The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Ian Dury &
The Blockheads,
Laughter

You have to wonder how this album came to be called Laughter. The sessions that produced it were stressful and marked by discord; Chaz Jenkel was gone and personalities clashed. Ian Dury, who was juggling addictions at the time, was, by all accounts, almost impossible to work with. The subject matter is often dark, and very dark at that. So why the incongruous title? Said England’s most foul-mouthed polio victim matter of factly at a later date: “I called it Laughter to cheer myself up.”

That said, I have this to say about 1980’s Laughter; it never fails to make me laugh. Which is to say Laughter isn’t such an ironic title after all. Even at his most lugubrious Dury–who was, and will likely always remain, England’s most lovable vulgarian–cheers me up, and that’s a rare gift. Down in the mouth Dury may have been, but he hadn’t lost his cheek, and he still managed to produce an album chockfull of dance friendly grooves and happy-making pub rock sing-alongs. So what if “Uncoolohol” is a dark ode to the perils of alcoholism; I spent plenty an alcoholic night cheerfully slurring along to its rousing chorus while falling down drunk. Laughter is not unlike one of the later Beatles albums; John and Paul may well have hated one another’s guts, but you’d never know it listening to the music.

I have my favorites on Laughter. LP opener “Sueperman’s Big Sister” (that’s no typo) is all swing, strings, and vocal bluster–a funky dance floor raver that will simply sweep you off your feet. “Dance of the Crackpots” comes at you in a rush; Dury can hardly get the words out of his mouth fast enough. Harmonica and some great tap dancing by Will Gaines transform Dury into a mad square dance caller; he name drops Thelonious Monk and Rosemary Clooney, and utters the Inspirational verse: “Being daft is a therapy craft/Which sharpens up your wits.” “(Take Your Elbow Out of the Soup) You’re Sitting on the Chicken” is sheer joy to the ears, what with its mental nursery rhyme lyrics (“The mouse runs up your leg/It’s one o’clock in China”) and chorus you simply have to join in on.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/22/18

HarperAudio Goes Retro with New Vinyl Audiobook Series: Following successful vinyl record releases by Amy Poehler and others, HarperAudio plans to produce a series of spoken word vinyl audiobook titles (with accompanying digital editions) in 2018. The vinyl audiobook series will launch in April with Wild Horses Vinyl Edition (including an MP3 version) by Joe Hill. The title is, as HC put it, a “vinyl-first” release. The short story, read by Nate Corddry, is about four teenagers who take a ride on an antique carousel. The seemingly innocent lark results in disastrous consequences. Other vinyl-first editions coming this year include Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning and poet Nikki Giovanni’s Love Poems. HarperAudio vinyl titles will be distributed by Wax, an indie record label that specializes in the format.

The Manufacturer Keeping Cassette Tapes Alive: In manufacturing, it’s hard to know which industries or products will be left for dead, only to see a resurgence down the line. One interesting example of this is vinyl: once a relic for music collectors, this industry has been booming in the last few years, even reaching a record high – no pun intended – in 2017. The Associated Press (AP) recently reported on a less-publicized format that we all thought was dead and gone: the audio cassette. While vinyl has been flying high based on renewed interest in the medium, a plant in Missouri is investing in cassettes – not really because the industry is growing, but because everyone else has vacated it. The last man standing is a manufacturer called National Audio Company, and they’re the soon-to-be final U.S. company to produce the tape that goes inside of a cassette.

Watch: Belle & Sebastian Go Record Shopping At Oxfam: Belle & Sebastian have shot a new video, featuring the group record shopping in their local Oxfam. The charity run a regular video series, inviting the likes of Loyle Carner and Anton Newcome to rifle through their racks. Belle & Sebastian are notorious vinyl fiends, and leaped at the chance to visit their local Oxfam book and record shop in Glasgow’s West End. A great time they had of it, too, picking up rare gems, guilty pleasures, and some off the beaten track titles. An absorbing watch in its own right, you can tune in (above).

Five classic David Bowie albums reissued on vinyl: David Bowie’s Low, “Heroes”, Stage, Lodger and Scary Monsters LPs are being reissued this February, via RCA. The releases follow recent news that Bowie continues to top vinyl album and singles chart sales since his death two years ago, with nearly 300,000 of his records sold in the UK since. Though the albums were remastered and reissued as part of Bowie’s A New Career In Town (1977 – 1982) box set, this is the first time the LPs have been released individually since 1991.

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

It’s mid January and I’m buzzing—so much to jump-start in the new year. Sidel is on the hustle for sure.

