July – More music history#1 – Jarre, Cramps, Liberation, NWT, LFO, dubstep

1977

International release of Jean Michel Jarre‘s (*) first electronic album Oxygene.

It’s recorded using ARP, Korg, Mellotron, RMI, Farfisa and Peter Zinovieff‘s EMS VCS 3 synths among others. It sells an impossible 15 million copies (reaching UK#2) and ignites much interest in synth-pop.
▷Deep space pioneers▹ (*)

Electronic Music Studios    OGG: Oxygene   ( Website  ~ Jarrography 

1979

UK release on blue vinyl

Release of garage punk/psychobilly band The Cramps‘ debut multi-track Gravest Hits. Human Fly 

Lux, 1956

Produced by Alex Chilton, the EP is issued on newly-founded Miles Copeland III label I.R.S. Records.

Lux Interior and Poison Ivy, a cute couple from Ohio, head the band.
Naked Girl  Lux Interior tribute   ( Website

1980

Liberation

Moog Music releases the first commerically-produced keytar synth, the Moog Liberation. Jarre/Liberation 

It’s ‘essentially a Moog Concertmate MG-1 fitted with a neck and a strap.’ A 40-foot cable connects the keyboard to a rack unit.
▷Moog product timeline▹ (*)

1980

Regularly taped punk/new wave show New Wave Theatre begins airing for 30 minutes at 10pm on Los Angeles KSCI (UHF 18), then Theta Cable channel 3.

Hosted by musician, composer Peter Ivers and produced by David Jove, it’s picked up by the fledgling USA Network the following year for its long-running Night Flight series. (*)

Ivers, best known for a song he wrote for David Lynch film Eraserhead, will be murdered in 1983. (*)

1990

Varley, Bell

English electronic music act LFO has a UK#12 single with their first track LFO.

It’s the first top-20 for the new, and soon to be very important, Warp label, founded in Sheffield in 1989. The same month, Warp act Tricky Disco has a UK#14 single. Within 2 years Warp is shepherding albums by acts like Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Richie Hawtin.

 ( LFO site  ( Warp site LFO-Freak 

2002
XLR8R magazine uses the word dubstep on the cover, nailing the name of an electronic music style evolving since 1998 and growing large.

With their picture on the cover, Horsepower Productions new album In Fine Style(*) on Tempa gets much attention. H.D.N. 

The May, 2007 The Wire issue #279 has an 8-page ‘dubstep primer’.

▷Straight Outta Croydon▹ ▷RYM:Dubstep primer▹ ▷Big Apple Records▹  ( Tempa site

July 4 – Stephen Foster, Lovin’ Spoonful

1826

Pennsylvania birth of the ‘father of American music’, Stephen Collins Foster.

Foster’s work includes Oh! Susanna, My Old Kentucky Home, Old Black Joe, Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair, Beautiful Dreamer  and Swanee River .

Some of his early work is made famous by New York blackface group Christy’s Minstrels. As a pioneer pop music composer (285 songs) (*) and abolitionist, Foster enjoyed little profit from his work. In 1864, ill while living in NYC’s Bowery, he fell and struck his head and soon died — aged 37.

In 1970 he’s inducted into the Songwriter HoF.

 ( Website ▷CAM-Foster▹ ▷PBS bio▹ Harmony Lane (1935 bio, 82m) 

See also: Minstrel show, The New Christy Minstrels

1966

NYC pop-rock band The Lovin’ Spoonful, led by John Sebastian, release soon-to-be US#1 hit, Summer in the City on Kama Sutra Records.
‘Live’ 

Written by Sebastian’s brother Mark, it’s from the album Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful which peaks at US#14. The recording is unusual at the time for including a number of samples of city ambience, including a jackhammer.

Other hits by the band include Do You Believe In Magic , You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice and Daydream .

