Category: new wave

On this day in music history: May 20, 1985 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1985 – “Youthquake”, the second album by Dead Or Alive is released. Produced by Stock, Aitken and Waterman, it is recorded at PWL Studios in London from September 1984 – March 1985. Following the departure of founding member and guitarist Wayne Hussey to join the goth-rock band Sisters Of Mercy in mid-1984, Dead Or Alive continue on as a quartet. The Liverpool, UK based band completely abandon their early goth/post-punk sound which they had begun moving away from on their debut album “Sophisticated Boom Boom”. Dead Or Alive work with the fledgling production team of Mike Stock, Matt Aikten and Pete Waterman (aka Stock, Aitken and Waterman. The first product of the bands fully revamped Eurodisco/Hi-NRG sound is the single “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)” (#1 UK Pop, #11 US Pop), which Epic Records has such disdain for it initially, that they refuse to fund its recording. Lead singer Pete Burns believes so deeply in the songs hit potential that he takes out a loan to record it independently of the label. After the song is recorded, Epic releases it, but again refuses to provide a budget to shoot a music video. The self financed clip directed by Vaughan Arnell and Anthea Benton (George Michael’s “Fastlove”, The Spice Girls’ “Say You’ll Be There”) begins to receive play on UK television and in clubs, helping the record move on to the charts in December of 1984. The song moves slowly up the charts until Dead Or Alive appears on Top Of The Pops in February of 1985. That lone television appearance helps propel the single to #1 on the UK singles chart in March, prompting its US release. The album meets with similar success as it spins off three additional singles including “Lover Come Back To Me” (#11 UK Pop, #75 US Pop), “In Too Deep” (#14 UK Pop), and “My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor)” (#23 UK Pop). The albums striking cover artwork is designed by British graphic design firm Satori (Def Leppard, Thompson Twins), and features an enigmatic photograph of the flamboyant Burns on the front, taken by famed fashion photographer Mario Testino. The original European CD and cassette versions of the album include the Performance Mix of “You Spin Me Round” and the extended dance mix of “Lover Come Back”, as well as the remastered release in 1994. The US and Japanese CD’s contain the original vinyl LP track listing. Out of print on vinyl since its original release, it is remastered and reissued by Music On Vinyl in 2018. The LP comes pressed on standard black or limited edition purple vinyl (1,500 numbered copies). “Youthquake” peaks at number nine on the UK album chart, number thirty one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 20, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: May 20, 1977 – “In The City”, the debut album by The Jam is released. Produced by Vic Smith and Chris Parry, it is recorded at Stratford Place in London in March 1977. Heavily influenced by the 60’s mod culture in London and by bands like The Kinks and The Who, the punk/new wave trio from Woking, Surrey, UK led by guitarist and vocalist Paul Weller will stand out significantly from their contemporaries. Unlike other British punk bands of the era, The Jam often dress in sharp tailored suits, (rather than the ripped and safety pinned clothing that many other bands wore), and are more musically influenced by the 60’s pop and R&B music that mod teens of the era listened and danced to. The band immediately make their impact felt in their home country with their critically acclaimed and commercially successful debut, also earning them a solid cult following in the US. The album spins off two singles including “All Around The World” (#13 UK) and the title track (#40 UK). Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 2008 in Japan as an SHM-CD. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued in 2013 as a 180 gram vinyl LP, as part of UMe’s “Back To Black” vinyl reissue series. “In The City” peaks at number twenty on the UK album chart.

