The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Dexter Gordon,
Our Man in Paris

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

On May 23 of 1963 a trio of bebop originals joined up with a worthy European compatriot and visited CBS Studios in Paris. The comeback of tenor giant Dexter Gordon was well underway, but the Continent was a relatively recent change of scene. Pianist Bud Powell and drummer Kenny “Klook” Clarke had been living in France for quite some time however, and bassist Pierre Michelot was born there. Together this quartet agreed upon five standards and executed them with utter brilliance. Blue Note titled it Our Man in Paris, and 51 years later it remains a classic.

They ate voraciously as Dean, sandwich in hand, stood bowed and jumping before the big phonograph, listening to a wild bop record I had just bought called “The Hunt,” with Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray blowing their tops before a screaming audience that gave the record fantastic frenzied volume.
—Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Much deserved praise gets heaped on Dexter Gordon for his comeback(s), but it can be occasionally overlooked that even if he never came back at all, he’d be a hugely important figure anyway. To begin, he’s the most distinctive tenor saxophonist to emerge from the ‘40s bop scene, extending the influence of Lester Young and quickly adapting the innovations of Charlie Parker, recording with Bird and Dizzy Gillespie and as a leader for Savoy before heading back to California and cutting those tenor battle 78s for Dial, the very sides that impacted Kerouac and Neal Cassady (i.e. Dean Moriarty) so massively.

It was heroin that nearly ended Gordon’s career for good; the ‘50s were a lost decade, though he did cut two records in ’55, Daddy Plays the Horn for Bethlehem in September and Daddy Blows Hot and Cool for Dootone two months later. After kicking the habit, he commenced his return with The Resurgence of Dexter Gordon, a minor session (some would call it a false start) for the Jazzland label.

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TVD New Orleans

Henry Butler,
An Appreciation

The first time I ever saw a performance by Henry Butler, the virtuoso New Orleans pianist and vocalist who passed away July 2 at 69, was shortly after he returned to his hometown of New Orleans after living in Los Angeles where he recorded two critically acclaimed modern jazz albums. Since that solo set on the quad at Tulane University in the late 1980s, I heard him play nearly 100 times as a headliner or as a special guest of a huge variety of musicians.

I didn’t know a thing about him early on, but it was clear from that first afternoon that New Orleans music lovers were dealing with not just a new face in town, but a new phase of a piano paradigm that extended back through James Booker and Professor Longhair all the way to Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

His prowess on the keys was akin to that of Snooks Eaglin on the guitar and caused a similar reaction from the crowd. Whether he was playing the blues, R&B, funk, or rock ‘n’ roll, his playing was simply awe-inspiring and confounding. Other musicians got up close to try to discern exactly how he was creating the storm of music emanating from his chosen instrument. The rest of us danced with our mouths hanging open. And when Butler opened his mouth to sing, the reaction was similar. He had a special voice and was able to sound like a blues shouter, an opera singer, or the bass vocalist in a gospel choir.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Canned Heat,
The Best of Canned Heat

Blues rock avatars Canned Heat are best remembered by some for their long-windedness; the double-album-side, 41-minute version of “Refried Boogie” on 1968’s Living the Blues is a landmark in conspicuous boogie bloat. They’re best remembered by others for the so bad it’s funny jacket (looks like a Vincent Price B-movie horror movie poster!) of Living the Blues’ predecessor, 1968’s Boogie with Canned Heat.

As for me, I’ll always remember them best for Ann Magnuson’s hilarious take on the late and very hefty Bob Hite in Bongwater classic “Chicken Pussy”: “There’s a king-sized mattress in the middle of the room/Where me and the big fat lead singer from Canned Heat/Finish up an afternoon of incredibly hot sex/Boy does he have a big one.”

But you know what? Despite everything I said above about Canned Heat–which took its name from the canned heating fuel popular amongst America’s “I’m so desperate I’ll drink anything, even if it kills me” hobo set–does have a big one. They’ve got a whopper.

