Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

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.

Jeff Tweedy – Laminated Cat
Little Shrine – Stone
Flotation Toy Warning – Controlling The Sea
Matt Hectorne – Only Way Into Your Heart
Robin Jackson – Drifting At Sea
Mt. Doubt – Teeming

Pip Blom – School

The Captain of Sorrow – Hollow Empty Void
Mo Troper – Your Brand
Eagle Johnson & Clean Machine – Hero
Broke Royals – As Long As I Can See
Monster Rally – Toucans
Dream System 8 – Losing All of You
Lunettes Noires – Troubles (Original Mix)

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Graded on a Curve:
Meat Puppets,
Up on the Sun

Spacy lockstep psychedelic folk-punk with a spring in its step: That’s the best I can do to summon up the bouncy and utterly ebullient music on Meat Puppets’ 1985 Meisterwerk Up on the Sun. Up on the Sun constituted the last of a three LP onslaught that marked one of the most astonishing evolutions in musical history—the Puppets went from mealy-mouthed hardcore slash and burn to weirded-up, slowed-down country murk to this acid-drenched, desert-fried classic, which I consider to be one of the most singular landmarks on America’s postpunk landscape.

Arizona son Curt Kirkwood delivers up his patented brand of liquid sunshine mysticism in a deadpan drone, which is to say he’s got nothing to lose and nothing to prove and doesn’t give a damn if he ain’t the second coming of Mel Torme. He tosses off non sequiturs (“A long time ago/I turned to myself/And said, You, you are my daughter”), turns banalities into profundities (“Pistachios turn your fingers red”), and engages in much surrealistic word spew (“Hot pink volcano in the heart of the tornado, is shaking the lemonade tree/Hot pink forest is backed by a furnace, that boils the lemonade free”). But no matter how far out his lyrics are they’re still firmly set in the Arizona desert, with the sun baking the mesa and the local “Swimming Ground” providing the only escape from the hot pink heat for miles. Kirkwood may have been a mystic, but he was a mystic with both feet planted solidly on the earth.

Curt Kirkwood, brother Cris (bass), and Derrick Bostrom (drums) go all syncopated on this one, but somehow manage to keep things loose. You could almost call Up on the Sun funky but it’s not like any funk you’ve ever heard before; the songs are simultaneously groove-locked and ramshackle, and the tension between structure and tossed-off loosey-goosey chaos is what keeps you on the edge of your seat. In a strange way—and I’ve never noticed this until now—Up on the Sun could be a deranged country cousin to the early LPs of the Talking Heads, sans the claustrophobia and rampant paranoia (our boys are on a good trip and couldn’t be happier). Both bands serve up a very deviant form of dance music, if only for spastics, meth heads, and the like.

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TVD Radar: Dionne Warwick, Odds & Ends–Scepter Records Rarities in stores 12/15

With a total of 40 Pop chart hits, Dionne Warwick’s recordings for the Scepter label rank as arguably the most successful run of any artist—and certainly of any female artist—for an independent label during the 1960s.

But all that success had a downside for her considerable legacy: Scepter became a hot property for acquisition, and as a result the label’s holdings were bought and sold several times before Dionne herself arranged to buy her own masters back. By that time, though, the Scepter tapes had been scattered in disarray, thus leaving a lot of material in limbo and causing compilers to throw up their hands.

Well, where other reissue labels fear to tread Real Gone Music goes full speed ahead! Odds & Ends—Scepter Records Rarities offers 25 hard-to-find tracks (plus some bonus promo spots) from the Scepter vaults, including rare alternate versions (of hits like “Don’t Make Me Over,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” and “Do You Know the Way to San Jose”), stereo singles (“He’s Moving On;” “Amanda”), foreign language singles (“A House Is Not a Home” in Italian and French; “Walk On By” in German and Italian), stereo mixes (of “Get Rid of Him” and “Silent Voices”), and just plain lost tracks (like “Our Ages or Our Hearts” and “Monday, Monday”).

Many of the selections are previously unissued and most are making their CD debut. What’s more, this one’s released with the full cooperation of the legendary lady, Dionne herself, who sat down for an interview with liner note writer Joe Marchese, and includes rare photos. Remastered by Ted Carfrae, Odds & Ends—Scepter Records Rarities is a stone solid must for any Dionne fan, and of course any Bacharach-David fan as well…this is some of the greatest—and rarest—vocal pop music of the ‘60s!

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The TVD First Date

“As a young child I remember the record cabinet looming over me like a tall skyscraper. A plethora of 12” vinyl stacked in alphabetical order ran through the walnut cased rack. I’d push each record in just enough so they all lined up, then nudge them out so I could do it all again.”

“Even at this early age I knew not to fuck up these records. I’d happily carve my name into the family mantelware or use the single paned front door as target practice for free kicks, but I stayed clear of those records. They had some importance, some mysterious being, which gravitated me toward them when the turntable spun. My earliest memory of music will have come from that turntable, the first time I ever listened to Bob Dylan, the first time I ever listened to the Sex Pistols, and last time I ever listened to Pink Floyd.

