On this day in music history: November 19, 1991 – “Achtung Baby”, the seventh studio album by U2 is released. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, it is recorded at Hansa Studios in Berlin, Germany, Elsinore Studios in Dalkey, Ireland, STS Studios and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland from October 1990 – September 1991. It marks the beginning of a major shift in U2’s musical direction. The album takes its title from a line in the Mel Brooks comedy “The Producers”, both as a tongue in cheek reference to the bands’ recording in Germany, and to add some levity to intensity of the music contained on it. Initial sessions for the album take place at Hansa Studios in Berlin which prove so arduous that the band nearly breaks up in frustration. The writing and recording of the track “One” (#10 Pop) allows them to regroup and creatively refocus their efforts, leading the way to the rest of the albums’ completion. The resulting work is a huge critical and commercial success, spinning off five singles including “Mysterious Ways” (#9 Pop) and “Even Better Than The Real Thing” (#32 Pop). The albums’ cover art, designed by Steve Averill, features a series of various photos (taken by photographer Anton Corbijn) also includes a full frontal nude picture of bassist Adam Clayton on the back cover. The original limited vinyl LP release features this photo uncensored, while the CD pressing includes the photo with an “X” drawn over Clayton’s private parts. The album is remastered and reissued to commemorate its twentieth anniversary in October of 2011, including a single CD, a double CD “Deluxe Edition”, and double vinyl LP releases (with a bonus 12" EP featuring remixes, pressed on blue vinyl). Also released is a “Super Deluxe” that contain six CD’s, four DVD’s and a ninety-two page hardbound book. And finally, a limited (to only six hundred copies) and numbered “Über Deluxe” edition containing all of the contents of the Super Deluxe version, plus the double LP set, and reproductions of all of the albums’ singles pressed on clear vinyl, and packaged with their corresponding picture sleeves. It also features a copy of Propaganda, the bands’ fan club magazine, art prints of the album cover artwork, four badges, stickers, and a pair of Bono’s “Fly” sunglasses. “Achtung Baby” debuts at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 19, 1984 – “Building The Perfect Beast”, the second solo album by Don Henley is released. Produced by Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar and Greg Ladanyi, it is recorded at Record One in Sherman Oaks, CA, Bill Schnee Studio in Universal City, CA, and The Villa in North Hollywood, CA from Late 1983 – Mid 1984. Following up his successful solo debut “I Can’t Stand Still”, the second release from the former Eagles vocalist and drummer features instrumental and vocal support from Lindsey Buckingham, Mike Campbell, Belinda Carlisle, Martha Davis, Patty Smyth, Benmont Tench, Charlie Sexton, Pino Palladino, David Paich, Jim Keltner, Randy Newman and J.D. Souther. The cassette and CD releases of the album include the additional bonus track “A Month Of Sundays” (the non-LP B-side of “The Boys Of Summer”). It is left off of the vinyl pressing of the album due to the time constraints of the format. It spins off four singles including “The Boys Of Summer” (#5 Pop) and “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” (#9 Pop). “Summer” wins Henley a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male in 1985, and also wins four MTV Video Music Awards including Video Of The Year for the songs’ iconic music video directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino (“Justify My Love” “Slave To Love”). “Building The Perfect Beast” peaks at number thirteen on the Billboard Top 200, and certified is 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 19, 1982 – “Coda”, the ninth and final studio album by Led Zeppelin is released. Produced by Jimmy Page, it is recorded from January 9, 1970 – November 21, 1978. Compiled by Page from unreleased studio and live outtakes recorded over an eight year period. The first Zeppelin album to appear in the wake of drummer John Bonham’s death two years earlier, it is released in response to the numerous bootlegs of the bands live and studio vault material that have leaked out over the years. The release also fulfills their contract with Atlantic Records, which also becomes necessary when the band discovers that they owe the label one more album. The tracks “We’re Gonna Groove” and “I Can’t Quit You Baby” are actually live performances from a concert at The Royal Albert Hall with the crowd noise muted out, and guitar overdubs added to the former, while the latter is edited down from its original length. It spins off three airplay tracks on Mainstream Rock radio including “Darlene” (#4 Mainstream Rock) and “Ozone Baby” (#14 Mainstream Rock). A remastered and reissued edition of the album is released in July of 2015 on CD and LP, including a Super Deluxe Box Edition with alternate versions, previously unreleased material. The latter also includes a hardbound book with rare and previously unpublished photos, a lithograph of the album cover art work, and a card for hi-rez downloads of the tracks. “Coda” peaks at number six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 19, 1979 – “Joe’s Garage Acts II & III”, the twenty ninth studio album by Frank Zappa is released. Produced by Frank Zappa, it is recorded at Village Recorders, Studio B in Los Angeles, CA from September 17 – November 19, 1979. The second of two albums released just two months apart, the ten track double album is a rock opera centering around the character “Joe”, following his journey