The TVD Storefront

The TVD First Date

“My parents were never really into recorded music. I think they had two records. There was Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, which my mother used to put on twice a year and cry to, and my dad had this Best of The Ink Spots album—I think I can still sing every line on those two albums.”

“The one thing we did have on vinyl were fairy tales. Like Grimm’s stories, those are some of the deepest memories of my childhood. Lying on a sheepskin rug listening to my favourite one about Vrouw Holle—I think that translates as “Mother Hulda”—where a girl jumps into a well and ends up in this magical land where eventually she is showered with pure gold. I remember trying to imagine how that would feel, all this gold over your body.

The first album I bought for myself was Prince’s Purple Rain. I still have it—I loved having that album, for me it opened up another world. Just knowing that it was there, that there were people who made stuff like this, with songs that were riddles to me, lyrics that I didn’t really get, but felt some way. On the back was this weird story that didn’t make a lot of sense but I memorised it anyway and later wrote it down on the gym floor of our school with a permanent marker. The only act of vandalising I committed in my teens.

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The TVD Storefront

John Oates,
The TVD Interview

John Oates didn’t think his new album, Arkansas, was going to turn out the way it did. What began as a tribute to legendary bluesman Mississippi John Hurt transformed into a raw and heartfelt reinterpretation of the folk and blues music that inspired Oates to pick up a guitar in the first place.

The Natural State has a rich musical history to be sure, but it’s landlocked by legend. Arkansas is surrounded by Mississippi, Memphis, and St. Louis blues, Texas honky-tonk, Oklahoma outlaw country, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and damn near every seminal American musical genre that grew up from Louisiana. So why not any number of locales with a more notorious musical history?

To hear John tell it, as he was recording the songs for what became his latest album (due out February 2), he gradually realized Arkansas’ unique significance in American music’s history: it was the last rural stop before Southern folk, country, and blues moved up the Mississippi and got grittier in big cities like Chicago, New York, and his hometown of Philadelphia.

Arkansas is an obvious departure from the rock-and-soul sound that brought him so much success with Daryl Hall. “It’s like Dixieland, dipped in bluegrass, and salted with Delta blues,” he says. But it also might be the most inevitable album he’s created to date (more about that in our interview). It’s a natural companion to the musical history lessons found in the plaintive country sound of his 2014 solo album, Good Road to Follow, and the bluesy rock and shuffle of 2011’s Mississippi Mile. And it’s just a damn good record.

We caught up with John just before his tour with The Good Road Band and chatted about everything from American popular music before rock and roll, to the Philadelphia Eagles’ chances in the postseason, to why Arkansas was always going to be released on vinyl.

As I was thinking about your new album, Arkansas, I couldn’t help think about how Arkansas always gets short shrift when it comes to tributes, because it’s physically surrounded by all these states with undeniable musical legendary talent, too.

Yeah. Interestingly enough, and not only because I wrote the song and called the album Arkansas, but I began to realize that there was an interesting significance to Arkansas’s role in American roots music. And it never occurred to me before, until I spent time there.

I realized that, as you said, so many places—like obviously Mississippi and New Orleans and the Delta—are so known as the birthplaces of American roots music… but I think that what people tend to forget is that Arkansas is probably the last of the rural stops on that music moving up to the north, because once you pass Arkansas now you’re in St. Louis and then finally Chicago, where the music became more urbanized and more sophisticated in a way.

So really it feels like Arkansas was the last rural stop for this roots music before it hit the northern cities. And I think that’s kind of important. It never even occurred to me before, really, but I began to think about it much more since I’ve been doing this project.

That’s so interesting. This project started out a lot smaller; it was going to be a tribute to Mississippi John Hurt, right? And then it just kind of grew.


When did you realize this was going to be bigger?

Well, just to backtrack a bit. I cut a few tracks, just me and a guitar in the traditional way, basically playing Mississippi John Hurt songs that I have known and played for years and years. And then I realized it was kind of a futile effort because I wasn’t gonna play them any better than him, certainly, and a lot of other people probably have played these songs… but I loved the music.

