The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Contemporary Records 70th Anniversary Jazz Reissues

2022 continues to be another banner year for audiophile jazz reissues. While the Blue Note and Verve label reissues from the last few years have paved the way for bespoke jazz archival releases, the recent series from Craft Recordings of reissues of albums from the Contemporary Records jazz label to celebrate its 70th anniversary, as part of the Acoustic Sounds Series, are just as welcome.

All of the albums are mastered from the original analog tapes by Bernie Grundman. The records were pressed on 180-gram vinyl at QRP with Stoughton old-style, tip-on jackets, include the iconic black-and-gold Contemporary label of the period, and come with archival sleeves. The key to why these particular recordings sound so good is the superb original engineering of Roy DuNann. All three reissues boast the original liner notes from the legendary jazz scholar, author and journalist Nat Hentoff.

Contemporary Records was founded in 1951 in Los Angeles by Lester Koening. The label’s heyday lasted until the early 1960s. It became very identifiable with the cool school of West Coast jazz. Those artists included Chet Baker, Howard Rumsey, and several artists that are part of the Craft reissue series, including Art Pepper, Shelly Manne, Hampton Hawes, Barney Kessel and others. Rumsey and Manne were also integral to two key West Coast jazz clubs—The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California, which Rumsey got off the ground in 1949 and which featured his All-Star’s, but which was owned by John Levine, and Shelly’s Manne-Hole, which opened in 1960 in Hollywood.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Independent Label Market announces two winter markets for London and Manchester, 11/12 & 11/19

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Independent Label Market announces two events for Winter 2022—ILM’s flagship London event will take place Saturday 12th November at Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross with a new date at Manchester’s New Century on Saturday 19th November.

Earlier this year, ILM: London introduced a vibrant new set of stalls featuring artists and craft makers. The Craft Makers Corner makes its return for the Winter edition with Hand Jazz, East London Printmakers, Dan Jamieson and satirical artist / illustrator Darren Cullen.

The first record labels to confirm for ILM: London include Bella Union, Big Dada, Dirty Hit, Earth, Erased Tapes, Fire, Late Night Tales, Ninja Tune, Partisan and Sonic Cathedral. They will bring with them a trove of exclusives including vinyl rarities and test pressings as well as extended back catalogues, signed merchandise and advance copies—just in time for Christmas! Watch this space for the full line-up announcement, as well as further details of the ILM curated DJ sets from artists, labels and friends.

Following a hugely successful debut in Manchester in collaboration with Tim Burgess’ Vinyl Adventures Record Fair, ILM returns to Manchester this Winter at the newly reopened New Century, a historic Grade II listed building that played host to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and The Kinks in the ’60s and acid house parties in the ’80s. It has now been restored to its former glory for a new era.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Mystic
Revelation of Rastafari,
Grounation

In the early 1970s, two kingpins of Jamaican music, namely Count Ossie and Cedric “Im” Brooks, merged their respective groups The Wareikas/the African Drums and The Mystics into one unit, and The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari was born. Their 3LP set Grounation was released in 1973, the first reggae triple album, and while obviously massive in scale, the music’s dive into sustained gloriousness transcends the norms of reggae by exemplifying the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s motto, “Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future.” Its reissue by Soul Jazz on vinyl and compact disc is cause for celebration.

What must be understood right away is that Grounation isn’t six vinyl sides loaded with commercial reggae jams circa 1973. Instead, this is the bedrock of what Coxsone Dodd and Bunny Lee were rapid fire cutting onto disco plates prior to and at the very time of Grounation’s release. To drive the point home, the sound of guitars are nowhere to be found here, as the title of the set references the Rastafari holy Grounation Day, which celebrates Ethiopian emperor Hailie Selassie’s visit to Jamaica in 1966.

Horns and vocals are an inextricable part of the record’s weave, and as Grounation plays one can soak up sounds rooted in New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, and New York City, along with roughly contemporaneous connections to the African continent via Afrobeat and highlife. But the music’s dominant component is rhythm, with even deeper ties to the African rhythmic root of it all. And yet, Grounation is thoroughly Jamaican, and a cornerstone record in the country’s musical history, if one perhaps undervalued in the global scheme of things.