Unfortunately, Canned Heat tends to get overlooked amid the American blues and boogie rock throng of the late sixties and early seventies, probably because they were a homely bunch and lacked the flash and panache of such contemporaries as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and the Allman Brothers. That said, at their best, vocalist Bob “Bear” Hite, Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson (guitar, vocals, harmonica), Harry Vestine (guitar) and Company cooked like Sterno, and went down a hell of a lot easier.

If Canned Heat had a fault, it was in the songwriting department. The band put out a series of solid but not great Post-Summer of Love LPs, the best of them being 1970’s Future Blues. Which is where the humble The Best of Canned Heat comes in. Sure, it’s the sort of thing your serious vinyl collector turns her persnickety nose up at. The packaging is cheesy, you only get 10 songs so forget about your deep cuts, and have I mentioned the cheesy packaging? But if you’re unfamiliar with Canned Heat and you’re looking for an introduction, this boogified slice of refried vinyl is a good place to start.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 7/9/18

U.S. Vinyl Album Sales Grow, Led by Jack White: In the first half of 2018, vinyl album sales grew 19.2 percent in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, compared with the first six months of 2017. In total, for the tracking period of Dec. 29, 2017, through June 28, 2018, there were 7.6 million vinyl albums sold; up from 6.4 million in the comparable frame a year ago (Dec. 30, 2016, through June 29, 2017). Notably, the vinyl format’s 7.6 million albums sold in 2018, so far, represent 11.2 percent of all albums sold (68 million) and 18.7 percent of all physical albums sold (CD, vinyl, cassette, etc.; 40.6 million). In the full year of 2017, vinyl album sales hit another Nielsen Music-era record high, as the format sold 14.32 million copies (up 9 percent compared with 2016’s then-record haul of 13.1 million). Last year marked the 12th straight year of growth for vinyl album sales.

Will digital music kill vinyl anytime soon? …CD and LP album sales are still very significant. According to an IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) report, physical music formats account for 30 percent of music industry revenue, compared to 38 percent from streaming worldwide in 2017. Physical format shares vary country by country with much higher percentages of market share in countries such as Japan (72 percent) and Germany (43 percent). So while the report claims worldwide CD sales are trending down, they’re not anywhere near extinction. Vinyl sales grew by 22.3 percent, but make up just 3.7 percent of the total recorded worldwide music market in 2017.

Rap Is Leading the Music Industry’s Resurgence: …As big as it is, music streaming’s user base can’t grow infinitely, and some are already wondering if the surge in popularity might be approaching a slowdown. But Nielsen’s report also offers small flickers of hope to the non-streaming part of the industry: It reveals that this year’s Record Store Day helped independent music stores sell a record-high 733,000 LPs and that the slow-burning revival of vinyl continues, with sales up 19 percent in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

Atlanta, GA | Atlanta gains another record store with new West End shop: Once frequented by in-the-know audiophiles, a record store has emerged from its modest basement beginnings into a West End brick-and-mortar. JB’s Record Lounge began in Jonathan Blanchard’s home about a year and a half ago, he explains in a GoFundMe video. This week, the business was made more accessible to all when it opened in the back of 640 West Community Cafe in Atlanta. Billed as an “old school record store with a new school flair,” the store offers thousands of new and used vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, record players and accessories. “The main purpose of JB’s Record Lounge is to provide a venue for independent artists who want to share their music, as well as sell their music,” Blanchard says in the video. “I also will be carrying some of the best vinyl this side of the Mississippi.” Blanchard adds that he intends on “employing people from the community.”

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The TVD Storefront

Happy Fourth of July!

We’ve closed up the shop for the Fourth of July holiday. While we’re away, why not fire up our free Record Store Locator app and visit one of your local indie record stores?

Perhaps there’s an interview, review, or feature you might have missed? Catch up and we’ll see you back here on Monday, 7/9.

