Category: synth pop

On this day in music history: September 17, 19…

On this day in music history: September 17, 1985 – “Here’s To Future Days”, the fifth album by the Thompson Twins is released. Produced by Nile Rodgers and Tom Bailey, it is recorded at Marcadet Studios and Guillaume Tell Studios in Paris, France and Skyline Studios in New York City from Early – Mid 1985. Issued as the follow up to the hugely successful “Into The Gap”, the band start the album with longtime producer Alex Sadkin, but the sessions are aborted when Tom Bailey is suffering from nervous exhaustion, is ordered to rest by his doctors. Nile Rodgers is enlisted to take over production, scrapping the material previously recorded and starting fresh. The album spins off three singles including “Lay Your Hands On Me” (#6 Pop) and “King For A Day” (#8 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition in 2008, with five bonus tracks on disc one. The second disc features thirteen tracks of 7" and 12" remixes of the singles and their respective B-sides.  "Here’s To Future Days" peaks at number twenty on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 13, 19…

On this day in music history: September 13, 1986 – “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock, it is the biggest hit for the new wave pop-rock band from Los Angeles, CA fronted by lead singer Terri Nunn. Having written Oscar winning music for films such as “Midnight Express” and “Flashdance”, composer and producer Giorgio Moroder is asked by film producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to contribute to the soundtrack of their film “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, and Anthony Edwards. Paired with lyricist Tom Whitlock, they write the soundtracks two biggest hits “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away”. Both songs are offered to Berlin. Initially, “Danger Zone” (#2 Pop) is planned as a duet, but is passed on to Kenny Loggins when the band declines to record it. Used as the “love theme” for the film, “Take My Breath Away” is an immediate hit with film audiences and record buyers. Entering the Hot 100 at #96 on June 21, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The song wins the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1987, earning Moroder his third Oscar and becoming the thirteenth song in the rock era to achieve that honor. The success of Berlin’s single propels the “Top Gun” soundtrack to number one for five weeks (non-consecutive) on the Billboard Top 200, and going 9x Platinum in the US. “Take My Breath Away” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 8, 198…

On this day in music history: September 8, 1986 – “Crash”, the fifth album by The Human League is released. Produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, it is recorded at Flyte Tyme Studios in Minneapolis, MN from Early – Mid 1986. Following the lackluster response to their previous album “Hysteria”, it is also compounded the departures of their long time producer Martin Rushent and band member/songwriter Jo Callis. An attempt to record an album with producer Colin Thurston (Duran Duran, Talk Talk) during much of 1985 also comes to little, and is shelved. With their UK label Virgin concerned that their biggest act is stagnating, they suggest a different choice to produce them. The label recommends that American producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, work with The Human League. Fans of the producers work with The SOS Band and Change, especially lead singer Phil Oakey, they agree to the idea. The band travel to Minneapolis to work with Jam & Lewis in early 1986. However, the initial good feeling and intentions that the project begins with, quickly go south.  The sessions end acrimoniously over production control, and what Jam & Lewis feel is the bands’ lackadaisical work ethic in the studio. With Jimmy and Terry cutting most of the basic tracks themselves, the other members contribute only minimally to the recording process. The producers also reject much of the material penned by the band, which also adds to the tension. Frustrated over his lack of participation during the sessions, keyboardist Philip Adrian Wright also leaves band upon completion of the album. It spins off three singles including “I Need Your Loving” (#44 Pop, #52 R&B), “Love Is All That Matters”, and “Human” (#1 Pop, #3 R&B, #1 Club Play, #3 AC). Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 2005, with the 12" extended mixes of all three singles as added bonus tracks. “Crash” peaks at number twenty four on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: September 8, 198…

On this day in music history: September 8, 1986 – “Bouncing Off The Satellites”, the fifth album by The B-52’s is released. Produced by Tony Mansfield, it is recorded at Skyline Studios in New York City in July 1985. Coming over three years after their last release “Whammy!”, “Satellites” is the last to feature the bands original guitarist Ricky Wilson, who passes away before recording is completed. Musically, the album picks up where “Whammy!” leaves off. One of the things that sets it apart from its predecessors, is the fact “Satellites” features no live drumming, using a drum machine throughout. Keith Strickland along with the assistance of outside studio musicians, finishes recording the basic tracks for the album. It spins off three singles including “Summer Of Love” (#3 Club Play) and “The Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland” (#10 Club Play). Saddened over the loss of Wilson, the band do not promote the album or tour in support of it, instead going into seclusion to contemplate their future. Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued as a SHM-CD by Warner Japan in 2017. Also, the 12" version of “Summer Of Love” is given a limited reissue by Rhino Records in July of 2017, as part of their “Summer Of Love” reissue series. The new pressing replicates the packaging of the original release, but is pressed on clear red vinyl. “Bouncing Off The Satellites” peaks at number eighty five on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: September 7, 198…