The horns do kick in early on in opener “Bongo Man,” and there’s a brief gust of rough blowing in “Narration” that establishes an affinity for Fire Music and spiritual jazz in general. It’s a bond that reinforces The Mystic Revelation of Rastafari as far more than a gesture in pure throwing back, which really shouldn’t be surprising given that Selassie’s visit to the island occurred only six years before the record’s release.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 10/5/22

Brooklyn, NY | Razor-N-Tape to launch record shop in Brooklyn: The fun loving record label is solidifying its presence in New York with the launch of a new record store. Razor-N-Tape is best known for records packed with dancefloor euphoria drawing upon the early hedonistic days of funk, soul and disco and reinventing them for the present. Over ten years the label has released music by the likes of Tom Noble, Don Carlos, JKriv, Late Nite Tuff Guy, Dimutri From Paris, Daniel T and many, many more. The sound has evolved and grown – resulting in a fluid collection of music which spans classic edits, remixes, originals and beyond drawing upon the free spirited nature and influence from the cult New York era of nightlife and disco. Now Razor-N-Tape will cement themselves with the launch of a new Brooklyn Record store which has been described with an exciting announcement

Charlotte, NC | Catching Up With Gene Brown, Charlotte’s Famed Vinyl Dealer: The longtime Charlottean’s deep dives into stacks of vinyl have built a career, a series of hits, and maybe a movement. …He’s not a rapper. He’s not a producer. He’s not a DJ. “Gene Brown is my dealer.” Or so say the T-shirts for sale in the lobby. Tonight is the Gene Brown Beat Down, a music showcase where star producers, including Just Blaze (Jay-Z’s “Public Service Announcement”) and Jake One (J. Cole’s “m y . l i f e”), will combine vinyl record samples and recorded sounds to create energizing, crowd-swaying beats. It will unspool into the wee hours of Sunday morning, a tapestry of sound stitched together by the man in black boots, a black sweatshirt, and a black beanie who circulates through the crowd. This is Brown’s creation, a step toward a more inclusive music culture in Charlotte, and he orchestrates it from the unique perch he occupies in the world of hip-hop.

Princeton, NJ | Princeton Record Exchange is the one-stop-shop for all your vinyl needs: Princeton Record Exchange or ‘PREX’ is one of the top-rated record stores in the country, and it’s located in Princeton, NJ! They have been trading records and movies since 1980, and their inventory just continues to grow. PREX was originally located a few blocks from where it is today. They quickly outgrew that space and today the store sits at about 4,800 square feet, carrying over 100,000 titles. “Creating a little microcosm in which everyone is appreciating the art of music… it’s a real feeling of camaraderie and family almost. It’s just fun to come to work everyday” owner Jon Lambert tells us. Jon goes on to say that he tries really hard to make PREX a pleasant place to be. Courtesy, respect, and a shared passion for music are at the forefront of the policies he strives to implement everyday. Jon seems to have achieved his goal of making PREX a pleasant place to be, given the years of success the store has seen.

Dalton, MA | At the Central Berkshire Record Show in Dalton, it’s all about the hunt for that long-lost vinyl record: At the Central Berkshire Record Show in Dalton, it’s a collector’s effort. “I’ve been a collector for 40 years,” said Adrian Sicam, a vendor selling records out of his home in Greenfield. “I started when I was 12.” It was a collection that started with a lot of Beatles records, he said. Sicam has two turntables in his home, and a basement chock full of records. He estimates that all told he has about 3,000 vinyl records in his collection, and about 500 on display with him at the Stationery Factory, 63 Flansburg Ave., in Dalton. …Events like this are good for meeting some, he said. Sicam is set up across the way from Justin Cohen, better known by his stage name, Studebaker Hawk. Cohen is a vinyl-spinning DJ and record merchant who sells the discs online and at record shows like this one. He’s based out of Springfield, and organizes record shows in Northampton. In its heyday, his collection of vinyls was about 13,000, he said. He’s since culled it down to a moderate 5,000.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: The Human League, The Virgin Years 5LP boxset in stores 11/11

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Between 1981 and 1990, The Human League released four studio albums and one extended EP on Virgin Records. Those albums and that extended play have been collected in a special limited edition colored vinyl box set. In addition, the remix album Love And Dancing, initially released in 1982, was recently reissued on white vinyl for Record Store Day.

