Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Fastball,
All the Pain Money Can Buy first vinyl issue in stores 11/9

VIA PRESS RELEASE | When the first single from Fastball’s second record was released a few months before the album dropped, it was apparent there would be no sophomore slump. “The Way” exploded at radio, eventually going Gold, and propelling All the Pain Money Can Buy to Gold status in only three months and Platinum another three months later. The release also received two Grammy® nominations, and the band won four Austin Chronicle awards for the album.

Produced by the band with Julian Raymond (Cheap Trick, Sugarland, LP), All the Pain Money Can Buy also delivered the second single, “Fire Escape,” as well as the Top 20 single “Out of My Head” (whose chorus was recently reinterpreted in Bad Things by Machine Gun Kelly & Camilla Cabello) while also including a track with Poe (whose Hello was certified Gold in 1996).

This 20th anniversary edition contains the original 13 songs, plus nine bonus tracks including rare B-sides, compilation tracks, and four previously unissued demos. To make this anniversary even more special, the album makes its vinyl debut as a double LP containing all of the bonus material. Street date is November 9, 2018 via Omnivore Recordings.

With expanded packaging and an essay from Scott Schinder including a new interview with the band, All the Pain Money Can Buy returns stronger than ever. The way is finally clear. As Schinder notes, “It’s not surprising that All the Pain Money Can Buy would catch on with the public. The album’s 13 original songs embodied an irresistible mix of catchy song craft, melodic sophistication, and emotional depth, and the band arranged and performed them with an unmistakable sense of urgency that underlined the opportunity that the project represented.”

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Graded on a Curve:
Ozzy Osbourne,
Diary of a Madman

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

Ozzy Osbourne almost bit my earlobe off during an interview once. One minute we were talking about Master of Reality and the next he was lunging across the table to take my left ear—an easy target seeing as how I suffer from Meniere’s Disease, which causes radical enlargement of the earlobes—and shaking it, while growling like an angry Rottweiler. It was like a scene straight out of Dostoevsky, to be precise the moment in The Devils when Nikolai Stavrogin bites the governor’s ear. Anyway, I cried “Mercy!” as he literally lifted me out of my chair and led me around the room, my earlobe clenched in his slavering mouth. He finally let go and apologized afterwards, but offered no explanations. Then again, what can you expect from the guy who once said, “Off all the things I lost I miss my mind the most.” I consider it an honor.

Okay, so the above never happened. (I feel obligated to say this because in another article I swore my adolescent skull secreted sperm, that’s how horny I was, and a few folks actually wrote to tell me this was impossible. Duh.) But the Ozzy earlobe biting could have occurred. He once ate the heads off two live doves, and famously bit the head off a dead bat on stage, an act that led him to quip, “I got rabies shots for biting the head off a bat but that’s OK—the bat had to get Ozzy shots.” And then there’s the time he thought it would be a good idea to snort fire ants. In short, in Ozzy World, biting off a journalist’s earlobe would be child’s play.

I love Ozzy’s work with Black Sabbath, but have always avoided his solo stuff, although I love “Crazy Train.” Why? Because after being fired by Black Sabbath in 1979, one would have expected Ozzy to continue in the grand Sabbath tradition of releasing records filled with songs so monolithically slow and heavy they sounded like mammoth King Tiger tanks grinding up unlucky Poles. But Ozzy took a radically different path. His solo albums were lighter, in fact almost dainty; compared to the relentless eardrum-pummeling crunge of Black Sabbath they sounded spritely, bouncy even. In short, he gave up mastodon metal for regular old metal, which in that time and place was as much about hair spray as it was gargantuan guitar wank. If Sabbath’s albums are pig iron, Osbourne’s solo LPs are aluminum, and I for one wasn’t crazy about Ozzy’s transformation from Iron Man to Tin Man.

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Violet Days,
The TVD First Date

“I grew up in a musical family where everybody would sit around the table and play different instruments and sing along. It was easy and pretty natural for me to want to play around with the tape recorder in the house and record myself.” 

“I would always pick the radio instead of the CD player because I liked the analog feeling when I pushed the buttons, switch and listen to different mix tapes I had recorded from the radio. I remember around the living room there were big speakers and a big stereo that we always used for tapes and CDs. On the left side of the stereo there was always a vinyl player that I never really noticed as a kid, because it didn’t work and I didn’t care to investigate.

