On this day in music history: October 21, 1972 – “Superfly – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” by Curtis Mayfield hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 4 weeks, also topping the R&B album chart for 6 weeks on October 14, 1972. Produced by Curtis Mayfield, it is recorded at RCA Studios in Chicago, IL and Bell Sound Studios in New York City from Late 1971 – Early 1972. Written as the score to the Gordon Parks, Jr. directed blaxploitation film about a drug dealer trying to get out of the dealing game, it provides an arresting counterpoint to the accompanying film. It marks the pinnacle of Mayfield’s career both artistically and commercially, becoming his biggest selling album. The album is so successful in fact, that it actually surpasses the film itself in profits. In time, “Superfly” is widely regarded a landmark recording and one of the greatest R&B albums of the ‘70’s. It spins off two singles including “Freddie’s Dead” (#2 R&B, #4 Pop) and the title track (#5 R&B, #8 Pop) both being certified Gold. The original vinyl LP package features a unique die cut cover that opens up to reveal the track listing for the album. Later re-pressings of the LP do away with this feature, and the portion with the title graphics and actor Ron O’Neal are printed flat on a single pocket sleeve. First reissued on CD in 1988 by Ichiban Records, the landmark soundtrack is remastered and reissued as a double CD deluxe edition by Rhino Records for its 25th anniversary in 1997. The first disc features the original nine track album, plus the single mixes/edits of “Freddie’s Dead” and “Superfly”. Disc two includes extended versions of the underscore from the film, alternate and extended versions of the released album tracks, two rare radio advertisements for the soundtrack, and a brief interview with Curtis Mayfield on the film and about his songwriting. The booklet included in set features detailed and extensive annotation by A Scott Galloway. The deluxe CD reissue is released in a digi-pak, with a die cut cover that mirrors the original vinyl LP release. During the 2000’s, “Superfly” is also reissued numerous times on vinyl, with two limited edition pressings on colored vinyl. The landmark soundtrack is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998. “Superfly – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 21, 1970 – “New Morning”, the twelfth studio album by Bob Dylan is released. Produced by Bob Johnston, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios, Studio B & Studio E in New York City from June – August 1970. Issued just four months after the controversial and poorly received “Self Portrait”, Dylan emerges with a much more coherent and tightly produced album, attracting raves from both critics and fans. Some speculate that the album is rushed out, in response to the negative backlash that Dylan receives, following the release of “Self Portrait”. Though most of “New Morning” had been recorded prior to the release of “Portrait”. It produces the classic “If Not For You” which is also covered by George Harrison on his solo debut “All Things Must Pass”, and a version by Olivia Newton-John is her first US hit in 1971. The majority of “Morning is recording during June and July of 1970, with "If Not For You” and “Time Passes Slowly” being re-recorded. “Day Of The Locusts” which was not finished earlier on is completed and recorded during the same session on August 12, 1970. Dylan also records cover versions of “Ballad Of Ira Hayes” and “Mr. Bojangles”, but are not included in the final track listing. Prior to the completion of the album, Dylan parts ways with his long time manager Albert Grossman, gaining full control over management of his career and music publishing. Grossman continues to maintain a financial stake in Dylan’s earlier work until his death in 1986. The album cover artwork features a portrait of a bearded Dylan on the front, without any artist name or title graphics. The back cover features a black and white photo of the musician, with blues singer Victoria Spivey. The photo is taken during a recording session where Bob had played harmonica and sang backing vocals, on an album by Spivey and Big Joe Williams. Spivey had met Dylan in 1961, while he had been playing the coffee house circuit in Greenwich Village. Becoming fast friends, she is one of his earliest supporters prior to him signing with Columbia Records. Originally released on CD in the late 80’s, the album is remastered and reissued in 2009. It is reissued on vinyl by Sony Music in 2001, with a 180 gram LP pressing released by Music On Vinyl in 2009. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab also remasters and reissues the classic title as a limited edition hybrid SACD and 180 gram vinyl LP in 2014. “New Morning” peaks at number seven 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: October 21, 1967 – “To Sir With Love” by Lulu hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also peaking at #9 on the R&B singles chart November 18, 1967. Written by Don Black and Mark London, it is the biggest hit for the Scottish born singer and actress (born Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie in Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire, Scotland). It is the theme song to the Sidney Poiter film about a teacher dealing with social and racial issues in a tough Secondary school in East London. Also co-starring in the film, Lulu introduces her friend Mark London (the husband of her manager Marion Massey) to the films’ producers after they cannot find a suitable song for the main theme. London writes the music in just five minutes, with lyricist Don Black (“Born Free”, “Ben”, “The World Is Not Enough”) penning the lyrics the next day. Produced by Mickie Most (The Animals, Donovan, Herman’s Hermits), there are three versions of the song recorded. One version used during a montage sequence in the film features three verses. A second version that is heard at the end of the film, features only the first verse of the song. The hit single version is yet another performance featuring strings features two verses, excising the middle verse heard during the museum montage scene. When the single is released in the US on June 2, 1967, Epic Records places “To Sir With Love” on B-side of “The Boat That I Row” (written by Neil Diamond). “Boat” had initially been issued with another Mark London penned song titled “Dreary Days And Nights”, as its original B-side just days earlier. That version is quickly withdrawn, and replaced with “To Sir With Love”. American radio DJ’s prefer the flip side and “Sir” takes off quickly. Entering the Hot 100 at #74 on September 9, 1967, it races to the top of the chart six weeks later. On Sunday, October 22, 1967, the day after “To Sir With Love” tops the US pop chart, Lulu performs the song on “The Ed Sullivan Show”. The song is ranked the top single of 1967 as determined by Billboard Magazine. Surprisingly, “Sir” is passed over for an Academy Award nomination for Best Song in 1968, and even more surprising, it does not chart in the UK in spite of its huge success in the US. The song is covered numerous times over the years by artists including Herbie Mann, Vickie Sue Robinson, and Tina Arena. In 2017, Saturday Night Live cast members Cecily Strong and Sasheer Zamata perform “To Sir With Love” in tribute to outgoing US President Barack Obama. “To Sir With Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 21, 1957 – “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 7 weeks, also topping the Country singles chart for 1 week on December 2, 1957, and peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, it is the eighth chart topper for Presley in under a year and a half. Recorded as the title song from his third film, the track recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 30, 1957. The song name checks a number of real people including musician Shifty Henry and the 1920’s mobsters The Purple Gang. Released on September 24, 1957, it is another immediate smash for Elvis. Entering the Best Sellers chart at #4 on October 14, 1957, it leaps to the top of the chart the following week. “Jailhouse Rock” is backed with the song “Treat Me Nice” also included in the film. “Nice” peaks at #18 on pop singles chart on October 28, 1957. The film also opens on the same date and tops the box office charts simultaneously. Presley also makes history as being the only artist to ever dominate the top of the singles chart for twenty five weeks during one calendar year. Elvis achieves this unprecedented feat in both 1956 and 1957. “Jailhouse Rock” is reissued in the UK in 2005 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Presley’s birth. It makes UK chart history as the only single to enter at number one twice, as it had done so on its original release. The single is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2017. “Jailhouse Rock” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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twixnmix:

