Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Gladiators, Full Time and Ethiopian & His All Stars, The Return Of Jack Sparrow

The sun is shining, it’s hot enough to induce sweat just by standing up, and there’s a substance (or two) tickling the brain: this is maybe the best framework for soaking up deep reggae grooves, but it’s also true that any time can be a good time to engage with the style. Omnivore Recordings knows this, as they’ve recently reissued The Gladiators’ Full Time compilation and rescued Ethiopian & His All-Stars’ The Return of Jack Sparrow from the realms of the unreleased. Both compact discs commence a reissue program focused on the catalog of the St. Louis label Nighthawk Records, and as the goodness on display here indicates, it’s going to be quite the enjoyable ride.

I’d say The Gladiators need no introduction, but reggae is such a cavernously deep genre that even a multidecade discography including a series of LPs for a major label can manage to go unnoticed by folks receptive to Jamaican sounds. Formed in the mid-’60s by singer-songwriter-rhythm guitarist Albert Griffiths, the group cut their first single for the Wirl label in ’67 and then hooked up with producers Duke Reid, Lloyd Daley, Lee Perry, and Clement “Coxsone” Dodd for a series of hits. In the second half of the ’70s they landed on Virgin Records, as Dodd’s Studio One milked the vaults for comps.

Roots reggae entered a period of commercial decline in the early ’80s, and the Gladiators’ final record for Virgin, an eponymous Eddy Grant-produced misfire, only worsened their personal circumstances. And yet by adjusting to the smaller Nighthawk label they bounced back artistically with ’82’s Symbol of Reality, ’84’s Serious Thing, and ’86’s collaboration with the Ethiopian (real name Leonard Dillon) Dread Prophecy.

In ’92 Nighthawk issued Full Time, which gathered up two cuts from the ’82 various artists comp Calling Rastafari and the entirety of the group’s ’83 US Tour EP (enticingly pictured on clear vinyl in the CD booklet) in combination with then unreleased selections from the ’82-’86 sessions. It’s all engineered by Sylvan Morris, who’d worked with The Gladiators at Studio One starting in the early ’70s, so the quality is high throughout. This is anything but a plate of leftovers.

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TVD Radar: John
Hiatt’s Bring The Family and Slow Turning 30th anniversary reissues in stores 1/26

VIA PRESS RELEASEIn a stellar career that spans half a century, John Hiatt has built a massive collection of recordings that’s been an ongoing source of inspiration for fans, critics, and other artists. Hiatt’s catalog encompasses more than 22 studio albums, including several acknowledged classics. But the veteran singer-songwriter’s 1987 album Bring the Family and its 1988 follow-up Slow Turning have earned special status, and remain beloved cornerstones of the veteran artist’s prestigious body of work.

On January 26, A&M Records/UMe will celebrate these high-water marks of Hiatt’s and their 30th anniversaries with newly remastered vinyl editions, making them available on vinyl for the first time since their original release. The long out-of-print records will be pressed on high-quality 180-gram black vinyl, along with a special limited-edition colored vinyl variant of each. Bring the Family will be released on clear with grey smoke 180-gram vinyl, while Slow Turning will be on translucent red 180-gram vinyl. The colored vinyl editions, limited to 500 each, will be available exclusively at Sound of Vinyl and on Hiatt’s upcoming tour.

Bring the Family, Hiatt’s eighth album of original songs, marked a mainstream breakthrough for the artist after years as a critical and cult favorite, becoming his first release to appear on the Billboard album chart. Recorded on a shoestring budget at a time when Hiatt didn’t have a record deal, in a hastily-arranged four-day session with the all-star studio combo of Ry Cooder on guitar, Nick Lowe on bass, and session veteran Jim Keltner on drums, the album quickly won attention for its rootsy, melodically infectious songcraft and its resonant lyrical insights on love, parenthood, and family life.

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The Sound of Ghosts,
The TVD First Date and Premiere, “No Soul”

“My first experience with vinyl was as a child being obsessed with copies of “The White Album” by The Beatles and ABC by The Jackson 5.”

“Music always played an important role in my family’s household growing up. I can remember wanting to listen to these records over and over but eventually our record player died and that made way for a new tape deck and then CDs. It wasn’t until my twenties that my love for vinyl resurged into my life.

In the early 2000s my friends owned a record store on the Cahuenga Crawl in LA called The Beat Market and this was in the pre-Ameoba era which would end up opening right down the street and eventually put them out of business. I spent countless hours in that store playing records and just falling in love with the culture of vinyl and the way it sounded and made me feel. I always loved the idea of owning a huge record collection but my dreams wouldn’t turn into a reality until I was a little older and could afford to have a vinyl addiction.