On this day in music history: September 7, 1987 – “Actually”, the second album by the Pet Shop Boys is released. Produced by Pet Shop Boys, Stephen Hague, Julian Mendelsohn, Andy Richards, Shep Pettibone and David Jacob, it is recorded at Sarm West Studios and Advision Studios in London from Late 1986 – Mid 1987. Coming off of the success of their debut “Please” and the remix album “Disco”, the Pet Shop Boys begin work on their sophomore release. They once again work with Stephen Hague and Julian Mendelsohn, as well as Shep Pettibone, David Jacob and Andy Richards. Co-writing all ten songs, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe also collaborate with film composer Ennio Morricone (“The Good, The Bad And The Ugly”), songwriter Allee Willis (“Boogie Wonderland”, “Neutron Dance”), and re-record the early track “One More Chance”, co-written with former producer Bobby O. The first taste of the new album comes with the single “It’s A Sin” (#1 UK, #9 US Pop). An immediate smash, the confessional song about Tennant’s Catholic upbringing, primes anticipation for the full album. It becomes the subject of controversy when Jonathan King (“Everybody’s Gone To The Moon”) accuses them of cribbing the melody of “It’s A Sin” from Cat Stevens’ hit “Wild World”. The duo file a lawsuit against King after he covers “Wild World”, copying the arrangement of “Sin” without permission. The suit is settled out of court, with Tennant and Lowe donating their settlement to charity. The follow up “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” (#2 UK Pop and US Pop), a collaboration with pop and blue eyed soul icon Dusty Springfield, is another huge hit, giving Springfield her biggest hit in nearly twenty years. The album spins off four singles including “Heart” (#1 UK), originally composed with the intent of giving it to dance vocalist Hazell Dean or Madonna. Shortly after the release of “Actually”, the Pet Shop Boys record a Hi-NRG dance cover of the pop classic “Always On My Mind” (#1 UK Pop, #4 US Pop), originally popularized by Elvis Presley, then Willie Nelson. The song is recorded after the duo appear on the TV special “Love Me Tender”, commemorating the tenth anniversary of Presley’s death. Demand for the song is so great, that they quickly release it late 1987. The song is also included in the film “It Couldn’t Happen Here”, and is issued in the US in March of 1988. “Always” is added to “Actually” via a vinyl 12", CD or maxi cassette single, with the packaging reconfigured to accommodate the bonus single. The Japanese release is reissued with a bonus 7" of the track. It is remastered and reissued in 2001 as a double CD deluxe edition, with the second disc titled “Further Listening”, featuring fourteen bonus tracks of B-sides and remixes released during the albums original run on the charts. “Actually” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number twenty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 3, 198…

On this day in music history: September 3, 1983 – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by Eurythmics hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart, it is the biggest hit for the British/Scottish synthpop duo. The duos’ second album “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” is recorded in a makeshift studio housed above a timber factory on an eight track analog tape machine. Because of the noise generated by saws cutting timber during the day, all vocals for the album have to be recorded at night. After their first release, the 1981 album “In The Garden” fails to make an impact in the US, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” is released fifteen months later in January of 1983. The record gets off to a slow start in the US, languishing until American audiences get their first view of the duo when the music video begins receiving play on MTV. Captivated by Lennox’s strikingly androgynous image and soulful voice, the buzz received from video play spreads to radio and “Sweet Dreams” finally hits the charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #90 on May 14, 1983, it begins its long climb up the charts, reaching the top of the chart sixteen weeks later, dislodging The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” from the top spot after holding at number two for four weeks. The single earns Eurythmics a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist in 1984. The duo turn in a memorable performance of the song on the Grammy telecast. Lennox stuns the audience, dressing in a man’s suit and wearing a black pompadour wig and sideburns, looking like rock & roll icon Elvis Presley. She revives the look on the picture sleeve for their single “Who’s That Girl” later in the year. Regarded as one of the quintessential 80’s songs, “Sweet Dreams” has endured in popularity over the years. It is later covered by Marilyn Manson in 1995, with the songs chorus being interpolated into Nas’ hit “Street Dreams” in 1996. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 23, 1982 …