The Human League “Mark Two,” as they have been described, arose from the ashes of the band’s first incarnation and became one of the most influential and commercially successful groups of the early 1980s. The Virgin Years box set opens with Dare, which is simply one of the greatest albums ever made. It launched the band to superstardom across the globe and despite being over 40 years old still sounds as thrilling and powerful as ever.

In the Spring of 1983, the group released the six-track EP “Fascination,” which brought together the singles “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” in its extended forms, “Mirror Man,” along with the classic b-sides “You Remind Me Of Gold” and “Hard Times” along with a new track “I Love You Too Much.”

The group re-recorded the latter track for the Hysteria album, which appeared in May 1984. The LP contained three hit singles “The Lebanon,” “Life On Your Own,” and “Louise.” Whilst not a multi-million seller like its predecessor, the album showed the band progressing artistically. Two years later, the band would experiment even further by mostly recording the album Crash with the production team of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. The gamble paid off, and it returned The Human League to the top of the US charts with the song “Human.”

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TVD Radar: Hiroshi Sato, Awakening 2LP 40th anniversary reissue in stores, 11/3

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Originally released on June 21, 1982, Awakening is Hiroshi Sato’s fourth solo record and first for ALFA. Featuring Canadian vocalist Wendy Matthews and liberal usage of the LinnDrum machine (the cutting-edge drum machine of the time), this record fuses Sato’s highly regarded sound sensibilities with the atmosphere of the American West Coast.

The mellow and soulful record doesn’t feel inorganic despite the heavy use of programmed drums and is considered a masterpiece having influenced future generations in Japan and abroad. Tatsuro Yamashita, Tsunehide Matsuki, and Yuji Toriyama are guest guitarists on some of the tracks.

Disc 1 contains the original record as it was released in 1982 and Disc 2 features versions of 8 tracks taken from the original record with vocals and waves removed including “BLUE AND MOODY MUSIC (WENDY’S VERSION),” which was on the original CD in 1986 and a new version of “IT IS NOT EASY remixed by Sato in 2005. This is the first time the contents of Disc 2 are being released on vinyl. Disc cutting was overseen by Japanese master craftsman Shigeru Takezawa. Both discs will be available on color vinyl. Disc 1 on transparent light blue vinyl and disc 2 on regular transparent vinyl.

More about Hiroshi Sato | Hiroshi Sato was born in the ’40s in Kagoshima, Japan to a Buddhist monk family. By his early teen years he was depressed, feeling stuck with the expectation that he would carry on the family tradition of becoming a monk. It is in this context he would discover music, first through playing guitar. In high school he learned drums and bass, recorded his own songs at home and eventually got his hands on a SONY Open Reel 4 track recorder. At 20, Hiroshi Sato taught himself keys.

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Graded on a Curve:
Big Star,
Nothing Can Hurt Me

Celebrating Jody Stephens on his 70th birthday.Ed.

The Memphis group Big Star has long been a favorite of folks who love smartly conceived guitar-based pop-rock, and while few bought their records when they were hot off the presses, their status as an enduring cult staple is undeniable. After a long relationship with discerning turntables everywhere, Big Star received the Big Screen treatment with a documentary titled Nothing Can Hurt Me, and the soundtrack collects unique mixes of material long-considered classic. That the songs included here could easily slay a busload of Big Star newbies is testament to not only the band’s everlasting importance but also to the admirable ambitions that made this 2LP set and its accompanying film possible.