Jimi Hendrix photographed by David Montgomery for his album Electric Ladyland, 1968.

twixnmix:

Raquel Welch and her husband

Patrick Curtis at the 42nd Annual Academy Awards in 1970.

Eartha Kitt performing at El Rancho Vegas in 1955.

Photos by George Silk

for LIFE magazine

Photo

On this day in music history: October 20, 1998 – “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too”, the lone album by New Radicals is released. Produced by Gregg Alexander, it is recorded at Various Studios from 1997 – 1998. Born and raised in Grosse Pointe, MI, Gregg Alexander, begins playing music at 12 years old, and writing songs. At 16, he tells his parents, “I’m running away to California to be a rock star.” His father tells him, “Well, make sure you’re back home in September for school if it hasn’t come together.” He hustles his demo tapes around L.A., hoping to catch a break. Gregg meets record producer Jimmy Iovine, who is immediately impressed. Working under a production deal at A&M Records, Iovine offers Alexander a record deal. Still a minor at the time and unable to legally sign until he’s eighteen, Iovine gives him an allowance to live on until then. He records his first album “Michigan Rain” in 1989 with producer Rick Nowels (Belinda Carlisle). Unfortunately, it’s released just as A&M is purchased by Polygram, and quickly disappears. His second album “Intoxifornication” is released on Epic Records in 1992. It too flops, and Alexander is again without a record deal. He spends the next five years writing, and searching for his next opportunity. In 1997, he forms a band called New Radicals. It features a shifting line up of musicians, with its only other permanent member being actress and singer Danielle Brisebois (“All In The Family”, “Archie Bunker’s Place”). Best known for signing Madonna, A&R man Michael Rosenblatt (then at MCA Records) receives a copy of Alexander’s demo from a friend. He is immediately taken with the quality of the songs, and offers to sign the band. The album is recorded with friends and session musicians including Rick Nowels, Greg Phillinganes, Josh Freese (Devo), Rusty Anderson (Paul McCartney), Michael James, Lenny Castro, Paul Gordon, and John Pierce. It is broken wide open with the highly infectious “You Get What You Give” (#36 Pop, #8 Modern Rock). Both modern and retro sounding, it’s hailed as one of the best pop songs of the era. It also draws attention for its stream of conscious lyrics at the end, name checking Beck, Hanson, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson, appearing to diss them (though is only meant facetiously). The album receives praise from critics and fans alike. However, the grueling cycle of marketing and promoting it becomes intolerable to Alexander, and he abruptly breaks up the band in July of 1999. He returns to songwriting and producing, penning the Grammy winning single “Game Of Love” for Santana & Michelle Branch, and working with other artists. New Radicals album is reissued on vinyl in 2017. “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too” peaks at number forty one 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: October 20, 1992 – “Erotica”, the fifth album by Madonna is released. Produced by Madonna, Shep Pettibone and Andre Betts, it is recorded at Mastermix Studios and Soundworks Recording Studios in New York City from November 1991 – August 1992. Madonna’s first full studio release (not counting “I’m Breathless”) since 1989’s “Like A Prayer”, “Erotica” is a concept piece about sex and sexuality, with the singer adapting the alter ego of “Mistress Dita”. Musically it is heavily influenced by the house music, and new jack swing movements ruling both the club scene, and mainstream pop at the time. Madonna works closely with producer and remixer Shep Pettibone and producer Andre Betts on the project, spending nearly ten months in the studio. Released in tandem with the sexually graphic picture book “SEX”, the album also attracts a great deal of controversy for its explicit sexual content, leading to public backlash and resistance from radio programmers and video outlets. It spins off five singles including “Deeper And Deeper” (#7 Pop), “Rain” (#14 Pop), and the title cut (#3 Pop), whose video is significantly re-edited in order to be broadcast. Originally released on a limited basis as a double promo vinyl LP in the US (commercially in some international territories), “Erotica” receives its first commercial vinyl release stateside (pressed on 180 gram vinyl) in 2016. “Erotica” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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