The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs

Eric Fucking Clapton: I’ve been blowing hot and cold on the guy for decades now, and would most likely completely despise him (for his racist comments, innumerable mediocre solo LPs, and general lack of a chin, to say nothing of “Tears in Heaven”) were it not for the ace up his sleeve, namely 1970’s Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos. One of rock’s greatest albums, Layla offers up a vision of a Clapton one will find nowhere else. Impassioned, funky, and loose, the Clapton of Layla is a man free at last of the shackles of this supergroup or that, and he has something to prove. Which he does, on a bunch of songs that sound as fresh, frenetic, world-weary, heartbroken, and wild as they did when they were recorded.

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs has been one of my favorite LPs since the early seventies. I played the hell out of my older brother’s copy, and was not above listening to the title track 10 or so times in a row, while playing air guitar before the mirror to its remarkable coda. It’s sublime, that coda, one of the most sublime things I’ve ever heard, and I’ve never tired of it and I never will.

The story behind the double LP is well known. Clapton hooked up with a stellar cast of musicians (Bobby Whitlock on organ, piano, vocals, and acoustic guitar; Jim Gordon on drums, percussion, and piano; Carl Radle on bass and percussion; and coup of all coups, Duane Allman on guitars), all but Allman being alumni of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, with whom Clapton, happy to be sideman for once, had been playing. Clapton and Whitlock co-wrote a good number of the originals, five were covers, and so on. The musical rapport between Clapton and Allman was, by all accounts, instantaneous, and Clapton was thrilled by his sidemen, saying later, “Carl Radle and Jimmy Gordon are the most powerful rhythm section I have ever played with” and calling Gordon “the greatest rock’n’roll drummer who ever lived.” (Those are strong words coming from a guy who played with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce.)

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD Live: Waters at
the Roxy, 1/22

PHOTOS: MANNY HEBRON | There’s one thing that’s almost as exciting as seeing a great show, and it’s seeing a band in the early stages of being great—where you know that they’re really good now but after 200 shows, they’ll be amazing. This is Waters, a stellar work in progress with infinite potential and we were thrilled to be there to see the very beginnings of what could possibly be our new favorite band.

The best thing going on in alternative rock right now is that it is indefinable—there are synths, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, tambourines, sleigh bells, mellotrons…banjos—you name it…alternative means anything. Alternative rock I think has been burst wide open and made nebulous due to its age and of course technology. If you’re between the ages of let’s say 18 and 35 (which most new young bands are) chances are that you grew up listening to everything—The Beatles (we hope), The Notorious B.I.G, LCD Soundsystem, Dave Matthews, Jay Z, Soundgarden, Faith No More, Fiona Apple, Spoon, N’ Sync etc. Having influences and access (thank you internet) to all genres and styles of music have made lots of indefinable sounds, all lumped under “alternative rock.” Enter Waters

I didn’t know anything about Waters going into this show except that they were from San Francisco and that I really loved the record, so I was surprised to see band with an acoustic guitar up front in an “alternative rock band.” Their sound is jammy, catchy, it jangles and it rocks. I can’t really describe it , except for being Waters. One of my favorite things is that they wear their hometown on their sleeve, possessing a wonderful air of San Francisco charm—the charm of peace and love that is ever-present in the place that birthed the summer of love and where hippies once ruled, and in a sense still do, but that’s for another article.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Lynyrd Skynyrd,
Lynyrd Skynyrd

During the 1970s Lynyrd Skynyrd was the premier name Southern Rock, and for scores of folks their first six records constitute something akin to the apex of that oft-derided genre. This week Universal offers exact reproductions of their ’73-’77 output, specifically five studio LPs and one live double, on 180gm vinyl tucked into a rigid, eponymous slipcase box.

Though I’m too young to remember pre-plane crash Lynyrd Skynyrd, I do recall a time before their status seemed to break down to extremes, with religious fervor on one side and a source of humor/target of mockery on the other. This is not to insinuate the outfit didn’t reliably stir intense devotion throughout their existence; indeed, youthful memories designate the band as one of the few for which uttering an unkind word in public could result in hostilities not excluding violence.

I’d never disparage Skynyrd as rednecks (the ‘70s incarnation, anyway), because I don’t think that’s accurate. But amongst their fans undeniably dwelt an intolerant percentage. Furthermore, prior to descending into unimaginative rock-club attention-seeking the entreaty to “Play Free Bird” essentially reflected the phenomenon of weekend booze-hounds harassing bar acts into committing a rather ornate tune to their book.

