Category: the black album

On this day in music history: August 12, 1991 …

On this day in music history: August 12, 1991 – “Metallica”, the fifth album by Metallica is released. Produced by Bob Rock, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, it is recorded at One On One Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA and Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, B.C., Canada from October 6, 1990 – June 16, 1991. Impressed with his work on label mate Mötley Crüe’s “Dr. Feelgood” album, the veteran metal band hire producer Bob Rock to produce the follow up to their successful fourth album “…And Justice For All”. Musically, it differs from previous Metallica albums, with many of the songs having slower tempos than the band’s trademark high velocity “thrash metal” style. The recording sessions with Rock are often tense as he pushes the band members outside their normal comfort zone within the studio. The intense atmosphere spills over into their personal lives as well, with Hetfield, Ulrich and bassist Jason Newsted all winding up divorced from their spouses by the time recording is completed. In spite of all of the turmoil, the album is a huge critical and commercial success, launching Metallica into the mainstream on a worldwide basis. Nicknamed “The Black Album” by fans (for its stark black cover featuring the bands logo and a coiled snake in dark grey print), it spins off six singles including “Enter Sandman” (#16 Pop, #10 Mainstream Rock), “Sad But True” (#98 Pop, #15 Mainstream Rock), “The Unforgiven” (#35 Pop, #10 Mainstream Rock) and “Nothing Else Matters” (#34 Pop, #11 Mainstream Rock). The album wins a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1992. Available on vinyl only sporadically since its original limited run in the format in 1991, the album is issued equally limited pressings as a four LP set mastered at 45 RPM in 2008, and a two LP set by Simply Vinyl in 2000. It is remastered an reissued again as a double vinyl 180 gram LP set in 2015. “Metallica” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 16x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Ceritification.

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On this day in music history: December 1, 1987…

On this day in music history: December 1, 1987 – “The Black Album” by Prince is withdrawn from release. Written and produced by Prince, it is recorded at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN and Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA from Early 1986 – Late 1987. Recorded in response to critics who feel his music has become “too pop oriented”, Prince comes forth with an album that features stripped down funk jams, tempered with often darkly humorous and profane lyrics. It is to be released with no title, text, or graphics on the front or back of the plain black cover (with only the catalog number printed on the spine). Originally scheduled for release on December 7, 1987, the eight track album (coming just nine months after “Sign ‘O’ The Times”) is pulled from release at the very last minute, after the artist has requested that it be rush released. Warner Bros Records ends up destroying several hundred thousand copies of the album before it can be shipped to record stores. However, enough copies survive (most originating from WEA’s West German pressing plant and advance promo cassettes to label personnel and the music press) becoming one of the most heavily bootlegged albums of all time. Prince never publicly gives a reason for the withdrawal, but it has been rumored that he felt the record was “evil” or that he had experienced a bad trip after taking the drug Ecstasy. He goes as far as to insert a subtle message into the music video for “Alphabet St.”, stating “don’t buy The Black Album, I’m sorry.”. Prince allows it be officially released on a limited basis on November 22, 1994. The album is then pulled from the marketplace on January 27, 1995. The vinyl LP version scheduled for reissue by Warner Music Group in December of 2016, is abruptly cancelled (along with several other Prince albums) and at the present time, no new release date has been given. In December of 2017, thirty years after the album is withdrawn from release, original US vinyl LP copies of “The Black Album” surface. Former Warner Bros Records executive Jeff Gold, discovers five sealed copies of the LP in his closet at home.

Still in the original cardboard LP mailers, and manufactured at WEA’s Specialty Records Corp. pressing plant in Olyphant, PA, Gold finds the still factory sealed albums tucked away in box. The copies go up for auction through Record Mecca.com, with three of them selling for $15,000 a piece, matching the price of one sold on Discogs in April of 2016. The last of Gold’s five copies sells to a collector for a record breaking $42,298 in 2018. In August of 2018, what is believed to be the only surviving Canadian pressed copy of the album is found. Rescued from destruction by an employee at the CBS pressing plant in Toronto, it sells at auction for $27,500 on the Discogs website. “The Black Album” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number forty seven on the Top 200.

