On this day in music history: October 10, 1988 – “Rattle And Hum”, the sixth album by U2 is released. Produced by Jimmy Iovine, it is recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis, TN, Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland (studio tracks), Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ, Justin Herman Plaza, Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, CA and McNichols Sports Arena in Denver, CO (live tracks) from Mid 1987 – Early 1988. Named for a lyric in the song “Bullet The Blue Sky”, the seventeen-track double LP serves as an accompanying soundtrack to the film documenting the US leg of the “Joshua Tree Tour” in 1987. It combines live recordings along with several new songs recorded in the studio both in Ireland and in the US, including a collaboration with blues legend B.B. King on “When Love Comes To Town” (#68 Pop, #2 Mainstream Rock). The album and film receive mixed reviews from critics, feeling that it is “misguided and bombastic”, and that the band come across as “pretentious”. But both are well received by the public, and is and major success for U2. It spins off four singles including “Desire” (#3 Pop) and “Angel Of Harlem” (#14 Pop). Much like the singles for “The Joshua Tree”, Island Records issues the 7" singles with standard paper picture sleeves and printed on heavier cardboard stock. The release of the first single “Desire” comes in a limited edition gatefold picture sleeve with the inner spread featuring a black and white photo of the band taken by photographer and video director Anton Corbijn. “Rattle And Hum” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 1, 1973 – “Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Tom Catalano, it is recorded at Sound Labs Studios and Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, CA from Early – Mid 1973. By the end of 1972, Neil Diamond’s career is firing on all cylinders. Having scored his second number one single with “Song Sung Blue” in July and another million selling album with “Moods”, Diamond plays a series of ten now legendary concerts at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, CA in August 1972. The August 24th performance is documented in the classic double live album “Hot August Night” released at the end of the year. Neil tops off the year with another series of marathon live shows, playing twenty sold out concerts at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City, that Fall. Exhausted from the relentless grind of touring, Diamond takes nearly four year hiatus from the road before making a return to live performing. In December of 1972, his contract with Uni/MCA Records is also up, leading to numerous labels looking to sign the musician. Clive Davis at Columbia Records winds up attracting Diamond with an offer too good to refuse. The contract guarantees a $425,000 advance for each album due to the label (ten albums over a five year period), a then unprecedented amount offered for a musician’s services. Diamond’s first release for his new label will be a major departure from anything he has done previously. He is asked by director Hall Bartlett to compose the score to the film adaptation of “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”, Richard Bach’s best selling novella about a young seabird cast out by his flock. Diamond accepts the offer and gets to work writing the accompanying song score. Beautiful and lushly orchestrated, it features arrangements by film and television score composer Lee Holdridge. When Diamond submits the album to CBS, initially there is concern that it is not commercial, and at first CBS is considered a laughing stock by industry insiders for signing Diamond for such a large amount of money. At first, the naysayers seem to be right when the film itself is a monumental flop. Though the album is the complete opposite of a failure, and is a huge success. It sells so well that it alone pays for the cost of Diamond’s contract. It spins off two singles “Be” (#34 Pop) and “Skybird” (#75 Pop). The album wins a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” peaks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 1, 1961 – “Blue Hawaii”, the fourteenth album by Elvis Presley is released. Produced by Steve Sholes, it is recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA from March 21 – 23, 1961. Issued as the soundtrack to Presley’s eighth film, the fourteen song album contains material written for the film as well as a cover of the traditional Hawaiian song “Aloha ‘Oe”. Like the film itself, the soundtrack album is an enormous success, becoming one of Elvis’ best sellers, spending the most weeks at the top of the chart. It spins off the classic “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (#2 Pop), which becomes one of Elvis’ signature songs, often performing it as the closing song to his concerts throughout the 70’s. British band UB40 covers the song in 1993, and takes it to number one on the Hot 100 in July of that year. In 1997, a remastered version of the album is released, featuring eight bonus tracks including alternate takes and versions of songs as they appeared in the film. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is first remastered and reissued by UK reissue label Castle Music in 2001, featuring eight additional bonus tracks. It is also packaged with a bonus 7" EP featuring five more outtakes. RCA in the US also reissues the title in 2002, pressed on red vinyl. In 2009, an even more expansive edition of the soundtrack is released on CD and as a double vinyl LP set, including even more outtakes and alternate versions. In 2013, reissue label Vinyl Passion Records re-releases the mono version of the album, out of print in any form since the late 60’s. And the same year, Friday Music reissues the standard stereo version of the LP on 180 gram vinyl. “Blue Hawaii” spends twenty weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1988 – “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, peaking at #11 on the R&B singles chart on October 22, 1988. Written by Bobby McFerrin, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from New York City. Born in New York City, McFerrin grows up in a musical family, with both of his parents being opera singers. Initially intending to become a minister and an educator himself, Bobby finds various musical jobs during and after college. Influenced by jazz pianist Keith Jarrett, he begins to develop his unique vocal style. Becoming a one man vocal orchestra, McFerrin sings the main parts of songs and the accompaniment, while tapping on his chest and using his mouth