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:
Doctor Ross,
Memphis Breakdown

Charles Isaiah Ross, known to blues aficionados as Doctor Ross, and additionally as the Harmonica Boss, was born in Tunica, Mississippi. In the early ’50s, he cut his first sides at Memphis Recording Service, which was soon to be known as Sun Studio. Noted for his wild, primitive, one-man band style, Ross was often recorded with accompaniment, though this ultimately did little to streamline the raw exuberance of his approach. The man’s verve bodaciously flows across both sides of Memphis Breakdown, a tidy 14-track collection that corrals the highlights of Ross’ sessions for Sam Philips; it’s out now on vinyl and compact disc through ORG Music.

Spurred in large part by a youthful interest in Brit blues-rock, I developed into a full-blown teenage blues nut. It was the real uncut stuff I was digging: Muddy, Wolf, Elmore, Sonny Boy, Hooker, Lightnin’, and Little Walter, and the interest made me something of an ’80s anomaly. Although I was eventually seduced by punk and the underground rock of the era, by my senior year I was primed for another plunge into the blues, and Rounder’s series of Sun Records reissues, which included four tracks from Doctor Ross on Sun Records Harmonica Classics, delivered with undiluted gusto.

Ross’ initial November 1951 meeting with Philips yielded two songs that ended up on a Chess 78, credited to Doctor Ross and His Jump and Jive Boys, though the record’s only other participant was guitarist Wiley Galatin (Ross hadn’t yet added the acoustic to his arsenal); neither “Doctor Ross Boogie” nor it’s flip “Country Clown” is offered on Memphis Breakdown, but the mouth organ hypnosis of “That’s Alright (Goin’ Back South)” from the same session, is.

For a second Philips session the following year, Ross, now in one-man band mode, was augmented with the piano of Henry Hill and the washboard of Rueben Martin. It produced five songs, two of which are featured here. The instrumental “Left Job Boogie” exudes an incessant groove that can be connected to John Lee Hooker and the hill blues of R.L. Burnside, while the jug band flavored “Polly Put Your Kettle On” illuminates the pre-blues influences that lingered into the second half of the 20th century.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/10/18

Record Store Day 2018: The 11th annual event falls on Saturday, April 21, 2018: The eleventh annual worldwide party that celebrates the culture of the indie record store is set for Saturday, April 21, 2018. Stores around the world will open up their doors to celebrate with their customers, the musicians who make the music they sell, and the staff who sell it. In its first ten years, Record Store Day has grown exponentially and is now celebrated by millions of people, in thousands of independent record stores, worldwide. It has spurred the growth of at least one physical media format, inspired new stores to open their doors, and helped existing stores to grow and expand. Thousands of artists have celebrated with performances, in-store events and limited edition special releases. Unknown numbers of people have had a damn good time at their local record store.

The Vinyl Records ‘Fad’ Has Been Going Strong for 12 Straight Years: Music industry moguls and audio experts alike never saw this coming. But somewhere in the late 90s, audiophiles, die-hard music fans, and baby boomers felt like something was missing. Several years later, they were suddenly buying the nostalgic format. And the past 12 years have shown a surge in the sales of vinyl records. And according to just-released 2017 data, this isn’t slowing down. Per figures from Nielsen Music, 14.32 million vinyl records were sold in 2017, an increase of 9 percent from the previous year. That represents 8.5 percent of all album sales in 2017, a 6.5 percent gain from 2016. Vinyl records accounted for 14.3 percent of all physical format sales in 2017, also according to Nielsen. That’s a brand-new record, at least for the modern music industry. (There was also a 35% increase in cassette sales last year. But more on that later.)

The world was running out of cassette tape. Now it’s being made in Springfield. A sprawling factory on Water Street in downtown Springfield will soon be the only place in the country, maybe even the world, to make the tape that goes inside audiocassettes. Yes, people still use those. Lots of people. National Audio Company’s factory makes more than 10 million cassettes per year. In recent years, a worldwide shortage of tape showed few signs of relief. For a long time, National Audio muddled through by purchasing stocks of tape from other manufacturers. Those companies were getting out of the tape-making game, said National Audio president and co-owner Steve Stepp. “Nobody has made audiocassette tape in this country since about 1983 or 1984,” Stepp told the News-Leader in early December.

Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save The Queen’ Unreleased 7″ Sells For $14,690US: Discogs has verified the sale of the Sex Pistols’s ‘God Save The Queen’ unreleased A&M Records 7″ for $14,690US topping the Most Expensive Items Sold on Discogs for November 2017. The Guardian lists this unreleased Sex Pistols single as one of the rarest records in Britain. Originally signed to A&M Records, 25,000 copies of ‘God Save The Queen’ were pressed before A&M’s Herb Alpert reportedly destroyed the Sex Pistols’ recording contract six days after signing. Genuine originals have the serrated anti-slip necklace and 7284 written twice on the B-Side runout, one above the other. Also of note, runout (Side A label) is AMS 7284A and runout (Side B label) is AMS 7284B. View the entire Top 30 Most Expensive Items Sold on Discogs for November 2017 HERE.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Async Remodels remix vinyl
LP in stores 3/2

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Aysnc Remodels is the upcoming companion release to Ryuichi Sakamoto’s acclaimed album Async from earlier this year.

Winning praise from everyone from the New York Times, Esquire, FACT, Rolling Stone, The Fader, and Pitchfork, it’s no surprise that some of the most exciting producers and artists lined up to offer their own voices, sounds, and perspectives as counterpoint reinterpretations to Sakamoto’s original compositions. Async Remodels is set for a 2/16 release for CD/digital and 3/2 for vinyl on Milan Records. Listen to Cornelius’s new remix of “ZURE,” streaming now.

Async was Ryuichi Sakamoto’s first solo album in 8 years. Taking inspiration from everyday objects, sculpture, and nature, Sakamoto composed and arranged the sounds/music that he most wanted to listen to. Paying close attention to the essence of each track and carefully balancing the sounds with a less-is-more perspective, what remains are singular expressions of Sakamoto’s current mindset, and one of his most personal albums. Revisit Sakamoto’s journey in creating Async at the New York Times.

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The TVD Storefront

Percival Elliott,
The TVD First Date

“I suppose my love of vinyl started at a young age, maybe around 3 or 4.”

“I remember my father revealing mystical, UFO shaped frisbees from card sleeves, and then carefully landing the crafts onto a merry go-round, placing the probe, crackle, pop then boom… magic. I was instantly transported somewhere else, be it the wondrous soundscapes crafted by Pink Floyd or the tales of the past recounted by the galloping harmonised guitars of Iron Maiden. My mum likes to remind me of the time I climbed up and turned the stereo up to full blast, hit play, then jumped out of my skin. I like to imagine it was like the opening guitar scene from Back to the Future. I doubt it was that cool.

At the age of around 6 I was exposed to Jeff Wayne’s The War of the Worlds. Whilst I loved it on first listen, I was kept awake at night by the images of huge space ships engulfing the world with red weed. I like to think that if you are able to remember the first time you ever heard a particular record, then it holds a special place in your heart. Vinyl for me somehow captures a humanistic sound quality that CD and digital files don’t. To me the perfection of vinyl lays somewhere between the weathered and worn, with every scratch telling a story.

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TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Hannah Epperson

Following 2016’s Upsweep, Canadian artist Hannah Epperson has now released the album’s eagerly awaited second half, Slowdown.

Armed with just her violin and a loop pedal, Epperson has created an innovative collection, with two distinct versions of each track, the “Amelia” and the “Iris.” Derived from the idea of two opposing worlds coming together to form a fictional character of a narcissistic and alienated young man, the versions of each song stand in stark contrast with each other.

Combining folk-inspired, sweeping strings alongside pulsating beats and Epperson’s twinkling crystal-clear vocals, the “Amelia” version of album opener “20-20” is a haunting slice of electro, folk-tinged pop. The “Iris,” however, is more stripped back, a gentler offering, relying simply on the power of Epperson’s impressive vocal range and delicate instrumentation for effect.

