Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Carol Burnett Sings reissue
in stores 10/6

VIA PRESS RELEASE | It’s no wonder folks tend to forget that Carol Burnett was and is a heckuva singer; that’s what happens when you’re arguably the most talented and accomplished comedienne of your generation. Indeed, although Carol’s pose as her iconic maid character on the cover of this 1967 RCA LP was a tie-in with the launch of Carol’s legendary, long-running, Emmy-winning CBS-TV series, one could also view it as a commentary on her recording career—always the (brides)maid, never the bride.

But make no mistake about this record—after starring on Broadway in the acclaimed musical Once Upon a Mattress and working her way up the ranks of TV’s top variety programs—Carol simply sings rings around this engaging collection of show and pop tunes, with arranging and conducting duties shared between the estimable Mort Garson and Ernie Freeman. Now reissued for the first time anywhere, we’ve added two bonus tracks for our Expanded Edition: “Make Me Rainbows,” an unreleased Alan & Marilyn Bergman/John Williams composed outtake from the album sessions, and “The Bullfrog Patrol” from the obscure 1958 NBC-TV soundtrack album The General Motors 50th Anniversary Show.

With liner notes by Joe Marchese augmenting Carol’s pal Julie Andrews’ original sleeve notes, and digital remastering by Maria Triana at Battery Studios in New York, Carol Burnett: Sings provides yet more evidence that Carol Burnett is a national treasure.

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TVD Radar: We Were Going to Change the World: Interviews with Women from the 1970s and 1980s Southern California Punk Rock Scene in stores 8/21

“We thought we were going to change the world. I thought we were going to revolutionize the way men and women reacted with each other in politics, art, culture, and music.”
Exene Cervenka

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The punk rock scene of the 1970s and ’80s in Southern California is widely acknowledged as one of the most vibrant and creative periods in rock and roll. Over the years, many books have come out exploring this explosive time in music and culture, but none have exclusively focused on the vitality and influence of the women who played such a crucial role in this incredibly dynamic movement.

Stacy Russo has created a unique book about the punk rock era, focusing on the women who were such a huge part of it. We Were Going to Change the World: Interviews with Women From the 1970s & 1980s Southern California Punk Rock Scene (Santa Monica Press/August 21, 2017) captures the stories of women who were active in the punk rock scene in Southern California during this historic time, adding an important voice to the cultural and musical record.

Through exclusive interviews with musicians, journalists, photographers, and fans, Russo captures the essence of why these women were drawn to punk rock, what they witnessed, and how their involvement in this empowering scene ended up influencing the rest of their lives.

“As a librarian and college professor, I have always been interested in research projects I could do with my students,” Russo explains. “I came up with the idea of interviewing women like me, now in our middle or later years, who grew up in the punk rock scene in Southern California. How did punk rock influence the rest of their lives? What attracted them to punk rock, and how did they get involved? And, most importantly, what was it like being a woman in this music scene?”

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Gary Lucas,
The TVD First Date

“I never fetishized vinyl. I mean I liked it fine, okay, when first introduced to those flat pancake discs—because, until the advent of the cassette and later its big brother the CD, what were the options? There weren’t none—so I just took it in stride as something utilitarian that just was, uh, there.”

“The first vinyl I can recall were 78s in my parents collection bound together in folio books with brown paper sleeves housing the black shellacked discs—sometimes audio documentaries like Show-Biz, narrated by Georgie Jessel and containing snippets of “great moments of “SB” like Sir Harry Lauder serenading a NYC theater at 2AM after his ship sailed in late from Glasgow, the Duke of Windsor’s abdicating his throne for the clutches of Walllis Simpson Warfield (a rather broad definition of show-biz, wouldn’t you say?)—or purported audio documentaries like Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater broadcast of The War of the Worlds—or actual spoken word drama with sound effects.

One good ‘un we had in our house in Syracuse growing up was Basil Rathbone essaying the role of Robin Hood (a reversal from his portrayal of the villainous Sir Guy of Gisbourne in the Michael Curtiz/Errol Flynn-filmed swash-buckler), a whole movie for your ears spread over six 78 rpm discs, acted out and replete with grisly torture sound effects in the dungeon. At one point when the Sheriff of Nottingham was extracting information out of one of Robin’s band of merry men by stretching him on the rack, ugh…but I digress.

