Category: rock

On this day in music history: April 6, 1987 – “Electric”, the third album by The Cult is released. Produced by Rick Rubin, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City from Mid – Late 1986. The band initially record their third album (tentatively titled “Peace”) with producer Steve Brown at Manor Studios in Oxfordshire, UK. Unhappy with the results, they shelve the album and re-record the songs with Rick Rubin, who helps transform the band from its original goth-rock/post punk sound, to a more stripped down hard rock sound. The finished album is a critical and commercial success, providing The Cult with their breakthrough in the US. It spins off three singles including “Love Removal Machine” (#15 Mainstream Rock) and “Lil’ Devil” (#34 Mainstream Rock). Along with the standard vinyl LP, cassette and CD, “Electric” is also released as a limited edition picture disc (5,000 copies), by UK label Beggars Banquet Records. The unreleased tracks from The Manor Studios sessions are eventually issued as B-sides to the “Electric” singles as well as on a limited edition EP titled “Rare Cult” in 2000. The original eleven song album is also remastered and reissued on CD in 2000. “Electric” peaks at number four on the UK album chart, number thirty eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 4, 1983 – “Outside Inside”, the sixth studio album by The Tubes is released. Produced by David Foster, it is recorded at The Automatt, Russian Hill Recording, Tubesound Studios, Different Fur Studios in San Francisco, CA, The Complex in West Los Angeles, CA, Lion Share Recording Studios, The Manor Studios, Record One Studios in Los Angeles, CA and Davlen Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA from Mid – Late 1982. Enjoying a loyal cult following since forming in 1972, the San Francisco, CA based band record five albums for A&M Records before they are dropped. The band are signed to Capitol Records by former Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer turned A&R executive Bobby Columby and Bruce Garfield. Capitol looks to guide them in a more mainstream direction. Initially, The Tubes look to work with Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (The Doobie Brothers), but decide on David Foster. “The Completion Backward Principle” spins off their first Top 40 hit with “Don’t Want To Wait Anymore” (#35 Pop), and “Talk To Ya Later” (#6 Mainstream Rock). With that modest success under their belts, they work on the follow up in mid 1982. At the time, Foster also is responsible for Chicago’s huge comeback with “Chicago 16” and “Hard To Say I’m Sorry”. He decides to use members of Chicago as well as Toto and other musicians to work with The Tubes. The change does not sit well with some, but it does produce immediate results. “She’s A Beauty” (#10 Pop) written by lead singer Fee Waybill, Foster and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather, becomes their biggest hit. Waybill writes it after passing by a peepshow in San Francisco. It is supported by a music video directed by choreographer Kenny Ortega, set in a sideshow, while a young boy rides on a carnival ride with a dominatrix. The boy is played by a then thirteen year old Alexis Arquette, younger brother of actors Rosanna, Patricia and David Arquette. It spins off two more singles including “Tip Of My Tongue” (#52 Pop) co-written by Earth, Wind & Fire leader Maurice White and Michael Snyder, and a cover of Major Lance’s “The Monkey Time” (#68 Pop) featuring label mate and Motels lead singer Martha Davis. “Outside Inside” becomes The Tubes’ biggest album, but it also marks the beginning of their demise. Original vinyl LP copies feature a man looking at an embossed eye chart with the band name and album title spelled out on it. First run copies feature a die cut hole in the center of the sleeve, through which a large brown iris printed on the album labels can be seen. Out of print for years, it makes its long awaited CD debut in 1992 on BGO Records. It is remastered and reissued in 2012 by Iconoclassic Records ‎with four additional bonus tracks, and includes new liner notes written by A. Scott Galloway. “Outside Inside” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard Top 200.

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Kiss cover shoot in New York City for their album Dressed to Kill (1975) in 1974.