One night I came up with this idea: I said, “You know what, I don’t want to abandon this project, but what if I played it with a band?” I’ve never heard these songs that are so associated with just being performed on a guitar with a voice… I’ve never heard them played with a band, really. So I said, “Let me assemble a band.” I wanted to assemble a unique group of musicians who really are sensitive to the music and see what happens. So I did that; I called in a bunch of my friends, people I’ve played with for years—great players like Sam Bush, Russ Pahl, and Guthrie Trapp—all these incredible musicians.

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The TVD Record Store Club

Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores, January 2018, Part Three

Part three of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued wax presently in stores for January, 2018. Part one is here and part two is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Phew, Voice Hardcore (Mesh-Key) Phew (real name Hiromi Moritani) is an integral part of the Japanese underground; she fronted the Osaka punk band Aunt Sally, her debut 7-inch was produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto, her first LP featured guests Conny Plank and members of Can, and she’s remained quite active since. Voice Hardcore emerged as a tour CD last year, but this is the vinyl edition, and as an excursion into the possibilities of Phew’s voice and Phew’s voice alone, it’s a captivating and unpredictable listen. The title might suggest unrestrained throat aggression, but the results are less throttling and more enveloping. Indeed, opener “Cloudy Day” is reminiscent of Ligeti in its textured drift, and “In the Doghouse” is a marvel of sonic breadth and repetition. A

Wooing, “Daydream Time Machine” (Ba Da Bing!) Here’s the debut 3-song EP from the new band of Rachel Trachtenburg, who as a youngster was part of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, and later was in Supercute! and the Prettiots. Although she’s a multi-instrumentalist (she drummed in TFSP), Trachtenburg handles vocals here, with JR Thomason on guitar and Rosie Slater behind the kit. Their sound is an unambiguous extension of ’90s indie; of the comparisons that others have floated, I’m most in agreement with Helium, and to a lesser extent The Breeders. They do combine Mary Timony’s mastery of mood with the Deals’ knack with a song, and the results are raw, occasionally dark, and best of all, amenable to volume. “In Colour” inches toward psych. “Tear World” is the pick by a nose. A-

REISSUE PICKS: Dinosaur L, (Get on Down) “Go Bang” and “In the Corn Belt” (Get on Down) Dinosaur L is often simply lumped into the magnetic eclecticism of the late and great Arthur Russell, but it’s worth noting upfront that these two tracks, split into parts with the original versions found on the 24->24 Music LP (released in ’82 via Russell and William Socolov’s Sleeping Bag Records), is the byproduct of a band. A studio band, sure, and one directed by Russell, but a band nonetheless, featuring the input of the Ingram brothers, Julius Eastman and others. They played disco, a prototype for art-disco to be specific, with Francois Kevorkian remixing “Go Bang” and Larry Levan handling “In the Corn Belt,” and these 45s will hopefully enliven many a DJ night across 2018 and beyond. A-/ A-

Indian Ocean, (Get on Down) “School Bell / Treehouse” 12-inch (Get on Down) As the PR for this reissue notes, Arthur Russell suffered from an inability to finish projects, leaving him with only one completed full-length solo effort prior to his untimely death from HIV in 1992. Russell’s working method also caused him to part ways with his Sleeping Bag partner William Socolov, but as his health began to deteriorate, he approached his friend to cut this 12-inch, his last for the label, which was also his final collab with friend Walter Gibbons. By this point, Sleeping Bag was focusing on early hip-hop, so this disc probably got lost in the shuffle, but it shouldn’t’ve, as it’s a treat of avant-groove. Sure, I’d welcome a higher ratio of distorted cello lines, but what’s here is still a lovely (and bittersweet) sound. A-

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/18/18

How Adele Opened Way For A $32 Million Business – And Why Vinyl Is Surging: “Physical media absolutely isn’t dead. It always amazes me that we start off with quite an apologetic standpoint. Physical album sales are only down by small amount, which is a fairly shallow decrease to what people thought the album business would drop by. If anything, it is some downloads that have seen sharp declines. Figures suggest physical has 54% of all sales but this includes streaming. If someone streams 100 tracks or downloads 10 tracks, this counts as an album sale, but of course you might just have listened to the same Ed Sheeran track, which is misleading. Take these out of the data then physical is closer to two thirds of album sales.”

