On this day in music history: November 18, 1986 – “Notorious”, the fourth studio album by Duran Duran is released. Produced by Nile Rodgers and Duran Duran, it is recorded at Studio Davout in Paris, France, Abbey Road Studios, Maison Rouge Studios, AIR Studios – Lyndhurst Hall, Westside Studios in London and Skyline Studios in New York City from Late 1985 – Mid 1986. The first new studio album from Duran Duran in three years, the band is pared down to a three piece with the departure of original guitarist Andy Taylor (who plays on a few tracks before leaving the band) and drummer Roger Taylor. Former Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and former AWB drummer Steve Ferrone fills in during the sessions, with Cuccurullo eventually becoming a full fledged member of the band. Featuring a more stripped down funk and horn based sound (courtesy of producer/guitarist Nile Rodgers of Chic), it spins off three singles including the title track (#2 Pop) and “Skin Trade” (#39 Pop). In 2010, the album is remastered and reissued as a three disc set (two CD’s and one DVD), with extended mixes, demos, and outtakes. The DVD features a live concert performance as well as the original music videos for all of the singles. “Notorious” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 18, 1985 – “So Red The Rose”, the lone album by Arcadia is released. Produced by Alex Sadkin and Arcadia, it is recorded at Studio de la Grande Armée in Paris, France from April – June 1985. With Duran Duran taking a hiatus after their last studio album “Seven And The Ragged Tiger” and the world tour that follows, the band members decamp to work on side projects rather than record a new album as a band. In the interim, John Taylor and Andy Taylor form The Power Station with singer Robert Palmer and former Chic members Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson. The other three members of Duran Duran, lead singer Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes, and drummer Roger Taylor create their own project called Arcadia, heading to Paris to work with producer Alex Sadkin (Grace Jones, Foreigner, Thompson Twins). Wanting to explore new musical horizons, it is “arty and experimental” and more keyboard centered than anything previously done within the confines of Duran Duran. The album features the trio with a number of guest musicians including Grace Jones, Sting, David Gilmour, Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny Group bassist Mark Egan. Proceeded by the single “Election Day” featuring Grace Jones (#6 Pop), the album is well received by fans. It spins off two additional singles including “Goodbye Is Forever” (#33 Pop) and “The Flame”. The albums’ lavish cover artwork illustrated by artist Tony Viramontes is modelled after sketches by French artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. The graphic designs were created by Malcolm Garrett and David Crow at Assorted Images. In 2010, the album is remastered and reissued as a three disc set (two CD’s and one DVD), with the second CD featuring several bonus tracks including the 12" remixes of the singles, and the DVD including all of the music videos and behind the scenes footage, documenting the making of those clips. “So Red The Rose” peaks number fourteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 17, 1986 – “Infected”, the second album by The The is released. Produced by Warne Livesey, Matt Johnson, Roli Mosimann and Gary Langan, it is recorded at The Garden Studios in London from Early 1985 – Mid 1986. Following the critically acclaimed major label debut “Soul Mining” released in 1983, musician Matt Johnson the mastermind behind The The spends the next two and a half years writing and conceiving the follow up. The subject matter of the songs cover a number of topics and concerns including world politics (specifically the US military involvement in the Middle East), the social class status of Great Britain and interpersonal relationships. Matt Johnson co-produces the album with Warne Livesey best known for his work with Midnight Oil, along with Swiss born musician Roli Mosimann (That Petrol Emotion, New Order, Skinny Puppy) and recording engineer Gary Langan (Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, ABC). Johnson is supported by a large group of established studio musicians and friends including Dan K. Brown (The Fixx) (bass), Guy Barker (trumpet), Bashiri Johnson (percussion), Steve Brown (bass), Judd Lander (harmonica), Tessa Niles (background vocals), Neneh Cherry (vocals), and Anne Dudley (The Art of Noise) (arranger). During the production of the album, Johnson and his manager Some Bizarre Records founder Stevo Pearce talk The The’s label into advancing them nearly $700,000 to film a series of music videos as a visual accompaniment to the album. Much to their surprise, the label gives them the money. The already ambitious project is kicked up another notch when Matt Johnson works with cutting edge and visionary directors including Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, Mark Romanek, and Tim Pope on the visuals. The clip for the title track “Infected” along with “Mercy Beat” are filmed on location in the Peruvian jungle of Iquitos in South America. The video for the title song is inspired by German director Werner Herzog’s surreal film “Fitzcarraldo”. The finished product is released as a long form video companion piece to the full length LP. The album is well received by fans and critics alike, becoming The The’s best selling album (selling more than a million copies worldwide), and is regarded as a Post Punk/Modern Rock classic. It spins off four singles in the UK including “Slow Train To Dawn” (#64 UK), “Heartland” (#29 UK), and “Sweet Bird Of Truth” (#88 UK). “Infected” peaks at number fourteen on the UK album chart, certified