TVD New Orleans

Art Neville,
An Appreciation

When keyboardist, vocalist, songwriter and bandleader Art Neville passed away on Monday, July 22 at the age of 81, another connection to the glory days of the 1950s R&B scene in New Orleans, as well as to the seminal gestation period of New Orleans funk, joined the greats in the musical hall of fame that is our collective memories.

I never had a chance to see the Meters in their original incarnation, but the band he led beginning with the definitive instrumental “Cissy Strut” in 1968 is arguably his most influential contribution to American music. However, I did see nearly every performance after the band got together again in the early years of the 21st century.

I also saw Neville in various configurations with one or more of the original members and as a guest performer with many of the musicians that are his musical progeny. But it his early performances with the Neville Brothers band, still in their adolescence as a group and long before their march to international fame that are seared into my brain.

Here’s an excerpt from my book, Up Front and Center: New Orleans Music at the End of the 20th Century, which sums up the experience of seeing the Neville Brothers in the sweaty confines of the un air-conditioned first incarnation of Tipitina’s with a special shout out to my editor Alice Horowitz for insisting that I try to put those ineffable experiences into words.

“The music of the Neville Brothers was fresh and novel to many of their listeners. Though they were clearly not the Meters—the vocal harmonies were far beyond what that band was capable of—and despite the presence of Charles Neville and his saxophone, they were not a jazz band either. They played funk derived from the seminal sounds of the Meters, but they also rocked. Screaming electric guitar, not the syncopated rhythm work of Leo Nocentelli in the early Meters, was part of their instrumentation from day one.

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TVD Radar: Nat King Cole, Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943) 10-LP box set in stores 11/1

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Resonance Records, the Los Angeles-based independent jazz label noted for its historical releases, will issue its most ambitious release to date, the seven-CD/10-LP Nat King Cole boxed set Hittin’ the Ramp: The Early Years (1936-1943) on November 1, 2019.

Succeeding critically acclaimed Resonance archival collections devoted to previously unheard recordings by Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, Sarah Vaughan, and other eminent jazz performers, Hittin’ the Ramp offers the first in-depth survey of singer-pianist Cole’s work in the years preceding his long hit-making tenure at Capitol Records. “This is a really important project for Resonance,” says Zev Feldman, label co-president and the set’s co-producer. “We’ve done some pretty substantial packages over the years, such as our three-disc Eric Dolphy and Jaco Pastorius sets with 100-page booklets, but this Nat King Cole box is truly a definitive, king-sized set, clocking in at a staggering 10 LPs and seven CDs worth of essential early Cole material with enhanced audio.”

The limited-edition 180-gram ten-LP set was mastered by Matt Lutthans at Cohearant Audio with impeccable sound restoration by Lutthans and Doug Pomeroy. The vinyl will be pressed at esteemed audiophile record manufacturer RTI (Record Technology Inc.) at 33 1/3 rpm. The set’s co-producer, writer and historian Will Friedwald – who received Grammy Award nominations for his work on Mosaic Records’ landmark 1992 box The Complete Capitol Recordings of the Nat King Cole Trio and the 1989 album Nat “King” Cole and the “King” Cole Trio – points out in his comprehensive notes to the collection that Cole’s deep and influential jazz roots were often obscured by his towering reputation as a pop singer.

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Graded on a Curve:
Negative Trend (s/t) 7″

In the second half of the 1970s, the hilly West Coast burg of San Francisco was noted for some bands, and a few of them specialized in the creation of punk rock. Amongst the more illustrious names are The Avengers, Crime, The Dead Kennedys, and Flipper, but one of the less championed troops in the city’s early punk narrative was Negative Trend. Their terrific self-titled 1978 7-inch is repressed by the folks at Superior Viaduct, and it’s an essential purchase for anyone striving to build a comprehensive punk library.

By this point, the late-‘70s punk uprising has been examined from a multitude of angles, with the majority of the approaches offering at least some measure of substantive insight. Since the whole explosion proved to be such a complex beast, indeed so multifaceted that individual perspectives can frequently seem downright contradictory, the value found in such a large number of diverse viewpoints should really come as no surprise.

