Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Alice Cooper,
Love It to Death

Alice Cooper, 1971; it’s almost enough to break your heart. Alice put out two LPs that year, Love It to Death and Killer, and both include a handful of incredibly great hard rockers combined with their fair share of duds, including a boring nine-minute workout on Love It to Death (“Black Juju”) and the equally coma-inducing eight-plus minute “Halo of Flies” on Killer. I know bands were often contractually obligated to produce two LPs per annum back then, and that may or may not have had something to do with the limited number of fabulous tracks on both LPs. But imagine, just for a moment, had Alice Cooper put out just one album in 1971, an album containing the best songs from both LPs. The finished product would have been brilliant, and one of the best rock LPs of all time.

Alas, you can’t turn back the clock—if you could, I’d move it back to the glory days, when I could smoke tons of pot and not get paranoid—and we’re stuck forever with two woulda-coulda been tremendous albums marred by too many weak tracks to be called great. As for the band, they got their start in Los Angeles on Frank Zappa’s Straight label, but following the disappointing sales of their sophomore LP (1970’s Easy Action) they up and moved to Pontiac, Michigan, where they fit in perfectly with bands like the Stooges and the MC5. Cooper himself blamed the band’s failure to make a mark in LA to drugs; “L.A. just didn’t get it,” he stated. “They were all on the wrong drug for us. They were on acid and we were basically drinking beer. We fit much more in Detroit than we did anywhere else.”

It was LP #3, Love It to Death, that turned things around for the band, which consisted of Vince Furnier aka Alice Cooper on vocals, Glenn Buxton on lead guitar, Michael Bruce on rhythm guitar and keyboards, Dennis Dunaway on bass, and Neal Smith on drums. It didn’t hurt that the band was winning mucho notoriety for their elaborately macabre stage antics and androgynous attire. The kids in the concert halls ate it up, and turned the single “I’m Eighteen” into a teen anthem to boot, and Alice Cooper never looked back. The image of Cooper in garish face make-up, boa constrictor wrapped around his neck, has become part of our cultural heritage, and every bit as important as Abraham Lincoln signing the Declaration of Independence, or Lee Harvey Oswald shooting Jack Ruby.

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TVD Radar: Eric Clapton and B.B. King, Riding with the King 20th anniversary vinyl reissue in stores today

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Eric Clapton and B.B. King first performed together in NYC in 1967. Over 30 years later, in 1999, the two longtime friends joined forces to create a collection of all new studio recordings of blues classics and contemporary songs. The resulting album Riding with the King would be released in June 2000 and go onto sell over 2 million copies in the U.S. and win the GRAMMY Award® for Best Traditional Blues Album.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this classic album, two additional previously unreleased tracks have been added: The blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin” and B.B. King’s “Let Me Love You.” Both tracks were recorded during the original sessions and were produced and mixed especially for this release by Simon Climie, who produced the original album with Clapton. The original tapes have been remastered by Bob Ludwig and is finally available again now in expanded form via Reprise Records.

The 14-track collection will be available in all formats including a 180-gram black double vinyl package. A limited edition 180-gram blue vinyl double LP set will available exclusively in Eric Clapton’s official online store and at indie retailers. The vinyl was mastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Los Angeles.

The original album features four B.B. King originals, plus a selection of covers from writers as diverse as Isaac Hayes & David Porter (“Hold On I’m Coming”), Johnny Mercer & Harold Arlen (“Come Rain Or Come Shine”), and William Broonzy & Charles Seger (“Key To The Highway”). John Hiatt wrote the album’s title track.

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TVD Radar: Eastrail 177 Trilogy features scores to films Unbreakable, Split, and Glass 6LP box set in stores today

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Waxwork Records, in collaboration with Back Lot Music and Hollywood Records, is proud to present the debut film score vinyl release to M. Night Shyamalan’s Eastrail 177 Trilogy. Composed of Unbreakable (2000), Split (2016), and Glass (2019), the Eastrail 177 Trilogy is a visionary comic-book film series written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Unbreakable, about a security guard named David Dunn (Bruce Willis) who becomes the sole survivor of a train wreck, posed the question of what would happen if superheroes were real. At the insistence of a mysterious, rare-comic-book collector named Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who suffers from a medical condition that makes his bones shatter on the slightest impact, Dunn comes to believe that he has super strength and is impervious to injury or illness. Not only that, he has the ability to see or sense the evil deeds of others simply by touching them.

