TVD Los Angeles

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

1, 2, 3, 4!

You want a part of me / You want the whole thing / You want to feel something more than I could ever bring / You want it badly / You want it tangled / I want to feel something more than I was strangled / I fell in love with the sweet sensation / I gave my heart to a simple chord / I gave my soul to a new religion / Whatever happened to you? / Whatever happened to our rock ‘n roll? / Whatever happened to my rock ‘n roll?

Yep, it’s been many moons since I fell in with her, rock ‘n’ roll. “Despite all the imputations, You could just…” Well, you know. Have a fun and amazing life.

This said, it’s not as easy to find “our rock roll” these days. Even here just a few miles up from Sunset Strip. It’s cool though, rock ‘n’ roll will always have its days, and today with this playlist of Idleic records, I’m here to help rock on.

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TVD Live Shots: KISS at the O2 Arena, 7/11

This is the seventh time I’ve seen the self-proclaimed “hottest band in the land” and sadly it will likely be the last. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer took to the stage in front of a capacity crowd at the legendary O2 Arena for one final statement to the fans in London and to say goodbye and thank you for more than forty years of love and support.

It’s bittersweet to write this review knowing that I will likely never see these guys again live,  and it’s interesting to watch Paul and Gene do their signature move and antics one last time. It’s hard to believe that Paul Stanley is 67 years old as he looks to be in the best shape of his life. It looks like the guy just finished a triathlon.

Opening up the evening with the KISS classic “Detroit Rock City the band descended from a steel platform gliding through an enormous cloud of smoke from the opening fireworks. Within seconds Gene and Paul were front and center interacting with the crowd (and the photographers) in classic form. These guys don’t miss a beat and they still have the energy of a rock ‘n’ roller half their age.

In traditional KISS fashion, Stanley brought the stage to the middle of the arena as he ziplined over the crowd with his guitar strapped to his back arriving in style to deliver a rousing version of “Love Gun.” Gene took it up a notch with his fire-breathing and blood spitting for “War Machine” and “God of Thunder.” While it would have been epic to see Ace and Peter return for a song or two, Tommy and Eric have proven to be worthy members of the line up over the years and when they all come together it’s truly magical.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: The Pop Group debut LP Y reissue in stores 11/1

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Pop Group announce the reissue of their highly influential and innovative debut album Y through Mute on November 1. For the definitive edition, Y has been remastered and cut at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios for enhanced sound quality. The band’s landmark debut single, “She Is Beyond Good & Evil,” will be reissued alongside Y as a bonus 12”. 

To mark the 40th anniversary of the album, the band are releasing two limited edition box sets that include the original album, the 12” of “She Is Beyond Good & Evil” and two additional albums: Alien Blood and Y Live, as well as an extensive booklet and art prints. A deluxe version of the set limited to 500 copies will include 180gm Inca gold vinyl pressings with two signed prints.

Originally released on April 20, 1979, Y represents a stunning culmination of The Pop Group’s crucial nonconformity. Preceded by a meteoric rise in recognition, Y firmly realized the latent potential of the group’s early years. From playing Bristol youth clubs to early gigs supporting Pere Ubu and Patti Smith to gracing the front covers of NME and Melody Maker, The Pop Group’s progression to the forefront had been swift. With the recording of Y, they were to build on the promise of these earlier experiences and of their first recordings, delivering a debut album that transcends most, if not all, classification and one that exists in a league of its own.

Recorded in 1978, the Y sessions were conducted at Ridge Farm in Dorking, Surrey, an experience the band’s bassist Simon Underwood now characterizes as “an intense and electrifying journey of creative exploration and experimentation.”

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TVD New Orleans

Lakou Mizik + 79rs Gang’s “Iko Kreyòl”
in stores today, 7/19

“Iko Kreyòl,” the first recording from a highly anticipated collaboration between the Haitian band, Lakou Mizik and the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian collective, the 79rs Gang, is available today at digital outlets. The EP features four versions of the New Orleans classic, “Iko, Iko.” The full album, HaitiaNola, arrives in stores on October 25 and will be released on vinyl.

