On this day in music history: September 16, 1991 - “Laughing Stock”, the fifth album by Talk Talk is released. Produced by Tim Friese-Greene, it is recorded at Wessex Studios in London from September 1990 - April 1991. The band’s first new album since departing their longtime label EMI Records (releasing it in the UK on Verve Records and in the US by Polydor Records, both distributed by Polygram Group Distribution), the band is also reduced to a duo at this point (consisting of lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Hollis, and drummer Lee Harris) with bassist Paul Webb having left prior to the recording sessions. In the studio, Hollis and Harris will be musically supported by hired musicians and longtime producer Tim Friese-Greene. The album will see them going in an even more experimental direction than before, veering away from their trademark synth-pop/art-rock sound. The band will often improvise during the recording sessions, with a number of the tracks having a jazz influenced sound. In many ways the album will defy easy catagorization, leaving Polygram at a loss as to how to market it properly, especially in the US. As a result of its poor sales, Talk Talk will split up months after its release in 1992, though in time it will be regarded as one of their finest works. “Laughing Stock” will peak at number twenty six on the UK album chart and will not chart on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1988 - “Eazy-Duz-It”, the debut album by Eazy-E is released. Produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella, it is recorded at Audio Achievements in Torrance, CA from Late 1987 - Mid 1988. Released on the heels of NWA’s first album “Straight Outta Compton”, the first solo release for the Ruthless Records founder will have a similar trajectory to success. Masterfully combining Dre’s beats with Eazy’s distinctive voice and delivery (with lyrics mostly written by Ice Cube and MC Ren), it will follow in vein of NWA’s debut. In spite of receiving only minor radio exposure (due to the explicit language and violence depicted on many tracks) and play for the music videos, it will go platinum shortly after its release. It will spin off three singles including “We Want Eazy” and the title track. It will go on to be regarded as a definitive hardcore rap album, and a classic of the genre. “Eazy-Duz-It” will peak at number twelve on the Billboard R&B album chart, number forty one on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1983 - “Let The Music Play” by Shannon is released. Written by Chris Barbosa and Ed Chisolm, is it the debut single and biggest for the R&B vocalist from Washington DC. Raised in Brooklyn, NY since childhood, by early 1983, twenty five year old Brenda Shannon Greene is a recent graduate of the American Academy Of Dramatic Arts in New York City, and is doing post graduate studies at York University. While still in college, Greene will sing with the New York Jazz Ensemble. It is while she is with the group that Shannon will meet producer Quentin Hicks. Impressed with her voice, Hicks will set up an audition for Shannon with Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa, staff songwriters and producers at independent dance label Emergency Records. Liking what they hear, the producers will play her a demo of a song written by Barbosa and Ed Chisolm originally called “Fire And Ice”, which she will agree to record. Liggett and Barbosa will take her into the studio the same day to record her vocals on the track. The lyrics are re-written and the song is re-titled “Let The Music Play”. Recorded at Greene Street Studios in New York City in July of 1983, musician Rob Kilgore (Man Parrish, Xēna (aka Lisa Fischer)) will play all of the instruments on the track including synthesizers and programming the Roland TR-808 drum machine. The 808 will be MIDI’ed(Musical Instrument Digital Interface) with a Roland TB-303, a rudimentary thirteen key bass synthesizer that will give the song its distinctive and immediately identifiable sound. Emergency will release “Let The Music Play” as a 12” single in mid-September of 1983. The record will create an immediate sensation on the street and on dance floors in New York, and in other major cities around the world. “Let The Music Play” will be picked up for wider distribution by Atlantic and re-released on their Mirage Records imprint. That same Fall, Shannon will go back in the studio with Liggett and Barbosa to record a full length album to capitalize on the success of the single. “Let The Music Play” will mark a major sea change in the evolution of dance and club oriented music. The record’s acceptance by US Top 40 pop radio, will be the first time that dance music receives widespread exposure, since being virtually blackballed from mainstream radio after the end of the Disco Era. “Music” will go on to sell more than eight million copies worldwide, also introducing the genre of “Freestyle” into the vernacular of