On this day in music history: December 6, 1994 – “Vitalogy”, the third album by Pearl Jam is released. Produced by Brendan O’Brien and Pearl Jam, it is recorded at Bad Animals Studios in Seattle, WA, Southern Tracks Recording, Doppler Studios in Atlanta, GA and Kingsway Studios in New Orleans, LA from November 1993 – October 1994. The band begin writing songs their next album, during the tour for their previous release “Vs.”. Still coming to terms with their huge success, the members of Pearl Jam are fraught with tension. Exhausted from nearly three years of non stop activity, they are also frustrated by the corporate appropriation of the grunge music movement they’ve helped to lead. In response, they make a hard shift away from the sound of their first two multi-platinum selling albums. Lead singer Eddie Vedder takes on a much more assertive role, as well as playing guitar. Vedder also clashes with drummer Dave Abbruzzese, feeling he’s gone too far in embracing the “rock star lifestyle”. The singer speaks to him only minimally. Meanwhile, guitarist Mike McCready struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, eventually entering rehab to address his problems. The original working title for the album is “Life” which is changed to “Vitalogy” (meaning “the study of life”), which is the name of an early twentieth century medical book, of which lead singer Eddie Vedder owns a copy. Text and illustrations from the book are included in the booklet that comes packaged with the album. In an unconventional move, “Vitalogy” is released on vinyl two weeks ahead of the CD and cassette configurations, selling enough copies (35,000 units) for it to actually enter the chart at #55. It drops to #173 in its second week, but leaps to the top of the chart on December 24, 1994, two weeks after the CD and cassette versions are released, selling 877,000 copies that week. It spins off three singles including “Spin The Black Circle” (#18 Pop) and “Better Man” (#13 Pop). Pearl Jam wins the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for “Spin” in 1996. Like the album itself, all three singles are pressed as vinyl 45’s with accompanying picture sleeves. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2011 with three additional bonus tracks, with an exclusive limited edition sold through retailer Best Buy, including a T-shirt. The same year, the vinyl LP is reissued, pressing it as a 180 gram two LP set for better sound quality over the original 1994 release, which was issued as a single LP. The single “Immortality” b/w “Rearviewmirror” is reissued as limited edition 7" replicating the original label and picture sleeve artwork, is released on Record Store Day in 2011 to promote the reissues of the album. “Vitalogy” spends one week at number one 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 6, 1986 – “The Next Time I Fall” by Peter Cetera w/ Amy Grant hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on November 8, 1986. Written by Bobby Caldwell and Paul Gordon, it is the second solo chart topper for the former lead singer and bassist of Chicago, and the first chart topper for the vocalist from Augusta, GA. Best known for blue eyed soul classics like “What You Won’t Do For Love”, “My Flame” and “Open Your Eyes”, singer, songwriter and musician Bobby Caldwell continues to enjoy major success internationally, and as a songwriter during the 80’s. Along with co-writer Paul Gordon, the pair write the ballad “The Next Time I Fall”, with Caldwell coming up with the main chord progression while playing a Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer in his apartment. The first chorus they come up with is discarded and re-written, fleshing out the main body of the song, also writing the lyrics together. Bobby records a quick demo, playing keyboards and performing the vocals, then submitting it to his publisher for artist consideration. The demo is heard by producer Michael Omartian (Christopher Cross, Donna Summer), who in turn plays it for Peter Cetera who likes it immediately. Though it was not written that way, Cetera suggests “The Next Time I Fall” be recorded as a duet. He suggests that they reach out to Amy Grant and ask her if she’ll record it with him. Already a major star in the world of Contemporary Christian Pop with the hugely successful “Age To Age” and her first mainstream pop album “Unguarded”, Grant is eager to broaden her audience. A huge fan of Cetera’s from his days in Chicago agrees to the duet. On tour at the time, Amy flies into Los Angeles and records her vocals in a single session. Issued as the follow up to Peter Cetera’s first chart topper “Glory Of Love” in September of 1986, “The Next Time I Fall” is another immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #74 on September 20, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The single also receives a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1987. The chart topping success of “Next Time I Fall” is major turning point in Amy Grant’s trajectory into pop superstardom, peaking with the multi-Platinum selling album “Heart In Motion” in 1991. Following the success of the song, songwriter Bobby Caldwell cuts a version of “The Next Time I Fall” in 1989. He also co-writes a number of hits for other artists including “Heart Of Mine” (#35 Pop) for Boz Scaggs and “What Kind Of Man Would I Be” (#5 Pop) for Chicago.

