On this day in music history: December 11, 1968 – “Blood, Sweat & Tears”, the second album by Blood, Sweat & Tears is released. Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City from August 2 – October 22, 1968. Following their critically acclaimed, but poor selling debut album “Child Is Father To The Man”, B,S&T’s second release is more pop oriented than their debut. The follow up features more material written by outside songwriters, rather than self penned songs. Paired with producer James William Guercio (The Buckinghams, Chicago), the album is also the first to feature new lead singer David Clayton-Thomas (replacing original vocalist Al Kooper). It is one of the first major hit albums recorded on the studios’ newly installed Ampex 16-track tape recorder, one of the first units built by the Redwood City, CA based electronics company. Within weeks of its release it is a smash, spinning off three top five singles including “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”, “Spinning Wheel” and “And When I Die” (all of which peak at #2 on the Hot 100). The album wins the band a Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1970. The album also becomes a favorite of audiophiles for the exceptional sound quality of the recording. Engineered and mixed by veteran CBS recording engineers Fred Catero and Roy Halee, it has been reissued numerous times on CD and vinyl. Regarded as a definitive album of the era, it is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002. “Blood, Sweat & Tears” spends seven weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 10, 1985 – “Fine Young Cannibals”, the debut album by Fine Young Cannibals is released. Produced by Robin Millar, it is recorded at The Power Plant Studios in Willesden, North London and Sound Suite Studios in Camden, London, UK from May – August 1985. Following the break up of The (English) Beat in 1983, co-founding members David Steele and Andy Cox set about forming a new band. Going through more than five hundred demo tapes and spending eight months looking for a lead singer to front their band, Steele and Cox find singer Roland Gift, originally a member of the Hull based ska band The Akrylykz. Blessed with a uniquely soulful and distinctive voice, natural charisma and stage presence, Gift proves to be the perfect front man. The trio name themselves Fine Young Cannibals after the 1960 film “All The Fine Young Cannibals” starring Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner. Writing more than enough material to a record a full album, FYC go in search of a record deal. Surprisingly, in spite of Steele and Cox’s past track record of success with The Beat, they have great difficulty in getting a record company interested in signing the new unproven band. While still unsigned, Fine Young Cannibals make an appearance on the long running music show “The Tube” in late 1984, performing three original songs. Almost immediately, offers from the very record labels that had previously rejected FYC come pouring in, following the positive response to their debut television performance. Signing with London Records in the UK and IRS Records in the US, the band enter the studio with producer Robin Millar, fresh off of having produced Sade’s hugely successful debut album “Diamond Life”. Featuring nearly all original material, Fine Young Cannibals’ unique blend of ska, new wave, pop and R&B does take long to find favor with the public. Their debut single “Johnny Come Home” (#8 UK Pop, #76 US Pop, #8 US Club Play), quickly becomes a hit in the UK and gains the band a foothold in the US. It spins off three singles including a cover of Elvis Presley’s classic “Suspicious Minds” (#8 UK Pop), featuring Jimmy Somerville (Bronski Beat, The Communards) on backing vocals. The album is reissued on CD in 1999, and then remastered and reissued again in 2013 as two CD deluxe edition. The first disc features the original ten track album with three additional bonus tracks. The second disc contains the 12" dance mixes of “Johnny” and “Suspicious”. “Fine Young Cannibals” peaks number eleven on the UK album chart and number forty nine on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: December 6, 1968 – “James Taylor”, the debut album by James Taylor is released in the UK (US release is on February 17, 1969). Produced by Peter Asher, it is recorded at Trident Studios in London from July – October 1968. Taylor is one of the first signings to The Beatles Apple label by Asher (one half of the pop duo Peter & Gordon and the brother of Paul McCartney’s former girlfriend Jane Asher) who is the head of A&R. Paul McCartney and George Harrison make an uncredited appearance on the first single “Carolina In My Mind” contributing background vocals. In spite of good reviews, the album sells poorly, due to Taylor’s hospitalization for heroin addiction, which prevents him from promoting it properly. Taylor re-records “Carolina” and “Something In The Way She Moves” for his 1976 greatest hits album when his label Warner Bros Records is unable to license the original versions from Apple. The original album is eventually reissued on CD in the mid 90’s and again in 2010. It is also briefly reissued on vinyl in Europe in 1991, but quickly goes out of print again. The vinyl LP release is remastered and reissued in 2017, making it available in that format, for the first time in over two decades. “James Taylor” peaks at number one hundred eighteen on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 27, 1976 – “The Jacksons”, the tenth album by The Jacksons is released. Produced by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Victor Carstarphen, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead, Dexter Wansel and The Jacksons, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA from June – October 1976. The album is the groups’ first release on Epic Records after leaving their longtime label Motown Records, and also is the first to feature youngest Jackson brother Randy (replacing Jermaine who