Over the last few decades the music documentary has really become one of the steadiest (some might say unrelenting) currents in the whole vast field of non-fiction filmmaking. And this shouldn’t be any kind of surprise. For everybody loves music, or so it’s often been said. But this doesn’t change the fact that some musicians/bands are far more deserving of having their story represented on film than others.

Simply stating that a very few groups are more worthy than Big Star of having their existence outlined through the medium of the film doc can initially smack of extreme devotion and perhaps even flat-out hyperbole. For just like the old saw that everybody loves music, it’s just as often been said that everybody has a story, and even, nay especially, in the non-fiction field the plain facts of the narrative ultimately aren’t as important as the way the events get told.

But if we dig a little deeper, the documentary’s inherent connection with the “real world,” or specifically the manner in which things don’t always work out the way we’d like them to, is especially resonant to the tale of Andy Hummel, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens, and Alex Chilton. For unlike the life of Ray Charles or the early years of The Beatles, Big Star is far from a good fit for the Hollywood treatment, or at least for the situation as it currently stands in the movie-making industry.

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TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: HALO DUST

London-based faceless quartet HALO DUST kick-start our week the right way with the release of their high-octane debit single “HEROES,” out now.

Combining indie and electronic sensibilities, “HEROES” is oozing with atmosphere from the offset. Comparisons have been made to the likes of The Prodigy and Daft Punk and we can see why, however “HEROES” perhaps feels as though it’s leaning slightly further towards psychedelic rock with its distinctive vocals and twisted guitar twangs at the forefront. “HEROES” is a song that has one foot in the past and one foot very much in the future.

Having previously worked as a live production team, brushing shoulders with various musicians from around the UK and North America, the trio of Scott, Trumpet Andy, and Stef became disillusioned with the industry. However, a chance late night, Jager-fulled meeting with Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno at the infamous Shepherd’s Bush haunt Bagel Bites changed everything.

“HEROES” is taken from the band’s debut album SINISTER ELECTRIC, out in 2023.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Peel Dream Magazine, Pad

Joseph Stevens is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter currently working as Peel Dream Magazine, with his latest album under the moniker a considerable departure from the shoegaze-fuzz pop-motorik action of its predecessors. What’s changed? Well, there are bold moves into the baroque pop arena with some bossa nova flavor and indie pop erudition. The new record is also an undisguised dive into the conceptual, and yet not a particularly weighty listen, as the 15 tracks unwind in a crisp 43 minutes. Pad is out October 7 on limited edition white vinyl (with or without a bonus 4-song 7-inch, the choice is yours) and compact disc through Slumberland and Tough Love.

Pad isn’t a complete break from Peel Dream Magazine’s past, though the new disc is a significant detour from the unrestrained Stereolab-isms of 2020’s Agitprop Alterna. What ties Stevens’ three full-length albums together is strong songwriting, though this aspect naturally comes to the fore on his latest, as the fuzziness gives way to gentler atmospheres, with vibraphone up front in opener “Not in the Band,” and flute prominent in the title track to follow.

“Pictionary” is more of a forthright chiming indie pop strummer on the sophisto side of the equation, which is to say, there’s nothing loud or unkempt about it. “Wanting and Waiting” is no less urbane, as it sidelines the strum for a sort of laid back flute and mallets-laden art pop with a funky undercurrent. Spreading out even more, “Self Actualization Center” introduces banjo, faux-mellotron strings, sci-fi synth secretions, and vocal harmonizing with Samira Winter into the mix, and “Walk Around the Block” is a nifty flute-driven instrumental that oozes cinematic tension.

More to the point of Stevens’ approach, the track reinforces Pad’s conceptual orientation, as the songs tell a story of Stevens’ getting fictitiously booted from a musical outfit (“Not in the Band”) and his subsequent attempts to rejoin, with numerous detours along the way, and eventual success (“Back in the Band”). Stevens’ lyrics enhance this narrative without feeling awkward or forced, as “Hamlet” combines psych-tinged folk with a late-night drum machine vibe a la Young Marble Giants (see also: Yo La Tengo circa And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out).

