On this day in music history: September 29, 1992 - “Dirt”, the second album by Alice In Chains is released. Produced by Dave Jerden and Alice In Chains, it is recorded at Eldorado Recording Studios in Burbank, CA, One On One Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA, and London Bridge Studios in Seattle, WA from March - May 1992. Issued as the follow up to their 2x Platinum selling debut “Facelift”, the dark and heavy tone of the album will be influenced by the band members problems with depression, alcohol and substance abuse, especially present in lead singer Layne Staley’s lyrics. In rehab when the sessions begin, Staley will relapse and begin using heroin and oxycodone, which will complicate his relationships with his bandmates and producer Jerden. In spite of the behind the scenes drama, the sessions are successfully completed. The album will be very well received upon its release and will be regarded as one of the best rock albums of the 90’s. It will spin off five singles including “Them Bones” (#24 Mainstream Rock), “Rooster” (#7 Mainstream Rock) and “Would?” (#5 Mainstream Rock), the latter also being featured in the film and soundtrack to Cameron Crowe’s “Singles”. “Dirt” will peak at number six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1992 - “Core”, the debut album by Stone Temple Pilots is released. Produced by Brendan O’Brien, it is recorded at Rumbo Recorders in Los Angeles, CA from Early - Mid 1992. Originally known as Mighty Joe Young when they form in 1986, the band will be forced to change their name (right before signing with Atantic Records) when their attorney informs them there is a blues musician billing himself as “Mighty Joe Young” had adapted the name first. Stone Temple Pilots name will be inspired by STP motor oil logo that the members had seen growing up. They will take the initials and devise a few different names before deciding on their final moniker. The first album by the Long Beach, CA based rock band will at first be lambasted by critics as being “a rip off” of grunge bands such as Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains. But it will quickly spin off four singles including “Plush” (#1 Mainstream Rock) and “Wicked Garden” (#11 Mainstream Rock). The band will win a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1993 for the single “Plush”. In November of 2013, the album will be reissued on LP for the first time in more than twenty years, as a numbered limited edition on clear gold vinyl for Black Friday Record Store Day. “Core” will peak at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1992 - “Us”, the sixth album by Peter Gabriel is released (UK release is on September 28, 1992). Produced by Daniel Lanois and Peter Gabriel, it is recorded at Real World Studios in Box, Wiltshire, UK from October 1989 - June 1992. Issued as the long awaited follow up to his breakthrough album “So”, the songs explore the numerous issues in Gabriel’s personal life, including the break up of his first marriage, and his relationship with actress Rosanna Arquette, and growing distance in his relationship with oldest daughter Anna-Marie. It will spin off three singles including “Digging In The Dirt” (#24 UK, #52 US Pop), “Kiss That Frog” (#46 UK) and “Steam” (#10 UK, #32 Pop). The music videos for “Digging In The Dirt” and “Steam” will win Gabriel Grammy Awards for Best Shortform Video in 1993 and 1994. The musician will also support the album with the “Secret World Live” Tour which will be documented with a concert video (also winning a Grammy Award for Best Longform Music Video in 1996) and album released in 1994. “Us” will debut in its peak position of number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1986 - “Brotherhood”, the fourth album by New Order is released. Produced by New Order, it is recorded at Jam Studios in London, Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland, and Amazon Studios in Liverpool, UK from Early - Mid 1986. Stylistically, the album combines the band’s earlier post-punk roots with the electronic dance sound that will broaden their audience throughout the decade. The centerpiece of the album is the single “Bizarre Love Triangle”, which will provide New Order with their breakthrough in the US. Though It will fail to chart on the Hot 100, the song will be a huge hit on the dance chart (thanks to remixes by Shep Pettibone) peaking at #4 on the Billboard Club Play chart and #8 on the Hot Dance Singles Sales chart. For the track “Every Little Counts”, the band will devise an ending to the song in which it sounds like the needle is skipping off the end of the record, indirectly paying homage to the end of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” which UK vinyl copies featured a concentric inner groove that would play over and over again (on turntables without an auto return tonearm) until the needle was lifted off of the record. “Brotherhood” will peak at number nine on the UK album chart, and number one hundred sixty one on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1984 - “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince & The Revolution hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on October 6, 1984. Written and produced by Prince, it will be second consecutive chart topping single for the Minneapolis, MN born artist. Issued as the second single from the “Purple Rain” soundtrack, the song is heard over the opening sequence of the film. The basic track is recorded live at Prince’s rehearsal space “The Warehouse” in St. Louis Park, MN in the Summer of 1983, after Prince asks recording engineer Susan Rogers to pull out all of the recording equipment out of his home studio, and install it in the band’s rehearsal space. Recorded in the large open space without any separation between instruments and electrical interference from other sources in the building, the band will get the master take of “Crazy”. Additional overdubs and final mixing for “Let’s Go Crazy” are completed at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA. Both the 45 and 12” single versions of “Let’s Go Crazy” are backed with the non-LP B-side “Erotic City (Make Love Not War Erotic City Come Alive)” featuring Sheila E.. Prince will be inspired to write and record “Erotic City” after seeing Parliament/Funkadelic perform live at the Beverly Theatre in Los Angeles. Going right to Sunset Sound after the show, he will lay down all of the instrumental tracks by himself, then inviting Sheila to sing with him on the song. The track will quickly become a fan favorite and receive substantial radio airplay, in spite of the fact that the word “f*** is heard throughout. Though Warner Bros. will claim that “funk” is what is being said, which later turns out not to be true. Stations now playing the record air