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1983 – “Japanese Whispers”, the fifth album by The Cure is released. Produced by Robert Smith, Chris Parry, Steve Nye and Phil Thornalley, it is recorded from November 1982 – April 1983. The set is a compilation put together by the band’s UK label Fiction Records (released in the US initially on Sire Records), and collects their recently released singles “Let’s Go To Bed”, “The Walk” and “The Lovecats” along with their respective B-sides. It remains in print for many years, until it is deleted when compilation albums “Standing On A Beach/Staring At The Sea” and the B-sides box set “Join The Dots”, include all of the material featured on “Whispers”. However, due to its long standing popularity with Cure fans, it is reissued once more on CD in 2006 (Europe only). “Japanese Whispers” peaks at twenty six on the UK album chart, and #181 on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1982 – “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” by Indeep is released. Written by Mike Cleveland, it is the debut single release and biggest hit for the dance music group from New York City. Formed in 1980 by musician Mike Cleveland, Indeep also features lead vocalists Réjane “Reggie” Magloire and Rose Marie Ramsey. In the post-disco era, the group create a unique musical hybrid that include sung vocal hooks, rap lyrics and built on a foundation of minimalist, but highly funky instrumentation. For their first single, Cleveland writes “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life”. Its narrative describes a woman who’s home alone, and is upset and frustrated that she can’t reach her man. On the verge of leaving him, she changes her mind when she hears a song on the radio that makes her reconsider, proclaiming in the chorus “Last night a DJ saved my life from a broken heart… Last night a DJ saved my life with a song…”. The track is recorded at Eastern Artists Recording Studio in East Orange, NJ, with Ramsey on lead vocals, Cleveland on guitar, bass, and rap vocals, and drummer Dave Reyes (Young & Company, Aurra). “DJ” is recorded by a young engineer named Andy Wallace, who goes on to greater fame later on working with Run DMC, Nirvana, Sheryl Crow and many others. It is mixed by Club DJ legend, remixer and producer Tony Humphries. Co-produced by Reggie Thompson (Mtume, Philip Bailey, Stanley Clarke), the single is released on the Sound Of New York Records label, founded by executive producer Gene Griffin (Guy, Wrecks-N-Effects). “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” quickly becomes a dance floor smash, entering the Billboard Club Play chart at #60 on December 25, 1982. It enters the Billboard R&B singles chart at #83 on the R&B singles chart on January 8, 1983. It peaks at #2 on the Club Play chart five weeks later on January 29, 1983. The record holds for six weeks in the runner spot, unable to budge Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album from the top spot. “DJ” peaks at #10 on the R&B singles chart nine weeks later on March 12, 1983, holding for three consecutive weeks. Though it doesn’t make the US pop chart, bubbling under at #103, Indeep’s record is a big hit across Europe, in the UK (#13), Spain (#7), The Netherlands (#2). Belgium (#2) and Germany (#10). The group follow up their breakthrough with “When Boys Talk” (#32 R&B, #16 Club Play), “Buffalo Bill” (#81 R&B) and “The Record Keeps Spinning” (#45 R&B). Though regarded as a one hit wonder, Indeep’s “Last Night A DJ Saved My Life” has enjoyed enduring popularity, being covered most notably by Mariah Carey on the “Glitter” Soundtrack in 2001. The song has also been sampled numerous times, also being featured on the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and the television mini series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

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Born on this day: December 6, 1946 – Maze lead singer, songwriter and producer Frankie Beverly (born Howard Beverly in Philadelphia, PA). Happy 73rd Birthday, Frankie!!

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1975 – “I Love Music (Part 1)” by The O’Jays hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, peaking at #5 on the Hot 100 on January 24, 1976, also topping the Dance/Disco chart for 8 weeks on November 22, 1975. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, it is the fourth chart topper for the R&B vocal trio from Canton, OH. Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia with members of the studio band MFSB, the basic track to the song is cut live with minimal overdubbing. The song is also significant as being on the first major hit records to be mixed using console automation on the studios’ mixing board (by engineer Joe Tarsia). Released as the first single from the group’s ninth studio album “Family Reunion”, the single quickly becomes a big hit not only on pop and R&B radio, but also becomes a mainstay of the disco era. “I Love Music” is covered by several different artists over the years including versions by house music artists Rozalla and Darryl Pandy. “I Love Music (Part 1)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1969 – The Rolling Stones headline a free concert at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, CA. Originally intended to be held at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the concert is moved to the Altamont Speedway at the last minute, fifty miles away when an agreement cannot be reached with SF city officials. Attended by over 300,000 people, the concert alsos feature the Jefferson Airplane, Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers and the Grateful Dead. As they had done with their Hyde Park concert earlier in the year, The Stones hire Hells Angels to do security for the event. Unlike that event which is peaceful and goes off without incident, Altamont turns violent and ultimately tragic when concert goer Meredith Hunter is stabbed and beaten to death by several Hells Angels when he brandishes a gun and waves it at the stage. The incident is captured on film, featured in filmmakers Albert and David Maysles’ documentary “Gimme Shelter”, released the following year. The incident signals the beginning of the end of the counterculture movement in the US, which peaked with the Woodstock festival just a few months before.