So please forgive me for thinking Skynyrd needs no introduction. And to this writer they became increasingly burdensome upon growing more omnipresent, just one more reason to tunnel deeper into the ‘80s underground. Later, upon making the acquaintance of such killers of obscure ‘70s southern rock (if not exactly Southern Rock) as the Hampton Grease Band’s Music to Eat and James Luther Dickinson’s Dixie Fried, I really couldn’t have cared less.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/28/15

Pint of purchase: “Record Store Day has named My Generation Beer Company its official drinks partner for this year’s event.”

…and a radio station? “Chuck D Assists Record Store Day In Launching an Internet Radio Station”

“Nielsen: Canada Loved Taylor Swift, Streaming Music and, Yep, Vinyl in 2014″

“Fayetteville apparently won’t be losing its last record store after all.”

TVD Poetry Corner.

“…May will see the release of [the Chris Robinson Brotherhood’s] Betty’s Blend Volume 2: The Best From the West, a double vinyl set recorded by longtime Grateful Dead taper Betty Cantor-Jackson from shows in California, Colorado and other locales. It follows the 2013 set Betty’s S.F. Blends Volume 1 from a five-night stand the previous December at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.”

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Otis Clay, Trying to Live My Life Without You

Even though he had some hits, Otis Clay never achieved great fame as a soul man. He’s made some fine discs over the years however, and if prime soul circa the early-‘70s fits into your bag, then you may want to check out the reissue of Trying to Live My Life without You. Initially released in 1972 by Hi Records, a definite signifier of soul quality, the LP is currently being offered on vinyl by Fat Possum. Amongst other redeeming qualities, it’s serves as the best representation of his work under the auspices of renowned producer Willie Mitchell.

Though he’s accumulated numerous honors and is still active today, Otis Clay’s career continues to be defined by the records he cut in the 1970s for the Hi imprint of Memphis, Tennessee. And those who recognize Hi as the label responsible for one of the greatest of all soul movers Al Green should have no problem understanding why Clay’s tenure there produced his most famous stuff.

At the time, Green certainly overshadowed every other Hi artist including the consistent hit-maker Ann Peebles, but it’s also undeniable that his massive popularity was simultaneously positive for the roster as a whole. Without it, it’s very unlikely that Clay’s singles there would’ve ended up partially comprising his debut LP.

But if surely a fruitful association, Clay’s relationship with that now storied company has unfortunately not delivered him from the well-populated ranks of underappreciated soul belters. Where the star of his Hi cohort Syl Johnson has steadily risen to the point where he is now accurately described as a cult figure (with a 4CD/6LP Numero Group box set to his credit), the same circumstance has thus far eluded Clay.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Bunny Lion, Red

From our “Single of the Week” 2 weeks back to a vinyl giveaway today, the roots reggae skank of Bunny Lion’s “Rat Trap” from the newly repressed Red LP had us from the initial needle drop. Rereleased on red vinyl from our friends at Fantasy Memory/ Captured Tracks—we’ve found a copy to send to one of you.

“Although his lack of touring kept him from being established as a major figure in overground reggae circles, Linval Thompson’s work as a singer, songwriter and producer is essential to Jamaican music. Between 1977 and 1979, he released five solo albums and produced countless artists on the side. Thompson acted as a mentor to many up-and-comers, including Junjo Lawes, Scientist, and Eek-A-Mouse.

As dancehall became more prominent in the late 1970s, Thompson began to offer up his rhythms to sound system deejays. The mysterious deejay LP, Red, was originally released on London’s Starlight records in 1979. Little was written about the album at the time; however, we have uncovered that Bunny Lion is in fact the legendary Puddy Roots of Killamanjaro Soundsystem fame. Red features ten grooving Thompson Sound rhythms voiced by Puddy. This is the earliest documented work of the criminally under-recorded Puddy Roots. It’s also the perfect gateway record for anyone curious about dub, roots reggae, or dancehall.

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Exclusive Premiere Stream

Graded on a Curve: Cornershop,
Hold On It’s Easy

In 1994, after announcing their presence with a pair of EPs, the UK combo Cornershop released Hold On It Hurts. Eventual chart breakouts, that debut full-length instead positioned them as part of the burgeoning Riot Grrl movement. A shade over twenty years since, they reflect on the milestone not by giving it a souped-up anniversary repressing but by reimagining it as an Easy Listening album. On the surface Hold On It’s Easy might seem a joke taken to a confounding extreme; it’s actually just the latest savvy maneuver from a consistently smart band, out on vinyl/digital February 2nd via Ample Play.

