On this day in music history: December 15, 1992 – “The Chronic”, the debut solo album by Dr. Dre is released. Produced by Dr. Dre, it is recorded at Death Row Studios in Los Angeles, CA from June – November 1992. The album is first release from the former producer of NWA, and introduces rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg (aka “Snoop Dogg”, aka “Snoop Lion”) to the public. The title comes from a particularly potent strain of marijuana, also being referred to subtly on the album’s cover artwork, which is modeled after Zig Zag brand rolling papers. It receives great acclaim both within and outside the rap music community upon its release. It establishes Dre’s trademark “G-Funk” sound with a wide mainstream audience, and goes on to be one of the most popular and influential albums of the 90’s and beyond. It spins off three singles including “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” (#1 R&B, #2 Pop) and “Dre Day” (#6 R&B, #8 Pop). Dre wins a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for “Let Me Ride” in 1994. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002, with enhanced content, including the music video for “Dre Day”. Originally issued on vinyl as a single LP, it is also remastered and reissued in 2002 as a double LP set by Simply Vinyl for improved fidelity. It is remastered and reissued a second time in 2009 under the title “The Chronic Re-Lit & From The Vault”, with slightly altered cover artwork, and with two previously unreleased tracks featuring Snoop Dogg and The Lady Of Rage are added. A second edition features bonus DVD with music videos, interviews, promotional spots and DVD-ROM content, and is sold exclusively through big box retailer Wal-Mart. “The Chronic” spends eight weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number three on the Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 15, 1980 – “Three For Love”, the fourth album by Shalamar is released. Produced by Leon Sylvers III, it is recorded at Studio Masters, Larrabee Sound Studios in Los Angeles, CA and Aura Sound Studios in Orlando, FL from Mid – Late 1980. Having finally solidified their line up with singer Howard Hewitt, and scoring a Gold album with “Big Fun”, Shalamar return to the studio to record the follow up. With producer Leon Sylvers III again at the helm, he utilizes members of Solar Records studio band as well as Stephen Shockley, Fred Alexander, Jr. of Lakeside, and brothers Ricky, James and Foster. Howard Hewitt, Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel all take a more proactive role in the creative process, with each of them writing songs for the new album. One of Watley’s two contributions “Full Of Fire” (#24 R&B, #55 Pop) is issued as the first single in the Fall Of 1980. With the full album hitting stores at nearly the same time, it is met with enthusiasm by the group’s core fan base. Though it doesn’t spin off a big crossover hit like “The Second Time Around” on the previous album, the support from R&B radio is strong as stations and fans dig deep into “Three For Love”, discovering that it is Shalamar’s most solid and polished release to date. Issued in March of 1981, “Make That Move” (#6 R&B, #60 Pop), co-written by Dynasty members Kevin Spencer, William Shelby and keyboardist Ricky Smith, becomes its highest charting single. However it is “This Is For The Lover In You” (#17 R&B) that makes the most lasting impact. Co-written and sung by Howard Hewett, it becomes an instant classic, and a staple on mainstream R&B and Quiet Storm radio for many years to come. Surprisingly, it does not chart higher in spite of a strong reaction from fans. It is issued just as Solar is ending their distribution agreement with RCA Records, and moving to Elektra/Asylum by late 1981. As a result, RCA puts little promotional support behind it. It is later covered by Babyface on his fourth solo album “The Day” in 1996, and features Hewitt, Watley and Daniel along with rapper LL Cool J. Face’s version hits #2 on the R&B chart and #6 on the Hot 100. Deep cuts on “Love” including “Pop Along Kid” (also the B-side of “Make That Move”) and “Somewhere There’s A Love” become fan favorites and receive significant radio play. “Somewhere” is also featured on an episode of the sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes” during a romantic scene between Willis (Todd Bridges) and Charlene (Janet Jackson). “Love” makes its CD debut in 1996 on UK reissue label Sequel Records, including edited versions of the three singles as bonus tracks. It is remastered and reissued by The Right Stuff/EMI Records in 1997, but without the added bonus tracks of the import release. “Three For Love” peaks at number eight on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 15, 1979 – “Do You Love What You Feel” by Rufus & Chaka Khan hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, peaking at #5 on