BEHIND THE GROOVES: a music blog by Jeff Harris

On this day in music history: August 27, 1991 - “Ten”, the debut album by Pearl Jam is released. Produced by Rick Parashar and Pearl Jam, it is recorded at London Bridge Studios in Seattle, WA from March 27 - April 26, 1991. Formed out of the ashes of bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossards’ former band Mother Love Bone, the new band will record their first album in just one month, Initially, the album will get off to a very slow start, languishing in record stores for many months until they pick up support from college radio and from touring relentlessly in support of it. It will eventually spin off a total of five singles including “Alive” (#16 Mainstream Rock), “Evenflow” (#3 Mainstream Rock) and “Jeremy” (#5 Mainstream Rock). The success of the album will establish them among the most high profile of the grunge rock movement spearheaded by bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains. In 2009, the album will be reissued in four different editions including a remastered version of the original album, Deluxe, Vinyl and Super Deluxe edition with a bonus DVD of the band’s MTV Unplugged performance from 1992. “Ten” will peak at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 13x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.

On this day in music history: August 27, 1990 - “Mama Said Knock You Out”, the fourth album by LL Cool J is released. Produced by Marley Marl, LL Cool J, and Bobby “Bobcat” Ervin, it is recorded at Marley’s House Of Hits in Chestnut Ridge, NY, Chung King House Of Metal, Sorcerer Sound, Unique Recording Studios, Greene Street Studios in New York City, and Ocean Way Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1989 - Mid 1990. By the end of the 80’s, LL Cool J will find himself at a crossroads in his music career. Having established himself as a rap superstar with his first two albums “Radio” and “Bigger And Deffer”, the tide will turn with his third release “Walking With A Panther” in 1989. Though commercially successful, the album will meet with a mixed to an outright negative response from many fans, feeling that Cool J has “sold out” in order to achieve mainstream crossover acceptance. Taking the criticism to heart, the rapper will enlist the assistance of producer Marley Marl, who had previously remixed the single “Jingling Baby” from the last album (Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Roxanne Shante, MC Shan) to produce his next release. The new album’s title track (#1 Rap, #12 R&B, #17 Pop) will be inspired by LL’s grandmother Ellen Griffith who will tell her grandson to “knock ‘em out, Todd” when he is faced with negative criticism from fans and others in the hip hop community. Proceeded by the single “The Boomin’ System” (#1 Rap, #6 R&B, #48 Pop) in the Summer of 1990, the resulting album’s perfect blend of street edginess and radio friendly accessibility will be enthusiastically received by the public, not only helping to re-establish the rapper’s street cred, but will also widen his fanbase. It will spin off a total of five singles including “Around The Way Girl” (#1 Rap, #5 R&B, #9 Pop), and “To Da Break Of Dawn” (#17 Rap). “Mama Said Knock You Out” will win LL Cool J a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1992. “Mama Said Knock You Out” will peak at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number sixteen on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 27, 1988 - “Monkey” by George Michael hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by George Michael, it is the fifth solo chart topper for the singer, songwriter, and musician from Bushey, Hertsfordshire, UK. The hit single version is re-recorded with producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis after Michael contacts them about working together, being a long time fan of theirs and impressed by their work on a remix album of tracks from Janet Jackson’s “Control” album. The producers will cut the new track at Flyte Tyme, their recording studio in Minneapolis. Jam & Lewis will arrange to record with Michael at a studio in Los Angeles (to re-record his vocals), as George is in rehearsals for the “Faith Tour” at the time. It will take about a week for Michael to record his vocals.Issued as the fifth single from “Faith”, it will quickly follow its predecessors to the top the chart. Entering the Hot 100 at #42 on July 9, 1988, it will climb to the top of the charts seven weeks later, becoming the fourth chart topping single from “Faith”. “Monkey” will also have the unique distinction of the being the first single in history to be released in six different configurations. The single will be released on 7” and 12” vinyl, with the others being CD maxi single, 3 inch CD3, cassette single, and cassette maxi single.

