number twenty on the UK album chart.