Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Elvis Presley, Where No One Stands Alone blue vinyl in stores 8/10

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “Since I was two years old,” Elvis Presley once said, “all I knew was gospel music. It became such a part of my life, it was as natural as dancing. A way to escape my problems, and my way of release.” It was gospel music that most ferociously stoked his musical passions, even as his unique synthesis of country, popular, and rhythm and blues styles made him an idol to millions around the world.

The new album Where No One Stands Alone, available August 10, celebrates the power and passion of Elvis Presley’s gospel music. Produced by Joel Weinshanker, Andy Childs and Lisa Marie Presley, the album features 14 of Elvis’ most treasured performances of inspirational music with rare alternate Elvis vocal takes and newly-recorded instrumentation and backing vocals, including members of The Blossoms, The Sweet Inspirations, The Imperials, and The Stamps Quartet. The title track, originally recorded in 1966, is presented as a duet between Elvis and his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. will have exclusive, limited edition versions of the album on blue 12” vinyl and cassette configurations. Fans purchasing the CD, exclusive blue vinyl, and cassette together from will receive a limited edition lithograph signed by Lisa Marie Presley.

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Graded on a Curve: Culture Club,
This Time–The First
Four Years

Yeah, I was that dick. You know, the dick whose unvarying response to Boy George’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” was “Yes!” But not because he wore makeup and a dress. I was fine with that. It was because, well, poor George sounded like such a defenseless wuss.

But I turned that “Yes!” into a “You go, girl!” a long time ago, and my typical response to hearing Culture Club on the radio nowadays is giddy excitement. Such frothy musical entertainment! What a beat! And those pasty-faced, Smoky Robinson Lite vocals! You would have to be a MONSTER to want to hurt crooning milksop B.G., even if he did seem dead set on hurting both himself and others during a decades-long Lost Weekend that saw him assaulting innocent Norwegians, abusing every drug under the sun, and doing a skirt-hem-dirtying stint of community service at the New York City Department of Sanitation.

But let’s not allow Boy George’s very public personal problems cloud Culture Club’s myriad contributions to Western Civilization, which are convincingly set out on 1987 best-of compilation This Time–The First Four Years. It has all the hits! And all the hits Culture Club wish had been hits! Including “The War Song,” in which everybody’s favorite cross-dressing misanthrope writes off the human race with the words “People are stupid”! How did that one not climb to the Top of the Pops?

Culture Club specialized in lightweight pop confections composed of equal parts New Wave and blue-eyed soul; they avoided the frigid constraints of synth-pop and by so doing succeeded in emanating real warmth, even if was of the D. Bowie “plastic soul” variety. Just listen to the crooning on “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.” Boy George sucks you in before the band even kicks in and he never lets up. And the rest of the band has the good sense to let his vocals stand front and center throughout. Doesn’t hurt, either, that the melody is one in a million.

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Graded on a Curve:
Alan Braufman,
Valley of Search

As part of NYC’s fertile ’70s free-spiritual-loft jazz scene, the alto saxophonist Alan Braufman cut a solitary and underheard album as a leader, the ’75 effort Valley of Search. It was the second LP on the esteemed independent jazz label India Navigation, captured essentially live with no overdubs, alternate takes, or extra cuts, and while a handful of particulars solidify its stature as a noteworthy recording (including the debut of pianist and instrument builder Cooper-Moore), the biggest is its robust, ecstatic improvising. Long a rarity and never given an authorized reissue, a fresh vinyl edition is out June 29 through the Valley of Search label.

Clifford Allen’s excellent liners for this reissue go into greater depth, but in brief, the move that made Valley of Search a reality was Braufman’s leaving Boston along with a group of Berklee College of Music students for New York City, and specifically lower Manhattan; the others were saxophonist David S. Ware, bassist Chris Amberger, and pianist Gene Ashton, who’s known today as Cooper-Moore.

Next came the acquisition of a space in which to live and create, in this case a building on 501 Canal St. Once moved in, the first floor was designated for performances. Others took up residence, including drummer Tom Bruno and vocalist Ellen Christi; Amberger moved out. Through rehearsal and performance, the Braufman-Ashton unit, which included bassist David Saphra and drummer Ralph Williams, grew into the role of the house band. With time and diligence came increased attention and then the opportunity to record.

The five LPs (released separately) or three CDs (issued as a set) that hold the Wildflowers loft jazz sessions (a series of events held at Sam Rivers’ Studio RivBea that featured a range of players both well-known and obscure) remain a bountiful point of entry into this scene, but they should in no way be considered definitive. A whole lot more was happening, and a sizable percentage was preserved through Bob Cummins’ India Navigation label.

