For four consecutive years in the 1970s, September 1 was a magical day – four classic rock albums from three classic bands were released. Pretty amazing. And rock radio is still playing many songs from all four of these albums forty years later!
September 1, 1975
FACE THE MUSIC, the fifth album by the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA (ELO) was released. This was the album in which Jeff Lynne began to perfect his classical orchestrated sound onto the palette of “radio-friendly” pop/rock songs. It was the first ELO album to go platinum.
Bass player Mike de Albuguerque and cellist Mike Edward quit in January 75, and were replaced by Kelly Groucutt and classically-trained cellist, Melvyne Gale. Groucutt also gave the band a second strong vocalist, who sang lead on “Poker” and traded vocals with Lynne on “Nightrider.”
FACE THE MUSIC produced two Top Fifteen singles, “Evil Woman (no. 10) and “Strange Magic” (no. 14).
September. 1, 1976
One year (to the day) that FACE THE MUSIC was released, ELO released A NEW WORLD RECORD, which continued Jeff Lynne’s shift toward shorter pop/rock songs, with layers of strings on top.
The album contained four hit singles, “Living Thing” (no. 14), “Telephone Line” (no. 8), “Do Ya” (no. 24), and “Rockaria” (did not chart in America, but it one of Jeff Lynne’s best records).
September 1, 1977
RUSH released their fifth LP A FAREWELL TO KINGS. After touring behind their previous album 2112, the group reached a new critical and commercial peak. One year before, RUSH was in danger of being dropped by their label, until the success of 2112.
The album was recorded in three weeks, followed by two weeks of mixing. Peart said that 2112 made the band sound confined in their sound, so for A Farewell to Kings, the group decided to write material that featured instruments they could play naturally as well as new ones, thus allowing them to play multiple instruments when performing on stage. As a result, A Farewell to Kings features Peart playing orchestra bells, tubular bells, chimes, and other percussion; Geddy Lee playing double neck bass (a Rickenbacker 4080) and Minimoog; and Alex Lifeson on new guitars and for the first time, a Moog Taurus bass pedal synthesizer (used by both Lee and Lifeson). Prior to recording, Rush completed a short tour in 1977 which saw the group perform “Xanadu” prior to recording. Apart from early ideas for “Closer to the Heart”, the majority of the album was developed in the studio.
The album would become Rush’s first US gold-selling album, receiving the certification within two months of its release, and was eventually certified platinum. After the success of this LP, their previous album “2112” took off and ended up selling more copies than A Farewell To Kings.
September 1, 1978
STYX released their eighth album, PIECES OF EIGHT. Like the band’s previous album, The Grand Illusion, Pieces achieved triple-platinum certification, thanks to the hit singles “Sing for the Day”, “Blue Collar Man” and “Renegade”.
The band members produced and recorded the album at Paragon Studios in Chicago with recording engineer Barry Mraz and mixing engineer Rob Kingsland. “I’m O.K” was recorded at Paragon and St. James Cathedral. This would be the last album to be produced at Paragon Studios.