On this day in music history: November 14, 200…

On this day in music history: November 14, 2003 – “The Black Album”, the eighth studio album by Jay-Z is released. Produced by Just Blaze, Kanye West, The Neptunes, Timbaland, 9th Wonder, Eminem, Rick Rubin, The Buchanans, DJ Quik, Luis Resto, Aqua  and Joseph Weinberger, it is recorded at Baseline Studios, Battery Studios, Right Track Recording Studios, Manhattan Center Studios, The Hit Factory in New York City, The Hit Factory/Criteria Studios in Miami, FL, 54 Sound in Detroit, MI, The Mansion, The Record Plant and Akademie Mathematique of Philosophical Sound Research in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 2003. With seven Platinum or multi-Platinum selling albums under his belt by the early 2000’s, Jay-Z publicly announces that he is “retiring” from recording. The rap star cites a lack of competitive spirit among his other rap contemporaries as one of the reasons for wanting to retire. He collaborates with a number of top Hip Hop producers including The Neptunes, Kanye West, Just Blaze, Timbaland, DJ Quik, and Rick Rubin. The final result is lauded as one of Jay-Z’s strongest efforts. The album is launched with a concert at Madison Square Garden, and is filmed for “Fade To Black”, a 2004 film documenting that “final performance” as well as showing behind the scenes footage on the making of “The Black Album”. It spins off three singles including “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” (#5 Pop, #3 R&B, #2 Rap), “Change Clothes” (#10 Pop, #6 R&B, #4 Rap), and “99 Problems” (#30 Pop, #26 R&B, #10 Rap). To encourage DJ’s to do their own remixes and mash ups, Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam releases a double vinyl promo LP featuring Jay-Z’s acapella vocals. Producer Danger Mouse creates an alternate version titled “The Grey Album”, mixing Jay-Z’s vocals with samples from The Beatles “White Album”. The underground bootleg release is an instant sensation, also inspiring a lawsuit from EMI Records in spite of the surviving Beatles and their families and Jay-Z giving it their approval. Jay-Z’s “retirement” proves to be short lived, as he collaborates with the rock band Linkin Park and releasing a second album with R&B star R. Kelly in 2004. The album is nominated for three Grammy Awards in 2005, winning one for Best Rap Solo Performance for “99 Problems”. “The Black Album” spends two weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, three weeks at number one on the R&B album chart, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 12, 1991 …

On this day in music history: August 12, 1991 – “Metallica”, the fifth album by Metallica is released. Produced by Bob Rock, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, it is recorded at One On One Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA and Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, B.C., Canada from October 6, 1990 – June 16, 1991. Impressed with his work on label mate Mötley Crüe’s “Dr. Feelgood” album, the veteran metal band hire producer Bob Rock to produce the follow up to their successful fourth album “…And Justice For All”. Musically, it differs from previous Metallica albums, with many of the songs having slower tempos than the band’s trademark high velocity “thrash metal” style. The recording sessions with Rock are often tense as he pushes the band members outside their normal comfort zone within the studio. The intense atmosphere spills over into their personal lives as well, with Hetfield, Ulrich and bassist Jason Newsted all winding up divorced from their spouses by the time recording is completed. In spite of all of the turmoil, the album is a huge critical and commercial success, launching Metallica into the mainstream on a worldwide basis. Nicknamed “The Black Album” by fans (for its stark black cover featuring the bands logo and a coiled snake in dark grey print), it spins off six singles including “Enter Sandman” (#16 Pop, #10 Mainstream Rock), “Sad But True” (#98 Pop, #15 Mainstream Rock), “The Unforgiven” (#35 Pop, #10 Mainstream Rock) and “Nothing Else Matters” (#34 Pop, #11 Mainstream Rock). The album wins a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1992. Available on vinyl only sporadically since its original limited run in the format in 1991, the album is issued equally limited pressings as a four LP set mastered at 45 RPM in 2008, and a two LP set by Simply Vinyl in 2000. It is remastered an reissued again as a double vinyl 180 gram LP set in 2015. “Metallica” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 16x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Ceritification.