The album continues in this vein, the two opposing versions of each track contrasting and clashing, in the most effective way. As the throbbing beats and eerie, ethereal layers of sound of the Amelias are juxtaposed with the stripped-back melancholy and delicate emotion of the Iris, Epperson has created a surreal and cinematic soundscape.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Kate St. John,
Second Sight

If one is familiar with The Dream Academy, then one is familiar with Kate St. John, even if her name rings no bells of recognition. But to focus upon her contribution to that group is to give her considerable short shrift, as she’s a multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, producer, and musical director. Along with membership in the New Age art-pop supergroup Channel Light Vessel, she also issued two solo records in the ’90s. Second Sight was the second and best, and it’s making its vinyl debut on double 180-gram clear wax. Remastered by Tim Story, with a high-resolution art print, the limited edition of 500 is available now through Curious Music.

Before she was in The Dream Academy, Kate St. John was one of The Ravishing Beauties with Virginia Astley and Nicky Holland. Noted for live shows with The Teardrop Explodes, their only recording is an April 14, 1982 Peel Session, though one of the songs, “Futility,” which was adapted from a poem by Wilfred Owen, did turn up on a New Musical Express tape sampler. The whole thing’s hosted on Astley’s website, providing a cool listen that lends insight into what St. John was up to before “Life in a Northern Town.”

The Dream Academy were more than that song (their biggest hit in ’85), releasing three albums in fact, but more pertinent to this review is what came after. Along with playing oboe and sax on a series of Van Morrison’s ’90s albums, she recorded The Familiar with Roger Eno, a collaboration that led directly to the formation of Channel Light Vessel. Featuring St. John, Eno, Bill Nelson, Laaraji, and Mayumi Tachibana, they released two discs, The Automatic in 1994 and Excellent Spirits in ’96 (the second without Tachibana).

The stature of the participants establishes Channel Light Vessel as a supergroup, and the lack of hubbub over their output might suggest they failed in meeting expectations. This isn’t borne out by listening, as both discs have their moments, though there is more than a hint of an ambiance this writer associates with ’80s high-end stereo culture, particularly with The Automatic. From the vantage point of 2018 (and the years chalked up getting here), this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 1/9/18

Distraught music lovers as Leamington record store closes its doors: An independent record store in Leamington has closed its doors. Head has been operating in The Priors shopping centre for over a decade. The store stocked a range of music, film and media, from vinyl records and CDs to turntables and Blu-ray DVDs. A heartfelt Facebook post from its staff to customers reads: “Welcome to the saddest selfie we have ever posted. I am very, very sorry to tell you that today we closed the shutters for good. “Thank you all for your loyalty and friendship. It was a genuine honour and our daily pleasure to provide you with the experience we did. “We all loved every minute of it.

Do you remember these lost Nottingham record shops? Here’s a vinyl countdown to some of the stores we miss the most: Next month a Nottingham bakery will be holding a day of celebration in honour of late, great record shop Selectadisc. Ugly Bread Bakery’s decision to host the event – which will include pop-up shops and DJs – at its Market Street premises on February 11 got us thinking about some of the other ‘lost’ music shops of the city…Set up by Brian Selby in 1966 (as a stall in Mansfield Market) the vinyl-lover’s haven was a feature of Nottingham’s music scene for more than 40 years. In 1985, within months of each other, Billy Bragg and The Clash played the store to benefit striking miners. The Clash gig came about when Selectadisc’s Jim Cooke bumped into Joe Strummer in a club and asked if he could play the following day in the shop. It turned into an acoustic show with Strummer standing on the counter. Afterwards, they went for pints at the Newshouse. The shop closed in March 2009.

