On this day in music history: August 18, 1987 – “Out Of The Blue”, the debut album by Debbie Gibson is released. Produced by Fred Zarr, Debbie Gibson, John Morales, Sergio Munzibai and Lewis A. Martineé, it is recorded at Z Studio in Brooklyn, NY, International Sound in Miami, FL, Sorcerer Sound, Right Track Studios and Quad Recording Studios in New York City from Late 1986 – Early 1987. Originally signed to Atlantic Records dance music division for just a one off single, the label quickly green lights the recording of a full album in wake of the break out success of “Only In My Dreams” (#4 Pop, #12 Club Play) in dance clubs and on Urban crossover radio. Recorded in just four weeks, the then sixteen year old singer, songwriter and musician writes all ten songs on her debut album. It spins off five singles with four of them reaching the top five, including “Shake Your Love” (#4 Pop) and the title track (#3 Pop). Gibson makes history as the youngest artist to ever write and produce a number one single (“Foolish Beat”), being only seventeen years old (two months shy of her eighteenth birthday) when it tops the Hot 100 in June of 1988. “Out Of The Blue” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 18, 1987 – “Permanent Vacation”, the ninth studio album by Aerosmith is released. Produced by Bruce Fairbairn, it is recorded at Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, BC, Canada from March – May 1987. Following the failure of the bands 1985 album “Done With Mirrors”, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry’s collaboration with RUN DMC on the remake of Aerosmith’s classic “Walk This Way” set the wheels in motion for the second and most successful phase of their career. The band’s A&R man, John Kalodner is also instrumental in helping chart the course for Aerosmith’s return to commercial prominence. Kalodner suggests that that the band work with veteran producer Fairbairn (Bon Jovi, KISS, AC/DC) and collaborate with several different songwriters including Desmond Child, Holly Knight, and Jim Vallance, the album marks the beginning of a major comeback Aerosmith. It spins off three singles including “Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” (#14 Pop), “Angel” (#3 Pop), and “Rag Doll” (#17 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued as an SHM-CD by Universal Japan in 2010, and is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2016. “Permanent Vacation” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 18, 1986 – “Slippery When Wet”, the third studio album by Bon Jovi is released. Produced by Bruce Fairbairn, it is recorded at Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada from January – July 1986. In spite of going Gold with their first two albums, Bon Jovi find themselves at a major career crossroads. After struggling for years, the band realize they need to change their approach to writing and recording to achieve the level of success they seek. At the suggestion of their record label, Bon Jovi hire songwriter Desmond Child who had previously worked with KISS, Cher and Bonnie Tyler. Co-writing four songs with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, Child is able to blend his trademark radio friendly hooks with Bon Jovi and Sambora’s ideas. The band also choose a new producer, working with Bruce Fairbairn, previously best known for his work with Prism, Loverboy, Blue Öyster Cult and Honeymoon Suite. Bon Jovi spends over six months working on the album. During the recording, the band nearly drop one of albums biggest hits “Livin’ On A Prayer” (#1 Pop) from the albums final running order. Unhappy with the original version that is recorded, Sambora convinces the rest of the band of its potential and that they should try recording it again. Re-tooling the arrangement, Richie adds the crowning touch by using a talk box effect on his guitar, popularized by guitar Peter Frampton on his landmark live album “Frampton Comes Alive!”. Initially titled “Wanted Dead Or Alive” (#7 Pop) after the song, the album title is changed to “Slippery When Wet”. Completed by mid-Summer, Mercury Records schedules “Slippery” for a mid-August street date. Before it’s released, the original cover artwork, featuring a busty model in a strategically torn wet T-shirt with the title emblazoned on the front, is withdrawn before going to print in the US. Based on the problems Mercury had experienced with album covers by Bon Jovi label mates The Scorpions, the label fears that some major retailers will refuse to stock the album with such a provocative cover. The photo is used in some foreign territories and as the US 12" promo and international 7" picture sleeves for “You Give Love A Bad Name” (#1 Pop), a more innocuous image is used instead. The released cover features the title traced on to a wet garbage bag with the bands logo printed above it. “Slippery” is an enormous runaway success, spinning three top ten singles including their first two number ones, it catapults Bon Jovi into mainstream pop superstardom. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2010, with three live bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2016. “Slippery When Wet” spends eight weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 12x Platinum in the US, earning a Diamond Certification.