Besides, the Mardi Gras Indians, the song also features higher profile guest artists—Arcade Fire’s Régine Chassagne and Win Butler as well as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The EP includes the album version of the tune and three alternative mixes.

Numerous other artists have covered the iconic New Orleans song, which was made famous by the Dixie Cups on a record from back in 1964. For this latest retelling, Lakou Mizik and 79rs Gang trade off new verses in Haitian Kreyòl and English that celebrate the latest cultural reunion of Haiti and New Orleans. The connections between these cultures are on full display as the traditional Haitian rara horns mix with the New Orleans second line beat of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Randy Newman,
12 Songs

In my mind’s eye I see Randy Newman supine on a sofa, taking an afternoon nap. Or a morning nap. Or an evening nap. It doesn’t matter. Or I see him in a comfortable armchair watching television, an old movie perhaps, or a documentary about acid rain, or an infomercial–anything at all really, he doesn’t care. He looks as blissful as a Buddha, but he’s talking it all in. Nothing escapes his amused notice. It’s all material for his fantastic songs.

Randy Newman is an unprepossessing fellow, and he likes it that way. He doesn’t worry too much about his image because in a sense he doesn’t have one–he’s spent his whole career hiding behind masks, amidst personae, inhabiting characters who aren’t Randy Newman.

I’m talking a rogue’s gallery of miscreants–whether they be wicked, deranged, pathetic, megalomaniacal, impotent, deluded, dumb but not nearly as dumb as you might think, sad, self-aware but only to a point, proud for no damn reason at all. I could go on, but suffice it to say they’re a terribly flawed bunch, and therein lies their pathos: all of them, no matter how awful, are human to a fault.

Newman gets tagged as a singer-songwriter, but singer-songwriters bare their souls; Randy’s far too reticent a soul for such confessional nonsense, and far too modest as well–Randy Newman would be the first person to tell you there’s nothing very interesting about Randy Newman. No, the label is accurate only to the extent that he writes and sings his own songs and performs a whole lot of them all by his lonesome on the piano.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 7/19/19

Orlando, FL | Record Store Crawl hauling vinylphiles across Orlando, Saturday, July 20: The Record Store Crawl is back for another day full of viny, shopping, vodka drinks, and more vinyl. Crate diggers will be escorted via coach bus from record store to record store while enjoying music, drinks, and games on Saturday, July 20th from 11:30 a.m. onwards. Tickets are $39.95 and get you a seat on the bus with access to private music performances along the route, which includes popular shops like Park Ave CDs, East West Records, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven. Crawlers will enjoy special discounts at each stop, limited edition swag, as well as lunch and special drinks from sponsor Deep Eddy Vodka.

Dublin, IE | Made In Dublin: The wheels keep turning for Spindizzy Records: “There’s always been a niche market for records.” For some people, vinyl records simply remind them of their parents or grandparents – a relic from a bygone age. But, fortunately for record shop owners, there remains a sizeable cohort of music lovers who prefer 12 inch records to never-ending Spotify playlists. The market for new and used vinyl records and – somewhat surprisingly – CDs has been buoyant in recent years, aided by the convenience and global reach of online selling. However, Enda Gogarty’s involvement goes back much further – he began working in Spindizzy Records in George’s Arcade in the late 1990s, shortly after it opened, and he has been the manager since 2010. “It started off in a place called the Collector’s Centre,” he recalls, “that would have had a militaria place, a poster place, a crafts place, a book place and a very small record shop. It grew from that small stall.”