One particularly interesting outlook concerns how punk’s North American surge was inevitably doomed to initial failure due to the lack of an appropriate distribution network to service its burgeoning creativity as it was emerging. It’s a tempting idea, but it tends to sidestep the reality of what actually did occur after The Dictators’ Go Girl Crazy! (my pick as the starting point of the unhyphenated punk era) first hit the racks in early ’75.

Specifically, the impulse spread like wildfire, or better yet like a disease. In England, the situation grew into an epidemic that sent shockwaves through the country’s entire culture, but in the USA, the very land that gave the form its messy back-alley birth, the transmission remained either underground or largely disdained but the public at large.

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UK Artist of the Week: Dudley Benson

PHOTO: MIRANDA BELLAM | We’ve got something pretty special for you today, something hard to pigeonhole, but we’re gonna try. New Zealand native Dudley Benson has just shared the extraordinary new video for his single “Mataraki” and its a must watch.

The word mataraki comes from New Zealand and it describes the time of year when the Pleiades constellation appears in the midwinter sky, in essence the Maori New Year. This relates to the Maori custom of tikanga, which tells that the people we’ve lost are still with us through the natural world. The video itself is a brilliant piece of animated work from Tokyo-based New Zealand illustrator Emile Holmewood.

We see Dudley himself in an array of fun cartoon-styled situations, representing a passage through time as he makes his way from creation to destruction to millennia. The song itself is a wonderfully weird slice of avant-pop that fans of the likes of Bjork and Brian Eno will certainly feel at home with. Totaling 6 minutes, “Mataraki” feels more like a short film than a music video at times, but perhaps that’s the point.

Dudley Benson’s musical style is undeniably unique and perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. Nonetheless, its visually stunning and a conversation starter if nothing more. We can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

“Mataraki” is taken from Dudley’s latest album Zealandia, which is due for Eurpoean release on 23rd August 2019 via Golden Retriever Records.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
De Lorians,
De Lorians

Based in Tokyo and extant from 2016, De Lorians have been tersely described as a spiritual and psychedelic group, though the five-member outfit’s founder Takefumi Ishida has additionally explained that “Zappa is God among us,” a tidbit of info that will surely inspire diversity of reaction. But Ishida’s statement doesn’t tidily encapsulate what’s happening on this eponymous debut record, as lovers of the Canterbury scene and prog-fusion in general will find a nugget here, as will those who preferred Frank when he kept his trap shut. It’s out July 24 digitally, as a digipak CD, and on both standard black wax and a clear edition with a neon orange blob and neon violet splatter via Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records.

The above comment on Zappa’s trap might seem mean, but it serves a deeper purpose than to just dig at the guy, as it illuminates how, for this record at least, De Lorians are essentially a sans vocals affair. To be clear, I happen to hold Zappa’s Mothers of Invention material from ’66-’70 (plus early “solo” records Lumpy Gravy and Hot Rats) in varying levels of generally high esteem, and hey, it’s a run of discs that was loaded with vocals.

But a marked change in Frank’s approach in the early ’70s is plainly acknowledged in the PR for this record. The label states that across De Lorians’ sides there is “no singing, no poodle play, just constant surprises, rich vibes, and heavy fun.” Along with avoiding the obvious pitfalls of “risky” toilet-humor, the band, while diving deep into a contemporarily niche style rather than embodying any sort of cutting-edge (the instrumental adeptness is indisputable, though), nicely sidestep the datedness that is hard to separate from the output of Zappa the satirist.

De Lorians are intricate, but they’re never pompous, and at 32 minutes, their debut doesn’t overstay its welcome. The label’s mention of Weasels Ripped My Flesh is on the money, though I also had Hot Rats (a personal Zappa fave) cross my mind more than once. Thrice, even. But maybe most importantly, the record can be easily situated as a descendant of Soft Machine and even Gong.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 7/23/19

JP | Japan record shopping, Part 2: In search of Jazz bars and vinyl: I was really pleasantly surprised when the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto to Osaka arrived at Osaka Central Station after no more than a 15-20 minute ride. We put our stuff in the room and headed out for Minami, one of Osaka’s main commercial areas, adjacent to Little America, an Osaka neighborhood with a reputation for being young and cool. Minami was the first place I’d been in Japan that wasn’t spotless, and it was super touristy and overcrowded. My daughter quickly became consumed with shopping, with my wife in a supporting role, but my threshold for clothes shopping, while longer than when marriage first began rubbing off all my sharp edges, is still limited. I put “jazz bar” into Google Maps and lo and behold, there was a hit a mere three minute walk down the main shopping drag and up a side street to Jazz Bar Top Rank. I did my now well- rehearsed up and down the street “where the hell is this place?” before finding the staircase and heading to the second floor.