The Unbreakable score, by James Newton Howard, was the second collaboration between Shyamalan and Howard, following their work together on The Sixth Sense. The Unbreakable score experience was unlike any the composer had had before. “Night sat there and storyboarded the whole movie for me,” Howard said. “I’ve never had a director do that for me. He wanted something that was very different, very distinctive, that immediately evoked the movie when people heard it.”

Howard and Shyamalan chose to simplify the score, and minimized the number of instruments (strings, trumpets and piano), with limited orchestrations. Some compositions were recorded in a converted church in London. “You could have recorded the same music in a studio in Los Angeles, and it would have been great, but there is something about the sound of that church studio,” Howard said. “It’s definitely more misterioso.”

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TVD Radar: Giant Sand, Ramp 2LP reissue in stores 7/17

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Newly remastered double LP beautifully repackaged gatefold sleeve with new artwork and expanded liner notes with a second disc that includes Mad Dog Studio sessions from 1991. An essential Giant Sand album featuring Victoria Williams, Rainer and country veteran Pappy Allen.

A firm fan favourite, Giant Sand’s essential 1991 album Ramp was the second of three revered albums the band released in the early ’90s. Now set for a remastered special indie store exclusive, the new edition released on 17th July comes beautifully repackaged in a gatefold sleeve with new artwork and expanded liner notes from MOJO’s Dave Henderson. Ramp is a magical trip with a host of guests including Victoria Williams, Rainer and Pappy Allen.

“One of Giant Sand’s strongest and most complete albums.”
The Quietus

Featuring piano lounge music for an off-world colony interrupted by an onslaught of guitar when needed. Reverb on, fuzz friendly. Up to 11, it’s light and dark and the better for it, a musical journey on a road less travelled. All sounds are welcome; banjo, dobro, pedal steel, plaintive harmonica, whistling all wrap themselves around the flow of consciousness; those truly memorable words. The Tucson sound at its very best.

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Graded on a Curve: 10,000 Maniacs,
In My Tribe

Some things you should know about the 10,000 Maniacs:

1. There only five of them. None of them are maniacs.

2. Natalie Merchant has a voice so lovely I’d dive into an icy lake to rescue it. Kinda husky, but not husky in a hockey player kinda way. More like Stevie Nicks without the cockatoo on her shoulder kinda way.

3. 10,000 Maniacs have yet to receive their due for spawning the Lilith Fair.

4. Natalie Merchant’s a folk artist in the grand tradition of the late Dan Fogelberg.

5. The word that best sums up the the music of 10,000 Manias is placid. But not placid as in Lake Placid, the horror movie where a 30-foot-long saltwater crocodile chows down on the citizens of Maine.

5.1. Had the man-eating crocodile in Lake Placid put In My Tribe on heavy rotation, today he’d be the owner of a New Age boutique.

6. “Like the Weather” is a fantastic song and I love to sing along with it in the car, despite the fact I don’t know the words. This tends to irk the other people in the car.

7. Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” appeared on the original release of In My Tribe, but was omitted from later U.S. releases. I don’t want to go into the religious issues involved, but suffice it to say that had Salman Rushdie jumped aboard the peace train, Stevens would have pushed him off.

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TVD Radar: Tony Allen Live in London, short film streaming now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | World Circuit Records today present Tony Allen Live in London, a short film about Tony Allen’s recent Rejoice live shows. The piece was filmed at one of the two very special Rejoice shows Allen performed at London’s Church of Sound in mid-March, just a few weeks before his untimely passing at the end of April at the age of 79. Watch/share the film below.

In addition to clips of live performances from the night, the piece features interviews with Allen himself and some of the prestigious musicians who joined him on stage including South African trumpet player Claude Deppa and double bass player Mutale Chashi. Tony commented on the film back in April, “I played two shows in London in March, which were meant to be the first of many Rejoice shows this year. It was good to be playing these songs on stage so many years after the recording. My good friend Claude Deppa is a great South African trumpet player, we asked him to play Hugh’s parts on stage. Unfortunately, the lockdowns started shortly after.”

