On this day in music history: October 20, 1980 – “Catholic Boy”, the debut album by The Jim Carroll Band is released. Produced by Earl McGrath and Bob Clearmountain, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City from June – August 1980. A gifted poet and writer since his teens, Jim Carroll sees his poetry work published in magazines and book form beginning in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He finds greater fame in 1978 when his autobiography “The Basketball Diaries” is released. The bold and starkly honest book is drawn from personal diary entries written between the ages of twelve and sixteen. Carroll writes about his Catholic school upbringing, being a high school basketball star and his sexual experiences before spiraling down into heroin addiction. By the late 70’s, Carroll is able to recover his sobriety while continuing to write, and takes an unexpected career turn. Having been roommates with fellow poet and punk rock pioneer Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, Smith encourages Jim to start his own band. In 1979, Carroll forms The Jim Carroll Band with band members Steve Linsley (bass), Wayne Woods (drums), Brian Linsley and Terrell Winn (guitars). After playing together for a short time, the band are signed to Atlantic subsidiary Atco Records. The raw, rudimentary instrumentation featuring Carroll’s dark and powerful lyrics make for a compelling combination. The band are also supported in studio by Rolling Stones side man Bobby Keys (saxophone) and Blue Öyster Cult keyboardist Allen Lanier. The album’s cover photo is taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz (Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair). Though only a modest success, “Catholic Boy” receives attention and acclaim for the single “People Who Died”. Written as an elegy to Carroll’s fallen friends, the song becomes a punk rock classic and an enduring pop cultural touchstone. It is heard briefly in the 80’s blockbuster “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”, and is later featured in the film adaptation of “The Basketball Diaries” in 1995, with Leonardo DiCapro portraying Jim Carroll. Carroll himself also makes a cameo appearance in the film as a junkie. With the original version being featured on the soundtrack album, a music video for “People Who Died” is shot featuring clips from the film inter cut with Carroll performing the song. “Boy” is released on CD by Atco/Atlantic in 1989. “Catholic Boy” peaks at number seventy three on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: October 9, 1979 – “The Fine Art Of Surfacing”, the third album by The Boomtown Rats is released. Produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Phil Wainman, it is recorded at Phonogram Studios in Hilversum, NL in Early – Mid 1979. The album marks a departure from the Irish bands punk roots, showing even more diverse musical influences. Many of the albums songs are influenced by a trip that lead singer and bandleader Bob Geldof takes to the US to promote the band, prior to entering the studio to record “Surfacing”. It is anchored by the classic single “I Don’t Like Mondays” which is inspired by an incident at a San Diego elementary school on January 29, 1979, when a teen aged girl named Brenda Ann Spencer goes on a random shooting spree. In the melee, Spencer shoots eleven people, killing two and injuring nine. After Spencer is arrested for the crime, the authorities ask her why she did it, and Spencer is infamously quoted as saying “I don’t like Mondays” as her reason. The single is a smash in the UK and the bands native Ireland, hitting #1 both countries. It only peaks at #73 in the US, when it is banned from airplay by many radio stations over public shock from the senseless and violent incident. “The Fine Art Of Surfacing” peaks at number seven on the UK album chart, and number one hundred three on the Billboard Top 200.
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 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. Rejuvenated 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 on “Lust For Life” including the now iconic title track. The song is inspired by the 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, and becomes another one of Iggy Pop’s signature songs over time. Once released, it 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, after 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”. It is first released on CD in 1990 on Virgin Records. 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: August 1, 1981 – At 12:01 am, MTV, the world’s first 24 hour cable music network is launched. A joint venture between Warner Communications and American Express (i.e. Warner-Amex Cable, later Viacom, Inc.), the cable television channel originally shows music videos and concerts during its round the clock broadcasts (VJ segments are pre-taped). The concept for the channel is created by Bob Pittman, who later becomes president and CEO of MTV Networks. The original MTV VJ’s are J.J. Jackson, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, Nina Blackwood, and Martha Quinn (Jackson, Hunter, and Blackwood leave in 1986, Goodman in 1987 and Quinn in 1991). The first music video aired on the channel is the clip for The Buggles’ 1979 single “Video Killed The Radio Star”, making a symbolic and prophetic statement on how the visual aspect of music will impact it in the future. The network revolutionizes the way music is marketed and promoted to a mass audience, forever changing the music industry. In the months and years that follow, MTV spawns numerous competitors and imitators including Video Jukebox, Night Tracks (on SuperStation WTBS out of Atlanta), Friday Night Videos (on NBC), ABC Rocks, Cable Music Channel, and D-TV (on the Disney Channel). Later in the decade and the early 90’s, the channel breaks new ground with the introduction of shows like “Yo! MTV Raps”, “Headbanger’s Ball”, “120 Minutes” and “MTV Unplugged”, impacting the rise of Hip Hop, Metal and Alternative Rock into mainstream popularity. By the mid 90’s, with the shifting tides in musical tastes and trends, MTV begins to significantly reduce the number of hours per day that music videos are played, in favor of other programming created for the channel including reality shows like “The Real World”, “The Osbournes, "Jersey Shore” and various game shows, comedy programs and animated programs. Happy 38th Anniversary, MTV!!!
When I started this blog here in October of 2011, it was to indulge and share my passion for music with others. In just a few years, “Behind The Grooves” has grown from just a handful of followers to over 21,000 here on Tumblr alone. These posts require extensive research and many hours to write and edit, and are the product of my own personal diligence and dedication.
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On this day in music history: May 27, 1977 – “God Save The Queen” by The Sex Pistols is released. Written by Paul Cook, Steve Jones, John Lydon and Glen Matlock, it is the biggest hit for the seminal English punk rock band fronted by lead singer Johnny Rotten. Written and recorded shortly after The Sex Pistols are unceremoniously dropped by their first label EMI Records, the song takes its title from the national anthem of the United Kingdom. It is the last single by the band to feature bassist Glen Matlock, before he leaves the band in February of 1977 and is replaced by Sid Vicious. Issued as their first single for their new label Virgin Records, after A&M Records signs then quickly drops the band before releasing the song. “Queen” is strategically released to coincide with the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, and immediately sparks controversy. To promote the record, The Pistols stage a performance on June 7, 1977, playing aboard a boat not so coincidentally called the Queen Elizabeth on the River Thames near the Palace Of Westminster. The band, manager Malcolm McLaren and several members of the Pistols entourage are arrested after the boat docks. Both the BBC and the IBA ban it from any radio airplay or television exposure, feeling that it is disrespectful and a direct assault on the monarchy. But the ban does not prevent the single from being a huge seller right out of the gate. It peaks at #2 on the UK singles chart despite the ban, though it is widely disputed that the single was indeed the #1 selling record in England at the time. Rod Stewart’s “I Don’t Want To Talk About It/The First Cut Is The Deepest” is listed as the number one single on the official charts. The singles picture sleeve artwork is designed by artist Jamie Reid and features a portrait of the Queen with the song title and band name covering her eyes and mouth. Copies of the original withdrawn A&M pressing of “Queen” are now valued at between £500 to £13,000 / $785 to 20,387 in US dollars, with only a small handful of legitimate copies known to still be in existence. In 2012, Virgin Records reissues “God Save The Queen” for its thirty-fifth anniversary, in tandem with the Diamond Jubilee Of Queen Elizabeth II. Lead singer John Lydon openly voices his displeasure at the re-release, feeling that it undermines the original intent and message of the song. The reissue of “Queen” peaks at #80 on the UK singles chart.
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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 will 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.
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