Columbia, SC | The Strategies That Keep Papa Jazz Record Shoppe Alive: 40 Years Young. Papa Jazz Record Shoppe is 40 years old. And through those years, “Big Money” Mack Spence has dug through the crates. Arriving at the Five Points shop on a recent Wednesday afternoon, Spence warmly greets employees Alex McCollum and Woody Jones, who recount his exploits playing with the R&B group Black Love back in the ’70s, including opening gigs for the likes of Jackie Wilson, Bobby Womack, and Sam & Dave. An old-school picture of Spence — decked in an extravagant red leisure suit, standing on a Columbia riverbank — adorns the desktop of the computer behind the counter. “Man, if you a friend of these guys, then you gotta be alright,” the longtime customer tells Free Times, adding with a chuckle, “Look, I need to put me a cot up in here, man, as much as I’m down here.” This week, Papa Jazz celebrates its unlikely longevity.

Port Fairy, AU | Port Fairy Vinyl Swap Meet will have something for all record-ophiles: Hunting for an original, not re-released, version of your favourite vinyl album? Port Fairy might be your hunting ground with stall-holders are preparing their stock for the 3rd Vinyl Swap Meet. Prehistoric Sounds owner Shane Godfrey said there will be something for everyone, with vendors bringing everything from vintage blues and jazz, hip hop, soul and heavy metal albums. “It’s great to have an event like this down (in the south-west),” Mr Godfrey said. “People love records because they are tangible and tactile, it’s something you can hold. “When you put a record on the turntable you tend to take more notice of the music, it is not just background noise.” While some highly sought-after limited-release titles, such as Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs or The Coloured Balls, are likely to be snapped up in the first hour, there will be plenty of gems still in the crates.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Taking Back Sunday at House of Vans, 7/13

Behold the night of celebrating 20 years with Taking Back Sunday in Chicago at House of Vans, where it felt like one big high school reunion as vocalist Adam Lazzara announced that drummer Mark O’Connell wasn’t there this night because “he [was] having a baby!!” (To which in turn led to Lazzara giving us all a brief pop quiz on how babies are made.)

Current drummer of Against Me!, Atom Willard (previously of The Offspring, The Special Goodness, Danko Jones, and founding member of Angels and Airwaves), stepped in O’Connell’s stead for a night of relishing memories of past triumphs and shared anguish of relinquished feelings. Nothing brings a room full of people together like screaming nostalgic lyrics attached to more-than-familiar melodies.

As Lazzara had previously stated, they are “traveling the world to celebrate the amazing brotherhood, music, and life we have created together over the past 20 years… for what is sure to be an experience to remember.” To make an already special tour an even more special night, this particular show at House of Vans was part of their Vans House Parties Series where the headlining artist gets to curate the whole show and instead of buying tickets, attendees get in for free via a RSVP, first come, first served basis. Taking Back Sunday curated the show with openers Rozwell Kid and Pronoun, featuring an art installation by Brian Ewing.

The night spent with Taking Back Sunday’s Lazzara, Willard, John Nolan (guitarist), Shaun Cooper (bassist), and Nathan Coogan (touring guitarist) was complete with moshing, crowd surfing, Lazzara’s seamless mic throws, (albeit a bit constrained and constricted to the intimate space) and a collective donning of all the emo feels.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Ben Folds’ memoir A Dream About Lightening Bugs in
stores 7/30

VIA PRESS RELEASE | A Dream About Lightning Bugs reads like its author: intelligent, curious, unapologetically punk, and funny as hell. This intimate look at his life from his own unique perspective is a rare and unforgettable gift that does what Ben Folds always has done for me as an artist and a friend: encourages me to be more myself, with a lot of swear words.”Sara Bareilles

Multi-platinum selling singer-songwriter Ben Folds is known for his musical genius and spontaneous creativity – composing a song with the National Symphony Orchestra live, collaborating with the likes of Sara Bareilles, Regina Spektor, and William Shatner, serving as a judge for five seasons on NBC’s acclaimed a capella show The Sing-Off, being named the first-ever artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, being an outspoken champion for arts education and music therapy. It’s not been an easy road to get to where he is today, but the ups and downs are what Folds insists are essential for any artist.

