Category Archives: 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Graded on a Curve:
Serge Gainsbourg,
Rock Around the Bunker

I know, Francoise, I know. If you’re going to buy an album by the late French Chanson singer Serge Gainsbourg, you would have to be crazy not to buy 1968’s Bonnie & Clyde, his collaboration with Brigitte Bardot, or 1969’s Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg, which includes the notoriously salacious (as in hubba hubba) “Je t’aime… moi non plus,” which was so orgasmic the Vatican actually felt compelled to issue a public statement declaring it offensive.

But I am crazy, certifiably so, and I heartily recommend that while you get your hands on the aforementioned LPs as fast as possible, you also pick up a copy of 1975’s extraordinarily surreal Rock Around the Bunker. Where else are you going to find songs like “Nazi Rock,” “Rock Around the Bunker,” and “S.S. in Uruguay”? Nowhere, that’s where.

Rock Around the Bunker purportedly looks back at Gainsbourg’s experiences as a Jewish youth growing up in Nazi-occupied France. But I’ve read that Gainsbourg’s real intent in releasing Rock Around the Bunker was to mock both the “Nazi chic” of the era, as personified by the film “The Night Porter” and David Bowie’s outrageous statements about wanting to become a fascist dictator, as well as the fifties rock’n’roll revival. Nazism and “Rock Around the Clock” may be an odd couple to satirize, but Gainsbourg was an odd guy. And in creating Rock Around the Bunker, the singer managed to produce an LP whose only real antecedents are The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the imaginary play Springtime for Hitler from Mel Brooks’ The Producers.

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TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday morning recap of the new tracks received last week—provided here to inform your vinyl purchasing power. Click, preview, download, purchase.

The Fraidies – Never Love Again (It’s Doubtful)
Joanne Weaver – Sway
Gwen Stefani – The Sweet Escape ft. Akon (SMLE Remix)
Radio Birds – Hold On Me
Between Mockingbirds – Do You
Nicki Minaj – Only (Whiiite Remix)
Geezer – Ghost Rider Solar Plexus
Vincent Colbert – Rose Yellow Moon
Dan Deacon – Feel The Lightning
Sigrid Zeiner – Overload

Antimatter People – No Need To Be So Small

Ki:Theory – The Way It Was
Gosh Pith – Window
Stamping Mill – Earnest Roam (Fear to Action)
Rachel Lynn – Tend To The Flame
Her Habits – Dolla Sign
L.E.D. – Mirror Mirror
XYPO – Can You Feel
Skye Steele – Growing Song
Mackenzie Shivers – Orphan Song
Danglo – “Swept Away” EP Minimix

7 more FREE TRACKS on side B!

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