Sebastian (playing the Hohner Pianet) and guitarist Zal Yanovsky got their start in a group called The Mugwumps(*), which later included The Mamas & the Papas members Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. In 1967, Yanovsky is replaced by Jerry Yester, one of nearly 300 people who wandered through folk revival machine The New Christy Minstrels.

In 1969 Sebastian is drafted for an unscheduled acoustic performance at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair when rainwater makes the stage too dangerous for electric instruments. He sings I Had a Dream, which becomes the opening track of the famous, US#1 soundtrack album.

In 2000 the Spoonful is inducted into the Rock HoF.

 ( Spoonful site  ( Sebastian site ▷Sebastian interview ▹

July 1 – The Band, Phillips sells Sun, Walkman, Punk docu, Love Parade

1968

Canadian rock group The Band releases debut album Music from Big Pink (UK#21, CA#35, US#30).
 
At the time single The Weight  — written, as were many of the band’s top songs, by Robbie Robertson — would only make US#68. Later on it became widely popular, particularly after it’s heard in 1969 film Easy Rider. (*) In 2004 the song is ranked #41 in Rolling Stone’s top 500 songs.
 
There are five more top-40 albums in following years. The Band joins the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Rock Hall of Fame in 1994.
 
 ( Website  ( Band fansite About The Weight and its covers

1969

Sam Phillips sells the legendary Sun Records studio in Memphis.
 
Sun, which started up on Mar. 27, 1952, ignited the careers of many 50s rockers, like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison … as well as country greats like Johnny Cash and Charlie Rich.
 
The day after Sam dies in 2003, the 706 Union Avenue studio becomes the first recording studio to be declared a National Historic Landmark (NRHP#03001031).

1979

Sony introduces the Walkman tape cassette player.
 
It’s the biggest improvement in portable music since the advent of the transistor radio.

1981

Release of LA punk rock scene documentary film Decline of Western Civilization. (*)
 
Directed by Penelope Spheeris, it includes the bands Black Flag, The Germs, X and Circle Jerks.

1989

The first Love Parade electronic dance music fest takes place in Berlin, Germany … months before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
 
Sadly, a tragedy in 2010 leads to the cancellation of the event. ‘Somewhere along the way to that feeling of unity, of responsibility for each other, lost.’

See also: List of electronic music festivals

June 30 – Gary Numan Are Friends Electric?, Donna Summer Bad Girls

1979

Gary Numan with British group Tubeway Army reach UK#1 with hit single Are ‘Friends’ Electric?.
 
It’s the first electronic/synthesizer-based record to become a hit in the post-punk era. The single appears on the second and last Tubeway album, Replicas, also a UK#1. The album’s setting and lyrics are directly inspired by the science fiction of Philip K. Dick. (*)
 
In Sep. 1979 Numan begins a long solo career with the release of The Pleasure Principle (UK#1) followed a year later by Telekon (UK#1).
 
 ( Website

1979

Disco Fever: Donna Summer holds the US#2 and US#3 positions with Hot Stuff and Bad Girls, both tracks from international top-10 album Bad Girls.
 
Born in Boston in 1948, in 1967 Summer was cast in the German version of Hair and moved to Munich. In 1974 she meets Giorgio Moroder, releases debut album Lady of the Night, and is heard on German TV show Disco.
 
While Euro disco is heating up (Boney M.‘s Daddy Cool is a EU#1 in late 1976) Summer has a US#2 hit with Love to Love You Baby in 1975.
 
Released in July 1977, club anthem I Feel Love  — said to be the first disco-style song recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track — is an international top-10.
 
By 1977 she has 5 consecutive US top-40 albums, becoming the first artist to chart with three consecutive double albums — and eventually selling over 130M records worldwide.
 
 ( Website

June 2015 Web stuff

If you or anyone you know ever “joined” the Columbia House record “club” (“Any 11 tapes or records for $1 !!) you might enjoy reading about (this 72-minute Vimeo) about someone who worked there … it’s called The Target Shoots First.