Now, Folds looks back at his life so far in a charming and wise chronicle of his artistic coming-of-age, infused with the wry observations of a natural storyteller. In his first book A DREAM ABOUT LIGHTNING BUGS (Ballantine hardcover goes on sale July 30), he opens up about finding his voice as a musician, becoming a rock anti-hero, and hauling a baby grand piano on and off stage for every performance.

A native of North Carolina, Folds writes that as an infant his cradle was a cardboard box, while his family’s mode of transportation was a doorless convertible jeep, where a 4-month-old Ben would sit in catapult position. He discovered his love of the piano in second grade, and from there we follow his journey to becoming the musician he wanted to be.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on glow-in-the-dark vinyl in stores 8/30

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On the eve of Vince Guaraldi being honored with the American Eagle Award by the National Music Council, Craft Recordings is celebrating Guaraldi’s 91st birthday by announcing the first-ever vinyl release of his iconic music for It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

The debut vinyl release for this time-honored soundtrack will be available August 30th via Craft Recordings. Featuring music by GRAMMY®-winning composer/performer Vince Guaraldi, the package includes the iconic pumpkin as an etching on side B. The album also includes an introduction from the TV special’s executive producer Lee Mendelson and insightful liner notes by Derrick Bang, Peanuts historian and author of Vince Guaraldi at the Piano. A special limited edition (500 copies only) — pressed on a glow-in-the-dark vinyl — will be available exclusively at the Craft Recordings Store.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Music from the Soundtrack) features some of the most iconic tracks in pop culture, including the instantly recognizable “Linus and Lucy,” as well as the languid, lyrical “Great Pumpkin Waltz.” The music was recorded on October 4, 1966 at Desilu’s Gower Street Studio in Hollywood, California by Guaraldi (piano) and his longtime friends and trio sidemen — bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Colin Bailey — joined by Emanuel Klein (trumpet), John Gray (guitar), and Ronald Lang (woodwinds). The entire scoring process was overseen by composer, arranger and conductor John Scott Trotter, well known for a three-decade run as Bing Crosby’s music director and close friend.

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The TVD Storefront

The Schramms,
The TVD First Date

“It all started with Mitch Miller. That’s my best guess.”

“My parents had this massive, hulking hi-fi console in the living room. More sideboard than record player. Lift the top to discover turntable. Stash of long players tucked beside. Many of them Sing Along With Mitch albums, that Columbia A&R man turned TV host. I was fascinated by the mechanism of the phonograph, and probably less so by those sounds, though a seven-year old is less discriminating. There were also records produced by the Longines Symphonette Society, and a box set of big band sides. I liked Artie Shaw. Still do. Nightmare!! I was also fascinated by this cutting edge technology—the turntable had one of those stacking spindles. Load up four or five LPs at a time. Whirr, click, drop, slide like a worn clutch plate onto the disc below.

This machine could also spin at the accelerated speed of 78 rpm, and there were some of those discs as well, most notably two by my grandfather, Dmitri Potochak. He played clarinet and had a polka band, just successful enough to record two discs, one on Okeh and one on Columbia. Wish I knew where they were today.

Then there were my big sister’s 45s. Beatles, Lesley Gore, Petula Clark. Played those on her big spindle changer. Instant playlist. Later, when I got around to my first LP purchase at the local department store, it was Revolver. This was something like a graduation. Soon Revolver was followed by Aftermath, and Fifth Dimension (Byrds album, not the group) and oh yeah, Freak Out! Eventually there were more Stones records, and Safe as Milk, Strictly Personal, and We’re Only In It For The Money, an album whose cover particularly horrified my mother. Most of the earnings from my paper route went to records. One exception was a used $35 Univox hollow body.

