Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Lynyrd Skynyrd,
The Essential Lynyrd Skynyrd

With the 40th anniversary of the tragic plane crash that claimed Lynyrd Skynyrd upon us, I feel beholden to say that Lynyrd Skynyrd weren’t just the finest Southern Rock band to come out of America, but perhaps the finest rock band to come out of America period.

I’ll grant you the Velvet Underground if they’re more your decadent cup of tea, or the Doobie Brothers if you’re double-retarded, but there’s no denying that Jacksonville, FLA’s Lynyrd Skynyrd has mattered to more people and will continue to matter to more people than NYC’s Velvet Underground ever will. And by no means are all of those people unreconstituted rednecks who fly Confederate battle flags from the backs of their pickup trucks. No, as the Drive-By Truckers demonstrate, some of the best of ‘em are dyed-in-the-wool liberals who believe Black Lives Matter and aren’t afraid to shout if from the rooftops.

Some people will never like Lynyrd Skynyrd because they had kind things to say about the state of Alabama and mean things to say about Neil Young, but the fact is that Ronnie Van Zant, whom I consider to be one of the finest songwriters to ever walk this planet, never uttered an impeachable word on the subjects of race or white grievance or George Wallace for that matter. Even booed the fella in “Sweet Home Alabama,” for Christ’s sake. And as “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” proves, Ronnie knew damn well he was playing the black man’s music and was proud of the fact.

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Graded on a Curve:
Art Pepper Presents “West Coast Sessions!” Volume 5: Jack Sheldon & Volume 6: Shelly Manne

Those with a passion for jazz might already be familiar with the final two installments in Art Pepper Presents “West Coast Sessions!” As part of a high-profile late-career resurgence by the giant of West Coast saxophone, they’ve been previously reissued in one big block, but for this latest round Omnivore Recordings has taken a more sensible approach, separating each studio date, placing any alternate takes at the end of the CDs, adding superb notes from Pepper’s wife Laurie, and casting a dual spotlight on the altoist and the original LPs’ contractually mandated leaders; for Vols. 5 and 6, that’s trumpeter Jack Sheldon and drummer Shelly Manne. Completing a sweet run of discs, both are available now.

The skinny on these sets is that post-comeback Art Pepper, locked into an exclusive leadership contract with the Galaxy label, found additional work as a sideman through his wife Laurie’s savvy maneuvering. The main requirement of the small Japanese company Atlas was that the results fall into the West Coast category, but as Pepper asks in the liners to Vol. 6, what is West Coast jazz exactly?

She partially answers the question through her mention of a Bill Claxton-Buddy Collette composition that led off the self-titled ’55 debut from the Chico Hamilton Quintet. The tune is “A Nice Day,” and Pepper goes on to emphasize the unlikelihood of any ’50s New York jazzer adorning a piece with such a title. The observation underscores the difference between scrapping-to-survive NYC and the more temperate, easygoing Cali lifestyle, but she makes a more salient point in observing how musicians move around physically, grow creatively, and defy regional categorization as often as they reinforce it.

The list of players that fall at least partially into the West Coast cool jazz zone is long and wide. A sampling of varied names: Pepper, Hamilton, Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Jimmy Giuffre, Fred Katz, Hampton Hawes, Jack Montrose, Shorty Rogers, Marty Paich, and the ostensible leaders of the Atlas originals of Vols. 5 and 6, Jack Sheldon and Shelly Manne.

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TVD Vinyl Giveaway: Brian Wilson,
Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology

While there are any number of Beach Boys Best-of comps resting in the racks, a long overdue appraisal of Brian Wilson’s solo career arrived in shops only last month—Rhino Records’ astute appraisal Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology. We have three copies to give away to three of you, but first however some official background.

Brian Wilson’s eponymous solo debut for Sire in 1988 launched an extended period of renewal for the iconic Beach Boys songwriter. Rhino revisits Wilson’s solo career with a new 18-song collection that mixes studio and live recordings with two previously unreleased tracks: “Run James Run,” a new song Wilson wrote and recorded for this collection, and “Some Sweet Day,” an unreleased gem he wrote with Andy Paley in the early 1990s for an unfinished recording project.

Playback: The Brian Wilson Anthology covers more than 30 years of music with selections from nine of Wilson’s solo albums. The collection opens with “Love And Mercy,” one of the four songs on Playback taken from Wilson’s self-titled debut. The song has become one of Wilson’s most beloved classics, a regular closer to his live concerts, and was adopted as the title of the acclaimed 2015 biopic that saw the Beach Boy memorably played by both Paul Dano and John Cusack.

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Yep Roc Records’ 20th anniversary celebration: A wacky family reunion

Hillsborough, NC, population 6,000, might not be the place you’d expect to see one of the fall’s hippest music festival lineups featuring Nick Lowe, Dave and Phil Alvin, Tony Jo White, Tift Merritt, Los Straightjackets, Chuck Prophet, and the Fleshtones, among others. But it happens October 19–21 as the independent label for all those acts, the venerable Yep Roc, throws its 20th anniversary celebration in the small town where it’s been based for five years.

