A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/30/15

Our friends at DC’s Metro Weekly have assembled a rather killer guide to the DC area’s record stores.

From our playbook. “This US ambassador grooves to ‘vinyl diplomacy’ to thrive in London: “Diplomacy at its fundamental level is about connecting with people,” says Barzun, 44. “And it’s not just elected or official government-to-government relationships…We actually do get the government leaders but in a different context, all together in one place, united by a love of music and the particular band we’re featuring that night.”

OK, we need to stop citing these. “Vintage is not only a style of clothes making a comeback, but it’s also happening in the world of music. Both online and store front retailers of music are seeing an interest and spike in popularity for vinyl records.”

Another record store opens, and for a moment all is right in the world. “It doesn’t worry you that you’re three blocks from Recycled Records?”

Seriously, duh. “For the record, vinyl still rocks over digital and CDs.”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Paul Kelly, The Merri Soul Sessions 7″ Box Set

Be he solo or in collaboration with a multitude of performing partners over the many years, Paul Kelly has established himself as one of Australia’s finest singer/songwriters. His latest finds him dipping back into the collaborative pool once more with a number of guests on his latest, The Merri Soul Sessions whose contents have been assembled into a special, limited to 1,000, 7″ double A-side singles box. And as the headline above attests, we have one box set to give away to one of you.

“Following the recent releases of his groundbreaking song cycles, Spring and Fall and Conversations With Ghosts, Australian troubadour Paul Kelly is pleased to announce another innovative chapter in his long-standing career. In the dawn of last year, he assembled his touring band and an exciting group of singers that included Clairy Browne, Vika and Linda Bull, Dan Sultan, and Kira Puru to record a set of new songs as well as one old classic.

Over an exhilarating two-week period, the tracks were performed live at Soundpark Studios in Northcote, Melbourne. Dubbed The Merri Soul Sessions, the music is being made available via PledgeMusic as a very “limited edition” series of four 7” vinyl singles (double A-side). Each vinyl single can be bought individually or combined in a limited-edition box set of which only 1,000 will be manufactured. More details are here.

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UK Artist of the Week: BRIDGES

BRIDGES are gearing up to release their second single “BFF” on the 23rd February. The track is nothing short of anthemic, with elements of The Teardrop Explodes and Kings Of Leon fused together to make a euphoric wall of alternative rock. The band’s raison d’être—to make people move.

With a UK tour on the horizon, and possible a few festival dates thrown in for good measure (they’ve already graced the stage at Glastonbury), we’re sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from this foursome before the summer.

“BFF” is released via Bear Pit Records on 23rd February 2015. Keep up to date with tour news on their official site.

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Shell Zenner Presents

Greater Manchester’s most in the know radio host Shell Zenner broadcasts the best new music every week on the UK’s Amazing Radio and Bolton FM. You can also catch Shell’s broadcast here at TVD every Thursday.

“Tonight, my ROTW is from The Sundowners. It’s called If Wishes Were Horses and I’ll be playing three tracks on the show today!

This weeks #Shellshock is by All We Are—it’s called ‘Keep Me Alive’ and it’s got that easy-going lilt that just makes me go gaga.” —SZ

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Half Japanese,
Volume Two: 1987-1989

Half Japanese wield an instantly recognizable yet consistently evolving amateurism springing from the immediate shockwaves of 1977 and continuing right up to the present; they stand as one of the true pillars of Underground USA. Featuring numerous personnel led by solitary constant member Jad Fair, the band has inspired scores of folks to pick up instruments and press record. Particularly significant were the albums released in the late-‘80s; this week Fire Records carries on anthologizing their output by collecting those and relevant bonus material in the 3LP/3CD/digital set Volume Two: 1987-1989.

While it’s taken a back seat to Jeff Feuerzeig’s excellent 2005 film portrait The Devil and Daniel Johnston, I rate that director’s ‘93 documentary Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King nearly as high, in large part because its approach, often comedic but never mocking, is as endearingly unconventional as the subject it covers.

Much of the humor is Feuerzeig poking fun at the overzealous stumping of music docs in general. Along the way indie celebrity talking heads, occasionally purposefully grandstanding, help to deliver essential background as performances by Jad Fair and his cohorts quietly shift the film’s tone from satire/parody (a mock-Mockumentary, if you will) to an essay of singular brilliance.

Like the movie, the sounds harnessed in the prior installments of Fire Records’ reissue series, namely ½ Gentlemen/ Not Beasts and Volume One: 1981-1985, vividly illustrate that the world, certainly not before and hardly ever since, offered nothing comparable to the fascinating growth spurts of the early incarnations of Half Japanese.

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The TVD Storefront

In rotation: 1/29/15

Yet another laughably bad vinyl subscription club: “We haven’t finalised the pricing yet, but for about £15 you will get a couple of records sent to you each month. One of those will be chosen by Luke and myself. The other we will open up to a guest selector each month.”

Why can’t we let go of our old tech? “In an era when we’re all talking about digital music, the fact that these beautiful physical artefacts are still as popular as they are is fantastic,” Mr. Talbot told BBC Radio 5 live recently. “It’s really remarkable.”

“Early Tuesday, Warp Records released a tweet reading: “Broadcast will have their long out of print LPs made available again on March 9th 2015“. This comes as welcome news for fans of Broadcast who may not have had a chance to grab these records when originally released, especially since the market for vinyl has skyrocketed since the early – mid aughts.”

“Having spent last month looking back at the best of 2014, we’re turning our attention to the coming months and looking forward to what we can expect from the new year before the madness of Record Store Day takes hold once more in April.”

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: Patti Smith at the Fillmore, 1/23

It was a beautiful spring day in Austin, Texas back in 2004 and I was on my way to pick up the Godmother of punk rock, the legendary Patti Smith. I was working for Sony Music at the time and Patti had just released her Columbia Records debut Trampin’. I was asked by the label to pick up Patti at her hotel, take her to KGSR for an interview with Jody Denberg, then over to Waterloo Records for an in-store signing. When I got to the hotel it was insanely busy and there wasn’t one legit parking spot open and of course I was running late, so I parked illegally thinking that I would be in and out.

It ended up taking me a bit longer than I had anticipated to get back to my car as several folks who were staying at the hotel recognized Patti as we were walking through the lobby. She was very cool and stopped to chat with each of them along the way. As we reached the parking lot, the hotel manager made an announcement over some sort of loudspeaker that sounded like it was broadcast to the entire city. “The owner of a red Saturn sedan parked illegally will be towed,” blasted through the air as if it was a public service announcement. Patti looks at me and says something to the effect of “I’d hate to be that person today,” I looked back and said to her, ‘That’s our ride.”

To make a long story short, I got to my car just before the tow truck did and we were on our way. Patti along with her antique camera asked me to stop several times so she could snap a photo or two along “the Drag” while telling me stories about her camera and even a story or two about her late husband Fred “Sonic” Smith of the groundbreaking band MC5. It was an epic afternoon that turned out to be one of the most remarkable moments of my career in the music business.

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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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