through the music business. Filled with Zappa’s stinging guitar work, tempered with his trademark satirical and often scatalogical humor. The album also takes sharp aim at religion (particularly the Catholic church and Scientology), and the censorship of music. The latter of which foreshadows the musicians’ opposition against the Parents Music Research Center (PMRC) formed by the wives of Washington senators and businessmen in the mid 80’s. “Garage” also features musical backing from members of what becomes the popular new wave band Missing Persons. “Joe’s Garage Acts II & III” peaks at number fifty three on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 18, 1985 – “Rock A Little”, the third solo album by Stevie Nicks is released. Produced by Rick Nowels, Stevie Nicks, Jimmy Iovine and Keith Olsen, it is recorded at Goodnight Studios in Dallas, TX, Westlake Audio, Sunset Sound, Studio 55, United/Western Recorders, Image Recorders in Hollywood, CA, The Record Plant, Village Recorders, The Music Grinder, Art Department Sound in Los Angeles, CA, Record One in Sherman Oaks, CA and Super Bear Studios in Nice, France from Summer 1984 – Fall 1985. Nicks begins recording her third solo album in 1984 with long time producer Iovine (whom she is also romantically with involved at the time), but ends up scrapping most of what is recorded when they break up during the sessions. The singers’ substance abuse problems also reach a crisis point during this time, further delaying completion of the project. It spins off three singles including “Talk To Me” (#4 Pop) and “I Can’t Wait” (#16 Pop). “Rock A Little” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 18, 1981 – “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll”, the second album by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts is released. Produced by Kenny Laguna and Ritchie Cordell, it is recorded at Kingdom Sound Studios in Syosset, NY from Early – Mid 1981. Issued as the follow up to their debut “Bad Reputation”, it is also released on (former Casablanca Records founder) Neil Bogart’s Boardwalk Records. The title track, originally recorded by The Arrows in 1975, becomes the band’s biggest hit, spending seven weeks at number one on the Hot 100 from March-May of 1982. Initial pressings of the LP contain a cover of the holiday classic “Little Drummer Boy” that is replaced by the cut “Oh Woe Is Me” on later pressings. It also spins off a second hit single with their cover of Tommy James & The Shondells classic “Crimson And Clover” (#7 Pop). With the demise of Boardwalk Records following Neil Bogart’s death in 1982, the album goes out of print for nearly a decade, before Jett is able to acquire the rights to the bands’ master tapes. “Rock ‘N’ Roll” is reissued on her own Blackheart Records imprint on CD and cassette in 1992 with all thirteen tracks included for the first time. The album is remastered in 1998 with two additional bonus tracks. It is reissued on vinyl in 2009, with a limited edition 180 gram LP pressed on clear vinyl for Record Store Day in 2011. A double vinyl LP edition is released in 2015 (with 1,000 copies pressed on white vinyl in hand numbered LP sleeves), with the second disc featuring live recordings. One hundred copies of the LP are inserted with a “golden ticket”, redeemable for a very limited edition lithograph poster of the reissues’ cover art work designed by artist Shepard Fairey. “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” spends three weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 18, 1974 – “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”, the sixth album by Genesis is released. Produced by Genesis and John Burns, it is recorded at Island Mobile Studios in Wales, UK from August – October 1974. The twenty three track double LP is a concept album centering around the character Rael and his surreal odyssey while searching for his brother John. The majority of the songs are written by the band with the exception of Peter Gabriel who is largely absent from the writing and rehearsal sessions due to his wife experiencing major complications while having their first child. When Gabriel returns, he’ll insist on writing and in some cases re-writing lyrics to certain songs which creates friction between band members during the recording sessions. It becomes their most successful release to date in the US, and is regarded as one of the best progressive rock albums of all time. It also is the final album to feature original lead vocalist Peter Gabriel, who leaves the band following the subsequent tour in support of the record. Originally issued on CD in 1985, it is remastered and reissued in 1994. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a double vinyl 180 gram LP in 2001. The album is reissued again in 2007 as a double hybrid SACD + DVD set (Europe only, then Japan in 2009), remixing it into 5.1 surround sound. Along with the multi-channel mix, the DVD disc also includes interviews with Genesis and a rare television appearance from 1974. The set comes packaged in a 5" x 5" hardbound book sleeve. “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” peaks at number ten on the UK album chart, number forty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 17, 1980 – “Double Fantasy” by John Lennon & Yoko Ono is released. Produced by John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, it is recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City from August 4 – September 22, 1980. It is the first new music from Lennon in over five years after his self imposed “retirement” to raise his and Ono’s son Sean. Lennon writes the majority of his songs after a sailing trip from Newport, RI to the island of Bermuda. Ono also composes