Also my mother is visiting. Seems crazy to have mom out at the top of the year, but why not? After all, it’s frigid back east, so what better time to visit our beautiful canyon. The soundtrack of all that is going on is a continued, steady flow of new releases.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Announces “Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s”

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Willie Nelson. Waylon Jennings. Kris Kristofferson. Jessi Colter. Bobby Bare. Jerry Jeff Walker. David Allan Coe. Cowboy Jack Clement. Tom T. Hall. Billy Joe Shaver. Guy Clark. Townes Van Zandt. Tompall Glaser. Today, all names synonymous with the word “outlaw,” but 40 years ago they started a musical revolution by creating music and a culture that shook the status quo on Music Row and cemented their place in country music history and beyond.

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s upcoming major exhibition, “Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s” will explore this era of cultural and artistic exchange between Nashville, Tenn., and Austin, Texas, revealing untold stories and never-seen artifacts. The exhibition, which opens May 25 for a nearly three-year run, will explore the complicated, surprising relationship between the two cities.

While the smooth Nashville Sound of the late 1950s and ’60s was commercially successful, some artists, such as Nelson and Jennings, found the Music Row recording model creatively stifling. By the early 1970s, those artists could envision a music industry in which they would write, sing, and produce their own music. At the same time, Austin was gaining national attention as a thriving music center with a countercultural outlook. Musicians of varying stripes migrated to Austin, where the disparate strains of country, bluegrass, folk, blues, rock, and conjunto blended to create a unique environment hosted by music–friendly venues such as the Armadillo World Headquarters, Broken Spoke, Soap Creek Saloon, and Antone’s.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Vinyl Giveaway: The Soft White Sixties, “Brick By Brick” 7″ Bilingual Single

“The physical nature of vinyl has always had a transportive effect on me. Maybe it’s the extra steps in the listening process—flipping a few switches, unsheathing the record, lifting the needle—that seem to always place vinyl records in a specific time and place in my mind, but the effect is unmatched by any other listening format.”

That’s the The Soft White Sixties’ Aaron Eisenberg from the band’s First Date with us last Fall. And true to the stated inclinations, the band’s current single “Brick By Brick” boasts a sharp looking 7″ vinyl pressing with an English version on the A-side and a Spanish version on its flip. And we have 2 copies to flip to 2 of you.

Says the band of the track, “The very topic of the song is Trump’s proposed wall between the two countries.” Not wanting to be overtly political, but demanding of themselves a certain amount of honesty and transparency, frontman Octavio Genera, a first generation Mexican-American, wrote what was on his mind: “If you build a wall / we’re going to tear it down / brick by brick.”

“We were making this record at the time that Trump had won the election and was going to be sworn into office, so naturally that environment crept onto this record,” Genera reflects. “It was hard not to take some offense to someone claiming that a wall and the people on the other side of that wall were the cause of so many problems. The song is my version of my grandparents coming here to better themselves and their children, and I’m thankful they did. I am here, and I am who I am because of it.”

Enter to win a copy of The Soft White Sixties’ “Brick By Brick” 7″ by citing in the comments below your favorite protest song—and feel free to be overtly political. We’ll choose 2 upstanding citizens with a North American mailing address for a copy of the 7″ each a week from today, Friday, January 26, 2018. Winners will be notified directly via email.

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The TVD Storefront

Dana Buoy,
The TVD First Date

“I remember sitting beside my mom’s console record player as a kid, ear on a speaker, while flipping through her vinyl collection.”

“These records had such awesome art and they were just standing in line with each other. They all should’ve been framed and hung on the wall to replace the flower printed wallpaper. Ooph. I was already into music at this point (thank you “Disco Duck”) so I understood the awesomeness that could be found in these records. I loved holding these square foot pictures in my hands and combing over every detail on the cover. I loved to put on Diamond Dogs. This cover blew my mind. But I think it made sense to me as I listened to “Future Legend.” Maybe?

Mom loved The Rolling Stones so these records were in frequent rotation. I got to hear her gush about how beautiful Mick Jagger was close to every day. Myself, I always liked the Talking Heads records she had. True Stories was my jam. And this was the record that was playing when I learned about revolutions per minute. That really spun me around. What’s wrong with the record player?! Did I break mom’s stereo furniture thing?! Ack!