the Club Play chart, also peaking at #30 on the Hot 100 on February 2, 1980. Written by David “Hawk” Wolinski, it is the fourth R&B chart topper for the Chicago, IL R&B/Funk band. Following her guest appearance on Quincy Jones’ number one R&B hit “Stuff Like That” the previous year, the producer signs on to work with Rufus on their eighth album “Masterjam”. Sessions get underway at Westlake Audio in Hollywood, CA in mid 1979 just as Jones is completing work on Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall”. During the sessions for the song, Wolinski and Jones have a disagreement over the songs’ bridge, that nearly leads to “Hawk” withdrawing the song from the album. Eventually all is worked out in the end with the song being recorded as Wolinski intended it. Released as a single in late September of 1979, “Do You Love What You Feel” an immediate smash on R&B radio and on dance floors around the world. The song is also issued as a longer extended version (remixed by engineer Bruce Swedien) that is released in the US only as a promotional 12" to radio and club DJ’s (with original copies becoming sought after collector’s items), but is released commercially in the UK. The success of “Do You Love What You Feel” sends their album “Masterjam” to number one on the Billboard R&B album chart (#14 Pop), driving its sales to Gold status in the US. Over the years, “Do You Love What You Feel” has been sampled by rappers MC Shy D (“I Wanna Dance”), Fresh Kid Ice (“I Wanna Dance Y’All”), Poison Clan (“Some S*** I Used To Do”), Ras Kass Featuring RC (“Lapdance”) SWV Featuring Brianna Perry (“Do Ya”), and The Jacka Featuring Husalah (“Love How It Feels”). Other elements of the song are interpolated into tracks by Cam’ron (“Rockin’ And Rollin’) and Murderbot (”More Guns”).
On this day in music history: December 15, 1978 – “Here, My Dear”, the fifteenth studio album by Marvin Gaye is released. Produced by Marvin Gaye, it is recorded at Marvin’s Room in Hollywood, CA from Summer 1976 – Fall 1977. The fourteen track double LP set is a concept album, containing songs inspired by his divorce from first wife Anna Gordy Gaye (sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr.). The album is recorded with the caveat that Gaye’s ex-wife receives royalties from sales. Initially, Gaye plans to record a quick “throwaway” album, but the singer’s creative muse takes over. He crafts an intense song cycle chronicling his relationship with his former wife, and the eventual breakdown of their marriage. Initially, Motown refuses to release the album, but are forced to due to the stipulations of the divorce settlement. Anna Gaye threatens to sue her former husband, citing “invasion of privacy”, but later drops the lawsuit. Fans and critics are puzzled by the highly personal (and controversial) nature of the songs at the time of its release, and it fares poorly, winding up in record store cut out bins soon after. It spins off the lone single “A Funky Space Reincarnation” (#23 R&B, #106 Pop Bubbling Under), released in January of 1979. Motown issues it an edited two part 7" single, and a commercial 12" single, with the latter including an instrumental version. Re-evaluated years later, “Dear” is regarded as a classic and one of Marvin Gaye’s last great works. “A Funky Space Reincarnation” is later featured in a commercial for Dior J’adore perfume featuring actress Charlize Theron. In 2007, Hip-O Select Records releases a two CD expanded edition of the album featuring alternate extended mixes and instrumental versions of several tracks. Out of print on vinyl since its initial release, it is reissued as a double 180 gram LP set by Music On Vinyl in 2012. It is reissued again as part of Motown/UMe’s “Back To Black” vinyl reissue series in 2016, which includes an MP3 download of the full album. “Here, My Dear” peaks at number four on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number twenty six on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: December 15, 1975 – “Mothership Connection”, the fourth album by Parliament is released. Produced by George Clinton, it is recorded at United Sound Studios in Detroit, MI and Hollywood Sound in Hollywood, CA from Mid – Late 1975. Following the release of Parliament’s second Casablanca release “Chocolate City”, former JB’s members Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker joins the band. Much like the previous album, “Mothership” follows a concept of placing “black people in situations nobody ever thought they would be in”. Bandleader George Clinton, a major science fiction fan, comes up with the idea of representing black people in outer space through several of the songs on the album. This concept also carries over to the albums’ now iconic cover artwork features Clinton in a spaceship on the front and back. The album marks a major turning point in Parliament’s career, being regarded