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.
On this day in music history: August 17, 1979 – “Drums And Wires”, the third album by XTC is released. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it is recorded at The Townhouse Studios in London from June – July 1979. Working with producer Lillywhite (U2) and engineer Hugh Padgham (Genesis, Phil Collins), it features the bands first big UK single “Making Plans For Nigel” (#17 UK) which also provides the band with their initial exposure in the US. The album is issued with differing track listings in various countries, with the first 20,000 copies coming with a two or three track 7" single featuring the songs “Chain Of Command”, “Limelight”, and/or “Life Begins At The Hop”. The initial US pressing of the LP (initially released on RSO Records and later reissued on Geffen Records) features the single version of “Ten Feet Tall”, while other pressing include the first recorded version. In 2014, the album is remastered and reissued in the UK on CD, DVD-A and Blu-Ray disc, with a newly remixed 5.1 surround mix. “Drums And Wires” peaks at number thirty four on the UK album chart, and number one hundred seventy four on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: August 16, 1989 – “Mother’s Milk”, the fourth album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is released. Produced by Michael Beinhorn, it is recorded at Hully Gully Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Ocean Way Studios and Image Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from November 1988 – March 1989. Still reeling from the death of guitarist Hillel Slovak (on June 25, 1988), and the departure of drummer Jack Irons, the Chili Peppers regroup with new guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith. The band work with former Material keyboardist Michael Beinhorn (Herbie Hancock, Soundgarden, Marilyn Manson) who handles the production duties. There is tension in the studio between the band and producer, who are at odds over the what the Chili Peppers feel is Beinhorn’s heavy handed control and conflicting musical vision. In spite of the acrimony between both sides, the sessions yield The Red Hot Chili Peppers most successful album to date, and begins the bands rise from underground cult status to mainstream rock prominence. It spins off three singles including “Knock Me Down” (#6 Alternative Rock) and a cover of the Stevie Wonder classic “Higher Ground” (#11 Alternative Rock, #26 Mainstream Rock). A few months after its release, it becomes their first Gold album (later turning Platinum). It is remastered and reissued on CD in 2003, with six bonus tracks added. This issue also restores the full version of “Pretty Little Ditty” to the album’s track sequence, where as the original releases shortened the song to just over a minute and a half. “Milk” is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2009, and again in 2016. “Mother’s Milk” peaks at number fifty two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 16, 1985 – “Freaky Styley”, the second album by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is released. Produced by George Clinton, it is recorded at United Sound Studios in Detroit, MI in May 1985. Following their self-titled debut released a year before, The Red Hot Chili Peppers tap P-Funk founder George Clinton to produce their sophomore effort. The band actually move into Clinton’s home for a brief period to bond with the funk legend, and to work on song ideas. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis, withdrawing from his heroin habit, begin using cocaine to counter the effects of his withdrawal. The album marks the recording debut of guitarist and founding member Hillel Slovak who returns to the band after a brief stint in the band What Is This?. The album also features guest appearances from Fred Wesley, Maceo Parker and Gary Shider. It spins off three singles including “Jungle Man”, “Catholic School Girls Rule” and “Hollywood (Africa)”. “Freaky Styley” does not chart on the Billboard Top 200, but steady catalog sales brings its worldwide sales to over 650,000 copies.