It was only some years later when I found my dad’s vinyl collection looking through our kitchen’s wooden couch (one you could store stuff in) that my curiosity started. I could see the happiness on my dad’s face when he found me on the floor going through his old treasures. He sat down and told me about them and which ones were his favorites. It was easy to tell because they were pretty worn out. I love that about vinyl; when you can tell by the sleeve that it’s been listened to a lot. It tells a story about the people who own them and it’s a beautiful thing.

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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 on July 27, it gets 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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TVD Live Shots: Weezer and the Pixies at Xfinity Center, 7/17

MANSFIELD, MA | Rivers Cuomo was literally ready to “bless the rains,” (their new single’s homage to Toto’s hit) down at Xfinity Center on Tuesday night. But even torrential rains didn’t stop long time Weezer fans from showing up to rock with their favorite band. Devotees wearing shirts that read “Weezer ‘til I Die,” kind of said it all.

In a recent press release, the band shared that there is nothing like a summer trek across the country and welcomed the Pixies and Sleigh Bells on their current tour across the U.S. “…we’ve been on plenty of [tours] dating all the way back to 1994, when we opened for the legendary UK band Lush, driving around in an old conversion van named Betsy. So much has changed since those days but the main thing that’s changed about a Weezer concert is that they’ve sounded better and better, and have been more and more full of fans. This coming summer will be no exception.”

A large curtain dropped to reveal the band on what looked like the set of Arnold’s on Happy Days, paying tribute to the video of the beloved Weezer hit, “Buddy Holly.” Cuomo also played homage by sweating it out in his own Buddy Holly sweater and signature frames.

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Graded on a Curve: Shoes,
Black Vinyl Shoes

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

Those with a serious jones for power pop might already be hip to the Numero Group label’s dandy 150-gm repressings of the early work from the killer Illinois group, Shoes. However, interested parties new to the band of John Murphy (vocals and bass), Jeff Murphy (vocals and guitar), Gary Klebe (vocals and guitar), and a whole lot of drummers should begin with their still massive 1977 album Black Vinyl Shoes. It’s quite a stunner, and the fact that it’s freshly available is a surefire antidote for many ills, including creeping cynicism.

Along with pub-rock, power pop gets very frequently lumped in with punk rock as one element in the big 1970s disdain with the overwrought staleness of the norm. And since punk rock, which at the time was largely a dismal commercial failure, has proven to be the most lingeringly influential and historically captivating part of the ‘70s back to basics impulse, that’s unfortunately resulted in pub-rock and power pop getting the short shrift far too often.

It’s probably true that cacophonous youthful anger will always be a more immediately attractive musical avenue than non-photogenic Stones/Yardbirds descended stuff (pub-rock, in an oversimplified nutshell) or the sound of a younger generation discovering the glories of unadulterated pop-rock gusto ala The Beatles, The Byrds, The Hollies, and the early Who (power pop, in a bargain basement distillation).

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t champion the achievements of Dr. Feelgood or 20/20 if given half the opportunity. If their stuff lacks an air of loutish hooliganism, it instead basks in an atmosphere of non-telegraphed classicism that’s as rare these days as a natural born redhead. So it’s no surprise that when people hear the strains of undiluted power pop for the first time, they often react with an uncontrolled outpouring of euphoric emotion; my goodness, this stuff is so simple! And yet so perfect! Why can’t it always be like this?

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TVD Radar: Diamond D, Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop reissues in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASEOn July 20, 2018, UMe will reissue the out-of-print, 2LP vinyl set of Diamond D And The Psychotic Neurotics’ landmark album Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop. Urban Legends will also release a very limited amount of color vinyl pressings available here.

Twenty-six years ago MC/producer Diamond D from New York’s mighty D.I.T.C. (Diggin’ In The Crates) collective debuted with a stunning classic that entailed elements of what brought him and his crew notoriety—grimy boom-bap anchored by effusive yet obscure samples. Diamond emerged in the late ‘80s as a member of Ultimate Force, a short-lived troupe whose debut album was shelved and didn’t see the light of day until over a decade afterwards. Diamond’s encyclopedic knowledge of records, after years of contributions and studious vision, came to the forefront in 1992 with his first official solo venture, Stunts, Blunts & Hip-Hop.