On a lighter note, I especially remember those flimsy little yellow and red plastic see-through vinyl Golden Records for children (mostly without covers—my dog ate them or something) which were thrown around my Auburn, NY-based cousins’ rumpus room like so many frisbees when they weren’t playing them back for me and my siblings on weekend trips to their house. Stuff like “Mr. Bumbles” (“the funny Mr. Bumbles!”—sung in a minor key funereal dirge tempo by some guy with a mournful, lugubrious voice, melody and tempo reminiscent of the verse section of Henry Hill’s “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”).

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Graded on a Curve:
Van Morrison,
Blowin’ Your Mind!

Poor Van Morrison. Releasing your debut solo album is supposed to be a celebrity event, right? With all those months of needles and pins anticipation culminating in the birth of your first ever baby—your love child! Well, that’s not the way it went for Van the Man, who not only didn’t know he had an album coming out, but had no input whatsoever on what was going to be on it or what the cover was going to look like.

No, Morrison didn’t know diddly, and when he got his first look at the cover he said, and these are his very words, “I almost threw up, you know.” I like to think this happened in a record store, which it didn’t. I like to imagine the whole event from the point of view of the clerk working in the record store, who would have said something like, “So Van came in like usual, and I told him we’d just received a shipment of his debut album. And he said, a slight twitch in his left cheek, ‘What debut album?’ And I told him, ‘Blowin’ Your Mind!’ And he said, ‘Never heard of it.’ So I got up and took him over to the new display featuring the album, like, three times its normal size. And he proceeded to blanch. Have you ever actually seen a man blanch? He doesn’t turn white immediately. Oh no. He goes through about 40 very subtle gradations of gray on his way to white.”

“’It’s… it’s hideous,’ he said finally. Then he said, ‘I think I’m going to spew.’ ‘Spew?’ said I. ‘Certainly it’s not that bad. It looks like they’ve got your sweaty head in Roman profile surrounded by a bunch of shit brown vines and your name in some very tacky psychedelic yellow balloon lettering and… come to think about it, I suppose it is that bad.’ By this time he wasn’t talking, exactly, but delivering what I can only describe as an inarticulate speech of the heart. ‘Look on the bright side,’ I told him. ‘Compared to this, the cheesy photographic trickery that constitutes the cover of your 1970 LP His Band and the Street Choir is going to look good.’”

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RVD Radar: L7: Pretend We’re Dead in theaters 9/1, Blu-ray/DVD 10/13

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The L7: Pretend We’re Dead documentary, produced by Blue Hats Creative will be released worldwide October 13 on VOD and Blu-ray / DVD. A multi-city theatrical screening tour of the film will kick off on September 1, with over a dozen dates and more to be announced in select markets this Fall.

Excitement around L7: Pretend We’re Dead has catalyzed a widely anticipated reunion which unleashed their high-octane energy and anthemic chops upon stages worldwide. The band will play a stint of West Coast dates next month with more chances to experience the electrifying onslaught coming soon.

L7: Pretend We’re Dead assembles a powerful combination of never-before-seen home video footage, raucous performances,and relevant interviews. It’s a real time journey witnessing the rise, fall, and ultimate redemption of the fierce feminist pioneers of American grunge punk, L7.

The film offers engrossing insight into the band’s 20 year plus her-story and features exclusive interviews with Exene Cervenka (X), Shirley Manson (Garbage), Joan Jett, Brody Dalle (The Distillers), Lydia Lunch, Allison Robertson (The Donnas), Louise Post (Veruca Salt), CSS and more.

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Donald Fagen and The Nightflyers, The TVD Interview

“I wish I had a heart like ice,” Donald Fagen—or rather his character, uber-hip yet lovelorn jazz DJ Lester—yearns in “The Nightfly.” The track is a high point on an autobiography-infused nostalgiAlbum of high points. The Nightfly, Fagen’s debut solo recording—which also featured classics “I.G.Y.” and “New Frontier”—was nominated for seven Grammy awards and released in 1982.

Fagen’s latest solo venture comes in the form of a touring band appropriately dubbed The Nightflyers. From July through September, the bunch will play in a myriad of venues across the US, as well as the Yokohama Blue Note Jazz Fest for a tour closer. The Nightflyers are new for Donald, more or less; he first ran into the twenty-somethings bunch—Connor Kennedy (guitar, vocals), Lee Falco (drums, vocals), Brandon Morrison (bass, vocals), and Will Bryant (keyboards, vocals)—on the Woodstock-area music circuit. Stepdaughter and musician Amy Helm, also based in the Woodstock area, had worked with them in the past. Donald Fagen and the Nightflyers’ current setlist mainly borrows from Donald’s four stellar solo albums—The Nightfly (1982), Kamakiriad (1993), Morph the Cat (2006), and Sunken Condos (2012)—with some innovative covers and Steely Dan classics, too.

