On this day in music history: June 18, 1996 – “Odelay”, the fifth studio album by Beck is released. Produced by Beck Hansen, The Dust Brothers, Mario Caldato, Jr, Brian Paulson, Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf, it is recorded at PCP Labs and G-Son Studios in Los Angeles, CA, The Shop, Sunset Sound and Conway Studios in Hollywood, CA and Sun Studios in Memphis, TN, from March 1994 – February 1996. Beck initially begins recording with Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf in early 1994, intending it to be more acoustic based than the previous album. He ends up scrapping much of the work recorded during those sessions, starting over with The Dust Brothers. The albums title is pun on the phrase “Oh Delay”, with Beck making a subtle, self-effacing statement on how long it had taken to record the album. It spins off five singles including “Where It’s At” and “Devil’s Haircut”. The album becomes Hansen’s most successful and acclaimed album, winning two Grammy Awards including Best Alternative Music Album and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the single “Where It’s At” in 1997. It is remastered and reissued in 2008 as a double CD Deluxe Edition, with the first disc featuring the original fourteen song album plus three additional bonus tracks. Disc two includes sixteen bonus tracks including remixes and non album B-sides. The album is also reissued as a lavish quadruple LP set pressed on 180 gram vinyl, and limited to 3,000 copies. “Odelay” peaks at number sixteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum 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 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.
On this day in music history: June 13, 1995 – “Jagged Little Pill”, the third album by Alanis Morissette is released. Produced by Glen Ballard, it is recorded at Westlake Audio and Signet Studios in Hollywood, CA from March 8, 1994 – April 1995. Born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1974, Alanis Morissette shows natural talents early on, taking piano and dance lessons. She also begins acting while still in grade school, appearing on the children’s series “You Can’t Do That On Television”. Writing songs by this time, she attracts the attention of MCA Canada A&R man John Alexander. Impressed with the then nine year old, he feels that she isn’t ready to make a record. Waiting a few years, MCA decides that Alanis is finally ready, and signs her in 1990. Her first album “Alanis” released in 1991 is a major hit in her home country, turning Platinum and earning three Juno Award nominations. The follow up “Now Is The Time” though it goes Gold, her contract with MCA is not renewed, with the label opting not to release either album in the US. Morissette then decides to move to the US to restart her music career. In Los Angeles, Alanis’ music publisher introduces her to her future manager Scott Welsh. She also meets songwriter and producer Glen Ballard, a former protege of Quincy Jones, best known for his work with Michael Jackson, Jack Wagner and Wilson Phillips. The two hit it off immediately and begin writing together. Morissette signs with Maverick Records, founded by pop superstar Madonna and her manager Guy Oseary. “Jagged Little Pill” is a dramatic turnabout from the frothy teen dance pop of the singer’s first two albums. Featuring Ballard playing most of the instruments, high profile musicians including Flea (bass), Dave Navarro (guitar) and Benmont Tench (keyboards) also contribute. The first single “You Oughta Know” (#6 Pop, #1 Modern Rock, #7 Mainstream Rock), breaks after KROQ in L.A. begins spinning it heavily. Allegedly about a brief relationship she has with actor and comedian Dave Coulier, the song’s searing and angry tone strikes a nerve. The album spins off five more singles including “Hand In My Pocket” (#1 Modern Rock, #15 Hot 100 Airplay), “Ironic” (#4 Pop), and “You Learn” (#6 Pop, #23 AC). “Pill” becomes one of the biggest selling debut albums of all time. It also sweeps the 38th Annual Grammy Awards in 1996, being nominated for nine awards and winning five including Album Of The Year. The huge success of “Jagged Little Pill” opens the door for numerous other female artists that follow during the 90’s and 2000’s. The album also spins off an acoustic version titled “Jagged Little Pill Acoustic” in 2005, a two CD 20th anniversary edition in 2015, and a stage musical based on the songs. “Jagged Little Pill” spends twelve weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 16x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.