club culture, with its distinctive syncopated Latin and Hip Hop influenced rhythms, dominating dance music for the rest of the 1980’s. “Let The Music Play” will spend six weeks at number one on the Billboard Club Play chart on October 29, 1983, peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart, #8 on the Hot 100 in February of 1984, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1979 - “Rapper’s Delight”, the debut single by the Sugarhill Gang is released. Written by Michael Wright, Hank Jackson, Guy O’Brien, Sylvia Robinson, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the debut release biggest hit for the New Jersey based rap trio. Recorded at Joe and Sylvia Robinson’s All Platinum Studios (redubbed “Sugar Hill Studios”) in Englewood, NJ, the rhythm track and vocals will be recorded entirely live in a single take. Though technically not the first rap record released (“King Tim III (Personality Jock)” by Fatback is released a few weeks before in August of 1979), it will spread the New York City underground phenomenon beyond its five boroughs to the rest of the US, and the world. The song is an instant smash and at its sales peak is selling over 30,000 copies a day. Initially released only as a 12” single, it will sell over three million copies in the US alone (featuring the full unedited version on one side (original labels list the timing as 15:00, though the actual running time is 14:29), and a edited version on the flipside (listed as 6:30 on the label, the actual running time is 7:10) ). It is later revealed that the verses by Big Bank Hank were actually written by Grandmaster Caz (aka Curtis Fisher) of The Cold Crush Brothers but will not receive a writing credit or receive royalties from sales of the record. Chic members Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers will also have to sue Sugarhill for proper credit and royalties since the song borrows the music (also cutting in the strings from Chic’s record) from the band’s recent smash “Good Times”. “Rapper’s Delight” will peak at #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, and #36 on the Hot 100. The single will be a huge international hit as well, peaking at #3 on the UK singles chart and hitting number one in Canada and The Netherlands.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1977 - “Talking Heads: 77”, the debut album by Talking Heads is released. Produced by Talking Heads with Tony Bongiovi and Lance Quinn, it is recorded at Sundragon Studios in New York City from Late 1976 - Mid 1977. The band’s first album contains several songs were written during the bands’ residency at the legendary punk rock club CBGB’s in New York City. The single “Psycho Killer” (#92 Pop) will become one of their signature tunes and one of their most enduring. The album will be remastered as a DualDisc CD in 2005 with one side featuring a standard redbook CD with five bonus tracks, and the other side containing a DVD-A (DVD Audio) version of the album with the original stereo mix and a high definition 5.1 Surround mix (remixed by E.T. Thorngren and Jerry Harrison), with two live performance videos of the band performing “Pulled Up” (Live at Sproul Plaza in Berkeley, CA in 1978) and “I Feel It In My Heart” (Live at The Kitchen in New York City in 1976). It will also see its first release on vinyl in nearly twenty years when it is reissued as a 180g LP on Record Store Day in April of 2009. “Talking Heads: 77” will peak at number ninety seven on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1972 - “Black And White” by Three Dog Night hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by David Arkin and Earl Robinson, it is the third chart topping single for the L.A. based band. The song is originally written in 1954 by songwriters Earl Robinson and David Arkin (father of actor Alan Arkin), it is inspired by the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown v. The Board Of Education which outlawed racial segregation in public schools. The song was first recorded by Pete Seeger in 1956 and by Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1957. Three Dog Night will hear the song while on a tour of Europe (on a Dutch radio station) covered by the Jamaican band Greyhound. Sung by Danny Hutton, Three Dog Night’s version will be an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #61 on August 12, 1972, it will climb to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Black And White is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1963 - “She Loves You” by The Beatles is released in the US. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the band’s third single to be released in the US. The single is issued on Philadelphia, PA based indie label Swan Records after both Capitol and Vee Jay Records pass on releasing it, in spite of it going straight to the top of the UK singles charts. At first the single will receive only minimal exposure and bubble under the charts. After the band breaks through with “I Want To Hold Your Hand a few months later, Swan will reissue “She Loves You” in January of 1964, and it will re-enter the chart hitting number one on the Hot 100 on March 21, 1964.