The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Earth, Wind & Fire, The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire Vol. 1

Of all the things I’ve loved during my tenure on this planet, it’s hard to beat Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White. And not because he’s a musical genius and head honcho of one of the Seventies’ best soul/funk outfits. No, I love him because he’s the guy who sings, “Yowl!” on several occasions on the great “That’s the Way of the World.” They never fail to thrill me, those yowls, not since I was a young sprog and loved the hell out of MFSB’s “T.S.O.P.”

EWF’s songs dominated Top 40 radio when I was young, because unlike Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament/Funkadelic they were unapologetically middle of the road. But that doesn’t mean that their songs weren’t great, just that they were more like the black equivalent of Elton John than, say, Randy Newman. As the critic Robert Christgau noted about one of their prime LPs, “Most of these songs are fun to listen to. But they’re still MOR–the only risk they take is running headlong into somebody coming down the middle of the road in the opposite direction. Like The Carpenters.”

But so what? Earth, Wind & Fire have produced their fair share of timeless songs, and if they’re slick, the slickness works. Under the direction of White, EWF’s drummer, songwriter, and vocalist, the band’s sound was—and still is—an eclectic brew of funk, jazz, gospel, rock, smooth soul, blues, folk, African music, and disco, and what made them particularly remarkable were their group vocals, and especially the vocals of Maurice White and Philip Bailey. Unrelentingly positive, their songs were a balm for the soul, and I for one think “That’s the Way of the World” is a slice of mystical brilliance and a song for the ages. All of those vocalists throwing in; it’s a sound so soulful I sprout an Afro every time I listen to it. And their horn section, the four-member Phenix Horns, also merits special attention; one listen to the opening of “Shining Star” and you know you’re in the presence of genius.

Which is not to say I like all their songs. The ones on which Bailey handles lead vocals in particular tend to be too slick for my tastes, what with his high-pitched vocals and their tendency to wander into romantic schlock. But hey, he can hardly be blamed for crooning; people love a good crooner. They’re good songs, just not my cup of soul.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD’s Press Play

Press Play is our Monday recap of the new—and FREE—tracks received last week, provided here to inform your next trip to your local indie record store. Click, preview, download, purchase.

Tiny Rhymes – Arrows
Milo McMahon – Caveman
The Legal Immigrants – Fork In The Road
Oki’s Wagon – Horror Chord
Twin Within – Bernie
Joe Hertler & the Rainbow Seekers – Future Talk
Shades. – Time Back
Monks of Mellonwah – Even When It Burns
Muse – Uprising (Disco Fries Edit)
Sentinel – Counting Stars

The Phantom Sound – Get To Me

Pearl Charles – You Can Change
Buku – Might Be
Ron Flieger – All I Want
Zapéd – Prague (ft.Groszek)
Weakling – Pullup
My Dead Air – Holding On
Telegraph Canyon – Why Let it Go
Future Love Hangover – Moving Mountains
BECOME X Elohim – She Talks Too Much
Donatachi – Neo (ft. Blair De Milo)

8 more FREE TRACKS on side B!

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 6/29/15

The tragic & mysterious story of Official, Cash Money’s lost R&B group: “There’s no Hip-Hop Hall of Fame, no archive of hip-hop history in Washington, D.C., but there are record stores. They may be few and far between these days, but they exist, and you don’t have to be a crate-digging producer or a hipster to hop into a record store and find something dope…”

Step inside: The Jacaranda launches its new vinyl record shop and speciality coffee bar: Iconic Liverpool venue that hosted The Beatles gets back to its record-selling roots

Vinyl collector to sell 5000 records to buy a set of new teeth: “…Mr Murray owns nothing in the way of assets, just a few clothes and basic personal items, all his wealth tied up in his records and he is selling his music to have some spending money for the rest of his life…”

And it comes with a custom tote at select indie record retailers: ABKCO Records is celebrating the golden anniversary of “Satisfaction” achieving #1 status by releasing a limited edition, numbered 12-inch version of the single on 180-gram vinyl…The record is housed in a sleeve featuring award-winning photographer David Bailey’s shot of the group, recreating the original 7-inch single artwork. Mastered by Carl Rowatti at Trutone Mastering Labs and cut from the original mono master tapes, the 45-rpm 12-inch format makes this a true audiophile pressing, allowing for wider grooves that yield louder levels, broader range, deeper bass and better high frequency response.