Dearborn, MI | Stormy Records in Dearborn celebrates 20th anniversary: Entering Stormy Records is a blast from the past. Records are plastered to the storefront windows and posters of Miles Davis and David Bowie hang on the walls. Sift through the massive record collection and you’ll find artists ranging from Etta James, ZZ Top, Parliament Funkadelic and the Sugarhill Gang. Nestled between Mekkah Islamic Superstore and Bridal House Fashion on the east side of Dearborn, owners Windy Weber and Carl Hultgren have been supplying music lovers with a healthy dose of used vinyl, CDs and cassettes for 20 years. Along with retro artists, the store offers new releases as well, but it won’t be anything from Taylor Swift or Ed Sheeran. Stormy Records specializes in genres such as experimental and ambient music, underground pop and avant jazz. “It is easier to sell music that you are more familiar with,” said Weber. “We don’t tend to listen to mainstream artists…”

Merge Turns 30: Co-Founder Laura Ballance on Perils of Running an Indie Today: “There keeps being this question lately of, ‘Do we need record labels?’ I think people don’t recognize what we do and the value of our work,” says the Superchunk bassist. “When we started, we had no expectations,” says Laura Ballance, co-founder of the North Carolina-based independent record label Merge Records and bassist for the scrappy indie rock band Superchunk. “It was a punk rock hobby. We didn’t think it was going to be a successful business.” Ballance, who grew up in Goldsboro, N.C. — “a tiny little town with lots of tornadoes,” she says — started Merge with co-founder and Superchunk guitarist-vocalist Mac McCaughan in 1989, originally to release music from local bands whose life cycle would otherwise last a few DIY shows. Thirty years later, their “hobby” is an indie powerhouse that has released critically acclaimed albums from such acts as Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel, Spoon and She & Him.

Port Macquarie, AU | 2019 Port Macquarie Record Fair draws vinyl lovers from near and far: Vinyl lovers came from up and down the North Coast to find an old treasure at the 2019 Record Fair on July 20. RAWR Music, Dark Alley Collectables and Hold Steady Records presented the event with vendors from across NSW bringing their extensive collections. Craig Singleman was delighted to find ‘Desire’ by Bob Dylan. “It is one of my favourites,” he said. Organiser Travis Fredericks said there had been a “vinyl revival”. “People are really starting to get back into listening to music on vinyls which is great,” Mr Fredericks said. (What would be great is not saying “vinyls.” —Ed.)

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TVD Radar: Hitsville: The Making of Motown Showtime debut 8/24

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Showtime Documentary Films today announced it will premiere the new documentary Hitsville: The Making of Motown from directors Benjamin and Gabe Turner (Class of 92, I Am Bolt, One Direction: This Is Us) on Saturday, August 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The remarkable story of the legendary Motown Records is told through new and exclusive interviews with the label’s visionary founder, Berry Gordy, and many of its superstar artists and creative figures, as well as rare performances and behind-the-scenes footage unearthed from Motown’s vaults and Gordy’s personal archives. Hitsville: The Making of Motown is the first documentary about the iconic label with Gordy’s participation.

Directed by Benjamin and Gabe Turner (Class of 92, I Am Bolt, One Direction: This Is Us), Hitsville: The Making of Motown focuses on the period beginning with the birth of the company in Detroit in 1958 until its relocation to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. The film tracks the unique system that Gordy assembled that enabled Motown to become the most successful record label of all time. The creation and initial success of Motown was achieved during a period of significant racial tensions in America and amid the burgeoning civil rights movement. The company’s music and post-racial vision were significant factors in helping the country—and the world—evolve through this transformative period in history.