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1969 – “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Gary De Carlo, Dale Frashuer and Paul Leka, it is the lone hit single by the Bridgeport, CT band fronted by singer Gary De Carlo. Newly signed to Mercury Records, De Carlo is put under contract by A&R exec Bob Reno at the suggestion of producer and songwriter Paul Leka. For his initial recording session for the label, Leka and De Carlo cuts four songs. When they agree that all four songs are strong enough to be A-sides, they decide that they need to come up with a quick throwaway B-side that will discourage DJ’s from playing the wrong side. Along with mutual friend and former band mate Dale Frashuer, the trio revive an old song they had written eight years before titled “Kiss Him Goodbye”. Recording in Mercury’s New York recording studio without a full band, Leka plays most of the instruments and splices together a drum track, creating a loop from parts of a another song. Several hours later, the song is completed and mixed, clocking in at over six minutes, and is far too long to be considered for radio play. The song is pared down to under four minutes, when Leka is told by a mastering engineer he’s unable to cut the full length of the song, on to one side of a single and have it track properly. The producer gives his approval to shorten it. Mercury execs like the song so much that they insist that it be released as an A-side. Embarrassed by the song, De Carlo requests that it be released under a pseudonym. Producer Paul Leka comes up with the name Steam, and it is issued on Mercury’s Fontana Records imprint. In an ironic twist, “Kiss Him Goodbye” becomes an instant and unexpected smash, while all four of De Carlo’s singles (released under the name Garrett Scott) flop. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on October 18, 1969, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later.  In 1983, British pop group Bananarama cover the song on their debut album, taking it to #5 on the UK singles chart. In 1987, Canadian a cappella vocal group The Nylons release a cover version with the title shortened to “Kiss Him Goodbye”, peaking at #12 on the Hot 100. Today, Steam’s original version is a still a staple on oldies radio and has become an anthem at sports events over the years. “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1968 – “James Taylor”, the debut album by James Taylor is released in the UK (US release is on February 17, 1969). Produced by Peter Asher, it is recorded at Trident Studios in London from July – October 1968. Taylor is one of the first signings to The Beatles Apple label by Asher (one half of the pop duo Peter & Gordon and the brother of Paul McCartney’s former girlfriend Jane Asher) who is the head of A&R. Paul McCartney and George Harrison make an uncredited appearance on the first single “Carolina In My Mind” contributing background vocals. In spite of good reviews, the album sells poorly, due to Taylor’s hospitalization for heroin addiction, which prevents him from promoting it properly. Taylor re-records “Carolina” and “Something In The Way She Moves” for his 1976 greatest hits album when his label Warner Bros Records is unable to license the original versions from Apple. The original album is eventually reissued on CD in the mid 90’s and again in 2010. It is also briefly reissued on vinyl in Europe in 1991, but quickly goes out of print again. The vinyl LP release is remastered and reissued in 2017, making it available in that format, for the first time in over two decades. “James Taylor” peaks at number one hundred eighteen on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1968 – “Beggars Banquet”, the seventh album by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by Jimmy Miller, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London from March 17 – July 25, 1968. The album marks the bands’ return to its R&B roots following the psychedelic influenced “Their Satanic Majesties Request”. The album is not without controversy. The song “Sympathy For The Devil” raises the ire of religious groups, and the single “Street Fighting Man” whose picture sleeve depicts a student riot is withdrawn from release, resulting in it becoming one of the most valuable and highly sought after Stones collectibles. The recording sessions for “Sympathy” are filmed by director Jean-Luc Godard (“Breathless”), for a film titled “One Plus One (Sympathy For The Devil)” about late 60’s counterculture. The footage of The Stones is inter cut with scenes featuring The Black Panthers, along with political commentary about “the need for revolution” and Marxism. The original album cover photo of a filthy toilet scrawled with graffiti is not issued in the US until the 1980’s, and is replaced with a white cover designed to look like a formal party invitation. It also is the last Rolling Stones album to feature full contributions from founding member Brian Jones, whose health and playing has been adversely affected by drugs and alcohol. The album is remastered  and reissued in 2002 as a hybrid SACD in digipak packaging, reverting to a standard redbook CD in a jewel case after the initial pressing is discontinued by ABKCO. It is also reissued on clear vinyl in the US in 2013, making it available in the format for the first time in more than twenty years. The original mono version of the LP, released only in the UK and other foreign territories is remastered and reissued as part of “The Rolling Stones In Mono” box set on CD and 180 gram vinyl in September of 2016. To commemorate its 50th anniversary in 2018, the vinyl LP is issued as a special deluxe ediiton. It contains the original stereo mix, along with a single sided 12" single, with the mono mix of “Sympathy For The Devil” (with etching on the reverse side). It also comes with a plastic flexi-disc, featuring an interview with Mick Jagger recorded in April of 1968, and an mp3 download card of the audio contents. The set comes packaged in a outer sleeve using the US LP cover art, with the original UK “toilet graffiti” gatefold cover on the inside. “Beggar’s Banquet” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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