Many of those acts will be performing at the co-sponsoring Cat’s Cradle music club in nearby Carrboro. But for the first time there will also be a free outdoor concert Saturday at Hillsborough’s River park with Mandolin Orange, Jim Lauderdale, the Stray Birds, Kim Richey, and Tony Joe White. It’s hosted by Wesley Stace, who formerly recorded under the name John Wesley Harding.

“We had done something pretty big for our 15th anniversary, which was pretty great. And we had such an amazing result from that effort that it really made us want to do something again,” says label co-founder Glenn Dicker over the phone. “But we really wanted to do something different this time around.” So instead of sticking to the clubs 20 minutes away in Chapel Hill where the label originated, he says, “we decided to try to do something in our hometown.”

Hillsborough has been a good place for the label, which has navigated its way through one of the oddest two decades of the music industry. And Yep Roc has been good to the town, creating about 40 jobs at the label and its distribution company Redeye. Yep Roc has brought in artists to play live sessions at local businesses from the coffee shop and liquor store to book store, brewery, and boot outfitter. The label also helped set up a series of shows to the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

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Steff and the Articles,
The TVD First Date

“I worked at a record store for a few years. Did a number of things there, but kinda ended up being the de-facto “Trade” guy for a while which basically meant that I spent my days digging through old Tracy Chapman CDs, stolen DVDs, and box upon box of dusty old vinyl. There are worse ways to make a living, I guess.”

“Anyway, a common question while alternately sneezing and passing up on that “super-rare” copy of Sticky Fingers was, “So, you a collector…?” Now, in the moment I typically deflected the question or used some line like, “Ah, I’ve got a small collection at home…nothing serious,” but while thinking about what to write for this piece, I came to realize just how big a part of my life vinyl, and music in general, is to my life.

As a kid, music was always around—my mother seemed to date nothing BUT musicians. She was always playing some hair metal or early alt-rock record or TAPE (?!) through the apartment, and we spent a lot of time at various venues and practice spaces throughout town. But, it was always peripheral; it hadn’t yet taken ahold of me. I was busy running around, going to the beach with my buddy Chad, or watching Transformers: Beast Wars…y’know, the good life.

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Graded on a Curve:
Jon Hassell,
Fourth World Vol.2: Dream Theory In Malaya

Originally released in 1981 on Editions EG, Jon Hassell’s Dream Theory in Malaya: Fourth World Volume Two was a groundbreaker in its merger of ambient, experimental, and global sounds, but as the decades unfurled it came to be inexplicably overlooked, in part due to a lack of reissues since getting placed on compact disc in the late-’80s. Well, that scenario has changed, as it’s been given a fresh LP and CD release courtesy of Glitterbeat Records’ new sub-label Tak:Til; that its often surreal yet meticulously crafted rewards are back in the bins is a fine circumstance indeed.

Regarding Jon Hassell’s early catalog, 1980’s Fourth World Vol. 1: Possible Musics is much better known, even before it was reissued by Glitterbeat in 2014, largely because it has Brain Eno’s name on the cover. Eno plays on and mixed Vol. Two as well, but co-billing eludes him, specifically due to Hassell’s distress over his partner running with the Fourth World musical ball and spiking it directly into David Byrne’s backyard.

Hassell apparently viewed Talking Heads’ Remain in Light (’80) and the Eno/ Byrne collab My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (’81) as part of “a full-scale appropriation.” This may sound like an atmosphere of hostility, but Hassell actually contributed to Remain in Light, and as said, ol’ Bri wasn’t locked out the studio for Vol. 2; in retrospect, Hassell has said he “probably under-credited him.”

If a bit harsh at the time, Hassell’s caution over the usurping-weakening of the Fourth World, a concept expanded upon by Hassell as “a viewpoint out of which evolves guidelines for finding balances between accumulated knowledge and the conditions created by new technologies,” wasn’t exactly unjustified, as a stated goal was to imagine a musical landscape where assorted global musics, with Hassell citing Javanese, Pygmy, and Aboriginal forms as examples, had been as influential as the Euro-classical tradition.

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TVD Radar: Louisiana Hayride, 20-CD box with rare performances from Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash in stores 10/20

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Featuring more than 25 hours of music, this unprecedented collection comes packed in an LP-sized package complete with a 224-page hardcover book with rare performances from stars like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, June Carter, Kitty Wells, George Jones, and Webb Pierce, as well as a previously unknown Hank Williams recording.

For more than two decades, the Louisiana Hayride radio show was a Saturday night staple for music lovers. Broadcast by Shreveport, Louisiana’s KWKH-AM from 1948-1960, Hayride stood as the chief rival to the now better-known Grand Ole Opry. While the Opry favored established Nashville stars, Hayride offered headliners and newcomers alike an opportunity to perform. It was this policy that led Hayride to say “yes” to a young singer from Tupelo, Mississippi after the Opry said “no.” That singer, Elvis Presley, debuted on the show in October 1954 and later made his first TV appearance on the television version in March 1955.

