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 17, 1983 – “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” by Culture Club is released. Written by Michael Craig, Roy Hay, Jon Moss and George O’Dowd, it is the fifth US single release for the pop band from London, UK. A fixture on London’s downtown club scene since his teens, George O’Dowd (aka “Boy George”) forms Culture Club in 1981, after an on again off again stint singing with the band Bow Wow Wow. Signed to Virgin Records in 1982 after being previously rejected by EMI Records, they begin recording their debut album in the Spring of that year. One song written after the initial demos recorded by the band, is the bouncy and upbeat “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”. As Culture Club’s main lyricist, George’s words were often cryptic and ambiguous on the surface, often masking a deeper hidden meaning. In the case of “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya”, it speaks of the singer’s ambition for his band to be “the next big thing”, and doing whatever it takes to achieve that goal. And like many other Culture Club songs, the lyrics are also squarely aimed at drummer Jon Moss, whose often tumultuous relationship with Boy George often provided inspiration. Ironically or not so ironically, the songs’ musical arrangement is a play on Bow Wow Wow’s drums of Burundi percussion heavy sound. Included on the bands’ debut album “Kissing To Be Clever”, “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” is released in the US and Canada as the follow up to “Time (Clock Of The Heart)” by Epic Records. It is not released in the UK or the rest of Europe, with Virgin having issued “Church Of The Poison Mind” instead in April of 1983. To promote “Tumble”, Culture Club film a music video for the song directed by Zelda Barron. Band members Mikey Craig, Roy Hay and Jon Moss actually take tap dance lessons for a scene in the clip, but the idea is scrapped and another sequence is filmed in its place. The video also features a cameo appearance by future super model Naomi Campbell, then twelve years old at the time, as a part of a tap dancing chorus line. The video becomes an immediate fixture on MTV during the Summer of 1983, and is another hit for the band. Entering the Hot 100 at #64 on July 2, 1983, it peaks at #9 on August 27, 1983, eight weeks later. Their third consecutive top ten hit, Culture Club are the first band since The Beatles to pull three top ten hits from a debut album in the US. Along with the original single version, “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” is remixed by Jon Moss and producer Steve Levine. It is released as a 12" single shortly after the 45, becoming a sizable club hit, peaking at #14 on the Billboard Club Play chart. “Tumble” is spoofed by musician Frank Zappa on the song “Tinsel-Town Rebellion” on the live album and concert video “Does Humor Belong In Music?” released in 1986. “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” is also later featured in the Adam Sandler film “Billy Madison” in 1995.
On this day in music history: June 15, 1981 – “Duran Duran”, the debut album by Duran Duran is released. Produced by Colin Thurston, it is recorded at Red Bus Studios, Abbey Road Studios, Utopia Studio in London, and Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, UK from October – December 1980. The Birmingham, UK band are at the forefront of the New Romantic movement sweeping England at the time of its release. Boasting a wide variety of musical influences including David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and American R&B/dance music innovators Chic, Duran Duran marry these musical genres together, creating a unique hybrid and develop their own distinctive sound. The album is a huge success in their native country spinning off three singles including “Planet Earth” (#12 UK) and “Girls On Film” (#5 UK). It goes largely unnoticed in the US on its initial release, until it is reissued in April 1983 following their breakthrough success with their second album “Rio”. The original US release removes the original single version of “Planet Earth”, replacing it with the extended “Night Version” of the song. The track “To The Shore” included on the UK LP is not featured on either version of the US LP. Also, initial US pressings are issued with Harvest labels, with a subsequent re-pressing using maroon Capitol labels in 1982. The 1983 US reissue (w/ black rainbow colorband Capitol labels) is repackaged with redesigned cover art (cover photo taken by photographer Brian Aris), restoring the short version of “Planet Earth”, and adding the then new single “Is There Something I Should Know?” (#1 UK, #4 US