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TVD Live Shots:
Dave Matthews Band
at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA, 6/22

Grammy Award-winning Dave Matthews Band continued their North American tour on June 22, 2018, at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA. Touring in support of their ninth studio album, Come Tomorrow (RCA Records), the band will continue to travel across the U.S. and Canada finishing at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, CA.

As the sun began to set in Mansfield, the sold-out crowd was buzzing with excitement as the band took the stage with the song “Again & Again” from the new album. Already knowing the lyrics, die-hard fans sung along with Matthews who noticingly gave an appreciative grin. DMB transitioned into the powerful “So Right” which engaged the band as well as the crowd.

Johnny Perry, who traveled from Warwick, RI to see the show and is approaching a milestone 100th DMB concert, noticed the established connection between the band and crowd early on. “It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the band play with that kind of energy,” said Perry. “The band and the crowd were definitely feeding off of each other. I always try to get as many close friends as possible to join me for the DMB Mansfield show. Nearly 15 of us for this past show—it makes the whole experience better.”

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TVD Radar: The Fall, 458489 A-Sides first
US vinyl pressing in stores 8/10

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “At various points in the band’s four-decade career, the Fall might sound like punk, hard rock, psychedelia, funk, blues-rock, jazz-rock, electropop or sheer noise. “If it’s me and your granny on bongos, it’s the Fall,” Mr. Smith once declared. The BBC disc jockey John Peel, an early and steadfast supporter, said of the Fall that ‘they are always different, they are always the same.’”The New York Times

The seventeen songs collected on 458489 A-Sides come from The Fall’s Brix Smith era, aka “the golden era of Fall releases.” This is a perfect introduction to the band, and as legendary critic Robert Christgau said, it’s “The only Fall record any normal person need own.” Originally released in 1990, this album has never been released on vinyl in the US, and isn’t easy to find elsewhere.

The band’s legendary and notorious frontman Mark E. Smith passed away earlier this year at the age of 60. The band’s output since they formed at the height of the punk rock movement in Manchester in 1976 was prolific to say the least. It’s hard to be exact, but in their four decades, The Fall released 31 studio albums, 5 part-studio/part live albums, 32 live albums, 40 compilations, and Mark E. Smith also released two spoken word albums. Another high number is that of former members of The Fall. There were over 60 different band members over the years. Their high volume of quality work over the last 40+ years had an enormous influence which was extolled greatly after his death.

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Graded on a Curve:
Bob Dylan & The Band,
The Basement Tapes

Sound reads from the archives, all summer long.Ed.

Well, here I am at last, in a deserted warehouse on Desolation Row, about to realize my lifelong dream of interviewing the legendary Bob Dylan. It’s a rather odd place to meet, I know, but I got absolutely nowhere with Dylan’s PR people, so I decided to exercise my First Amendment rights by abducting him, duct-taping him to a rickety wooden chair, and shining a very bright light in his eyes. It’s an unorthodox arrangement, to be sure, but then Dylan is a famously uncooperative interviewee.

“Okay, Schmylan,” I say, opening the interview on a light note. “You’re going to spill or I’m going to shave Vincent Price’s mustache right off your face.”

“You don’t like it?” says Bob in that unintelligible frog-with-emphysema croak that makes his present-day concerts such wonderful exercises in collective audience incomprehension.

“Not really. I think it’s creepy. And if it’s creepy I want, I can always listen to Saved.”

“Vince bequeathed it to me in his will,” says Dylan, unfazed by my criticism. “And I happen to like it. It’s so Dr. Goldfoot and The Bikini Machine. I kept it in the freezer for years, on top of a box of Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks. Hey, would watch the parking meter?”

“Quoting your old chestnuts will get you nowhere,” I say. And to prove it, I slip a cigarette between his lips and smack it out again.

“No, I mean literally. I only fed it enough quarters for two hours. And the last thing I need is another ticket.”

“You’ve got bigger worries than a parking ticket, Zimmerman. Like your legacy. You’re the guy who put out Bob Dylan at Budokan. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way that album blows.”

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Graded on a Curve:
Frank Newsome,
Gone Away with a Friend

Since 1972, Frank Newsome has been a minister in the Little David Old Regular Baptist Church, located near tiny Haysi in southwestern Virginia. As part of services, he is also a singer of uncommon richness and power, delivering his message without musical instruments in keeping with church tradition. Although Newsome received some exposure beyond Haysi through his longtime friend Dr. Ralph Stanley and was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 2011, Gone Away With a Friend is his first recording. Capturing him a cappella and unaccompanied in his church, the compact disc is out June 29 through Free Dirt Records. Anyone with an interest in folk and gospel traditions will want to hear it.