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The TVD Record Store Club

Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores for
July 2019, Part Two

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases—and more—presently in stores for July, 2019. Part one is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Chuck Cleaver, Send Aid (Shake It) Cleaver’s a Cincinnati guy whose been at it for a long time, first in the Ass Ponys and more recently in Wussy, an oft-terrific band he co-fronts with Lisa Walker, where they both play guitar and sing. The blurb for Send Aid informs that, after being at it for a few decades, this is Cleaver’s first solo record, and with Walker and Wussy’s Mark Messerly lending a hand, Send Aid isn’t exactly a radical departure. And yet: for those who know his prior work, the record is a distinct and refreshing affair, with his bandmate’s input fairly restrained (backing vox and mandolin for her, accordion for him) as a half-dozen others step into the studio to assist and Cleaver plays multiple instruments across a tidy ten tracks in under 30 minutes.

Back in the early ’90s I had this habit of haunting any joint that sold cheap used tapes, mainly so I could play them in my jalopy of the moment. Send Aid brought back this memory, in part because the non-polished, not-quite lo-fi quality of the recording, and the tunes of course, connect like an indie record from approximately ’92-’96. And the more I play this (and at 27:45 I can play it a whole fucking lot) I’m convinced that if it had come out during the era mentioned, and I’d grabbed a copy on tape, it would’ve stayed in the deck for weeks at a time. What else? Fine use of drumbox rhythms on a pop-rock and roots-inclined record. Even better use of jaw harp in the standout stomper “Children of the Corn,” in which the Stephen King reference goes deeper than the title and is doubly terrific. A total keeper. A

Lea Bertucci, Resonant Field (NNA Tapes) Bertucci’s bio describes her as a “NYC based sound artist and composer whose work bridges performance, installation, and multichannel activations of acoustic space.” I dig. For Resonant Field, she’s traveled upstate to the Marine A Grain Elevator at Silo City in Buffalo, with the intention of exploring the sonic possibilities of the cast concrete cylinders, which are approximately 18 feet wide and 130 feet tall. The range of what she’s captured is impressive, and she expands it even further by having Robbie Lee play Renaissance flute in the opening “Wind Piece” and James Ilgenfritz add bass to the other three tracks, plus there are drum samples (played by Tigue) in the title track. The avant-garde aura coupled with the environmental timbres and textures is superb. A

The Lewis Express, “Clap Your Hands” b/w “Stomp Your Feet” (ATA) Soulful-funky grooving is happening at the moment, and the ATA label of Leeds, England is a big reason why. We’re talking music by The Magnificent Tape Band, The Sorcerers, Tony Burkill and indeed, The four-piece Lewis Express. The combined success comes partly through organic instrumentation rendered live to tape, but range is also crucial; it’s a quality that’s present on this 45. The Lewis Express’ baseline is the ’60s piano-based groove jazz of Ramsey Lewis and the Young-Holt bands, but the a-side here mingles that with boogaloo to splendid effect. The flip is more straight-up, though handclaps remain. I love George Cooper’s electric piano, but everybody’s firing on all cylinders. If you want to live Mod in 2019, this is unbeatable. A

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 7/18/19

An Open Letter to the Majors From Independent Record Stores (Guest Op-Ed): In 2007 things were bleak. Record stores were successful but irrelevant in the eyes of many in the music industry. In response, independent record stores owners got organized and created Record Store Day (RSD). By doing so, the world’s largest music event was established and a billion-dollar-per-year vinyl industry was relaunched. Last year’s RSD was the biggest ever, as were our Black Friday and Small Business Saturday events, breaking all previous sales records. Unsung in the ensuing positive press coverage was the amount of CDs sold on our big day. With so many other businesses leaving the CD behind, record stores are still selling substantial numbers. With the help of our industry partners we continue to adapt and thrive. Not everything is rosy; things have been rough over the past 3-4 months. Just last week, Michael Bunnell, the owner of Boise’s Record Exchange and President of the Coalition of Independent Music Stores, sent a message out about how bad things have gotten.