“Motown is critical not only to the history of music in America, but also the history of America itself,” said Vinnie Malhotra, Executive Vice President, Nonfiction Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. “And you’ve never seen this bedrock of the music industry explored and remembered the way that Gabe and Ben Turner do it in Hitsville, with never-before-seen clips and interviews with the key players.”

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The TVD First Date

“I was born at a perfect time. I got to experience a house full of music and full of CDs.”

“My mother, a perfect target for the entertainment industry’s ephemeral mediums, would, every 5 to 10 years, throw out the old and make way for the new. This is not to say that she was wasteful—she rode the big waves. Cassettes to CDs. VHS to DVDs. Eventually doing away with all the plastic boxes and putting them all in zip-up cases. It was all in an attempt to declutter.

I of course, in the wake of all this change, have swung the other way and will happily place nostalgia on a golden pedestal. I think about the bad quality of the movies we taped straight from TV and every radio introduction that overflowed when I taped a song off my boom-box with admiration. The movie channel would occasionally play a behind-the-scenes short, and though I’m glad I can find it on YouTube now, that was as much a part of watching Hook as was watching Rufio tear it up with the Lost Boys or seeing Peter using his “imagination” for the first time (that movie rules and you’re dead inside if you think otherwise).

And then Napster happened. There were a couple of years before getting my first MP3 player where, inexplicably, my dad bought a portable Mini-Disc player and would let me use it so I could record my own 128 kbps, illegally downloaded Incubus, Beastie Boys, and Sublime mixtapes. It’s funny to think how awful the quality must have been, but it didn’t matter, because you could bring your favorite songs with you anywhere.

When I was 14 or 15, my mom found a turntable with a busted needle and a crateful of vinyl by a dumpster—clearly a kindred spirit going through their own cleanse. So we brought it home and went through it all. There must have been 30 records in there, but I can only remember 3 of them: The Best Of Beethoven, a Donna Summer record and John Barry’s soundtrack to You Only Live Twice.

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The Rubinoos
and Chuck Prophet,
The TVD Interview & Premiere, “Phaedra”

Power pop stalwarts The Rubinoos first emerged at a high school hop in Berkeley, California nearly a half century ago. With a couple of career defining albums on Beserkley Records, the band brought vocal-rich tunes and a penchant for covers that would try the patience of the most open-minded rockers.

Still, their version of Tommy James & the Shondells’ “I Think We’re Alone Now” got some traction in 1977; their 1979 power pop original “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” proved so catchy it landed Avril Lavigne in court for maybe borrowing too much of it for her 2007 single “Girlfriend,” and they did the title song for the film Revenge of the Nerds. Over the years, they wrote and covered songs from “Rhapsody in the Rain” to “Hats Off to Larry” to “Yo Ho,” the Pirates of the Caribbean amusement park ride theme.

Sporadic recording followed a 15 year hiatus, but now one of their biggest early fans, Chuck Prophet, has teamed up with them for their new album due in stores on August 23 via Yep Roc, From Home, with every one of the tracks co-written by the prolific Prophet with the band’s Tommy Dunbar.

And though there are no covers this time, there are some shout outs to some of the acts that fueled their early love for rock ’n’ roll, from the DeFranco Family to the Troggs to the Honeycombs. The Vinyl District is proud to premiere one of its tracks, “Phaedra” a pean to the ancient goddess that also has roots in a classic 45, Lee Hazlewood’s “Some Velvet Morning” with Nancy Sinatra.

We talked to the band founding members Dunbar and lead singer Jon Rubin, as well as rocker and producer Prophet, in a California conference call about the single and the new LP, their love for the old Cruisin’ albums, and that time they got booed at a Jefferson Starship show at Winterland.

What was the origin of “Phaedra”?

Chuck: I think one of the things that was kind of a challenge about writing this record, is that we’ve got guys here that are a certain age. The first couple records had songs like “Can I come over tonight…will your parents be home?” They seem unseemly.

Jon: We can’t sing those songs any more.

Chuck: So, we figured out songs where we can thank the goddesses and address the boy/girl thing in more of a mythical way.