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Donovan,
Sunshine Superman

Scottish born Donovan Leitch went from folkie fop to Flower Power avatar as fast as you can say Mickie Most, and by so doing became “the voice” of “Swinging London” in our Year of the Lord 1966. He brought America’s West Coast psychedelic sound to England’s green and pleasant land, one-upping his pals in the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the process. A pretty cheeky move, one has to admit, for the feckless lad Bob Dylan more or less savaged in Don’t Look Back.

Donovan’s first stab at freaking out was 1966’s Sunshine Superman, and it would be nice to report that it’s a stone-cold psychedelic classic from beginning to end. Alas, the same man who was pioneering the sitar sound and dayglo imagery was still nurturing Medieval fantasies, and the latter constitute jarring interruptions in what is otherwise one groovy slab of vinyl. But not even “Guinevere” and “Legend of a Girl Child Linda” (written for Brian Jones’ girlfriend Linda Lawrence) can spoil the lysergic fun, and on “Season of the Witch” Donovan might as well be a soothsayer; its ominous vibe literally catapults us three long years into the future, when Altamont and Charles Manson would forever harsh the universal peace and love buzz. “It’s strange,” sings our Donovan looking over his shoulder, before going on to say cryptic things about how you have to pick up every stitch. Very spooky number what with that eerie organ and portentous bass line, and just what are those rabbits in the ditch running from any way? That great chicken-scratch guitar, maybe?

The title track is a slinky homage to getting really, really bent, and its sinuous contours, funky percussion, and rubber band bass are the perfect complements to Donovan’s cock-sure vocals. Studio ace Jimmy Page nails down a near-perfect guitar solo, Donovan brags that “Superman and Green Lantern/Ain’t got nothin’ on me,” and there’s a reason this baby soared, cape and all, to the top of the U.S. pop charts. It’s a perfect piece of sunny psychedelia and it’s brimming over with the kind of self-assurance that can only come out of a capsule. “The Trip” is every bit as LSD inspired, and succeeds despite the lack of guitar pyrotechnics being engaged in by Donovan’s American compadres. “What goes on, I really wanna know,” sings Donovan, more or less channeling (talk about your time travel!) the future Lou Reed. The lyrics are Dylan gone Merlin mythical, which for some reason I don’t find irksome, perhaps because Donovan also tosses in LA, a white straw chair, methedrine, the devil, and a talking seagull. And one Bobby Dylan, coincidentally enough. As for the instrumental breakdown, it’s to die for.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/19/18

Discogs reveals the most collected techno releases of 2017: Discogs have released a comprehensive list showcasing the most collected records of 2017 by genre…Quite naturally, some of the most exciting and unique electronic LPs of the year made it close to the top spot on the most collected Techno list with Actress’ AZD, Blanck Mass’ World Eater, Four Tet’s ‘New Energy’ (a track from which was DJ Mag’s 15th top track of the year), Kraftwerk’s ‘3-D: The Catalogue’ and Depeche Mode’s ‘Going Backwards [Remixes]’ all ranking high. It was also great to see records like Tzusing’s incredible ‘東方不敗’ and PLO Man’s ‘Powerline’ do so well along with Dopplereffekt’s ‘Cellular Automata’, the title track from which featured in Sophia Saze’s Fresh Kicks mix which we ran in December 2017.

Vinyl record-minded bars, cafes in NYC: BierWax owner Chris Maestro, 41, vividly remembers purchasing his first vinyl record from a Binghamton, New York, radio station in the mid-1990s — before he even owned a turntable. He’ll be the first to admit he had no idea what journey that purchase would set him on. “It began there,” Maestro, 41, said. “I’ve been a DJ and vinyl collector for over two decades, but then 12 or 13 years ago I became very interested in craft beer. So BierWax really was a way of marrying my passions.” That marriage has resulted in a groovy, sudsy spot in Prospect Heights where patrons can kick back and tip back a glass of locally brewed beer to the rich, analog sounds of vinyl records. But Bierwax isn’t the only one.

My visit to the record store: Over the weekend, an old friend and I got together for lunch and a fun afternoon exploring our local record store. I’ll admit, it’s been several years, but it sure felt like home. Perusing through the bins, picking up the record sleeves, looking over the album art…pure heaven. It was also fun to see the old concert posters on the wall along with the turntables for sale. There’s definitely a resurgence in the sale of vinyl. According a recent Nielsen music report, sales reached nearly 10 million units sold by the end of 2017. The vinyl bug has caught on with younger listeners as well, with turntable sales on the uptick. If you haven’t been into a record store lately, there are a few still remaining in the bay area. We went to Amoeba Records in Berkeley, but Rasputin’s, Streetlight Records, On the Corner Music, and The Analogue Room are still alive and kickin’.