Newark, DE | Rainbow Records settles in to new location: Even with the ongoing Main Street construction and a move to a new location, this is shaping up to be the busiest summer Rainbow Records has had, co-owner Todd Brewer said. The record store, which traces its history back to 1979, relocated last month to Pomeroy Station, the mixed-use complex located next to Newark Shopping Center and anchored by Ski Bum. The new location boasts more space, free parking and less expensive rent. “It’s been fantastic,” Brewer said. “We’re seeing regular customers more often because of the free parking.” The record store is mostly moved in now, and with the extra room, everything flows better and it is “night and day” from the smaller space the store had on Main Street, Brewer said.

Forest Park, IL | Old School Records launches GoFundMe: If owner is unable to pay rent through August, he will have to close business. The Old School Records has started a crowd sourced funding campaign, in an effort to keep the “fixture record store in Forest Park” afloat, said owner Peter Gianakopoulos, who started the GoFundMe. On July 13, Gianakopoulos said he was eight days late paying his rent for this month, and that he still owed payments from the month before. He said that if he is unable to “pay through August” he will have to close the business. “I need a minimum of $5K to cover my late taxes and my rents. Extra funding could help me avoid home foreclosure as well,” Gianakopoulos said. …”I think people get the sense that all small business owners are well off or even wealthy,” Gianakopoulos said. “I started this business with my family lending me about $10,000. If I can pay off my debts, by April of 2020 I’ll be back to normal—month to month, teetering like most small businesses.”

Independent Soul: Daptone’s definitive 7″s: A label that has helped define a contemporary funk and soul sensibility, it’s hard to believe Daptone has existed for fewer than twenty years. Founded by Neal Sugarman and Bosco Mann (aka Gabriel Roth) in 2001 out of Mann’s now defunct Bosco Records, Daptone and its Dap-Kings house band (fronted by Mann) formed the backbone for a 21st century classic soul revival spearheaded by the late, great vocalist Sharon Jones. Taking Stax and Motown as inspiration, Daptone has been a family affair from the off, bringing in artists to record alongside The Dap-Kings, The Sugarman 3, and the Menahan Street Band. In spotting talent, young and old, the label helped bring “the screaming eagle of soul” Charles Bradley in from the cold, and provided journeyman singers like Lee Fields a new lease of life…To mark the 100th 45 released on the label since 2001, founders Neal Sugarman and Bosco Mann have picked a selection of 7″s that have defined Daptone’s prolific output.

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: Paul McCartney at the SAP Center, 7/10

SAN JOSE, CA | Paul McCartney has been making music for sixty years and, now pushing into his late ’70s, shows no sign of slowing down. Currently out on his “Freshen Up Tour,” Sir Paul brought his legendary talents and extensive catalog to San Jose’s SAP Arena where the lines to get through the doors were only dwarfed by the bag check (apparently the SAP Arena’s new clear bag policy came as a surprise to many).

With no opener, McCartney took the stage with his band and wasted no time diving right into “A Hard Day’s Night,” plucking that classic left-handed Hofner “violin” bass as the crowd took to their feet and sang along. With a talented backing band which was later joined by a horn section, McCartney was not rushing to get through what amounted to practically a three-hour set, no small feat for men half his age, but reflective of the ground that had to be covered.

Early on Paul paused to shed his jacket, resulting in a whoop from the crowd, to which he responded, “that was the only wardrobe change of the entire evening.” Picking up an electric guitar, McCartney took an opportunity to show off his licks to Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” but not before sharing any early story about Hendrix.

Proving that his instrumentalism is as prolific as his catalog, Paul hopped effortlessly between instruments … bass, electric, acoustic, grand piano, stand-up piano, and mandolin. And when he teased the crowd with “going way way back,” the crowd erupted but likely wasn’t expecting how far back he would really go until he busted out the pre-Beatles Quarryman’s “In Spite of All the Danger,” as he encouraged the crowd to help out with some “whoa-oh-ohs.”