Darien bookstore owners seek to create a hub for book and music lovers: Paul and Robyn Garrison hope the Frugal Muse, a Darien store where gently used books, music recordings, movies and games are resold, can also be a gathering place for avid readers and new performers. The couple, who bought the business in June 2014, plan to host trivia games, movie nights and open mic performances. The store already attracts people who like a bargain and those who would rather recycle books and compacts discs than throw them away. The Frugal Muse, which has been in the shopping center on the corner of 75th and Lemont Road since 2000, carries more than 200,000 movies on DVD and VHS, music on compact discs and cassettes, audiobooks, music memorabilia, greeting cards and collectibles, Paul Garrison said…”I’m a big fan (of vinyl),” Mazur said. “It has a better atmosphere.”

New record pressing plants opened on five continents last year: It’s no secret that the vinyl resurgence has been under way for some time now. Although much of this is attributable to classic album re-issues, vinyl as a medium is as popular within the electronic music sphere as it has been since the turn of the millennium. Needless to say, the results of the major records labels cashing in on the public’s rediscovered penchant for all things vinyl has often had an adverse effect on pressing times where smaller, independent labels are concerned (we’re looking at you, MPO). However, with more plants opening up we’re hoping that such delays will now be a thing of the past.

A soundless ‘Art and Vinyl’ at Fraenkel Gallery: Art exhibitions about non-art subjects tend to fall flat. Knowing that, I approached “Art and Vinyl,” an exhibition at Fraenkel Gallery through March 3, with some skepticism…Which brings me to “Art and Vinyl.” On the one hand, there are few galleries as dependably smart about the art they present as Fraenkel, which signaled its commitment to the subject by investing in a lavish, 464-page book to go along with the show. On the other, music album covers — which make up most of the exhibition — are basically packaging. Google images of “package design” and you’ll see hundreds of examples, each more colorful and innovative than the next, of everything from acne medicine to truffle oil. Great graphic design serves a function different from art. It intrigues. Explains. Motivates. But its value is synergistic rather than intrinsic.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Hans Zimmer scored True Romance OST vinyl
in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Enjoy The Ride Records is proud to announce the release of the True Romance Original Motion Picture Score, available digitally for the first time. Celebrating the 25th anniversary, the score features the music of renowned composer and record producer Hans Zimmer.

Recorded on a budget of nine musicians (after being told the plans for a full orchestra had to be scrapped due to director Tony Scott going over budget), Hans Zimmer’s True Romance score features percussion instruments xylophones and marimbas to create innocent noise, a reflection of the lead characters – Alabama + Clarence Worley – in the violently dark comedy written by Quentin Tarantino. Featuring original art by Steven Wild, the art captures the spirit of the iconic characters the cult classic film.

German film score composer and record producer Hans Zimmer has composed over 150 film scores in his vast career, some of which include Crimson Tide, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Gladiator, The Lion King, The Pirates of the Caribbean series, and True Romance. This carefully mastered score will bring you back to the innocence and the intensity of the film, which fans had only been able to experience by watching the film in the theater or in their homes.

The score is available digitally now via all major digital platforms worldwide. Gunmetal Grey 12″ vinyl variant available in the Enjoy The Ride web store and select independent retailers.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Jackie DeShannon, Stone Cold Soul—The Complete Capitol Recordings in stores 3/2

VIA PRESS RELEASE | After spending the first full decade of her recording career at Liberty/ Imperial Records, where she immortalized such iconic anthems as “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jackie DeShannon was wooed away to Capitol Records in 1971.

Upon landing at her new label, the Kentucky-born DeShannon was dispatched to Memphis’ American Recording Studios, where, with producer Chips Moman and a crack band consisting of Bobby Emmons and Bobby Woods on keyboards, Reggie Young on electric guitar, Mike Leach on Bass, Johnny Christopher on acoustic guitar, and Gene Crisman on drums, she recorded a flavorful mix that embraced her Southern soul roots blended with country, gospel, and pop.

