Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 31: Tracy Bonham

Tracy Bonham can do it all. You might remember her from the late ’90s when she released The Burdens of Being Upright abum and screamed right into the faces of the alternative rock world. Or, maybe you learned about her through her terrific albums and career that followed over the course of the last twenty years, but now, she’s back and she wants to teach you a lesson!

No, like a real lesson. Tracy takes a studious approach to music and wants to share her musical training with kids who have an interest in learning about it. Her newest project, Young Maestros, Vol. 1 has the goal of instilling into students some solid musical theory without pandering to them or talking down to them (kids hate when you do that!).

Join Tracy and me as we talk about her career and Young Maestros; you might even walk away learning some music theory; maybe even a little math. Did I just use math in an attempt to hook someone into listening to a show? Don’t worry, you’ll love it! Don’t forget to take notes, there might be a quiz at the end.

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Sharp Notes each Saturday evening at 6pm and TVD Radar on Sundays at 5AM on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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TVD Radar: Steve Miller Band, Steve Miller Band Live! Breaking Ground: August 3, 1977 2LP set in stores 5/14

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Guitarist, multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter, bandleader, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and Songwriters Hall of Fame electee Steve Miller shares the second song from his historic soon-to-be-released album of an epic live show from 1977.

“Shu Ba Da Du Ma Ma Ma Ma” is streaming now at all DSPs. The new full-length concert recording, Steve Miller Band Live! Breaking Ground: August 3, 1977, arrives via Sailor/Capitol/UMe on Friday, May 14. A variety of formats will be available, including digital, CD, and 2xLP black vinyl. Pre-orders are available now. The accompanying live concert video featuring the full performance will be available to stream on The Coda Collection on Amazon Prime Video. The album was heralded last month with the release of a fantastic version of the classic “Jet Airliner (Live).”

Says Miller: “This show from August of 1977 at the Cap Center in Landover, Maryland, captures the band right at the peak after The Joker, and in the middle of Fly Like an Eagle and Book of Dreams, a stream of hits…We decided to call it Breaking Ground because that’s exactly what we were doing.”

Steve Miller Band Live! Breaking Ground: August 3, 1977 includes original liner notes by music journalist David Fricke who says, “Breaking Ground captures the Steve Miller Band on stage in one of their biggest years, 1977. They were at a perfect crossroads of psychedelic zeal and progressive, popcraft while staying true to Miller’s first love, the blues.”

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Graded on a Curve:
Poco,
Pickin’ Up the Pieces

Remembering Rusty Young, Poco co-founder, with a look back via our archives from just last month.Ed.

Can I be honest? I chose to review Poco’s 1969 debut Pickin’ Up the Pieces based solely on its cover. Sure it’s an excellent LP and pioneering work of country rock, but it’s the cover that truly matters to me because there’s a great story behind it. So here goes.

Seems bassist Randy Meisner–who would shortly thereafter become a founding member of the Eagles–quit the band in a royal snit after Richie Furay and Jim Messina (both formerly of Buffalo Springfield) excluded him from participating in the album’s final mix. This left Poco in a rather awkward position when it came to the painting of the band’s members meant to grace the album cover. Poco might have done any number of things to remedy this situation, the most obvious and simple one being to scrap the cover and come up with a new one. Instead they opted to air brush poor Randy from the cover Josef Stalin style–and replace him with a dog.

I’ve done a bit of research on said pooch, and he’s rather a mystery. I’ve had no luck contacting him through my many musician and record company connections, and I could find no evidence that he was paid for his role as stand-in. Nor was I able to determine if he actually played on the album. I hear no barking, which isn’t to say they buried him way back in the vocal mix. He may also have played bass. Should you happen to run into him tell him to give me a ring. I’d love to know how he’s doing.

Pickin’ Up the Pieces is often placed alongside The Byrds 1968 LP Sweetheart of the Rodeo as a seminal work of what would soon become known as country rock, but there are critical differences between the two. Sweetheart of the Rodeo included only two Byrds’ originals; Pickin’ Up the Pieces is composed solely of Poco originals. The Byrds sought inspiration from the past, paying homage to their country forebears, and it lends their music an old-timely hillbilly sound. Poco, on the other hand, were looking forward to a future that would include such studio slicks as the Eagles and Pure Prairie League.