Gold in the UK by the BPI, peaking at number eighty nine on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 14, 1983 – “Beauty Stab”, the second album by ABC is released. Produced by ABC and Gary Langan, it is recorded at Sarm East and West Studios, Townhouse Studios and Abbey Road Studios in London from August – September 1983. Having scored major commercial and critical success with their debut album “The Lexicon Of Love”, ABC find the task of following it up a greater challenge than they thought. The band also find themselves without the services of producer Trevor Horn, who is busy elsewhere working with Yes, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and his own side project The Art Of Noise. Instead, ABC work with recording engineer Gary Langan acting as co-producer on their sophomore effort. They also decide to go in a completely different musical direction, eschewing the lush blue eyed soul/new wave atmosphere of “Lexicon”. Many of the tracks on “Beauty Stab” are more stripped down and rock guitar based, recalling “Berlin Trilogy era” Bowie and even attempting to mimick Led Zeppelin. The band are accompanied in the studio by veteran session drummer Andy Newmark (John Lennon, Sly & The Family Stone), saxophonist Howie Casey (Wings) and bassist Alan Spenner (Roxy Music, Joe Cocker, Spooky Tooth). The first taste of ABC’s dramatically revamped sound comes in the form of the first single “That Was Then, But This Is Now” (#18 UK, #89 US Pop), released just ahead of the album in October of 1983. The tepid response the single receives from the public pales in comparison to the full album, released just a few weeks later. Critics and many fans are taken aback by the dramatic change, and are brutally savage in their assessment, literally referring to ABC as having committed “career suicide” and recording one of “the great career-sabotage LPs in pop history”. Though it manages to reach Gold status in the UK, and cracks the Top 20 (#12 UK) on the album chart, it fares far worse in the US. It receives even more negative reviews, and is resoundingly ignored by radio. It spins off one more single in the UK with “S.O.S.” (#39 UK), which ABC’s US label Mercury Records,
(deciding to cut their losses)
does not release but is issued in Canada. The fall out from the album’s failure results in founding member Stephen Singleton leaving ABC, later followed by David Palmer. In spite of the poor performance of “Beauty Stab”, the band survives with Martin Fry and Mark White continuing on, and rebounding with the follow ups “How To Be A… Zillionaire!” and “Alphabet City”. Out of print in any form for many years, ABC’s sophomore album is remastered and reissued CD in 1997 (with the non-LP B-side “Vertigo” added), and again in 2005 with three additional bonus tracks. “Beauty Stab” peaks at number sixty nine on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 12, 1984 – “Arena”, the fourth album by Duran Duran is released. Produced by Duran Duran and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at The Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, CA, The Forum in Los Angeles, CA, Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Canada and Wembley Arena in London from December 1983 – April 1984 (live tracks) and Maison Rouge Studios in London in July 1984 (studio track only). Recorded live during the bands’ “Sing Blue Silver” World Tour, the ten track album also includes the newly recorded studio track “The Wild Boys” (#2 Pop for 4 weeks) produced by Nile Rodgers. The video for the single is an elaborate short film directed by Russell Mulcahy based on the William Burroughs novel “The Wild Boys: A Book Of The Dead”. The clip is shot on the 007 Sound stage at Pinewood Studios in London at a cost of over one million dollars, making it one of the most expensive music videos made to that date. That track is followed by “Save A Prayer” (#12 Pop) in January of 1985. Though the live version is featured on the single release, it regulated to the B-side, with an edit of the original studio version from “Rio” garnering airplay instead from radio. The original LP is packaged in a gatefold sleeve (designed by Assorted Images) with a bonus photo booklet of the band in live performance. Duran Duran also releases a feature length documentary in December of 1984 titled “Sing Blue Silver”, featuring live and behind the scenes footage of the tour, and the live concert film “Arena (An Absurd Notion)” in March of 1985. Both are later reissued together on DVD in 2004 by EMI Home Video. The album is remastered and reissued in 2004 with two additional bonus tracks left off of the original release. “Arena” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 9, 1981 – “Business As Usual”, the debut album by Men At Work is released (US release is on April 22, 1982). Produced by Peter McIan, it is recorded at Richmond Recorders in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia from Spring – Autumn 1981. The first release by the Australian rock band is an immediate smash in their native continent, spinning off four hit singles and spending spending five weeks at number one on the Australian album charts, selling over 150,000 copies (3x Platinum in that country). CBS Records in the US initially passes on releasing the album, feeling that it won’t be a hit with American audiences. It is only after Deputy President Dick Asher orders either Al Teller at Columbia or Don Dempsey at Epic to option it for release, that is finally is released by Columbia stateside. After getting off to a slow start, the album begins to steadily climb the chart, gaining momentum throughout the Spring and Summer of 1982, both through extensive touring of the US, and the heavy rotation of their videos on MTV. It spins off the smash singles “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Down Under” (both Pop #1), and wins the band a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1983. The original international release of the album features the cover artwork with a white background. The North American release is printed with a yellow background. Originally released on CD in 1983, it is remastered and reissued in 2003 with four additional bonus tracks. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2016, as part of their “Silver Label Vinyl” reissue series. It is reissued again by Music On Vinyl in 2017, as a double vinyl set. The first disc contains the original ten song album, coming with the “Still Life” EP. “Business As Usual” spends fifteen 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: November 7, 1982 – “Living My Life”, the sixth album by Grace Jones is released. Produced by Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, The Bahamas from Spring – Summer 1982. Issued as the third and final release in the “Compass Point Trilogy” series of albums that the singer records at the famed recording studio owned by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, Jones co-writes all but one track on the album. She once again collaborate with Sly Dunbar and Barry Reynolds, and members of the Compass Point All Stars that including Sly and Robbie, Wally Badarou, Steven Stanley and Uziah “Sticky” Thompson. It spins off three singles including “Nipple To The Bottle” (#17 R&B, #2 Club Play) and “Cry Now, Laugh Later”. Also released in extended form as a 12" single, the US 12" of “Nipple To The Bottle” is backed with a dub version of the track “My Jamaican Guy” (issued on the European 12" in edited form). Re-titled “J.A. Guys”, the dub mix is later sampled as the basis of LL Cool J’s hit “Doin’ It” in 1995. The albums’ striking cover art designed by Jean Paul Goude (Jones’ partner and frequent collaborator) and Rob O’Connor. It features a cut out photo of Grace trimmed with an exacto knife to make her face and the top of her head more angular, then superimposing a piece of tape over one eye. “Living My Life” peaks at number nineteen on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number eighty six on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 6, 1987 – “Less Than Zero – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Rick Rubin, Aerosmith, Vincent Bell, Russell Simmons, Bill Drescher, Carl Ryder, Hank Shocklee and Eric Sadler, is it recorded at Greene Street Studios, Chung King House Of Metal in New York City, and other studios from Early – Mid 1987. Supervised by Rick Rubin, the soundtrack to the film starring Andrew McCarthy, Robert Downey, Jr. and Jami Gertz, features tracks by The Bangles (“Hazy Shade Of Winter”), Public Enemy (“Bring The Noise”), LL Cool J (“Going Back To Cali”), Slayer, Poison, Aerosmith, Roy Orbison, Glenn Danzig & The Power And Fury Orchestra, Alyson Williams & Oran “Juice” Jones, The Black Flames, and Joan Jett And The Blackhearts. The Bangles cover of the Simon & Garfunkel classic is the biggest hit from the album peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 in February of 1988. “Less Than Zero” peaks at number thirty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 6, 1981 – “Shake It Up”, the fourth album by The Cars is released. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker, it is recorded at Syncro Sound Studios in Boston, MA from Spring – Fall 1981. The Boston based band’s fourth release is in a more commercial and pop oriented vein than their previous release, the hard edged and experimental “Panorama”. Recording in their newly purchased Syncro Sound Studios (formerly Intermedia Studios), it also is The Cars last album to be produced by long time producer Roy Thomas Baker. It spins off two hit singles including “Since You’re Gone” (#41 Pop) and the title track (#4 Pop), which is their first Top 10 hit and their highest charting single to date. The song “I’m Not The One” is belatedly released as a single in early 1986 (in remixed form) as part of their “Greatest Hits” album. In 2009, audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab remasters and reissues the album on CD and vinyl, packaging the CD edition in a mini-LP sleeve. The album is also reissued on CD and vinyl by Rhino Records in June of 2016, as part of “The Elektra Years 1978-1987” box set, compiling all six of their studio albums. The album is remastered and reissued on CD and as double LP set in March of 2018. The new expanded reissue features eight additional bonus tracks, including demos, early takes of songs, and the aforementioned remix of “I’m Not The One”. A limited number of copies of the vinyl release come pressed on red vinyl. Shake It Up" peaks at number nine on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 4, 1978 – “Take Me To The River” by Talking Heads is released. Written by Al Green and Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, it is the first US top 40 single for the New York based band. Issued as the first single from their second album “More Songs About Buildings And Food”, the song was co-written and originally recorded by Al Green on his album “Al Green Explores Your Mind” in 1974. Green’s version was not released as a single at the time, and another version by his label mate Syl Johnson is released in 1975, hitting #7 on the R&B singles chart and #48 on the Hot 100. David Bryne hears Al Green’s original version, and be intrigued by the songs mixture of gospel flavored spirituality and implied sexuality, and suggests to his bandmates that they record it. Talking Heads version produced by the band and Brian Eno, is recorded in mid 1978. Their version peaks at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 on February 10, 1979, becoming their first major hit and a staple of their live performances.