as one of their best and is their most commercially successful to date. It spins off three singles including “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” (#2 R&B, #15 Pop), “P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)” (#33 R&B), and the title track “Mothership Connection (Star Child)” (#26 R&B). The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003 with the promo 45 edit of “Star Child (Mothership Connection)” added as a bonus track. It is also remastered and reissued on vinyl in 2015 as part of the “Respect The Classics” reissue series, with 3D lenticular cover artwork. “Mothership” is added to the National Recording Registry by The Library Of Congress in 2011, being acknowledged for its status as a seminal R&B/Funk recording, and for its ongoing influence on popular music. “Mothership Connection” peaks at number four on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 15, 1973 – “The Most Beautiful Girl” by Charlie Rich hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Country singles chart for 3 weeks on November 24, 1973, and the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on November 10, 1973. Written by Billy Sherrill, Norris Wilson and Rory Michael Bourke, the song is the biggest hit for the legendary country music performer nicknamed “The Silver Fox”. Having started his career out as a session musician at Sam Phillips’ legendary Sun Records in the late 50’s, Rich carves out a recording career for himself during the 60’s, recording singles for RCA and Smash Records. One of which, titled “Mohair Sam” is a sizable hit for him in 1965. In the late 60’s, Rich signs with Epic Records and is paired with producer Billy Sherrill (Tammy Wynette, George Jones). Together with fellow songwriter Norris “Norro” Wilson, the trio pens what becomes Rich’s biggest hit, and one of his signature songs. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on September 29, 1973, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The success of “Girl” and his previous hit “Behind Closed Doors”, wins Rich a number of honors including Male Vocalist Of The Year awards from both the Academy Of Country Music and the Country Music Association. “The Most Beautiful Girl” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 15, 1969 – “See”, the sixth studio album by The Rascals is released. Produced by The Rascals and Arif Mardin, it is recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City in Mid – Late 1969. Issued as the follow up to “Freedom Suite”, it marks a departure from their previous hit single driven formula, leaning more toward album oriented rock material, with keyboardist Felix Cavaliere moving more to the forefront of the band. It also is the last full album to include percussionist Eddie Brigati who leaves the band in the middle of sessions for their next release. This departure delays the release of the full album until the end of 1969, in the interim the first two singles “See” (#27 Pop) and “Carry Me Back” (#26 Pop) are released in May and August of that year. By the time the album arrives in stores in December, any momentum from the singles has long past. The end result is a muted commercial response from the public, in spite of receiving good reviews from music critics. Ironically, the single “I Believe” which is not included on “See” is released just before the album, but does not make its LP debut until 1971 on “Search And Nearness”, the final Rascals album released on Atlantic Records. To date, “See” has not been reissued in its entirety on CD or on vinyl, though a bootleg CD carrying the Collector’s Choice Records label surfaces in 2007, though is quickly withdrawn from the marketplace. “See” peaks at number forty five on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: December 15, 1967 – “The Who Sell Out”, the third studio album by The Who is released. Produced by Kit Lambert, it is recorded at Talentmasters Studios in New York City, IBC Studios, Pye Studios, De Lane Lea Studios, CBS Studios, Kingsway Studios in London and Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, CA from May – November 1967. The bands’ third release is a concept album that includes songs interspersed with fake commercials and public service announcements, mimicking the British pirate radio station Radio London. The band are sued by a number of companies whose real products are parodied on the album. It spins off the classic “I Can See For Miles” (#10 UK, #9 US Pop). The album cover art features individual photos of the band taken by photographer David Montgomery, pitching different products. Pete Townshend is shown with an oversized container of roll on deodorant, Keith Moon posing with a big tube of acne cream, John Entwistle dressed like Tarzan, standing next to a model (as Jane) and holding a teddy bear in a mock version of an ad for bodybuilder Charles Atlas, and Roger Daltrey sitting