On this day in music history: July 27, 1984 - “Ride The Lightning”, the second album by Metallica is released. Produced by Flemming Rasmussen and Metallica, it is recorded at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark from February 20 - March 14, 1984. After the underground success of their debut release “Kill ‘Em All” and the subsequent tour to support it, Metallica will begin writing new material for the follow up, road testing many of the new songs before going into the studio. For their sophomore release, the band will work with Danish recording engineer and producer Flemming Rasmussen, beginning a collaboration that will last over the next four years. They will work quickly, recording the new album in only three and a half weeks. Like their debut, “Lightning” is very well received by fans and critics, being praised as an “instant classic”, featuring several songs that will become staples of Metallica’s live concerts, including “Fade To Black”, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and “Creeping Death”. Without mainstream radio play, the album will be steady seller, moving more than a half million copies in short order, after the band signs with Elektra Records only seven weeks after its release by Megaforce. Elektra will re-release the album on November 19, 1984. “Ride The Lightning” will peak at #100 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
The 80’s classic film “Purple Rain” arrived in theaters on this day in 1984. Happy 30th anniversary to this iconic film!!
On this day in music history: July 27, 1984 - “Purple Rain” opens in US movie theaters. It is the feature film debut of music icon Prince, co-starring Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Jerome Benton, Olga Karlatos, and Clarence Williams III. The film directed by Albert Magnoli, and produced by Robert Cavallo, Stephen Fargnoli, and Joseph Ruffalo (Prince’s management team), is the semi autobiographical account of musician’s rise to fame. Prince will develop ideas for the story prior to and during the “1999 Triple Threat” Tour” (circa 1982 - early 1983). He will eventually enlist the help of veteran television and film writer William Blinn (“Eight Is Enough”, “Roots”) and director Magnoli to craft his ideas into the final script. Filmed on a modest budget of only $7 million, it will be shot on location in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, CA between November - December 1983. Released through Warner Bros, the film will open on 917 screens across the US. “Purple Rain” will top the box office chart in its first weekend of release, taking in $7,766,201 (knocking “Ghostbusters” from the number one spot), going on to gross more than $68 million domestically during its original theatrical run (more than $80 million currently). In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros will announce that “Purple Rain” will be available as a sell through home video release (on VHS, Beta, and Laserdisc), rather than just as a rental, in time for the 1984 Christmas holiday season. The move will prove to be a brilliant decision as the film will sell in then record numbers for a home video title, becoming one of the best sellers in the history of Warner Home Video. The films’ soundtrack will win Prince an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score in March of 1985.
On this day in music history: July 27, 1983 - “Madonna”, the debut album by Madonna is released. Produced by Reggie Lucas, John “Jellybean” Benitez, and Mark Kamins, it is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in New York City from May 1982 - April 1983. Proceeded by the singles “Everybody” and “Burning Up”, Madonna will work with former Mtume guitarist Reggie Lucas on the album until the two have musical differences during the sessions. Lucas will abruptly leave the project midway through the recording. Madonna will call upon her then boyfriend, club DJ, producer, and remixer “Jellybean” Benitez to help finish mixing and recording the album. It will sell slowly for the first few months of release until “Holiday” (#16 Pop, #25 R&B, #1 Club Play) is issued as a single in September of 1983. Within a year, it will spin off the top 10 hits “Borderline” (#10 Pop) and “Lucky Star” (#4 Pop). Its belated success will delay the release of the follow up album “Like A Virgin” (recorded in the Spring of 1984) by several months, it ascends the charts during the Spring, Summer and Fall of 1984. Original vinyl LP pressings of “Madonna” will include a shorter version of the track “Everybody” running 4:57. Later pressings will substitute it for the 12” version clocking in at 6:02. When the album is reissued in Europe with the title “The First Album”, it will include a longer alternate mix of “Burning Up” (running 4:48). The album will be remastered and reissued in 2001 with the track line up from the second LP pressing, and includes the original 12” dance mixes of “Burning Up” and “Lucky Star”. “Madonna” will peak at number eight on the Billboard Top 200, number twenty on the R&B album chart, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 27, 1981 - “Bella Donna”, the debut solo album by Stevie Nicks is released. Produced by Jimmy Iovine and Tom Petty, it is recorded at Goodnight L.A. Studios in Van Nuys, CA, Record One, and Studio 55 in Hollywood, CA from Autumn 1980 - Spring 1981. The first solo album by the Fleetwood Mac singer and songwriter, it features guest appearances by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and Don Henley. Nicks will actually begin writing and demoing material for the album as early as the sessions for Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” in 1979. Over the next year, Nicks will write more than two dozen songs before it is pared down to the final ten tracks included on the finished album. Some of the songs will later surface on other projects (“Gypsy” on FM’s “Mirage”, “Sleeping Angel” on the “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” soundtrack in 1982, and “I Sing For The Things” on Nicks’ “Rock A Little” in 1985). Three other songs from the recording sessions “The Dealer (aka Mistress Of My Fate)”, “Julia”, and “If You Were My Love” remain unreleased to this day. The album will spin off four hit singles including “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” (#3 Pop), “Edge Of Seventeen (Just Like The White Winged Dove)” (#11 Pop), and “Leather