Presley’s 15 songs here (which include “That’s All Right,” “Baby Let’s Play House,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Don’t Be Cruel”) are just a fraction of the more than 500 tunes stocking At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight. Bear Family Records’ 20-CD box set holds a treasury of long-buried live Hayride performances—many of which have never been heard since the day they were broadcast—with perhaps the rarest of these rarities being the previously unknown recording of “I’m a Long Gone Daddy” by Hank Williams.

The compilation has been constructed in chronological sequence. Throughout the 20 discs songs are interspersed with the Louisiana Hayride theme tune (“…we’re gonna have a wonderful time…”), and with show announcements, intros, ads, comedy routines, and even mistakes, giving listeners a real sense of what it was like to hear the show on the radio, or to have plunked down your 60¢ (or 30¢ for children) for a ticket to watch it live in Shreveport’s Municipal Auditorium. One of these stage announcements, in fact, is the old-time emcee Horace Logan making the now-famous proclamation that “Elvis has left the building.”

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Thunder Body,
The TVD First Date and Premiere, “What’s Sweet About Lemons”

“Atop our piano in the living room can be found anything from The World Is Shaking, Cubanismo From The Congo 1954-55, to D’Angelo’s Black Messiah. Fresh by Sly and The Family Stone sits in regular rotation next to Leonard Cohen Live at Isle of Wight (mostly because it’s a favorite of Matt’s).”

Eastern Sounds by Yusef Lateef sounds even more wonderful than we’d realized once the vinyl was attained, and hasn’t left its perch. We aren’t exactly record collectors, but we do collect vinyl editions of our favorite recordings. MIA’s KALA got so much air time. Hearing it on vinyl was like hearing it for the first time. King Tubby, Scientist, Augustus Pablo. Very nice on vinyl. If we’re listening to music at home, it’s almost always records. Our hi-fi is our shrine.

If you wanna take several days and move heavy things around for access, ask Dennis Mariano to see his records. Like all of his pursuits, no style is left untouched. Collected by he and his wonderful wife Jenny, the catalogue is as deep as the story of their years and reflects their enthusiasm for both music and collecting. If any of this music should be lost to time, Dennis and Jenny won’t be to blame.

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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.

VanWyck – An Average Woman
Anastasia Minster – When I Die
Threefifty – Allegiance
Caroline Reese – Nicotine
Flotation Toy Warning – Due To Adverse Weather Conditions, All Of My Heroes Have Surrendered
Justine and the Unclean – I’m In Love With You, Jackass
Yo No Say – Lock
TOMKAT – Drowning
rotoscope – Clean Lines
Skaciety – Yesterdays News

Skye Wallace – Scarlet Fever

Renraku – Gravity Well
Cross Culture – Faded Away
The Able Bodies – Flicker
JM Vercetti – House Of Gold
Whispers – Whizard Throne
Lunettes Noires x Dev – In The Dark
Jahn Rome – Superhero
Jinco – Scherzo In E Minor
Bitta Blood – I Know (Dirty)
JVST SAY YES – I Just Wanna Dance

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Graded on a Curve: Spooky Tooth Featuring Mike Harrison,
The Last Puff

Spooky Tooth: The funniest band name this side of Foghat! And for the longest time that’s all I thought I needed to know about Spooky Tooth. I mean, I knew they spawned that super-enlightened astral entity known as Gary “Dream Weaver” Wright, but I never felt like any great desire to, you know, listen to them, because the few Spooky Tooth songs I had happened upon (“Evil Woman,” Better by You, Better Than Me”) reminded me of Deep Purple, and the way I’ve always looked at it one Deep Purple is already one Deep Purple too many.

But I was wrong, which are the words I plan to have engraved upon my tombstone if I don’t go with Rick Derringer’s immortal “Did somebody say keep on rockin’?” And the proof I was wrong lies within the grooves of 1970’s The Last Puff, which is the only “Tooth” LP to be credited to the unwieldy moniker Spooky Tooth Featuring Mike Harrison.

Why do I like this LP by “The Tooth” when I’m not so wild about the other LPs I’ve heard by the band? Well, it’s less ‘eavy in that bombastic Brit blues rock manner, for starters. On this one the band opts for grit over high-volume crotch wank, and it doesn’t hurt that the songs are solid but not flashy. Sure, the Joe Cocker song sounds like a Joe Cocker song and the Elton John song sounds like an Elton John song and yes the Beatles song sounds like a Beatles song, but the lads in Spooky Tooth—which included a future member of Mott the Hoople and several former members of Joe Cocker’s Grease Band—put their unique spin on all of ‘em, and in my humble opinion actually trump the Fab Four on the Beatles’ number.

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