On this day in music history: September 6, 1975 – “Red Octopus”, the third album (twelfth overall) by Jefferson Starship hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 4 weeks (non-consecutive). Produced by Jefferson Starship and Larry Cox, it is recorded at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, CA in February 1975. The album marks the full time return of vocalist Marty Balin who had left the band (while still named Jefferson Airplane) in 1971. Led by the Balin penned single “Miracles” (#3 Pop), the album becomes the best selling title of any of the San Francisco bands incarnations (Jefferson Airplane or Starship). Original LP pressings feature the cover graphics printed in reflective gold ink, which is changed to a flat black color on subsequent reissues to save on printing costs. The album is also remixed into quadraphonic stereo at the time of its original release. “Octopus” is remastered and reissued on CD in 2005 using safety copies, since the original first generation masters have deteriorated beyond use. The reissue contains five bonus tracks, including the single edit of “Miracles” and four previously unreleased live tracks recorded at Winterland in San Francisco in November of 1975. “Red Octopus” is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: September 5, 1946 – Singer, songwriter and musician Freddie Mercury of the legendary rock band Queen (born Farrokh Bulsara in Stone Town, Zanizbar, East Africa). Happy Birthday to this rock music icon on what would have been his 73rd Birthday.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1973 – “Buckingham Nicks”, the sole album by Buckingham Nicks is released. Produced by Keith Olsen, it is recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA from Early – Mid 1973. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and vocalist Stevie Nicks meet while both were high school students in Atherton, CA. They become romantically involved and musical collaborators in the band Fritz. Both eventually drop out of college, moving to L.A. to pursue their mutual goal of making it in music business. Taking odd jobs to support themselves, Lindsey and Stevie begin recording demos of their songs, when not long after they meet recording engineer and producer Keith Olsen of Sound City Studios. Olsen take the duo under his wing, living in his home for a time with Nicks working as Olsen’s housekeeper. They also meet Ted Feigan and Lee LaSeffe who shop the pairs demos around and secure them a deal with Polydor Records. The album is recorded with a number of top L.A. studio musicians including Jim Keltner (drums), Jerry Scheff (bass) Jorge Calderón (percussion) and Waddy Wachtel (guitars). Despite high hopes for its success, Polydor does very little to promote it. The project is a commercial flop and the duo are dropped from the label. Disappointed by the failure, the duo resume working day jobs to get by. A little more than a year after, fate intervenes when Mick Fleetwood is in town looking for a studio to record Fleetwood Mac’s next album. While at Sound City, Keith Olsen plays the track “Cryin’ In The Night” from Buckingham Nicks’ album to demonstrate the recording console. Very impressed by what he hears, Fleetwood asks Lindsey to join the band. Buckingham agrees, but only if Mick takes Stevie as a member also. He consents, and the pair officially join Fleetwood Mac on New Years Day of 1975. The song “Crystal” from the duos album is re-recorded and featured on their first album with Fleetwood Mac. With their rise to stardom in Fleetwood Mac, fans discover the “Buckingham Nicks” album, turning it into a cult classic. Never charting on the Billboard Top 200, it charts only briefly on Billboards Catalog (#28) and Midline LP charts (#43) in 1983 after the release of Fleetwood Mac’s “Mirage”, before going out of print. To date, there has never been an official CD release, though it has been widely bootlegged, with as many as an additional dozen unreleased tracks surface. A demo recording of “Without You” from the sessions is released on Apple iTunes April of 2013, “Stephanie” (on a promo CD from Buckingham titled “Words and Music (A Retrospective)” in 1992) and “Long Distance Winner” (on Nicks’ “Enchanted” box set), presently remain the only officially sanctioned releases associated with the album to date, though talk continues about an official reissue of the original album.
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: September 5, 1964 – “House Of The Rising Sun” by The Animals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Traditional: Arranged by Alan Price, it is the first and biggest hit for the Newcastle, UK based band. The song is a remake of a folk ballad (the original writer is unknown) that is believed to date back to eighteenth century England. British immigrants brought the song to America where its lyrics about being set in New Orleans were incorporated into the song. The song becomes a part of many folk musicians repertoires with versions recorded by Woody Guthrie, Glenn Yarborough, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Bob Dylan. Its hit potential is realized after the enthusiastic response it receives when The Animals play it live while touring the UK as Chuck Berry’s opening act. The band take a day off the tour, flying down to London from Liverpool to cut the track. Recorded at Kingsway Studios (later renamed De Lane Lea Studios) in London in just one take on May 18, 1964. The song is given a stunning and dramatic re-arrangement (credited to keyboardist Alan Price, but actually all of the members participated in its creation) which turns it into an instant classic. Clocking in at four and a half minutes, it is initially considered too long for radio airplay and the bands UK label (EMI Records’ Columbia label) are hesitant to release it as a single. Producer Mickie Most convinces them to issue it, and the record takes off immediately. An edited version (clocking in at 2:58) is released by MGM Records when it is picked up for US release. Entering the Hot 100 at #60 on August 8, 1964, it vaults to the top of the chart just four weeks later. Regarded by many as the definitive recording of the song, “Sun” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. “House Of The Rising Sun” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1982 – “It’s Hard”, the tenth album by The Who is released. Produced by Glyn Johns, it is recorded at Turn Up-Down Studio in Surrey, UK in June 1982. Recorded at producer/engineer Johns home studio, “It’s Hard” is The Who’s last album of new studio material for twenty four years. Though their previous album “Face Dances” is commercially successful, the band members are divided on the material composed by Townshend. During the period that follows, Pete is still struggling with alcohol and substance abuse which has reached a crisis