Today in rock history: On this date in 1961, Terri Nunn, lead singer and focal point for racy California electronic new wave band Berlin, was born in Baldwin Hills, California. Serving as the band’s lead singer dating back to the late 1970s, Nunn left the band for a short spell while attempting to pursue an acting career. Getting work on several television shows, Nunn was offered a permanent role on the weekly television serial Dallas but turned down the opportunity in order to focus more on music. The mid-'80s found Nunn and Berlin getting plenty of exposure on MTV and scoring several dance club hits like “The Metro,” “No More Words” and the explicit but infectious “Sex (I’m A…),” but the band’s greatest success came when they landed the opportunity to record “Take My Breath Away,” the love theme from the 1986 blockbuster film Top Gun, which was co-written and produced by Italian electronic music legend, Giorgio Moroder. The song proved to be a massive hit, reached No. 1 on Billboard’s singles chart and won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe award for best original song from a film.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1975, The Basement Tapes, the 2-LP set comprising of outtakes and previously unreleased songs by Bob Dylan with The Band backing him, was released. Consisting of songs and recordings dating back as far as 1967, many of the songs on this collection had been heavily bootlegged for years due to the demand for these unheard treasures. Several unofficially released collections consisting of this material had flooded bootleg markets for years, making this collection the first time the songs included had been released officially. The two albums included in this set are chock full of great songs like “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere,” “Goin’ to Acapulco,” “Please Mrs. Henry” and the classic “This Wheel’s On Fire.” Recorded in and around the Woodstock, New York area following a serious motorcycle accident Dylan endured, this was a particularly prolific and productive period for Dylan and The Band, as evidenced by the wealth of great songs captured on this collection. The album was a commercial success and peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s pop albums chart and has since been re-released in deluxe, expanded editions that include many more recordings that originated from these legendary sessions. Read CL's 2008 review of this release here.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1956, musician, songwriter, singer and actor Chris Isaak was born in Stockton, California. Signed to Warner Brothers Records in the mid-1980s, success didn’t come instantly to the rockabilly-influenced crooner. His high, falsetto voice and his flashy suits were not exactly in vogue at the time but it was his sultry, seductive 1989 single “Wicked Game” that was the game-changer for Isaak. It made little impact upon its original release; it wasn’t until it was featured in the 1990 David Lynch film Wild at Heart that it became a hit and cracked the Top 10 on Billboard’s pop singles chart. Several hit albums followed along with parts in films like Silence of the Lambs, Little Buddha and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me as well as starring in his own short-lived but hilarious comedic Showtime series appropriately titled The Chris Isaak Show.
Today in rock history: On this date in 1990, influential indie-rock band Sonic Youth released its major label debut record, Goo. Signed to DGC Records, a division of Geffen Records, the album continued in the band’s trailblazing fashion and garnered rave reviews from a vast number of rock critics. Considered to be an important milestone for the band, Goo followed the band’s highly regarded 1988 indie classic Daydream Nation and bolstered the band’s place as one of America’s most vital underground rock bands at the time. The album featured the single “Kool Thing” which featured a guest appearance by Chuck D., the outspoken leader of legendary hip-hop outfit Public Enemy. The album’s cover artwork looked familiar to many buyers at it was created by Raymond Pettibon, the artist whose work adorned the covers of several records by California punk band Black Flag. Goo also featured notable Sonic Youth tracks like “My Friend Goo” and “Tunic (Song for Karen),” which references late Carpenters lead singer, Karen Carpenter.