Category: world music

On this day in music history: August 12, 1986 …

On this day in music history: August 12, 1986 – “Graceland”, the seventh album by Paul Simon is released. Produced by Paul Simon, it is recorded at Ovation Studios in Johannesburg, Republic Of South Africa, The Hit Factory in New York City, Amigo Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Abbey Road Studios in London, UK and Master-Trak Enterprises, Crowley, LA from October 1985 – June 1986. Following the poorly received “Hearts And Bones” album, Paul Simon is given a cassette of Township Jive music by the South African group The Boyoyo Boys by a friend. His interest is piqued by an instrumental called “Gumboots” (which he later writes lyrics for and records). The music inspires Simon to travel to South Africa and record with a group of South African musicians (which is controversial at the time as it breaks the cultural embargo against the country that is still ruled by separatist system of Apartheid) which also includes the vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The album also includes contributions and guest appearances by Los Lobos, Linda Ronstadt, and The Everly Brothers. When it is released, it is enthusiastically received, garnering great critical acclaim and commercial success, spinning off three singles including “You Can Call Me Al” (#23 Pop), “The Boy In The Bubble” (#86 Pop) and the title track (#81 Pop). The album wins two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year in 1987, and Record Of The Year for the title track in 1988. In 2007, the album is added to the National Recording Registry by the Library Of Congress. To commemorate the albums twenty fifth anniversary, it is remastered and reissued as a two CD + DVD box set featuring previously unreleased demos, alternate versions and an interview with Paul Simon on the making of the landmark album. The DVD contains the documentary “Under African Skies” and a full live concert filmed in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1987. The box also contains a notepad, poster and 76 page booklet with photos and extensive annotation. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP the same year, with a limited edition number edition released exclusively through Boston based retailer Newbury Comics (limited to 2,000 copies) and clear vinyl LP pressing released through UK retailer HMV Music (limited to 500 copies) in 2015. “Graceland” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 13, 197…

On this day in music history: December 13, 1977 – “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter”, the tenth album by Joni Mitchell is released. Produced by Joni Mitchell, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA, Columbia Recording Studios in New York City and Basing Street Studios in London from Mid – Late 1977. Ever evolving musically, and refusing to be creatively pigeonholed, Joni Mitchell follows the brilliant “Hejira” with another step forward. Mitchell utilizes the talents of several prominent jazz musicians including Jaco Pastorius (bass) (also featured on the previous album), Herbie Hancock (keyboards), Pastorius’ Weather Report band mates  Wayne Shorter (soprano saxophone), Alejandro Acuña, Don Alias, and Manolo Badrena (percussion), as well as Larry Carlton (guitar), Michel Colombier (piano), Airto Moreira (percussion), and background vocal support from Chaka Khan, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther. The album is more experimental in nature than her previous work, delving deeper into jazz and world music rhythms, pushing the boundaries of Joni’s pop and folk music roots, all set to her vivid stream of conscious lyrics. Though critical and fan response to the ten track double album is mixed upon its release, it performs well commercially, and in time is reassessed more favorably by the public. It spins off the single “Jericho” b/w “Dreamland”. The original vinyl LP release is packaged in a gatefold sleeve designed by graphic artist Glen Christensen (Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Carly Simon, The Eagles), features a montage of photos taken by photographers Norman Seeff and Keith Williamson. Photos on the front cover and inner gatefold feature Mitchell made up to look like a black hipster named “Art Nouveau”. The album cover and music attracts the attention of jazz bass icon Charles Mingus who invites Mitchell to collaborate on his final musical project, resulting in the album “Mingus”, the follow up to “Don Juan” released in June of 1979. “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter” peaks at number twenty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 7, 1975…