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 10/4/22

Liverpool, UK | Shop where people spend ‘hours’ has been open for 40 years: “I have loved doing this from day one.” A shop where people spend “hours” inside has stood on Smithdown Road for more than 40 years. Brian Jackson, originally from Toxteth but now lives in Allerton, owns and runs shop Allkinds which sells vinyl records, audio and sci-fi memorabilia. Many years ago, the now 61-year-old walked into the store where he helped former owner David Radcliffe with the running of the shop. He is now the owner of Allkinds, which sits at number 145 directly opposite Toxteth Park Cemetery, after taking over from Mr Radcliffe after he died. Speaking to the ECHO, Brian said: “He was like a father to me, his name was Dave Radcliffe. He set the shop up in 1980. It didn’t really become a record shop until 1981. “I eventually just arrived here and been here ever since. I have taken it over now because he passed away a year ago and I have been running the place.”

Georgetown, ON | J&S Records giving Georgetown music lovers thrill of the hunt for vinyl treasures: While most businesses were just trying to find a way to stay afloat during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Steve Longmead started planning another. “I was like a lot of people during COVID, going down in the basement rediscovering their collections,” said Longmead, a co-owner of The Hooded Goblin on Main Street in Georgetown. In Longmead’s case it was his large record collection. Looking through his albums reminded him of the days of going to a concert in Toronto and visiting the record stores. “You start getting that thrill of flipping through records and finding something and thinking, ‘Oh my god, I haven’t seen that for so long.’” Knowing he had some space in the basement of The Hooded Goblin, he started planning to open a record store. “Worst case I was going to have the world’s largest record collection,” he said.

Shakopee, MN | Ramble On Records reopens at new storefront location downtown: Ramble On Records, a locally-owned record store, is reopening at a new storefront location in downtown Shakopee on Saturday, Oct. 1. The record store has been located in downtown Shakopee since March 2019, but owner Steve Shanks said the space wasn’t the most ideal for the store — especially one heavily dependent on sights and sounds. “That’s a tough spot over there for a retail store,” Shanks said about the store’s previous location. “I’m down a long, dingy hallway. Then out back, it’s just an alley. So it was a strange location.” Shanks started plans for moving a few months ago when a more visible storefront downtown opened up. The record store’s new location is at 113 Lewis St., about half a block away from its previous location. Despite the small move location-wise, Shanks said he’s excited for the additional exposure this change brings.

Bellefonte, PA | Bellefonte’s newest small business, Fez Records, opens its doors this weekend: What’s old is new again. Vinyl records are making a comeback. In Bellefonte, there aren’t a whole lot of options when it comes to buying records. Now, all that is about to change. Today, Fez Records, located at 2042 Axemann Road in Bellefonte, will officially open its doors. The new business is located just outside the popular Titan Market. The owner and operator of Fez Records is Michael Fester, who resides with his wife, Cortney, in State College. For Fester, his love of records and music started at a young age. Opening Fez Records, he said, is a dream come true. “For as long as I can remember, I would go into records shops. Wherever I lived — in Vegas or in Arizona — I would just find a record shop that I really just loved to spend time in,” Fester said. “I just wanted to be around those people who loved music as much as I did. So I would go there and spend a little money.”

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TVD UK

TVD Live Shots: The Black Crowes at the O2 Brixton Academy, 9/26

The Black Crowes are on another level at the moment. They’re the best rock ‘n’ roll band on tour right now—my generation’s Led Zeppelin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band that makes it look so easy; it’s as if the only reason they are here on the planet to remind us what good old-school rock ‘n’ roll is and can be. (Yeah, I get it, that’s a heap of praise to throw at a band in the first paragraph of a gig review, but you had to see it to believe it.) People were in fucking awe. In the words of Liam Gallagher, “it was biblical.”