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Demand it on Vinyl: Grateful Dead, Road Trips Vol. 2 No. 3–Wall
of Sound
2-CD set in stores 5/15

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Road Trips was the successor to the Grateful Dead’s Dick’s Picks series, offering previously unreleased live shows for sale only to the Dead’s online audience. Now, Real Gone Music is bringing the Road Trips series to music retail for the first time. Road Trips Vol. 2 No. 3—Wall of Sound shines a light on the Grateful Dead’s infamous sound system.

Dead chronicler Dennis McNally’s liner notes to this Road Trip are a must-read, succinctly expounding upon how Bear’s vision of creating a sound system free of distortion morphed into a 641-speaker monster (there’s a great picture of it inside the booklet) that required three trucks to transport and five hours to set up, almost bankrupting the band and causing them to retire from the road for almost two years.

But it was truly a singular sonic achievement, one that, as McNally puts it, “allowed the band to go places they’d only dreamed of.” The two shows excerpted on this 2-CD set, 6/16/74 at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines and 6/18/74 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, beautifully illustrate the point: with a PA this loud, the band could play softer, freeing them to mesh ever more subtly and intricately.

The Des Moines “Eyes of the World” is simply definitive, and the Louisville medley of “Weather Report Suite”/”Jam”/”The Other One”/”It’s a Sin Jam”/”Stella Blue” is one-of-a-kind. This Trip’s a treasure…first time ever available at regular music retail.

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Graded on a Curve: Gordon Lightfoot,
An Introduction to Gordon Lightfoot

Robbie Robertson has called Canadian folk rock singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot “a national treasure,” and so he is. Canadians don’t just love their Orillia, Ontario native son, they worship him in temples that can only be entered by pilgrims clad in the holy sandals Gord wore on the cover of his 1974 LP Sundown.

And their devotion is understandable–Lightfoot has contributed many a timeless song to the world, and none other than Bob Dylan has gone on record saying that when he hears a Lightfoot song he wishes “it would last forever.”

Lightfoot wrote many a great song from 1965 to 1970 with United Artists, including “Early Morning Rain,” “Ribbon of Darkness,” and “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” to name just a few. But he recorded his best known work for Warner/Reprise Records, with whom he signed in 1970. And it’s this work you’ll hear on 2018’s aptly titled compilation An Introduction to Gordon Lightfoot.

There are other Lightfoot compilations out there, but they either include music only your hardcore fans will want to own (see 1999’s Songbook or 2019’s The Complete Singles 1970–1980). 1975’s Gord’s Gold is arguably the best comp out there, including as it does material from both his United Artists and Warner Brothers years, but it omits “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” (inexcusable!) and (even more inexcusable!) includes re-recordings of the songs from Lightfoot’s years with United Artists.

All ten of the tracks on An Introduction to Gordon Lightfoot provide indisputable proof that Lightfoot is the best singer-songwriter to stand his ground in Canada (Neil and Joni and Robbie defected and never looked back), and if you’re inclined to argue this fact with the peace-loving Canucks of the Great White North they might just crown you with a hockey stick and toss you into Lake Ontario.

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TVD Radar: Vintage vinyl from the vaults of Buck Owens Enterprises to be offered by Omnivore Recordings

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In a special arrangement with Buck Owens Enterprises, Omnivore Recordings is proud to present original, vintage Buck Owens- and Bakersfield-related LPs and 45s direct from Buck’s very own vaults.

Over the years, the country music great collected a sizable number of his albums and singles for his own use. Besides copies of his own albums, he also kept quantities of releases by other artists in his stable. All these unplayed records have been sitting untouched in Bakersfield since they were originally issued. Omnivore has offered vintage Buck LPs before, but is now adding 45s and original, vintage records by Don Rich, Susan Raye, Buddy Alan, The Buckaroos, Bakersfield Brass and more! And, some of the albums that sold out in the last offering will be replenished (for the last time).