On this day in music history: November 7, 1975 – “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns”, the eighth album by Joni Mitchell is released. Produced by Joni Mitchell, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid – Late 1975. Her first studio album after the artistic and commercial triumph of “Court And Spark” and the successful double live album “Miles Of Aisles”, Joni Mitchell continues to forge the musical path begun on the previous album. For the recording sessions, she assembles a group of top rock and jazz musicians including Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (guitars), Joe Sample (keyboards), Wilton Felder, Max Bennett (bass), Victor Feldman (keyboards, percussion), Bud Shank (flute) and John Guerin (drums). Graham Nash, David Crosby and James Taylor sing background vocals on the single, “In France They Kiss On Main Street” (#66 Pop,) and the Drummers Of Burundi are featured on the track “The Jungle Line”. The album also features a number of other songs that become among Mitchell’s best known and frequently covered material including “Edith And The Kingpin”, “The Boho Dance”, “Shadows And Light” and the title track. It receives a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1977. The albums’ cover artwork painted and designed by Mitchell features a group of indigenous people carrying a giant anaconda with a cityscape in the background. Original LP pressings feature embossing on the gatefold jacket, that is discontinued on later re-printings. The inside gatefold features a photo of Mitchell in a bikini, floating in her swimming pool on her back taken by photographer Norman Seeff. At the time of its release, it receives highly mixed reviews from critics who are unsure what to make of Mitchell’s musical experimentation on the album. In time, regarded as one of Joni Mitchell’s best albums, with Prince frequently mentioning it as one of his personal favorites. The Mitchell tribute album “A Tribute to Joni Mitchell” released in 2007, features cover versions of “The Boho Dance” (Björk), “Dont Interrupt The Sorrow” (Brad Mehldau) and “Edith And The Kingpin” (Elvis Costello). “Edith” is also covered by George Michael, released on the EP “December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas)” in 2009. First issued on CD in the late 80’s by Asylum Records, “Hissing” is remastered and reissued in late 90’s with high definition HDCD encoding, also restoring all of the original cover art work not replicated on the previous release. The album is also reissued on 180 gram vinyl by Rhino Records in 2010. “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: October 30, 1979…

On this day in music history: October 30, 1979 – “Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants”, the nineteenth studio album by Stevie Wonder is released. Produced by Stevie Wonder, it is recorded at I.A.M. Studios in Irvine, CA, Crystal Recording Studios and Motown Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA, Lyon Recording Studio in Newport Beach, CA, Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA, and Studio In The Country in Bogalusa, LA from February – September 1979. Issued as the long awaited follow up to “Songs In The Key Of Life”, it also serves as the score and the soundtrack album to the documentary film “The Secret Life Of Plants”, based on the best selling book by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. The film’s producer Michael Braun describes the visual images to Wonder in great detail, who then composes and scores the music to those descriptions. With Motown shipping over a million copies to record stores that Fall, the twenty track double LP set is panned by critics, and is confusing to many fans not prepared for the dramatically contrasting experimental and ambitious work. It initially performs well on the charts, but drops off quickly due to the public’s reaction to the album. As a result, it becomes a cut out bin staple for many years with Motown receiving large amounts of returns after the initial layout. Though in time it is re-evaluated, and comes to be regarded as one of Stevie Wonder’s finest works.  It spins off three singles including “Send One Your Love” (#4 Pop, #5 R&B, #1 AC) and “Outside My Window” (#52 Pop, #56 R&B). The song “Overjoyed” is originally recorded during sessions for the album, but is left off of “Journey”, and is later revamped and included on the “In Square Circle” album in 1985. The original LP is packaged in a lavish three panel gatefold sleeve with embossed cover artwork and graphics, with the artist name and title also embossed in braille on the front. Out of print on vinyl since its original release, it is remastered and reissued in September of 2018. “Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants” peaks at number four on both the Billboard Top 200 and R&B album chart.