Allen will be posthumously awarded the Outstanding Contribution To Music at this year’s AIM Awards, taking place virtually on August 12, with recent single “We’ve Landed” receiving a nomination for Best Independent Track. Allen & Masekela’s second single from the album, “Never (Lagos Never Gonna Be The Same),” is a jazz-meets-Afrobeat-hued tribute to Fela Kuti, the towering pioneer of Afrobeat who collaborated closely with Allen for decades. The video for the track features footage of Allen & Masekela playing the song at the original 2010 recording sessions at Livingston Studios in London. Stream/share the video below

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Graded on a Curve: Joseph Spence,
Bahaman Folk Guitar: Music from the Bahamas, Vol. 1

There are a few utterly joyful experiences in this world, and one of them is the music of Joseph Spence. In 1958 while on a field recording expedition in the Bahamas, Samuel Charters captured Spence’s unique guitar playing and idiosyncratic singing; the combination is amongst the most infectious entries in the folk canon. Those tapes comprise Bahaman Folk Guitar: Music from the Bahamas, Vol. 1, first issued by Folkways in ’59, and has received a welcome reissue by the label, tucked into an old-school tip-on jacket with the original liner notes.

From Andros Island in the Bahamas and a stonemason by trade, Joseph Spence is one of folk music’s true originals. The notes to this reissue emphasize the importance of the guitar to Bahaman life during the period of its recording, and amongst no shortage of talent on the instrument, Spence was acknowledged as the best around. He tapped into the three threads of song popular in the island nation at that time; the older “anthem” songs, southern USA-derived spirituals, and the “folk songs” that accompanied dancing and enlivened parties.

When Charters first heard him, playing for workers as they built a house, the folklorist was convinced a second guitarist was accompanying him nearby. Later that day, on the other side of the settlement of Fresh Creek, Charters recorded Spence entertaining a small gathered audience. This LP offers the bulk of that impromptu session, a landmark in personal folk expression that resulted in subsequent releases on Elektra, Arhoolie, and Rounder.

I first read of Joseph Spence in Byron Coley’s “Underground” column in SPIN magazine, the April 1988 issue in fact, though by the time I caught up with it, that edition was about a year old. It took me good while longer than that to hear the guy’s stuff, as the store racks turned up nothing, and the same with the libraries in my area. Of the locals I consulted who were affirmative of Spence’s stature, none were record collectors. Those were the days.

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Marchelle Bradanini,
The TVD First Date

“In the modern arms race to reduce music to its most easily digestible digital form, there is something so defiant and downright radical about vinyl. Having an artist demand your time and attention for the length of an entire LP seems revolutionary in 2020. And yet even with our ever-dwindling attention spans, there is still something in our core which desires that deeper, magical and transformative connection.”

“Music has always been my lifeblood and the well I return to when nothing else makes sense. I’ve spent countless late nights alone with my records listening to the understated brilliance of Karen Dalton, Bobbie Gentry, Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Nina Simone, Julie London, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Howlin’ Wolf to name a few of my greatest hits. My relationships with these records is so personal and intimate. It’s like visiting an old friend that has some insight into the universe I’m hoping to catch a glimpse of.

When I think about the first time I heard Nebraska or Highway 61 Revisited or Lead Belly or Aretha on vinyl, it’s basically the equivalent of BC / AD. They altered the course of my life and thinking and fundamentally challenged and changed my worldview.

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TVD Radar: The Running Man (Deluxe Edition) 2LP OST in stores 8/14

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Varèse Sarabande Records is thrilled to announce the upcoming special release of The Running Man Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition) by GRAMMY®-winning composer Harold Faltermeyer (Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, Cop Out and the upcoming film Top Gun: Maverick). The Deluxe Edition version will be available digitally and released on LP for the first time on August 14, 2020. The LP version is available for pre-order today, June 15, on VareseSarabande.com.

In the year 2019, America is a totalitarian state where the favorite television program is The Running Man—a game show in which prisoners must run to freedom to avoid a brutal death. Having been made a scapegoat by the government, an imprisoned Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has the opportunity to make it back to the outside again by being a contestant on the deadly show, although the twisted host, Damon Killian (Richard Dawson) has no intention of letting him escape.

The original (1987) 17-track soundtrack has been expanded to 35 tracks, which include additional music and unreleased and alternate cues. The album was remastered from the original Paramount Pictures sources. The package features original artwork, images from the film and a booklet with extensive liner notes by film music journalist Daniel Schweiger.

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Graded on a Curve:
Betty Davis,
The Columbia Years
1968-1969

For lovers of ultra-wicked funkiness, the name Betty Davis is an aphrodisiac of uncommon potency; a few years back her string of ’70s underground classics found deserving reissue by Light in the Attic, and the label has released her very enlightening late ’60s sessions. Cut prior to and during her brief marriage to trumpeter Miles Davis, The Columbia Years 1968-1969 illuminates a formative but highly productive period in the career of a considerable talent who remains too seldom heard.

