On this day in music history: May 18, 1979 - “Lodger”, the thirteenth studio album by David Bowie is released. Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti, it is recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreaux, Switzerland and The Record Plant in New York City in September 1978 and March 1979 . The album is the third and final Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy”, his collaborative efforts with producer/musician Brian Eno, named as such since the songs are composed while the two are living in East Germany (though recorded elsewhere). More pop oriented than its predecessors “Low” and “Heroes”, but still maintaining an experimental edge. The albums two sides will feature songs that follow specific themes. The first side include songs representing travel, while the second side feature songs commenting on Western society. The album’s cover art (designed by Bowie and British pop artist Derek Boshier) features a photo (taken with a Polaroid SX-70 camera) of the singer posed as an accident victim with a broken nose sprawled out on his back. It will spin off two singles including “DJ” (#7 UK) and “Boys Keep Swinging” (#29 UK). To help promote the album, Bowie will make a now famous appearance on Saturday Night Live (on December 15, 1979, with performance artists Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias), where he will perform “TVC 15” and “Boys Keep Swinging” wearing a dress and as an anthropomorphic puppet respectively. “Lodger” will peak at #4 on the UK album chart and #20 on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: May 17, 1983 - “Reach The Beach”, the second studio album by The Fixx is released. Produced by Rupert Hine, it is recorded at Farmyard Studios in Cotswolds, Oxfordshire, UK circa late 1982/early 1983. Following up their modestly successful debut release “Shuttered Room” from the year before, the London based new wave/pop/rock band will come forth with their most successful album. Mid way through the sessions, bassist Alfie Agius will leave the band (only being featured on four tracks) and is replaced by Dan K. Brown. The album will spin off three singles including “Saved By Zero” (#20 Pop), “One Thing Leads To Another” (#4 Pop), and “The Sign Of Fire” (#32 Pop). In 2003, a remastered and expanded edition of the album will be released including extended mixes of “Saved By Zero”, and “One Thing Leads To Another”, along with the track “Deeper And Deeper” (originally issued on the “Streets Of Fire” soundtrack), and the previously unreleased “Going Overboard”. “Reach The Beach” will peak at #8 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 16, 1980 - “Freedom Of Choice”, the third studio album by Devo is released. Produced by Robert Margouleff and Devo, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from October 1979 - April 1980. The pioneering new wave bands’ third release will see their sound become more keyboard driven, incorporating them into their trademark guitar/bass and drums configuration. For this release, Devo will collaborate with producer and musician Robert Margouleff (Stevie Wonder, Tonto’s Expanding Head Band). The unique hybrid will yield their most successful album and will be regarded as a landmark album in the new wave genre. It will spin off four singles including “Whip It” (#14 Pop, #22 Club Play) and “Girl U Want”. “Freedom Of Choice” will peak at #22 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified Platinum by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 15, 1981 - “East Side Story”, the fourth studio album by Squeeze is released. Produced by Roger Bechirian, Elvis Costello, and Dave Edmunds, it is recorded at Eden Studios in London from Late 1980 - Early 1981. Originally conceived as a double album with different producers working on one half each, it will be pared down to a single album with Bechirian and Costello producing the bulk of it. It will also be the band’s first album to feature new vocalist and keyboardist Paul Carrack. Expanding on their trademark new wave sound, “East Side” is more musically diverse than their previous work, exploring a more pop oriented side of the band. The musical shift will broaden the band’s fanbase, especially in the US. It will spin off three singles including “Tempted” (#49 Pop, #8 Mainstream Rock) and “Is That Love” (#35 UK). “East Side Story” will peak at #19 on the UK album chart and #44 on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: May 11, 1979 - “Three Imaginary Boys”, the debut album by The Cure is released. Produced by Chris Parry, it is recorded at Morgan Studios in Willesden, London, UK, circa Fall of 1978. The first album from the band will feature nearly all original material written by the band with the exception of a cover version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” (recorded at a soundcheck) which is sung by bassist Michael Dempsey. It is added to the album against the wishes of bandleader Robert Smith, who will have it removed from the US release of the album (issued as “Boys Don’t Cry”). The record company will also design an album cover (an innocuous shot of a lamp, a refrigerator, and a vacuum cleaner placed side by side against a hot pink background) that does not meet with the band’s approval. Following these issues, Smith will exercise complete creative control over the band from the next album onward. “Three Imaginary Boys” will peak at #44 on the UK album chart.