And Lace” (#6 Pop). “Bella Donna” will hit number one on the Billboard Top 200, and has been certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 27, 1972 - “All Directions”, the twelfth studio album by The Temptations is released. Produced by Norman Whitfield, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI and Hitsville USA West in Hollywood, CA from Early - Mid 1972. The group will initially be resistant to recording the tracks “Run Charlie Run” (about the mass exodus of white families from major urban centers to the suburbs) and “Papa Was Rolling Stone”, feeling their sensitive subject matter and lyrics will turn some fans off. Lead singer Dennis Edwards will especially object to the latter when the song’s lyrics hit a little too close to home. However, the group will relent and record the songs. “Papa Was Rolling Stone” will hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 (#2 R&B), winning three Grammy Awards including the groups’ second award for Best R&B Group Vocal Performance. “All Directions” will peak at number one (for 1 week) on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number two on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: July 27, 1970 - “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by Rare Earth is released. Written by Cornelius Grant, Eddie Holland, and Norman Whitfield, it is the second top ten hit for the Detroit, MI based rock/funk band. A cover of The Temptations 1966 classic, the band will work with the songs’ original producer and co-writer Norman Whitfield, giving it a stunning, extended psychedelic make over. Clocking in at over eleven minutes on the LP, it will be edited down to just over three and a half minutes for single release. Issued as the first single from the bands’ third album “Ecology”, “(I Know) I’m Losing You” will peak at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, and number twenty on the R&B singles chart on October 3, 1970. Rare Earth’s version of “(I Know) I’m Losing You” will also be sampled by the rap duo Black Sheep on the track “Try Counting Sheep” on their 1991 debut album “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”.
On this day in music history: July 26, 2000 - The P2P file sharing service Napster is ordered by a US federal judge to cease trading copyrighted music on their website within 48 hours. The music focused online website founded by Shawn Fanning, John Fanning and Sean Parker in 1999, is the subject of lawsuits of numerous recording artists like Metallica, Dr. Dre and various record labels when they find the sites millions of users illegally downloading mp3 digital files of their music. Metallica will discover that a demo version of their song “I Disappear” (from the as yet to be released film “Mission Impossible 3”) is being freely circulated before the song is even released. Also the single “Music” by Madonna” is also leaked on to the website before its official release. Among the allegations leveled at Napster include That its users were directly violating the plaintiffs’ copyrights. That Napster was responsible for contributory infringement of the plaintiffs’ copyrights. And that Napster was responsible for vicarious infringement of the plaintiffs’ copyrights. Napster will lose the case in District Court and is forced to close the website, though they will file an appeal. In May of 2002, Napster will announce that is selling its assets to the German media firm Bertlesmann for $85 million, then filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on June 3, 2002. An American bankruptcy court will block the sale on September 3, 2002, forcing Napster into Chapter 7 status, making them liquidate their assets. Napster’s brand and logo trademarks are purchased in an auction by Roxio who will rebrand their Pressplay paid music download service as “Napster 2.0”. Roxio will sell Napster to Best Buy who in turn will sell it to Rhapsody in 2011, who is the current owner of the company.
On this day in music history: July 26, 1986 - “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Peter Gabriel, it is the biggest hit for the British singer and songwriter. Influenced by 60’s soul music, especially the Memphis soul sound pioneered by Stax Records, Gabriel will hire the Memphis Horns to play on the track, and feature former Ikette P.P. Arnold as well as Dee Lewis and Coral Gordon on background vocals. The songs’ highly innovative and award winning music video directed by Stephen R. Johnson (“Pee Wee’s Playhouse”) also features contributions from the Aardman Animation Studio (“Wallace & Gromit”) and the Brothers Quay. Filmed using a stop motion technique in which Gabriel’s movements and lip synch are filmed one frame at at a time while lying under a sheet of plate glass for up to 16 hours a day for eight days. The process is painstaking and slow, and the clip will take over a month to complete. Released as the first single from Gabriel’s fifth studio album “So”, “Sledgehammer” will become an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on May 10, 1986, it will climb to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The video for “Sledgehammer” will win an unprecedented nine MTV VMA awards (still the record holder for the most wins in a single year), and by 2011 will become the most played clip in the history of the channel.
On this day in music history: July 26, 1975 - “One Of These Nights”, the fourth album by The Eagles hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 5 weeks. Produced by Bill Szymczyk, it is recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL and The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from December 1974 - March 1975. Following the success of their previous release “On The Border”, the Eagles will continue to move away from the country rock influences of their earlier work, toward a more hard rock and mainstream pop sound. Considered their breakthrough album, it will firmly establish them as one of the top American bands of the time, spinning off three top five singles including “Lyin’ Eyes” (#2 Pop) (Grammy Winner for Best Pop Performance by a Group in 1976), “Take It To The Limit” (#4 Pop), and the chart topping title track. The album will be the last to feature original founding member Bernie Leadon, who will leave the band following the tour in support of the record. “One Of These Nights” is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.