Category: soft rock

On this day in music history: May 14, 1984 – &…

On this day in music history: May 14, 1984 – “Chicago 17”, the seventeenth album by Chicago is released. Produced by David Foster, it is recorded at The Lighthouse in North Hollywood, CA, The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA and Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid 1983 – Early 1984. Hitting the reset button on their career with “Chicago 16”, Chicago look to continue their new found success. Though the other band members are pleased with their renewed popularity, there also comes a dramatic shift in Chicago’s creative dynamic. With producer David Foster at the helm, greater focus is put on bassist and vocalist Peter Cetera and keyboardist and vocalist Bill Champlin. In their first era, Robert Lamm and James Pankow had a more dominant creative presence. They find their roles diminished further as Foster brings in additional musicians including Jeff Porcaro (Toto), John Robinson (Rufus), Carlos Vega (James Taylor) (drums), Paul Jackson, Jr., Michael Landau (guitars), and Paulinho Da Costa (percussion). Cetera dominates the album, vocally as well as co-writing five songs, with Lamm and Pankow co-writing one and two songs respectively. Though some long time fans are not happy with the decidedly slicker, more polished sound, it wins them a whole new fan base. “17” spins off four singles including “Stay The Night” (#16 Pop), “Hard Habit To Break” (#3 Pop and AC), “You’re The Inspiration” (#3 Pop, #1 AC) and “Along Comes A Woman” (#14 Pop, #25 AC). It is also released as a video album on laserdisc (two music videos, w/ the audio of the full album). Though it earns a pair of Grammy nominations and becomes Chicago’s biggest selling album, it also marks the end of Peter Cetera’s tenure in the band. The animosity created by Cetera becoming the public’s focus point, as well as taking more creative control, comes to a head in the Summer of 1985. He tells his band mates that he is not interesting in touring, but wants to record as a solo artist, and remain a member of Chicago. The other members flatly refuse, leading to Peter Cetera to quit after nearly eighteen years in the band. Sadly, the bad feelings between Cetera and his former band mates last to this day. The bassist refusing to perform at or attend the ceremony, when Chicago are finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2016. Their first album to be simultaneously released on CD along with the vinyl and cassette formats, it is remastered and reissued in 2006, with one additional bonus track. It is also released as a high resolution SHM-CD by WMG Japan in 2010, with Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissuing it as a 24K gold CD in 2011. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music. “Chicago 17” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 9, 1973 – &l…

On this day in music history: May 9, 1973 – “Now & Then”, the fifth studio album by The Carpenters is released. Produced by Richard and Karen Carpenter, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA circa early 1973. The album features mostly cover material (“Sing” (#3 Pop) ), with the second side consisting of a medley of oldies favorites book ended by the song “Yesterday Once More” (#2 Pop). Carpenters guitarist Tony Peluso provides the voice of the DJ on the medley side of the album. The original LP package is a three panel gatefold with a shot of the duo (sitting a in red Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona ) in front of the Carpenters family home in Downey, CA. Originally released on CD in the mid 80’s, the album is remastered and reissued in 1999, restoring the original cover artwork in the CD booklet. Out of print on vinyl in the US for nearly thirty years, the album is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2017. The reissue faithfully replicates the original gatefold sleeve and correct period A&M labels on the vinyl. The LP is available as a stand alone release, and as part of the box set “Carpenters: The Vinyl Collection”. “Now & Then” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 8, 1940 – Singer and son…

Born on this day: May 8, 1940 – Singer and songwriter Toni Tennille (born Cathryn Antoinette Tennille in Montgomery, AL). Happy 79th Birthday, Toni!!

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Born on this day: May 3, 1951 – Singer, songwr…

Born on this day: May 3, 1951 – Singer, songwriter, and musician Christopher Cross (born Christopher Charles Geppert in San Antonio, TX). Happy 68th Birthday, Christopher!!