On this day in music history: August 18, 1979 – “Good Times” by Chic hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 6 weeks on July 28, 1979. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the second chart topping single the New York City based R&B band led by musicians Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. One of the first songs completed for Chic’s third album “Risque”, the song was not originally Atlantic Records choice for the first single. The label actually preferred the song “My Feet Keep Dancing”. The label quickly presses singles and has them ready to ship, when Edwards and Rodgers have a disagreement over the labels choice, resulting in the two not speaking to each other for several days. When they both realize that they don’t want the song to be the first single, they quickly call a meeting with Atlantic label execs asking that “Feet” be withdrawn, and “Good Times” be released instead. The decision proves to be a wise one with “Good Times” rising to the top of the pop and R&B singles charts quickly. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 on June 16, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “My Feet Keep Dancing” is eventually issued as the third and final single from “Risque” in late 1979, peaking at #42 on the R&B singles chart and Bubbling Under the Hot 100 at #101. “Good Times” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 18, 1978 – “Who Are You”, the eighth studio album by The Who is released. Produced by The Who, Jon Astley and Glyn Johns, it is recorded at Rampart Studios in Battersea, London, Olympic Studios, RAK Studios in St. John’s Wood, London, and Pete Townshend’s Home Studio in Going-on-Thames, London from October 1977 – April 1978. Issued three years after their last studio album “The Who By Numbers”, it is the final album to feature original drummer Keith Moon. Hampered by his decade long abuse of drugs and alcohol, Moon’s once rock solid playing suffers as he continues to struggle with his addictions. As a result, Keith’s confidence in his ability to deliver consistently in the studio is shaken, feeling that he is letting his band mates down. Sadly, he dies of an accidental drug overdose just three weeks after its release. Moon’s death is made even more tragic and ironic, when he overdoses on the medication he is prescribed to combat his alcoholism. It spins off two singles including “Trick Of The Light” and the title track (#14 Pop). In 1996, the album is remixed and remastered (by Jon Astley), with the reissue containing five bonus tracks. The title song becomes the theme of long running crime drama television series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” in 2000. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2015. “Who Are You” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, number six on the UK album chart, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 18, 1973 – “Touch Me In The Morning” by Diana Ross hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on July 28, 1973, and peaking at #5 on the R&B singles chart on August 4, 1973. Written by Ron Miller and Michael Masser, is the the second solo chart topper (fourteenth overall) for the singer and actress from Detroit, MI. Following her Academy Award nominated performance as Billie Holiday in the biopic “Lady Sings The Blues”, Diana Ross shifts her attention back to her music career in the Spring of 1973. Looking to give his biggest star artist a boost after her Oscar loss, Berry Gordy looks to put Ross back on the top of the charts. Gordy and Motown A&R chief Suzanne dePasse puts together a team to write a big hit for the Motown superstar. Songwriter and producer Ron Miller, best known for writing classics like “For Once In My Life” and “Heaven Help Us All” for Stevie Wonder, is given the assignment to work with Ross. At this time, Gordy and dePasse discovers a former stockbroker turned songwriter named Michael Masser to collaborate with Miller. The pair hit it off instantly and write the sultry “Touch Me In The Morning” for Ross. The recording session are rough going when Ross has a difficult time with the complexly structured song. Running through twelve takes of the song, the singer still feels unsatisfied with her performance after working on her vocals all night. Miller and Masser spend 300 hours in the recording studio editing Diana Ross’ final vocal performance together on “Touch Me In The Morning” from those takes. Released as a single on May 3, 1973, the single does not initially have an easy climb up the charts, actually losing its bullet as it climbs the pop singles chart. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on June 2, 1973, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The huge success of “Touch Me In Morning” not only restores Diana Ross back on the top of the pop chart for the first time in nearly two years, it marks the beginning of Michael Masser’s hugely successful career as a songwriter and producer. Masser and Ross collaborate several more times over the years scoring another number one hit with “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” and the top ten film theme “It’s My Turn”.
On this day in music history: August 18, 1958 – “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” by Domenico Modugno hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks. Written by Franco Migliacci and Domenico Modugno, it is the biggest hit for the Italian born singer, songwriter and filmmaker. The idea for “Volare” comes from fellow songwriter Franco Migliacci, who is inspired by a pair of paintings by Russian-French impressionist artist Marc Chagall. The song describes an abstract dream of a man painting himself blue and flying through the air. Migliacci and Modugno write the song originally titled “Sogno in blu” (dream in blue) before changing it to “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” with volare being the Italian word meaning “to fly”, and the latter translating to “in the sky, painted blue. The song is entered in the Sanremo Music Festival in January of 1958, with it receiving its first public performance. "Volare” wins the contest, leading to it being Italy’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Though it only places third in the competition, the attention generated at Eurovision will convince Modugno to record it. Originally released on the Fonit Cetra label, the song is an instant smash, selling over a million copies in Italy alone. “Volare” is licensed to Decca Records in the US, and takes a similar trajectory. Entering the Hot 100 at #54 on August 4, 1958, it pole vaults to the top of the chart two weeks later, becoming only the second single to top the newly established chart. The only song in