Fagen first formed a reputation as vocalist-pianist and songwriter, along with his musical partner Walter Becker, creating the Steely Dan nucleus. Influenced by literature and jazz, science fiction and noir, and all things Beatnik, Fagen and Becker created one of the most cerebrally complex yet often-mass-marketable song catalogues in the American popular music of the 1970s. Consider for a moment the miraculous and sometimes twisted perfection of the band’s lyrics—no topic seemed off-limits for songs, and many dealt in the murky nether regions of human relationships—which can sometimes get creepy. Steely Dan’s characters, however dastardly or morally questionable their intentions were, always possessed a layer of relatable loneliness.

As a solo artist, Donald Fagen is perhaps under-recognized for the romantic view of life expressed in his music. Frequently and rightfully lauded for his impressive cerebral prowess, he is sometimes snubbed for the more emotional side of his unique aural persona—one that is ridden, however coolly, with noble feeling, steadfast mensch-ness, and a lushly detectable yet fittingly understated sex appeal. A persona that’s the sonic equivalent of Bogart’s Rick in Casablanca, decked out in a white dinner jacket—solitary, strong, sarcastic, and unavoidably ardent when it came to the gal he loved. Like Lester the Nightfly, Rick insisted he’d “stick his neck out for nobody.” He yearned for “a heart like ice”—but couldn’t swing it.

In conversation with Donald Fagen, and Connor Kennedy of the Nightflyers, we learn more about the current Nightflyers tour, their musical and lifestyle influences and inspirations, and Connor’s recently released solo album, Somewhere.

Donald, a great deal of your solo material features seemingly cynical characters who also possess an undertone of a romantic worldview, a worldview that I’ve found to be pretty popular in the great noir protagonists of literature and cinema—like Philip Marlowe.

That’s fair, that’s fair.

Do you envision yourself in this way too, as the protagonist of your own life experience, having a soft spot for what you love, despite your intellect’s best intentions?

I think that’s a very fair way to describe the music. It’s hard to say. I think it’s sort of egotistical to put myself in a position of having the same kind of bigger-than-life personality as, you know, some of the people in noir literature, like say, Philip Marlowe, something like that. But I am attracted to that sort of thing, and I always think that the best of noir literature—you know, “noir” is actually a word that is fairly recent. They didn’t call it that when it was written. But there’s something about that vision of life to me that seems true to real life, I think. I think you’re right—there’s a romance to it. There’s a cynicism to it, skepticism, and humor, also. So I think that’s become part of my style.

Yes. I was watching the film version of Chandler’s The Big Sleep again recently and Philip Marlowe seems like this knight in shining armor that’s trying to work his way through this muck of all these crazy and corrupt characters, even though he seems that he’s a bit cynical.

Right.

He does stand out as being the one guy who’s doing the right thing.

Yeah, it’s like Al Franken, you know.

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Richard X Heyman,
The TVD First Date

“There was always a lot of vinyl lying around the Heyman household. My father was into big band jazz as well as some classic comedy albums; my mother liked Broadway soundtracks and classical. My three older sisters were into this new fad called ‘rock’n’roll.'”

“There were stacks of 45s by many of the burgeoning artists of the day. We even had some old 78s. I remember a few times where for some reason I couldn’t find the little plastic center piece (what the hell are those things called?) you’d put in the big hole on a 45. I’d try to eyeball it as centrally as possible, but I could never get it just right. The music would sound slightly wobbly and I’d get a little seasick. Like the time I listened to “Uptown” by The Crystals over and over again because I just wanted to keep experiencing it. And all the while, I had to put a nickel on top of the tone arm to keep it from skipping. This of course was on one of those tiny box record players.

I’d have to say I cut my teeth on Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Harry James, Count Basie, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, The King and I, Camelot, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, Del Shannon, Ricky Nelson, Fats Domino, Dion & The Belmonts, James Brown, The Drifters, a ton of doo-wop and soul, etc. I spent a good portion of my youth deep inside the grooves of those vinyl albums.