There is something special about going to your favorite record store and digging through the bins to see what you can find. Mono Records and The Record Parlour in Los Angeles are a couple of those stores for me. I never leave empty-handed and always enjoy the conversation that happens while I’m there.

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TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday recap (on Tuesday this week) of the new and FREE tracks received last week to inform the next trip to your local indie record store.

Eric Benoit – Taos
Felsen – Vultures on Your Bones
Her’s – Loving You (Minnie Riperton Cover)
Jodee Lewis – Buzzard’s Bluff
Paulaa – Know You
Matt Hectorne – Only Way Into Your Heart
Buckley – Three Chiefs

Shirley Collins – Wondrous Love

Jeremy Bass – The Greatest Fire
Laissez Fairs – High Horse
Jared Saltiel – The Fountain
Youth in a Roman Field – Town Hall
James McMurtry – State of the Union
ash.ØK – The Unraveled
Jeff Rosenstock – All This Useless Energy
Kainalu – Finding Peace Of Mind

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Graded on a Curve:
Danny Fox Trio,
The Great Nostalgist

A whole lot of contemporary music is accurately tagged as variations on the tried and true, while the raison d’être of a smaller percentage is concerned with subverting or boldly breaking free from precedent. The Danny Fox Trio travel a third path, putting an individualist stamp upon a form that often thrives on subtle differences in execution, as they solidify their existence as an extension of the long and vibrant piano trio tradition. Radiating the influence of classical music, but without the expectations that association can bring, The Great Nostalgist is out on compact disc January 19 through Hot Cup Records.

The Danny Fox Trio features its namesake at the piano, Chris van Voorst van Beest on bass and Max Goldman on drums. They are a working group, having traveled the US in a sedan with this classic setup, and their sound has been called “modern chamber jazz.” It’s a description that can prepare one for a light, refined atmosphere, but that’s not what’s served up on The Great Nostalgist.

Somebody somewhere once tagged ‘em as a contempo Ahmad Jamal Trio, and it’s an astute compliment, enough so that it subsequently made it into the trio’s short biographical text. But there are marked differences. For starters, thus far, the Fox Trio’s repertoire on record has eschewed standards or any outside compositions at all; everything on their latest was written by the pianist and arranged by the band.

This is hardly the first piano-based affair to oust standards from the compositional pool. But where many pianist’s tunes branch out of the post-bebop template and often connect like variations on standards (or standards to be, perhaps), Fox’s writing resonates as strikingly personal, in large part due to subject matter (e.g. stuffed animals, Carvel Ice Cream store mascots, caterpillar-shaped accordions, laundromats, and Terminal 4 at JFK Airport). It’s all enhanced by their collective, working approach.

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We’re closed.

We’ve closed up the shop for the Martin Luther King Day holiday. While we’re away, why not fire up our free Record Store Locator app and visit one of your local indie record stores?

Perhaps there’s an interview, review, or feature you might have missed? Catch up and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.

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TVD Radar: Allen Ginsberg’s Howl And Other Poems vinyl edition in stores 2/23

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Recordings, the Catalog division of Concord Music, is pleased to announce a deluxe vinyl box set celebrating Allen Ginsberg’s iconic Howl And Other Poems, one of the most important pieces of modern American literature.

Due out February 23rd, the collection offers Ginsberg’s recording of the poems, pressed on translucent red vinyl – reproducing the original 1959 LP release, as well as a replica of the synonymous book of poetry, published in 1956 by City Lights for their Pocket Poets series. Also included in the box set is a photo of Ginsberg from the ’50s, a reproduction of the original City Lights reading invite from 1956 and a booklet, with new liner notes by Beat scholar Ann Charters, as well as notes by poet Anne Waldman.

To celebrate, San Francisco’s legendary City Lights Booksellers will host a reception on February 22nd at 7:00 PM. The event, which will be open to the public, will feature readings and statements by Ann Charters, San Francisco’s Poet Laureate Kim Shuck, poet and author Neeli Cherkovski, City Lights’ Poetry Editor Garrett Caples, and box set producer Bill Belmont.

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) was one of the best-known writers of the Beat Generation as well as a leading figure in the counterculture movement. Tirelessly prolific throughout his life, Ginsberg was most closely associated with was Howl—a poetic rage against society’s conformism and capitalism, which rocked the literary world upon its publication, and has gone on to be one of the most widely performed poems of the 20th Century.