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TVD Los Angeles

Richard Swift,

Richard Swift is dead at 41. Because of my love for his “sad songs,” I’ve always felt our friendship was close. Well, special at the very least.

sorry, mr. swift / but there’s no radio / that likes to play the songs / of your lover’s sorrow / just sing us a jingle / and we’ll float you some bread / all it will cost you / is your heart and your head

sorry, mr. swift / but you’re much too fat / and could i persuade you / just to wear a cap? / i hope you forgive me / and i hope you forget / the hurt that i’ve caused you / that you can’t feel yet

It was Steven Melrose who brought Dickie by. I just started doing A&R and my bosses at Geffen were eager to have me sign a “great rock ‘n’ roll” band. They were the first in a series of “bosses” to nix my enthusiasm to do a record a deal with Mr. Swift.

When I first started dating my wife Susan, I was obsessed with a series of home demos Richard had given me. Many a morning we listened to his sad songs over coffee. We also attended a number of gigs, all with barely a soul in attendance. One memorable night we went to see Dickie at a fairly large ballroom on Los Feliz, then called The Derby. Aside from Dickie’s friend who drove him, the soundman, Susan and me, there was absolutely no one there. The three of us sat at a table and watched Dickie perform a mind bending set of songs, some that would later appear on Walking Without Effort, others from The Novelist.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Neil Young at the Auditorium Theatre, 6/30

Living legend Neil Young graced Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre stage this past Saturday, wowing the sold-out crowd before wowing yet another sold-out crowd on Sunday night.

Young, who is in the midst of a brief solo tour, impressively bounced from guitar to harmonica to banjo to organ to piano during the evening.

The show paid homage to his extensive musical catalog, making for a truly special evening.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots:
Dave Matthews Band
at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 6/29

An excessive heat warning in Chicago didn’t stop a sold-out crowd from piling into Huntington Bank Pavilion for the Dave Matthews Band last Friday. The 2.5 hour sweat fest was a nostalgic one, though not as much as Saturday night’s set proved to be.

Touring in support of their latest studio album Come Together, released less than a month ago, DMB appeared energized by their newer songs. Each member of the band was able to showcase their talents, but what struck me most was the way in which they seem to play for each other. It’s as tight-knit a band as is the fan base who particularly loved the band’s covers—Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower”—Friday night.

Dave Matthews, who basically looks the same as he did in 1997, also sounds the same as he did in 1997, which of course made me super jealous that I don’t look or sound at all as I did in ’97. But good for him! DMB’s U.S. tour continues through the summer and into fall so grab yourself a ticket!

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: The Band, Music from Big Pink 50th anniversary pink vinyl reissue in stores 8/31

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On July 1, 1968, The Band’s landmark debut album, Music from Big Pink, seemed to spring from nowhere and everywhere. Drawing from the American roots music panoply of country, blues, R&B, gospel, soul, rockabilly, the honking tenor sax tradition, hymns, funeral dirges, brass band music, folk, and rock ‘n’ roll, The Band forged a timeless new style that forever changed the course of popular music. Fifty years later, the mythology surrounding Music from Big Pink lives on through the evocative storytelling of its songs including “The Weight,” “This Wheel’s On Fire,” “Tears of Rage,” and “To Kingdom Come,” its enigmatic cover art painted by Bob Dylan, the salmon-colored upstate New York house – “Big Pink” – where The Band wrote the songs, and in myriad descendant legends carried forth since the album’s stunning arrival.

On August 31, Capitol/UMG will release Music from Big Pink in newly remixed and expanded 50th Anniversary Edition packages, including a Super Deluxe CD/Blu-ray/2LP/7-inch vinyl box set with a hardbound book; 1CD, digital, 180-gram 2LP black vinyl, and limited edition 180-gram 2LP pink vinyl packages. All the Anniversary Edition configurations feature a new stereo mix for the album, produced by Bob Clearmountain from the original four-track analog masters, achieving a striking clarity and incorporating some previously unreleased chatter from the studio sessions. The 50th Anniversary Edition’s CD, digital, and box set configurations also include five outtakes and alternate recordings from the “Big Pink” sessions and a previously unreleased a cappella version of “I Shall Be Released.”

