On this day in music history: October 16, 1976 – “Johnny The Fox”, the seventh studio album by Thin Lizzy is released. Produced by John Alcock, it is recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, Ramport Studios in Battersea, London, UK and Olympic Studios in Barnes, London, UK in August 1976. The band begin work on the album while lead singer and bassist Phil Lynott is recovering from a bout of hepatitis, causing the band to abort a tour of the US for the “Jailbreak” album. Lynott composes the songs while in the hospital with an acoustic guitar. Thin Lizzy decides to record in Germany rather than in the UK for tax purposes, but return home to the UK after only two weeks when the band members have disagreements over musical direction. The album spins off two singles including the title track that later becomes a staple in Hip Hop culture when its opening drum break becomes a favorite of DJ’s and B-Boys. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1996, with an expanded double CD deluxe edition released in Europe and Japan in 2011. The first CD contains the original ten track album, with the second disc featuring remixes, previously unreleased tracks and live performances recorded for the BBC in November of 1976. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2011 on the Back On Black label, and by Mercury Records in 2014. “Johnny The Fox” peaks at number eleven on the UK album chart, and number fifty two on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: October 9, 1978 – “Killing Machine” (aka “Hell Bent For Leather”), the fifth album by Judas Priest is released (US released is on February 28, 1979). Produced by Judas Priest and James Guthrie, it is recorded at Utopia Studios and CBS Studios in London from August – September 1978. Only six months after the release of their second major label album “Stained Class”, Judas Priest return to the studio to work on the follow up. Continuing to evolve, the band begin developing the sound that will make them icons of heavy metal. While still heavy and dark sonically, the songs are more “commercial and accessible” unlike their first two independent label releases. At this time, Judas Priest also changes their look, wearing black leather and studs, an image that becomes synonymous with the band and their lead singer Rob Halford. Working with Pink Floyd engineer James Guthrie, Priest record their fifth album in under a month. It is also the last release to feature Les Binks, who is replaced by Dave Holland in late 1979. The album features several songs that become standards in Judas Priest’s catalog including “Evening Star”, “Rock Forever” and “Take On The World”. With “Stained Class” still on the charts in the US, “Killing Machine” is held back from release until February of 1979. A cover of the Fleetwood Mac song "The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown)“ is also added to the US version. The title is also changed for its American release to "Hell Bent For Leather” after another song on the album. Change comes when executives from CBS Records in the US feel that the title is too controversial, and will draw negative attention. The move is highly ironic considering the major controversy that Judas Priest faces over a decade later from the “Stained Class” track “Better By You, Better Than Me”. Original UK LP pressings are issued on red vinyl on a limited basis. “Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather” is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001 with two additional live bonus tracks. It is reissued on vinyl in 2010 by UK label Back On Black Records, featuring two bonus tracks, and pressed on red, green and black vinyl. The album is also reissued by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2014, as part of their “Silver Label Vinyl Series”. “Killing Machine/Hell Bent For Leather” peaks at number one hundred twenty eight, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 8, 1991 – “Badmotorfinger”, the third album by Soundgarden is released. Produced Soundgarden and Terry Date, it is recorded at Studio D in Sausalito, CA, Bear Creek Studios in Woodinville, WA, and A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from March – April 1991. The Seattle based bands second major label album is the first to feature new bassist Ben Shepherd, replacing Jason Everman (who leaves to join Mind Funk). it spins off three singles including “Outshined”, “Rusty Cage” and “Jesus Christ Pose”. The album becomes their most successful to date and helps break the grunge rock movement from its cult underground following into mainstream popularity. When Soundgarden lands a slot on the second Lollapalooza Tour in 1992, the album adds a limited edition five song EP titled “Satanoscillatemymetallicsonatas” (or SOMMS) featuring covers of rock and new wave classics. The album also receives