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On this day in music history: December 3, 1965 - Rubber Soul, the sixth album by The Beatles is released (US release date is December 8th). Produced by George Martin, it is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London on June 17 and from October 12 - November 11, 1965. Recorded in just four weeks following their second world tour, the album will be a major artistic milestone in their career, demonstrating yet another great leap forward in the bands' material both musically and lyrically. The influence folk rock (particularly Bob Dylan and The Byrds) will be apparent on several tracks. No singles will be released from the album, but nearly every track will become an airplay staple over the years including "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," "Michelle," "Drive My Car," "In My Life," and "If I Needed Someone." The albums' iconic cover shot is taken by photographer Robert Freeman. He will change the original picture to its distinctive altered state after showing the band slides of the photo session projected on an LP sized piece of cardboard. When the cardboard falls backward it will slightly distort their faces into the now familiar image. Rubber Soul will top the UK album chart, Billboard Top 200 for eight weeks and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1965 - "We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper" by The Beatles is released (US release date is December 6th). Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the 11th US and ninth UK number one. McCartney will begin writing "We Can Work It Out" on his own, with Lennon helping him finish it by composing the song's bridge. "Day Tripper" on the other hand is started by Lennon who will come up with the chorus and the songs' signature guitar hook, with McCartney writing the verses. The pair will complete the song in an afternoon, later admitting that it was a "forced composition" since the band needed a new single to release in time for Christmas. The double A-sided single is released concurrently with the album Rubber Soul, though it will not be included on the set. "We Can Work It Out" is recorded on October 20, 1965, taking 11 hours of studio time to complete. The flipside, "Day Tripper," is recorded four days before on October 16th. It will chart in the UK with both sides reaching #1. In the US, "We Can" will spend three weeks (non-consecutive) at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "Tripper" will peak at #5.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1965 - My Generation, the debut album by The Who is released. Produced by Shel Talmy, it is recorded at IBC Studios in London in April and through October 11 - 14, 1965. The majority of the of Who's first album is recorded in just four days of studio time and includes covers of the band's favorite R&B numbers as well as originals by Pete Townshend. The title track will be their biggest hit in the UK peaking at #2. It will spin off three more singles including "The Kids Are Alright" and "A Legal Matter." The album will be released in the US with a slightly altered track listing as The Who Sings My Generation in April of 1966. In 2002, the album will be mixed into true stereo for the first by the original producer Shel Talmy, who has been in possession of the original 3 track session tapes since the recording sessions some 37 years before. The stereo version is released as part of a two-CD deluxe edition. "My Generation" will peak at #5 on the UK album chart.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1966 - "Winchester Cathedral" by The New Vaudeville Band hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks (non-consecutive). Written and produced by Geoff Stephens, it is the biggest hit for the UK band led by Stephens. The song is composed in the style of a 1930's Tin Pan Alley pop song, with singer John Carter (formerly of The Ivy League) singing through a megaphone like singer Rudy Vallee. Stephens, a professional songwriter from London responsible for writing pop classics such as "The Crying Game" and "There's a Kind of Hush," will write the song as a lark, being a fan of British music hall era songs from the teens and '20s. The song is a surprise hit on both sides of the Atlantic, also peaking at #4 on the UK singles chart and selling over a million copies in the US. Ironically, "Winchester Cathedral" will win a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary (Rock & Roll) Recording over The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" which will temporarily knock "Cathedral" from the #1 spot on December 10th.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1968 - "Elvis" (a.k.a. "The '68 Comeback Special"), airs on the NBC television network. Directed by Steve Binder (The T.A.M.I. Show), the special will be a major turning point in Presley's career. Having spent the majority of the '60s making two to three films a year, Elvis had not performed in front of a live audience in over seven years. Scheduled to be aired during the Christmas holiday season, Elvis and his manager Colonel Tom Parker are ambitious to make the show more than just Christmas carols. The program features Elvis performing elaborate production numbers as well as in front of an intimate studio audience with members of his original '50's era band. Initially, Presley is hesitant to performing in front of a live audience, but Binder will reassure the singer and offer support. The special is both a major artistic triumph and a ratings blockbuster, setting the wheels in motion for Presley to re-establish his music career after nearly a decade of making movies that had tarnished the singers' reputation both musically and image wise.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1976 - The photo shoot for Pink Floyd's album Animals goes awry when the 30 foot tall helium-filled inflatable pig suspended above the Battersea Power Station in London breaks free from its moorings and floats away. An APB will be issued to aircraft flying in the area to be on the lookout for "a giant flying pig." The balloon will eventually land in a cow pasture in Kent. It will be discovered by the owner of the farm, furious that the giant pig has frightened his cows. Eventually the final cover art for the album will feature the pig superimposed against the background.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1988 - "Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby)" by Will To Power hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week, also hitting #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Written by Peter Frampton, Allen Collins, and Ronnie Van Zant, it is the biggest hit for the Miami-based trio. The single is a medley combining Frampton's "Baby I Love Your Way" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird." The midtempo ballad is a dramatic turn from the group's more uptempo Freestyle dance club oriented material. The group will score one more top 10 pop single with a cover of 10cc's "I'm Not In Love," peaking at #7 in January of 1991.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1994 - "On Bended Knee" by Boyz II Men hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks (non-consecutive), also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written and produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, it is the third chart topping single for the Philadelphia-based R&B vocal quartet. The group will meet the producers at the NBA All Star Game in Minneapolis when they approach Jam & Lewis about writing something for their new album. A couple of months later, they will respond with "On Bended Knee." The single is an immediate smash, entering the Hot 100 at #14 on November 19th, pole vaulting to #1 two weeks later. The song will be in a tussle for the top spot with Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes The Hotstepper," with Kamoze bumping the Boyz from the top spot after two weeks. "Hotstepper" will hold at number one for two weeks. "On Bended Knee" will regain the top spot, spending another four weeks at the top. Boyz II Men will make history as the first group in 30 years to replace themselves at the top of the Billboard pop singles chart. They had just ended a record breaking 14 week run at #1 with their previous single "I'll Make Love To You," when "Knee" replaces it in the top spot. The Beatles had previously achieve this feat in 1964 when "She Loves You" replaces "I Want To Hold Your Hand" at #1.