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On this day in music history: May 17, 1983 – &…

On this day in music history: May 17, 1983 – “Reach The Beach”, the second studio album by The Fixx is released. Produced by Rupert Hine, it is recorded at Farmyard Studios in Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, UK from Late 1982 – Early 1983. Following up their modestly successful debut release “Shuttered Room” from the year before, the London based new wave/pop/rock band once again work with producer Rupert Hine (Howard Jones, Chris De Burgh, Tina Turner), on the follow up. Mid way through the recording sessions, bassist Alfie Agius leaves the band (only being featured on four tracks) and is replaced by Dan K. Brown. The album becomes their most commercially successful, breaking The Fixx on a worldwide basis. It spins off three singles including “Saved By Zero” (#20 Pop), “One Thing Leads To Another” (#4 Pop), and “The Sign Of Fire” (#32 Pop). A re-recorded version of “Saved By Zero”, is later used in a series of commercials by auto manufacturer Toyota. Though the ad campaign brings renewed interest in The Fixx, as well as substantial royalties, the ads receive negative criticism from some fans. Part of the unfavorable reaction is due to the excessive number of times the commercials are run on television. At one point, the commercials are broadcast more than 42,000 times, spinning off articles in Time and Esquire Magazine about it. The commercials even inspire the creation of a Facebook group, allowing fans to voice their displeasure, and urging Toyota to pull the spots. In 2003, a remastered and expanded edition of the album is released including extended mixes of “Saved By Zero”, and “One Thing Leads To Another”, along with the track “Deeper And Deeper” (originally issued on the “Streets Of Fire” soundtrack), and the previously unreleased “Going Overboard”. “Reach The Beach” peaks at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 16, 1981 – &…

On this day in music history: May 16, 1981 – “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 9 weeks (non-consecutive). Written by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, it is the biggest hit for the L.A. born and raised singer and songwriter. Originally recorded by Jackie DeShannon (“What The World Needs Now Is Love”, “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”) in 1975, the song goes largely unnoticed by the public. George Tobin (Carnes’ producer at the time) plays Carnes the original version, and she doesn’t care for it in its original form. After they part ways, Co-writer Donna Weiss sends a copy of the song to Carnes’ new producer Val Garay, who dramatically reworks the songs arrangement with her keyboard player Bill Cuomo. Cuomo plays the songs signature keyboard riff on a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer. Issued in late February 1981 as the first single from “Mistaken Identity”, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on March 28, 1981, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The single spends five consecutive weeks at number one before being bumped from the top by the Stars On 45 “Medley” for one week. “Eyes” regains the top spot and spend another four weeks on top. The songs popularity is further boosted by a memorable music video directed by Russell Mulcahy (Duran Duran, “Highlander”). During the time the record is at the top of the charts, Carnes, DeShannon and Weiss receive a thank you letter from the Oscar winning screen icon. Davis expresses to them her thanks for making her “a part of modern times”, and that her grandson now looked up to her. The single also wins two Grammy Awards, taking home the prizes for Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year in 1982. “Bette Davis Eyes” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 16, 1980 – &…

On this day in music history: May 16, 1980 – “McCartney II”, the second solo album by Paul McCartney is released. Produced by Paul McCartney, it is recorded at Spirit of Ranachan Studios in Campbelltown, Scotland and EMI Replica Studio in London from July – August 1979. McCartney begins recording his second solo album during the Summer of 1979 while Wings is in limbo (officially disbanding in 1981), at High Park, his farmhouse in rural Scotland. Much like his first solo effort “McCartney” in 1970, he uses the same method of recording, by plugging microphones directly into a Studer sixteen track tape machine. The sessions are prolific, yielding twenty new songs, with the released LP containing only eleven tracks, the rest surface as non-album B-sides or remain unreleased. Though it receives mixed reviews upon its release for its experimental, somewhat less polished sound, it is an immediate hit, spinning off three singles including “Coming Up” (#1 US Pop, #2 UK) and “Waterfalls” (#9 UK). Some copies of the US LP come packaged with a bonus 7" disc featuring the live version of “Coming Up” (recorded in December of 1979 in Glasgow, Scotland) which becomes a huge hit on US radio stations, overtaking the original studio version in airplay. In 2011, the album is remastered and reissued in three different editions including a single CD of the original album, a two CD set with eight bonus tracks, and a three CD + DVD box set edition containing unreleased material from the sessions, including unedited versions of four songs that appeared on the original release (plus additional tracks from the same sessions). In December of 2017, the album is remastered and reissued on vinyl, on standard black and limited edition clear vinyl. “McCartney II” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 16, 1980 – &…

