Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Slade’s Slade Alive! “Art of the Album” Deluxe Ed. in stores 9/29

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Ask a fan of any band to name their favourite album by said act and there are not many sets of fans whose first choice would almost unanimously be a live album. But Slade are most definitely one of those bands and the album that tops most fans’ lists is Slade Alive! And their legendary frontman Noddy Holder agrees, maintaining to this very day that it is the band’s greatest album; “I think it had the essence of what Slade was all about as a band. It was very basic and raw, it captured a mood and it also helped set us apart from other pop acts. We weren’t just a singles band anymore—we had a credible, raunchy hit album too. We were pop and we were cool. It was perfect.”

With their first monster hit single “Coz I Luv You” poised to spend four weeks occupying the coveted UK No.1 spot in late 1971, Slade aka Noddy Holder (vocals/guitar), Dave Hill (guitar), Jim Lea (bass), and Don Powell (drums) were a young West Midlands band on the cusp of international rock stardom. Manager and producer Chas Chandler was keen to get an album into the shops fast in order to capitalise on the imminent success of “Coz I Luv You” and a live album seemed by far the quickest and easiest solution. Famously recorded for the princely sum of just £600 over three nights (between 19th-21st October 1971) of loud, hot and sweaty 300-capacity fan-club only gigs at a packed Command Studios, Piccadilly London W1, Slade pushed the club’s PA system to its limits as Chandler set about the tricky task of capturing on tape the sound of a band at the absolute peak of their live power.

Speaking of the album recently, Don Powell said; “Memories are still vivid of the three nights in Command Studios at Piccadilly Circus where we recorded Slade Alive! It was also a small theatre where we invited fan club members. We actually used all of the second night for Slade Alive!

Jim Lea continues; “After “Get Down And Get With It”, “Coz I Luv You” was to come next and in the gap, because of “Get Down And Get With It” being such a closing feature of our stage show, Chas came up with the idea of a live album. Slade Alive! was a true live album (most are not) and it broke new ground for us.”

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TVD Radar: Third Man Records to reissue Chess Records’ Muddy Waters singles

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Third Man Records is proud to introduce their partnership with Universal Music Group in an effort to highlight the depth and importance of the Chess Records catalog. In what is now their third ongoing, label-based series of 7″ reissues, along with their Sun Records and Tamla Records series, the label has released three singles that are the pinnacle of Muddy Waters’ recorded output.

Muddy Waters is considered the premiere Chicago blues artist. His recordings influenced everyone from the Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin, and countless others. Before his name was synonymous with the Chicago sound and Chess Records, Waters was an aspiring musician in the Mississippi delta whose confidence was bolstered by a visit and field recording by Alan Lomax. “I really heard myself for the first time. I’d never heard my voice. I used to sing; used to sing just how I felt, ’cause that’s the way we always sang in Mississippi,” Waters told one journalist. “But when Mr. Lomax played me the record I thought, man, this boy can sing the blues.”

The move from Mississippi to Chicago to become a professional musician resulted in two early Muddy Waters hits on the Chess brothers’ Aristocrat Records, which shortly thereafter changed its name to Chess Records. Originally released on 78rpm records in 1950, 1953, and 1955 respectively, Waters signature first hit single on Chess, “Rollin Stone” b/w “Walkin’ Blues,” is paired with “She’s All Right” b/w “Sad, Sad Day” and “Mannish Boy” b/w “Young Fashioned Ways.”

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Graded on a Curve: 80s Underground Cassette Culture Vol. 1

A fair amount of deserved spotlight has been paid to ’80s UK DIY, an impulse that thrived in the underbelly of the decade’s post punk scene, but a new compilation from the Contort Yourself label reinforces self-production and distribution of experimental sounds as a global occurrence throughout the decade. 80s Underground Cassette Culture Vol. 1 collects 21 examples of subterranean artistry with a focus on dark and occasionally misanthropic electronic experimentation. It’s out September 18 on double vinyl with a gatefold jacket, printed inner sleeves, and two inserts.

As detailed in Tristan Koreya’s succinct notes, the selections corralled here exist due to a confluence of factors. There was the increased affordability of musical instruments (synths, drum boxes), recording devices (microphones, tape machines), and duplicating equipment (Xerox copiers, dual tape decks, and naturally, cassettes), but just as importantly, there was the postal service, a network of enterprises which made it possible for these artists to overcome seclusion, providing and receiving inspiration and validation via the mailbox while developing a base of listeners, even if tiny.

Side one of this often-fascinating collection wastes no time in emphasizing the widespread nature of the phenomenon. East End Butchers hailed from Australia, their “Assassins” an ominous bit of tape collage, incessant pulse, rhythmic whacking, and sing-song spoken word, while Magthea called Belgium home; the extract from their “Magthea & Insanity” is a rising-falling and appealingly low-tech instrumental soundscape.