Flat, Black, Circular Lansing’s favorite music store: “In 1977 Dave Bernath and Dick Rosemont opened up Flat Black & Circular, 541 E. Grand River in East Lansing, as a used record store. They are so passionate about music that it “didn’t seem like a job at the time,” said Bernath…”

Vinyl record artwork proving popular: “A Timaru entrepreneur’s novel idea is flying out the door at a record pace. Josh Cowan started creating his Cowan Creative vinyl record art eight weeks ago and has now reached peak interest, not only in Timaru and New Zealand but as far away as America and Canada…”

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

River gonna take me / Sing me sweet and sleepy / Sing me sweet and sleepy / All the way back back home / It’s a far gone lullaby / Sung many years ago / Mama, mama, many worlds I’ve come / Since I first left home / Going home, going home / By the waterside I will rest my bones / Listen to the river sing sweet songs / To rock my soul

Came home from Europe Monday evening to a bad sight. Our beloved old kitty Lu Lu was in horrible shape. When Susan took poor Lu to the vet the next morning, the news was devastating. Sadly our Lu Lu didn’t make it back home. OMFG! We lost our kitty?! I mean, my wife lost her fucking cat! Fuck me. BUMMER!

Over many years I’ve learned about chicks and their pets. Loosing a pet is no laughing matter. Our life here in the canyon has (for now) been turned upside down. Needless to say, this hour of music and in fact everything the Sidels do this week has Lu Lu Sidel in mind.

Lu was a special kind of cool cat. It took me many years to gain her trust. On a first encounter she was truly one of the most unfriendly creatures I have ever met. Some called her a “weird cat,” but lil’ miss Lu was part of us, she was our cat. She greeted me late nights with her “stare” while I roamed our pad. I’m taken by how much I’ll miss our nighttime encounters.

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TVD Los Angeles

TVD Ticket Giveaway: HONEYHONEY at the
El Rey Theatre, 7/1

“I believe that the better you take care of music, the better it will take care of you. I see the sacrifices that a lot of people make in the music “business” and the value that is created only when people express what they are truly passionate about…”

That’s HONEYHONEY’s Ben Jaffe from Wednesday’s First Date feature with the duo. We’re delighted to be co-sponsoring the band’s homecoming Los Angeles date with promoters Goldenvoice (they of Coachella, Firefly, FYF, Hangout and a host of other festivals you’ve most likely attended) at the El Rey Theatre this coming Wednesday, July 1. And in the spirit of taking care of the music and taking care of you—we’ve got 5 pairs of tickets to give away to join us and of course HONEYHONEY for a very special night of music, indeed. First however, some official-type background:

“The third full-length effort from L.A.-based duo HONEYHONEY, 3 is an album born from fascination with the sweet and the sleazy, light and dark, danger and magic. Working with Dave Cobb (the producer behind Jason Isbell’s Southeastern and Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music), lead singer/banjo player/violinist Suzanne Santo and vocalist/guitarist Ben Jaffe twist their gritty, harmony-driven brand of Southern-flavored rock & roll through tales of lost souls, broken boys, girls with gold in their spit.

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TVD New Orleans

Celebrate Deacon
John’s 75th birthday
at Tipitina’s, 6/27

This Saturday night the musical chameleon “Deacon” John Moore will be celebrating a milestone with a performance at Tipitina’s with his long-running band, the Ivories.

“Deac” has worn many hats over his long career. From a session man during the 1950s R&B heyday to a Jimi Hendrix inspired guitar slinger in the psychedelic 60s, his career is unprecedented in New Orleans history.

For a long time, he mostly played private gigs, reportedly unhappy with the offers from local clubs. But recently, he has surfaced in a variety of venues—always leading a crack band and always with a smile on his face.

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The TVD Storefront

Ashleigh Stone,
The TVD First Date

“There is a sound that comes only from the needle of a record player hitting the vinyl. It’s that silence beforehand and then, eventually, that first moment before the music when one can hear the little artifacts of dust, the crackle of vinyl. That is a sound like no other, and one that has always excited me since childhood.”

“Then there were the Jensen speakers my parents had connected to our record player. When I was a teen, they tried multiple times to sell them in garage sales, and each and every time I rescued them from leaving me. They sit unused in my living room to this day, but I exhibit them like trophies to the memories they hold within them.

