Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Afro-Cuban All Stars, A Toda Cuba Le Gusta vinyl reissue in stores 9/7

VIA PRESS RELEASE | A Toda Cuba Le Gusta the debut album by the Afro-Cuban All Stars was the first in a trilogy of extraordinary albums recorded by World Circuit in a single two-week session at Havana’s Egrem studios in 1996. The other albums, which share many of the same personnel, were Buena Vista Social Club and Introducing… Ruben Gonzalez.

The All Stars were brought together by musical director Juan de Marcos González (who was previously the leader of the son group Sierra Maestra) as a backing band for his heroes, the legendary soneros (singers) from the 1940s and 1950s – the “Golden Age” of Cuban music. González had long harboured a dream to put together a band combining the “old masters” and the new generation of Cuban musicians. His meeting with World Circuit’s Nick Gold revealed a shared passion and the fuse was lit. With his contemporary arrangements and his choice of musicians and repertoire combined with the all-acoustic ensemble’s extraordinary power and exuberance, he succeeds in paying homage while demonstrating the vitality of the music.

The thirteen-piece band is made up of four generations of some of Cuba’s finest musicians. The list of lead vocalists is a virtual “who’s who” of the greatest Cuban soneros: the octogenarian great Pío Leyva (Estrellas de Areito) and septuagenarians Raúl Planas (Rumbavana, Celia Cruz), Manuel ‘Puntillita’ Licea (Sonora Matancera) and Ibrahim Ferrer (Pacho Alonso) are joined by rising stars from a younger generation, Antonio ‘Maceo’ Rodríguez (Sierra Maestra) and Félix Valoy (Alberto Alvarez).

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Dave Wakeling,
The TVD Interview

Dave Wakeling, the charismatic frontman and songwriter for the ska revival pioneers known in the States as The English Beat, once famously said every great band has only three good albums in them. The Beat disbanded officially with its third, Special Beat Service, 35 years ago.

But after stints in General Public and various bands reviving that sound and the music of the Beat, here’s the fourth album, Here We Go Love, out today, powered by the politically charged single “How Can You Stand There?”

We caught up with Wakeling, 62, recently while the band was on tour in England, He happened to be in his hometown, Birmingham, “sitting at the breakfast table at my sister’s house.’’ He talked expansively about the rock legacy of that industrial town in the West Midlands, his adjustment to California where he’s lived for nearly 30 years, the rise of reggae from punk halls and soccer stadiums, and of course, vinyl.

Your new album is out very soon.

Not sure if the vinyl is coming at the same time, it might be…

People are sort of buying it again, vinyl, which is interesting. My daughter was playing her vinyl copy of the first Bob Marley album and the whole house was vibrating beautifully with analog sound. I got to enjoy shouting up the stairs, “Do you really need to play it that loud?” I got the answer back: “Yes.”

So there’s a difference you think.

Yes, there is a difference. There always was. And anybody who said there wasn’t was just hoping. I could always hear it. I read a little bit how analog recording had been designed around capturing the emotional quality of the instruments of the orchestra, and those instruments themselves had taken hundreds and thousands of years, ending up in really odd shapes, in order to produce sounds that directly affected human beings’ emotional centers, or chakras, as they’re called.

It’s why the hair goes up on your neck when you listen to an orchestra. Analog recording was designed to try to capture that and in doing so, it captures resonances. People always say “it sounds warmer.” But I think it’s more geared to human absorption. You turn things into zeros and ones and send them around the world, and pop them back up and use those zeroes and ones to recreate that sound, it probably does it perfectly—for computers’ chakras.

What specific record was influential to you early in your life?

Well, a number of things. For better or worse, my first single was colored vinyl—though I don’t think it was vinyl, it was plastic. It was “Little Brown Jug,” on a red toy plastic record player. [Sings, with gusto:] “Ha ha ha, He he he, Little Brown Jug don’t I love thee? Ha ha ha, He he he, Little Brown Jug don’t I love thee?” Not knowing it was going to going to turn me into an alcoholic later in life, I just thought it was just a pleasant little brown jug. Who knew?