On this day in music history: August 12, 1986 …

On this day in music history: August 12, 1986 – “Graceland”, the seventh album by Paul Simon is released. Produced by Paul Simon, it is recorded at Ovation Studios in Johannesburg, Republic Of South Africa, The Hit Factory in New York City, Amigo Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Abbey Road Studios in London, UK and Master-Trak Enterprises, Crowley, LA from October 1985 – June 1986. Following the poorly received “Hearts And Bones” album, Paul Simon is given a cassette of Township Jive music by the South African group The Boyoyo Boys by a friend. His interest is piqued by an instrumental called “Gumboots” (which he later writes lyrics for and records). The music inspires Simon to travel to South Africa and record with a group of South African musicians (which is controversial at the time as it breaks the cultural embargo against the country that is still ruled by separatist system of Apartheid) which also includes the vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The album also includes contributions and guest appearances by Los Lobos, Linda Ronstadt, and The Everly Brothers. When it is released, it is enthusiastically received, garnering great critical acclaim and commercial success, spinning off three singles including “You Can Call Me Al” (#23 Pop), “The Boy In The Bubble” (#86 Pop) and the title track (#81 Pop). The album wins two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year in 1987, and Record Of The Year for the title track in 1988. In 2007, the album is added to the National Recording Registry by the Library Of Congress. To commemorate the albums twenty fifth anniversary, it is remastered and reissued as a two CD + DVD box set featuring previously unreleased demos, alternate versions and an interview with Paul Simon on the making of the landmark album. The DVD contains the documentary “Under African Skies” and a full live concert filmed in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1987. The box also contains a notepad, poster and 76 page booklet with photos and extensive annotation. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP the same year, with a limited edition number edition released exclusively through Boston based retailer Newbury Comics (limited to 2,000 copies) and clear vinyl LP pressing released through UK retailer HMV Music (limited to 500 copies) in 2015. “Graceland” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: January 24, 1972…

On this day in music history: January 24, 1972 – “Paul Simon”, the second solo album by Paul Simon is released. Produced by Paul Simon and Roy Halee, it is recorded at CBS Studios in San Francisco, CA, Western Recorders in Los Angeles, CA, CBE Studios in Paris, France and Dynamic Sound Studios in Kingston, Jamaica from January – March 1971. Following the break up of Simon & Garfunkel in late 1970 after the critical and commercial triumph of their fifth album “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, Paul Simon begins the next phase of his career. Having previously recorded his first solo album “The Paul Simon Songbook” which is only released in Europe in 1965, he begins on new project in early 1971. Taking a preliminary step in the genre of world music on “Bridge” with “El Condor Pasa” (#18 Pop) whose melody was adapted from a Peruvian folk song, the musician experiments further with music outside the realm of American pop. Simon goes to Jamaica to work with musicians on the album’s reggae flavored first single “Mother And Child Reunion” (#4 Pop, #4 AC), whose title is inspired in part by a chicken and egg dish he sees on a Chinese restaurant menus. The track features members of Toots & The Maytals, keyboardist Larry Knechtel and Cissy Houston on background vocals. The musician also incorporates jazz, blues and Latin music into the material he writes for his sophomore solo release. “Paul Simon” features guest appearances by a number of other prominent musicians including Ron Carter (bass), Airto Moreira (percussion), Steve Turre (trombone) and legendary gypsy violinist Stephane Grappelli who plays on and co-writes the track “Hobo’s Blues”. Though the album is completed in under three months, it will be another nine months before it arrives in record stores. Nervous about stepping out on his own, in the interim, Simon teaches a songwriting course at NYU in the Summer of 1971 with future stars including Melissa Manchester and Maggie Roche (of The Roches) being among his students. When his second album is finally released in early 1972, it is to immediate acclaim. It receives widespread praise from critics and is enthusiastically embraced by fans, drawn to it by not only diverse musical content, but also for the personal and confessional tone of the lyrics throughout. The album spins off two more singles including “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard” (#22 Pop, #6 AC) and “Duncan” (#52 Pop, #30 AC). Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 2004 with three additional bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since the early 90’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Sony Music in 2013. “Paul Simon” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: December 13, 197…