On this day in music history: June 13, 1995 – “Post”, the third studio album by Björk is released. Produced by Björk, Nellee Hooper, Graham Massey, Tricky, Howie B and Marius de Vries, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, The Bahamas from Summer 1994 – April 1995. Working with a host of producers that includes Massive Attack and Soul II Soul producer Nellee Hooper and trip hop pioneer Tricky, the sessions yield a cutting edge and stylistically diverse album that pushes musical boundaries. The albums’ title refers to Björk’s transitional period after moving from her native Iceland to England where most of the songs are written. Straddling the genres of alternative rock, electronica, and trip hop, it receives critical raves upon its release, becoming the innovative and eclectic Icelandic singer’s most commercially successful album. The albums cover artwork features a portrait of Björk taken by photographer and video director Stéphane Sednaoui. The shot features the artist wearing a white shirt with red and blue markings looking like an air mail envelope. It spins off six singles including “Army Of Me” (#10 UK, #21 Mainstream Rock) and “It’s Oh So Quiet” (#4 UK). The album is reissued as a DualDisc CD/DVD hybrid disc in in 2006, with the CD side featuring the original ten song album. The DVD includes a 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS surround mixes of the entire album, plus the six music videos for all of the singles. It is also reissued numerous times on vinyl, including Direct Metal Mastered pressings, 180 gram and pink colored vinyl. “Post” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number thirty two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 11, 1991 – “Seal” (aka “Seal I”), the debut album by Seal is released. Produced by Trevor Horn and Adamski, it is recorded at Sarm West Studios, Beethoven Street Studios, CTS Studios in London, The Manor Studios in Shipton-on-Cherwell, Oxford, UK, Cherokee Studios, Lion Share Studios in Hollywood, CA, The Complex in Los Angeles, CA, and Can-Am Recorders in Tarzana, CA from November 1990 – April 1991. Born Seal Henry Olusegun Olumide Adeola Samuel, the British born Afro-Brazilian musician makes his initial breakthrough in 1990, co-writing and singing on acid house producer Adamski’s UK chart topper “Killer”. From there, he signs with producer Trevor Horn’s ZTT Records and begin work on his solo debut album. Recorded in a relatively brief six months, Horn’s perfectionist tendencies come into play, as the deadline to release the album comes up. Two versions of Seal’s debut are released, with each featuring alternate versions or mixes of three songs (“Wild”, “Violet”, and “Crazy”). In the US, some promo copies of the album are issued in a special carton box set, with the CD, a cassette copy of the full album, and a poster card of Seal holding two falcons. Once released, it is a critical and commercial success, establishing the musician on a worldwide basis, entering the UK album chart at number one. It spins off five singles in the UK (three in the US) including “Crazy” (#2 UK, #7 US Pop) and “Future Love Paradise” (#12 UK). The album is remastered and reissued in 2005 as a deluxe edition CD + DVD set. The CD contains the original nine song album. The DVD/DVD-A disc features the entire album remixed into 5.1 surround sound, including three music videos and five 12" remixes previously issued. “Seal” spends four weeks at number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number twenty seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 7, 1994 – “Purple”, the second album by Stone Temple Pilots is released. Produced by Brendan O’Brien, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA, Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN, Southern Tracks Recording in Atlanta, GA and Harptone Studios from May 23, 1993, July 12, 1993 and March 1994. With the success of their debut album “Core” under their belts, Stone Temple Pilots begin work on the follow up. During a break in recording, STP tape an episode of MTV Unplugged. The band use the occasion to debut a new song from the forthcoming album titled “Big Empty” (#3 Album Rock, #7 Modern Rock). Originally titled “Only Dying”, the title is changed after death of actor Brandon Lee, when the song is also featured on the soundtrack to the film “The Crow”. Though the song does not make the original cut of the Unplugged special, MTV begins airing the clip heavily and becomes the official music video for it. Having to fend off barbs from critics that they are merely “Pearl Jam copy cats”. Stone Temple Pilots are able to silence their detractors with the one-two punch of “Empty” and its follow up “Vasoline” (#1 Album Rock, #2 Modern Rock, #38 Hot 100 Airplay). Receiving some of their best critical notices to date, “Purple” is an instant smash upon its release, debuting at number one on the Top 200 on June 25, 1994. “Interstate Love Song” (#1 Album Rock, #2 Modern Rock, #18 Hot 100 Airplay) becomes a staple on album rock radio, spending a record breaking fifteen weeks at the top of that chart. Written during the tour for the “Core” album, “Interstate” begins as a chord progression and partial melody written by bassist Robert DeLeo. Lead singer Scott Weiland takes what is originally the song’s intro section, into its immediately recognizable and hooky chorus. The track is completed quickly, with Weiland recording his lead vocal in only one take. The album’s