Born on this day: June 18, 1961 – Singer and songwriter Alison Moyet (born Geneviève Alison Jane Moyet in Billericay, Essex, UK). Happy 57th Birthday, “Alf”!!
Born on this day: June 18, 1961 – Singer and songwriter Alison Moyet (born Geneviève Alison Jane Moyet in Billericay, Essex, UK). Happy 57th Birthday, “Alf”!!
On this day in music history: June 18, 1988 – “Together Forever” by Rick Astley hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Club Play chart for 1 week on May 28, 1988. Written and produced by Stock, Aitken & Waterman, it is the second US chart topper for the singer from Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, UK. Following the UK release and subsequent chart topping success of Rick Astley’s debut single “Never Gonna Give You Up”, the production and songwriting team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, conceive the idea of writing another song in a similar vein to “Give You Up”. Using much of the same song structure and chord changes as its predecessor, “Together Forever” comes together quickly. The track is recorded at Stock Aitken & Waterman’s PWL Studios in London in the Summer of 1987, with Astley recording his vocals shortly after. In the UK, it is released as the third single from “Whenever You Need Somebody” in February of 1988. However, Rick narrowly missed the top of the UK singles chart, stopping at #2. Ironically, he is denied a second trip to the top by singer and actress Kylie Minogue’s debut single “I Should Be So Lucky”, which is also written and produced by SAW. In the US, the timing proves to be just right, with “Together Forever” being issued as the follow up to “Never Gonna Give You Up” in early April of 1988. Entering the Hot 100 at #62 on April 16, 1988, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. Also a smash on club dance floors, “Forever” also reaches the top of the US club play chart. The single helps drive the “Whenever You Need Somebody” album past the 2x Platinum mark in the US.
On this day in music history: June 18, 1984 – “Camouflage”, the thirteenth studio album by Rod Stewart is released. Produced by Michael Omartian, it is recorded at Lion Share Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late Winter – Early Spring 1984. Following the critically maligned “Body Wishes”, the album returns the veteran rocker to commercial prominence in the US. Sporting a slick, pop oriented sound, it spins off three singles including the top 10 hits “Infatuation” (#6 Pop) and “Some Guys Have All The Luck” (#10 Pop). The video for the first single “Infatuation” (featuring Stewart’s friend and former band mate Jeff Beck on lead guitar, also making a cameo appearance in the video) is directed by Jonathan Kaplan (“The Accused”, “Truck Turner”). The film noir styled black & white clip features actress Kay Lenz and veteran character actor Mike Mazurki (the old man). At the time of the singles run on the charts, there are two versions of the clip that are shown, each with an alternate ending. “Camouflage” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 17, 1987 – “Everlasting”, the eleventh studio album (twelfth overall) by Natalie Cole is released. Produced by Reggie Calloway, Vincent Calloway, Jerry Knight, Aaron Zigman, Dennis Lambert, Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Marcus Miller, Eddie Cole, Andy Goldmark and Bruce Roberts, it is recorded at Larrabee Sound Studios, Studio 55, Encore Studios, One On One Studios, Oh Henry Studios, Yamaha Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Soundcastle Studio Center, Image Recording Studios, Ocean Way Studios, Lion Share Studios in Hollywood, CA, Conway Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA, House Of Music in West Orange, NJ, Messina Music, 39th Street Music in New York City and 5th Floor Recording in Cincinnati, OH from Late 1986 – Mid 1987. Finally overcoming a years long addiction to drugs by the mid 80’s, Natalie Cole begins to rebuild her career in earnest. Though that is an uphill climb as Cole’s record sales have declined steadily since the turn of the decade. Wary of her reputation during the height of her substance abuse problems, many record labels are unwilling to sign her. However, Cole finds ardent supporters in music executives Gerry Griffith and Bruce Lundvall, at EMI imprint Manhattan Records. Looking to engineer a comeback for Natalie, they pair the singer with a host of top producers including Midnight Star members Reggie and Vincent Calloway, Dennis Lambert, Marcus Miller, and Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. Titled “Everlasting”, the first single is the up tempo groover “Jump Start” (#2 R&B, #13 Pop, #28 Club Play), written and produced by the Calloway brothers. It is an out of the box smash, sending out the word that Cole was back in a major way. The follow up is a cover of the Bruce Springsteen rocker “Pink Cadillac” (#9 R&B, #5 Pop, #1 Club Play). Produced by veteran pop and R&B producer Dennis Lambert, it is given an effervescent and funky dance pop reinvention. It’s an even bigger hit, and Natalie Cole’s first top ten pop hit since “Our Love” in 1978. Also given a hot house flavored remix by Robert Clivilles and David Cole (aka C+C Music Factory), “Cadillac” also becomes a huge club hit, topping the Billboard dance chart. The album spins off two more singles including the ballad “I Live For Your