So that was my first record. Then I became an avid singles collector in the late ’60s and the early ’70s. Some of my favorite records: “Wonderful World, Beautiful People” [by Jimmy Cliff], “All Right Now” by Free, that was a great single. “White Room” by Cream, that was a good one. “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix, that was a cracker. “Don’t Walk Away, Renee” and “Bernadette” [by the Four Tops]. They were on the Tamla label in England. Not Motown, Tamla. And they were all very, very important to me.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Rolling Stones,
Exile on Main Street

I’ve been down in the dumps of late; the suicide of a friend, the death of another friend I dearly loved, and a bad case of the blues have all pretty much brought me to my knees. I feel beat down, fagged out, fucked over, and broken up, and life sure does have a way of tarnishing your eyelids, doesn’t it?

Where to turn in times like these? When you’ve got a foot in the grave and your head in the oven?

Exile on Main Street, naturally. It’s as beat down an LP as ever you’ll hear; Mick, Keith and Company are torn and frayed and have shit on their shoes and the whole album sounds like it was recorded in a sub-basement of Hell.

And yet. The Rolling Stones’ 1972 bruised and battered masterpiece (and high-water mark) somehow manages to rise above the bad vibes and general miasma of death and dissolution that surrounded the band at the time. Nothing–not drug busts, the death of Brian Jones, Altamont, tax exile, or Keith Richards’ slide toward junkiedom–could stop the Stones from turning Exile on Main Street into a celebration of hope and soul survival.

And this despite the fact that the album is the aural equivalent of the La Brea tar pits. Mick Jagger has never stopped carping about Exile’s notoriously sludgy mix, but the murk doesn’t just work–it’s part and parcel of the double album’s greatness. You have to trudge through shit to get to the Promised Land, and if you scrape the shit off these songs, well, you find diamonds. “Turd on the Run” anyone?

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Demand it on Vinyl: Buck Owens’ final Capitol Records album, never released, in stores 8/17

If you stress it, they’ll press it. —Ed.

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Omnivore Recordings, in conjunction with the Buck Owens Estate, will release Country Singer’s Prayer, Buck Owens’ final Capitol album from 1975, which has remained unissued until now. Street date for CD and Digital is August 17, 2018.

By late 1975, Buck’s unequaled success at Capitol Records was finally winding down. His singles were no longer topping the charts, and after the untimely death of bandmate Don Rich the year before, Buck was starting to lose the fire that drove him through an unprecedented run of groundbreaking hits in the ’60s and early ’70s. His contract with Capitol was due to expire at the end of the year, and he and the Buckaroos readied one final album for the label in November 1975.

While several of Buck’s later Capitol recordings had not been topping the charts as before, his last single for them, “Country Singer’s Prayer,” failed to even make a showing. Likely due to the indifference shown to that last single, the decision was made to shelve this final album, and assign the selection number to what was ultimately Buck’s last Capitol release, Best of Buck Owens, Vol. 6, which did include the last two singles originally intended for Country Singer’s Prayer: “Battle of New Orleans” and the title track.

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TVD Radar: Lambchop, What Another Man Spills 20th anniversary vinyl reissue in stores 8/3

VIA PRESS RELEASE | To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Lambchop’s 1998 album What Another Man Spills is being pressed to vinyl for the first time in North America this August! Remastered from the original DAT, the 2-LP and CD reissue features refreshed artwork, and the Peak Vinyl version comes on limited-edition milky white and yellow swirl to match it. Pre-order now in the Merge store (pro tip: bundle it with a new Chris Williams-designed t-shirt!) or through your favorite local independent record shop.

What Another Man Spills represents a milestone in Lambchop’s career, but not in the modern sense of a “landmark” release. Building on foundations that had once sounded almost literally creaky, it expands upon the tentative maneuvers they’d undertaken with the previous year’s Thriller (1997) and gestures confidently towards its brassy successor, Nixon, which would arrive in 2000 to wild acclaim and previously unimaginable commercial success.

