Today in rock history: on this date in 1980, British art rock band Roxy Music released its seventh studio album, Flesh + Blood. A departure from the band’s earlier avant-rock sound, the band adopted a slicker, more dance-oriented sound for this release and came up with another huge hit in its home country. Flesh + Blood was another No. 1 album for the band in England and featured three singles that charted well there too. “Over You,” “Same Old Scene” and “Oh Yeah” were all big hit singles for the band and furthered its popularity in Great Britain. Flesh + Blood also featured the band’s unique takes on Wilson Pickett’s soul classic “In The Midnight Hour” and “Eight Miles High,” a hit for The Byrds in 1966. The album cracked the Top 40 in America where the band had very little success yet retained a loyal, dedicated following.
TODAY IN ROCK HISTORY
Ric Ocasek is born, Elvis and Roxy Music release debut LPs
Today in rock history: on this date in 1980, ex-Genesis front man Peter Gabriel released his third solo album. Although the innovative singer chose to title all his albums using only his name at the time, this album is often referred to as Melt, a reference to the intriguing cover artwork that pictures the singer’s face melting. Considered to be his commercial breakthrough, the album featured the international hit single “Games Without Frontiers” and “Biko,” an anti-apartheid homage to Stephen Biko, an activist who was a political prisoner in South Africa and died in prison. Other standout tracks from this fine album that rose to No. 1 on British sales charts include “I Don’t Remember” and “No Self Control.” Guest artists on the album include singer Kate Bush, guitarist Robert Fripp, lead singer of The Jam, Paul Weller and Gabriel’s former band mate, Phil Collins.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1983, Confrontation, an album consisting of unreleased tracks and singles by reggae giant Bob Marley was released. Coming two years after Marley’s death, the record satisfied the demand for more of the legendary performer’s music following his untimely death at age 36. The most recognized song from this album is the classic “Buffalo Soldier” but it also features other Marley standouts like “Chant Down Babylon” and “Trench Town.” Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, the label for which Marley recorded, collaborated with Bob’s band The Wailers and backup singers The I-Threes to work on many demos and song structures that were never completed during Marley’s lifespan for inclusion on this record.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1980, pioneering British synthesizer act Human League released its second album, the experimental Travelogue. Boasting a totally different sound and feel than what would permeate the band’s delivery in years to come, the record was a cold, icy collection of songs that was influenced by Krautrock and David Bowie’s 1970s electronic albums like Low and Heroes. The album charted poorly as did the singles that came from it: a cover of Mick Ronson’s “Only After Dark” and a re-recorded version of one of Human League's earlier singles, “Being Boiled.” After the album failed to make much impact, two of the group’s founding members, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh, left to form another synth-pop band, Heaven 17, which would score a massive British hit with its debut album, 1981’s Penthouse and Pavement. Remaining members of Human League, singer Phil Oakey and Adrian Wright, decided to take the band into a different, more commercial direction. That resulted in its follow up album, 1981’s Dare!, which became the League's signature, best-selling album thanks to the international hit “Don’t You Want Me.” Travelogue enjoyed some chart success after the success of Dare! and sold better than it had upon its original release. A brave, bold snapshot of this influential band in its early state is still fascinating to listen to and shows Human League’s diversity.