a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1992, with their cover of Black Sabbath’s “Into The Void (Sealth)” on the “SOMMS” EP receiving a nomination in the same category in 1993. To commemorate the twenty fifth anniversary of the albums’ release, it is remastered and reissued in November of 2016. It is reissued as a standard single CD, a two disc deluxe edition and as an elaborate limited Super Deluxe box set edition. The box contains three CD’s with the first two consisting of the original twelve song album and sixteen bonus tracks. The third disc features a full live performance recorded at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, WA on March 6, 1992. The full concert is also included on a DVD packaged with the set, and a second DVD featuring the “Motorvision” home video release from 1992, originally issued only on VHS tape. It also includes additional live performances, with the original music videos for “Outshined”, “Rusty Cage” and “Jesus Christ Pose”. The final disc is a Blu-ray disc including the full album in high resolution audio and remixed into 5.1 surround sound. The lavish box also comes with a fifty two page booklet, fully annotated with rare photos and new artwork. Other collectible artifacts come with the set, which is housed in a 14" x 14" box that comes emblazoned with the album cover logo which is battery powered and spins when switched on. The album is also reissued as a double 180 gram vinyl LP set. “Badmotorfinger” peaks at number thirty nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 8, 1988 – “Love Bites” by Def Leppard hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Joe Elliott, Steve Clark, Phil Collen, Rick Savage and Robert John “Mutt” Lange, it is the biggest hit for the hard rock band from Sheffield, UK. Known for classic and memorable singles like “Bringing On The Heartbreak”, “Photograph”, “Rock Of Ages” and “Foolin’”, surprisingly none of them had reached the top ten on the US pop charts. Def Leppard would have to wait until March of 1988, when the title track of their fourth album “Hysteria” peaks at #10. The follow up “Pour Some Sugar On Me” released in April is an even bigger hit. However, the record has to settle for the runner up spot on the chart, peaking at #2 in July. “Sugar” is unable to move past Richard Marx’s ballad “Hold On To The Nights”, then Steve Winwood leaps over Def Leppard to claim the number one spot with “Roll With It”. While recording the “Hysteria” album, the band’s producer “Mutt” Lange brings them a song with a “country ballad” feel. Unlike anything that Def Leppard had done before, the band re-tool the song, adding more rock elements to it. Re-crafting it into a rock power ballad and re-writing the lyrics, the song is given the title “Love Bites” which had been the title of another song that is re-titled “I Wanna Be Your Hero”. Issued as the follow up to “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, “Bites” quickly becomes another smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #52 on August 13, 1988, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. Having finally reached the top of the pop singles chart in the US, “Love Bites” helps propel “Hysteria” back to number one of the Top 200 album chart, for an additional four weeks (non-consecutive). The back to back success of “Sugar” and “Bites” are responsible for nearly tripling the sales of the album to over nine million in the US alone by the beginning of 1989.
On this day in music history: October 5, 1970 – “Led Zeppelin III”, the third album by Led Zeppelin is released. Produced by Jimmy Page, it is recorded at Headley Grange in Headley, East Hampshire, UK, Olympic Studios and Island Studios in London, and Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN from January – July 1970. Following extensive and exhausting tours of the US and UK in support of their first two albums, the band take a much needed break from the road to work on material for their third album. The majority of the songs are composed at a cottage called Bron-Yr-Aur in the Welsh countryside by Page and Plant. The album marks a stylistic departure from the bands first two albums, featuring quieter and more acoustic based music. In the US, the hard rocking “Immigrant Song” (#16 Pop) is issued as a single. The albums cover artwork designed by British graphic artist Zacron (aka Richard Drew) features a gatefold jacket equipped with a rotating volvelle with a picture collage of the band, and other images that can be seen through die cut holes in the LP cover. Released almost a year after their hugely successful second album, “III” is greeted with mixed reviews, and at first sells significantly less than its predecessor. Though in time, the transitional album is regarded as one of their best, and the beginning of an even more diverse musical path Led Zeppelin takes throughout the rest of the 70’s.