Exclusively for the box set, Clearmountain has also produced a new 5.1 surround mix for the album and the bonus tracks, presented on Blu-ray with the new stereo mix in high resolution audio (96kHz/24bit). All the new audio mixes have been mastered by Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering. The box set also includes an exclusive reproduction of The Band’s 1968 7-inch vinyl single for “The Weight” / “I Shall Be Released” in their new stereo mixes and a hardbound book with a new essay by noted music journalist David Fricke and classic photos by Elliott Landy. For the album’s new vinyl editions, Chris Bellman cut the vinyl lacquers for the album’s new stereo mix at 45rpm at Bernie Grundman Mastering, expanding the album’s vinyl footprint from one LP to two. The black and pink vinyl LPs were pressed at GZ Vinyl / Precision.

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UK Artist of the Week: Van Common

Having unveiled his heartfelt brand of jangle-pop to the world through the gorgeous debut single, “This Afternoon,” Dutch solo artist Van Common has gone one better on his sophomore release, “Moonlight Blue.”

Written one late night in a secluded beach house, and inspired by the intimate connection Van Common feels to the moon, “Moonlight Blue” beautifully combines simplistic, lo-fi melodies with ethereal hazy vocals that sweep you along on an emotive, almost dream-like journey.

Sebastiaan van Ravenhorst—aka Van Common—had spent years playing in bands before recently making the move to solo artist,with the intention of taking full creative control of the music he made. The decision paid off immediately with “This Afternoon” picking up almost 250,000 streams on Spotify and a number of impressive shows following with the artist wowing crowds at Paradiso Amsterdam, Sofar Sounds San Francisco, and Rockwood Music Hall, New York.

“Moonlight Blue” is in stores now.

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The TVD Record Store Club

Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores, July
2018, Part One

Part one of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for July, 2018. 

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Claire Morales, All That Wanting (Self-released) Following up 2015’s Amaranthine, this is LP #2 from singer-songwriter-guitarist Morales, but it serves as my introduction. Comparisons to Angel Olsen and PJ Harvey are what sparked my interest, and while I can understand (indeed, hear) the similarities, I’m left with a favorable impression through strength of voice, quality of tune, and ambition realized most fully in the consecutive “Diane I” and “Diane II.” Plus, the sharp interplay with guitarist Alex Hastings, bassist Ryan Williams, and drummer Russ Connell (the last two returning from her debut) adds heft, but just as importantly, opens up the songs. Morales can effectively scale it back however, as on “Golden” and “Enough,” and she’s a commanding presence throughout. A-

Hamish Kilgour, Finklestein (Ba Da Bing) Kilgour is a member of New Zealand post-VU indie-rock royalty The Clean. The Mad Scene, his ’90s outfit with Lisa Siegel, was often terrific, and ’14 brought the appealing loner vibe of his solo debut All of It and Nothing. This follow-up, based on a story by Kilgour that he would tell his son, is also swell, but given the specifics of its conception, markedly different. For one thing, the range of instrumentation is broader, with much of the record leaning into lo-fi psych-pop. But it’s not a radical change, as he’s again working with producer Gary Olson, who also plays on the disc. Furthermore, “Welcome to Finklestein” is reminiscent of The Clean in keyboard mode, and maybe it’s just me, but the brief “Opening” recalls Tall Dwarfs’ “Louis Likes His Daily Dip.” And that’s great. A-

ARCHIVAL/REISSUE PICKS: Adonis, Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles, Mr. Fingers, Trax Records 45s (Get on Down) These four 7-inches are available either individually or as a bundle through Get on Down’s website as part of the label’s Jukebox Series, but they are certainly also obtainable in stores, at least temporarily. As fans of electronic club music will be snatching up these prime artifacts from House Music’s ’80s emergence, longevity in the bins is surely finite, especially as they aren’t straight reissues of higher-profile later (and longer) mixes, but original versions. To these ears, Jefferson’s “Move Your Body” b/w “Drum Your Body,” which nods to the style’s eventual commercial inroads, is the least of the bunch, but it lowers the collective quality only slightly; the contents deserve to be graded together. A-