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: George Harrison,
All Things Must Pass

I have been guilty of saying mean things about George Harrison in the past, most of them having to do with the lugubrious and often wimpy tenor of the ex-Beatles solo work. But I am here today, dear members of the committee, to recant. I’ve been listening to 1970’s sprawling All Things Must Pass, and while it has its share of doleful bummers, what strikes me about it now is how hard it rocks. The most anonymous Beatle could cook when he felt like it, and on All Things Must Pass he frequently felt like it, as did co-guitarists Eric Clapton and Dave Mason, and when all is said and done I’m forced to agree with critic Mikal Gilmore, who called All Things Must Pass “the finest solo work any ex-Beatle ever produced.” And its flaws make that assessment all the more remarkable.

The studio sessions were a clusterfuck, with superstars being dragooned left and right. The line-up included the players who would soon form Derek and the Dominos as well as the members of Badfinger, to say nothing of folks like Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Ginger Baker, and Gary Wright. Why, even Phil Collins played on one track. There was also extensive overdubbing, and while the production duties were formally in the hands of the mercurial Phil Spector, Harrison has said Spector required 18 cherry brandies just to BEGIN work, leaving poor George to handle much of the production himself. In addition, Harrison’s mother was dying, and he was nurturing a burgeoning heroin addiction.

Let me make it clear from the start; I’m not much for “My Sweet Lord,” the song the LP is probably best known for, nor am I wild about its companion piece, “Help Me Lord.” LP opener “I’d Have You Anytime,” which was co-written by Harrison and Bob Dylan, does nothing for me, nor do the run of the mill “Run of the Mill,” the milquetoast “I Live for You,” and the “I need love” sentimentality of “I Dig Love.” But I’ve changed my mind about the title track—it’s prettier than I remember—as well as about the Dylan cover “If Not For You,” a song whose laid back charms (great guitar riff, some nice harmonica by Harrison, catchy tambourine, etc.) had previously eluded me.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Ringo Starr,

News flash! Critic declares Ringo Starr greatest ex-Beatle! Rioting breaks out in hipster enclaves! Brooklyn in flames! Incensed Lennonites carry signs: “Michael Little = Dingbat!” Hairy Harrisonoids counsel karmic calm: “This too shall pass!” McCartney maniacs attempt to sooth selves with “Silly Love Songs”! NME headline reads: “Panned on the run!”

In my dreams. But it’s what I really believe. I really believe that Ringo Starr, who never got no respect and was the comic foil and clown of the legendary Fab Four has—over the almost four-and-a-half decades since the Beatles went the way of the Ono, er make that Dodo—produced far more genuinely likeable pop songs than any of his “genius” fellow Mop Toppers.

But first, a sordid confession. I’ve never cared much for Ringo’s old band. I can count on one hand the number of Beatles songs I really love (“Helter Skelter,” “She Said She Said,” “Hey Jude,” “Tomorrow Never Knows,” and “Let It Be”). As for most of the rest of their oeuvre, it could vanish into the void and I would never miss it. And there are plenty of songs (the dreadful “Long and Winding Road,” the hideous “Something,” and the unpalatable “Got to Get You Into My Life”) whose disappearance would make me very happy. As for the post-Beatles work of John, Paul, and George, I can think of maybe one or two (at most) songs I love by each of them. Shit, Ringo matched them with ONE single, 1971’s “It Don’t Come Easy” backed by “Early 1970,” a very funny series of good-natured jibes about his former band mates.

I always liked Ringo best because he wasn’t touted as a genius (although he’s a great drummer) by anyone. I’m an underdog guy, and Ringo was the ultimate underdog. Nobody expected much of him after the Beatles imploded, sucked into the black holes of John and Paul’s grossly oversized egos. And it isn’t as if Ringo has come through with a slew of artistic masterpieces. But since 1970 he’s put out a bunch of really cool pop songs, low brow it’s true, but I don’t give a shit where a song’s brow is (it can be a Neanderthal for all I care) if it has a good melody and I find myself singing along.

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