On this day in music history: December 9, 1966 – “A Quick One”, the second album by The Who is released (US release is in May 1967 under the title “Happy Jack”). Produced by Kit Lambert, it is recorded at IBC Studios and Pye Studios in London from September – November 1966. Issued one year and one week after their debut release “My Generation”, The Who’s second full length is an important turning point in the band’s career, as it marks Pete Townshend’s first foray into composing a “rock opera” in the form of the title track. The nine minute long suite of songs at the end of the album’s second side tells a story about a wife’s infidelity while her husband is away. “A Quick One While He’s Away” is also semi autobiographical, as it is the first time that Pete Townshend writes about the periods of separation from his parents as a young boy (in the opening movement “Her Man’s Been Gone”), living with his maternal grandmother, and the sexual abuse he suffers at the hands of one of her male friends (“Ivor The Engine Driver”). The mini opera is the genesis for Townshend’s later works “Tommy” and “Quadrophenia”. The other three members of the band also contribute songs to the album including John Entwistle’s “Boris The Spider”. The band’s US label Decca Records retitles the album “Happy Jack”, after their then current single (#24 Pop) which is added to the track listing. The cover artwork is illustrated by British pop artist Alan Aldridge (The Beatles, Elton John). Released on CD in 1988 with its original mono mix, the US CD release is issued in stereo with five tracks in re-channeled stereo. It is remastered and reissued in 2005, with some tracks newly remixed into stereo. The track “Whiskey Man” is still in fake stereo with the majority of the remaining tracks in mono. The mono version of the album is reissued as 150 and 200 gram vinyl pressings by Classic Records in 2005, with another reissue in 2015. “A Quick One/Happy Jack” peaks at number four on the UK album chart and number sixty seven on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1966 – “Fresh Cream”, the debut album by Cream is released. Produced by Robert Stigwood, it is recorded at Rayrik Studios and Ryemuse Studios in London from July – October 1966. The first release by the British rock super group is the first release on manager/producer Stigwood’s newly formed Reaction Records in the UK, and will be released by Atlantic Records subsidiary Atco in the US. Featuring a mixture of covers and original material, it includes some of the bands’ signature songs including their first single “I Feel Free” and the blues standards “I’m So Glad”, “Spoonful” and “Rollin’ And Tumblin’”. The US version of the album differs from its UK counterpart by deleting “Spoonful”, replacing it with “I Feel Free” and moving the latter to the start of the first side. When the album is reissued by RSO Records in 1977, it is restored to its original UK track listing. A later LP reissue in 1985 reinstates “I Feel Free” to the track listing, with all subsequent CD releases containing both songs. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the album’s original release, it is releases a three CD + Blu-ray audio disc box set in January of 2017. The first three CD’s feature remastered versions of the original mono and stereo mixes of the album, single versions, alternate takes, and BBC radio broadcast recordings. The Blu-ray disc features high definition audio (24 bit/96k) of the mono stereo mixes, B-sides. It is also issued as a limited edition six LP vinyl set. “Fresh Cream” peaks at number six on the UK album chart, number thirty nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1965 – “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, the tenth album by the Vince Guaraldi Trio is released. Produced by Vince Guaraldi and Lee Mendelson, it is recorded at Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA and Fantasy Recording Studios in San Francisco, CA in October 1964 and November 1965. Beginning modestly, in only nine newspapers around the US on October 2, 1950, cartoonist Charles M. Schulz’s comic strip “Peanuts” grows into a worldwide phenomenon. By the 1960’s, the strip hits its stride and expands beyond the news page. That expansion begins in 1960, when The Peanuts Gang appear in a series of print ads and commercials for the Ford Falcon automobile. In 1963, Schulz is approached about a documentary about Peanuts. Titled “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” it is never aired, but spins off an album titled “Jazz Impressions Of A Boy Named Charlie Brown” by San Francisco based jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi in 1964. TV comes calling again when executives from Coca Cola, ask Schulz and commercial producer Lee Mendelson to create a half hour animated Christmas special, after Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Schroeder and Snoopy appear on the cover of Time Magazine on April 9, 1965. Schulz agrees to the special, writing it over the course of a weekend. It immediately goes into production with Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez at the helm. Vince Guaraldi is hired to compose the music. Though Guaraldi is credited with musicians Colin Bailey (drums) and