for percussive effects. He gets his big break in 1980, when he is hired to tour with vocalese pioneer Jon Hendricks. It leads to McFerrin being signed to Elektra Musician Records in 1982, releasing his debut album. By 1986, he moves to the legendary Blue Note label, when it is revived by executives Michael Cuscuna and Bruce Lundvall. Recording his fifth album “Simple Pleasures” in 1988, its original concept was to be all covers of classics like The Beatles’ “Drive My Car”, and The Young Rascals’ version of “Good Lovin’”. While sitting at the piano, Bobby begins singing the words “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” to himself. The phrase comes from Indian spiritual master Meher Baba, whose teachings had influenced other musicians including The Who’s Pete Townshend and Melanie Safka. Performed entirely by McFerrin, the Caribbean influenced “Don’t Worry” is included on his album. Initially, it draws little attention, until Touchstone Pictures licenses it for the Tom Cruise blockbuster “Cocktail”. McFerrin’s label EMI-Manhattan responds issuing as a single in July of 1988. It is accompanied by a music video that also features comic actor friends Robin Williams and Bill Irwin. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on July 30, 1988, it races to the top of the chart eight weeks later, becoming the first acapella song to hit #1 in the US. The success of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy unexpectedly catapults the jazz vocalist into the pop spotlight. It wins three Grammy Awards in 1989, including Record and Song Of The Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. Its popularity is so great, that then Presidential candidate George H.W. Bush tries to co-opt it as his official campaign song. McFerrin doesn’t approve of it being used for political purposes, and asks Bush to stop using it, even dropping it from his live performances for many years. Over time, "Don’t Worry” becomes ensconced in popular culture, being name checked by Public Enemy in “Fight The Power” (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy was a number one jam…”), and in other films including “Flushed Away”, “WALL-E” and “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”. “Dont Worry, Be Happy” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1984 – “No More Lonely Nights” by Paul McCartney is released. Written by Paul McCartney, it is the thirty-first US Top 40 single for the former Beatle. The last song written and recorded for the film and soundtrack of “Give My Regards To Broadstreet” (released through 20th Century Fox), “No More Lonely Nights” is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London in mid 1984. The band on the song features McCartney (lead vocals, piano), Linda McCartney (backing vocals, keyboards), Eric Stewart (backing vocals), Herbie Flowers (bass), Anne Dudley (synthesizer) and Stuart Elliott (drums). Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour is also featured playing the guitar solo on the track. Gilmour does not accept a session fee for playing on the song, instead asking McCartney to donate his fee to the charity of his choice. Two versions of the song are recorded, the original straight ahead “ballad” version is the A-side of the single, while the more uptempo “playout” version is placed on the B-side. An extended version remixed by Arthur Baker is also released as a standard 12" single and picture disc. The music video directed by Peter Webb is shot in London, featuring a full fireworks display over the Thames. The late night video shoot causes many local residents to call the police to complain about the noise from the exploding fireworks. Though the film opens to universally negative reviews and disastrous box office numbers, the soundtrack album and single are a hit. “No More Lonely Nights” peaks at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 8, 1984, driving “Give My Regards To Broadstreet” to Gold status in the US. A dance remix remixed by Arthur Baker, of the uptempo version is also issued as a 12" single at the same time.
On this day in music history: September 19, 1976 – “Car Wash – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Norman Whitfield, it is recorded at Sound Factory West and Amigo Recording Studio in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1976. The nineteen track double LP features all original material written and produced by Norman Whitfield and is performed by the R&B/Funk band Rose Royce. The album is the debut release for the band originally known as Total Concept Unlimited. Whitfield is contacted by “Cooley High” film director Michael Schultz who is looking for someone to score his new film. The producer uses the opportunity to launch his new band, also tailoring new songs he’s written to be used in the film. The soundtrack to the low budget comedy (starring Franklin Ajaye, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin) is a runaway smash, spinning off three hit singles including “I Wanna Get Next To You” (#3 R&B, #10 Pop), “I’m Going Down” (#10 R&B, #70 Pop), and the title track which hits #1 on the Billboard Pop and R&B charts. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1996, and is reissued on vinyl in 2015. “Car Wash” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number fourteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 13, 1986 – “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock, it is the biggest hit for the new wave pop-rock band from Los Angeles, CA fronted by lead singer Terri Nunn. Having written Oscar winning music for films such as “Midnight Express” and “Flashdance”, composer and producer Giorgio Moroder is asked by film producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to contribute to the soundtrack of their film “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, and Anthony Edwards. Paired with lyricist Tom Whitlock, they write the soundtracks two biggest hits “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away”. Both songs are offered to Berlin. Initially, “Danger Zone” (#2 Pop) is planned as a duet, but is passed on to Kenny Loggins when the band declines to record it. Used as the “love theme” for the film, “Take My Breath Away” is an immediate hit with film audiences and record buyers. Entering the Hot 100 at #96 on June 21, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The song wins the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1987, earning Moroder his third Oscar and becoming the thirteenth song in the rock era to achieve that honor. The success of Berlin’s single propels the “Top