Before getting hitched she was Betty Mabry; Miles nuts know it’s her picture on the cover of ’68’s Filles de Kilimanjaro and that the album’s closing track “Mademoiselle Mabry” is named after her. However, it’s important to note that she wasn’t discovered by Davis, having cut a pop single for Frank Sinatra arranger Don Costa’s DCP International label in ’64 as her song “Uptown” was covered by The Chambers Brothers on Time Has Come Today in ’67.

As related in John Ballon’s liner notes for this set, it was through her involvement in a group of trendsetting women known as the “Cosmic” or “Electric Ladies” that Miles came under her sway, with the impact of the younger on the older extending to the musical. This may seem questionable to casual observers given the hugeness of Miles’ legend, but the situation is borne out by the facts.

Mabry and her cohorts’ passion for the “avant-garde pop music” (in Miles’ description) of Hendrix, Sly Stone, and Santana opened the trumpeter’s eyes as he sat on the cusp of his electric period, with this connection having been previously articulated in Davis’ autobiography; the uncovering of these (astoundingly never bootlegged) vault recordings gives his statement even deeper credence.

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Graded on a Curve: Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Not Fragile

I may or may not have once described that inimitable Bachman-Turner Overdrive sound as meat and potatoes rock, minus the meat. And I may or may not have once called them Bachman-Turner Overweight. But if I did so, I was joking. I love BTO. They remain, no doubt about it, Manitoba, Canada’s finest ever contribution to the un-fine arts. The music critic Robert Christgau, a fan as am I, once summoned up the band’s lead-footed lumberjack charm with the words, “Clomp on.”

BTO were about as subtle as a blow to the head; imagine a Canadian Bad Company. They playfully entitled their 1974 LP Not Fragile as a retort Yes’ LP Fragile, because they felt their music could be “dropped and kicked” without suffering any damage. Hard rock doesn’t come any harder than this; when they call a song “Sledgehammer,” they’re not pussyfooting around like that English fop Peter Gabriel.

No, this is blue-collar rock, and to paraphrase Lynyrd Skynyrd, all you effete pencil pushers are advised to stay out of BTO’s way, especially when C. Fred Turner’s doing the singing. Compared to his gruff, no-nonsense vocals, Randy Bachman may as well be Mariah Carey.

It’s a pity that BTO is perhaps best remembered as the band that brought us “Takin’ Care of Business,” because while nobody in the band strikes me as a Mensa candidate, “Takin’ Care of Business” is too dumb for words. Me, I’d sooner remember them for such great songs as “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “Roll on Down the Highway,” and “Let It Ride,” to name just a few of the band’s keepers.

Not Fragile’s title track is a midnight creeper, and could easily pass for a Spinal Tap song, and I mean that as a compliment. The only thing cooler than Turner’s singing, “Comin’ to you cross country/ Hoping boogie’s still allowed/ You ask do we play heavy music/ Well, are thunderheads just another cloud, And we do/ Not fragile, straight at you” is the way R. Bachman intones the words, “Not fragile” behind him. The guitar solo is pretty cool too.

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Lauren Lakis,
The TVD First Date

“Analog has always ruled my heart, versus its respective digital counterpart. Give me an old hardbound book over a kindle, 35mm film and polaroid snaps, and the warmth of a tape machine or record player any day.”

“Having been raised on tapes and CDs, my introduction to vinyl records came later in life, around the time I was writing my first album. I grew up first listening to my mother’s CDs: Natalie Merchant, Matthew Sweet, Boys II Men, and the entire Cranberries discography played on repeat in our Baltimore home. She was pretty hip to the ’90s music scene and was a big fan of the short-lived Lilith Fair.

Naturally, my first CDs were gifted to me from her boyfriend’s mother; Fiona Apple’s Tidal and Garbage’s debut self-titled album. I imagine she walked into a Sam Goody store and asked what the kids were into these days, and I’m so grateful they handed her those albums! I still listen to them today, and they certainly continue to influence my songwriting.

When I was a teenager in Baltimore City, we had this amazing music store called Sound Garden, where my friends and I would go every Friday night. We would save up our money all week just to spend it on iced chai lattes and used CDs, to hold us over until the following weekend.

