Today in rock history: on this date in 1984, British post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen released its lush, shimmering fourth album, Ocean Rain. Featuring some of the Liverpool-based band’s strongest singles like “The Killing Moon,” “Silver” and “Seven Seas,” the album showed another side of the band. Much of the album was recorded with a 35-piece orchestra accompanying the band which helped make Ocean Rain sound like none of the group’s earlier records. Released initially to mixed reviews, the album went over well with the band’s dedicated followers. While some critics renounced the band’s softer, more orchestral approach on the record, it proved to be a huge hit in England where it reached the top 10 on album sales charts and prompted one of the most successful and well-attended tours the band had undertaken to that point.
YES, IT'S THE BEASTIE BOYS
Today in rock history; Yes releases its debut LP, Beastie Boys go to Paul's Boutique, Mayfield is Superfly and more
Today in rock history: on this date in 2012, Beastie Boys founding member Adam Yauch, better known by his stage name, MCA, passed away at the age of 47. Yauch was diagnosed with cancer and, despite undergoing radiation and surgery, was not able to overcome it. The multi-talented Yauch was a songwriter, singer, musician, rapper and film director. Many of the music videos that accompanied Beastie Boys singles were directed by Yauch who went under the pseudonym Nathanial Hörnblowér for those projects. Forming the band while in his teens, Beastie Boys was originally a hardcore punk outfit before morphing into a hip-hop trio. Yauch was instrumental in the group’s rise to fame which resulted in the very first time a rap album hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s pop albums chart when Licensed to Ill, the Beastie’s debut album achieved that feat in 1986. Admired immensely by his musical contemporaries, an outpouring of tributes and homages came about when Yauch passed away. His death led to the demise of the wildly successful hip-hop trio with a loyal, dedicated following who decided to call it quits at that time.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1973, prog rock heavyweight Yes released its first live album, the 3-LP set, Yessongs. Packaged in a deluxe, tri-fold album jacket featuring stunning artwork from Roger Dean who designed several covers for the band, the record captured Yes on stage while on its successful tours in support of the band's last two albums, 1971’s Fragile and 1972’s Close to the Edge. A bona fide hit in both England and America, Yessongs climbed to the top 10 on British album charts and just missed that milestone here in the States. Although criticism regarding the album’s sound quality was always an issue, the record still managed to become a platinum selling success in several countries around the world and helped bolster the reputation and the stature of the world’s best-selling prog rock band.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1974, Michigan hard rock band Grand Funk Railroad hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s pop singles chart with its rocking, revved-up version of Little Eva’s 1962 pop hit, “The Loco-Motion.” Written by legendary songwriting duo Carole King and her husband, Gerry Goffin, the original song spawned a brand new dance that was invented soon after its release. Grand Funk had the idea of recording the song when, while working on its forthcoming album, Shinin’ On, singer and guitarst Mark Farner was randomly whistling the song. The more modernized version took over the No. 1 spot for two straight weeks and helped the Todd Rundgren-produced album from which it hailed achieve gold sales status. The original version of the song, too, had been a No. 1 single soon after its release which made this one of the only times in pop music history that the same song has gone to No. 1 for two different artists. Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue also recorded a version of the song in 1987 that made it as high as No. 3 on American charts but was a worldwide smash and introduced her to audiences all over the globe.