My mother had what I recall as being a diverse but also impressive vinyl collection. There was everything from Little Feat, the Beatles, Linda Ronstadt, Clapton, and Michael Jackson all the way to the Let’s Disco dance instructional album and the very beloved family copy of the Reader’s Digest Christmas Collection. My favorite album, and an artist that I feel was never fully appreciated to her full extent, was Joan Armatrading’s Show Some Emotion.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Premiere: The Legal Immigrants, “Bily Goat”

“I prefer to listen to music on a turntable because it sounds better to me, but my affinity for analog runs deeper. Vinyl takes effort. Some of my most cherished records came from checking one more bin at a record shop. I’ll never forget when I scored a copy of Elton John’s 11-17-70 (great record) in Missoula, Montana. I couldn’t tell you where or when I downloaded any song on my phone.”

I also prefer to record analog for reasons beyond its sonic qualities. The entire process feels a lot more handmade. When we got done with our first day of tracking our producer didn’t hit ‘save,’ he took the tapes off the reels. There was a chance that our tapes didn’t make it in the mail to Detroit to get mastered.

‘Bily Goat’ is a pretty stupid name for a song. Ironically, it came from a typo while saving a demo I recorded when I first wrote it. I was really into billy goats at the time and shorted one ‘l’ and that was that….’Bily Goat’ was born. It was the first of a few songs on Drugs To Roses that we recorded in one take, and it all started with my two favorite words, ‘roll tape.'”
Joe Bockheim

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Mercury Rev,
Yerself Is Steam

Love, people, is all around us. We’re surrounded by it. We’re choking on it, gagging on it, strangling on it. Which is why we erect barbed wire around our hearts; we don’t want it, love, to kill us. We must protect ourselves. Take defensive measures. Build a machine gun nest to gun it down before it can grab us and twist us into shapes that leave us vulnerable, defenseless, and at the whim of the one emotion that knows no mercy.

Which is where psychedelics come in. They tear down the barbed wire, jam the machine gun, and open our hearts like 24-hour drive-thru fast food outlets. And we come face to face with love, and see that it doesn’t want to strangle us after all. It just wants to open our hearts to the good that, believe it or not, is actually out there, roaming around in the horrible world.

Okay, so maybe I’m being a bit lax on hallucinogens. After all, I’m the guy who once locked himself into the bathroom of a doublewide trailer on a pig farm, because I was freaking out. But that never happens with a great psychedelic rock album. Take Mercury Rev’s 1991 debut, Yerself Is Steam. I listen to it and I can feel my heart open up like a flower. I’m a hippie and I don’t care, especially when the album comes to its fantastic ending, “Car Wash Hair.”

Perhaps best known for 1999’s excellent Deserter’s Songs, which featured cameos by The Band’s Levon Helm and Garth Hudson, Mercury Rev has come a long way from their early psychedelic blow-outs, much as their sister band The Flaming Lips have transcended their wild, acid-washed, ways. But a few songs aside, I think both bands have sacrificed something vital in the process. They sound bigger, lusher, more orchestral now, but the strangeness factor is gone; they sound like pros, not dayglo-eyed freaks, and it was their sheer weirdness that attracted me to them in the first place.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 6/26/15

The Story of Rastafarian music told in new Soul Jazz compilation: “Rastafari: The Dreads Enter Babylon 1955-83 will be released on Soul Jazz Records on 31st July as a double LP, complete with 40+ page booklet.”

Slash criticises ‘faceless’ digital age: Guitarist hails vinyl’s superior sound quality but says he’s still excited about future of music distribution

Check out Bonobo’s massive, “much neglected” vinyl collection: “Ninja Tune veteran Bonobo might be best known for his albums and live shows, but he’s also got one hell of a record collection…”

Toc, A Beautifully Crafted Record Player That Spins the Vinyl Vertically: “Toc is a beautifully crafted record player designed by Roy Harpaz that spins the vinyl vertically rather than the more traditional flat horizontal operation. The device can be controlled via remote, or with LED touch buttons built into the front panel…”

Rare, Unique, Foreigner – Very Best Of Conceptual Artwork Pieces from 1992 – for Pop Art & Rock Art Collectors alike: “What we have here are seven different one off conceptual pieces of artwork for the sleeve design, which were all rejected by the band…”

Artist turns old vinyl record into pop-culture wall clocks: “Corey V. from Orlando, Florida has a unique use for old vinyl records…”

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