Tommy: It’s funny you mention Lee Hazlewood, because that’s where I got the name from. It was like, that’s a cool name.  

A couple of other songs on From Home name check influences in “Do You Remember” and “Honey from the Honeycombs.”

Tommy: It’s funny, the band will have been playing together in some form for 50 years come 2020, and to me Honeycombs records aren’t nostalgic in that we still listen to that stuff. But “Do You Remember” was a lot of—I remember Chuck picking my brain. “What did you do on…” “Oh, yeah, that was off of Kings Road.” “Do You Remember” is very much a history of the band.

Chuck: And also what made “Do You Remember” work for me, is that very much like The Beatles, Tommy and Jon would sing almost in unison just because they got more power. Like if you listen to the early Beatles, Cavern Club era, John and Paul sing together and they have the power. By the time they get to Abbey Road, they’re almost like a prog band, you know what I mean? Everyone is off doing their own thing. It’s a special thing when Jon and Tommy sing in unison in a four piece band. And I don’t even think there’s a couple of minor overdubs on “Do You Remember.”

Jon: In the early days of The Rubinoos, Tommy and I used to sing together all the time. I mean, on tons and tons of songs. And a lot of that was inspired by The Beatles because we thought by the two of us singing together, we came up with third lead vocal voice.

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Graded on a Curve:
Elton John,
Goodbye Yellow
Brick Road

“Ridicule,” said Oscar Wilde, “is the tribute paid to genius by mediocrities.” Such would seem to be the case with one Sir Elton Hercules John. Esteemed critic Robert Christgau once wrote him off as a “puling phony,” while Charles Shaar Murray dismissed him as “Elton Schmelton.” Even John understood he lacked respect, and jokingly told Murray, “I’m gonna become a rock’n’roll suicide, take my nasty out and piddle all over the front row, just to get rid of my staid old image.”

Elton never carried through on his threat, probably because he was too busy writing brilliant songs, more than I can count on my six hands even. Besides, who needs critical respect after scoring seven consecutive No. 1 albums in the U.S. between 1972 and 1975—a feat not even the Fab Four could beat? During those golden years, which extended from Honky Chateau to Rock of the Westies, John (in collaboration with lyricist Bernie Taupin) churned out hits like a one-man Brill Building, and many of them will still be around long after mankind is gone, leaving our groovy ape successors to do the Crocodile Rock.

John’s high-water mark as a songwriter was 1973’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I consider it Elton’s masterpiece, even if The Evil One, Robert Christgau, dismissed it as “one more double album that would make a nifty single.” A concept album of sorts, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road takes a bittersweet look at a lost past, from its film stars to its dance crazes to its bovver boys in their braces and boots looking to mix it up on Saturday night.

Perhaps the most astounding thing about John’s unprecedented success is that he achieved it with Bernie Taupin—a mediocre lyricist at best, and the fourth place finisher in a 3rd grade poetry competition at worst—as a collaborator. Not only is Taupin the mook who wrote “Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids/In fact it’s cold as hell/And there’s no one there to raise them/If you did,” it’s his lyrical DNA police found all over Starship’s “We Built This City,” a song so unfathomably dumb it makes Jon Anderson’s “A seasoned witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace/And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace” sound like Shakespeare. That said, his lyrics on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road are shockingly unterrible, and a few of them are actually quite good.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 7/22/19

Flossmoor, IL | Vintage vinyl and furniture store comes to downtown Flossmoor: Record and furniture store The Conservatory Vintage and Vinyl is having its grand opening Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in downtown Flossmoor. The Conservatory, located at 1042 Sterling Avenue, is the area’s only store that sells vintage furniture and records. In addition to vintage vinyl, the store includes mid-century modern furnishings. Chogie Fields, co-founder and owner of the store with her husband, Anthony, says if she had to be a piece of furniture, she would be a light. “Light guides people, it helps to illuminate things that you can’t see. Light helps you feel comfortable, it gives you peace, gives you joy,” Chogie said. The Conservatory Vintage and Vinyl deals in two trades: vintage furniture, and vinyl records — but maintains the streamlined, curated feel of an art gallery. For this, the owners credit Collete, a shop in Paris, where the couple’s dream to open up their own place was born, 17 years ago.