Notoriously guarded about their music being used in other media, the surviving members of Led Zeppelin give their consent for “Immigrant Song”, to be used in the Richard Linklater directed comedy “School Of Rock”, starring Jack Black. The band allow its use, after Black makes an impassioned and hilarious plea, via video tape. In June of 2014, the album is reissued on CD and vinyl both individually and as a “Super Deluxe” box set including an additional CD and LP with outtakes and work in progress tracks from the recording sessions. “Led Zeppelin III” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 30, 1968 – “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf is released. Written by John Kay and Rushton Moreve, the single is the follow up to the bands’ breakthrough smash “Born To Be Wild”. The original 45 version of the song features an alternate lead vocal by John Kay that differs significantly from the stereo LP mix which has a longer running time (4:25 as opposed to the 45 edit running 2:55), and is the version commonly heard today. The song is featured extensively in films and television programs over the years, and today is regarded as one of the quintessential songs of the 60’s. The original mono master tape containing the single version of “Ride” is destroyed in the early 70’s, when Dunhill Records’ parent label ABC dumps all of their mono masters into a landfill. This is carried out when then label president Jay Lasker believes they are of no use or value, following the rise in popularity of stereo recordings in the late 60’s. The original single mix appears on the first volume of radio DJ Dick Bartley’s “On The Radio” oldies CD compilation series in 1997. With the original master tape no longer in existence, it is mastered from a clean original 45 vinyl pressing. “Magic Carpet Ride” peaks at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 30, 1968, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1992 – “Dirt”, the second album by Alice In Chains is released. Produced by Dave Jerden and Alice In Chains, it is recorded at Eldorado Recording Studios in Burbank, CA, One On One Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA, and London Bridge Studios in Seattle, WA from March – May 1992. Issued as the follow up to their 2x Platinum selling debut “Facelift”, the dark and heavy tone of the album is influenced by the band members problems with depression, alcohol and substance abuse, especially present in lead singer Layne Staley’s lyrics. In rehab when the sessions begin, Staley relapses and begins using heroin and oxycodone, which complicates his relationships with his band mates and producer Jerden. In spite of the behind the scenes drama, the sessions are successfully completed. The album is very well received upon its release and is regarded as one of the best rock albums of the 90’s. It spins off five singles including “Them Bones” (#24 Mainstream Rock), “Rooster” (#7 Mainstream Rock) and “Would?” (#5 Mainstream Rock), the latter also being featured in the film and soundtrack to Cameron Crowe’s “Singles”. In Europe, the album is packaged with a limited edition bonus CD with four bonus tracks, including the single edit and LP versions of “Down In A Hole”, “Rooster” and “What The Hell I Have”. Originally released only on CD and cassette in the US, and on vinyl on a very limited basis internationally, it is remastered and reissued by Music On Vinyl in 2009. The reissue is pressed on standard black vinyl, and a limited edition pressing on dark red marbled vinyl. "Dirt" peaks at number six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 20, 1980 – “Blizzard Of Ozz”, the debut solo album by Ozzy Osbourne is released. Produced by Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, and Lee Kerslake, it is recorded at Ridge Farm Studios in Capel, Dorking, Surrey, UK from March 22 – April 19, 1980. Recorded in less than thirty days during the Spring of 1980, the former lead singer of Black Sabbath embark on his solo career. It is the first two albums to feature lead guitarist Randy Rhoads. Before the album is released, Osborne and his wife/manager Sharon attend a luncheon meeting with marketing and promotion staffers at Epic Records offices in Los Angeles to play the newly completed album. Ozzy who is very drunk at the time releases a pair of doves from his coat pockets, and while sitting on the lap of one of the female employees, one of the birds lands on Ozzy’s knee. He responds by picking the bird and biting its head off. The shocked and sickened execs have The Osbournes ejected from the building. With one dove still in his pocket, Ozzy bites the other bird’s head off and throws it in the receptionists area on the way out. The incident becomes infamous in the music biz, but in spite of this, the label releases the album as scheduled. The tracks “Crazy Train” and “Mr. Crowley” though not successful as singles propel the album to multi-platinum sales. The song “Suicide Solution” also the subject of later controversy when parents of a nineteen year old fan sue Osbourne and CBS Records, when their son commits suicide while listening to the song. The case eventually is thrown out of court. When the album is reissued in 2002, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake’s bass and drum parts and background vocals are re-recorded and substituted, when a long standing lawsuit between them and the Osbournes over unpaid royalties are still pending. The suit is settled in 2003, and the original version of the album is restored on the thirtieth anniversary reissue in 2010. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2011. “Blizzard Of Ozz” peaks at number twenty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 18, 1983 – “Lick It Up”, the eleventh studio album by KISS is released. Produced by Michael James Jackson, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, it is recorded at Right Track Studios and The Record Plant in New York City from July – August 1983. Following the disappointing response to their previous album “Creatures Of The Night”, the veteran rock band regroup and refine the harder rock of “Creatures”. It is also the first album to fully credit new guitarist Vinnie Vincent, who joined the band on the last album after original member Ace Frehley quits early in the sessions. KISS also undergo a huge image change, when they decide to stop performing in their trademark makeup and costumes. The band members reveal themselves publicly without makeup for the first time on MTV, being interviewed by VJ J.J. Jackson on the same day the album is released. The new album is well received and is their best seller since “Unmasked” in 1980. It spins off two singles including “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose” and the title track (#71 Pop). Vinnie Vincent’s tenure in KISS is brief, when he is fired from the band in April of 1984 for having personal differences with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Remastered and reissued on CD in 1998, it is reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2014, making it available in that format for the first time in nearly twenty five years. “Lick It Up” peaks at number twenty four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.