Dave Evans, The Words in Between (Earth Recordings) Here’s a repress of Evans’ 1971 debut (shorn of the bonus cuts added to an earlier reissue), and it offers as much sweet folky fingerpicking as a sensible mind could ask for. Very much an exponent of the Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Ralph McTell, Wizz Jones style of Brit folksong (with a few touches of Nick Drake in the mix, as well), Evans’ Welsh accent and the occasional harmony vocals of Adrienne Webber lend a degree of distinctiveness. Some have criticized Evans’ songwriting (all ten are originals; even his guitar is homemade), but it all sounds fine to me, as the whole really captures the spirit of the time; as the record was cut in fellow folkie Ian A. Anderson’s house and released on the independent The Village Thing label, I’ll declare it sounds especially fine. A-

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 7/3/18

Irvington, IN | Irvington Vinyl & Books will add new chapter to story of indie shops: Irvington Vinyl & Books will extend the music and literature legacy at the former site of Bookmamas and Irvington Vinyl. An opening-day party is scheduled 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 30 for the new shop that’s reviving the mission of two businesses that closed in March…Author Elysia Smith owns the independent shop that succeeds Bookmamas, a fixture in the neighborhood since 2005, and Irvington Vinyl — which opened inside the bookstore in 2014. Bookmamas owner Kathleen Angelone cited health issues when closing her store, and Irvington Vinyl owner Rick Wilkerson said he planned to move to a new city. In a blog post, Smith wrote that she purchased Wilkerson’s records, a collection with pedigree dating to his ownership of Missing Link Records from 1993 to 2008.

Fullerton, CA | Black Hole Records to Move From Downtown Fullerton Location After 27 Years: Fullerton punk rock history has taken back-to-back blows in a mosh pit of bummer news this week. News that the city’s longest-running record store, Black Hole Records, is moving from the brick and mortar shop they’ve called home for the last 27 years hit like a gut punch from a rogue leather jacket-clad elbow. Then passing of one of the genre and the city’s icons, Mr. Steve Soto, founding member of formative Fullerton punk band the Adolescents on Wednesday hit the scene like a steel-toed Doc Martin to the dome…The new location will be smaller than the current shop but it’s a move that’s actually bringing them back to their early punk roots.

San Luis Obispo, CA | 3 years after SLO fire, owners of The Sub will rebuild, starting with record store: The owners of The Sub and Square Deal Recordings & Supplies, two businesses in San Luis Obispo that were destroyed in a 2015 fire, will rebuild on their Higuera Street property, with plans for the Square Deal structure already approved…Square Deal moved roughly a block away from its old location to 2146 Parker St. within weeks of the fire. The business sells vinyl records, CDs, and cassettes as well as patches, stickers, buttons and pins, among other items. The Sub was known to carry a large and eclectic collection of items, including rare posters and records, as well as clothes, tapestries, smoking pipes, antiques and tobacco supplies. “We miss our customers, our fun products and the interactions with our community…”

Weezer’s ‘Africa’ cover is getting a vinyl release: …The band covered the song after a dedicated Twitter account named @WeezerAfrica started an epic campaign to request that Weezer take on the Toto classic. They trolled fans by initially releasing a cover of Toto’s ‘Roseanna’, which won the 1983 Grammy Award for Record of the Year. Thankfully, shortly after, they treated campaign backers to their version of ‘Africa’. The cover will now be released on a limited edition 7″ record, via Urban Outfitters. Both Toto tracks will feature on the vinyl, with the A-side hosting ‘Africa’ and the B-side featuring ‘Rosanna.’ It’ll be released on August 31. The vinyl itself is lime green and the cover art consists of some palm trees and the tweet that started it all: “@RiversCuomo it’s about time you bless the rains down in africa.”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Logan’s
OST deluxe vinyl
in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Waxwork Records proudly presents the the definitive LOGAN’S RUN Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Available for the very first time on vinyl, the complete and expanded LOGAN’S RUN soundtrack by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith receives the deluxe treatment from the soundtrack specialists at Waxwork Records, in close partnership with former Mondo CEO, Justin Ishmael.