1997’s “Brimful of Asha” and its corresponding long-player When I Was Born for the 7th Time raised Cornershop’s profile on both sides of the pond, but it also served as an indicator of significant stylistic development and effectively marked the end of their formative phase, an era that found them initially crafting rough-hewn guitar-based post-punk and fruitfully joining it with the influence of Indian music.

The early rumblings of the Brothers Tjinder and Avtar Singh, Ben Ayers, and David Chambers culminated in the arrival of Hold On It Hurts, a scrappy affair blending sturdy punk knowledge (the opening track from their “Lock, Stock & Double-Barrel” EP is titled “England’s Dreaming”) with a decided contemporary relevance. To elaborate, it was issued by Wiiija Records, a UK indie spanning back to the late-‘80s that gained prominence throughout the next decade partially in association with Riot Grrl.

Wiiija released/licensed items from Skinned Teen, Huggy Bear, Frumpies, Free Kitten, Bikini Kill, and indeed Cornershop, who are described by Ample Play in connection to Hold on It’s Easy as the only all male band to be a part of the whole Riot Grrl explosion. And listening again to Hold On It Hurts, an LP of fleeting melodicism, inspired stabs of post-punk, the aforementioned Indian elements (to blossom on When I Was Born for the 7th Time) and bursts of squalling feedback, Ample Play’s claim is easy to believe.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/27/15

“Cassidy Fletcher said she didn’t realize how much the Arctic Monkeys could rock until she heard the English band on vinyl. The 19-year-old from Johnstown, Pennsylvania scored a turntable for Christmas in 2013 and has been slowly building a collection of LPs since. “It does seem like it’s better quality on vinyl,” she said. “I like it better, even more than listening to music on my phone.”

“Swap-meet shoppers look for music that’s on the record: For scores of shoppers gathered in the lobby of Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville Saturday, vinyl never left.”

“…Numero Group will release a box set compiling Ork Records’ entire 16-single 1975-1979 output. Co-founded by Television manager Terry Ork and Charles Ball, it was a DIY label that released seminal punk, power pop, no wave, and proto-indie rock music, including the first-ever releases by Television, Richard Hell, Alex Chilton (solo), and many others. That’s Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel Pt. 1″ above—the A-side of their debut release.”

“The Vinyl Record Collectors Association (VRCA) recently donated US$1,000 to the Atlanta-Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee, a non-profit organisation with 18 affiliated cites worldwide.”

“Untouched for decades: Photographer takes amazing series of images of perfectly preserved home abandoned by its owners: …found musical instruments, including a gramophone and a stereo system that would have been state-of-the-art at the time, books and family photographs – offering a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of the former occupants.”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Live Shots: The DC Record Fair in Photos

PHOTOS: BRENDAN O’HARAIf you do almost anything consistently for six years, you have to pause to wonder if people might still have the same enthusiasm for an endeavor like they might have had in year 1, 2, or 3.

A line around Penn Social’s considerably long block and over 1,400 people through the door yesterday confirmed that yes…people certainly still dig records and frankly, the enthusiasm might be at an all time high. We tasked photographer Brenda O’Hara to capture the day in pixels for us. 

We extend our thanks to our hosts at Penn Social, the DJs, the dealers, Zeke’s Coffee, Electric Cowbell Records—and to all of you who left with records under your arms. If you’re also wondering as many had yesterday when the next DC Record Fair might make a return, look for us in the Spring…with a few surprises.

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TVD Asbury Park

Garden State Sound
with Evan Toth

All jokes aside, New Jersey is a pretty great place. While it has a lot to offer as a state, it also has a rich musical history of which many people remain unaware. Everyone knows Sinatra and The Boss, but there’s much more.

Tune in to Garden State Sound with Evan Toth to explore the diverse music with connections to New Jersey. You’ll hear in-depth interviews with some of Jersey’s best music makers and have the opportunity win tickets to some of the best concerts in the state.

“This week, Garden State Sound invites Brian Musikoff from Stuyvesant and Al Crisafulli of Sugarblast Music Co. up to talk about their newest release, Shmyvesant.

Plus, the unselfish Mr. Musikoff brings a few records from his collection of his favorite NJ bands to spin, which—of course—we do. Tune in for the full-length saga of the Stuyvesant story.” —EZT

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