On this day in music history: August 27, 1980 - “Wild Planet”, the second album by The B-52’s is released. Produced by Rhett Davies and The B-52’s, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios  in Nassau in The Bahamas in April 1980. Following the critical and commercial success of their self-titled debut, the Athens, GA based New Wave band will return to Island Records founder Chris Blackwell’s studio in the Bahamas, to record the follow up. Much of the material on the album will be songs The B-52’s have been performing live since 1977, but did not make the final cut of the first album. Recorded in just a few weeks, it will produce a number of songs that become staples of the band’s repertoire including “Private Idaho” (#74 Pop, #5 Club Play), Party Out Of Bounds”, “Quiche Lorraine” and “Give Me Back My Man”. It will be well received by fans and critics upon its release, and today is regarded as a New Wave classic. “Wild Planet” will peak at number eighteen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 27, 1975 - “Love To Love You Baby”, the second album by Donna Summer is released. Produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, it is recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany from May - June 1975. Summer will come up with the initial idea for the title track having written the lyrics and melody. Moroder and Bellotte will suggest that Summer sing it in a more sultry and sexual manner, which she will at first be hesitant to do. She’ll agree when she thinks the recording will be a demo for another singer. Before tape rolls on the song, Summer will ask that the lights in the studio be turned off while she records her vocals. Moroder likes the finished recording so much that he’ll insist that it be released. Titled “Love To Love You”, it will be first released in Europe to modest success. After Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart hears the initial shorter single version of the song (#2 Pop, #3 R&B), he suggests that a longer version of the song be cut, which will clock in at nearly seventeen minutes, taking up one whole side of the album. It immediately creates a sensation in dance clubs (#1 Billboard Club Play) and begins to receive radio play. When some stations ban it, feeling it is too blatantly sexual, it will only heighten its allure and popularity. “Love To Love You Baby” will peak at number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, number six on the R&B album chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 27, 1967 - The Beatles manager Brian Epstein dies from an accidental overdose of the sleeping medication Carbitral mixed with alcohol. Epstein’s butler will find him in his bedroom, entering after there is no response. This incident occurs while the band are in Bangor, Wales attending a seminar on Transcendental Meditation by the Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Epstein was to have attended as well but never made it there. Brian Epstein was only 32 years old at the time of his death.

On this day in music history: August 27, 1967 - “I Was Made To Love Her”, the seventh album by Stevie Wonder is released. Produced by Henry Cosby and Clarence Paul, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from Late 1966 - Mid 1967. Titled after his recent R&B chart topper and top five pop hit, the album features covers of Ray Charles’ “A Fool For You”, James Brown’s “Please, Please, Please”, and Aretha Franklin’s then recent hit “Respect” as well as several Motown standards such as “My Girl” and “Can I Get A Witness”. “I Was Made To Love Her” will peak at number seven on the Billboard R&B album chart and number forty five on the Top 200.

On this day in music history: August 27, 1966 - “Blowin’ In The Wind” by Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #9 on the Hot 100 on September 3, 1966. Written by Bob Dylan, it is the third R&B chart topper and third top 10 pop single for the then sixteen year old Motown star. Written folk rock icon Bob Dylan in 1962, the song is a meditation on themes of war, peace, and freedom. He will record and release the song on his second album “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” in May of 1963. His version will be released as a single in August of 1963, but will not chart. In spite of this, it will go on to be one of his most popular and most recorded songs. Folk music trio Peter, Paul & Mary will be the first to bring widespread popularity to “Blowin’ In The Wind” when their version peaks at #2 on the Hot 100 on August 17, 1963. Stevie Wonder will record his version of the song after receiving many requests from fans who have heard him perform the song in his live show. Stevie’s producer Clarence Paul will sing co-lead vocals on the track. The song originally appears on Stevie Wonder’s 1966 album “Uptight”.

On this day in music history: August 26, 1995 - “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 12 weeks on the same date. Written by Seal , it is the biggest hit for the British born Nigerian/Afro-Brazilian singer, songwriter, and musician. Originally written for his second self-titled album released in 1994, “Kiss From A Rose” is almost left off of the album when Seal and his producer Trevor Horn feel initially that it sounds “too different” from the other songs on the album, planning to drop it from the final track sequence. A friend of Seal’s will hear the song and insist that he include it. When a Warner Bros A&R exec hears “Kiss”, he will play it for Gary LeMel, the president of music for Warner Bros movie division. LeMel will play the song for Batman Forever director Joel Schmacher who loves the song and asks to use it in the film. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on June 24, 1995, it will climb to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The song will drive sales of both Seal’s second self titled album and the “Batman Forever” soundtrack to multi-platinum status, as well as winning three Grammy Awards including Record and Song Of The Year for 1995. “Kiss From A Rose” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 26, 1989 - “It’s No Crime” by Babyface hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 on October 28, 1989, and also peaking at #5 on the Club Play chart on August 26, 1989. Written by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Antonio “L.A. Reid and Daryl Simmons, it is the first R&B chart topper and first Top 10 pop hit for the Indianapolis, IN born singer, songwriter, and producer. The track features Babyface playing most of the instruments on the track as well as his former Deele bandmates Kayo on bass and synth bass, De’Rock on percussion, and L.A. Reid on drums and programming. Face will begin writing the song around a keyboard preset he discovers on a synthesizer he’s playing. That industrial sounding beat will even carry over into the songs’ music video which is filmed on the grounds of a foundry. Issued as the first single from Babyface’s second solo album “Tender Lover” in May of 1989, it will become the songwriter and producer’s breakthrough hit as a solo artist, also being one of the four singles that drives sales of the “Tender Lover” album to 3x Platinum status in the US. “It’s No Crime” will be the eleventh R&B chart topper (thirty two chart toppers in his overall career to date), that Babyface has as a writer and or as a producer in just two years.