• WNYC’s Note to Self podcast discusses backing-tracks in Why Live Music Won’t be Live for Long. (from Sep. 2014. 22m)

Hear Alex and Manoush go on a journey of discovery to find out why backing tracks enraged him so much when he found out his favorite band was less live than he thought.

• In Slate’s After Altamont, Jack Hamilton looks at how the Rolling Stones set about making the Sticky Fingers album.

It opens with the most morally vacant piece of music to ever hit the top of the charts. “Brown Sugar … Jagger himself summed it up as “all the nasty subjects in one go.”

Continue reading

June 29 – First live concert recording, Gordon Lightfoot, Cyberpunk

1888
Cylinder recording

The earliest known live concert recording is made on a paraffin cylinder. Drawing

It records a performance of Georg Friedrich Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt, sung by several thousand singers in The Crystal Palace Handel Festival. Illustration

(The first festival was held on May 26, 1784. The first at the Palace was in 1857 with tens of thousands attending. Thereafter it is repeated every three years from 1859-1926.)

The Crystal Palace recording ▷NPS:Edison recordings ▹ ▷NYT:Restored Edison cylinders ▹ Recording Palace

1974

Canadian country and folk singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot has a US#1 single with Sundown.

Lightfoot also had US top-10 singles in 1971 with If You Could Read My Mind and in 1976 with The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Lightfoot’s craftsmanship and demeanor bring him a lifelong international audience.

1993

Brit rocker Billy Idol releases electronic album Cyberpunk, recorded at home. Shock

Idol had three US top-20 albums in the 80s (for example the Generation X hit Dancing with Myself . This concept album, whipped out using a Macintosh computer running Studio Vision and Pro Tools software, stalls at US#48 (though it reaches UK#20).

The beginning of the cyberpunk sci-fi genre — and/or the cyberdelic subculture — is often tied to the publication of William Gibson novel Neuromancer in 1984. Among other music associated with cyberpunk: Vangelis‘ 1994 Blade Runner soundtrack, 2007 Nine Inch Nails album Year Zero, and the ongoing electro-industrial albums of Vancouver’s Front Line Assembly.

See also: ‘Cyberpunk’ music and bands

June 28 – Adolphe’s Saxaphone, Jerry Lee Lewis

1846
1860 Sax model

Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax, flautist and clarinetist, patents his saxophone.

From 1840-44 he developed two families of seven saxhorn instruments for bands and orchestras (*) in his father’s shop ‘with the brass body of the ophicleide (a kind of bugle), the conical bore of the oboe, the fingering and keywork of a flute and the mouthpiece and single reed of the clarinet’.
Early models

His patent expires in 1866; over the next century, extra keys and alternate fingerings are developed. Originally intended for use by military bands, the sax is picked up by big bands; in the 1920s it’s easier to record than bigger instruments and comes into jazz.

After Claude Debussy‘s 1901 Rhapsody for Orchestra and Saxaphone, it gradually becomes a part of many important orchestral works. In the mid-1940s Charlie Parker brings the alto-sax into bebop. It’s also a part of rock’n’roll (never mind Courtney) since the beginning (e.g. Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock, Tequila by The Champs , Comanche by The Revels ). All in all, one of the few instruments heard across the music genre spectrum.

▷Inventor of the saxophone ▹ ▷80s Pop sax revival ▹ ▷Sax in Rock videos ▹

1957
Jerry rips it up

Rockabilly singer Jerry Lee Lewis (b.1935 in Louisiana) makes his first appearance on The Steve Allen Show, performing Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.

The song, Lewis’ first hit, climbs to USC&W#1 for two weeks in September. Previously recorded on March 21, 1955 by Big Maybelle for Okeh, the song will be covered dozens of times … just like Lewis’ next hit, Great Balls of Fire (the title of a 1989 biopic).

“The Killer” becomes a rock pioneer and his Sun Records recordings a legacy. He transitions into C&W music and regularly charts in the 70s and 80s. A dozen gold records win him a place in the Rock Hall of Fame in 1986.

( Website )