The wide-ranging repertoire included the DeShannon originals “West Virginia Mine” and “Now That the Desert Is Blooming” along with songs by George Harrison (“Isn’t It a Pity”), Van Morrison (“And It Stoned Me”), Carole King & Gerry Goffin (“Child of Mine”), Emitt Rhodes (“Live till You Die”), Arlo Guthrie (“Gabriel’s Mother’s Highway”), Spooner Oldham & Dan Penn (“Sweet Inspiration”), and others. But those tracks inexplicably remained in the vaults, leapfrogged by the tracks DeShannon cut at Capitol Studios upon returning to California that turned into her Songs album.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Professor Longhair,
Rock ‘n’ Roll Gumbo

Where to start when talking about the music of Professor Longhair, given name Henry Roeland Byrd? His piano makes you want to do a crazy 3 a.m. strut down Bourbon Street. And his vocals–which quaver and wander willy-nilly off pitch–make you want to smile. A voice like his is one in a million; not so hot you think, until you find yourself knee-deep in glad.

Professor Longhair created the distinctive “New Orleans sound,” which Allen Toussaint called “that mambo-rhumba boogie thing.” Dr. John, who has made hay from the good Professor’s musical innovations, said Longhair “put funk into music… Longhair’s thing had a direct bearing on a large portion of the funk music that evolved in New Orleans.” But enough with the ethnomusicology; suffice it to say that Longhair was one of America’s great originals, with a distinctive style of playing piano developed, it’s worth noting, out of necessity–he learned how to play on a piano with missing keys.

But Professor Longhair is isn’t just a piano original. His vocals–sly, insinuating, and delivered with a wink–are ingratiating, that is when he doesn’t sound flat-out demented, as he does on the great “Tipitina.” Whether meandering off pitch like a drunk staggering down Bourbon Street at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday night or coming off like a deranged Elvis Presley, Professor Longhair’s singing will keep you on the edge of your seat–he’s the most unpredictable singer this side of Black Oak Arkansas’ wild pitch throwing Jim “Dandy” Mangrum.

Everything about Professor Longhair is improbable–he got his start with a band called the Shuffling Hungarians, for Christ’s sake. The toughest part of my job was choosing which album to review: 1972’s New Orleans Piano, which compiles music recorded by Atlantic Records between 1949 and 1953, and includes the original (and definitive) “Tipitina?” 1980’s Crawfish Fiesta, which is nothing less than the good Professor’s final LP and as great a Longhair album as any? Both are indispensable, but I went with 1972’s Rock ’n’ Roll Gumbo, because it includes a whole parcel of great songs including “Tipitina,” “Junco Partner,” “Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” and “Mean Ol’ World.” To say nothing of a tasty version of “Jambalaya.” The damn LP does nothing less than swagger, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown is sitting in on guitar.

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TVD Washington, DC

Play Something Good with John Foster

The Vinyl District’s Play Something Good is a weekly radio show broadcast from Washington, DC.

Featuring a mix of songs from today to the 00s/90s/80s/70s/60s and giving you liberal doses of indie, psych, dub, post punk, americana, shoegaze, and a few genres we haven’t even thought up clever names for just yet. The only rule is that the music has to be good. Pretty simple.

Hosted by John Foster, world-renowned designer and author (and occasional record label A+R man), don’t be surprised to hear quick excursions and interviews on album packaging, food, books, and general nonsense about the music industry, as he gets you from Jamie xx to Liquid Liquid and from Courtney Barnett to The Replacements. The only thing you can be sure of is that he will never ever play Mac DeMarco. Never. Ever.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Gladiators, Full Time and Ethiopian & His All Stars, The Return Of Jack Sparrow

The sun is shining, it’s hot enough to induce sweat just by standing up, and there’s a substance (or two) tickling the brain: this is maybe the best framework for soaking up deep reggae grooves, but it’s also true that any time can be a good time to engage with the style. Omnivore Recordings knows this, as they’ve recently reissued The Gladiators’ Full Time compilation and rescued Ethiopian & His All-Stars’ The Return of Jack Sparrow from the realms of the unreleased. Both compact discs commence a reissue program focused on the catalog of the St. Louis label Nighthawk Records, and as the goodness on display here indicates, it’s going to be quite the enjoyable ride.