Vinyl Buffs, Smorgasburg LA Is Your Next Jam: The once-a-month event will offer “over 10,000 highly curated vintage vinyl” selections, in addition to other music-related goodies. Before you pull the record out of its sleeve, and before you pull the sleeve off the shelve, and before you make sure your player’s needle is in working order, and the speaker is on, and you’re wearing your dance socks, do you decide what you’re making for dinner? Or does it go in the other direction? Do you place all of the supper ingredients on the kitchen counter, and then line up the bowls, and then decide what you’ll listen to, as you cook, on the ol’ hi-fi? Whatever direction you head in, the fact that making a meal, and/or eating a meal, while music plays, is a treasured tradition observed in many homes. So when a music-related happening, one that involves the chance to buy records, pops up at an outdoor food market, you immediately understand how much sense the perfect pair-up makes.

Two Cocteau Twins Albums Set For Vinyl Reissue: Two of the Cocteau Twins’ albums are to be reissued on vinyl in March via 4AD. As part of the label’s ongoing series of reissues, which has already seen the group’s albums Blue Bell Knoll, Heaven or Las Vegas, Tiny Dynamine, Echoes In A Shallow Bay and The Pink Opaque given a re-release, next up is Treasure and Head Over Heels. The original release of Head Over Heels in 1983 came shortly after original bassist Will Heggie left the band, leaving behind remaining members Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie who would go on to forge the band’s characteristic sound of textured guitars alongside Fraser’s vocals. Treasure, from 1984, was the point at which the band once again became a trio with guitarist Simon Raymonde entering into the fold. The record is widely considered as one of the group’s best.

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TVD UK

TVD Live Shots:
Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime at the
Garage, 1/16

I’ve seen Queensryche about a dozen times over the years. They’re a band I grew up with and continue to celebrate. When they were fractured in two, I was devastated and confused. Always leaning toward wherever Geoff Tate took them, I followed him out of respect for his incredible work and his brilliant solo releases. But whatever happened, I still loved the band and wanted as much music from any incarnation moving forward.

The results were two very different things. Queensryche with a new singer went back to their roots and delivered a brilliant, crushing couple of records. Geoff Tate’s Queensryche focused more on pushing into new territories. The results were two releases that polarized the fan base and to be honest, probably cast a shadow of doubt on the future of both versions of Queensryche.

All that drama and bullshit was cast aside in London at The Garage on Monday night as Geoff Tate brought his band Operation: Mindcrime to perform the remarkable album with the same name in its entirety. Operation: Mindcrime (the album) isn’t just one of the best concept records of all time, it sets the bar for all others to be measured by—and continues to do so. I was a bit skeptical about seeing Geoff perform one of my all-time favorite records without the backing of his original bandmates, but holy shit was I happy that I went to this show. It was flawless, brilliant, sonically stunning—I can’t say enough good things about this show.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: George Harrison tribute Concert for George deluxe and 4-LP box set in stores 2/23

VIA PRESS RELEASEIn honor of George Harrison’s 75th birthday (February 25), the Grammy®-winning, 8-times platinum release Concert for George, will be available for the first time on vinyl, released as a 4-LP Box Set, as well as a Limited Edition Deluxe 10-disc Box Set via Concord Music. Says Olivia Harrison, “We will always celebrate George’s birthday and this year we are releasing Concert for George in a very special package in memory of a special man.”

The Deluxe Box Set (limited to 1,000 pieces worldwide) features the complete sound and film recordings from the concert (on 4 180-gram audiophile LPs, 2 CDs, 2 DVDs and 2 Blu-rays), a 12″x12″ hard-bound 60-page book, plus an opportunity to own a piece of the historic event, by way of a cutting from the original hand-painted on-stage tapestry used as the backdrop at the Royal Albert Hall on November 29, 2002.

The package is housed in a gold-colored, fabric-wrapped box with a die-cut mandala window to display the unique stage fabric (which is mounted on an individually numbered card, suitable for framing). Includes a note from Olivia Harrison, explaining the story behind the tapestry. The 1,000 Limited Edition Deluxe Box Sets are only available on ConcertForGeorge.com.

The 4-LP Box Set includes the complete sound recordings from Concert for George on 180-gram audiophile vinyl, featuring a special, mandala-design etched on side-8. This is the first time that all songs from the performance have been available on an audio configuration. The album will also be made newly available via streaming platforms, track listing mirroring that of the vinyl.

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