Tom Dowd came into this world in October, and he left it in October, too, but between 1925 and 2002, the man engineered and produced a plethora of classic songs and albums...but only after he worked on the Manhattan Project.
Yes, really. Tom Dowd was definitely one of a kind.
Despite his aptitude for physics, Dowd’s first love was most definitely music: he grew up playing a variety of different instruments, which is none too surprising for a kid whose mom was an opera singer and dad was a concertmaster. Although he studied music at City College of New York and went on to be a conductor at Columbia University, it was at the latter educational institution where he worked at the physics lab, and after being drafted into the military, he found himself working on the atomic bomb. Unfortunately, he couldn’t secure any college credit for the work he’d done for the Manhattan Project at Columbia, which led him into a summer job at a classical music recording studio.
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44 years ago today, Pink Floyd’s first album to be specially mixed for four-channel quadraphonic sound also became their first album to hit #1 in the UK.
Released in the UK on October 2, 1970 and in the US eight days later), the rehearsals for Atom Heart Mother originated in the wake of the band’s work on the Zabriskie Point soundtrack. The title track featured contributions from Ron Geesin, likely best known to Floyd fans for his collaboration with Roger Waters on the Music from The Body album; by most reports, Geesin had a great deal to do with whipping the track into shape, putting together an orchestral arrangement which added a much-needed structure to the existing recording.
Speaking of albums...
What bothers me more than the boo-hoo of those mourning the inability of today's audience to spend time with today's long players, never mind pay for them, is the complete disappearance from public consciousness of albums that are great from start to finish from the past, like Amanda Marshall's debut.
Credit for which must be given to writer and producer David Tyson as well as Ms. Marshall, she's worked with people since, but rarely captured the magic.
Now you might be unaware of Mr. Tyson, but he cowrote and produced Alannah Myles's "Black Velvet," one of the signature tracks of the early nineties. One of my great pleasures was getting a phone call from Ahmet Ertegun after writing that the track was dead in the water. Ahmet, in his inimitable voice, told me to pay attention, that they were going to push the button, and they did.
That's the power of a major label.
44 years ago today, Mick Jagger released his very first solo single, a song which was taken from the soundtrack of the film that provided him with his first chance to be a movie star.
With the Rolling Stones running neck and neck with the Beatles as the biggest band in the world, Jagger was certainly a familiar face to teenagers everywhere, but he had a hankering to step off the stage for a bit and step in front of the camera. The role of Turner wasn’t what you’d call a tremendous stretch for Jagger, given that the character was a former rock star, but it certainly provided him with some unforgettable onscreen moments with Anita Pallenberg and Michele Breton, and it also gave him a chance to check “get shot in a movie” off his to-do list.
In addition to serving as Jagger’s motion picture debut, the original plan of action was for the Stones to write the film’s soundtrack as well, but things didn’t end up panning out that way. Now, maybe that was because of how close things were getting between Jagger and Pallenberg, who was actually in a relationship with Jagger’s bandmate, Keith Richards, at the time, and maybe that didn’t have anything to do with it. All that really matters is that the soundtrack ended up being culled together from tracks by Randy Newman, Merry Clayton, Ry Cooder, Jack Nitzsche, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and the Last Poets.
38 years ago today, Chicago found themselves atop the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in their career with a song written and sung by bassist Peter Cetera, thereby firmly establishing him as the band’s go-to guy for romantic ballads.
Released as the second single from Chicago X (with the first being “Another Rainy Day in New York City,” another Cetera composition), “If You Leave Me Now” was the biggest hit of the band’s career up to that point, spending two weeks at #1 in the US and three weeks at #1 in the UK while also going on to top the Australian, Canadian, and Dutch charts. In addition, the song went on to win Grammy Awards for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group, or Chorus, and ultimately shifted platinum-level units, which is pretty impressive for a single.