remains with Motown) on percussion and vocals. Executives at CBS pair the group with songwriter and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff (and their team of staff songwriters and producers) of Philadelphia International Records for their first album. It spins off two hit singles including “Enjoy Yourself” (#2 R&B, #6 Pop) and “Show You The Way To Go” (#6 R&B, #28 Pop, #1 UK). It also features the first two songs written by the group including “Blues Away” (written by Michael) and “Style Of Life” (written by Tito and Michael). Out of print on vinyl for nearly thirty years, it is remastered and reissued in 2018. The reissue replicates the gatefold sleeve found on the original release. “The Jacksons” peaks at number six on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty six on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 25, 1968 – “The Beatles” (aka “The White Album), the ninth album by The Beatles is released (UK release date is on November 22, 1968). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Trident Studios in London from May 30 – October 14, 1968. The album marks the beginning of a difficult and tense period for The Beatles, with various inner conflicts within the band coming to a head during the recording sessions. The squabbling becomes so intense at one point, that Ringo Starr quits the band briefly before being persuaded to return. Recording engineer Geoff Emerick also quits amid the tension, and is replaced by Ken Scott and Chris Thomas. In spite of this, it is still a highly creative period, yielding more than thirty new songs, most of which are written during The Beatles spiritual retreat to India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi earlier in the year. The albums’ cover art designed by Richard Hamilton is a stark white gatefold sleeve with the bands’ name embossed on the front during the original press run. Later copies feature the title printed in light grey ink), and individually stamped with a number (running up to over 3,000,000 in the US). The album also comes packaged with a poster (with a photo collage on one side, and the song lyrics printed on the opposite side), and four individual portraits of the band members. In the UK, it is also the final Beatles album to be issued with separate mono and stereo mixes. The US pressing is released in stereo only. The original mono version of the album is reissued on vinyl in the UK in 1982, and finally on CD in 2009 as part of the "Beatles In Mono” box set. The mono LP is reissued in September of 2014 pressed on 180 gram vinyl, as part of the vinyl LP configuration of the 2009 CD box, and for individual sale. Initial UK LP pressings feature a uniquely designed gatefold sleeve with the jacket openings being on the top instead of on the sides. The mono version of the album is reissued on vinyl in September of 2014, being issued in the US for the first time. To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the album is given a new stereo and 5.1 surround remix by Giles Martin. Issued worldwide on November 9, 2018, the expanded release also contains the legendary “Esher Demos”, featuring twenty seven recordings demoed at George Harrrison’s home studio. Prior to this the demos had only surfaced as bootlegs in mono only. The new release presents them in true stereo for the first time. The album is reissued on both CD and vinyl, either as a three CD, six CD + Blu-ray Super Deluxe box set, double vinyl LP or four LP Super Deluxe box set (the latter containing the only vinyl release of the Esher Demos). “The Beatles” spends nine weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 19x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 22, 1977 – “Chic”, the debut album by Chic is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at Electric Lady Studios and The Power Station in New York City from September – October 1977. After playing together in various incarnations since first meeting in 1970, bassist Bernard Edwards and guitarist Nile Rodgers form the band Chic in 1976 with keyboard player Rob Sabino, drummer Tony Thompson and singer Norma Jean Wright rounding out the basic line up. A DJ friend of theirs named Robert Drake gives them an opportunity to make demo recording of their song “Everybody Dance”, by sneaking them into Electric Lady Studios after hours where he works part time as a recording engineer. A few weeks later, Drake invites Rodgers to The Night Owl, an upscale disco where he DJ’s. Spinning two acetate discs he has cut of Chic’s demo of “Everybody”, Rodgers watches him in stunned amazement as the DJ spins the discs non stop for nearly an hour to the euphoric crowd on the dance floor. Shortly after this, the band return to the studio to cut the single “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)”, which attracts the attention of Buddah Records executive Tom Cossie who options the record for release. When Cossie moves to Atlantic Records only a couple of weeks after Buddah releases “Dance”, he takes the band with him, signing them with Atlantic in spite of the fact they had been previously rejected by the label. The debut album by the New York City based R&B/Disco band is recorded in only three weeks for a budget of $35,000. It features all original songs written by Edwards and Rodgers with vocals by Norma Jean Wright, Alfa Anderson, Diva Gray, David Lasley, Robin Clark and Luther Vandross. It spins off the hit singles “Dance Dance Dance (Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah)” (#6 R&B and Pop) and “Everybody Dance” (#12 R&B, #38 Pop). Originally released on CD in the early 90’s by Atlantic, the original CD is deleted and goes out of print for several years. It is reissued by Wounded Bird Records in 2006, with WEA in Japan remastering and reissuing it on CD in 2011. Out of print on vinyl for more than thirty years, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2016. The album is remastered and reissued on CD and vinyl again, as part of the box set “The Chic Organization: 1977 – 1979” on November 23, 2018. “Chic” peaks at number twelve on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty seven on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 17, 1982 – “Chaka Khan”, the fourth solo album by Chaka Khan is released. Produced by Arif Mardin, it is recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City from Summer – Fall 1982. Issued as the official follow up to “What’cha Gonna Do For Me” (having also recorded the jazz standards album “Echoes of An Era” in the interim), the album features musical support from musicians such as Michael Brecker, Hamish Stuart, Will Lee, Joe Henderson, Anthony Jackson and also features Rick James on “Slow Dancin’”. It spins off two singles including her cover of the Michael Jackson classic “Got To Be There” (#5 R&B, #67 Pop) and “Tearin’ It Up” (#48 R&B). The track “Be Bop Medley” wins Khan and Mardin a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices, and Chaka picks up a second Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for the entire album in 1984. The album makes its CD debut in 1991, when it is released by Warner Music Japan. It is currently in print as part of the box set “Chaka Khan – Original Album Series” released by Warner Music Group UK in 2009. “Chaka Khan” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number fifty two on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: November 16, 1970 – “Stephen Stills”, the debut album by Stephen Stills is released. Produced by Stephen Stills and Bill Halverson, it is recorded at Island Studios in London from June – July 1970. The first solo release from the songwriter and musician it features musical support from friends such as Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Booker T. Jones, Cass Elliott, Rita Coolidge, John Sebastian, Graham Nash, and Jimi Hendrix who passes away two months before its release, and is dedicated to his memory. It spins off two singles including the classic “Love The One You’re With” (#14 Pop), becoming Stills’ biggest solo hit. “Love The One You’re With” is covered by a number of artists over the years, including versions by The Isley Brothers, Luther Vandross, Tight Fit, Bucks Fizz, and by Stills own daughter Jen Stills. The album is remastered on CD with high resolution HDCD encoding, and is reissued on vinyl as a limited 200 gram LP pressing by Classic Records in 2009. Rhino Records also reissues the album as a 180 gram LP in 2010. “Stephen Stills” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 9, 1976 – “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers”, the debut album by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers is released. Produced by Denny Cordell, it is recorded at Shelter Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1974 – Mid 1976. The first release by the Gainesville, FL based rock band is released on Cordell and Leon Russell’s Shelter Records label (distributed by ABC). The album initially receives little attention upon its release. After touring relentlessly in the UK and US, it finally charts in the US in 1978. It spins off the classics “Breakdown” (#40 Pop) and “American Girl”. “Girl” is later featured in the films “FM”, “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”, “The Silence Of The Lambs”, and numerous television shows including “The Sopranos”, “Parks And Recreation” and “Scrubs”. Petty regains the rights to the master tapes, and is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002 on his Gone Gator Records imprint through Warner Bros. In April of 2011, the album is reissued as a limited edition 180 gram vinyl LP (2,500 copies), pressed on white vinyl for Record Store Day. The vinyl release is also reissued on standard black vinyl as a stand alone release in 2014, and as part of the box set “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – The Complete Studio Albums Volume 1 (1976-1991)” in 2016. “Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers” peaks at number fifty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 6, 1971 – “The Stylistics”, the debut album by The Stylistics is released. Produced by Thom Bell, Marty Bryant and Bill Perry, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios and Regent Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA from Mid 1970, Early – Mid 1971. After being signed to producer/songwriters Hugo & Luigi’s Avco Records on the strength of their debut single “You’re A Big Girl Now” (#7 R&B, #73 Pop) and release the follow up “Stop, Look, Listen (To Your Heart)” (#6 R&B, #39 Pop) in May of 1971. The Stylistics go to work with producer, songwriter and arranger Thom Bell on their debut album. Utilizing the great musicianship of Sigma Sound’s crack studio band MFSB and string section led by Don Renaldo, the album is recorded during the Spring, Summer and early Fall of 1971. Led by the instant classic “You Are Everything” (#10 R&B, #9 Pop), the album quickly spins off two more singles including “Betcha By Golly Wow” (#2 R&B, #3 Pop), and “People Make The World Go Round” (#6 R&B, #25 Pop). With lead vocalist Russell Thompkins, Jr.’s distinctive high tenor falsetto voice featured front and center, it is regarded as one of the greatest “Philly Soul” albums ever made, putting The Stylistics firmly on the map as one of the top R&B vocal groups of the 70’s. In Australia, the album is re-titled “You Are Everything”, after the hit single of the same name. Strangely, the artwork for that release replaces the original cover photo of Stylistics lying in a field of tall grass, with a young white couple. After going out of print following the demise of Avco Records, the album is finally reissued on CD by Victor Records in Japan in 1991, and is remastered and reissued by Amherst Records in 1994. The 1994 reissue features an extensive essay about the group and the album, written by music historian A. Scott Galloway. “The Stylistics” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty three on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.