The day came when I could finally just reach the summit of the cabinet, leading to the impossible task of choosing a record to play. I’d deliberate for half an hour trying to decide which Frankie Goes to Hollywood album to put on. Spend another half an hour working out which side I had to play first. Listen to the first couple of songs at the wrong speed, before final getting that ‘Maha-hiya, Guess what’s happening now?’ at the start of ‘Relax.’ YES I’d made it, what a banger.

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Graded on a Curve:
Make It Big

When it comes to ersatz pop soul it doesn’t get any more authentically faux than 1984’s Make It Big by Wham!. England’s glorious It duo successfully transmogrified their transparent lack of authenticity into an asset, and while they never managed to reach the awe-inspiring pop heights of Hall and Oates, they were really quite alike insofar as one guy did all the heavy lifting while the other guy did, well, who knows what he did. Hand the guy doing all the heavy lifting the occasional Kleenex maybe.

As Hall once said of Oates, “I’m 90 percent and he’s 10 percent, and that’s the way it is.” The only difference is that John Oates’ 10 percent beat Andrew Ridgeley’s 2 percent hands down, even if that 10 percent was contributed not by Oates but by Oates’ mustache. Oh, and there’s another difference: John Oates hasn’t been relegated to the status of a trivia question.

But enough with the relegation of duties stuff. The point I want to make is that thanks to George Michael, Wham! were so shallow they were deep, which is demonstrated by the fact that Michael went on to become a pop superstar who could make ‘em swoon by doing nothing more than wiggling his butt. But it takes more than supernatural keister gyration to make it in the cutthroat Pop Biz. You have to be able to write songs that are so infectious the CDC has to be sent in to investigate them, and Michael had a gift for writing songs that epidemiologists spent a lot of time peering at through microscopes. Mock him and Wham! if you will—I’ve been doing it for ages—but the fact remains that Michael had mad pop skills.

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TVD Radar: Thelonious Monk’s The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection in stores 12/15

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Recordings, the Catalog Division of Concord Music, is proud to announce the release of Thelonious Monk’s The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection. Due out December 15th, the limited-edition box set includes all five of the 10″ vinyl LPs which the pianist recorded for the jazz label, spanning 1952 to 1954.

Each album has been faithfully reproduced – from the jacket design to the LP labels – while the audio has been carefully restored and remastered by Joe Tarantino from the original analog tapes, with lacquer cutting by George Horn and Anne-Marie Seunram at Fantasy Studios. Rounding out the collection is a booklet with new liner notes by Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original. The Complete Prestige 10-Inch LP Collection will also be released in high-res and standard audio formats across all streaming and digital platforms.

Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-1982), who would have turned 100 this year, remains one of the most highly regarded jazz artists in history, known for his unique style on and off the piano. Monk was a rule-breaker, pushing the limits of his genre, with his dissonant chords, unconventional melodies and progressive rhythms. Initially dismissed an eccentric by the musical elite, Monk stood his ground, and came to be celebrated for his complexities; considered by many to be a genius.

However, in the early ’50s, the artist was still struggling to find critical and commercial acceptance. In his liner notes, Robin D. G. Kelley refers to this era as the “golden years in terms of [Monk’s] creative output” but, he adds, “these were also dark times.” Following an unjust run-in with the law, the jazz musician’s cabaret card was revoked, preventing him from performing at New York clubs, and restricting his income.

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Scott Morgan,
The TVD Interview

Though every bit the equal of any figure in Motor City music lore, Scott Morgan’s name has yet to reach the status of sanctity outside of the most cultish of rock-soul circles. Given his fifty-year resume, that fact constitutes an oversight of the highest order.

It was the voice of Morgan that powered the soul-soaked garage tunes of his first band, the Rationals, on their near-definitive versions of Otis Redding’s “Respect” and Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” the startling abandon of the latter being matched only by the honeyed restraint shown on a Carole King number, “I Need You.”

Soon after, he linked up with Fred “Sonic” Smith of the MC5 to form what is either the greatest rock and roll band you’ve never heard of, or the greatest rock and roll band you’ve ever heard: Sonic’s Rendezvous Band. A union of the finest working musicians in Detroit and Ann Arbor, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band placed the established concept of high-energy rock as laid down by the MC5 and the Stooges into an incinerator. The dual guitar onslaught of Smith and Morgan, who emerged as a first-rate rhythm player, careened the band into territories uncharted, while the rhythm section of Stooges’ former skin-splitter extraordinaire Scott Asheton and Up bassist Gary Rasmussen counteracted fire with thunder.

And they released just one song.

The Morgan-sung “Electrophonic Tonic,” an absolute whirling dervish of a song from the word go, was purposed as the B-side to the earth-imploding masterpiece that is “City Slang,” only to be pulled from its slot after internal dispute. Considering the pull of “City Slang” barely made it past Ann Arbor city limits, this misfire likely did minimal damage to any theoretical mass audience the band might have reached. Besides, the thought of tacking both songs, each individually powerful enough to provide heating for every building in the Great Lakes region, onto a seven-inch piece of black plastic is as farcical as it is hazardous.  

