Today in rock history: on this date in 1994, leading Britpop band Blur released its third and (arguably) its most substantial album, Parklife. Although Britpop was at its peak with other bands like Oasis and Pulp selling tons of records at the time, Blur’s previous release, 1993’s Modern Life is Rubbish had performed below its expectations. With its follow up, the band constructed what’s often considered to be the defining album of the subgenre and of the time. A massive hit in the band’s native England, Parklife debuted at No. 1 on British album charts and enjoyed a whopping 90-week lifespan on U.K. sales charts. Hit singles from this fine album were plentiful. "Girls & Boys," "End of a Century," "To the End" and the album’s title track were all big hits in England and helped cement Blur’s place as one of the quintessential bands of the era.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1979, “Queen of Disco” Donna Summer released her seventh album, the 2-LP milestone, Bad Girls. The most popular and successful album of her catalog, the record occupied the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s pop and R&B charts for most of the summer of 1979 and produced several hit singles. Straddling the line between disco, soul, rock and roll and pop, Bad Girls had something for everyone on it. “Hot Stuff” and the album’s title track were both No. 1 hits and, for a period of time, were both lodged within the top three of Billboard’s pop singles chart making Summer the first female solo artist to achieve this rare and enormous feat. A multi-platinum selling album, Bad Girls also won Summer a Grammy award and became the best-selling album of her career. Other successful singles from this fantastic album include “Dim All the Lights,” “Sunset People” and “Our Love” which also helped keep Summer’s sultry songs on radio airwaves through 1980.
Today in rock history; Randy Rhoads killed in Leesburg airplane accident, Bob Dylan's 1962 debut and more
Today in rock history: on this date in 1980, heavy metal giant Black Sabbath released Heaven and Hell. the band’s ninth album. The record began a new chapter in the Sabbath story as it marked the introduction of powerhouse lead singer Ronnie James Dio to the lineup. After parting ways with original lead singer Ozzy Osbourne the year prior, the band joined forces with the diminutive singer with the huge voice who’d formerly fronted another legendary hard rock band, Rainbow. The pairing pleased both fans and critics alike. Heaven and Hell was positively received. It charted well in England and in the U.S. where it eclipsed sales figures for the last few Ozzy-era records the band had released. Singles from the record included “Neon Knights” and “Die Young” which helped the album achieve platinum sales figures in America and climbed all the way to the top 10 of British sales charts. Dio would remain Sabbath’s lead singer for only one more album, 1981’s Mob Rules before embarking on a successful solo career.
Today in rock history: on this date in 2006, Bruce Springsteen released his 14th album, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Interested in shedding light on the life and work of folk music legend Pete Seeger after partaking in a various artist tribute albums in his honor the year prior, Bruce decided to assemble his own tribute to the legend. Putting together a large band he called the Sessions Band to recreate the songs Seeger had popularized throughout his career, Springsteen’s ensemble featured tuba, violin, upright bass, banjo and several other instruments that helped add an air of authenticity to the readings of these decades-old songs. Although Seeger is not credited with writing the majority of the songs on the album, these were songs that he sang throughout his career and were often associated with him. Old American songs whose writers are either unknown or have become public domain dominate this spirited album and show a totally different side of Springsteen. The album charted surprisingly well, especially for being a collection of classic folk songs. It made it all the way to No. 3 on Billboard’s pop albums chart and landed Bruce a Grammy award for best traditional folk album of the year. Seeger himself was pleased with the record and the accolades Springsteen showered upon him. The success of the album led to a concert tour that found Bruce and the Sessions Band running through the bulk of the material on the album as well as some Springsteen classics.