On this day in music history: August 9, 1988 – “Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars”, the debut album by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians is released. Produced by Pat Moran, it is recorded at Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales, UK from Late 1987 – Early 1988. Formed in 1985 in Dallas, TX, the band originally consists of Brandon Ely (drums), Eric Presswood (guitar) and Brad Houser (bass, vibraslap). Playing a local club called Rick’s Casablanca, they are joined on stage by a fellow student named Edie Brickell. Recognizing the immediate chemistry between them, Brickell becomes their lead singer, and develop a loyal following. Shortly after, Presswood leaves and is replaced by Kenny Withrow, also adding John Bush (percussion) to the band. Their unique musical blend of pop, folk-rock and jazz influences, make them stand out in an era of slick over-produced dance pop and hair metal, dominating the musical landscape. Eventually record companies come calling, and they are signed to Geffen Records in 1987. Amending their name to Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, they are paired with producer and engineer Pat Moran (Big Country, Rush). Brickell and Withrow write most of the songs on the band’s debut album, with the other members contributing, while jamming on song ideas. Titled “Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars”, Edie also illustrates the album’s cover and inner sleeve artwork, perfectly complimenting their eclectic style. Initially released without a lead single when it hits record store shelves, the album receives strong positive reviews from music critics, but scant airplay. Nearly three months after its release, “What I Am” (#7 Pop, #4 Modern Rock, #9 Mainstream Rock) is issued as a single. The quirky but highly infectious song “about shrugging off introspection with wisecracks”, becomes a big radio hit and its music video becomes an MTV favorite. It is later sampled by Brand Nubian as the basis of their hit “Slow Down”, and its hook is interpolated by Lauryn Hill into Aretha Franklin’s “A Rose Is Still A Rose”. “What I Am” is also lampooned on “Beavis & Butthead”, when the pair come across the music video while channel surfing. The album spins off two more singles including “Circle” (#48 Pop, #32 Mainstream Rock) and “Love Like We Do”. Though not issued as a single, the track “Little Miss S.” about Warhol Factory actress and model Edie Sedwick, also receives significant radio play. “Shooting Rubberbands” turns Brickell & New Bohemians into reluctant stars overnight, leading them to make the considerably less commercial follow up “Ghost Of A Dog” in 1990. They disband shortly after its release, with Brickell continuing on a solo artist after marrying musician Paul Simon. Brickell & New Bohemians reform and record the album “Stranger Things” in 2006. “Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 7, 1990 – “Bellybutton”, the debut album by Jellyfish is released. Produced by Albhy Galuten and Jack Joseph Puig, it is recorded at Bill Schnee Studio, Studio 55 and Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1989 – Early 1990. Formed out of the remains of the band Beatnik Beatch, drummer and lead vocalist Andy Sturmer and keyboardist Roger Manning co-found Jellyfish in 1989, adding guitarist Jason Faulkner to the line up. The critically acclaimed debut album by the San Francisco based band draws upon a number of musical influences, most notably the harmonically driven pop sounds of such artists as The Beach Boys, Queen, XTC, Badfinger, and Wings. With their record label (Charisma/Virgin) unsure how to market the innovative and eclectic bands debut, it only finds minimal commercial success. However, the band attracts a passionate and loyal following, based on its spirited live performances and radio support they receive from College and Alternative Rock radio. The album spins off three singles including “The King Is Half Undressed” and “That Is Why”. After being out of print for many years (with the exception of a Japanese import CD released in 1999), the album is remastered and reissued in 2012 by Omnivore Records as a limited edition vinyl LP (on blue vinyl), making it available for the first time in more than twenty years in that format. In 2015 it is reissued as a double CD deluxe edition, also featuring live recordings and original song demos. “Bellybutton” peaks at number one hundred twenty four on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: August 4, 1992 – “New Miserable Experience”, the second album by Gin Blossoms is released. Produced by John Hampton and Gin Blossoms, it is recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis, TN from February – March 1992. Formed in Tempe, AZ in 1987, the Gin Blossoms emerge out of the same music scene that also produces The Refreshments, The Sidewinders and The Meat Puppets. They take their name after a quote in a book found under a photo of W.C. Fields, with the caption reading, “W.C. Fields with gin blossoms”, describing the comedic actor’s red bulbous nose and face, a result of years of heavy drinking. Featuring band members Doug Hopkins (lead and rhythm guitar), Bill Leen (bass), Jesse Valenzuela (rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals) and Robin Wilson (lead vocals, harmonica, guitar, percussion). They record their first album “Dusted” for San Jacinto Records in 1989. It features early versions several songs that they revisit later. The Gin Blossoms are signed by A&M Records in 1990, and release a five track EP titled “Up And Crumbling”. Originally intended to be their full length major label debut, they experience a creative dry spell and are not able to come up with more new material. The band return to the studio with John Hampton (The Replacements) at the Memphis studio famous for artists as diverse as Sam & Dave and The Staple Singers, to Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top