After about five years, SRB dissolved and Morgan pushed forward by fronting the Scott Morgan Band, whose 1988 album Rock Action featured former Rendezvous bandmates Asheton and Rasmussen for much of the eighties, then continuing into the nineties and next century with a number of different groups, playing alongside Hellacopters frontman Nick Royale in both the Hydromatics and the Solution as well as working with fellow Detroit legend Deniz Tek of Radio Birdman fame in a couple one-off projects like Dodge Main and a collaborative album called 3 Assassins.

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Skrizzly Adams,
The TVD First Date
and Video Premiere,
“Tipping Point”

“‘Tipping Point’ is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written, especially considering I was the grand prize winner of the International Songwriting Competition with it. The song is about the incredibly frustrating yet simultaneously inspiring moment when you realize something in your life is coming to an end. With the video, we aimed to capture that emotion and tell a story that reflected the lyrics in as cinematic a fashion as possible.”

“Vinyl, to me, signifies ‘the album’ as an art form. For me, vinyl has always embodied the concept that when listening to an album, you aren’t just listening to a collection of songs, but something greater. A statement is being made; you are adding one and one and one and somehow getting five. Listening through an album is a journey divided by carefully placed intermissions (side flips), and when you get to the end, you feel like you’ve achieved something. The physical vinyl and its packaging is your badge of honor.

When I was a kid just getting into and quickly becoming obsessed by music, that was how I experienced vinyl. I am grateful to have lived in a house filled with great records. My mother had an enormous Neil Young collection that I completely wore out. Neil was absolutely one of the greats. He put out a lot of content and honestly missed just as much as he hit, but when he hit, he tapped into something magical.

I remember listening to Harvest for the first time and not only being blown away by every song on the album, but being confused and amazed at the same time as to how an album could have such a perfect dichotomy. Half the project was a rootsy, in-studio folk album and the other half was Neil accompanied by the grandeur of a symphony orchestra. It made no sense, yet complete sense at the same time.

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Graded on a Curve:
Saz’iso, At Least Wave Your Handkerchief
at Me: the Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song

Over the last half century, certain geographical regions have become consistent sources for global musical enlightenment. Albania however, has remained largely absent from the record racks. At Least Wave Your Handkerchief at Me: The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song is a major step in remedying this absence. Produced by Joe Boyd (Shirley Collins, Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention), engineered by Jerry Boys (Buena Vista Social Club, Ali Farka Touré, Orchestra Baobab), and performed by the group of powerhouse vocalists and deft instrumentalists known as Saz’iso, it’s a vibrant and enriching listen out now on vinyl, compact disc, and digital through Glitterbeat.

Saz’iso excel at a style known as Saze. At its root it is an iso-polyphonic music, meaning it features no less than two melodic vocal lines combined with a third multi-voiced drone or iso. Once performed a cappella, the introduction of manufactured instruments to the region in the late 19th century resulted in a mingling of East and West as Saze ensembles were formed.

Joe Boyd’s involvement here is a sure sign of quality, but it’s important to note his co-producers Edit Pula and Andrea Goertler, and the advisory role of Vasil S. Tole, described as a leading expert on iso-polyphony in Glitterbeat’s promo text, where he’s quoted establishing Saze’s continued stature as the musical language of Southern Albania’s cities.

Tole’s claim is easily verified by At Least Wave Your Handkerchief at Me, it’s contents clearly a living, thriving music and not a relic, but with attentiveness to tradition that increases emotional power. The singing, with Donika Pecallari and Adriana Thanou the lead voices and Robert Tralo contributing occasionally, is exquisite, and is the playing of Aurel Qirjo (violin and voice), Telando Feto (clarinet), Agron Murat (lute), Agron Nasi (frame drum), and Pëllumb Meta (flute and voice).

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TVD Radar: The Rolling Stones–On Air 1963-65, in stores 12/1

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Rolling Stones have unveiled the second track from The Rolling Stones – On Air, a collection of rarely heard radio recordings from their formative years. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” recorded for Saturday Club in 1965 and taken from the upcoming release, is available now across various formats.

The Rolling Stones – On Air offers a glimpse into the early days of The Rolling Stones a few years before “The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World” became a reality. This was a band playing the music they loved so much—Blues, R&B, Soul and even the odd country song. The songs, including eight the band have never recorded or released commercially, were originally broadcast on bygone UK BBC shows such as Saturday Club, Top Gear, Rhythm and Blues and The Joe Loss Pop Show between 1963 and 1965.

Released via Polydor Records/UMe on CD, double CD deluxe edition, heavy-weight vinyl, and special limited-edition colored vinyl, The Rolling Stones – On Air is released on December 1 and available to pre-order here. This album follows the recent release of The Rolling Stones – On Air coffee table book, by Richard Havers and published by Virgin Books.

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