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Graded on a Curve: Saccades, (S/T)

Saccades is the new side project of Nicholas Wood, a Berlin-based musician some will recognize as one half of The KVB, an outfit who’ve been pegged as a synth-pop post-punk merger, more tersely as darkwave, and on their own website as blending “reverb-soaked shoegaze with minimalist electronic production.” Saccades is none of those things, instead offering an appealing slice of psychedelic indie guitar pop, but aspects of his main gig do shine through. It’s out now on vinyl and compact disc via Fuzz Club Records.

The above descriptors of The KVB, which finds Wood in partnership with Kat Day, are all fair, though breezing through portions of their discography revealed less overt synth-pop than expected. What arose in its place was a combo of darkwave, with an emphasis on moves familiar from late Joy Division, and a more electro-friendly Jesus & Mary Chain/ shoegaze approach, which reinforces The KVB as being as focused on guitars as synths.

Ultimately, this solo turn is distinct but not entirely surprising. Recorded and produced by Wood last summer during a break in The KVB’s touring schedule, Saccades was captured using an old Tascam tape machine, the device delivering a stripped-down “classic” feel that nicely complements these motions beyond the garage.

Fuzz Club’s promo text describes Saccades as lo-fi, but opener “Distant Sea” is quite vivid as it leisurely unwinds, though it does benefit from a lack of sheen. Much of the song’s appeal derives from its guitars, mingling structural strum with clean, bright guitar leads, but the breathy vocals and interjections of hovering keyboard add value, and the bass and drums are effectively unfussy.

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Kenneth Whalum,
The TVD First Date

“My first experience with vinyl records came when I was about 8 years old. It was Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions. I think along with the fact that it was my first vinyl experience, it was my first experience with Stevie Wonder.”

“I was immediately interested and curious about how this huge machine at the time worked. After asking my dad how he placed the needle on the record, he showed me and the music began to play. This is obviously one of the great albums of all time so the sounds were amazing as the record went around and around.

Another thing I remember was the fact that the artwork was amazing. I was probably more intrigued with the art than I was with the music at the time. My parents played this record and many others all the time and I loved how the speakers stood taller than I did. There is a certain sonic texture that even now is just much more rich than any other type of way to listen to music. It almost seems fatter. The presence of the sound waves seems thicker to me. My uncle Kirk Whalum would also make sure we had all of his vinyl records in the house.

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Graded on a Curve: Cradle of Filth,
Nymphetamine

Life is really rather dark and well, gloomy and bleak and, to put it starkly as it were, abominable and doom-laden, isn’t it? I mean, golly, in this burial shroud of a world where every night is Samhain night and Lovecraftian horrors lurk around every corner, wouldn’t it be nice if somebody made music about how utterly blasted and totally hopeless things really are? Well, you can shout “la! la! Cthulhu fhtagn!” my absinthe drinking, underworld pale, smelling slightly of the grave friends—Cradle of Filth to the rescue!

If you’re familiar with the UK sitcom The IT Crowd you’ll know that it was Cradle of Filth that transformed up and coming young executive Richmond Avenal into a Dracula-like Goth banished to working at no job in particular behind a blood red door in the dank basement of Reynholm Industries. In one particularly hilarious episode, he offers a Cradle of Filth CD to a grieving widow at her husband’s funeral, kindly suggesting she listen to track four, “Coffin Fodder,” telling her, “It sounds horrible, but it’s actually quite beautiful.” Well, I tracked down the cut on the extreme metal band’s extremely entertaining sixth studio LP, 2004’s Nymphetamine, and it’s anything but beautiful. But boy does it shred!

Is Nymphetamine a rewarding listen? Do vampires enjoy the taste of human blood? Of course it’s bloody rewarding! The group that Richmond Avenal mildly calls “one of the best contemporary dark wave bands in the world” combines Goth imagery with unadulterated thrash and din to produce the aural equivalent of the damned French poet and dandy Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal. Dani Filth provides the requisite death wraith vocals; guitarists Paul Allender and “Germs Warfare” (aka James McIlroy) slash away like werewolves making mincemeat of your dear old granny. And “Martin Foul” (aka Martin Powell) adds gloomy atmospherics on keyboards. Add some high-falutin’ choirs of damned souls and what you have is lots of old-fashioned evil fun—I find them hilarious, myself, but on such songs as “Filthy Little Secret,” “Gilded Cunt” (!!), “Coffin Fodder,” “Medusa and Hemlock,” and “Mother of Abominations,” I’ll be damned if Cradle of Filth don’t deliver the extreme metal goods.

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