Today in rock history; The Pixies' Surfer Rosa is released, Brothers Johnson says “Get The Funk Out Ma Face” and more

Madonna releases 'Like A Prayer," and Bonnie Raitt returns in the 'Nick of Time,' too.

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Today in rock history: on this date in 1988, Massachusetts-based indie rock band The Pixies released its first full length album, Surfer Rosa. Following its 1988 debut EP, Come On Pilgrim, the band was greeted with fantastic reviews and critical praise for its debut album. Released on well-respected British independent label, 4AD Records, Surfer Rosa ended the year on several best-of lists and its release unanimously crowned the band as one of the leading American alternative acts of the era. Although the record didn’t chart impressively, it’s been regarded as one of the most influential albums of its time. The album features one of the band’s most recognizable songs, “Gigantic,” as well as other substantial songs like “Cactus” and “Where Is My Mind?.” Surfer Rosa was later re-released by major label Elektra Records which had signed the band in America and went on to achieve gold sales status after the band had become more recognized and had firmly established itself as a creative, unique and influential outfit.

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Today in rock history: on this date in 1976, funk/soul group The Brothers Johnson, featuring real life brothers guitarist George Johnson and bassist Louis Johnson, released its first album, the funk classic, Look Out for #1. Breaking out with this incredibly successful album, the group managed to lodge the record onto the top 10 of three of Billboard’s album charts: pop, jazz, and soul. Hit singles from the album include “Get The Funk Out Ma Face” and the No. 1 R&B hit “I’ll Be Good to You.” The impressive group of musicians who appear on this landmark album include jazz players Dave Grusin, Billy Cobham, Lee Ritenour among many more. Produced by Quincy Jones, this was the first in a very long line of successful, crossover records the Brothers Johnson would release through the 1970s and into the 1980s.

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Today in rock history: on this date in 1989, world famous pop singer and icon Madonna released her fourth album, Like A Prayer. At the height of her success, the album was another multi-country No. 1 album for the provocative singer. Described as a deeply personal album, Like A Prayer delved lyrically into several topics that were intimately relevant for the singer including the death of her mother and her upbringing with her family. The record featured several hit singles; among them were some of Madonna’s best-known and most beloved songs like “Express Yourself,” an anthem of female empowerment, “Cherish” which was reminiscent of the sounds of girl groups of the past and, of course, the funk-dance influenced title track which was another No. 1 hit single for the singer. The album was not without controversy; after landing a massive endorsement deal with Pepsi-Cola who signed on to sponsor Madonna’s upcoming “Blond Ambition” tour and feature her in television commercials, religious protesters who were outraged by what they felt was sacrilegious and blasphemous imagery in the “Like A Prayer” video threatened to boycott Pepsi for its involvement with the singer. Blasted by The Vatican and demonized by conservative groups, Pepsi felt the heat and decided to sever all ties with Madonna quickly and, as a result, let Madonna keep the $5 million dollar advance the company fronted for the venture. Like A Prayer has gone on to sell over 15 million copies worldwide since its release.

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Today in rock history: on this date in 1989, respected blues/pop guitarist and singer Bonnie Raitt release her 10th album, Nick of Time. Following a long string of fairly unsuccessful albums which resulted in her being dropped from her longtime record label, Warner Bros. Records, Raitt took a long break from the music business and came back with a brand new album after being signed to a different record label, Capitol Records. Nick of Time became the most successful and best-selling album of Raitt’s long career. Featuring several hit singles including the John Hiatt-penned “Thing Called Love,” “Have a Heart” and the title track, the album featured a more pop-oriented sound for Bonnie and was produced by in-demand record producer Don Was. Nick of Time sold in excess of 5 million copies in the U.S., went all the way to the top of Billboard’s pop albums chart and won Raitt three Grammy awards including the statue for Album of the Year. Many longtime fans felt that this kind of success and popularity was long overdue for this influential musician who’d been releasing albums for almost 20 years by the time her talents were widely recognized with the release of this blockbuster album.

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