cover artwork features a painting a child riding on a Qilin (a mythical Chinese chimerical creature), with the back cover featuring a picture of a cake with “12 Gracious Melodies” written on it in icing. The cassette edition of the album features slightly altered artwork with the child holding the Chinese character of the title in his hand, rather than in the lower left hand corner of the CD booklet and vinyl LP sleeve. Issued on a limited basis on vinyl in 1994, the US LP is pressed on translucent purple vinyl, and the UK edition on opaque purple marbled vinyl. The vinyl edition is reissued by Music On Vinyl in 2013, pressed on standard black, and limited edition purple vinyl (similar to the original UK release). It is also reissued by Rhino Records in 2013 on 180 gram black vinyl, and as a limited edition marbled purple vinyl LP as an exclusive through retailer Hot Topic. “Purple” spends three 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: May 13, 1985 – “Low-Life”, the third studio album by New Order is released. Produced by New Order, it is recorded at Jam and Brittania Row Studios in London from Mid – Late 1984. Continuing the musical evolution begun on their previous album “Power, Corruption And Lies”, New Order incorporate more synthesizers, sequencers, and samplers into their traditionally instrument based post-punk sound. With these changes they break new ground in the dance music genre, setting the course for their greatest successes throughout the rest of the decade. Upon its release, it is regarded as one of their best albums, spinning off two singles including “The Perfect Kiss” (#46 UK, #5 US Club Play) (video directed by Oscar winning director Jonathan Demme), and “Sub-culture” (#63 UK, #35 US Club Play). The original UK pressing of the LP features a transparent paper outer sleeve with the band name printed on it, with the jacket featuring individual photos of the band members. Drummer Stephen Morris is featured on the front, though the photos may be interchanged to show any of the other three through the transparency. It is the only New Order album to feature pictures of the band.
The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2008 as a two disc collector’s edition. The first disc features the original eight song album. Disc two includes B-sides, dub mixes and the full 12" mixes of “The Perfect Kiss”, “Sub-Culture” and the single “Shellshock”, originally issued on the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack in early 1986. Out of print on vinyl for twenty years, “Low-Life” is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2009.
“Low-Life” peaks at number seven on the UK album chart, and ninety four on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: May 10, 1994 – “Weezer” (aka “The Blue Album”), the debut album by Weezer is released. Produced by Ric Ocasek, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City from August – September 1993. Formed in 1992 by lead guitarist and vocalist Rivers Cuomo, drummer Patrick Wilson, bassist Matt Sharp and rhythm guitarist Jason Cropper, Weezer are playing live gigs only months afterward. Continuing to rehearse and write songs, within a year, the band begin drawing major label attention and are signed to Geffen subsidiary DGC Records in 1993. The band are paired with Cars co-founder and lead singer Ric Ocasek who signs on to produce their debut album. During the recording, Jason Cropper quits the band and he is replaced by Brian Bell. Weezer’s unique musical sensibility which combines punk and metal attitude with strong power pop guitar riffs and hooks, are counterbalanced by the band’s own shy and nerdy demeanor. The first single “Undone – The Sweater Song”, is supported with a quirky and innovative low budget video directed by Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich”, “Adaptation”), that becomes an immediate hit on MTV. Jonze also directs the video for the follow up single “Buddy Holly” (#2 Modern Rock, #18 Hot 100 Airplay), in which the band are digitally morphed into clips from the classic sitcom “Happy Days”, playing on stage in Arnold’s Drive-In. Using the same green screen techniques employed by Industrial Light & Magic on the film “Forrest Gump”, Weezer’s performance footage is seamlessly blended in with the film clips from the series. Also featuring a cameo appearance by actor Al Molinaro, the video is another huge MTV favorite, winning four MTV VMA awards in 1995 including Best Alternative Video and Breakthrough Video. The album spins off a third and final single with “Say It Ain’t So” (#7 Modern Rock, #51 Hot 100 Airplay). In time, Weezer’s debut album will come to be regarded as one of the best albums of the 90’s. In 2004, it is remastered and reissued as a two disc Deluxe Edition. The first disc features the original ten track album, with disc two containing fourteen tracks, including B-sides, unreleased track, live acoustic recordings and alternate mixes. Originally released on vinyl in very limited quantities in 1994, it is reissued briefly in 2002 by Geffen Records. In 2012, it is released as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, pressed on blue marbled vinyl, and by Back To Black (UK & Europe on standard black vinyl). A hybrid SACD is also issued by the label in 2014. Another vinyl reissue released by Geffen/UMe with Direct Metal Mastering, and includes a poster is released in 2016. “Weezer” peaks at number sixteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.