These are never-before-played long players and singles, most dating back to Nashville West’s most successful era and the height of the Bakersfield sound in the ’60s and ’70s.

From Limited-Edition bundles to single 45s, Omnivore will carry them only while supplies last. Every bundle or single record release (LP or 45) will include a certificate of authenticity. All records will go on sale April 15, 2021, at 9 a.m. PT and they will only be available from www.omnivorerecordings.com/bakersfield-vintage-vinyl

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TVD Radar: Travis,
The Boy With No Name first ever vinyl reissue
in stores 5/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On May 28th, the Top Five album from Scottish rock band Travis, The Boy With No Name, returns to vinyl for the first time. Cut at London’s Metropolis Studios, Craft Recordings’ new reissue of the band’s fifth studio album comes housed in a gatefold sleeve and features a bonus 7” single. As well as the standard black vinyl (available to pre-order beginning today), a limited gold vinyl edition will be available exclusively at Travis’ official store. Meanwhile, Newbury Comics will offer an exclusive brown pressing coming later on September 17th.

In 2007, ten years after the release of their debut album Good Feeling, much had changed for Travis’ Fran Healy (vocals, guitar), Andy Dunlop (guitar), Dougie Payne (bass), and Neil Primrose (drums) – and yet, much remained the same. With Healy now a father (The Boy With No Name takes its title from a nickname briefly given to his son),his songwriting on The Boy With No Name turned to the world of relationships, with singles “Closer” (which marked the band’s return to the Top 10 on the UK singles chart) and “My Eyes” focusing on his newborn son.

Featuring production work from Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck, Paul McCartney) and pioneering artist Brian Eno, the album was praised by the BBC as the band’s “most eclectic album to date,” and the work of a band who “can afford to take risks,” while receiving four stars from Q magazine. Click here to watch the official music video (remastered in high definition) for “Closer,” featuring an appearance from actor, comedian, and director Ben Stiller.

The Boy With No Name is a dense album,” Fran reflected. “Andy MacDonald, our A&R man fracked me hard, possibly a little too hard, for songs. As a result, there were many strong contenders for singles. ‘Battleships,’ ‘Sailing Away,’ and ‘Big Chair’ are among some of which should have been released but never made it. As a result, it’s possibly our most eclectic album, packed with some of our most memorable songs.”

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Graded on a Curve: Radiohead,
Kid A

Celebrating Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien on his 53rd birthday.Ed.

Not long after Radiohead released 2000’s Kid A, my friend Patrick and I gave it a scathing review without having actually listened to it, on the basis that its only appeal was to depressives better served by listening to the Archies. We also surmised that if Thom Yorke was such a creep why bother, because who wants to hang out with a creep? And seems we weren’t alone. Author Nick Hornby lambasted Kid A, and a critic for England’s Melody Maker dismissed it as “tubby, ostentatious, self-congratulatory, look-ma-I-can-suck-my-own-cock whiny old rubbish.” You won’t hear that sort of language on The Crown.

It was the Melody Maker review that finally convinced me to give Kid A a listen–if the the damn thing was really that bad, I wasn’t going to miss out on the opportunity to pile on. But Kid A isn’t the space age fiasco I’d hoped for; its Pink Floyd/Brian Eno vibe make it the perfect accompaniment to a hard day over a hot bong. Your more active types, on the other hand, risk drowning in its ambient ooze. That sound you hear off in the distance is a non-fan, crying out hopelessly for a lifeguard.

The band itself was split over Kid A’s new direction; vocalist/songwriter Thom Yorke went into the studio convinced rock music had “run its course,” while guitarist/keyboardist Jonny Greenwood and bass player Colin Greenwood worried that they risked producing “awful art-rock nonsense just for its own sake.” Yorke was full of it–folks have been writing rock’s obituary since the early 1960s. The Greenwoods were wrong as well–Kid A may not be my cup of studio overkill, but it’s a noble foray into the realms of electronica that works, at least in parts, very well indeed.

