Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Spinning: Bananarama, “Cruel Summer”

Look, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus, offered without comment, TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires and mixtapes. Reading between the lines—encouraged.

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Graded on a Curve:
Roxy Music,
The Collection

When it comes to who can lay claim to being rock’s most dapper dandy and consummate lounge lizard, Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry simply has no competition. A jaded Casanova who still harbors a torn shred of belief in true love in his cynical heart, Ferry has been crooning about finding something beyond sex in the discos and singles bars of his decidedly unsentimental imagination since the early seventies. With Ferry, the tension has always been between disco Lothario and true love seeker, and the game for the listener has always been to parse out exactly which Ferry is singing at the time.

Clear-eyed as only a realist can be, Ferry was declaring love a dangerous and addictive drug long before his doppelganger, Robert Palmer, came along to tell us the same thing. It’s something to be sought in the dark, in the red light districts and discos of our soul-weary cities, where everyone is lonely, desperate, and on the prowl. But as I’ve mentioned, there was also a believer in true love in Ferry somewhere, and the only problem I ever had with Roxy’s conflicted take on sex and romance was the fact that they spread all their best songs amongst nine LPs, one of them a great live album, naturally leading one to hanker for the very best in one bite-sized form. One of the compilations available to do just that is 2004’s The Collection, which includes most of the songs I really crave, but also includes some late period songs I could do without. Its chief advantage is its brevity; 12 tracks, no fooling around, and no “Jealous Guy,” which I never liked and don’t want on no compilation in my house.

You could say The Collection gives short shrift to the early Eno-era Roxy, and you’d be right; besides the great “Virginia Plain” and the even better “Do the Strand,” there’s nothing else from 1972’s Roxy Music or 1973’s For Your Pleasure. The lack of the brilliant “Re-Make/Re-Model” is particularly galling. As for “Virginia Plain,” it swings, plain and simple, although not as hard as “Do the Strand,” a great song about a new dance that you’ll surely want to do if you are, as Ferry is, “tired of the tango.” The tune boasts lots of great saxophone by way of Andy Mackay, some extraordinary forward momentum thanks to Phil Manzanera on lead guitar, and never slows down long enough to let you sit down, sip your Cosmopolitan, and stare surreptitiously at the beautiful woman at the next table, who could very well be a man. “The samba isn’t your scene?” asks Ferry. So “do the strandsky” instead!

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Spinning: The Three Degrees, “When Will I See You Again”

Look, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus, offered without comment, TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires and mixtapes. Reading between the lines—encouraged.

Posted in The TVD Storefront | 1 Comment

Laurel & the Love-in,
The TVD First Date and Premiere, Don’t Love Nobody

“When I was little I used to steal my mom’s Walkman, so my parents bought me a toy cassette player. I used to record my own lyrics over tapes I found around the house, and I’m sure that somewhere in the detritus of my parents’ attic are tapes full of a five year old’s heartfelt songs about cats recorded over 1980s guitar solos.”

“Eventually my parents started giving me the tapes they didn’t want any more, and I loved having a collection of my own. I’d bring it to daycare to show it off alongside my tin of Pokémon cards, and was aghast when the teacher refused to play my Madonna cassette because she had deemed it inappropriate.

By the time I was 12 I had started to amass my own CD collection, but by then IPods had stepped onto the scene. I got an IPod shuffle for Christmas that year and loaded it up with all of my favorite tunes. My disappointment at not being able to easily select a song, let alone a whole album to listen to kept me going back to my CD player. I also liked being able to see the stack of CDs and cassettes on my dresser, a disorganized display of the evolution of my musical tastes.

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Spinning: Del Amitri, “Deceive Yourself
(In Ignorant Heaven)”

Look, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires and mixtapes. Reading between the lines—encouraged. Contact’s the fact.

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Graded on a Curve:
Suzi Quatro, Suzi Quatro

Before there was Joan Jett, there was Suzi Quatro, the ballsy Detroit kid who moved to England, hooked up with impresario Mickie Most and the legendary songwriting team of Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn, and crashed the all-boys Glam Party in full leather regalia, winning the hearts and minds of kids, primarily of the English and Australian persuasion, while she was at it. Quatro was a glitter queen and proto-punk all in one, to say nothing about being a precursor to The Runaways, and she scored a series of big hits in her adopted country, even if she never quite caught on here.

She was always her own woman; as she explained later, she spurned Elektra Records, who wanted to make her the new Janis Joplin, while hitching her star to Mickie Most, who “offered to take me to England and make me the first Suzi Quatro—I didn’t want to be the new anybody.” She added that if Most had “tried to make me into a Lulu, I wouldn’t have it. I’d say, ‘Go to hell’ and walk out.” That said, she wasn’t completely her own woman, being as she was part of the Chapman-Chinn songwriting monolith, although not to the extent of, say, Sweet; on her self-titled 1973 debut on RAK Records, only 3 of the 12 songs are Chapman-Chinn contributions. The rest are oldies or compositions by Quatro and her guitarist, Len Tuckey.