Indeed, it sits at a crossroads between the band that Lambchop first emerged as, and the band that they would later become. If it felt at the time like a reasonable, yet slightly confused descendant of what had gone before, without it, one suspects, what followed might never have been possible. In fact, what might first seem an anomaly in their catalogue, a deviation from a previously familiar path, instead becomes a beacon lighting the way forward. It is, one might say, both ugly duckling and beautiful swan all at once.

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Deaf Poets,
The TVD First Date

“My Euro parents were heavily into disco, preferably dancey rather than neck jerking. Now at 28, I remember being a kid waking up to the Bee Gees blasting in the AM. I was too young to really care, but seeing their LPs rotating on top of that table always caught my attention. WTF… just wax and a needle?”

“Coming from the generation of Nintendo and Gameboy, music didn’t really wag my tail until my sister Gina showed me Zeppelin. Then, like a slap in the face, all those talks about the Stones and Dylan my dad would share made sense. I inherited my parents’ records ranging from the obvious disco to random Dutch tunes. I’ll still play it for laughs. It wasn’t until middle school when this hobby became more of an obsession.

My friend’s dad loved ’60s, ’70s-era rock, and occasionally lent me vinyl from The Who and Hendrix. Back then, MTV was still a thing—exposing me to newer bands like Modest Mouse and Franz Ferdinand. (A funny memory was when I’d record their music videos over an old VHS copy of Home Alone 2.) From what I remember it wasn’t really easy getting newer music on vinyl living in Miami Beach (this was before Urban Outfitters started carrying a selection, and before Sweat Records and Radio-Active Records existed).

Among the records I was given, one that really stood out was Harvest Moon by Neil Young. I’d blame my mom for my love of chill rainy morning vibes, the room smelling of incense while we’d laugh as she’d recall when she bought whatever LP we were listening to. These stories came from a different time when people would wait in line all day to grab their copy of a band’s release.

Vinyl always felt nostalgic, presenting music in a way that you felt rather than heard—the only physical format that a presence and warmth is so apparently sitting in the room next to you. Just close your eyes and listen to the words, the melodies, and the soul.

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Graded on a Curve:
Hot Chocolate,
10 Greatest Hits

The U.K. funk/soul/disco outfit Hot Chocolate never made much of a dent statewide; they’re best remembered for their 1975 hit “You Sexy Thing,” although pop aficionados will also remember them for such curiosities as “Brother Louie”–which Stories took to Number One in the U.S.–and “Emma.”

And that’s too bad, because the racially mixed Hot Chocolate produced some damn good music, much of which found its way onto their 1974 debut Cicero Park, 1975’s eponymous Hot Chocolate, and 1976’s Man to Man. Lead singer Errol Brown and bassist/co-lead vocalist Tony Wilson were a formidable songwriting team before the latter’s departure, and Brown continued to turn out some excellent stuff, as is proved beyond a doubt on 1977’s 10 Greatest Hits.

It didn’t hurt that Brown’s soulful croon was one in a million, or that he could shriek just like Wilson Pickett. Just listen to the screams he tosses off at the end of the immortal suicide ode “Emma,” which works to a “T” thanks to the funky drumming of white guy Tony Connor and the guitar of other white guy Harvey Hinsley. And Hinsley’s guitar is a thing of wonder on the hard-charging funk rocker “You Could’ve Been a Lady,” which would have flown to the Top of the Pops in a just world. This baby remains one of my favorite songs of America’s Bicentennial Year; inexplicably, Hot Chocolate didn’t see fit to release it as a single.

“Disco Queen” shows off Brown’s funky vocals and Connor’s heavy manner on the drums; the horn section is hot, and when Brown sings “She don’t need no man to give her satisfaction/All she needs is a guitar playing high” Hinsley’s there to do just that. This baby is the Talking Head’s “Life During Wartime” for the dance set, and I love it. “Heaven Is in the Back Seat of My Cadillac” has an impossibly funky groove and brings the best out of Brown, whose vocal style on this one is impossible to describe. Suffice if to say that when he bends the words “Let me take you there” the ladies swoon, and never has the idea of cramped back seat love sounded so good.