Gone Away With a Friend provides a rare opportunity to experience the Old Regular Baptist singing tradition. As mentioned in Christopher Koepp’s notes for the set, the only prior widely available Old Regular Baptist recordings were two early ’90s discs from Smithsonian Folkways that offered lined-out hymnody from Southeastern Kentucky. Making this collection rarer still is that with one exception, the pieces here aren’t lined-out, i.e. an individual leading a congregation in song (and as such, a relative to shape-note singing), but instead present Newsome alone.

The strength of Newsome’s voice is immediately felt, its quality made even more remarkable when considering his contraction of black lung disease after years working in the coal mines of his region; his last day underground was February 12, 1976. As vocal intensity gets seamlessly united with the conviction and indeed the utter soulfulness of Newsome’s singing, Gone Away With a Friend attains a brilliance that’s at first startling, then soothing, and ultimately life-affirming.

More so than most recorded examples of undiluted tradition, the disc registers almost entirely as an act of preservation rather than dually serving as a calling-card for an artist or group working in a niche of the vast field of Americana. It is true that Newsome would often commence the proceedings of Ralph Stanley’s Hills of Home festival (and has sung at other folklife oriented fests), but those appearances (it feels wrong to call them performances) occurred as an outgrowth of friendship and community, aspects that deeply resonate as Gone Away With a Friend plays.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Struts at Koko,

It’s make or break time for arguably one of the biggest breakout bands from the UK over the past few years. The Struts will release their long-awaited sophomore record sometime this summer. Will the group be able to shake the stigma of the sophomore jinx? If the first two singles are any indication of what’s to come, that shouldn’t be the case.

Frontman Luke Spiller was recently quoted discussing the direction of the highly anticipated release. “We were very much aware that even though the band has lived with the first album and the songs that come with it for quite a while, for everyone else, it’s relatively fresh,” says Spiller. He continues, “So I felt like it was really important to make this second album somewhat depart from the first one. Not a departure musically, I didn’t want to go completely left. I think it’s important to give people more of what they fall in love with.”

“One Night Only” was released late last year and “Body Talks” was just released last week. Both are strong athematic songs that continue the band’s quest to bring back all the best attributes of ’70s arena rock, but is the world ready for them? Interscope is certainly taking a gamble with a four-year space between albums here, and I can’t imagine the band would agree with this timing, but that’s the price one pays for being part of the major label machine.

Then again, the stars seem to be aligning perfectly as the band is queued up for the opening slot on the Foo Fighters summer stadium tour. While that certainly doesn’t guarantee the future success of the group, especially since the record will not be out yet, it does set the stage for what could be a breakout year for the band.

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TVD Radar: Hampton Grease Band, Music to Eat 2-LP vinyl reissue
in stores 8/3

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Why would we reissue a record that is reputed to be the second worst-selling release in the history of Columbia Records? (Legend has it that it was undersold only by a yoga instructional album.) Well, because in the 47-some years since its release, the Hampton Grease Band’s Music to Eat has steadily ascended the list of Greatest Cult Records of All Time so that now it resides at the tippety-top.

Indeed, modern-day jam bands genuflect at the sight of the trippy cover art alone (Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit was an early ‘90s fixture in the movement), as the jazz/prog/psych guitar licks of Glenn Phillips and Harold Kelling give such famous duos as Betts/Allman, Verlaine/Lloyd, and Bloomfield/Bishop a run for their money. Add a generous dollop of Pop Art surrealism delivered by Hampton’s Dada-ist, Beefheart-ian roar and you’re left with an album that inhabits a rarefied realm somewhere between Trout Mask Replica, Anthem of the Sun, Hot Rats, Happy Trails, and maybe The Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East (particularly because the Hampton Grease Band was also from the South but far, far stranger).

But what makes this record even more special is the way it points the way forward as well as back. Yes, you can hear echoes of their more famous, improvisationally-minded contemporaries, but the offhand guitar riffs, frenzied instrumental passages, stylistic about-faces, and deadpan vocals bring to mind nothing other than a psychedelicized Minutemen (and David Thomas of Pere Ubu sounds a lot like Col. Bruce).

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TVD’s Press Play

It’s the 350th (!) edition of TVD’s Press Play—and an announcement:

Upon the launch of Press Play quite a number of years ago, we were happily deluged with free files we were invited to share with you. While never a fan of Mp3 downloads, we nevertheless felt sharing was caring. However come 2018 with streaming (and happily, vinyl) on the rise, we receive fewer and fewer free files for download, as today’s paltry pickings attest.