Despite his acumen and talent as a beatmaker, Diamond D had other production notables pepper his album with mastery and know-how. While Diamond helmed the majority of the beats, longtime visionaries like The 45 King, Jazzy Jay, Large Professor, and D.I.T.C. teammate Showbiz all make stellar appearances on the project. Despite its gritty, sonorous East Coast aesthetic, the album still hit No. 47 on Billboard’s R&B and Hip-Hop chart. You also hear sped up samples and vocals, a sound that would also be forever influential in the decades to come by the likes of 9th Wonder or Kanye West, respectively.

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Graded on a Curve:
(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

I’m of two minds about Oasis’ (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, which many consider the crowning glory of the 1990s Britpop movement. On one hand I can’t help but bask in its bold strokes, symphonic sweep, and big, soaring anthems. On the other, there’s this nagging voice in my head that tells me it’s a stellar example of cocaine-induced grandiosity, and all sound and fury signifying nothing.

On this 1995 LP older brother/songwriter Noel Gallagher eschewed the rawer sound of the band’s debut Definitely Maybe in favor of a slew of pumped-up arena rockers, and in so doing produced the biggest–both in sonics and sales–album to emerge from the Cool Britannia movement.

Gallagher’s formula was simple; he took a cue from McDonald’s and supersized everything. The key world is swelling, and the results sound just swell, that is unless you’re of the opinion that (What’s the Story) is all steroidal bravado and no content.

And I can understand those people who have come to the latter conclusion, because Gallagher doesn’t really have much to say. The lyrics are crap; they sound like placeholders for some real lyrics Gallagher was simply too lazy to write. He goes heavy on catch phrases, cliches, and the like, and comes up with more than his fair share of howlers; “Slowly walking down the hall/Faster than a cannonball” will stand forever as one of the dumbest couplets in the history of Western Literature.

But in the end I say to hell with the slipshod lyrics and simply revel in these soaring anthems to nothing: “Wonderwall,” “Champagne Supernova,” “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” and “Some Might Say” may not mean much of anything, but rarely have a bunch of empty gestures sounded so inexplicably… sublime.

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TVD Radar: The Flying Burrito Bros., Burrito Deluxe 180-gram reissue in stores 10/18

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Intervention Records is thrilled to announce The Flying Burrito Bros.’ classic 1970 sophomore effort, Burrito Deluxe, on 180-gram vinyl (Cat# IR-022/UPC: 707129301505) and hybrid CD/SACD (Cat# IR-SCD8/UPC: 707129301512). The anticipated on-sale date for the 180G LP is early October 2018, and the SACD will be available by the end of the year.

Burrito Deluxe is the second and final hot Burrito made while the band was still led by former Byrds member Gram Parsons. The Flying Burrito Bros. are widely viewed as the inventors of country rock and are one of the most influential bands of all time. Burrito Deluxe is another classic full of great tunes written and sung by Parsons and Hillman.

Burrito Deluxe is 100% Analog Mastered by Kevin Gray at CoHEARent Audio from the best source available—a phenomenal sounding 1/2″ safety copy of the original stereo master tape. Intervention’s remastering preserves all of the top-end energy and “snap” of the original A&M LP, while the bass foundation is fully restored to make this new Intervention reissue the definitive listening experience for this classic LP! The hybrid SACD is mastered Direct-to-DSD from analog tape.

The original LP art is restored by IR’s Tom Vadakan, and the old-style, “tip-on, brown-in” single jacket is printed by Stoughton. It features super Deluxe red foil accents on the front cover. The Hybrid CD/SACD is housed in a super jewel box.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Velvet Underground, Squeeze

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

Contrary to what’s sometimes published, the studio legacy of The Velvet Underground didn’t end with 1970’s Loaded. No, it culminated with what many consider to be an abomination, an offense in the annals of one of the greatest bands to ever transcend and redefine rock’s limitations. The record is 1973’s Squeeze, and despite music that’s inescapably lackluster there is a case to be made for bringing the album out of the shameful shadows that persist in shrouding its existence.

For many VU fans, Squeeze exists on the same plane as that uncle who’s been sent up the river for crimes that nobody in the family feels comfortable discussing. Other Velvets fanatics LLLOOOVVVE to talk about this understandably scarce LP, mostly because it helps to flesh out theories over what made the band so exceptional, speculations that often vary greatly from person to person. Because if The Velvet Underground are the ornery granddaddy of an often sorta suspect category known as “cult bands,” unlike many of the groups awarded with this stature there is no consensus on what is VU’s best LP, or for that matter what is even their finest era.