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1959 - “Shout” by The Isley Brothers is released. Written by Rudolph Isley, Ronald Isley, and O’Kelly Isley, Jr. it is the seventh single release for the family vocal trio from Cincinnati, OH. After recording a handful of singles for tiny indie labels Teenage, Cindy, and Mark X Records, The Isley Brothers will sign with RCA Victor Records in 1959. The idea for what will become “Shout” is born out of an on stage improvisation while the Isleys are performing a cover version of Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops” at a club in Washington DC. Noting the crowd’s enthusiatic response, the brothers will craft the refrain of “you know you make me wanna shout” into a complete song. When they get back to New York, the Isleys will show the song to their producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore (Sam Cooke, Perry Como) who will agree that the song has the potential to be a hit. It is recorded at RCA Victor’s Music Center Of The World in New York City on August 5, 1959. The nearly four and half minute long song is split into two parts and is issued as a single. Once released, oddly “Shout” will only receive minimal radio play peaking at #47 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 26, 1959, and not charting on the R&B singles chart at all. But the song will have great longevity, becoming a rhythm & blues and rock & roll standard, being covered by numerous artists over the years and becoming part of the live performance repertoire of many musicians. “Shout” will achieve popularity again in the 70’s when it is covered by Otis Day & The Knights for a memorable scene in the comedy “Animal House”. The Isley Brothers original recording of “Shout” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.
On this day in music history: September 15, 1983 - “Sports”, the third album by Huey Lewis And The News is released. Produced by Huey Lewis And The News, it is recorded at The Plant Studios in Sausalito, CA, Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, and The Automatt in San Francisco, CA from Early - Mid 1983. The band’s third release is recorded at a time of uncertainty for them and their label Chrysalis Records. Having achieved success with their second album “Picture This” and the Top 10 hit “Do You Believe In Love?”, palpable pressure will be put on the band to match or exceed that success. In the interim, the independently distributed Chrysalis is experiencing financial problems (due to overspending and mismanagement), which are alleviated when it signs a distribution deal with CBS Records prior to the release of “Sports”. Upon its release, it will be the Marin County, CA based bands’ breakthrough, launching them into national and international prominence. It will spin off five hit singles including “Heart And Soul” (#8 Pop), “I Want A New Drug” (#6 Pop) and “The Heart Of Rock & Roll” (#6 Pop), becoming the second highest selling album of 1984 (behind Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”), also becoming one of the most popular and best selling albums of the 80’s. The album’s famed cover artwork features a color tinted photo of the band taken at the 2 AM Club, a local bar in Mill Valley, CA where Huey Lewis And The News often performed in their early days. In May of 2013, a 2 CD thirtieth anniversary reissue of “Sports” will be released featuring a remastered version of the original album, along with a second disc featuring live versions of the songs recorded during the 80’s and in 2012. “Sports” will hit number one on the Billboard Top 200 on June 30, 1984, is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 15, 1979 - “In Through The Out Door” by Led Zeppelin hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 7 weeks. Produced by Jimmy Page, it is recorded at Polar Studios in Stockholm, Sweden from November - December 1978. The album is completed while the band are on tax exile from the UK, recording at ABBA’s studio in Sweden. The sessions will be less cohesive than on past Zeppelin albums with the band being split into two camps. Both Jimmy Page and John Bonham are struggling with drug and alcohol problems, missing much of the recording that goes on during the day (overdubbing their parts at night) with Robert Plant and John Paul Jones working mostly during those hours. Jones will also utilize his newly acquired Yamaha GX-1 keyboard (also known as “The Dream Machine”, the first polyphonic synthesizer ever made) on several tracks throughout the recording sessions. Though it will receive largely mixed reviews upon its release, it will have the longest run at the top of any of their albums on the US charts. “In Through The Out Door” is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.