the Italian language to hit the top of the US charts, “Volare” is a sensation with American music fans. At the first Grammy Awards ceremony in May of 1959, “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” wins three Grammy Awards including Best Male Vocal Performance, and the first to win Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year. A pop standard, “Volare” is covered many times, and is referenced numerous times in movies and television. Singer Sergio Franchi sings the song in commercials for the Plymouth Volaré in the 70’s. Actor Kevin Kline sings a brief snippet of it in “A Fish Called Wanda”, and Vitamin C recording a cover for the “Lizzie McGuire Movie” soundtrack. “Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 18, 1956 – “Don’t Be Cruel” / “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for 11 weeks. Written by Otis Blackwell / Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, it is third chart topping single for Presley. Penned by songwriter Otis Blackwell (“Great Balls Of Fire”, “All Shook Up”, “Return To Sender”), “Cruel” is recorded at RCA Studios in New York on July 2, 1956, with the master version being the twenty eighth take. The flip side “Hound Dog”, written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952 for R&B legend Big Mama Thornton, is recorded by Presley during the same session. A big fan of Big Mama’s version as well as the answer record “Bear Cat” by Rufus Thomas, Presley decides to record “Hound Dog” after an ill fated performance engagement in Las Vegas. While playing an two week stint in Las Vegas during the Spring of 1956, Elvis sees the lounge act Freddie Bell And The Bellboys performing a comedy burlesque cover of “Hound Dog” in their show. Liking their arrangement, Presley decides to record himself. Elvis and his band along with vocal group The Jordanaires record thirty one takes of the song before finally capturing the master take. The single is released eleven days later on July 13, 1956, and is an immediate smash. Technically the B-side of the single, it is listed along with “Hound Dog” beginning the week of August 11, 1956 when the it reaches #2, then topping the chart the following week. The double A-sided singles run at the top of the charts is unprecedented in the rock era. The record remains unbroken until 1992 when “End Of The Road” by Boyz II Men holds the number one spot for 13 weeks beginning on August 15, 1992, thirty six years to the week that Presley hits number one. “Cruel” returns to the Billboard top ten thirty two years later, when Cheap Trick’s cover version peaks at #4 on October 8, 1988. “Don’t Be Cruel” is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002.
On this day in music history: August 17, 1991 – “Can You Stop The Rain” by Peabo Bryson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #52 on the Hot 100 on August 3, 1991. Written by John Bettis and Walter Afanasieff, it is the second chart topping single for the R&B/Pop vocalist from Greenville, SC. First establishing himself as a major R&B star beginning in 1978 with “Reaching For The Sky”, his major label debut for Capitol Records. Scoring three Gold albums (including duets with Natalie Cole and Roberta Flack) and string of hit singles, Peabo Bryson experiences a period in the early 80’s when the hits become less frequent. He bounces back in a major way in 1983 when he reunites with Roberta Flack on the album “Born To Love”, landing a multi-format smash with “Tonite I Celebrate My Love” (#5 R&B, #16 Pop, #4 AC). In 1984, Bryson leaves Capitol for Elektra Records which pays immediate dividends with the album “Straight From The Heart” and the single “If Ever You’re In My Arms Again” (#6 R&B, #10 Pop, #1 AC). However, after three more top 40 singles, the hits trail off, with the singer releasing three more albums over the next four years before parting ways with Elektra. Re-connecting briefly with Capitol in 1989, Peabo scores his biggest solo hit to date in early 1990 with a cover of Al Wilson’s classic “Show & Tell” (#1 R&B). In spite of the “All My Love” album spinning off one more hit with the title track (#6 R&B), Bryson leaves Capitol in late 1990, signing with Columbia Records. The singer is paired with several producers for his first album for the label including musician Walter Afanasieff. Working previously as a session musician with producer Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Sister Sledge), Peabo Bryson is the first major artist Afanasieff works with as a producer. Producing two tracks for the album, Afanasieff writes the music for what becomes the ballad “Can You Stop Rain”, with lyricist John Bettis (“Human Nature”, “Top Of The World”) writing the words. Track is recorded with the producer playing all of the instruments, with Claytoven Richardson, Jeanie Tracy, Kitty Beethoven, Melisa Kary, Sandy Griffith on background vocals. The title track from Bryson’s fifteenth album, “Can You Stop The Rain” is released on May 4, 1991. The single quickly becomes and R&B, Quiet Storm and Adult Contemporary smash, propelling the album to Gold status in the US. The success of “Can You Stop The Rain” puts the veteran R&B singer back on solid ground, leading to future smash duets with Celine Dion and Regina Belle with “Beauty & The Beast” (#9 Pop) and “A Whole New World” (#1 Pop, #21 R&B) from the Disney animated classics “Beauty & The Beast” and “Aladdin”. Both singles earn Peabo Bryson Grammy Awards for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1992 and 1994.
On this day in music history: August 17, 1987 – “Substance”, the fifth album by New Order is released. Produced by New Order, it features material recorded from 1981 – 1987. The twelve track double LP compilation consists of the 12-inch single mixes and their respective B-side dub mixes. The CD and cassette versions feature track listings that are expanded to twenty four and twenty eight tracks respectively (including “1963”, the B-side of “True Faith”). The album also includes the newly recorded track “True Faith” (#4 UK) which becomes their first top 40 single in the US (#32 Pop). “Faith” is also supported by abstract and surreal music directed by French/Moroccan choreographer and mime artist Philippe Decouflé (The Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”), that receives widespread play on MTV and other video outlets. The albums’ packaging is designed by graphic artist Trevor Key of Peter Saville Associates with the initial pressings featuring the artist name and title embossed on the front. Subsequent re-pressings feature flat text printing to save on printing costs. “Substance” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, number thirty six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.