Monty Budwig (bass), other uncredited musicians including Jerry Granelli (drums) and Fred Marshall (bass), also perform on the tracks. A children’s chorus from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, CA, perform on three songs. The track “Christmas Time Is Here” features lyrics written by Lee Mendelson, when Guaraldi is unable to come up with any himself. The soundtrack is recorded over three sessions, and is completed shortly before the TV special is scheduled to air. When screened by executives at CBS, they initially hate it and Guaraldi’s jazzy score. Fate has other plans when “A Charlie Brown Christmas” airs on December 9, 1965. The special is a ratings blockbuster, coming in at #2 in the ratings for the week behind “Bonanza”. The music also becomes instantly iconic, turning into one of the best selling holiday albums of all time, as the special has become a Christmas staple. Reissued multiple times, Fantasy Records alters the original cover artwork in 1978, but is restored in the early 2000’s as it is remastered and reissued on CD, vinyl, DVD-A and SACD. It is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002, and is added to the National Recording Registry by the Library Of Congress in 2012. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” peaks at number twenty three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1964 – “All Day And All Of The Night” by The Kinks is released. Written by Ray Davies, it is the third single release for the rock band from London, UK. With the chart topping success of their breakthrough single “You Really Got Me”, The Kinks’ UK label Pye Records pressure them to follow it up with a similar sound-a-like. Feeling that they’re in no position to argue, they do just that. Bandleader Ray Davies takes the original riff from “You Really Got Me”, flips it over sideways, and creates another hard rocking power pop gem. The lyrics on the other hand, are something different. Titled “All Day And All Of The Night”, it borders on the songs’ male protagonist being completely obsessed (and borderline neurotic) over his girl, not wanting to be away from her for even a moment. The track matches the lyrics in intensity, powered by another crunchy main riff, played by guitarist Dave Davies. To achieve that signature guitar sound, Dave plays an Epiphone Casino through a pair of Peavey Mace amplifiers. Working again with producer Shel Talmy, “All Day” is recorded at Pye Studios (Studio No. 2) in London on September 23, 1964. Initially, Pye Records are not enamored of the song, rejecting it on the grounds of being “too blue-collar, too working-class”, and that the guitar riff sounded like “a dog’s bark”. In spite of this opinion, “All Day And All Of The Night” is released in the UK exactly one month later on October 23, 1964. Any doubts about its hit potential are quickly squashed, when the single is an instant smash, peaking at #2 for two weeks on the UK singles chart behind The Supremes’ “Baby Love”. The Kinks’ american label follows suit immediately, releasing “All Day And All Of The Night” just two weeks after “You Really Got Me” peaks at #7 on the pop chart late November. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on December 26, 1964, it peaks at #7 six weeks later on February 6, 1965 (holding for three consecutive weeks), matching the chart position of its predecessor. Becoming one of The Kinks’ most popular and enduring songs, “All Day And All Of The Night” inspires other musicians as well. The Doors’ second number one single “Hello, I Love You” bares similarities to The Kinks’s song, to the point where the band’s song publisher wanted to sue The Doors. However, Ray Davies steadfastly refuses to take any legal action. Ironically, Davies borrows from himself again, when he recycles the riff of “All Day” in the song “Destroyer” in 1981. Acknowledged as a rock classic, “All Day And All Of The Night” has been covered many times over, including versions by Gary Lewis & The Playboys, The Remains, The Stranglers, and Quiet Riot.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1962 – “Meet The Supremes”, the debut album by The Supremes is released. Produced by Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Raynoma Liles, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from October 1960 – September 1962. It features the first four singles released by the group during 1961 and 1962, including “I Want A Guy”, “Let Me Go The Right Way”, “Buttered Popcorn”, and “Your Heart Belongs To Me”. All fare poorly on the charts which lead people around Motown to dub them the “no hit” Supremes, in spite of the labels’ best writers and producers efforts to come up with a hit single for the group. “Meet” is reissued in early 1965 (originally issued in mono only) it is remixed in true stereo with different cover artwork, after their breakthrough success with the “Where Did Our Love Go? album”. Original copies of “Meet The Supremes” are among the rarest of the early Motown LP’s and command up to $500 for a near mint copy today. In 2010, the album is remastered and reissued as a two CD edition through Hip-O Select Records, with the mono and stereo versions of the original album along with alternate versions and seven live tracks recorded in 1964.