point. Taking a much needed hiatus, Townshend receives treatment from Dr. Meg Patterson to overcome his drinking and drug problems. Newly sober, Townshend comes to band rehearsals with only two new songs ready. Taking inspiration from The Clash, Pete writes a number of songs taking on political issues and his struggles with addiction, most notably in “"I’ve Known No War”, “One Life’s Enough”, and “Eminence Front” (#5 Mainstream Rock). The album receives a glowing review from Rolling Stone magazine upon its release, though some critics and fans are not as receptive to the shift away from their classic “arena rock” sound, that saw them at the peak of their success in the 70’s. Lead singer Roger Daltrey is also later critical of the album, stating “it should never have been released. I had huge rows with Pete…”, and “the record company wanted a record out and they wanted us to do a tour”. It spins off two singles including “Athena” (#28 Pop, #3 Mainstream Rock). The band support the album with a “farewell tour” in the Fall of 1982/Winter 1983. When it is reissued on CD in 1997, it is dramatically remixed from its original release, which is most noticeable on the albums two singles which featured an odd off centered placement of the vocals in the original mixes. The reissue also includes four live bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP, by Polydor/Geffen/UMe in 2015. The same year, “Eminence Front” is featured prominently in a television ad campaign for Chevrolet pick up trucks. The song is also featured in the film version of the hit HBO series “Entourage” also in 2015. “It’s Hard” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1982 – “Abracadabra” by the Steve Miller Band hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks (non-consecutive). Written by Steve Miller, it is the third and final number one single for the Milwaukee, WI born guitarist. The title track from Miller’s twelfth album, it marks the return to pop commercial success for the veteran musician. After the back to back successes of “Fly Like An Eagle” and “Book Of Dreams” in 1976 and 1977, Miller takes a four year hiatus from the music business, leaving his longtime home base of San Francisco, CA for a spread in rural Oregon. He returns in 1981 with the album “Circle Of Love” which sells poorly and garners little radio support. Quickly rebounding to the tight, melodically driven pop/rock that made him a superstar in the mid 70’s, Miller records the “Abracadabra” album in short order. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on May 29, 1982, it climbs to the top fourteen weeks later. “Abracadabra” spends one week at the top, then yields to Chicago’s “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” for 2 weeks, then regains its bullet, giving it enough upward chart momentum to retake the number one spot for an additional week. “Abracadabra” also hits number one in an additional five countries around the world. On October 30, 1982, it sets a Billboard chart record for the biggest drop out of US Top 10 when it falls from #10 to #48 in one week, leaving the chart entirely two weeks later. During the singles run on the charts, Capitol Records issues two different pressings of the single. The original press run (w/ the maroon Capitol label, some copies also packaged with a picture sleeve) feature the edited version of the song at a slightly faster speed than the full LP version. The second pressing (w/ the black rainbow color band Capitol label), features the same edited version, but with the track at the correct original speed and pitch. It is not known if the faster speed copies were pressed in error or not. “Abracadabra” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1976 – “Fleetwood Mac” by Fleetwood Mac hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 1 week. Produced by Fleetwood Mac and Keith Olsen, it is recorded at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA in February 1975. Released in July 1975, the album is the first to feature new members Lindsey Buckingham (guitar, vocals) and Stevie Nicks (vocals), replacing guitarist Bob Welch when he departs for a solo career. The album marks the beginning of the band moving from having a solid cult following the the US to becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. Though it gets off to a modest start, steadily building momentum as the band tours tirelessly in support of it. It eventually spins off three singles including “Rhiannon” (#11 Pop), “Say You Love Me” (#11 Pop) and “Over My Head” (#20 Pop). “Fleetwood Mac” sets a new precedent for the slowest climb to number one, taking a then record fifty eight weeks from the time it first enters the Top 200 chart in late July of 1975. The record stands until 1989 when Paula Abdul’s “Forever Your Girl” hits #1 in its sixty fourth week on the Top 200. “Fleetwood Mac” breaks into the Top 10 on September 27, 1975, climbing to #9 a week later before slipping out of the Top 10. It does not return until February 21, 1976 in its thirtieth week. Bolstered by the singles “Rhiannon”, “Say You Love Me” and airplay favorite “Landside”, the album remains in the Top 10 until October 30, 1976. “Fleetwood Mac” is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1971 – “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written and produced by Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney, it is the first solo chart topper for the former Beatles bassist. The first number one single for Paul McCartney following the break up of The Beatles come from a number of different sources. It is pieced together from various unfinished song fragments McCartney has lying around. Paul’s uncle, Albert Kendall (married to his Aunt Milly) is also an inspiration while the song is being written. The track is recorded at Columbia Studios in New York City in November of 1970, and features Paul on electric and acoustic guitars, bass, piano, lead and background vocals, Linda McCartney on harmony vocals, Denny Seiwell on drums, Hugh McCracken on electric and acoustic guitars, with members of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra playing brass and strings. George Martin actually co-writes the orchestral arrangement for the song with Paul, but is not credited at the time of its original release. After the initial sessions, more overdubs are recorded and final mixing takes place over the next five months. “Uncle Albert” is rush released as a single in the US on August 2, 1971, nearly three months after the album “Ram”, when heavy airplay by American radio stations forces its release. Entering the Hot 100 at #65 on August 14, 1971, it leaps to the top of the chart just three weeks later, making an impressive jump from #12 to #1. The single wins a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) in 1972. “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.