Chapman and Chinn more or less dominated the pre-pubescent wing of the Glam Movement, and it’s obvious why when you hear Quatro’s opening tune, “48 Crash.” Cool percussion, a great climbing riff—this one is simple as ABC but as catchy as a Venus flytrap, and the perfect song (as were most of their compositions) to sing along with. Meanwhile Quatro sings like a punk while bashing away at the bass, the backing vocalists repeat the title, and Tuckey plays some more than respectable guitar. And there’s no beating the great scream Quatro lets out in the middle of the song. Meanwhile, Quatro and Tuckey’s “Glycerine Queen” demonstrates that they were quick learners, not that the Chapman-Chinn formula was exactly rock science. Still, this one is stripped to the basics, rocks hard, and boasts a riff that brings to mind T. Rex. Once again the guys in the band repeat the title in the chorus, and if the teen in you doesn’t respond to this one, you’re not as glamtastic as you think you are.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Robert Bensick Band, French Pictures
in London

Until recently it’s fair to state that only heavy-duty fans of Cleveland’s subterranean musical history recognized the name Robert Bensick, but with the emergence of French Pictures in London as the latest volume in Smog Veil Records’ Platters du Cuyahoga series, his modest profile is set to change. Combining 14 tracks into a potent avant-pop brew, the results, once thought lost, are fascinating and on occasion startlingly effective. Featuring a lineup sprinkled with future Ohio punk all-stars, the Robert Bensick Band’s sole outing deepens the already labyrinthine rewards of its region and rescues its namesake from footnote status; it’s out June 24 on vinyl, compact disc, and digital.

The arrival of French Pictures in London concludes Series 1 of Smog Veil’s Platters du Cuyahoga initiative, and after time spent it registers as the most necessary (if not by extension the best) of the three albums; it’s preceded by X__X’s Albert Ayler’s Ghosts Live at the Yellow Ghetto and Mr. Stress Blues Band’s Live at the Brick Cottage 1972 – 1973.

Actually the second installment in this initial Platters du Cuyahoga run but the last to see completion (series 2 is reportedly in preparation now), French Pictures in London is very much its own thing; with this said it eventually gravitates nearer to John Morton’s art-punk convulsiveness than it does to the no-frills bar-band blues action of Mr. Stress Blues Band.

However, Bill “Mr. Stress” Miller and Bensick did basically evolve from the same fertile late ‘60s scene. By ’66 the latter had been recruited from his first band the Back Group (originally The Coachmen) to play drums for The Munx of Sandusky, OH. Specializing in essentially innocuous vocal harmony-infused guitar pop, they issued a couple of 45s. By ’68 Bensick had bailed for more lively creative environments.

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Spinning: Grant Lee Buffalo, “Mockingbirds”

Lord, it’s hard to tell people how you feel, what’s going on, the tides pushing and pulling.

Time was when a mixtape was that bridge, or the spin of a well-intentioned record eliciting its own waltz about a candlelit room with the object of one’s adoration.

It’s an emotional world, it is. Thus, offered without comment, TVD HQ’s recurring fuel for your fires and mixtapes. Reading between the lines—encouraged.

Posted in The TVD Storefront | Leave a comment

The Vinyl Guide Podcast
with Nate Goyer

The Vinyl Guide is a weekly podcast for fans and collectors of vinyl records. Each week is an audio-documentary on your favourite records, often including interviews with band members and people who were part of the project.

It’s hosted by Nate Goyer, a self-described vinyl maniac who enjoys listening to records and sharing the stories behind them. Despite his Yankee accent, Nate lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife, 2 kids, and about 1,500 records. (But only about 1,000 of them his wife knows about.)

The Vinyl Guide takes records one by one, telling the tale of how they came to be, why the work is important, and then shares how collectors can tell one pressing from another. Learn more at the TheVinylGuide.com or simply subscribe via iTunes or RSS feed.

In the late ’80s there were 2,200 independent record shops in the UK. By 2009 there were just 269. Graham Jones documented this demise in the book and DVD Last Shop Standing. Plus we discuss the 7 errors in the first US pressing of The Beatles’ “White Album.”

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Graded on a Curve:
Swans,
The Glowing Man

Swans is a formidable behemoth amongst bands. Swans is also the recording and performance entity of one Michael Gira, and with The Glowing Man he’s effectively closed the door on the latest incarnation of his group. Having recommenced activity back in 2010, the two prior Swans studio albums are sprawling examples of collective massiveness and this latest installment is no different; clocking in just shy of two hours, it’s a sustained and immense thrust of creativity certain to engross and challenge listeners for decades to come. It’s out June 17 through Young God (and Mute in the UK) on triple vinyl, double compact disc, 2CD+DVD, and digital.

Like a fair amount of reality, the story of Swans would be unlikely to survive as a fictional construct; chances are great that if made up, Michael Gira’s shape-shifting unit would fall victim to a reduction of size and ambition. Gradually maturing from post-no wave beginnings to serve as a cornerstone of ’80s noise-rock, Gira shed those limitations to reveal unexpected range on a string of more broadly scaled ’90s records. He then dissolved the band and explored various musical avenues beyond the appellation Swans before assembling a new lineup at the start of this decade.

It’s this most recent manifestation of Swans that would exceed fictive norms, as reconvening to make music under an established moniker usually entails returning to a comfort zone and tapping into a wellspring of largely safe ideas. Instead, Gira’s rekindled Swans increasingly offered such grand magnitude that borderline incredulity frequently resulted; reports of their performance juggernaut only raised the head-shaking astonishment.

Of course with 2010’s My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky, ’12’s The Seer and ’14’s To Be Kind, Gira was actually getting back to the epic length, all two hours and 21 minutes, that was explored on ’96’s Soundtracks for the Blind, while far from repeating himself; often still a pummeling experience, the sound of these Swans registered as less antagonistic and not as sharply rebuking of rock clichés.

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