On this day in music history: December 1, 1987…

On this day in music history: December 1, 1987 – “The Black Album” by Prince is withdrawn from release. Written and produced by Prince, it is recorded at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN and Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA from Early 1986 – Late 1987. Recorded in response to critics who feel his music has become “too pop oriented”, Prince comes forth with an album that features stripped down funk jams, tempered with often darkly humorous and profane lyrics. It is to be released with no title, text, or graphics on the front or back of the plain black cover (with only the catalog number printed on the spine). Originally scheduled for release on December 7, 1987, the eight track album (coming just nine months after “Sign ‘O’ The Times”) is pulled from release at the very last minute, after the artist has requested that it be rush released. Warner Bros Records ends up destroying several hundred thousand copies of the album before it can be shipped to record stores. However, enough copies survive (most originating from WEA’s West German pressing plant and advance promo cassettes to label personnel and the music press) for it to become one of the most heavily bootlegged albums of all time. Prince never publicly gives a reason for the withdrawal, but it has been rumored that he felt the record was “evil” or that he had experienced a bad trip after taking the drug Ecstasy. He goes as far as to insert a subtle message into the music video for “Alphabet St.”, stating “don’t buy The Black Album, I’m sorry.”. Prince allows it be officially released on a limited basis on November 22, 1994. The album is then pulled from the marketplace on January 27, 1995. The vinyl LP version scheduled for reissue by Warner Music Group in December of 2016, is abruptly cancelled (along with several other Prince albums) and at the present time, no new release date has been given. “The Black Album” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number forty seven on the Top 200.

On this day in music history: November 14, 2003 – “The…

On this day in music history: November 14, 2003 – “The Black Album”, the eighth studio album by Jay-Z is released. Produced by Just Blaze, Kanye West, The Neptunes, Timbaland, 9th Wonder, Eminem, Rick Rubin, The Buchanans, DJ Quik, Luis Resto, Aqua  and Joseph Weinberger, it is recorded at Baseline Studios, Battery Studios, Right Track Recording Studios, Manhattan Center Studios, The Hit Factory in New York City, The Hit Factory/Criteria Studios in Miami, FL, 54 Sound in Detroit, MI, The Mansion, The Record Plant and Akademie Mathematique of Philosophical Sound Research in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 2003. With seven Platinum or multi-Platinum selling albums under his belt by the early 2000’s, Jay-Z publicly announces that he is “retiring” from recording. The rap star cites a lack of competitive spirit among his other rap contemporaries as one of the reasons for wanting to retire. He collaborates with a number of top Hip Hop producers including The Neptunes, Kanye West, Just Blaze, Timbaland, DJ Quik, and Rick Rubin. The final result is lauded as one of Jay-Z’s strongest efforts. The album is launched with a concert at Madison Square Garden, and is filmed for “Fade To Black”, a 2004 film documenting that “final performance” as well as showing behind the scenes footage on the making of “The Black Album”. It spins off three singles including “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” (#5 Pop, #3 R&B, #2 Rap), “Change Clothes” (#10 Pop, #6 R&B, #4 Rap), and “99 Problems” (#30 Pop, #26 R&B, #10 Rap). To encourage DJ’s to do their own remixes and mash ups, Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam releases a double vinyl promo LP featuring Jay-Z’s acapella vocals. Producer Danger Mouse creates an alternate version titled “The Grey Album”, mixing Jay-Z’s vocals with samples from The Beatles “White Album”. The underground bootleg release is an instant sensation, also inspiring a lawsuit from EMI Records in spite of the surviving Beatles and their families and Jay-Z giving it their approval. Jay-Z’s “retirement” proves to be short lived, as he collaborates with the rock band Linkin Park and releasing a second album with R&B star R. Kelly in 2004. The album is nominated for three Grammy Awards in 2005, winning one for Best Rap Solo Performance for “99 Problems”. “The Black Album” spends two weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, three weeks at number one on the R&B album chart, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.