There’s something to be said about the company they keep as well. There was an all-star list of London rock ‘n’ rollers in attendance. Spike from the Quireboys and the man who invented heavy metal, Tony Iommi, were just a few that I saw on night one. The show had been postponed several times, but unlike many others, it didn’t affect the anticipation or turnout. Was it sold out? There was one seat open, and I grabbed it, so yeah, essentially, it was.

I watched two brothers with a very public turbulent past jamming together in perfect harmony. Hell, they even smiled at each other more than once. This is the power of music, the power of great fucking songs, the power of connection with the audience, personified and amplified. You could feel this show in your heart; it warmed you up.

I’ve always been a fan of the Crowes, but I lost touch after By Your Side. They started to drift into a sort of jam-band space that I wasn’t really into. But that doesn’t change the fact that their debut masterpiece, Shake Your Money Maker, is still one of my favourite records of all time.

I would argue that The Southern Harmony and Musician Companion is the superior record, only because it took everything I loved from the debut and turned it up to eleven, but hearing “Twice as Hard” as the opening song brought me back to the glory days of MTV and the first time I heard this band. Fucking hell, I forgot how brilliant that song is as an opener. I was transported automatically back to 1992 when Riki Rachtman first said, “I’ve got a new band for you that I think you are going to like,” and the rest is history.

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TVD Radar: Alex
Chilton, Live in London: Encore Edition 2LP in stores 11/25

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Sundazed Music announces the November 25 release of Alex Chilton’s Live in London: Encore Edition. Available on 2-LP or CD, the album is now available for pre-order.

Featuring unheard songs from his 1980 London dates, the live performance set marks the first time anyone beyond the hardy handful in attendance on the first night of his U.K. solo shows at Dingwalls will get an earful of Chilton’s distorted stock of Memphis psychobilly at its best. The package also includes new liner notes from Jim Allen, who chats with key players from the two-day pajama party.

With eight previously unreleased songs on LP (nine on CD) and pressed on colored vinyl, the Encore Edition of Live in London includes 14 songs from the original Live in London album, which were culled from the second night when Chilton and his new British buddies had fully gelled. The bonus tracks offer an extended peek into Chilton’s arcane bag of cover tunes. A complete tracklisting is below.

Chilton had recorded The Seeds’ “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine,” Troy Shondell’s 1961 rocker “Girl After Girl,” and The Kinks’ “Come on Now” all summarily savaged with a gusto that goes even beyond the brutalism of postmodern prankster he accorded them earlier. Plus, the band lends a feral bite to Big Star power-pop evergreens adding furry layers of feedback and existential yearning in equal amounts.

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Graded on a Curve: Mötley Crüe,
Dr. Feelgood

Celebrating Tommy Lee on his 60th birthday.Ed.

When the news circulated about my sex tape with Pamela Anderson I went into a panic. What would my mother think? Then it came out that the sex tape in question featured Anderson and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Not so my mom. She called me in a huff and said “Here’s your chance to make something of yourself and you blow it. How am I going to face the ladies at my bridge club? Did you even have sex with the woman?” “I don’t think so,” I admitted. “I fell asleep while watching Baywatch and one thing led to another.”

Critics have been sniping at Mötley Crüe for decades. In a review of 1984’s Shout at the Devil the Village Voice’s Robert Christgau wrote “It’s hardly news that this platinum product is utter dogshit even by heavy metal standards,” but then Christgau’s an elitist and hates Guns N’ Roses too. God knows it’s easy to mock Mötley Crüe, both for their brand of hair metal and their fashion sense; their hair spray budget come the release of 1989’s Dr. Feelgood was $98,000 per week, and they were responsible for one-quarter of the world’s spandex sales. Without Mötley Crüe, many of Peru’s spandex farmers would have starved.