Love” (#4 R&B, #13 Pop, #2 AC). and a cover of “When I Fall In Love” (#31 R&B, #95 Pop, #14 AC), originally made famous by her father Nat King Cole. “Everlasting” successfully re-starts Natalie Cole’s recording career, earning her first Gold album in nearly a decade. It begins one of the greatest “second acts” in music history, hitting its peak with the album “Unforgettable… With Love” in 1991. “Everlasting” peaks at number eight on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty two on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 17, 1985 – “Single Life”, the eleventh album by Cameo is released. Produced by Larry Blackmon, it is recorded at Quadraphonic Sound Studios in New York City from December 1984 – March 1985. Continuing to charge ahead after the success of the R&B chart topper “She’s Strange” and its namesake Gold album, Cameo head back into the studio in late 1984 to begin work on their next release. Having progressively evolved their sound since “Alligator Woman” in 1982, the band maintain their razor sharp funkiness while incorporating the latest musical technology into their sound. After the release of the previous album, guitarist Charlie Singleton steps away from Cameo as a full time member to pursue a solo career, but continues to contribute as a side man in the studio on subsequent albums. And though not an official member of the band, keyboardist Kevin Kendrick also becomes a significant force creatively. The first taste of Cameo’s next album comes with the funky mid tempo track “Attack Me With Your Love” (#3 R&B, #39 Club Play), co-written by band leader Larry Blackmon and Kendrick. Though technically not a concept album, many of the songs on “Single” center around the ins and outs of relationships. The title track “Single Life” (#2 R&B, #26 Club Play) is released as a single in September of 1985. It makes a pointed and timely statement about wanting an intensely passionate relationship, but remaining free to pursue other options. The song adds the ironic coda of the whistle from Ennio Morricone’s “The Good, The Bad And The Ugly” (played as a hook on a synthesizer), to drive home the point of potential dangers of casually fooling around in the age of AIDS. “Life” is another R&B smash, and like its predecessor “She’s Strange” becomes a sizeable hit in the UK, hitting #15 on the charts and becoming their biggest hit to date there. It spins off a third single with the mellow, and melancholy “A Good-Bye” (#76 R&B). Issued as the B-side of the title track, the jazzy “I’ve Got Your Image” also becomes a favorite of Cameo fans both on record and when performed live. The success of “Single Life” helps set the stage for the worldwide success of the next album “Word Up”, just over a year later. “Single Life” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number sixty two on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 17, 1985 – “Crush”, the sixth studio album by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark is released. Produced by Stephen Hague and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, it is recorded at Amazon Studios in Liverpool, UK from Late 1984 – Spring 1985. Following the release their previous album “Junk Culture” and the singles “Tesla Girls” and “Locomotion”, OMD continue to move forward and evolve musically. The band ignore criticism from British music critics from New Musical Express and Melody Maker, after they blatantly thrash it. The follow up “Crush” marks the beginning of a new musical direction for the Liverpudlian synth pop band. They consciously move away from their experimental electronic dance music of their previous work, towards a more accessible mainstream pop sound. It is the bands’ first album to be co-produced by Stephen Hague (The Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Erasure), and is aimed primarily at the US record market. It significantly increases their previously underground fan base in the US, giving them their first taste of mainstream success. The album spins off two singles including “Secret” (#63 Pop) and their first US top 40 hit “So In Love” (#26 Pop). “Crush” peaks at number thirteen on the UK album chart and number thirty eight on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: June 17, 1983 – “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” by Culture Club is released. Written by Michael Craig, Roy Hay, Jon Moss and George O’Dowd, it is the fifth US single release for the pop band from London, UK. A fixture on London’s downtown club scene since his teens, George O’Dowd (aka “Boy George”) forms Culture Club in 1981, after an on again off again stint singing with the band Bow Wow Wow. Signed to Virgin Records in 1982 after being previously rejected by EMI Records, they begin recording their debut album in the Spring of that year. One song written after the initial demos recorded by the band, is the bouncy and upbeat “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”. As Culture Club’s main lyricist, George’s words were often cryptic and ambiguous on the surface, often masking a deeper hidden meaning. In the case of “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”, it speaks of the singer’s ambition for his band to be “the next big thing”, and doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal. And like many other Culture Club songs, the lyrics are also squarely