Weirdsville Records closes for store renovations: Weirdsville Records is about to get weirder — in a good way. The Mount Clemens record shop temporarily closed Sunday for a long-conceived remodeling that will take the place in a slightly new direction. “We’re going to be moving things around, freshening things up a bit and becoming more feng shui,” said owner Davey Taylor. Weirdsville Records specializes in vinyl records, including LPs and 45-rpm singles, but also has pop-culture collectible memorabilia including DVDs, cassettes, vintage clothes, rock posters and comic books. The 2,900-square-foot store also is home to Paperback Writer Book Shop, which is owned by Taylor’s wife, Lisa. It has 25,000 books on everything from sports to transportation to films and TV.

There’s a difference between listening and hearing: how Truck Store is riding a vinyl wave into 2018: In January 2011, at the height of the music industry’s sales crisis, Gary Smith announced he was opening a new record shop in Oxford. The manager of Rapture Records in Witney had teamed up with Truck Festival co-founder Robin Bennett to transform the former Videosyncratic video rental shop at 101 Cowley Road. Given Oxford’s last independent music shop, Polar Bear Records just up the road, had been forced to close three years before because of poor sales, opening a new one seemed to some – including even its most diehard supporters – like madness…And even though the very first photos in the Oxford Mail pictured Mr Smith, Mr Bennett and the shop’s new manager Carl Smithson brandishing shiny vinyl records, no one in 2011 could have predicted that the format, which even then had been outdated for decades, would keep the shop in business.

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TVD Washington, DC

Save the Date: The
DC Record Fair returns
to Penn Social, 2/18!

Back for its 9th year is Washington, DC’s (almost) twice yearly record rummage, The DC Record Fair which sets up shop on February 18, 2018 in the cavernous confines of downtown Washington, DC’s Penn Social.

As with each event, we’ll have 40+ vinyl vendors from up and down the East Coast, the DJ line up, the bar, the food, raffle items up for grabs just for coming through the door, plus the random other surprises that make the DC Record Fair a special community event.

Our friends at the Fillmore Silver Spring put together the above feature a while back that outshines any descriptive copy we could devise—hit play.

Mark your calendars! 
THE DC RECORD FAIR

Sunday, February 18, 2018 at Penn Social, 801 E Street, NW
11:00–12:00, Early Bird Admission $5.00
12:00–5:00, Regular Admission $2.00

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Moody Blues,
Go Now–The Moody Blues #1

We remember The Moody Blues’ Ray Thomas who passed away on Thursday, January 4 with a look back from our archives. Ed.

Though the music they produced was only fitfully successful, the Denny Laine-fronted incarnation of The Moody Blues deserves to be remembered for more than a momentary chart fling topped by a gem of a single. In ’65 they released an album at home and another in the US under distinct titles, both holding a dozen tracks and with a third of each LP also unique. The better of the two, Go Now–The Moody Blues #1, was issued in the States by London Records.

Heavy on covers and by extension lacking in gestures toward originality, the ’64-’66-era Moody Blues are unlikely to be many people’s (I’ll stop short of saying anybody’s) most beloved component in the British Invasion. In fact, talk of the group today reliably focuses on the post-Denny Laine/Clint Warwick lineup that saw new members John Lodge and Justin Hayward helping to transmogrify the Moodies into one of the leading if artistically lesser examples of Symphonic Rock. I won’t sully the Prog genre with an inapt association since there was hardly anything progressive about The Moody Blues Mk 2.

Instead, they exemplified the Middlebrow impulse, though that’s ultimately a separate discussion. This piece concerns a band that came together when the leader of Denny Laine and the Diplomats joined up with a bunch of nameless Birmingham hopefuls, their main desire hitting it big or even just making a good living; they briefly played as the M & B 5, the initials an attempt at landing sponsorship from two local beer brewers (last names Mitchell and Butler). And similar to many of their contemporaries, The Moody Blues’ method at least initially was the borrowing and alteration of Rhythm and Blues.

And they did storm the charts with “Go Now,” in the process overtaking in popularity the terrific Leiber and Stoller-produced original by Bessie Banks, though the idea of the cover destroying the source’s commercial hopes is basically a myth. Banks’ tune was released by the Tiger label in January of ’64 while The Moody Blues’ version didn’t emerge until the following November, eventually peaking at #10 in the US in February of ’65 (it took top Brit honors a month earlier).

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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