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Graded on a Curve:
Chairs Missing

While the punk genre has its share of great albums, and the same can surely be said for the refinements, expansions, and disruptions in post-punk’s playground, the list of those having excelled at both is short indeed. If any outfit makes the cut, it’s Wire. Having delivered the UK class of ’77 a cornerstone LP, their next two full-lengths helped to define the sound of post-punk; they remain amongst the finest records the styles ever produced. Out now through the band’s label Pinkflag are special edition CD books of all three, 80 pages each and sized like 45s, featuring text by Jon Savage and Graham Duff plus additional tracks. The standalone vinyl and no-frills CDs arrive July 6. Here’s our look at 1978’s Chairs Missing.

The enduring stream of adulation awarded to Wire’s debut Pink Flag can mask the fact that the esteem wasn’t instantaneous. As the printed observations in these CD books helps to clarify, the band was strikingly distinctive as part of the whole ’77 punk shebang, as they garnered a pocket of fervent advocates, including then Sounds writers Jon Savage and Jane Suck, but overall, Wire existed as just one outfit amongst many, and this lack of a microscope of expectation surely allowed for creativity to flourish without the hinderance of unnecessary pressures.

If somewhat ambivalent to the punk tag at the time and in retrospect, it’s pretty apparent now that Wire benefited from their emergence in connection to the sheer tumult of the time. Just as importantly, they weren’t anointed the saviors of its essence, the crucial destabilizers of convention, or the inevitable deliverers of what comes next.

Simply put, making rock music is hard. Making rock music that will produce an immediate audience reaction (and critical response) is harder. And making rock music under outsized expectations has been the end, literal and figurative, of many a band, resulting either in breakups or a nosedive in quality. At the very least, the avalanche of attention will irrevocably change the music.

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Marie Miller,
The TVD First Date

“The art of vinyl is one that should never be lost. It is a precious time capsule for our musical memory, a moment in history worth preserving. It reminds us that technology should always ask the question whether something new is always something universally better.”

“My latest album Letterbox answers that question with a no. I love handwritten letters, because they are physical pieces of paper with ink spilling out into this beautiful, physical world. In the story of our lives the words we write can not be backspaced, a bit like real letters. Like those handwritten letters to loved ones, my songs were are true stories of pain and joy, of hope and loss, of all the things this broken and wonderful life has to offer.

I grew up in a small little town in rural Virginia about an hour north of Charlottesville. My parents bought an old house named Glenway, built in 1804, and planted in us a love for things that last. They inspired my siblings and I to hold on to the good things of the past, to love tradition and culture.

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TVD Radar: Get Out
OST deluxe 2LP set in stores 6/15

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Waxwork Records is thrilled to announce the release of GET OUT Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Music By Michael Abels.

Written and directed by Jordan Peele, GET OUT is a critically acclaimed 2017 American horror film starring Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams. The film received numerous accolades and won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Kalluya. GET OUT is the directorial debut of accomplished actor and long time horror-fanatic, Jordan Peele. The film’s music was scored by composer Michael Abels, and it also features his debut as a film composer.

Included in the new deluxe double LP release of GET OUT are exclusive liner notes in the form of an in-depth essay by Peele that illustrates the director’s first meeting with Michael Abels, their approach to the film’s music, and how it all came together to conjure a new sound. “I had some ideas. I envisioned distinctly black voices harmonically creating an unnatural sound. The absence of hope. The void of the voiceless. A disembodied Negro spiritual. The Sunken Place.”

GET OUT Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features the complete soundtrack by composer Michael Abels, deluxe packaging, new artwork by Leslie Herman, a printed insert with exclusive liner notes by Jordan Peele, 180 gram “Garden Party” green marbled vinyl, and old style tip-on gatefold jackets with satin coating.

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