cbs columbia

Wham! featuring George Michael - Careless Whisper [1984; CBS, CBS/Sony, Columbia, Epic]

Released as George Michael’s first solo single outside the US, “Careless Whisper” works a fairly sedate ‘80s pop form with splashes of hot saxophone while Michael sings regrets of abused trust, occasionally spiking into falsetto pitches.  The instrumental version on the B-side brings some of the percussion out in more clarity, but as the mix balance was already pretty even, there’s few differences beyond that.  Light on depth, but for plastic soul, not too bad.

Here’s the alternate cover art.

The alternate cover art used in Brazil.

In Japan.

And Hong Kong.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 - “California Girls” by The Beach Boys is released. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, it is the fourteenth single release by the legendary pop/rock band from Hawthorne, CA. Following his retirement from The Beach Boys grueling touring schedule, Brian Wilson uses the time to explore and expand his creative genius, moving into one of the most prolific periods of his life. After taking LSD for the first time in early 1965, Wilson comes up with a chromatic run of chords while sitting at the piano, drawing inspiration from classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Quickly coming up with a melody, it evolves into what comes “California Girls”. Brian’s cousin and band mate Mike Love helps him complete the lyrics. The basic track featuring members of The Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine (drums), Al de Lory (organ), Leon Russell (piano) and Billy Strange (tambourine), is recorded at United Western Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 6, 1965. The songs orchestral prelude, initially discouraged by Brian’s father Murry as being “excessively complex” becomes one the most distinctive and most instantly recognizable parts of the composition. Another stand out feature of “California Girls” is its bass line, played by musician Carol Kaye on the session. The rest of The Beach Boys overdub their vocals on to the finished track, two months later on June 4, 1965 at CBS Columbia Square. Released in the mid-Summer of 1965, the song is an immediate smash, entering the Hot 100 at #72 on July 24, 1965, and peaking at #3 on August 28, 1965. “California Girls” breaks new musical ground for The Beach Boys, becoming one of their best loved and popular songs, as well as becoming an early marker for Brian Wilson’s work on the landmark albums “Pet Sounds”, “Smile” and the single masterpiece “Good Vibrations”. Nearly twenty years after the original recording, a cover version by Van Halen front man David Lee Roth (also featuring Carl Wilson on backing vocals), matches the peak position of The Beach Boys original, peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on March 2, 1985. The Beach Boys recording of “California Girls” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2010.

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On this day in music history: April 6, 1968 - “The Graduate - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 9 weeks (non-consecutive). Produced by Teo Macero, the album serves as the soundtrack for the Mike Nichols film starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft. It features new and previously released songs by Simon & Garfunkel as well as film score pieces written by Dave Grusin. Many of the previously released songs were originally used as “temporary tracks” chosen by director Mike Nichols, and remain in the film when Paul Simon (who is busy touring with Art Garfunkel at the time) is unable to come up with more new material. Released on CBS Records’ Columbia Masterworks label (reserved for film, Broadway cast, and classical releases that feature a grey label instead of the standard red Columbia label), the soundtrack includes two versions of S&G’s current hit “Mrs. Robinson” featured in the film, though neither is the hit single version which is included on Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bookends” album, which temporarily bumps the soundtrack from the number one spot. “The Graduate” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.