Devon, UK | For the record – vinyl is back, according to a new documentary: Stars from Radiohead and Pink Floyd feature in The Vinyl Revival, a documentary about the resurgence of the record. Devon filmmaker Pip Piper made The Vinyl Revival as a follow-up to the acclaimed Last Shop Standing, based on the book by Graham Jones. Having been launched in April to tie in with Record Store Day, the film will be screened at the Exeter Picturehouse on July 26, followed by a Q&A with the director. Mr Piper, who moved to Exmouth in September, said Last Shop Standing was about the danger that with the growth in online music streaming, independent record stores could be a thing of the past. “I mean at that point there were 269. There had been 2,200 in the 1980s,” said 55-year-old. “So here was something about which I was just fascinated as a film director, in the sense of losing things from our culture and how important some of these things were.

Storing your vinyl records: You’re a vinyl junkie, always have been. You were there from the beginning, you probably gathered cassettes and CDs too along the way, maybe even some minidisks around 1997, but you were always loyal to the record. Your collection is epic, rare, it spans whole walls. Chances are then, you know it’s important to store your precious library carefully and intelligently, so here are our cardinal rules for getting vinyl storage right… Paper inners become much like a fine grain piece of sandpaper, adding surface noise over the years every time you take your record in and out of the paper inner. Instead, opt for either a delicate plastic liner within a paper inner or as a round-bottomed plastic-only variant. Then, pairing this with an outer sleeve that goes over the cardboard sleeve will go a long way to shielding your record from dust entirely. Choose a light and smooth material – heavy plastic sleeves will weigh onto your vinyl, stick to your artwork, and peel it off over time. With this in mind, you also need a sleeve with plenty of room!

Black Sabbath Prep ‘Vinyl Collection’ With Bonus Rarities: Ozzy-era, vinyl-only collection will include album of mono mixes of their singles, including two that never came out. Black Sabbath wrote the book on heavy, and their first decade’s worth of albums represent the Old Testament in the book of metal. From the clanging opening chords of “Black Sabbath” and lumbering siren’s call of “War Pigs” to the demon’s cry of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” and proto-thrash riffs of “Symptom of the Universe,” the Iron Man laid the blueprint for the genre on their first eight albums. Those LPs will now make up a new vinyl-only box set, The Vinyl Collection 1970 – 1978, which is due out September 6th. And because die-hard Sabbaholics likely already own the band’s canon, the group is including a reproduction of “Evil Woman” seven-inch (backed with “Wicked World”) and a new 12-inch compilation of their mono singles, dubbed Monomania (a pun off their Sabotage deep cut “Megalomania”), which includes two previously unreleased mixes. The set will be available only as a numbered collector’s edition, limited to 3,000 copies.

Freddie Mercury new music CD and vinyl release date: Exciting news for Queen fans: It is still difficult to accept there will be no new recordings from Freddie Mercury. However, there is still the Holy Grail for Queen fans – lost or archived material. Some have never been released to the public. There was huge excitement recently when a stunning new version of a lesser-known track was unveiled, stripped back to just Freddie’s spine-tingling vocal and a piano. The track is not a Queen song but a cut from the 1986 rock musical, Time. Written by Freddie’s friend, Dave Clark, the Queen frontman covered two numbers for an all-star concept album, including Time Waits For No One. Clark has uncovered the original recordings. It has taken two years to painstakingly remaster them without all the subsequent synthesiser and instrumental tracks. Fan excitement was inevitable and the new video of the recording has already racked up almost 12 million views.

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

1, 2, 3, 4!

You want a part of me / You want the whole thing / You want to feel something more than I could ever bring / You want it badly / You want it tangled / I want to feel something more than I was strangled / I fell in love with the sweet sensation / I gave my heart to a simple chord / I gave my soul to a new religion / Whatever happened to you? / Whatever happened to our rock ‘n roll? / Whatever happened to my rock ‘n roll?

Yep, it’s been many moons since I fell in with her, rock ‘n’ roll. “Despite all the imputations, You could just…” Well, you know. Have a fun and amazing life.