Photos by Bob Gruen

On this day in music history: December 9, 1989 – “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Billy Joel, it is the third chart topping single for the singer, songwriter and musician from Hicksville, Long Island, NY. Having just turned forty years old in May 1989, Billy Joel is inspired to write “We Didn’t Start The Fire” after a conversation he has with a young man in his twenties.  When they begin talking about past world events and people, the young man comments to Joel, You were a kid in the fifties and everybody knows that nothing happened in the fifties". To that statement Billy replies, “wait a minute, didn’t you hear of the Korean War or the Suez Canal Crisis?”. Beginning with the year of his birth, 1949, Joel looks up and writes down information on significant historic figures and pop cultural events chronologically leading up to the then present time (1989), then crafting them into structured lyrics. Working with Mick Jones of the band Foreigner as his co-producer, is instrumental in changing the arrangement of the song as how it had been written, to giving it a more driving “rock & roll” attitude. Released as the first single from his eleventh studio album “Storm Front” on September 27, 1989, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #58 on October 14, 1989, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The single receives a Grammy nomination for Record Of The Year in 1990. “Fire” also is the subject of numerous song parodies by comedians and other musicians. “We Didn’t Start The Fire” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 9, 1974 – “Dark Horse”, the sixth album by George Harrison is released. Produced by George Harrison, it is recorded at Friar Park Studios (FPSHOT) in Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire, UK and A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from September 1973, April – July 1974, September – October 1974. Harrison’s third post Beatles album is recorded at a particularly turbulent period which sees him struggling in many aspects in his personal life. To complicate matters further, Harrison is suffering from laryngitis during the recording sessions, but must complete the album in time to begin a tour that he is already committed to perform. The project features a number of guest musicians including Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins, Jim Keltner, Ringo Starr, Tom Scott, Gary Wright, Willie Weeks, and Ron Wood. Critics dub the album “Dark Hoarse” due to Harrison’s vocals, but in spite of this it performs well commercially, spinning off two singles including the title track (#15 Pop) and “Ding Dong, Ding Dong” (#36 Pop). The latter song is inspired by engravings on the grounds of Harrison’s sprawling estate Friar Park, written by its former owner Sir Frank Crisp. A promotional video for the song is filmed at Friar Park, with George donning his famous collarless Beatles suit and Sgt. Pepper uniform. Inspired by Phil Spector’s “Wall Of Sound”, the song written as a “New Year’s Eve sing-a-long”, but becomes associated with the Christmas holiday over the years. The album is remastered and reissued in September of 2014 with the non LP B-side “I Don’t Care Anymore” (flip side of “Dark Horse”) and an early outtake of the title track added as bonus tracks. It is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP, as a stand alone release and as part of the box set “George Harrison – The Vinyl Collection” in 2017. “Dark Horse” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 9, 1972 – “Hot August Night”, the tenth album by Neil Diamond is released. Produced by Tom Catalano, it is recorded at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, CA on August 24, 1972. It is Diamond’s second live album, the twenty two track double LP set is taken from a single performance recorded on August 24, 1972 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, CA, in the middle of a run of ten sold out shows at the famed outdoor venue. It is a huge critical and commercial success for Diamond, and establishes his reputation for dynamic live performances captured on the album. It also is his final release for MCA Records before signing a lucrative and long term contract with Columbia Records. The album spins off three sequels released in 1977 (“Love At The Greek”), 1987 (“Hot August Night II”) and 2009 (“Hot August Night/NYC”). The album is remastered and reissued as a two CD set in 2000, and again in 2012 for its fortieth anniversary with additional tracks that were cut due to the time constraints of vinyl. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, the original version is reissued by UMe in 2012, and reissued again in 2017. “Hot August Night” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 9, 1966 – “A Quick One”, the second album by The Who is released (US release is in May 1967 under the title “Happy Jack”). Produced by Kit Lambert, it is recorded at IBC Studios and Pye Studios in London from September – November 1966. Issued one year and one week after their debut release “My Generation”, The Who’s second full length is an important turning point in the band’s career, as it marks Pete Townshend’s first foray into composing a “rock opera” in the form of the title track. The nine minute long suite of songs at the end of the album’s second side tells a story about a wife’s infidelity while her husband is away. “A Quick One While He’s Away” is also semi autobiographical, as it is the first time that Pete Townshend writes about the periods of separation from his parents as a young boy (in the opening movement “Her Man’s Been Gone”), living with his maternal grandmother, and the sexual abuse he suffers at the hands of one of her male friends (“Ivor The Engine Driver”). The mini opera is the genesis for Townshend’s later works “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia”. The other three members of the band also contribute songs to the album including John Entwistle’s “Boris The Spider”. The band’s US label Decca Records retitles the album “Happy Jack”, after their then current single (#24 Pop) which is added to the track listing. The cover artwork is illustrated by British pop artist Alan Aldridge (The Beatles, Elton John). Released on CD in 1988 with its original mono mix, the US CD release is issued in stereo with five tracks in re-channeled stereo. It is remastered and reissued in 2005, with some tracks newly remixed into stereo. The track “Whiskey Man” is still in fake stereo with the majority of the remaining tracks in mono. The mono version of the album is reissued as 150 and 200 gram vinyl pressings by Classic Records in 2005, with another reissue in 2015. “A Quick One/Happy Jack” peaks at number four on the UK album chart and number sixty seven on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 9, 1966 – “Fresh Cream”, the debut album by Cream is released. Produced by Robert Stigwood, it is recorded at Rayrik Studios and Ryemuse Studios in London from July – October 1966. The first release by the British rock super group is the first release on manager/producer Stigwood’s newly formed Reaction Records in the UK, and will be released by Atlantic Records subsidiary Atco in the US. Featuring a mixture of covers and original material, it includes some of the bands’ signature songs including their first single “I Feel Free” and the blues standards “I’m So Glad”, “Spoonful” and “Rollin’ And Tumblin’”. The US version of the album differs from its UK counterpart by deleting “Spoonful”, replacing it with “I Feel Free” and moving the latter to the start of the first side. When the album is reissued by RSO Records in 1977, it is restored to its original UK track listing. A later LP reissue in 1985 reinstates “I Feel Free” to the track listing, with all subsequent CD releases containing both songs. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the album’s original release, it is releases a three CD + Blu-ray audio disc box set in January of 2017. The first three CD’s feature remastered versions of the original mono and stereo mixes of the album, single versions, alternate takes, and BBC radio broadcast recordings. The Blu-ray disc features high definition audio (24 bit/96k) of the mono stereo mixes, B-sides. It is also issued as a limited edition six LP vinyl set. “Fresh Cream” peaks at number six on the UK album chart,  number thirty nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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