I’d say The Gladiators need no introduction, but reggae is such a cavernously deep genre that even a multidecade discography including a series of LPs for a major label can manage to go unnoticed by folks receptive to Jamaican sounds. Formed in the mid-’60s by singer-songwriter-rhythm guitarist Albert Griffiths, the group cut their first single for the Wirl label in ’67 and then hooked up with producers Duke Reid, Lloyd Daley, Lee Perry, and Clement “Coxsone” Dodd for a series of hits. In the second half of the ’70s they landed on Virgin Records, as Dodd’s Studio One milked the vaults for comps.

Roots reggae entered a period of commercial decline in the early ’80s, and the Gladiators’ final record for Virgin, an eponymous Eddy Grant-produced misfire, only worsened their personal circumstances. And yet by adjusting to the smaller Nighthawk label they bounced back artistically with ’82’s Symbol of Reality, ’84’s Serious Thing, and ’86’s collaboration with the Ethiopian (real name Leonard Dillon) Dread Prophecy.

In ’92 Nighthawk issued Full Time, which gathered up two cuts from the ’82 various artists comp Calling Rastafari and the entirety of the group’s ’83 US Tour EP (enticingly pictured on clear vinyl in the CD booklet) in combination with then unreleased selections from the ’82-’86 sessions. It’s all engineered by Sylvan Morris, who’d worked with The Gladiators at Studio One starting in the early ’70s, so the quality is high throughout. This is anything but a plate of leftovers.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/17/18

Popular city record store Rise closes: A record shop closed for the final time yesterday after six years in Worcester city centre. The groove ended for the much-loved Rise store in the Crowngate Shopping Centre as loyal customers and vinyl addicts snapped up the remaining records. Manager Tom George was sad to be closing but was happy the store had met a natural end rather than shutting immediately overnight. “A lot of customers were sad but understanding,” he said. “It’s been a lot more positive than we thought it would be.” He singled out a Frank Turner launch party, which was attended by more than 200 people in 2015, as a memorable highlight during the life of the music store. The recent vinyl comeback mirrored a rise in sales for the store – but not enough to keep the business open, sadly.

Gallery of Sound in Hazle Twp. closes: The Gallery of Sound in Hazle Twp. closed its doors at the end of the business day Friday. Signs taped to the doors of the darkened store thanked customers for their 28 years of patronage and asked them to visit the Gallery of Sound location in Wilkes-Barre Twp. The store was part of the strip shopping center on Laurel Mall property. It sold compact discs, vinyl records, DVDs and other music-related merchandise. The departure leaves the greater Hazleton area without access to brick and mortar retailers dedicated solely to music. Gallery of Sound officials were mum on the closing late last week. “We’re not in a position to comment on that right now,” a person who answered the telephone at the Wilkes-Barre Twp. said.

Ames Man Keeps Record Players Running, Vinyl Spinning: Back before Pandora, Spotify, or YouTube Red, many people used record players to listen to music. The device was originally a phonograph and was first invented by Thomas Edison back in 1877. Later, it evolved during the 60s, 70s, and 80s before bowing out with the incoming digital CD players. For one Ames man, the record players never really went away. George Noble opened a record shop called Vintage Vinyl in the town of Jewell for about eight years to sell off remaining LPs as everyone was getting CDs. “I had a company come to me and rented a 2 x 2 space in my store to sell off records,” said Noble. “We were selling a lot of records for a while.” George moved on from records and record players for a few years while working for the post office full time. After retirement, though, his passion returned.

Trip down Musical Lane: Records store open in Hervey Bay: FTER collecting vinyl records and music memorabilia for decades, musician Ken Jarratt has moved his collection from his home to a shop. Cool Rock’n Records is now open at Queens Rd, Scarness, where feeling a sense of nostalgia is almost guaranteed when you walk in. Lining the walls are titles from the likes of ACDC, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath, next to Disney classics on VHS and Elvis figurines on the shelves. “I used to work in a second-hand shop in the 1980s which is where a lot of the items come from,” Mr Jarratt said. “When CDs came out, vinyl records became really cheap and I bought a lot.” The majority of sale items are from last century but Mr Jarratt said kids have been browsing the store too.

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