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On this day in music history: April 20, 1981…

On this day in music history: April 20, 1981 – “Theme From "Greatest American Hero” (Believe It Or Not)“ by Joey Scarbury is released. Written by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer, it is the biggest hit for the musician and singer from Ontario, CA. Raised in the near by Southern California suburb of Thousand Oaks, Joey Scarbury gets his initial break at only fourteen, after being heard by the father of legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb. Scarbury is signed to Dunhill Records in 1969, and is dropped by the label after two failed singles. Throughout the 70’s, he records for several different labels with no success. Scarbury’s fortunes change when he begins working with record producer and musician Mike Post. Best known for composing several classic television show themes including "The Rockford Files” (#8 Pop), “Theme From "Hill Street Blues”“ (#10 Pop) and "Theme From "Magnum P.I.”“ (#25 Pop), Post along with songwriter Stephen Geyer are commissioned to write the theme to a new show created by Stephen J. Cannell. Cannell’s new show "Greatest American Hero” stars William Katt as the title character, a high school teacher who comes into the possession of a superhero suit that gives him superhuman powers. Losing the instructions, he learns to use it through trial and error, often flying and landing with comically disastrous results. The series also co-stars Robert Culp (“I Spy”) and Connie Selleca (“Hotel”). Post and Geyer write the shows’ theme subtitled “Believe It Or Not” after the songs memorable chorus. Joey Scarbury puts his vocals on the track, and theme makes its debut during the premiere episode of “Greatest American Hero” on March 18, 1981. The success of the two hour pilot launch creates an immediate demand for the song, which is released as a single by Elektra Records just four weeks later. “Theme From "Greatest American Hero” (Believe It Or Not)“ enters the Hot 100 at #85 on May 9, 1981, peaking at #2 (for 2 weeks) fourteen weeks later on August 15, 1981, unable to move Diana Ross & Lionel Richie’s mega smash "Endless Love” from the top spot. In spite of scoring a top five million seller, Joey Scarbury is unable to parlay that success into more hits. The follow up “When She Dances” stalls at #49 in November of 1981. Scarbury continues to work with Mike Post, singing “Back To Back”, the theme of the Cannell created series “Hardcastle & McCormick”. He along with singer Desiree Goyette sing the theme for The Peanuts animated special “It’s Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown” in 1984. And in 1990, he scores a number one country hit as a songwriter, co-writing “No Matter How High” for The Oak Ridge Boys with veteran songwriter Even Stevens. “Theme From "Greatest American Hero” (Believe It Or Not)“ is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 16, 1977 -…

On this day in music history: April 16, 1977 – “Don’t Give Up On Us” by David Soul hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on April 9, 1977, and also topping the UK singles chart for 4 weeks on January 15, 1977. Written and produced by Tony Macaulay, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the actor and singer from Chicago, IL. Having originally pursued a career as a singer from his late teens, David Soul gets his initial break in the entertainment business through appearances singing on The Merv Griffin Show as a masked character knows as the “Covered Man”. That leads him into acting after signing a contract with Columbia Pictures, landing a role on the series “Here Come The Brides” with teen idol Bobby Sherman. By the mid 70’s Soul is co-starring on the hit TV series “Starsky And Hutch”, when he decides to revive his singing career. He works with British record producer Tony Macaulay (“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)”, “Baby Now That I’ve Found You”, “Build Me Up Buttercup”), who plays him the song “Don’t Give Up On Us”. Soul quickly learns and records the song over a weekend, and is issued a week later in the UK. Quickly becoming a smash, it streaks to the top of the UK singles chart, spending four weeks on top. It is released in the US on the back its UK chart success. Entering the Hot 100 at #74 on January 29, 1977, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. In spite of having several more chart hits in the UK, “Don’t Give Up On Us” is David Soul’s only Top 40 hit in the US. Actor Owen Wilson parodies the song in a film adaptation of “Starsky And Hutch” in 2004. “Don’t Give Up On Us” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 6, 1968 – …

On this day in music history: April 6, 1968 – “The Graduate – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 9 weeks (non-consecutive). Produced by Teo Macero, the album serves as the soundtrack for the Mike Nichols film starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. It features new and previously released songs by Simon & Garfunkel as well as film score pieces written by Dave Grusin. Many of the previously released songs were originally used as “temporary tracks” chosen by director Mike Nichols, and remain in the film when Paul Simon (who is busy touring with Art Garfunkel at the time) is unable to come up with more new material. Released on CBS Records’ Columbia Masterworks label (reserved for film, Broadway cast, and classical releases that feature a grey label instead of the standard red Columbia label), the soundtrack includes two versions of S&G’s current hit “Mrs. Robinson” featured in the film, though neither is the hit single version which is included on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bookends” album, which temporarily bumps the soundtrack from the number one spot. Originally  released on CD in 1987, the album is remastered and reissued by Sony Legacy Japan in 2007, and again a Blu-Spec CD in 2009. Out of print on vinyl for nearly thirty years, it is remastered and reissued by Sony Legacy UK in 2010, and as a 180 gram LP by Speakers Corner Records in 2013. in “The Graduate” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 3, 1968 – …