On this day in music history: May 16, 1980 – “Freedom Of Choice”, the third studio album by Devo is released. Produced by Robert Margouleff and Devo, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from October 1979 – January 1980. The pioneering new wave bands third release sees their sound become more keyboard driven, incorporating them into their trademark guitar/bass and drums configuration. For this release, Devo collaborates with producer and musician Robert Margouleff (Stevie Wonder, Tonto’s Expanding Head Band). The unique hybrid results in their most successful album, and is regarded as a landmark album in the new wave genre. It spins off four singles including “Whip It” (#14 Pop, #22 Club Play) and “Girl U Want”. When the album is released, Warner Bros chooses “Girl U Want” as the first single, over the band’s choice of “Whip It”. Though regarded as a classic today (later being covered by Soundgarden, Superchunk and Zombie Ghost Train), the single fails to chart in the US. It’s only after DJ’s in various parts of the country begin playing it off of the album, that “Whip It” is released as a single in August of 1980. Supported a tongue in cheek video (costing only $15,000), is set on a dude ranch and is inspired by an issue of the men’s life style magazine “The Dude”. Though some misconstrue the song as being about sadomasochism or masturbation, it doesn’t stop it from becoming Devo’s biggest hit, and only million selling single.The original twelve track album is remastered and reissued in November of 2009, pairing it with the bands 1981 live EP “DEV-O Live”. A month later, a further expanded edition titled “DEVO-LUX” that includes demo versions of “Gates Of Steel”, “Snowball” and “Time Bomb”, and the bands debut album “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!”. In January of 2016, Rhino Records reissues “Freedom Of Choice” as part of their “Start Your Ear Off Right” series, as a limited edition vinyl LP pressed on red, white and blue multi-colored vinyl, also replicating the original inner sleeve. The vinyl edition is reissued again in April of 2019, for Record Store Day. Pressed on red vinyl, the LP is included in the box set “This Is The Devo Box”. “Freedom Of Choice” peak at number twenty two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1985 – “…

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.

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1985 – &…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1985 – “19” by Paul Hardcastle is released (UK release is on April 26, 1985). Written by Paul Hardcastle, William Coutourie and Jonas McCord, it is the biggest hit for the multi-instrumentalist from Kensington, London, UK. Having made his breakthrough on the European and US dance charts with the singles “Rain Forest (and its B-side "Sound Chaser”) (#1 US Club Play) in 1984, musician Paul Hardcastle quickly makes the jump from indie label Oval Records in the UK and Profile Records in the US to a major label the same year. Signed to Chrysalis Records by label A&R man Simon Fuller, who also becomes Hardcastle’s manager, the musician gets to work recording his first album for the label. While working on material, Hardcastle sees an ABC network documentary on the Vietnam War titled “Vietnam Requiem”, which focuses on the effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), a condition affecting many veterans who have witnessed the horrors of active combat while serving in Vietnam. Working in his home recording studio in Leytonstone, East London, Hardcastle utilizes various instruments, including the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 synthesizer, LinnDrum II and Roland TR-808 drum machines to put the track together. He also utilizes an E-mu Emulator II keyboard to sample spoken audio passages from the documentary to lay on top of the instrumental track. Released in the UK first in April of 1985, “19” quickly leaps to number one the UK singles chart, spending five weeks on top. Released in the US three weeks later, it quickly becomes a huge hit on dance floors and R&B radio. Though lingering controversy about the Vietnam War keeps the song off of some US top 40 pop stations. “19” spends two weeks at #1 on the Billboard Club Play chart on July 6, 1985, peaking at #8 on the R&B singles chart on July 13, 1985, and #15 on the Hot 100 on July 20, 1985. The huge success not only establishes Paul Hardcastle on a worldwide basis, it allows Simon Fuller to leave his job at Chrysalis Records to start his own management firm called 19 Entertainment. Fuller later manages numerous British pop stars including Annie Lennox, Cathy Dennis, The Spice Girls, and creates the highly successful “American Idol” franchise. Hardcastle also finds later success in the smooth jazz realm with his band The Jazzmasters. “Vietnam Requiem” narrator Peter Thomas sues over the unauthorized sampling of his voice on “19”, and receives a co-writing credit and royalties from sales of the record.