in a tub of Heinz Baked Beans. Daltrey later claims to have contracted pneumonia after the photo session, as the beans had been partial frozen before being put in the bathtub. Original pressings of the album include a short instrumental cut in the runout groove. The first 1,000 copies of the original stereo and first 500 mono copies of the UK LP come packaged with a psychedelic poster of a butterfly, painted by artist Adrian George, with the LP jackets affixed with a hype sticker noting the poster’s inclusion. The art had originally been intended as the albums’ cover art, but is rejected. The rarity of these initial pressings have resulted in copies selling in recent years for more than $1,000 each or more on the collector’s market. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1995 with ten additional bonus tracks including outtakes not included in the original release. It is reissued again in 2009 as a two CD Deluxe Edition featuring the original mono and stereo versions of the album, with twenty eight bonus tracks. The album is also reissued numerous times on vinyl, with the original mono mix being reissued in 2012, including the rare original poster. The stereo vinyl LP with the poster follows in 2015. “The Who Sell Out” peaks at number thirteen on the UK album chart, and number forty eight on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: December 15, 1958 – “Lonely Teardrops” by Jackie Wilson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 on February 9, 1959. Written by Berry Gordy, Jr., Tyran Carlo and Gwen Gordy, it is the first chart topping single for the R&B vocal icon from Detroit, MI. Having first established himself as the lead singer of Billy Ward & The Dominoes following the departure of Clyde McPhatter to join The Drifters in 1953, Jackie Wilson enjoys some success with the group before leaving for a solo career in 1957. Signing with Chicago based Brunswick Records, Wilson has hits right out of the box with the single “Reet Petite” and the follow up “To Be Loved”, both written by fellow Detroit natives Berry Gordy, Jr. and Roquel Billy Davis (aka “Tyran Carlo”). Friends since childhood, Gordy and Davis write “Lonely Teardrops” with Berry’s older sister Gwen. While coming up with song ideas for Wilson, Berry writes down the phrase “my eyes are crying”. Feeling that the line is “too common”, he changes it to “my heart is crying…”, after that, the rest of the song quickly falls into place. Recording a demo of the finished song, Gordy flies to New York City, and plays it for Jackie’s producer and arranger Dick Jacobs, who senses it’s a hit immediately. The track is cut live in the studio with Wilson singing with the orchestra, and is completed in a few takes. Released as a single on November 17, 1958, “Lonely Teardrops” is an instant smash, racing to the top of the R&B singles chart within a months time, then crossing over and hitting the top ten on the pop chart shortly after. “Teardrops” gives Jackie Wilson his first million selling single, becoming his signature song. Berry Gordy takes part of his earnings from the song to start his own label Motown Records in January of 1959. “Lonely Teardrops” also entails some sad irony, when it becomes the last song Wilson ever performs on stage. While performing on Dick Clark’s “Good Ol’ Rock and Roll Revue” at The Latin Casino in Cherry Hill, NJ on September 29, 1975, the singer suffers a heart attack and collapses after singing the lyric “my heart is crying”. People initially think it is part of the act until the band leader notices Wilson is not breathing. Paramedics are able to revive him, but the singer slips into a coma, and remains in a semi comatose state for the last nine years of his life. Committed to a nursing home full time, Dick Clark pays for Wilson’s medical care until the singer’s passing in January of 1984. A month later at the 26th Annual Grammy Awards, pop music superstar Michael Jackson acknowledges Jackie Wilson as a major influence, and dedicates one of his Grammy wins that evening to the late singer. Wilson’s original recording of “Lonely Teardrops” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.
On this day in music history: December 14, 1999 – Paul McCartney performs at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, UK. Staged in part to promote his rock & roll covers album “Run Devil Run”, the intimate live show is McCartney’s first performance at the legendary venue since The Beatles last played there in 1963, and is his first public performance since the passing of his wife Linda in 1998. He is backed by a band that includes Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, guitarist Mick Green, Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice, and keyboardist Pete Wingfield. The show is first broadcast on PBS, and is later released on video as “Paul McCartney Live At The Cavern Club” on June 19, 2001.