On this day in music history: December 13, 1977 – “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter”, the tenth album by Joni Mitchell is released. Produced by Joni Mitchell, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA, Columbia Recording Studios in New York City and Basing Street Studios in London from Mid – Late 1977. Ever evolving musically, and refusing to be creatively pigeonholed, Joni Mitchell follows the brilliant “Hejira” with another step forward. Mitchell utilizes the talents of several prominent jazz musicians including Jaco Pastorius (bass) (also featured on the previous album), Herbie Hancock (keyboards), Pastorius’ Weather Report band mates  Wayne Shorter (soprano saxophone), Alejandro Acuña, Don Alias, and Manolo Badrena (percussion), as well as Larry Carlton (guitar), Michel Colombier (piano), Airto Moreira (percussion), and background vocal support from Chaka Khan, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther. The album is more experimental in nature than her previous work, delving deeper into jazz and world music rhythms, pushing the boundaries of Joni’s pop and folk music roots, all set to her vivid stream of conscious lyrics. Though critical and fan response to the ten track double album is mixed upon its release, it performs well commercially, and in time is reassessed more favorably by the public. It spins off the single “Jericho” b/w “Dreamland”. The original vinyl LP release is packaged in a gatefold sleeve designed by graphic artist Glen Christensen (Curtis Mayfield, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Carly Simon, The Eagles), features a montage of photos taken by photographers Norman Seeff and Keith Williamson. Photos on the front cover and inner gatefold feature Mitchell made up to look like a black hipster named “Art Nouveau”. The album cover and music attracts the attention of jazz bass icon Charles Mingus who invites Mitchell to collaborate on his final musical project, resulting in the album “Mingus”, the follow up to “Don Juan” released in June of 1979. “Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter” peaks at number twenty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: November 7, 1975 – “The…

On this day in music history: November 7, 1975 – “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns”, the eighth album by Joni Mitchell is released. Produced by Joni Mitchell, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from Mid – Late 1975. Her first studio album after the artistic and commercial triumph of “Court And Spark” and the successful double live album “Miles Of Aisles”, Joni Mitchell continues to forge the musical path begun on the previous album. For the recording sessions, she assembles a group of top rock and jazz musicians including Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (guitars), Joe Sample (keyboards), Wilton Felder, Max Bennett (bass), Victor Feldman (keyboards, percussion), Bud Shank (flute) and John Guerin (drums). Graham Nash, David Crosby and James Taylor sing background vocals on the single, “In France They Kiss On Main Street” (#66 Pop,) and the Drummers Of Burundi are featured on the track “The Jungle Line”. The album also features a number of other songs that become among Mitchell’s best known and frequently covered material including “Edith And The Kingpin”, The Boho Dance”, “Shadows And Light” and the title track. It receives a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1977. The albums’ cover artwork painted and designed by Mitchell features a group of indigenous people carrying a giant anaconda with a cityscape in the background. Original LP pressings feature embossing on the gatefold jacket, that is discontinued on later re-printings. The inside gatefold features a photo of Mitchell in a bikini, floating in her swimming pool on her back taken by photographer Norman Seeff. At the time of its release, it receives highly mixed reviews from critics who are unsure what to make of Mitchell’s musical experimentation on the album. In time, regarded as one of Joni Mitchell’s best albums, with Prince frequently mentioning it as one of his personal favorites. On the Mitchell tribute album “A Tribute to Joni Mitchell” released in 2007, features cover versions of “The Boho Dance” (Björk), “Dont Interrupt The Sorrow” (Brad Mehldau) and “Edith And The Kingpin” (Elvis Costello). “Edith” is also covered by George Michael, released on the EP “December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas)” in 2009. First issued on CD in the late 80’s by Asylum Records, “Hissing” is remastered and reissued in late 90’s with high definition HDCD encoding, also restoring all of the original cover art work not replicated on the previous release. The album is also reissued on 180 gram vinyl by Rhino Records in 2010. “The Hissing Of Summer Lawns” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.