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1983 – &…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1983 – “Is There Something I Should Know” by Duran Duran is released (UK release date is on March 19, 1983). Written by Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Andy Taylor and Roger Taylor, it is the fifth US single (eighth UK) for the pop/rock band from Birmingham, UK. On a major creative roll after the release of the “Rio” album, Duran Duran return to the studio in December of 1982 to record a new single. With producer Colin Thurston busy, they work with engineer Ian Little as their co-producer. “Is There Something I Should Know? like their previous material is a collaborative effort among all five members. Bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor lay down a solid and funky foundation, with keyboardist Nick Rhodes and guitarist Andy Taylor also providing solid support. Lead singer Simon LeBon writes the lyrics expressing to his girl that he feels their relationship is going wrong, pleading with her to tell him what’s on her mind. First released in much of the world as a stand alone single in March of 1983, it enters the UK chart at number one on March 26, 1983, spending two weeks on top. It is accompanied by a surreal music video directed by Russell Mulcahy, that also features clips from several other Duran Duran videos including "Hungry Like The Wolf”, “Rio”, “Save A Prayer”, “Night Boat”, “Girls On Film”, “My Own Way” and “Planet Earth”. The UK release is backed with the instrumental “Faith In This Colour”. Early copies include unauthorized samples from “Star Wars”. It is replaced with another mix with the samples removed. “Is There Something” is also issued as a 12" single. An extended dub version titled “The Monster Mix”, it is remixed by Ian Little, Alex Sadkin and Phil Thornalley at RAK One Studios in London. With “Hungry Like The Wolf” becoming a major hit in the US in early 1983, the single is held back from release until May after a re-release of “Rio” follows. Capitol Records also decides to repackage the band’s 1981 self-titled debut album adding “Is There Something” to the track listing. The US single also differs from the UK release, putting the track “Careless Memories” on the B-side. Finally released in the US, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #57 on June 4, 1983, it peaks at #4 nine weeks later on August 6, 1983. The song is later reissued in 2003 as part of the CD box set “Singles Box Set 1981–1985”. For the 30th anniversary of its release, it is reissued as a limited edition 7" single for Record Store Day in the UK in April of 2013. The reissue is pressed on blue vinyl, replicating the original custom labels and picture sleeve on the 1983 first issue. The back side of the sleeve has a printing error, listing the wrong URL to Duran Duran’s official fan website.

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On this day in music history: May 11, 1981 – “…

On this day in music history: May 11, 1981 – “Nightclubbing”, the fifth studio album by Grace Jones is released. Produced by Chris Blackwell and Alex Sadkin, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, The Bahamas in early 1981. Issued as the follow up to the critically acclaimed “Warm Leatherette”, it is the second album Jones records with a group of musicians that includes Sly Dunbar (drums), Robbie Shakespeare (bass), Wally Badarou (keyboards), and Uziah “Sticky” Thompson (percussion). “Nightclubbing” spins off three singles including “Demolition Man” (written for Grace by Sting, with The Police recording their own version later in the year), “I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango)” and “Pull Up To The Bumper” (#5 R&B, #2 Club Play). The album’s striking cover photo taken by French graphic designer (and then Jones’ boyfriend) Jean-Paul Goude, features the singer dressed in an Armani men’s suit, with her face and body painted dark blue. The image becomes instantly iconic, and reaffirms Grace Jones as an embodiment of androgynous style. It is her commercial breakthrough on a worldwide basis. “Nightclubbing” is also supported by the groundbreaking concept tour “A One Man Show”, which is filmed for a live concert video (released in 1982) and is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Long Form Video. The album is remastered and reissued as a two CD Deluxe Edition in 2014, with the first disc containing the original nine song album. The second disc features 12" mixes and previously unreleased tracks from the recording sessions. with the “Nightclubbing” peaks at number nine on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number thirty two on the Top 200.

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