And this seems to have been a gradually evolving process. Around 1987, when I first began listening to the Velvets in earnest, the older heads with whom I spoke (almost always inside the welcoming walls of record stores), seeking guidance on this somewhat daunting entity, were essentially divided between which of the band’s first two records, The Velvet Underground and Nico and White Light/White Heat, was best. This is to say that while surely considered valuable, the post-John Cale material was definitely esteemed as lesser.

But a new day was dawning. As the arrival of groups like The Wedding Present and Galaxie 500 made clear, a generation of young musicians had come of age subscribing to the notion that the music produced for the band’s self-titled third LP was the true apex of the Velvets’ achievement. This phenomenon was aided by VU and Another View, both compilations fairly fresh in the racks and often easier to obtain than the actual full-length studio records.

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TVD Radar: The Ultimate Guide to Vinyl and More in stores 9/25

VIA PRESS RELEASE | While contemplating future acquisitions, audiophiles among us need look no further than Dave Thompson’s The Ultimate Guide to Vinyl and More: All You Need to Know About Collecting Essential Music, from Cylinders and CDs To LPs And Tapes (Backbeat Books; September 25, 2018; $29.99) for an unrivaled overview of collectible music.

Thompson, the author of nearly 200 books on subjects ranging from music and film to erotica and philately, has made a career of scrutinizing what’s cool before it’s cool. His first vinyl study, Backbeat’s classic The Music Lover’s Guide to Record Collecting, was published in 2002, putting Thompson’s decades of audio interest and expertise to use back when PVC was MIA.

Today, The Ultimate Guide to Vinyl and More picks up where Thompson’s original left off. Enhanced with a new full color design, expanded timeline, and reams of information, the book offers an in-depth introduction to (and history of) music collecting. Neither price guide nor instruction manual, this text offers a clear, concise summary of the many items one can collect by exploring areas of interest (e.g. an artist’s career, a format’s development, a label’s history, etc.) and niches of note.

Dense, droll, and always illuminating, Thompson shepherds readers through over a century of recorded music, exploring every format in which audio has been released. Unlike other books that focus exclusively on vinyl, this 10×10 LP-lookalike caters to those whose obsession for music welcomes all vintage media. Landmark labels, collectible artists, specialist themes, and more are explored across a series of essays, while dozens of images bring the collector’s world to life.

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Graded on a Curve: Starship,
“We Built This City”

Well here it is, the most abused song in the annals of rock and roll. If ever there was a tune that belongs in a shelter for battered songs, it’s this one. In a just world it would be sitting in a tranquil psychiatrist’s office, blowing its nose into a hanky and sobbing, “Why does everybody hate me?”

1985’s “We Built This City” has been maligned by plenty over the years, but I’ll limit my mentions to two publications. In 2010 Blender put it at the top of its list of the “50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever.” Not to be outdone, in 2016 GQ declared it “the most detested song in human history.”

But I’m not here to pile on. You really can’t beat “the most detested song in human history,” and I might even question whether the detestation is justified. The real question is, just WHY do people detest this baby so much? I will attempt to answer this question.

1. People detest it because they hated everything Starship had come to represent. As you’ll no doubt remember, “Starship” was just the latest attempt by a bunch of hacks to re-brand what had come to be a decidedly second-rate product. Jefferson Airplane produced a lot of great music. Jefferson Starship produced a modicum of okay music and a lot of really shitty music. The abbreviated Starship produced a couple of odious hit singles and left the whole world wondering what they’d change their name to next. Star? Ship? Starshit? In short, the record-buying public was sick and tired of these bozos, and just looking for an excuse to throw eggs.

2. Many also despise “We Built This City” because it’s the product of egomania run amuck. Plenty of people built the rock scene in San Francisco, and Starship’s feckless attempt to snatch sole honor stank of hubris. To make matters worse, Grace Slick was the only member of this band of latecomers who was around when rock exploded in the Bay Area. These poseurs didn’t build this city; they showed up late and shit all over it. Oh, and it doesn’t help that the lyrics suck. “Marconi did the mamba” anyone?