On this day in music history: April 3, 1968 – “Bookends”, the fourth album by Simon & Garfunkel is released. Produced by Simon & Garfunkel and Roy Halee, it is recorded at Columbia Studios in New York City from September 1966 – February 1968. The first half of the album contains songs about life from childhood to old age, while the second half includes songs originally intended for “The Graduate” soundtrack but were rejected by the film’s producers. It spins off four singles including “Mrs. Robinson” (#1 Pop) and “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” (#13 Pop). Original pressings also come packaged with an over sized poster of the duo with an image of the 59th Street (aka Queensboro) Bridge and flowers superimposed on top of the portrait. The albums iconic cover photo is taken by legendary photographer Richard Avedon, and becomes one of the most parodied and imitated album covers of all time. It is also the last Simon & Garfunkel album to be issued with separate mono and stereo mixes. The mono LP has many noticeable differences from its stereo counterpart, and is pressed in much smaller quantities, making it a heavily sought after collector’s item among fans. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001, with two additional bonus tracks including the non LP B-side “You Don’t Know Where Your Interests Lie” (flip side of “Fakin’ It), and a demo version of "Old Friends”. It is also reissued on vinyl by Sundazed Music in 2008, also replicating the poster inserted into original pressings. “Bookends” spends seven weeks (non-consecutive) at number one 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: March 30, 1985 -…

On this day in music history: March 30, 1985 – “One More Night” by Phil Collins hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on the same date. Written by Phil Collins, it is the second number one solo hit for the drummer and lead vocalist of Genesis. Collins is inspired to the write the song while working at Old Croft, his home studio in Surrey. Programming the basic rhythm on a Roland TR-909 drum machine, he’ll spontaneously begin singing the songs chorus to the drum track. Collins completes the song at The Townhouse Studios in London, bringing in musicians Daryl Stuermer (guitar), Leland Sklar (bass), and Don Myrick of the Phenix Horns (Earth, Wind & Fire) to play the songs memorable saxophone solo. “One More Night” is the first single released (“Sussudio” is the first single issued in the UK) from his third solo album “No Jacket Required” in January of 1985. Coming just eight months after his first US chart topper “Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)”, the ballad becomes an immediate hit on US pop radio. The song is accompanied by a black and white (sepia toned) music video directed by long time collaborator Jim Yukich. The clip features Collins singing and playing the piano in a pub at closing time. The pub featured in the video is owned by Virgin Records founder Richard Branson.  The same location is also used for the video shot for “Sussudio”. Entering the Hot 100 at #50 on February 9, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. An extended version of “One More Night” is also released in the UK as a commercial 12" single, and on the remix compilation album “12"ers” in 1987. Also issued in a picture sleeve, the UK and US versions of “Night” are released with different artwork. The UK 7" and 12" singles feature a still shot of Collins from the music video, framed in a soft yellow background with the text handwritten by Phil Collins himself. The US picture sleeve issued by Atlantic Records uses the artwork first featured on the UK release of “Sussudio”, which was the first single released in Collins’ home country, but with the text, credits and record label logos amended for the US release. “One More Night” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 30, 1974 -…

On this day in music history: March 30, 1974 – “Sunshine On My Shoulders” by John Denver hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on March 16, 1974. Written by John Denver, Dick Kniss and Mike Taylor, it is the first chart topping single for the folk rock/pop singer, songwriter and musician born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.. Denver is inspired to write the song in the late winter, while living in Minnesota. Confined to the indoors because of the freezing weather and in a melancholy mood, he begins to reflect on his feelings as well as the natural beauty of his surroundings, with most of the song being written that day. Working with producer Milt Okun (Peter, Paul & Mary), Denver records the song his fourth solo album “ Poems, Prayers & Promises” in early 1971. The album also includes his breakthrough hit “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (#2 Pop), but “Sunshine” is not released as a single until December of 1973. Entering the Hot 100 at #90 on January 26, 1974, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “Sunshine” is instrumental in creating the momentum that propels John Denver into pop super stardom during 1974 and throughout the rest of the 70’s. “Sunshine On My Shoulders” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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