a censored version deleting the expletive from the song. Issued as the follow up to the mega smash “When Doves Cry” on July 18, 1984, nine days before the opening of “Purple Rain” in US theaters, it will quickly surge up the charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #45 on August 8, 1984, it will climb to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Let’s Go Crazy” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1980 - “Hotter Than July”, the nineteenth album by Stevie Wonder is released. Produced by Stevie Wonder, it is recorded at Wonderland Studios in Los Angeles, CA, I.A.M. Studios in Irvine, CA, and Crystal Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA from Late 1979 - Mid 1980. Following the relative commercial failure of his previous album “Journey Through The Secret Life Of Plants”, Wonder will return eleven months later with the critically acclaimed and highly successful follow up “July”. Recorded concurrently with “Journey”, it includes a number of tracks that were not thematically or musically suited to be included on the previous album. It will spin off four hit singles including “Master Blaster (Jammin’) (#1 R&B, #5 Pop) which is dedicated to Bob Marley. It is with this album that Wonder will officially launch his campaign to make Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday (January 15th) a national holiday, via the song “Happy Birthday”. Copies of the original vinyl LP will contain an inner sleeve with one side featuring a portrait of Dr. King along with Wonder’s request for others to join him in honoring the legendary Civil Rights leader. The other side features black & white photos taken during the height of the the Civil Rights movement. The US Government will make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday (or the third Monday in January on whatever date that falls) a national holiday in 1986, thanks to the musician’s tireless efforts to make it happen. “Hotter Than July” will spend thirteen weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, number three on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1977 - “The Stranger”, the fifth album by Billy Joel is released. Produced by Phil Ramone, it is recorded at A&R Recording Studios in New York City from July - August 1977. After making significant headway with his second studio album “Piano Man” in 1973, Billy Joel’s next two albums “Streetlife Serenade” and “Turnstiles” will be critical favorites, but will only fare modestly commercial wise. For his next album, Joel will connect with producer and engineer Phil Ramone, who will prove to be great ally in the studio, marking the beginning of a nearly decade long run of major success. It features instrumental support from Joel’s touring band as well as guest musicians Hugh McCracken, Richard Tee, Hiram Bullock, Phil Woods, and Ralph MacDonald. Anchored by the singles “Just The Way You Are” (#3 Pop) and “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)” (#17 Pop), it will become Joel’s commercial breakthrough. In 2008, the album is reissued for its thirtieth anniversary as a 2CD + 1 DVD set, with the first CD featuring a remastered version of the original album, disc two containing a live concert recorded at Carnegie Hall in New York City on June 3, 1977, previewing many of the albums’ songs before recording them in the studio. The DVD features live performance clips, a television appearance on the British music series The Old Grey Whistle Test from 1978, and a thirty minute long documentary on the making of the album. ”The Stranger” will spend six weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 10x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1973 - “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on October 13, 1973. Written and produced by Stevie Wonder, it is the seventh R&B chart topper for the prolific musician and songwriter. Issued as the first single from his landmark “Innervisions” album, the song is on the charts while Wonder is recovering from a devastating car accident which will leave him in a coma for four days. While still in a coma, Stevie’s road manager Ira Tucker, Jr. will lean down and sing the melody to “Higher Ground” in his ear and Stevie will respond by moving fingers in time with song. Recorded at Mediasound Studios in New York City, “Higher Ground” will be a virtual “one man show” with Wonder playing all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals on the track, with co-producers Bob Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil programming the synthesizers. The Red Hot Chili Peppers will score a hit with their cover version of “Higher Ground” when they record it for their 1989 album “Mother’s Milk”, even name checking Stevie Wonder in their version.
On this day in music history: September 29, 1958 - “It’s All In The Game” by Tommy Edwards hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks, also topping the Rhythm & Blues chart for 3 weeks (non-consecutive) on the same date. Written by Charles Dawes and Carl Sigman, it is the biggest hit for the pop vocalist from Richmond, VA. “It’s All In The Game” is originally written in 1911 as an instrumental titled “Melody in A Major” by Charles Dawes who would later serve as Vice President of the United States under President Calvin Coolidge. Songwriter Carl Sigman will write lyrics for the song in 1951 when Tommy Edwards first records it. Edwards original version will peak at #18 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart in the Fall of 1951. By 1958, Edwards has been without a major hits for nearly four years, and his label MGM Records is on the verge of dropping him, but has one final session to go on his contract. Edwards will re-record “It’s All In The Game” with a new arrangement and in stereo, making it one of the first stereo 45’s released by MGM Records. The new version is released in early August of 1958 and is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #40 on August 25, 1958, it will race to the top of the chart five weeks later. “It’s All In The Game” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 28, 1988 - “Let’s Get It Started”, the second album by MC Hammer is released. Produced by MC Hammer and Felton Pilate, it is recorded at Felstar Studios in San Francisco, CA in Mid 1986 and Mid 1988. Newly signed to Capitol Records, the album is a revamped version of Hammer’s self-released debut “Feel My Power” which will over 60,000 copies as an independent release on his own Bust-It Records. The new release will replace five songs from “Power” with six new tracks including “Turn This Mutha Out” and “Pump It Up”. “Let’s Get It Started” will spend one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number thirty on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.