Pop). The album is first remastered and reissued on CD in 2003, featuring the original UK LP track listing. It is remastered and reissued again in 2010 as a double CD + DVD special edition, with the first disc including the non-LP B-sides “Late Bar”, “Khanada”, “Fame” and “Faster Than Light”. The second disc includes fourteen bonus tracks including demo recordings, live BBC 1 radio performances, and the night versions and night mixes of “Planet Earth” and “Girls On Film”. The DVD includes the music videos for all of the singles, and television performances. “Duran Duran” peaks at number three on the UK album chart, number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 12, 1979 – “Candy-O”, the second album by The Cars is released. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker, it is recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CA in February 1979. Released six days shy of one year after their self-titled debut, The Cars’ sophomore album is recorded shortly after the band come off of the promotional tour for the first one. With their first album still sitting comfortably in the Top 30 on the Billboard Top 200, the bands’ label Elektra Records wants to hold back the release for several more months until the others momentum begins to wane. However, with Ric Ocasek already writing songs for the next album, they are insistent that Elektra not delay the release. Like their debut, “Candy-O” features all newly material written by Ocasek and bassist Benjamin Orr, with the leftover songs from the first being scrapped in favor of the new ones. Working once again with producer Roy Thomas Baker, The Cars take a slightly different approach, wanting to make their sophomore “less slick” sounding than the previous one, and also being more democratic in choosing the final group of songs the album. Initially, the track “Double Life” was going to be dropped, but when the other band member outvote Ocasek, it is reinstated. The albums striking cover artwork is illustrated by artist Alberto Vargas, famous for his paintings appearing in major publications including Playboy and Esquire magazines. Drummer David Robinson suggests to his band mates that they hire the then 83 year old artist, who agrees to come out of retirement to create the cover. The model featured in the painting is actress Candy Moore, best known for playing Lucille Ball’s daughter Chris on the 60’s sitcom “The Lucy Show”. Having previously been married to actor Paul Gleason (“The Breakfast Club”, “Die Hard”), Moore and Robinson date briefly not long after the release of “Candy-O”. The new album is well received by fans and critics alike, spinning off three singles, including “Let’s Go” (#14 Pop) and “It’s All I Can Do” (#41 Pop). First released on CD in the mid 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 24K gold CD and 180 gram LP by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2011. It is also issued on colored vinyl (red) as part of the box set “The Elektra Years – 1978 -1987 in 2016. "Candy-O” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 11, 1979 – “Get The Knack”, the debut album by The Knack is released. Produced by Mike Chapman, it is recorded at MCA Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA in April 1979. The first album by the Los Angeles, CA. based power pop band is recorded live in the studio with few overdubs, in just eleven days for a cost of only $18,000. Boosted by a huge publicity campaign by Capitol Records, the album becomes a massive seller out of the gate. Anchored by the huge hit single “My Sharona” (#1 Pop), “Get The Knack” becomes the fastest selling album released by Capitol since The Beatles US debut album Meet The Beatles in 1964. The album reaches Gold status in only thirteen days, and is certified Platinum in less than a month. The albums front and back cover are also inspired by the Fab Four, as well as the original vinyl LP and 45’s are issued with reproductions of Capitol’s vintage 60’s era labels. Viewed as a response the anti-Disco backlash that is reaching its crescendo at this time, the band and the album is hailed by fans and many rock critics as “the return of rock & roll”. But not long after the record becomes successful, a groundswell of backlash against The Knack develops. People offended by the bands often raunchy lyrics laced with sexual innuendo, and feeling they are trying to compare or align themselves to The Beatles legacy is a turn off to many. An artist in San Francisco launches the “Knuke The Knack” campaign in response to the negative publicity. The album spins off a second single with “Good Girls Don’t” (#11 Pop), but will not repeat the success of “My Sharona.” The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002, with