aimed at drummer Jon Moss, whose often tumultuous relationship with Boy George often provided inspiration. Ironically or not so ironically, the songs’ musical arrangement is a play on Bow Wow Wow’s drums of Burundi percussion heavy sound. Included on the bands’ debut album “Kissing To Be Clever”, “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” is released in the US and Canada as the follow up to “Time (Clock Of The Heart)” by Epic Records. It is not released in the UK or the rest of Europe, with Virgin having issued “Church Of The Poison Mind” instead in April of 1983. To promote “Tumble”, Culture Club film a music video for the song directed by Zelda Barron. Band members Mikey Craig, Roy Hay and Jon Moss actually take tap dance lessons for a scene in the clip, but the idea is scrapped and another sequence is filmed in its place. The video also features a cameo appearance by future super model Naomi Campbell, then twelve years old at the time, as a part of a tap dancing chorus line. The video becomes an immediate fixture on MTV during the Summer of 1983, and is another hit for the band. Entering the Hot 100 at #64 on July 2, 1983, it peaks at #9 on August 27, 1983, eight weeks later. Their third consecutive top ten hit, Culture Club are the first band since The Beatles to pull three top ten hits from a debut album in the US. Along with the original single version, “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” is remixed by Jon Moss and producer Steve Levine. It is released as a 12" single shortly after the 45, becoming a sizable club hit, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Club Play chart. “Tumble” is spoofed by musician Frank Zappa on the song “Tinsel-Town Rebellion” on the live album and concert video “Does Humor Belong In Music?” released in 1986. “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” is also later featured in the Adam Sandler film “Billy Madison” in 1995.
Blues guitarist Matt “Guitar” Murphy (Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner, Etta James, The Blues Brothers) (born Matthew Tyler Murphy in Sunflower, MS) – December 29, 1929 – June 15, 2018, RIP
On this day in music history: June 16, 1986 – “The Queen Is Dead”, the third studio album by The Smiths is released. Produced by Morrissey and Johnny Marr, it is recorded at Jacobs Studios in Farnham, Surrey, UK, RAK Studios in London and Clear Recordings in Manchester, UK from July – December 1985. Morrissey and Marr write the majority of the songs for their third album during and between tours of Great Britain in 1985. Recording begins in the Summer with the song “Bigmouth Strikes Again” at Johnny Marr’s home studio. Originally intended to be just a demo, the band like the original version so much that it is released as single in advance of the album in May 1986. The rest of the album is completed later in the year in London and Surrey. When it debuts in the late Spring of 1986, it receives universal praise from the press and fans alike upon its release, and is regarded by many as The Smiths best album. Out of print on vinyl since the early 90’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Rhino Records in 2009, also including card for an mp3 download of the album. It is also remastered and reissued on CD in 2011 for its twenty fifth anniversary, with a limited numbered edition (to 2,000 copies) pressed a 10" LP (Europe only) for Record Store Day in April of 2011. The album is also reissued as a five LP deluxe box set in 2017, including the original ten song album, demos, single B-sides, and a full unreleased live concert recorded at Great Woods in Boston, MA on August 5, 1986. “The Queen Is Dead” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number seventy on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 15, 1989 – “Bleach”, the debut album by Nirvana is released. Produced by Jack Endino, it is recorded at Reciprocal Recording in Seattle, WA from December 1988 – January 1989. The first album by the Aberdeen, WA grunge rock band is recorded in only thirty hours of studio time at a cost of only $606.17. Second guitarist Jason Everman finances the recording of the album in spite of not playing a note on it. Guitarist/songwriter and lead singer Kurt Cobain credits him anyway as a gesture of thanks. Issued on small Seattle indie rock label Sub Pop Records, the album sells about 40,000 copies during its initial release, but rises significantly in prominence following Nirvana’s hugely successful second album “Nevermind” in 1991. “Bleach” finally charts on the Billboard Top 200 in 1992 peaking at #89. It tops the Catalog album sales chart on May 7, 1994 one month after Kurt Cobain’s death. A limited number of copies of the original LP release are pressed on white vinyl. Subsequent reissues are pressed on numerous colors including marbled pink, clear red, swirled aqua blue, marbled bottle green, marbled purple. In 2009, the album is remastered and reissued for its twentieth anniversary. The LP configuration is issued as a double vinyl set (exclusively sold through retailer Newbury Comics) featuring a live performance recorded at the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, OR in February of 1990. The LP’s also also pressed in multiple colors including white, blue marbled black and purple marbled black. “Bleach” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.