and Big Star recording there. Doug Hopkins escalating alcoholism and depression lead to him being fired by A&M before recording wraps. Then Hopkins is asked to sign over his song publishing rights before being paid money ($15,000) he was previously owed. He reluctantly agrees to the terms and leaves the band, being replaced by Scott Johnson. When “Experience” is released, it is to little fanfare and meager sales. It languishes for several months before the release of “Hey Jealousy” (#25 Pop, #4 Mainstream Rock) in June of 1993. It becomes a huge radio hit, opening the floodgates to the album’s success. A&M repackages it with new cover artwork and refocuses its promotional efforts. It is followed by “Until I Fall Away” (#13 Modern Rock), “Found Out About You” (#51 Pop, #1 Modern Rock) and “Allison Road” (#20 Mainstream Rock, #39 Modern Rock). However this success is dampened by the suicide death of Doug Hopkins on December 5, 1993, despondent over his ouster from the band. The Gin Blossoms’ debut is later remastered and reissued as a two deluxe edition in 2002, with the second disc including tracks from their first album, EP releases, B-sides and live recordings. Originally released on CD and cassette only, the album receives its first vinyl release in 2017, pressed on clear, rusty brown (double vinyl) and blue smoke vinyl (single LP) to commemorate its twenty fifth anniversary. New Miserable Experience" peaks at number thirty on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 28, 1986 – “Lifes Rich Pageant”, the fourth album by R.E.M. is released. Produced by Don Gehman, it is recorded at Belmont Mall Studios in Belmont, IN from April – May 1986. Following up the critically acclaimed “Fables Of The Reconstruction”, the Athens, GA based band record at John Mellencamp’s studio with his producer Don Gehman (John Cougar Mellencamp, Hootie & The Blowfish). It sees them evolving their sound and growing past their college radio fan base, toward mainstream rock acceptance. The album takes its title from a line in the 1964 Peter Sellers film “A Shot In The Dark”. It spins off the singles “Fall On Me” and “Superman”, becoming their most successful album to date. It is remastered and reissued as a two CD deluxe edition to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its original release. Disc one features the remastered original twelve track album. Disc two contains nineteen additional tracks including early demos of the songs that make the finished album, and several others that issued as B-sides or are previously unreleased. The set also comes with a twelve page booklet, a poster and photo cards of the band. The album is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2011. Universal Music Group also releases a vinyl LP on July 29, 2016 to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of its original release. “Life’s Rich Pageant” peaks at number twenty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 27, 1993 – “Siamese Dream”, the second album by The Smashing Pumpkins is released. Produced by Butch Vig and Billy Corgan, it is recorded at Triclops Sound Studios in Atlanta, GA from December 1992 – March 1993. In spite of finding success with their debut album “Gish”, The Smashing Pumpkins are consumed by personal and inter band crises. At the time, guitarist James Iha and bassist D’arcy Wretzky once a couple, split acrimoniously. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin sinks into drug and alcohol addiction, and bandleader Billy Corgan, having suffered from depression for many years, reaches a crisis point with it. Under intense pressure to deliver a strong follow up, they leave their home base of Chicago, to record in Atlanta, GA to avoid outside distractions. Working again with producer Butch Vig, Corgan is determined to achieve perfection. Feeling that D’arcy and James are unable to play what he hears in his head, Billy winds up playing nearly all of those parts himself, adding to the tension. More drama ensues when Jimmy Chamberlin disappears on drug binges, which lead to him entering rehab. Corgan’s depression deepens to the point where he is considering suicide. From that extreme low point, comes one of the album’s best songs. “Today” (#4 Modern Rock, #28 Mainstream Rock) is first song Corgan writes for “Dream”, penning the highly ironic lyric “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known…”, at the height of his suicidal thoughts. With Virgin Records growing impatient with the band’s progress, back off when Corgan plays them the song. Spending four months in the studio, over $250,000 and six weeks mixing it with engineer Alan Moulder, the record is finally finished. “Cherub Rock” (#7 Modern Rock, #23 Mainstream Rock) is released first, but is just a modest success. “Today” is issued as the follow up, and is supported by a video directed by Stéphane Sednaoui (Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2, Björk), being heavily rotated on MTV. That is followed by “Disarm” (#5 Modern Rock), another song Corgan has written while depressed, is also a hit. Though it has a difficult birth, “Siamese Dream” is a major critical and commercial success. It cements their status as one of the top bands of the 90’s, establishing their own identity, apart from contemporaries like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. The album is remastered and reissued as a two CD + DVD deluxe edition in 2011, featuring the original thirteen song album on disc one. The second CD titled “Lollipop Fun Time” containing eighteen tracks, features demos, rough mixes, instrumentals and a live recording from a BBC radio broadcast. The DVD contains a full live concert filmed at The Metro in Chicago, IL on August 14, 1993. Given a limited vinyl pressing in 1993, it is remastered and reissued as a double vinyl set also in 2011. “Siamese Dream” peaks at number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.