five additional bonus tracks added to the original twelve song track listing. It is also remastered and reissued as a limited edition hybrid SACD by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2017. Get The Knack spends five weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 10, 1985 – “Little Creatures”, the sixth album by Talking Heads is released. Produced by Talking Heads, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in New York City from October 1984 – March 1985. Following the tour in support of “Speaking In Tongues”, Talking Heads spend much of 1984 writing and rehearsing material for their next studio album. For their next project, the band work with engineer Eric “E.T. Thorngren after mixing the audio for their live concert film and album "Stop Making Sense”. Recorded under the working titles of “Wild Infancy” and “In Defense Of Television, "Little Creatures” marks a shift away from the polyrhythmic sound of the previous album and its predecessors “Remain In Light” and “Fear Of Music”, instead writing material that explores elements of country music and Americana. The albums colorful and idiosyncratic artwork is illustrated by artist Howard Finster, a Baptist minister from Georgia who has also painted the cover art for R.E.M.’s second album “Reckoning. "Creatures” is another critical and commercial success for Talking Heads, becoming their best selling studio album. It spins off two singles including “Road To Nowhere” (#105 Pop) and “And She Was” (#54 Pop). The album is remastered and reissued in 2005 as a DualDisc CD with the standard stereo redbook CD on one side, and a DVD-A side with a 5.1 surround mix of the album as well as the music videos for “Road To Nowhere” and “And She Was”. “Little Creatures” peaks at number twenty on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 10, 1985 – “Cupid And Psyche ‘85”, the second album by Scritti Politti is released. Produced by Scritti Politti and Arif Mardin, it is recorded at Minot Sound in White Plains, NY, The Power Station, Atlantic Studios in New York City, Eden Studios, Wessex Sound, Sarm West and Sarm East Studios in London from December 1983 – February 1985. Originally formed as a post-punk/new wave band in the late 70’s in their hometown of Leeds, Yorkshire, UK, Scritti Politti undergoes a dramatic change in their sound from their first album “Songs To Remember” released in 1982. With the previous line up of the group having disbanded in 1983, lead singer Green Gartside visits his parents, now living in Florida. While there, he is turned on by the sounds he hears on American R&B radio, specifically funk and dance artists like Zapp and The System. The music inspires Green to take Scritti Politti in a whole different musical direction after he leaves the UK and moves to New York. Signing with Virgin Records (in the UK and Warner Bros in the US), Green reforms the band with American keyboardist and programmer David Gamson and drummer Fred Maher. Scritti Politti work with veteran producer Arif Mardin on the new songs written by Green and Gamson. Mardin augments the band with top notch session players including former AWB drummer Steve Ferrone, keyboardists David Frank (of The System), Robbie Buchanan, Ned Ebn (of Ebn-Ozn), guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr., and background vocalists Tawatha Agee, Fonzi Thornton, and B.J. Nelson. The first product of their work together is the single “Wood Beez (Pray Like Aretha Franklin)” (#10 UK, #91 US Pop). The songs lean, high tech R&B sound is an immediate hit in US club dance floors and in their native UK. Mardin also produces the track “Absolute” (#17 UK), before he has to leave the project to work with Chaka Khan on “I Feel For You”. Continuing on their own, Green, Gamson and Maher take almost a year to finish recording the album. A critical and commercial success upon its release, it also spin off two more singles including “Perfect Way” (#11 US Pop, #6 US Club Play, #48 UK), giving Scritti Politti their biggest hit in the US, and “The Word Girl” (#6 UK). Miles Davis covers “Perfect Way” on his 1986 album “Tutu”, leading to the jazz icon to collaborating with Scritti Politti on the song “Oh Patti (Don’t Feel Sorry for Loverboy)” on their follow up album “Provision” in 1988. “Cupid And Psyche ’85” peaks at number five on the UK album chart, number fifty on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: June 8, 1985 – “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Club Play and Maxi Single Sales charts for 2 weeks on May 11, 1985. Written by Roland Orzabal, Chris Hughes and Ian Stanley, it is the first US chart topper for the British pop/rock duo from Bath, Somerset, UK. Tears