a number of new songs during this same period that are included on the finished album. John and Yoko work with producer Jack Douglas (Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Cheap Trick) on the project, having previously worked as a recording engineer for Lennon on the “Imagine” album. The sessions (recorded in a very low key and secretive manner to avoid media attention) go very quickly and smoothly, with the Lennon’s being supported by a number of crack session musicians including Tony Levin (bass), Hugh McCracken (guitar), and Andy Newmark (drums). The sessions are so productive, that they produce enough material for not just one, but two full albums (the unused material is later released as “Milk And Honey” in January of 1984). It is recorded while Lennon is not under contract to a record label, with his solo contract with Capitol/EMI having expired in 1975. Once word gets around about the project, offers from numerous record labels come pouring in. Eventually they sign with Geffen Records, with David Geffen offering to release the album without hearing a note. It spins off three hit singles including “(Just Like) Starting Over)” (#1 Pop) and “Woman” (#2 Pop). The record is steadily climbing the charts when Lennon is murdered by a deranged fan on December 8, 1980. The album wins the Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1982. “Fantasy” is reissued by Capitol/EMI in 1989 when the rights revert back to Yoko Ono, after she parts ways with Geffen Records several years earlier. The album is first remastered and reissued on CD with three additional bonus tracks, on John’s Birthday in 2000, also to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of its original release. It is remastered and reissued again in 2010 as two CD set titled “Double Fantasy Stripped Down” with the second disc containing alternate mixes of the fourteen tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2015. “Double Fantasy” spends eight weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 17, 1972 – “Seventh Sojourn” the eighth album by The Moody Blues is released. Produced by Tony Clarke, it is recorded at Decca Tollington Park Studios in London from May – September 1972. Issued as the follow up to the acclaimed and successful “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”, The Moodies latest album proves to be a difficult undertaking for them. The complex arrangements and the intense and often overly political subject matter of the material presents a constant challenge to them throughout the four month long recording sessions. So much so that the projected follow up release is shelved, and the band take a three year hiatus following a tour. It spins off two singles including “I’m Just A Singer(In A Rock And Roll Band)” (#12 Pop) and “Isn’t It Strange?” (#29 Pop). However, both are overshadowed by the belated success of “Nights In White Satin” on the US charts, peaking at #2 in November of 1972. Originally released on CD in 1986, it is also reissued as a DTS audio disc, featuring a 5.1 surround mix of the album. It is remastered and reissued as a hybrid SACD in 2007 (Europe only), containing the original stereo mix and the 5.1 multi-channel mix. The 2007 reissue also contains four additional bonus tracks, followed by a standard redbook CD in 2008 with the same bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2014. “Seventh Sojourn” spends five weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 16, 1985 – “We Built This City” by Starship hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Bernie Taupin, Martin Page, Dennis Lambert and Peter Wolf, it is the first chart topping single for the rock band from San Francisco, CA. Regarded as counterculture icons and pioneers of San Francisco’s rock music scene since forming in the mid 60’s, Jefferson Airplane goes through numerous changes in personnel and in name in the 70’s (to Jefferson Starship). After 1984’s “Nuclear Furniture”, founding member Paul Kantner leaves the band who then change their name to Starship. By this time, the band consists of Grace Slick, Mickey Thomas (lead vocals), Craig Chaquico (guitar), Pete Sears (bass), and Donny Baldwin (drums). Keyboardist Peter Wolf (not to be confused with the former J. Geils Band lead vocalist) along with Jeremy Smith are hired as producers. With their long time label RCA insistent that they deliver a hit record, the producers gather material from outside songwriters. They receive a demo from songwriter Bernie Taupin (Elton John) written with fellow songwriter and musician Martin Page titled “We Built This City” originally given to The Motels to record, who decide not to complete it. When Wolf and Smith hear the demo, they decide it’s perfect for Starship, re-writing part of it before they record it. Issued as the first single from “Knee Deep In The Hoopla” in August of 1985, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #73 on September 7, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. Though “We Built This City” is a huge hit and marks the beginning of a new era for the band, also earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group in 1986. At the same time, the songs’ hit status also has polarizing effects, with many critics and older fans stating that the band has “sold out to corporate rock commercialism” and is a shadow of its former self. A point driven further home in the late 2000’s, when now defunct publication Blender Magazine names “We Built This City” one of its “50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever”. Rolling Stone Magazine also names it the worst song of the 80’s in a reader’s online poll in 2011. “We Built This City” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.