Press Play will move from its weekly perch to perhaps bimonthly, monthly–or hell, as warranted–moving forward. We invite your feedback.Ed.

Static Diary – UFOs
Chris Rivers – RIP X
Ricky Bats – By My Side

Paul McCartney – Come On To Me

Pale Green Things – The Islands
The March Divide – I Don’t Care
Mountain Lions – California
The Eyebrows – Suicide Love
Hot Sauce Pony – Fenced In
Sara O’Brien & the Community Rocks! Kids – Vegetarian
Lara Smiles – Coincidence
Chris Rivers – Gimme The Boost

The Color Forty Nine – Storyteller
Chris Rivers – I Am He
Badjokes – Clap Your Hands

Sleepspent – Come Smile With Me
Rodin – Rickshaw Roadtrip
Chris Rivers – Y’all Know Me

Eric Benoit – Black Currant
James Rose – Head for the Coast
Carry Illinois – Pushing Sound
J Hacha de Zola – Lightning Rod Salesman
Cosmos Sunshine – Letdown
Chris Rivers – Can’t Fight The Healing
Rebekah Rolland – Standing Still
PHOSPHENES – Boy In The Hood
Plusaziz – Murra (مُرّة)
Pale Green Things – Snakes
Broken Baby – Year of the Fat Man
The March Divide – Get In Line
Sara O’Brien & the Community Rocks! Kids – Let Yourself Shine!
Chris Rivers – Dragonfly
Marz Money – The Truth Freemix

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Graded on a Curve:
Steve Miller Band,

Steve Miller took the long and winding road to superstardom, putting out eight albums before he hit paydirt with bicentennial year smash Fly Like an Eagle. And there was a reason for his prolonged stint as a journeyman; most of those first seven albums were middling at best, and even Miller conceded as much.

Here’s Steve in the liner notes to 1972 comp Anthology: “Always before, you know, people more or less needed to be fans to like the albums. Oh, I mean there’d be some good cuts and a couple of not-so-good cuts, and then some cuts I don’t even like to remember. But Anthology is what I always wanted to make–two good LPs that’ll hold up.” Hardly a killer endorsement for his earlier work.

But all middling is not created equal, and I have a soft spot in my heart for the Steve Miller Band’s second LP, 1968’s Sailor. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a psychedelic rock masterpiece–that notion goes out the window right from the get go with the Pink Floydesque opening track “Song for Our Ancestors,” which is all whale farts and organ noodle and should have come with a tab of acid to render it interesting–but it includes more than its fair share of “good cuts.”

On Sailor–the last Steve Miller Band album featuring original members Boz “Lido Shuffle” Scaggs and keyboardist Jim Peterman–the group splits their affection for white blues and psychedelic rock more or less down the middle, and tosses in a couple of Dylan/Stones/Beach Boys homages while they’re at it. All of which is to say they’re all over the damn place, but still manage to turn what might have been an impossibly diffuse LP into a charmer.

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Graded on a Curve:
John Coltrane,
The Atlantic Years
in Mono

Sound reads, all summer long.Ed.

John Coltrane’s Atlantic period presents an arresting convergence of circumstances. It was a time of raised profile and of considerable transition, the artist’s confidence audibly growing as he united jazz tradition and experimentation; most of all it was an era of major breakthroughs establishing the saxophonist as a leader in his field. The Atlantic Years in Mono doesn’t include the entirety of his work for the label, but it does ably document a thrilling era that brought Coltrane to a mainstream audience. Don’t be scared by the audiophile angle; Rhino’s 6CD/6LP+7-inch set is a splendid acquisition for both newbies and longtime fans. One gets to hear the thriving mastery as it was originally released.

By the time John Coltrane hooked up with the Ertegun brothers he’d already chalked up a significant list of achievements, serving as a powerful voice in post-bop’s development via the bands of Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis, guesting for a track on Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness, teaming with Hank Mobley, Al Cohn, and Zoot Simms for Tenor Conclave, and leading bands for Prestige and for one LP Blue Note. Top billing came with Coltrane in 1957, and next was Blue Train for Blue Note, which many consider to be his first great album. John Coltrane with the Red Garland Trio followed in ’58 (aka Traneing In for its ’61 reissue), and Soultrane retained the services of the Garland band. As Coltrane’s fame grew Prestige would later release nearly a dozen albums under his name from unissued sessions and elevated sideman dates, in turn possibly lending a false impression of the saxophonist as unusually prolific during ’57-’58.