On this day in music history: August 23, 1982 – “Upstairs At Eric’s”, the debut album by Yazoo is released (UK release is on August 20, 1982). Produced by E.C. Radcliffe and Yazoo, it is recorded at Blackwing Studios in London from February – June 1982. Quickly growing weary of touring and having musical differences with his band mates, Depeche Mode founding member and keyboardist Vince Clarke leaves the band in November of 1981 as they are having their initial success throughout Europe. Soon after, Clarke responds to an advertisement in the music trade paper the Melody Maker. The ad is placed by a singer named Alison Moyet, also from Clarke’s hometown of Basildon. Hitting it off immediately, the pair begins working on music together. Calling themselves Yazoo, they record “Only You”, penned by Clarke while he’s still a member of Depeche Mode. Playing the finished track for Mute Records founder Daniel Miller, at first he isn’t impressed. After playing it for Clarke’s music publisher, Miller re-evaluates the song and decides to release it. Issued in the UK on March 15, 1982, “Only You” (#2 UK, #67 US Pop) is an immediate smash, hitting the top five in England and making the charts in several other European countries and Australia. The record label requests that Yazoo quickly follow it up with a full album. Clarke and Moyet record at Blackwing Studios, owned by recording engineer Eric Radcliffe, who also co-produces it with them. The album’s title is also named after Radcliffe. Their second single “Don’t Go” (#3 UK, #1 US Club Play) is released in the UK in July of 1982, it too becomes a hit. In the US, Sire Records opts to release the track “Situation” (#1 US Club Play, #73 Pop) instead. Quickly written by Clarke and Moyet, the song is originally issued in the UK as the B-side of “Only You”. Featuring Alison Moyet’s powerful blue eyed soul inflected vocals front and center, it creates an instant sensation on American dance floors, shooting to the top of the US dance chart. “Situation” is added to the US release, removing the track “Tuesday”. Just after that single is released, Sire shortens their name to Yaz to avoid legal trouble from the American blues label Yazoo Records. The full album follows in August of 1982, selling more than 300,000 copies in the UK, also becoming a major hit internationally, and spinning off a total of three singles including “The Other Side Of Love” (#13 UK). Originally released on CD in 1986, it is remastered and reissued in 2008. Out of print on vinyl since the early 90’s, the album is remastered and reissued by US audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2012, as part of their “Silver Label Series”. “Upstairs At Eric’s” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number thirty seven on the Billboard R&B album chart, number ninety two on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the UK by the BPI, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 17, 1987 …

On this day in music history: August 17, 1987 – “Substance”, the fifth album by New Order is released. Produced by New Order, it features material recorded from 1981 – 1987. The twelve track double LP compilation consists of the 12-inch single mixes and their respective B-side dub mixes. The CD and cassette versions feature track listings that are expanded to twenty four and twenty eight tracks respectively (including “1963”, the B-side of “True Faith”). The album also includes the newly recorded track “True Faith” (#4 UK) which becomes their first top 40 single in the US (#32 Pop). “Faith” is also supported by abstract and surreal music directed by French/Moroccan choreographer and mime artist Philippe Decouflé (The Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”), that receives widespread play on MTV and other video outlets. The albums’ packaging is designed by graphic artist Trevor Key of Peter Saville Associates with the initial pressings featuring the artist name and title embossed on the front. Subsequent re-pressings feature flat text printing to save on printing costs. “Substance” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, number thirty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: July 3, 1982 – &…

On this day in music history: July 3, 1982 – “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Club Play chart on May 15, 1982. Written by Philip Oakey, Jo Callis and Philip Adrian Wright, it is the biggest hit for the Sheffield, UK based synth-pop band. Lead singer Phil Oakley comes up with the initial idea for the song, taking inspiration from a story he reads in a magazine and also by the film “A Star Is Born”. First issued in the UK in late 1981 as the fourth single from the bands third album “Dare”, the band are initially hesitant to release it as a single, especially lead singer Phil Oakey. In fact it causes a huge argument between Oakey and producer Martin Rushent over including the song on the album, after Rushent changes the bands original arrangement. Finally, Oakey agrees, but only if it is inserted into the album as the final track. Oakey’s fears are unfounded, as the single quickly becomes a smash. “Don’t You Want Me” tops the UK singles chart for 5 weeks, selling over 1.4 million copies, and becoming the top selling single of 1981. A&M Records picks up the record for the US, releasing it in January of 1982. Entering the chart at #86 on March 6, 1982, it begins a long, slow climb up the Hot 100, finally topping the chart seventeen weeks later. The track is groundbreaking in the States, being the first synthesizer driven single to top the US pop charts. It also is the first major hit record to utilize the newly introduced Linn LM-1 drum machine, which becomes a staple of pop, R&B, and dance music throughout the decade and beyond. The US chart success of “Don’t You Want Me” also marks the beginning of the second British Invasion of the American record charts with acts like Soft Cell, ABC, A Flock Of Seagulls, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Wham! and numerous others following in their wake. “Don’t You Want Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Born on this day: June 26, 1961 – Singer and a…

Born on this day: June 26, 1961 – Singer and actress Terri Nunn of Berlin (born Terri Kathleen Nunn in Baldwin Hills, CA). Happy 57th Birthday, Terri!!