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Graded on a Curve: Motörhead,
Ace of Spades

We remember Motörhead’s “Fast Eddie” Clarke who passed away on Wednesday, January 10 with a look back from our archives. Ed.

Well, the impossible has transpired. Lemmy Kilmister is dead. I was convinced he was immortal, but he finally drew the Ace of Spades, and is no doubt in Hades as I write this, turning the Dark One on to some good old-fashioned amphetamine-fueled biker bar jukebox rock’n’roll. And the Dark One is undoubtedly crouched in a corner with his fingers in his ears, wishing Lemmy (vain hope!) would turn it down a notch.

Motörhead’s 1980 LP Ace of Spades—the band’s fourth—is without a doubt my all-time favorite proto-thrash LP, or any metal album for that matter, and the world would be unimaginable without it. It’s a nonstop blitzkrieg of raunch’n’roll, what with its high velocities and Lemmy’s hoarse croak; this isn’t just speed metal, it’s an 18-wheeler with no brakes descending a steep grade straight to Hell. Lemmy sings about all his favorite memes: poker (although in real life he preferred the slots), jailbait, drugs and more drugs, high-speed driving, burning hotels, and making the audience’s ears bleed.

In short, it’s the ferocious salvo of a band led by a fiercely independent spirit who got kicked out of Hawkwind for, as he himself put it, “doing the wrong drugs.” To which I can only say, if the drugs that produced this album are wrong, I don’t want to be right. It’s possibly the perfect album with the exception of “Dance,” which will pound you like a deranged gorilla but boasts a very un-Lemmy set of lyrics about, well, dancing. Me, I don’t want to hear Lemmy sing encomiums to dancing—I want him to sing about how he, as he puts it in the great “Jailbait,” “loves that young stuff,” thereby joining in the select company of Mick Jagger, Van Morrison, Bill Wyman, and assorted others.

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Chloe Bodur,
The TVD First Date

“Records are my favourite conversation starters.”

“I share my flat in Brighton with two other songwriters. We keep all of our records together in a line underneath the glass coffee table in the centre of our living room, with the titles facing upwards. This way, whenever anyone comes over for a tea and sits down on the sofas surrounding the coffee table, they can look down through the glass and see what vinyl lives with us.

Owning a record doesn’t just mean you like the music, it means you’re proud of it. You don’t listen to it privately through headphones or exclusively when you’re in the shower and the sound of the water disguises your guilty pleasure playlist of Katy Perry’s “Swish” and “Reflection” from the 1998 Mulan movie. No. You’ve bought a 12 inch large body of work that you handle with more care than your own body. Someone scratches me by accident? No problem whatsoever. Someone scratches my favourite record by accident? YOU F*CKING WHAT MATE!?

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Graded on a Curve: Creedence
Clearwater Revival,
Cosmo’s Factory

During a recent crawl down Bourbon Street in New Orleans I heard a lot of mangy cover bands manhandle a lot of my favorite songs. Was I outraged? Hell no. I enjoyed every minute of it. There’s nothing I love more than listening to a band of barely competent rock ‘n’ roll discards–I’m a rock ‘n’ roll discard myself–butcher the classics. My only regret is I didn’t hear a single one of them do their honorable worst to Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Because I loves me some Creedence. During the psychedelic era, when just about everybody else was jamming away ad infinitum to songs about peace, love, and sundry other species of Aquarian bullshit, CCR’s John Fogerty was writing unfashionably short songs as tightly wound as Swiss clocks about dread and menace. He saw bad moons rising, wondered who was going to stop the rain, and warned that when you’re running through the jungle, it’s best not to look back. And unlike, say, the Velvet Underground, his songs were immensely radio friendly–they might as well have come equipped with payola. J. Fogerty is that rarest of all creatures, a natural-born hitmaker, and a hitmaker of such prolixity that Creedence fell into the habit of releasing double A Sides. You have to write a lot of damn good songs to be that cocky.

Creedence Clearwater Revival was, with the arguable exception of the Velvet Underground and the Grateful Dead, the premier American band of their era, and on 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory–the band’s fifth album in two years, amazingly enough–CCR hit their creative zenith. On it Fogerty makes writing great songs look dizzyingly simple; only 2 of its 11 songs fall short of indispensable, and they’re both covers. The rest of ‘em are stone cold classics, and they range from monumental covers (the 11-minute “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” which is less a jam than a carefully structured exercise in locking down a groove) to a foray into friendly lysergic-country pastoralism (“Lookin’ Out My Back Door”) to a note-perfect Little Richard tribute (“Travelin’ Band”). And I could go on.

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