Coltrane was constantly playing but was nowhere near popular enough to have that many albums produced in such a short span; indeed, his two ’58 records with Wilber Harden as co-leader, Jazz Way Out and Tanganyika Strut, are rarely discussed in spite of their being positioned directly before Coltrane’s move to Atlantic. Well, not quite; the closest correspondent recording to his ’59 Atlantic debut Giant Steps is Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue.

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TVD Radar: The Wolfhounds, Hands In The Till: The Complete John Peel Sessions in stores 7/27

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Originally formed as teenagers in 1984, The Wolfhounds released four critically acclaimed LPs and numerous singles, appeared on the NME’s influential C86 cassette, extensively toured the UK and continental Europe, finally disbanding in 1990. The band reformed in 2006 at the request of St Etienne’s Bob Stanley to celebrate 20 years since the release of C86, and inflicted a severe guitar noisefest on an unsuspecting indiepop crowd at London’s ICA. Since 2012 they have been recording and releasing new material.

At the peak of media attention over the new bands promoted by the C86 cassette, The Wolfhounds recorded three four-song sessions for the BBC’s legendary late-night John Peel Show between March 1986 and January 1987, capturing all the excitement and youthful exuberance of a band just catching the public imagination. With an energy born of sweaty, rammed gigs in the function rooms of London pubs and a willful experimentation nurtured in suburban bedrooms and garages away from watchful eyes, The Wolfhounds blasted their raw live sound straight to tape with little in the way of overdubs or the more considered studio polish of their excellent albums.

Every song from these sessions is now gathered together on Hands In The Till, making a surprisingly coherent whole despite the heady disorganized thrust of the times and a couple of line-up changes in the meantime. More wiry and angular than most of their C86 peers, The Wolfhounds had more in common with The Fall than The Byrds, and Hands In The Till shows them at their caustic best.

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The TVD First Date

“I always remember my mum putting on disco records when I was a kid, I always thought they were nostalgic and maybe a bit cheesy and didn’t really appreciate the great songwriting, the arrangements, and the vocal harmonies until later on. I especially remember liking the soundtracks for both Saturday Night Fever and Grease, they just made me want to get up and dance. C’est Chic by Chic is another album I distinctly remember being played a lot along with the early Michael Jackson records.”

“Later on in my life I rediscovered the art of buying vinyl and started off building my collection by searching eBay and charity shops. The first album I bought was Loaded by Velvet Underground which really got me hooked on the band. I once went into a charity shop and bought a bulk load of records and some of them turned out to be first pressings, like Please Please Me by The Beatles and The Doors’ self titled album.

Since getting into vinyl more and more I’ve really got into scouring various record shops, be it Sister Ray in Soho, Pie and Vinyl in Portsmouth, or Flashback Records in Shoreditch where I found my original copy of Bitches Brew by Miles Davis. Pie and Vinyl is such a great shop, who would have thought of putting Pie AND Vinyl together and it going so well?

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Graded on a Curve:
Adam and the Ants,
Kings of the Wild Frontier

Who’s better qualified to talk about New Wave legends Adam and the Ants than a real, live ant? Or better yet, anthropomorphic cartoon superhero Atom Ant? I recently caught up with everybody’s favorite atomic-powered New Frontier insect at a retirement anthill outside Phoenix, Arizona, and took the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the band that invented Antmusic.

Before we start, how’s Secret Squirrel?

Squirrelly. Very squirrelly. All of that International Sneaky Service stuff went to his head. I was always having to remind him it was only TV. I occasionally get coded letters from him with handwritten return addresses from places like Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. But they’re all postmarked Erie, Pennsylvania.

So what do you think about Adam and the Ants’ striking visual image?

It’s a disgrace to Family Formicidae. Real ants don’t wear make-up, although we do have our fair share of Goth Kids. Don’t get me wrong; in one sense their look is a return to the campy outrages of Glam Rock, and I don’t know a single ant who doesn’t love him some Glam. Hell, even their patented two-drummer Burundi beat is a salute of sorts to Gary Glitter.

What was your response to the “Antpeople Phenom”?

I took it as a left-handed complement to our eusociality and this mythical notion that we share some kind of “hive mind.” Hell, if that were true we’d all like straightedge–if that ain’t a terrifying example of programmed hive behavior, I don’t know what is. But speaking for myself, I think Antpeople are good people. You could do worse than imitate us. Let’s face it: acting human certainly hasn’t gotten the human race very far. The shit you people do on a daily basis is appalling. Cooperation and peaceful crisis resolution just aren’t your thing. Remember the episode where arch-enemy Karate Ant and I faced off and ended up having a friendly chat? Donald Trump would have called him “Little Rocket Man” and escalated that little contretemps into WWIII.

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