3. Despite what I’ve said above, I doubt that many people really detest “We Built This City.” It’s just a dumb song. In fact, I suspect most of us are glad it’s around to poke fun at. So let’s poke fun at it!

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TVD Radar: “Little Steven” Van Zandt to keynote Making Vinyl Detroit, 10/1

“In those days, a record could change your life, so you lived off the energy coming from those singles. It was not something casual like it seems to be today. It was your life and your oxygen.”
Little Steven talking to TVD, October 2017

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Stevie Van Zandt is a musician, performer, label owner, songwriter, arranger, music producer, radio broadcaster, TV producer, actor, director, Broadway producer, activist, and education advocate.

And on Monday October 1, this member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame known as “Little Steven,” will serve as keynote speaker of Making Vinyl 2018 at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit. The conference, which debuted in November 2017 attended by nearly 300 industry professionals from 16 countries, celebrates the global rebirth of the record manufacturing industry.

Known for his starring role as “Silvio Dante” in all seven seasons of HBO’s television drama The Sopranos, Van Zandt also helped create the “Jersey Shore” sound with the Asbury Jukes, and became a founding member of Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band (Co–Producing the band’s seminal albums The River and Born in the U.S.A., and with whom he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014). Van Zandt’s own band, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, is currently on the road in Europe with their “Soulfire TeachRock Teacher Appreciation Tour,” his first solo tour in 20 years.

“Little Stevie Van Zandt might currently be the planet’s most charismatic, dedicated and visible crusader scrapping to preserve the dirty purity of rock ’ n’ roll.”

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The TVD First Date

“I think the reason I even started listening to music in the first place was because of the vinyl cover artwork for Chicago IX: Greatest Hits.

“This is actually one of my first memories as a kid, discovering their artistic masterpiece in my dad’s library of records. I was absolutely mesmerized by this big group of guys and a dog who were hanging from some sort of suspended rickety platform, painting bright, bold letters on a wall. Blank canvas, colors, and danger…what more could a kid want? Then you flip the cover over—the guys are gone, they’ve finished their iconic band name, and there’s paint dripping everywhere! I was hooked. The very first song I ever heard on vinyl was “25 Or 6 to 4.”

My own personal collection started with an album that was passed down to me from my mother who had originally received it from her dad. During the 1960s and ’70s, Firestone would sell you a Christmas album for $1 along with your new set of tires or rotation. My reserved grandpa, I imagine on a whim, must have picked up Firestone Presents Your Christmas Favorites, Volume 3 while buying his snow tires. Let me say, since I was five or six, it does not feel like Christmas unless I’ve heard this record at least ten times.

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TVD Radar: Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales
vinyl in stores 10/5

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Born July 18, 1918, Nelson Mandela remains a shining icon 100 years later; tributes to this great man and his contributions are planned by world leaders throughout 2018. This vinyl pressing includes stories read by Don Cheadle, Whoopi Goldberg, Samuel L Jackson, and Alan Rickman, with music by Vusi Mahlasela.

Winner of the 2010 Audie for Audiobook of the Year, Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales is an extraordinary audiobook featuring the voice talents of LeVar Burton, Gillian Anderson, Benjamin Bratt, Ricardo Chavira, Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Whoopi Goldberg, Sean Hayes, Hugh Jackman, Samuel L. Jackson, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Debra Messing, Helen Mirren, Parminder Nagra, Sophie Okonedo, CCH Pounder, Alan Rickman, Jurnee Smollett, Charlize Theron, Blair Underwood, Forest Whitaker, and Alfre Woodard with a special message from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and original music by South African legends by Johnny Clegg and Vusi Mahlasela, directed by Alfre Woodard.

The audiobook was a truly international affair recorded in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London, and Johannesburg. The stories were chosen by the Nobel Laureate himself, from every region of Africa. “We hope this audiobook will be enjoyed by people of all ages across the globe, increasing awareness of Africa’s rich cultures while creating a better future for South Africa’s most vulnerable children,” said ANSA Executive Director Sharon Gelman.

In his original foreword for the folktales, Nelson Mandela wrote, “It is my wish that the voice of the storyteller may never die in Africa, that all the children of the world may experience the wonder of books.” The audiobook brings his vision full circle, as these timeless tales return to the oral tradition to be heard around the world.

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