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Graded on a Curve: Nicole Mitchell & Lisa E. Harris, EarthSeed

Born in Syracuse, NY, with time spent in California and Chicago, Nicole Mitchell is a flautist, composer, bandleader, and teacher. Hailing from Houston, TX, Lisa E. Harris is an interdisciplinary artist, performer, composer, and singer of striking, often operatic, power and feeling. The new release EarthSeed is their collaboration, inspired by the works of the late, very great and remarkably prescient science-fiction novelist Octavia E. Butler, and featuring Mitchell’s long-running Black Earth Ensemble with vocalist Julian Otis in a prominent role. The results demand the listener’s attention but also offer moments of humor along with marvelous singing and playing. It’s out June 26 on 2LP, CD, and digital through FPE Records.

EarthSeed is directly inspired by Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler’s two novels from the 1990s, those books comprising her third thematic science-fiction series (after the Patternist and Xenogenesis collections) and the late-work (she passed on February 24, 2006, a year after publishing her final standalone novel Fledgling) that underscores her literary foresight in relation to the unpredictable, stressful and at times downright unsettling nature of current events.

With this said, per Mitchell in the PR for this release, “All the words and all the text in the music are ours, they’re not Octavia’s,” that is, “except for the word EarthSeed” (the cover art is “Patternmaster,” from Krista Franklin’s 2006 artist’s book SEED (The Book of Eve)). It’s also important to note that the music was recorded in performance at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Fullerton Hall on June 22, 2017 (by commission), and that Mitchell’s Butler-inspired work spans back to her Xenogenesis Suite from 2008 and Intergalactic Beings from 2014.

FPE’s background for EarthSeed also relates how Harris discovered Butler’s writing as she worked on her opera Lilith. This was four years prior to meeting Mitchell in New Orleans while attending the New Quorum Composers’ Residency (the other composers invited were Wadada Leo Smith and Damon Locks). Upon discovering their mutual appreciation for Butler’s books, they immediately decided to create as a team a work inspired by the author.

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TVD Radar: The Buddy Holly Story OST deluxe editions in stores 8/21

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Varèse Sarabande Records will release The Buddy Holly Story Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Deluxe Edition), with all songs from the Academy Award®-winning film available for the first time on LP, CD, and all streaming platforms on August 21.

The LP format will include a black vinyl record in a standard jacket with printed inner sleeve, and the CD format will include a 16-page booklet, with both packages including rare photos of the icon, courtesy of his estate and the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation. With the announcement of this exciting upcoming release, pre-order is available now on varesesarabande.com. The expanded soundtrack features 22 tracks in total, including 11 tracks not released on the original soundtrack.

The additional songs include many performances that were in the film, such as “That’ll Be the Day,” “Mockingbird Hill,” and “Tennessee Waltz” performed by Gary Busey (as Buddy Holly), “Chantilly Lace” performed by Gailard Sartain (as the Big Bopper), and “You Send Me” performed by Paul Mooney (as Sam Cooke).

Buddy Holly is one of the most revered musicians in rock and roll history, and The Buddy Holly Story is his definitive legacy film. The project earned three Oscar® nominations, including “Best Actor” for prolific character actor Gary Busey, who has appeared in over 150 films, including Lethal Weapon and Point Break.

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TVD Radar: Airto, Seeds on the Ground blue vinyl reissue in stores 7/31

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Airto’s second album, and second and last release for the Buddah label, brought back largely the same crew that appeared on his debut record Natural Feelings (also reissued by Real Gone): vocalist (and wife) Flora Purim, composer and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal, and bassist Ron Carter, with contributions from Dom Um Ramão (who later replaced Airto in Weather Report) and Severino De Oliveira a.k.a. Sivuca.

Given Airto’s connections to Miles Davis, Weather Report, and Return to Forever, Seeds on the Ground could easily get lumped into the jazz fusion category. But that would be a mistake. This totally unclassifiable (and, by the way, exceedingly rare) album was no mere blend of rock and jazz influences. Instead, Seeds on the Ground was truly a fusion, an ecstatic melding of bossa nova, psychedelic rock, Brazilian folk, Latin jazz, free jazz, and “world music.” If that sounds a bit calculated or intimidating, it’s not; what makes this album so compelling is how organic and intimate it all sounds.

Airto played with probably the three most legendary fusion groups in jazz history, and later released a bunch of albums, many for the CTI label. But it would be hard not to label this beautiful record as his crowning achievement. Our proud Real Gone reissue features the original gatefold cover art, and comes in an ocean blue vinyl pressing limited to 1,000 copies.

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