Missing Persons shouldn’t be confused with the US new wave act of the same name; representing the DIY wave mentioned up top, this Missing Persons resided in the UK. “Rotten to the Core” is aptly pegged as post-punk political protest, certainly a more strident affair than “The Other Stranger,” an unruffled blend of synth, rhythm, and dialogue samples from the Dutch outfit Doxa Sinistra. Germany’s PCR employ similar ingredients to a darker, industrial-tinged result, as side one closes with an extract from their “Myths of Seduction & Betrayal.”

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TVD Radar: Stax Country in stores 10/20 via Craft Recordings

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Recordings, the catalog division of Concord Music Group, is pleased to announce the forthcoming release of Stax Country, a collection of rare and unreleased country songs, recorded in the early-mid 1970s for the Memphis label.

Due out October 20th, the album will be available on vinyl and CD, as well as across all digital and streaming platforms, and will include new liner notes by author Colin Escott, who has not only chronicled the stories of Hank Williams, Sun Records, and the Grand Ole Opry, but also co-wrote the Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical Million Dollar Quartet. Stax Country comes as part of an extensive 60th anniversary celebration of the iconic soul label, taking place throughout 2017.

Primarily known as a soul outfit, Stax often made efforts to diversify, with signings in rock, blues, and country music, the latter of which wasn’t a stretch for the Memphis label: Stax’s cofounder Jim Stewart was a fiddle player himself, who began his career in the genre; while Nashville—the mecca of country music—was just a mere three hours away. The label cast a wide net to find the next big voice in country music, but the results were lukewarm. In his liner notes, Escott confirms, “Indies had never broken the major labels’ hammerlock on country for long. Smaller labels nibbled around the lower reaches of the charts, sometimes even pushing a record or two to the top, but year-in, year-out, the majors owned country music. Stax was neither the first nor last label to discover that.”

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TVD Radar: R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People 25th Anniversary Edition in stores 11/10

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Rock icons R.E.M. are reissuing their landmark album Automatic For The People to commemorate the title’s 25th Anniversary. Due November 10 via Craft Recordings, the remastered album will be available in a variety of formats, the most extensive of which is the Deluxe Anniversary Edition, which will feature the album in its entirety mixed in Dolby Atmos.

The album (plus bonus track “Photograph,” featuring Natalie Merchant) was remixed in Dolby Atmos by Automatic’s original producer, Scott Litt, and engineer, Clif Norrell. This technology delivers a leap forward from surround sound with expansive, flowing audio that immerses the listener far beyond what stereo can offer. It transports the listener inside the recording studio with multi-dimensional audio—evoking a time when listening to music was an active, transformative experience, and reigniting the emotion you felt when you first heard the album in 1992. R.E.M.’s Automatic For The People is the first album to be commercially released in this expressive, breathtaking format.

In addition, the 4-disc Deluxe Edition will offer a wealth of previously unreleased material. The band selected 20 never-before-heard demos from the LP’s sessions, including the fully-realized, unreleased track “Mike’s Pop Song” and the oft-mused about song, “Devil Rides Backwards.” “Mike’s Pop Song” debuts today and is available as an instant grat track with preorder of the reissue.

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Robbery Inc.,
The TVD First Date

“My first memories of vinyl were when I was a kid living in Oahu, HI, and my older cousin busted out an AC/DC Back In Black record. He would drop the needle at random spots and I’d guess which song was playing off the album. We’d also have air guitar contests and I’d always win; this was a good 8 years before I started actually playing guitar so I guess it was in my blood!”

“From there it was Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Captain Fantastic, Kiss’ Destroyer and Alive!, Black Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell and Paranoid. I loved the artwork on these albums, and would stare at it while playing the records. There were a slew of 45s I wore out: The Village People’s “YMCA,” Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration,” Kiss’ “I was Made For Loving You,” and then there was my grandfather’s amazing collection of Cuban music that I loved. Even now, whenever I hear traditional Cuban music, I’m transported back in time to when we’d build puzzles and listen to his records.

The thing I love most about vinyl is the packaging and the artwork. It helps convey the tone and feel of what the artist is going for musically, or it can be a visual experience of what an album is about. Its part of a band’s branding. When I first bought an album I would read the lyrics off the liner notes while singing along to the music, and there were also credits (remember those?) so I’d know exactly who played on the records and who mixed and produced the tracks.

The old jazz albums would have forwards on them, like a book, providing great context for the listener. I think that credits are the most important thing missing from today’s digital downloads and streams. I’m a musician, but I’m also a producer, and the lack of focus on these details on iTunes, Spotify, and other DSPs is disappointing. With vinyl’s resurgence, artists can now include the credits, backstories, and lyrics once again. This is great!

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TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday recap of the new and FREE tracks received last week to inform the next trip to your local indie record store.