Dreamy atmospherics abound, and on occasion Radiohead take things too far. The soundscape that is “Treefingers” is a limpid pool of nothing special, and if Yorke thinks he’s breaking new sonic ground he’s dead wrong; David Bowie was doing this sort of thing in the late seventies. The title track is a trifle livelier thanks to its snazzy drum beat and electronic squiggles, but Yorke’s distorted vocals serve only to annoy, and the big bass thump at the end of the song is too little too late.

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White Hills,
The TVD First Date

“My obsession with records dates back to when I was 5. Living in San Carlos, a suburb of San Francisco, which at that time had not left the Leave It To Beaver-era of 1950s Americana. With an older brother already in school and a younger brother still in diapers, much of my day was spent with my mother. I have vivid memories of her doing chores while listening to records, singing along to them and occasionally taking a moment to dance with me.”

“I became enthralled with these round discs that spewed out sound. I would spend hours on end flipping through my parents collection, which was mainly filled with singer-songwriters like Neil Diamond, Carole King and the like alongside Broadway soundtracks, big band and bebop jazz. There were a few anomalies, the soundtrack to Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix and The Band Of Gypsies and Jefferson Airplane’s Bark. The later was the one my pea brain was most enthralled with.

Bark was housed in a mysterious brown paper bag. Upon pulling the cover out I found myself staring at a fish with human teeth. It was so strange and foreign to me. Listening to the album only made things more confusing. From the obtuse acapella song “Thunk” to the nightmarish waltz “Never Argue With A German If You’re Tired Or European Song” to the overly stoned “Pretty As You Feel,” I was completely taken by these unfamiliar sounds and couldn’t get enough.

Flash forward some 5 years, relocated to a different suburb of SF, I would save up my allowance for the sole purpose of purchasing records. My parents had a friend who owned a local record store called Town & Country. Around this time I befriended a kid who had two much older brothers—one a senior in high school, the other a freshman at the University of Berkeley. It was through my friend’s older brothers that I was exposed to punk and new wave- artists like Patti Smith, Motorhead, Television, Sex Pistols and so much more.

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TVD Radar: Cream, Goodbye Tour–Live at the Forum 1968 2LP blue vinyl in stores 4/23

VIA PRESS RELEASE | UMe/Polydor is delighted to announce the limited edition, blue, 2LP release of Cream’s show Live at the Forum, recorded at the Los Angeles Forum during their 1968 Goodbye Tour.

Taken from the 2020 full version of the 4-CD set of the Goodbye Tour 1968 and produced by Bill Levenson, this sumptuous 2LP set is the first authorized release of the full concert on vinyl. It captures Cream at their virtuosic best, at the end but also at the height of their career. With Cream, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, set the template for not only the “supergroup” but also the “power trio,” with their innate musical talent and brilliance. Only coming together as Cream in July 1966, they shone briefly but blindingly bright throughout two trailblazing years.

“Cream was a shambling circus of diverse personalities who happened to find that catalyst together… any one of us could have played unaccompanied for a good length of time. So you put the three of us together in front of an audience willing to dig it limitlessly, we could have gone on forever… And we did… just going for the moon every time we played.” —Eric Clapton

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TVD Radar: Nina
Simone, The Montreux Years and Etta James, The Montreux Years 2LP editions in stores 5/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Montreux Jazz Festival and BMG launch “The Montreux Years,” featuring brand-new CD and vinyl collections of legendary performances from festival’s 55-year history and rare recordings of the world’s most esteemed artists from “Montreux Sounds,” the extensive collection of audio-visual material festival co-founder Claude Nobs.

Montreux Jazz Festival and BMG today announce the forthcoming releases of Nina Simone: The Montreux Years and Etta James: The Montreux Years on Friday, May 28, 2021. The live albums, which will be available in multiple-format configurations, including double LP and two-disc CD editions, feature sublime collections of the iconic musicians’ finest Montreux Jazz Festival performances, including previously unreleased material, all restored to their full glory and more. The audio will also be available on digital download and streaming services.