On this day in music history: May 10, 1982 - “Rio”, the second studio album by Duran Duran is released. Produced by Colin Thurston, it is recorded at Townhouse Studios and AIR Studios in London from in October 1981, and January - February 1982. It will be the breakthrough album for the Birmingham, UK based pop/rock quintet on a worldwide basis. It will continue their success at home (quickly spinning off four hit singles), but will initially get off to a slow start in the US. Producer David Kershenbaum (Joe Jackson, Tracy Chapman), will be brought in to remix five tracks on the album with the aim of promoting them at dance clubs. Four of those tracks (“Rio”, “Hungry Like The Wolf”, “Hold Back The Rain”, and “My Own Way”) will be released as a 12” EP titled “Carnival” in September of 1982. Its success will motivate Capitol Records in the US to reissue the album in November with the remixed tracks and re-release the first single “Hungry Like The Wolf” (#3 Pop). By this time, MTV has begun playing the bands’ videos in heavy rotation which will give them major exposure, leading to radio adding the single. The albums’ iconic cover art, painted by artist Patrick Nagel (graphics by Malcolm Garrett of Assorted Images) will also become synonymous with the bands’ image. In 2001, a remastered CD of the album will be released in a mini gatefold jacket, with the disc featuring enhanced CD content including the music videos for “Hungry Like The Wolf” and the title track. It will be reissued again in 2009 as a 2 CD expanded edition that will also contain the Kershenbaum remixes and other bonus tracks. “Rio” will peak at #2 on the UK album chart, #6 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: April 28, 1979 - “Heart Of Glass” by Blondie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein, it is the first chart topping single for the New York City based new wave/rock band fronted by lead singer Debbie Harry. Debbie and Chris originally write the song in late 1974 - early 1975 as “Once I Had A Love” with a reggae flavored arrangement. It will continue to evolve as they retool the sound of the song, giving it a slow “four on the floor” disco beat, then re-titling it “The Disco Song”. Producer Mike Chapman along with the band will give it a dramatic makeover employing the use of synthesizers (Moog Polymoog, Roland SH-1000, the latter being triggered off the CR-78) and the Roland CR-78 drum machine which will give the song its signature “ticking” pulse. Released as the second single from the band’s third album “Parallel Lines” on January 3, 1979, “Heart Of Glass” will create an immediate sensation of the dancefloor that will quick spread to radio. Entering the Hot 100 #84 on February 17, 1979, it will climb to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The huge success of “Heart Of Glass” will be a double edged sword for Blondie as they will be accused of “selling out” by their fellow musicians on the New York punk and new wave scene for having made “a disco song”. “Heart Of Glass” will be certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: April 27, 1948 - Singer/songwriter/keyboardist Kate Pierson of The B-52’s (born Catherine Elizabeth Pierson in Weehawken, NJ). Happy 65th Birthday, Kate!!
On this day in music history: April 27, 1983 - “Whammy!”, the third studio album by The B-52’s is released. Produced by Steven Stanley, it is recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, The Bahamas in December 1982. Following the lukewarm response to the “Mesopotamia” EP, it is The B-52’s first proper album since “Wild Planet” three years before. The band will return to the trademark sound of their first two albums, augmenting it with drum machines and synthesizers. It will spin off three singles including “Legal Tender” (#81 Pop, #9 Club Play) and “Song For A Future Generation” (#9 Club Play). “Whammy!” will peak at #29 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified Gold by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 15, 1980 - “…But The Little Girls Understand”, the second album by The Knack is released. Produced by Mike Chapman, it is recorded at Whitney Studios in Glendale, CA in Fall 1979. Recorded in just seven days for under $10,000, the L.A. based bands’ second album is issued just eight months after their multi-platinum debut. The follow up will fare poorly in comparison with mounting backlash against the band escalating with many critics taking offense to the bands’ often sexually suggestive lyrics, and feeling that they are trying to align themselves with other classic rock acts, specifically The Beatles. The new album will spin off two singles including the “My Sharona” soundalike “Baby Talks Dirty” (#38 Pop), and selling only a fraction of what their debut album “Get The Knack” has. “…But The Little Girls Understand” will peak at #15 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.