Gun” soundtrack to number one for five weeks (non-consecutive) on the Billboard Top 200, and going 9x Platinum in the US. “Take My Breath Away” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 11, 2001 – “Glitter”, the eighth album by Mariah Carey is released. Produced by Mariah Carey, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, James “Big Jim” Wright, DJ Clue, Duro, Clark Kent, Damizza, Rick James and Walter Afanasieff, it is recorded at Various Studios from Late 2000 – Mid 2001. The eighth release by the superstar singer also serves as the soundtrack to her first starring film role. The album is also her first after leaving longtime label Columbia Records for a highly lucrative five album contract with Virgin Records reported to be worth over $100 million. The record features Carey collaborating with number of artists and producers which include Da Brat, DJ Clue, Rick James, Cameo, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and singer Eric Benet. While doing promotion for the soundtrack and film prior to their release, Carey is suffering from physical and mental exhaustion which results in a bizarre incident on MTV’s “TRL” with host Carson Daly where Carey appears wearing an oversized T-shirt, pushing an ice cream cart and handing out ice cream bars to the crowd. She tops the appearance off by doing a striptease right on live television. Other strange incidents occur in the following days at an autograph signing at a New York City Tower Records, and when she posts odd messages on her official website which are quickly taken down. Shortly after this, the release date for the album is changed from its original date of August 21, 2001 to September 11, 2001. During the interim period, Carey is checked into a hospital for a nervous breakdown. When they are finally released, both the film and soundtrack are met with mixed to highly negative reviews from critics and fans, compounded by ill timed release of the album on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Spinning off two singles including “Loverboy” (featuring Cameo) (#2 Pop) and “Never Too Far” (non-charting), the soundtrack sells 116,000 copies in its first week (her last Columbia album “Rainbow” sold 323,000 copies in its first week), making it the poorest first week sales of her career to that date. The poor performance of the soundtrack, the film and all of the negative publicity generated by Carey breakdown causes the singer and Virgin Records to part ways. The label pays the singer $28 million to end her contract with the company. “Glitter” peaks in its debut chart position of number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 11, 1982 – “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary Chart for 3 weeks on August 21, 1982. Written by Peter Cetera and David Foster, it is the second chart topping single for the rock band from Chicago, IL. Following their being unceremoniously dropped by former label Columbia Records after releasing fifteen albums over their thirteen year association with the label, Chicago sign with Warner Bros Records in late 1981. With the change of label come other changes. Former Sons Of Champlin keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Bill Champlin joins the band as a co-lead vocalist, and Chicago selects former studio musician and songwriter David Foster to produce them. Once a fully self contained band, Foster streamlines and retools Chicago’s sound by bringing in Toto members David Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro (and others) to augment them instrumentally as well as work as songwriting collaborators. The ballad “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” is the first single released from “Chicago 16” on May 27, 1982. It is also included in the Randal Kleiser (“Grease”, “The Blue Lagoon”) directed film “Summer Lovers” starring Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher. Though the film is a box office disappointment, “Sorry” is Chicago’s first major hit in nearly five years. The full LP version of the track segues into the song “Get Away”, but is edited for single release, via a fade out before the start of the next song. Though today, many radio stations play both tracks in sequence. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on June 5, 1982, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 10, 1983 – “Maniac” by Michael Sembello hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from Philadelphia, PA. Born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Michael Sembello begins playing guitar during his childhood, and by his teens has mastered the instrument, and is working as a professional session musician. Before he’s even out of high school, Sembello is hired by Stevie Wonder as a member of his band Wonderlove, touring and recording with the Motown legend from 1972 to 1979. Following his tenure with Wonder, Sembello continues successfully as a first call session musician and songwriter, working with the likes of Michael Jackson, George Benson, Jeffrey Osborne, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan. In 1982, producer Phil Ramone is hired as the music supervisor for the film “Flashdance”, compiling additional material for the soundtrack album. Ramone calls his friend Michael Sembello, and asks him he has any songs that might be suitable for use in the film. Sembello sends Ramone a tape with several songs for him to consider. The producer calls him back, telling him his favorite song on the tape is one called “Maniac”. The original lyrics about a killer on a rampage, are inspired by director William Lustig’s low budget horror-slasher film classic “Maniac”. The original lyrics are changed at the request of film producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to match the film’s theme about a female welder aspiring to become a professional dancer. Released as the second single from the “Flashdance” soundtrack in May of 1983, the song is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on June 4, 1983, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “Maniac” is also released as an extended 12" single remixed by John “Jellybean” Benitez which also becomes a top seller. Michael Sembello and co-writer Dennis Matkosky win a Grammy Award for Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score Written for A Motion Picture or a Television Special in 1984 for their contribution to the “Flashdance” original motion picture soundtrack. They also receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1984, but lose the award to the soundtrack’s other huge hit “Flashdance… What A Feeling”.