80's groove

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On this day in music history: January 23, 1977 - “Animals”, the tenth studio album by Pink Floyd is released. Produced by Pink Floyd, it is recorded at Brittania Row Studios in London from April - December 1976. Following the success of their previous album “Wish You Were Here” and tour, Pink Floyd return to the studio in the Spring of 1976. The band record in their newly acquired recording facility Brittania Row Studios, a group of old church halls converted into a studio and named after the street in Islington, London where it is located. Based in part on George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, “Animals” is a concept album making pointed commentary on Britain’s class system at the time of its recording. The animals mentioned in the lyrics represent various classes in society, with the “dogs” and “pigs” representing the ruthless, ruling and business classes, and the “sheep” representing mindless followers. Consisting of only five tracks, three are extended pieces, bookended by short reprises of the song “Pigs On The Wing” at the beginning and end. The songs are nearly all written and sung by Roger Waters, with David Gilmour co-writing and sharing vocals with Waters on “Dogs”. Gilmour’s minimal contribution to the writing is due to him being preoccupied with the birth of he and his wife’s first child, and also because of mounting creative tensions and squabbles over money within the band. Things are particularly tense between Roger Waters and keyboardist Richard Wright, whose relationship has continued to deteriorate during this period, and carries over into the “In The Flesh Tour” mounted in support of “Animals”. It is also during a show in Montreal that Waters becomes agitated and spits on a fan in the front row, in which that incident becomes the catalyst for the next release, the landmark album “The Wall” in late 1979. The now iconic cover artwork for “Animals” is conceived by Roger Waters and designed by Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell of Hipgnosis. The cover features the famed Battersea Power Station located on the south bank of the River Thames, with a giant floating pig hovering between two of the plants’ smokestacks. The initial cover shoot for the album cover becomes part of rock & roll legend when the giant inflatable pig breaks loose from its mooring above the power plant and floats away, flying into the airspace of Heathrow Airport, then landing in a cow pasture some thirty five miles away in Kent. The final cover image features the pig superimposed above the power plant. Reissued numerous times on CD since its initial release in that format in 1985, it is most recently remastered and reissued in 2011. It is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in November of 2016. “Animals” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 4x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.  

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On this day in music history: January 23, 1976 - “Station To Station” (or “StationToStation”), the tenth studio album by David Bowie is released. Produced by David Bowie and Harry Maslin, it is recorded at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, CA from October - November 1975. Following the major critical and commercial success of the album “Young Americans”, David Bowie plays the lead role in the film “The Man Who Fell To Earth”, directed by Nicolas Roeg (“Performance”). After filming wraps, Bowie returns to the studio to begin work on a new album. Having explored soul music on “Young Americans”, Bowie continues his “Thin White Duke” phase, but also having become intrigued by German electronic bands such as Kraftwerk and Neu!, he also incorporates those musical stylings into the work in progress. The musical shift foreshadows the singers’ exodus from the US later in 1976 for Switzerland and Berlin, Germany. Bowie is also at the apex of his cocaine dependency at the time, and later is not able recall much of the work done during the ten days it takes to record the album. In spite of this, the sessions produce one of his most accessible and successful works, and marks another important transition in the chameleon like musicians’ career. It spins off two singles including “Golden Years” (#10 Pop) and “TVC 15” (#64 Pop). The album is remastered  and reissued on CD and as a 180 gram vinyl LP as part of the box set “David Bowie: Who Can I Be Now? (1974 - 1976)”. “Station To Station” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: January 23, 1988 - “The Way You Make Me Feel” by Michael Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on December 26, 1987. Written by Michael Jackson, it is the eighth R&B and ninth pop chart topper for “The King Of Pop”. While preparing and compiling material for his seventh solo album “Bad”, Michael Jackson writes over sixty new songs for the project during the three and half years he spends working on it. Along with producer Quincy Jones, he and Jackson pare down the songs down to the final eleven selected for the album. One of the stand outs is “The Way You Make Me Feel” which Michael wrote in 1986. Wanting to write something with a classic shuffle tempo like an old rhythm & blues tune, but casting it in a more contemporary context, Jackson pens the song quickly. The track is recorded at Westlake Audio in Hollywood, CA in early 1987. Released as the third single from “Bad” on November 9, 1987, it is another immediate smash. The song is accompanied by a nearly ten minute long music video, directed by Joe Pytka and produced by Mike Nesmith (of The Monkees), which features Jackson pursuing a young woman who catches his eye, played by model and dancer Tatiana Thumbzen. Entering the Hot 100 at #44 on November 21, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “The Way You Make Me Feel” makes history at the time as the artist with the most chart toppers in the 1980’s with seven number one pop singles, and the fourth male artist in the rock era to have three consecutive chart toppers. Two months after “The Way You Make Me Feel” tops the pop chart, Jackson turns in an electrifying and showstopping live performance of the song (along with the follow up hit “Man In The Mirror”) at the 30th Annual Grammy Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on March 2, 1988.

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Remembering Chicago lead guitarist and vocalist Terry Kath (born Terry Alan Kath in Chicago, IL) - January 31, 1946 - January 23, 1978

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(via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8Cfl8ZwkQE)

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On this day in music history: January 23, 1965 - “Downtown” by Petula Clark hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written and produced by Tony Hatch, it is the biggest hit for the British pop singer and actress from Epsom, Surrey, UK. The song is inspired by a trip that Hatch takes to New York in 1964. Originally intended for The Drifters, Hatch plays the still unfinished song for Petula Clark who immediately express interest in it. It is recorded at Pye Studios in London on October 16, 1964 and released a few weeks later in early November. The single is an instant smash, first climbing to #2 on the UK singles chart in December (held off the top by The Beatles “I Feel Fine”), then quickly taking hold on the US charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on December 19, 1964, it streaks to the top of the chart five weeks later. The single wins Petula Clark the Grammy Award for Best Rock & Roll Recording in 1965. Clark re-records the song in German, French, and Italian during its initial run on the charts. She later records it again in 1976 (as a disco version), in 1984 and once again in 1988, with remixes of the original 1964 recording done in 1988, 1999, and 2003. Petula Clark’s original recording of “Downtown” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2004.