Opollo – Keep Shining The Dark Light
Flotation Toy Warning – Due To Adverse Weather Conditions, All Of My Heroes Have Surrendered
MELANIE? – 16 Candles
Becca Richardson – Wanted
Swimming Bell – Ealing Common
Shining Mirrors – Cardiac
TOMKAT – Teardrops
Brad Peterson – Clap Your Hands
J Hacha de Zola – March of the Hollowmen
This Way to the Egress – See No Evil

MYRKUR – Ulvinde

Mark Bryan – Mybabyshe’sallright
Matt Tarka – Time Travels
Ephrata – Tunguska
Tree Machines – Up For Air
Broke Royals – As Long As I Can See
Jahn Rome – Breathe In
Ashton Love – Counting Down The Days
CUZZINS – Irreplacable (Feat. Paige Faust)
Mighty Mouse – Nueva Vida
LondonBridge – Treat Me Right

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Graded on a Curve:
Les Baxter,
Skins! Bongo Party
with Les Baxter

Bongo-curious? Oh, come on. You know you are. We all are, deep down. So go ahead, take a walk on the wild side with Les Baxter’s 1957 bongo opus Skins! Bongo Party with Les Baxter.

One album. One man. One set of bongos. What could be more exciting than that? Well, an all-cowbell LP would be more exciting than that, but make no mistake; Les Baxter—the musician and arranger who from the 1950s to the late 1990s produced a massive discography of relatively queasy-making easy-listening world music that he called exotica—has come up with the next best thing.

I’m joshing, of course. Does anybody out there really want to listen to an entire album of bongo solos? It’s like my pal Steve Renfro, who is paraphrasing Allen Ginsberg, says: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by bongos, starving hysterical naked… “ I don’t know about you, but when I hear a bongo solo coming, I run for the hills.

But I’ll be damned if Baxter doesn’t almost pull it off. Ninety-nine percent of the Muzak Maestro’s output may be treacle—I’ve just been listening to 1958’s Space Escapade (saccharine intergalactic laid back!) and 1951’s Ritual of the Savage (the natives are restfully orchestral tonight!) and frankly, my ears hate me. But on Skins! Baxter eschews schmaltz for at least a semblance of Afro-Cuban jazz authenticity, and if the album ultimately fails to satisfy it has less to do with Baxter’s propensity for populist pablum than the limitations inherit in producing a record revolving around a percussion instrument with limited musical and emotional range.

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Cobi, The TVD First Date

“The first record I ever owned was Bob Marley’s Kaya. The Marley records always sounded best on vinyl. You notice more richness and depth in the music because there is a perfect amount of rhythmic space. The intricacies have more value—a wider sonic plane. Kaya is still my favorite record… “Easy Skankin’” is my anthem.”

“Every once in a while, my mom would come home early from work and find my brother Josh and I in a smoke hazed room listening to all her old records. She’d be super pissed, ground us, and take away our car privileges so we couldn’t go anywhere. That led us to staying at home, listening to more records, and jamming guitar with each other. He’s actually on tour now as well. Thanks ma!

Whenever we had a chance, Josh and I would scavenge all of our family members old record collections. Zeppelin, Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan—LOTS of Dylan. I remember the sound of the needle on the record and how different it was from cassettes and CDs. Vinyl sounded so warm and fat that it made CDs sound one-dimensional. It made me realize how special those old analog recordings were because of the deeper, more saturated tones.

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Graded on a Curve: Various Artists,
The Best Northern Soul All-Nighter… Ever!

England’s Northern Soul movement—which exploded at about the same time the Mod Scene was waning—was based on an odd but simple aesthetic: Let’s all go to one of the many soul clubs to be found in the Midlands and the North of England (Wigan Casino, Manchester’s Twisted Wheel, or the Golden Torch in Turnstall, to name a few) to take lots of amphetamines and dance all night to the sounds of obscure American soul records—the more obscure the better.

The scene boasted a set of rules every bit as codified as those of Mod, and inherited Mod’s fashion sense and affection for leapers. But Northern Soul was far more America-looking. And Northern Soul’s identification with black American culture (although plenty of white artists made the soul cut too) went beyond the musical to the political; it was no accident that the economically downtrodden youth of depressed Northern England adopted the clenched fist of the Black Power salute as a symbol to be found on many of the patches worn with pride by the attendees at all-nighters from The Twisted Wheel—which was ultimately shuttered after being declared a drug haven—to the Catacombs in lovely Wolverhampton.

But what made Northern Soul a true record geek’s Mecca was its emphasis on seeking out and popularizing (for the larger part) rare mid-1960s 45s by relatively little known American soul artists recording on small regional labels such as Detroit’s Ric-Tic Records. Its adherents’ fanatical quest for the obscure bordered on mania. Have you heard The Fascinations’ cover of Curtis Mayfield’s “Girls Are Out to Get You”? You haven’t? Well I just bought it at Dave Godin’s record shop in Covent Garden! Let’s dash off to my house and spin it!

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