On this day in music history: December 8, 1967 – “Their Satanic Majesties Request”, the sixth UK (and eighth US) LP by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by The Rolling Stones, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London from February 9 – October 23, 1967. Following the release of “Between The Buttons” in early 1967, various diversions including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones being arrested on drug charges (all of which are acquitted), and general lack of focus on music, leads to producer and manager Andrew Loog Oldham resigning from The Rolling Stones organization. In spite of this, the band begin recording another album, influenced by psychedelic rock and experimenting with other exotic instruments and sounds. Producing themselves for the first time, the sessions are erratic and drag on for several months. In fact, as soon as a month before the albums’ scheduled release, there is doubt that the material recorded can be molded into a cohesive work. A final running order is worked out, and it is ready for release. The album is greeted with highly mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. Coming six months after The Beatles’ universally heralded “Sgt. Pepper”, The Stones album is largely written off as a self indulgent, ill conceived and pale imitation. Original LP pressings come with a 3D lenticular cover designed by and photographed by Michael Cooper, having also shot the “Sgt. Pepper” cover. Like “Pepper” which features a doll wearing a sweater with “Welcome The Rolling Stones” on the front, The Stones pay tribute to The Fab Four in return by featuring small pictures of them worked into the cover art work. The 3D cover is discontinued after the first pressing, due to high costs to reproduce it. Though it sells well initially, interest and sales trail off quickly. In later years, though the band are mostly dismissive of it, the band do perform “2000 Light Years From Home” and “She’s A Rainbow” (#25 Pop) live over the years. KISS also covers “2000 Man” on their album “Dynasty” in 1979. In time, “Their Satanic Majesties” garners more favorable opinion, attaining cult classic status. “She’s A Rainbow” is later featured in an episode of the series “American Horror Story”, and in several television commercials, including ones for Apple computers, Sony Bravura TV’s, Christian Dior and Acura. It is remastered and reissued in 2002 as a hybrid SACD. It is reissued on vinyl in 2013, with some import editions replicating the original 3D cover. The mono version of the album, out of print since the late 60’s, is remastered and reissued on CD for the first time and on 180 gram vinyl as part of “The Rolling Stones In Mono” box set in September of 2016. For its 50th anniversary, it is released as a double vinyl LP and hybrid SACD set including both the mono and stereo mixes in September of 2017. The LP jacket replicates the original 3D lenticular cover featured on the first pressing. “Their Satanic Majesties Request” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, spending six weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 7, 1963 – “Dominique” by The Singing Nun hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Sœur Sourire (aka Jeanne Deckers), it is the only hit for the Dominican nun from the Fischermont Monastery in Belgium. Written and sung by Sister Luc-Gabrielle (born Jeanne-Paule-Marie Deckers), the song (and album) are recorded after nuns from the monastery approach executives from Philips Records about making a private recording to be given away as gifts to girls studying at the convent. The label likes the finished recordings so well that they are commercially released. The French language song about St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican religious order becomes a surprise hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #64 on November 9, 1963, it rockets to the top of the chart four weeks later. Both the single and album “The Singing Nun” (#1 for 10 weeks) sells several million copies around the world, with The Singing Nun becoming the first artist in the history of the Billboard charts to have their album and single claim the top spot on both charts simultaneously. Deckers performs the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 5, 1964, but does not have any other hits after the huge success of “Dominique”. A film about the nuns’ path to pop music success starring actress Debbie Reynolds is released in 1966. Deckers leaves the monastery later in 1967 to become a secular missionary, continuing her music career, and opening a school for autistic children with her childhood friend and life partner Annie Pécher. The success of “Dominique” proves to be a double edged sword when the Belgian government claims the Deckers owes a large amount in back taxes from the royalties of the single and album. Having given all of her royalties to the convent, she claims she is not liable for the large tax bill. The convent refuse to take any responsibility for the debt since Deckers no longer belonged to it, and claimed to not have the funds. They also prevent her from performing under the name Sœur Sourire as the Dominican sisters claim rights to the name. Dogged by financial problems and depressed at the failure to restart her music career, Deckers and Pécher both commit suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol on March 29, 1985. In later years, “Dominique” is featured in various films including “Mermaids”, and television programs including “Mad Men”, “The Simpsons”, “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “American Horror Story: Asylum”.
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.