Logan’s Run is a 1976 dystopian science fiction film starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, and Farrah Fawcett that depicts a 23rd Century utopian society that beneath the surface kills everyone when they reach the age of 30. The story follows Logan 5, a “Sandman” who has been tasked with terminating those who have attempted to escape death (runners), and is now faced with termination himself as he approaches his 30th birthday.

Jerry Goldsmith’s score (Alien, The Omen, Planet Of The Apes, The ‘Burbs) mixes electronic music and sound design by usage of early modular synthesizers with classic orchestral compositions to create a futuristic landscape. This new release marks the very first time the complete score by Goldsmith will be released on vinyl.

Features include all new artwork by Martin Ansin, double 180 Gram “Palm Flower” colored vinyl with two variants to choose from (Crystal Blue/Green and Yellow or Crystal Green and Red), and deluxe packaging.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Rare, unreleased Joe Strummer material, Joe Strummer 001 vinyl in stores 9/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Ignition Records is proud to announce the release of Joe Strummer 001, the first compilation to span Joe Strummer’s career outside of his recordings with The Clash. Joe Strummer 001 includes fan favorites from his recordings with the 101ers and The Mescaleros, all of his solo albums, soundtrack work, and an album of unreleased songs. Joe Strummer 001 will be released on Friday, September 28th and is available to pre-order now in all formats.

All of the formats include tracks that have never appeared anywhere before as well as new remasters. Exclusive to all formats is an album of unreleased material including an early demo of “This Is England” entitled “Czechoslovak Song/Where Is England,” a solo demo of “Letsagetabitarockin” recorded in Elgin Avenue in 1975, outtakes from Sid & Nancy featuring Mick Jones, and unreleased songs “Rose Of Erin,” the biographical and mythical recording “The Cool Impossible,” and “London Is Burning,” one of the last songs Joe recorded.

Punk pioneer, singer, songwriter, recording artist, activist, musical and political inspiration for a generation, and mighty diamond, Joe Strummer was the most charismatic and passionate frontman to emerge from the punk explosion of the late seventies. After Joe’s untimely death in December 2002 it was discovered that Joe had been quite an archivist of his own work, having barns full of writings and tapes stored in his back garden. There are now over 20,000 items in the Joe Strummer Archive. The archiving of this material and compiling of Joe Strummer 001 was overseen by Joe’s widow Luce and Robert Gordon McHarg III.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Wire, 154

Most bands are fortunate to get in the ballpark of a single masterpiece during their existence, but from ’77-’79, and right out of the gate with their debut, Wire produced three in a row. In the process, they delivered a blueprint for minimalist art-punk (from which many have swiped but never bettered) while becoming one of the defining acts in the emerging genre of post-punk. Those three records are currently available from Pinkflag as CD books, each with loads of worthy bonus material and all with written contributions from Jon Savage and Graham Duff; the standalone vinyl and bookless CDs are available July 6. Today, we conclude our coverage of these releases with thoughts on 1979’s 154.

As the final studio album before Wire’s first hiatus, 154 inevitably registers as a culmination. However, if the byproduct of chances taken, repetition disdained, and unsurprisingly, friction between band members, the album’s experimentation with and extension of rock and pop form ultimately transcends the tag of post-punk, with its contents remarkably cohesive and betraying no signs of strain from creative differences.

For an outfit who stated they’d quit because of a dearth of new ideas, 154 is loaded with them. If it’s a taste of the band at the end of their tether that you desire, then the live recording Document and Eyewitness, revised and expanded in 2014, is the release to check out; fascinatingly flawed but in this writer’s view somewhat underrated, it stands as the true end of Wire’s first period.

But don’t let’s lose track of the subject at hand. 154 easily extends the brilliance established on Wire’s prior releases by unveiling another major spurt in development, though the sheer intensity of invention did them few favors. The reality of all this rapid-fire progress? Wire was simply moving too fast to cultivate their listenership, and by extension, disappointment from their label EMI was certain. Furthermore, as their sound was at odds with the general trend toward post-punk refinement (e.g. New Romanticism), the response from critics could often be indifferent, perplexed, or even hostile.

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