For Fears debut album “The Hurting”, which yields three top five singles in their home country and throughout Europe, gains the duo a toehold in the US when the single “Change” becomes their first chart entry peaking at #73 on the Hot 100 in August of 1983. Prior to beginning work on their second album, TFF release the stand alone single titled “The Way You Are”, which stalls at #24 on the UK singles chart. Realizing they need to change their musical course, the duo set about writing their follow up album. They are intent on maintaining their artistic integrity, while firmly setting their sights on reaching the widest audience possible. The final track completed for the duos second album “Songs From The Big Chair”, the lyrical concept of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is quite serious as stated by Curt Smith, “It’s about everybody wanting power, about warfare and the misery it causes”. Standing in stark contrast to the lyrics, the music is uplifting and light. So much so that Roland Orzabal has second thoughts about including it on the album, feeling that it’s too different from the other songs. Producer Chris Hughes (Adam & The Ants, Wang Chung) convince him to record it anyway. The track is recorded over a relatively short two weeks of studio time, compared to the more than four months spent working on “Shout” and “Head Over Heels”. Issued in the US as the first single from “Big Chair”, it quickly become a staple on pop radio and MTV, sending it to number one. Entering the Hot 100 at #70 on March 16, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. In time, “Everybody” is regarded as a landmark record of the 80’s pop music era. By 1994, the song performing rights organization BMI reports that “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” had been broadcast on American radio over two million times. More than a year after single tops the US charts, TFF records a version with amended lyrics titled “Everybody Wants To Run The World” for the Band Aid spin off charity event “Sport Aid” in the UK in May of 1986. Released as a single only in Europe, the new version hits #5 on the UK singles chart in June of 1986, raising more money for the Band Aid Trust.
On this day in music history: June 6, 1978 – “The Cars”, the debut album by The Cars is released. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker. it is recorded at AIR Studios in London in February 1978. Written over a period of two years, the material that makes up The Cars debut release are largely composed by guitarist and primary lead vocalist Ric Ocasek and bassist and vocalist Benjamin Orr. The bands demo of the track “Just What I Needed” receives airplay on local Boston radio station WCBN, which creates enough buzz to attract the attention of Elektra Records who sign them. Paired with producer Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, Journey, Free). They travel to London to record at George Martin’s AIR Studios. Recorded in just two weeks worth of studio time, the first album by the Boston based new wave/rock band becomes a staple of album oriented rock radio (AOR), soon after its release and beyond. It spins off three singles including “Just What I Needed” (#27 Pop), “Good Times Roll” (#41 Pop), and “My Best Friend’s Girl” (#35 Pop) and spends over two and a half years (139 weeks) on the Billboard pop album chart. The albums iconic cover photo features a shot of Russian born model Natalya Medvedeva. Regarded as a landmark new wave rock album, it is The Cars best selling studio release. The track “Moving In Stereo” is further immortalized when it used to great comic effect in the 80’s teen comedy “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”. The song is featured in a sequence when Brad (Judge Reinhold) is fantasizing about Linda (Phoebe Cates) while gazing at her out of the bathroom window. The scene ends with Linda accidentally walking in on Brad in the bathroom, catching him red handed. The album is first remastered and reissued on CD in 1999 as two disc deluxe edition with the original nine song album on the first disc. The second CD features thirteen bonus tracks including live performances and demos. It is also released as a hybrid SACD by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2015. “The Cars” is also reissued on vinyl by Rhino Records in January of 2016, as part of their “Start Your Ear Off Right” series, pressing the LP on blue translucent vinyl, also replicating the original packaging and inner sleeve. Another colored vinyl pressing (yellow) of the album is issued as part of the box set "The Elektra Years – 1978 – 1987” in June of 2016. “The Cars” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.