This said, it’s not as easy to find “our rock roll” these days. Even here just a few miles up from Sunset Strip. It’s cool though, rock ‘n’ roll will always have its days, and today with this playlist of Idleic records, I’m here to help rock on.

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TVD Live Shots: KISS at the O2 Arena, 7/11

This is the seventh time I’ve seen the self-proclaimed “hottest band in the land” and sadly it will likely be the last. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer took to the stage in front of a capacity crowd at the legendary O2 Arena for one final statement to the fans in London and to say goodbye and thank you for more than forty years of love and support.

It’s bittersweet to write this review knowing that I will likely never see these guys again live,  and it’s interesting to watch Paul and Gene do their signature move and antics one last time. It’s hard to believe that Paul Stanley is 67 years old as he looks to be in the best shape of his life. It looks like the guy just finished a triathlon.

Opening up the evening with the KISS classic “Detroit Rock City the band descended from a steel platform gliding through an enormous cloud of smoke from the opening fireworks. Within seconds Gene and Paul were front and center interacting with the crowd (and the photographers) in classic form. These guys don’t miss a beat and they still have the energy of a rock ‘n’ roller half their age.

In traditional KISS fashion, Stanley brought the stage to the middle of the arena as he ziplined over the crowd with his guitar strapped to his back arriving in style to deliver a rousing version of “Love Gun.” Gene took it up a notch with his fire-breathing and blood spitting for “War Machine” and “God of Thunder.” While it would have been epic to see Ace and Peter return for a song or two, Tommy and Eric have proven to be worthy members of the line up over the years and when they all come together it’s truly magical.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: The Pop Group debut LP Y reissue in stores 11/1

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Pop Group announce the reissue of their highly influential and innovative debut album Y through Mute on November 1. For the definitive edition, Y has been remastered and cut at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios for enhanced sound quality. The band’s landmark debut single, “She Is Beyond Good & Evil,” will be reissued alongside Y as a bonus 12”. 

To mark the 40th anniversary of the album, the band are releasing two limited edition box sets that include the original album, the 12” of “She Is Beyond Good & Evil” and two additional albums: Alien Blood and Y Live, as well as an extensive booklet and art prints. A deluxe version of the set limited to 500 copies will include 180gm Inca gold vinyl pressings with two signed prints.

Originally released on April 20, 1979, Y represents a stunning culmination of The Pop Group’s crucial nonconformity. Preceded by a meteoric rise in recognition, Y firmly realized the latent potential of the group’s early years. From playing Bristol youth clubs to early gigs supporting Pere Ubu and Patti Smith to gracing the front covers of NME and Melody Maker, The Pop Group’s progression to the forefront had been swift. With the recording of Y, they were to build on the promise of these earlier experiences and of their first recordings, delivering a debut album that transcends most, if not all, classification and one that exists in a league of its own.

Recorded in 1978, the Y sessions were conducted at Ridge Farm in Dorking, Surrey, an experience the band’s bassist Simon Underwood now characterizes as “an intense and electrifying journey of creative exploration and experimentation.”

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TVD New Orleans

Lakou Mizik + 79rs Gang’s “Iko Kreyòl”
in stores today, 7/19

“Iko Kreyòl,” the first recording from a highly anticipated collaboration between the Haitian band, Lakou Mizik and the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian collective, the 79rs Gang, is available today at digital outlets. The EP features four versions of the New Orleans classic, “Iko, Iko.” The full album, HaitiaNola, arrives in stores on October 25 and will be released on vinyl.

Besides, the Mardi Gras Indians, the song also features higher profile guest artists—Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne and Win Butler as well as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The EP includes the album version of the tune and three alternative mixes.

Numerous other artists have covered the iconic New Orleans song, which was made famous by the Dixie Cups on a record from back in 1964. For this latest retelling, Lakou Mizik and 79rs Gang trade off new verses in Haitian Kreyòl and English that celebrate the latest cultural reunion of Haiti and New Orleans. The connections between these cultures are on full display as the traditional Haitian rara horns mix with the New Orleans second line beat of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

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