Simone and James’ albums are the first releases of Montreux Jazz Festival and BMG’s brand-new collection series “The Montreux Years.” The collections will uncover legendary performances by the world’s greatest artists alongside rare and never-before-released recordings from the festival’s rich 55-year history, with mastering performed by Tony Cousins at London’s iconic Metropolis Studios, incorporating MQA to capture the original sound of these special live performances. Each collection will be accompanied by exclusive liner notes and previously unseen photography.

Nina Simone’s story from the late ’60s to the ’90s can be told through her celebrated appearances at the famed festival. Taking to the Montreux stage for the first time on June 16, 1968 for the festival’s second edition, Simone built a lasting relationship with the event and its co-creator and director Claude Nobs. This unique trust and electricity can be clearly felt on the recordings.

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TVD Radar: Vince Guaraldi Trio, A Boy Named Charlie Brown reissue in stores 7/16

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Recordings announces a vinyl reissue of the Peanuts classic, A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Featuring nine evocative cues from the Vince Guaraldi Trio, the album has been newly remastered from the original analog tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio.

In stores July 16 and available for pre-order today, the LP also includes a special bonus: eight collectible baseball cards that showcase Charlie Brown’s team of misfits: Snoopy, Woodstock, Peppermint Patty, Linus and Lucy Van Pelt, Franklin Armstrong, Schroeder, and, of course, manager and pitcher, Charlie Brown. On the back of the cards are key stats for each player, including their field position and favorite sandwich.

A Boy Named Charlie Brown will also be offered in three colorful variants, including a green-grass pressing at Target, a sky-blue version for Vinyl Me Please, plus a special baseball mitt-brown edition at the Craft Recordings Store, limited to 350 units.

Additionally, one of the most memorable tracks off the album, the up-tempo “Baseball Theme,” will be available for the very first time as a standalone, 7-inch single—exclusively for Record Store Day 2021. Offering the original, 1964 soundtrack version of the song, plus an alternative studio take, the limited-edition release is pressed on white vinyl and housed in a colorful jacket, featuring whimsical, baseball-themed images of Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Visit recordstoreday.com for a list of participating indie retailers.

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Graded on a Curve:
Deep Purple,
Machine Head

Celebrating Ritchie Blackmore on his 76th birthday.Ed.

If I’ve never come forward publicly about the indelible mark I made on rock history at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1971, it’s because I’m still peeved that Deep Purple saw fit to slander me as “Some stupid with a flare gun” in their big hit single “Smoke on the Water.” Firing that flare gun into the roof of the Montreux Casino may not have been the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but STUPID? I was EXCITED, and I just happened to have a flare gun on my person, and one thing led to another and before I knew it the rattan ceiling was on fire and all manner of shrieks were freaking towards the exits.

But enough personal history and on to Deep Purple, a band that I’ve always had reservations about. I find the English heavy metal avatars ponderous, plodding, and unduly portentous, and if you don’t know what I mean I direct you to “Smoke on the Water,” which is the very un-lightweight little ditty they’ll probably best be remembered for and which I can only describe as a very stoned dinosaur stomping in slow dazed circles to the accompaniment of one gargantuan and omnipresent guitar riff.

That said, Deep Purple–who after a lot of early creative experimentation and moments of serendipitous genius finally settled upon a sound that combined elements of prog rock and the grinding blues-based hard rock that would become known as heavy metal–had their moments, and lots of them are to be found on their sixth and most commercially successful LP, 1972’s Machine Head. From its very metallic (the title’s stamped in steel!) cover to its far-out boogie numbers Machine Head is one wild ride, what with Ian Gillian’s shriek, Ritchie Blackmore’s blazing guitar, Jon Lord’s “I am two separate gorillas” organ, and the positively intimidating drumming of Sir Ian Paice, who has yet to be knighted but certainly ought to be lest he become angry and start throwing punches.

