On this day in music history: June 7, 1982 - “Built For Speed”, the US debut album by the Stray Cats is released. Produced Dave Edmunds, Hein Hoven and The Stray Cats, it is recorded at Eden Studios, Jam Studios in London and AIR Studios in Montserrat, W.I. from Early - Late 1981. The first American album by the Massapequa, LI, NY rockabilly trio is a compilation that features six tracks from their self-titled UK debut and five tracks from their second UK album “Gonna Ball”. Heavily influenced by 1950’s rockabilly music pioneers like Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Bill Haley & His Comets, and Gene Vincent, the band garner a solid following playing bars and clubs in their native Long Island, NY and New York City punk venues like CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City. They get their big break when they move to England in 1980, and they meet musician Dave Edmunds (“I Hear You Knocking”). They are quickly signed by Arista Records in the UK and land a spot as the opening act for The Rolling Stones. EMI-America Records in the US sign them and release “Speed”. “Stray Cat Strut” (#3 Pop) is initially released as the first single a few weeks after the album in July of 1982. Top 40 radio programmers unsure of what to make of the band, greet the record with indifference. The Stray Cats fortunes turn around when “Rock This Town” (#9 Pop) is issued in September. Accompanied by a memorable video clip, MTV begins airing it, and radio soon catches on, with the single hitting the top ten before Christmas. “Strut” is then re-released the same month, entering the chart the week of Christmas, rocketing up the chart and into the top five by the end of February 1983.
The albums sales propelled by the two singles are very strong, but is unable to grab the top spot on the pop album chart, held off by Men At Work’s “Business As Usual” and then Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
Out of print on vinyl in the US since 1989, it is reissued as a 180 gram LP as part of the “From The Capitol Vaults” reissue series in 2008. “Built For Speed” spends fifteen weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 2, 1981 - “Morning Train (Nine To Five)” by Sheena Easton hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on the same date. Written by Florrie Palmer, it is the biggest hit for the pop vocalist from Bellshill, Scotland. A graduate of the Scottish Royal Academy Of Music And Drama, Easton sings in band while still a student. One of her tutors at the academy encourages her to audition for the BBC TV program “The Big Time”, an early “reality TV show in which various unknown talents rises to stardom are documented. The producers of the show are so impressed with Easton that they secure her an audition for EMI Records who quickly sign her. Paired with producer Christopher Neil (Mike + The Mechanics, Marillion), Sheena’s first single "Modern Girl” is released prior to the airing of her series of episodes. It performs disappointingly at first, stalling at #56 on the UK singles chart. After the series begins airing, her second single “9 To 5” is released in May of 1980, and is an immediate smash, peaking at #3 on the UK singles chart. On the heels of that success, “Modern Girl” is reissued and this time peaks at #8. After those back to back successes, “9 To 5” is picked up for US release by EMI-America Records in late January of 1981(amended to “Morning Train (Nine To Five)” to avoid confusion with the recent chart topper by Dolly Parton). Entering the Hot 100 at #74 on February 14, 1981, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The major chart success of “Morning Train (Nine To Five)” along with the follow up “Modern Girl” (#18 US Pop) and the James Bond theme song “For Your Eyes Only” (#4 US Pop, #8 UK), leads to Easton winning the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1982. “Morning Train (Nine To Five)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: May 20, 1976 - “Changesonebowie”, the eleventh album by David Bowie is released. It is the first compilation of Bowie’s hits on RCA Records from 1969 to 1976. The album also marks the first appearance of the track “John I’m Only Dancing” on an album. The song had been previously issued as a stand alone single in September of 1972. The first 1,000 copies of the UK LP have the “sax version” of the song, a re-recorded version cut in January of 1973. It issued as a single in the UK in April of 1973, using the same catalog number as the first pressing. The compilation subsequently switches out the “sax version” with the original release on future pressings. “Ziggy Stardust” is also issued as a single A-side in tandem with the compilations release to help promote it. “Changesone” is also briefly reissued on CD in 1985 by RCA, but is quickly withdrawn after Bowie acquires the rights to his master recordings. The album also spawns a sequel compilation titled “Changestwobowie” released in November of 1981. After both titles are deleted, another Bowie hits album titled “Changesbowie” featuring tracks from both albums with songs from the “Let’s Dance” and “Tonight” albums (originally released on EMI-America Records) is released in 1990, while Bowie’s catalog is distributed by Rykodisc. It too is deleted when the Bowie’s catalog is licensed to EMI Records worldwide. On May 20, 2016, the album is reissued on vinyl for the first time in over two decades, to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of its original release. Parlophone/WMG presses the new reissue on black and limited edition clear 180 gram vinyl. “Changesonebowie” peaks at number two on the UK album chart, number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.