The important question when it comes to Dr. Feelgood is simple: Does it have a reason to exist? I would say yes. Vince Neil (vocals), Mick Mars (lead guitars), Nikki Sixx (bass and keyboards), and the aforementioned Tommy Lee collectively have the intelligence of a Cuban water rat, and their misogyny grows tiresome very quickly, but there’s no question they’re a top notch metal band. And a few of the songs on Dr. Feelgood—their first LP after being weaned from every mind-altering substance on planet Earth, as well as several they had to have shipped in special delivery from other regions of the galaxy—are well worth owning.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 85: Jay Millar from Sundazed Music

Since 1989, Sundazed Music, founded by Bob Irwin and his wife Mary, has been the label to go to for hard-to-find reissues of rare surf, psych, and garage band rock and roll discs that have been lost over the years and were in dire need of a second life. In fact, in today’s crazy reissue world, it’s interesting to note that Sundazed was a pioneer in bringing long, lost recordings back to turntables all across the world.

However, the label is not only just focusing on those few genres anymore. There’s a big world full of different styles of music, and—with a fresh approach featuring Jay Millar at the helm—Sundazed is ready to explore them all. The label houses several imprints to organize the varied releases, with Modern Harmonic being the location for many of the more adventurous and exploratory titles.

Anyone who’s taken a peek at the label’s release schedule will note that they are as busy as ever. Millar stops by to not only walk us through the label’s recent catalog additions, but—almost more interestingly and importantly—he gives us the backstories behind how these releases came to be.

As we discuss, it’s refreshing for a reissue label to resist resurrecting the tried and true classics in favor of lesser known forgotten gems that deserve a wider audience. You’ll hear Millar explain how serendipity impacts Sundazed’s choices, and how casual conversations can sometimes lead to major discoveries.

Millar was generous with his time and has plenty of anecdotes and experiences to share; our conversation isn’t just browsing the aisles of Sundazed records, it’s a master class in the behind-the-scenes adventures involved in managing a major record label.

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector, and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Evan Toth Show and TVD Radar on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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The TVD Storefront

The Absolute Worst 100 Songs in Rock History

“There have been tens of thousands (easy) more terrible rock songs than there have been good ones,” famed rock critic my grandmother once said, and in support of her theory she pushed the entire opus of REO Speedwagon my way. “‘Ridin’ the Storm Out’ is bong steady,” she said, “but you can flush everything else down the crapper.”

She was right, of course, and that’s what made it so hard to put this list together. Few of us are financially wealthy, but we’re all rich in rock and roll dreck. When the Jefferson Starship sing “We’re knee deep in the hoopla” in perpetual contender for worst song ever “We Built This City,” we know it’s not hoopla they’re singing about, is it?

But I’ve tried, Lord knows, to devise my own list of the Awful One Hundred. I’ve had to stomach the unstomachable, bear the unbearable, listen to the unlistenable, and in general audition more musical mortal sins than a talent scout in Hell, and these were the best I could come up with. I personally believe my efforts warrant the Congressional Medal of Horror.

Some of my selections you’ll agree with, others you’ll disagree with, and still others will make you wonder what dim creature from what low-IQ planet in what slow-witted galaxy spit me out like a watermelon seed with such force that I ended up here, solely to get the whole damn thing wrong. Some of my selections have let it be known just how unhappy they are. I’ve received hate mail. Threatening midnight phone calls. One song even took to standing outside my window at night screaming “Thank God I’m a country boy!”

A brief note on how I chose the songs on my list. There are gazillions of songs we can all agree are dog turds in burning paper bags, but to my way of thinking a truly appalling song is one I turn off the very second it comes on. If this means a sprained wrist, so be it. If, while behind the wheel of an automobile, this entails running head on into an 18-wheeler full of highly flammable nuclear waste, them’s the breaks.

Then again, there are countless Lovecraftian abominations out there I won’t turn off simply because they make me laugh. And even on some good days a hearty laugh can be as hard to find as D.B. Cooper. Who, if I understand correctly, leaped from a passenger jet at 10,000 feet into sub-zero temperatures on a stormy night in the environs of some of the most rugged wilderness in the country not to make off with $200,000 in ransom money, but to escape the Original Caste’s “One Tin Soldier.”

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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