Deep Purple originally intended to record this baby at the Montreux Casino in Switzerland, but that was before, well, I’ve already broken my long silence about the fire that “burned the place to the ground.” After deciding that it probably wouldn’t be a very good idea to record their next album atop a smoking ruins, they retreated to the empty Grand Hotel at the outskirts of Montreux, and with the help of the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit proceeded to make this surprisingly uptempo (by D.P. standards) piece of music history, which the very clear-headed Ozzy Osbourne has called one of his ten favorite British LPs of all time.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Gracious Losers,
Six Road Ends

The Glasgow-based The Gracious Losers are nine members strong, but for their second full-length, the lineup burgeoned to 15 bodies, and across the set’s 11 tracks, it often sounds that way. Categorized as Celtic folk/ Americana, the sound is much broader than the designation might suggest, with rock heft of a rootsy stripe in welcome evidence as they execute the impressive songwriting of Jonathan Lilley. Six Road Ends is out now on black and yellow galaxy vinyl (and standard black) through the label Last Night from Glasgow.  

Kicked up dust isn’t the first thing that springs to my mind when considering the prospects of another contemporary folk and/ or Americana record, but such a thing is possible. In an era when the objective is too often politeness and finesse, spark and edge are welcome qualities. The sheer number of Gracious Losers increases the likelihood they will deliver a record infused with grit, heft and energy, and Jonathan Lilley, Amanda McKeown, Gary Johnston, Heather Philips, Rory McGregor, Monica Queen, Johnny Smillie, Celia Garcia, and Erik Igelstrom don’t disappoint in this regard.

But the real joy of Six Road Ends derives from how it reaches far beyond the folk/ Americana baseline, and from how its rock moves eschew the hackneyed, partly through Lilley’s songs, which are well-rounded yet focused. Likewise, the playing is broad without faltering into a patchwork of styles. It’s really with repeated listens that the territory they cover is effectively driven home.

Not that the full-bodied vocal harmony in opener “Till I Go Home” isn’t striking, particularly as it’s combined with some rock thud. Now, I don’t want the reader to misapprehend the Gracious Losers as being in league with the likes of Dinosaur Jr., though come to think of it, they do share an affinity for Crazy Horse, an influence that surfaces at length during 2018’s The Last of the Gracious Losers.

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TVD Radar: Bill Evans, Everybody Still Digs
Bill Evans
5CD and On
a Friday Evening
2LP in stores 6/25

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Recordings proudly honors the pioneering jazz artist Bill Evans and his enduring musical contributions, with two new titles.

The first—a deluxe, five-CD box set and digital album, titled Everybody Still Digs Bill Evans: A Career Retrospective (1956–1980)—marks the first-ever career-spanning collection of music from the pianist, featuring over 60 tracks that spotlight Evans’ exceptional work as a leader and co-leader. The expansive set also includes a previously unreleased live performance from 1975, captured at Oil Can Harry’s in Vancouver, B.C. This recently unearthed concert recording will also be issued as a standalone album, titled On a Friday Evening, which will be available on 2-LP, CD and digital formats, including hi-res 192/24 and 96/24.

Both titles will be released June 25th and are available for pre-order today, with the previously unheard live track “Up with the Lark” available for immediate download as an instant grat. single (listen and pre-save here). Special bundles featuring a new Bill Evans T-shirt and mug are also available exclusively at the Craft Recordings online store.

Everybody Still Digs Bill Evans: A Career Retrospective (1956–1980) spans the pianist’s Riverside, Milestone, Fantasy, Verve, Warner Bros., and Elektra/Musician catalogs, and features such collective personnel as Tony Bennett, Cannonball Adderley, Kenny Burrell, Stan Getz, Zoot Sims, Eddie Gomez, Shelly Manne, and Lee Konitz, among many others.

Produced by Nick Phillips, the five-CD collection comes housed in a fabric-wrapped, hard-cover book, containing 48 pages of photos and ephemera, as well as new liner notes from the GRAMMY® Award-winning writer, radio host, and music journalist, Neil Tesser, who offers insight into the life and career of Evans through recent and archival interviews with a variety of subjects, as well as a deep survey of the box set’s tracks. Also available across digital and streaming platforms, Everybody Still Digs Bill Evans includes newly remastered audio by GRAMMY®-winning engineer, Paul Blakemore.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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