Monthly Archives: May 2018

TVD Radar: Skull Mountain, four label sampler of the best from the heavy underground preordering now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “The bold souls at Ripple Music, Kozmik Artifactz, Twin Earth Records, and DHU Records have come together across continents to make it happen, and a 500-copies-pressed 2LP four-way label sampler split featuring all previously unreleased tracks and versions is the result. I shouldn’t have to tell you this is something special, something that doesn’t happen every day, and something that might not happen again.”The Obelisk

Over a year in the making! Perhaps the world’s first four-label collaborative effort to bring together some of the best heavy psych, stoner, doom from both sides of the Atlantic. Two US-based labels, Ripple Music and Twin Earth Records, join forces with two European-based labels, DHU Records and Kozmik Artifactz, to bring forth a double album of epic proportions, something so massive it could only have its own monolith, Skull Mountain. Each Label showcases one full album side of its signature sound, each song previously unreleased or unreleased mix. The entire album mastered to perfection by Tony Reed at HeavyHead.

Inside the gatefold, tarot cards display the four element theme of Skull Mountain with each label represented by its own signature element—Ripple; water, Twin Earth; earth, DHU; fire, and Kozmik; air. Accordingly, each label has a limited amount of vinyl available in its own signature elemental color, Ripple; blue, Twin Earth; green, DHU; red, and Kozmik; clear.

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Demand it on Vinyl: Lords of the New Church’s debut album expanded with live
set, in stores 7/20

If you stress it, they’ll press it. —Ed.

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The 1982 self-titled debut by post-punk supergroup The Lords of the New Church will be unearthed for a new generation of fans by Blixa Sounds Records on July 20, 2018.

This special edition two-CD set titled Lords of the New Church: Special Edition features all 10 tracks from the band’s 1982 self-titled debut, originally released by I.R.S. Records in the U.S., plus the B-side bonus tracks “Girls Girls Girls” and “Young Don’t Cry,” as well as the single version of the band’s modern rock hit, “Open Your Eyes.” The album is augmented by a 13-track 1982 live set — culled from the band’s own vault — featuring the Lords in all their glory at My Father’s Place, the legendary Long Island, N.Y. nightclub. Aside from live versions of the songs on their debut, the second disc includes the Lords’ reading of the Allen Toussaint classic “Fortune Teller.” The set includes a 12-page, full-color booklet, featuring photos of the band, replicas of gig posters, and new liners noted by music journalist Craig Rosen, who interviewed the band in 1983 for his college newspaper.

The Lords of the New Church were formed in 1980 by Stiv Bator and Brian James, both survivors of the punk wars of the late ’70s. James was a founding member and chief songwriter of U.K. punks the Damned, responsible for such classics as “New Rose” and “Neat Neat Neat.” Bator was the mouthpiece of young, loud and snotty Cleveland punks the Dead Boys, known for such classics as “Sonic Reducer” and “Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth.” It was record mogul Miles Copeland, founder of the I.R.S. Records label and older brother of Police drummer Stewart, who suggested the Bator-James alliance.

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Leftover Salmon brings Something Higher to the House of Blues, 6/1

Before Americana was even a genre, back when musical influences were mostly separated by physical and/or philosophical distances, Leftover Salmon was distilling their inspirations—bluegrass, Cajun, old-time country, and roots blues—into a delicious beverage that was all their own. With over thirty years on the road, the band returns to New Orleans to play at the House of Blues on Friday night.

Leftover Salmon is touring in support of their great new album, Something Higher. The recording is a departure, but not an unexpected one for anyone who has heard the band in concert recently.

The group, which was known mostly as an acoustic bluegrass ensemble in their early days, has continued to evolve and add more influences. Something Higher features horns that evoke R&B and production effects that would have been out-of-place when the band formed. But their string-based, classic instrumentation is still fully intact despite the electrified nature of some of the new music.

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Sarah Sharp,
The TVD First Date
and Video Premiere, “Pieces”

“Vinyl… Although I’m surrounded by digital media throughout my waking moments, listening to a great jazz, blues, Motown, classic rock, or pop record is a welcome respite from the disconnectedness of our time.”

“It’s an active (interactive), sensual experience. The smell… pulling the shrink-wrap off virgin vinyl, the anticipation… knowing that something new awaits your ears. The reverence… holding the disc in your hands, carefully avoiding putting so much as a fingerprint on it, balancing it over the waiting turntable, gently setting the needle on that first track, then intently listening as sounds made in New Orleans, or Memphis, Detroit, or London fill the room.

And the extra dimension to that sound that you can feel as well as hear… actual air being moved, not just zeroes and ones. It’s like the difference of looking at a picture of a Degas or Seurat vs standing in its presence.

There’s another level of pleasure in the warm familiarity of a record spun to the point of wearing out. Pops, crackles, and imperfections you can count on and grow to love more than any new, untouched version. In writing this, I’ve had a memory come up that won’t quit. My parents spinning Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life, especially “Isn’t She Lovely.”

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Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores, May
2018, Part Four

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

NEW RELEASE PICKS: The Dreebs, Forest of a Crew (Ramp Local) Adam Markiewicz (vocals/ violin), Jordan Bernstein (prepared guitar), and Shannon Sigley (drums) are connected to fellow NYC act PC Worship (they all contribute to 2017’s Buried Wish), but on this 15-track effort, which alternates eight songs with vocals (at times productively engaging with the operatic) and seven instrumentals, The Dreebs exist far outside the shadow of any other band. They hone an avant sensibility, in part through the guitar and violin, that strengthens ties to their city’s earlier underground eras, while the drums gesture towards rock. Prior associations with No Wave aren’t wrong, but the whole connects like something that emerged a decade after No New York with ties to both Downtown and the Bowery. A-

Carlos Giffoni, Vain (iDEAL) Giffoni is an electronic musician, experimentalist, improvisor, collaborator (amongst others, he’s created in tandem with Nels Cline, the guitarists of Sonic Youth, Chris Corsano and John Duncan), and coordinator (of the noteworthy No Fun Festival and its associated label). Having amassed a sizable discography, this is only his fourth non-collab full-length, and it’s a varied, focused, and (at 42 minutes) succinct delight. Described as the soundtrack to the movie transpiring in Giffoni’s head, the LP, his imagined flick, and its psychokinetic-powered California-prowling answer-seeking main character all share the same name. Surely, that’s her on Vain’s custom van-worthy sleeve (a painting by Wiley Wallace). Amid all this leftfield surreal background, Giffoni’s music stands on its own. A-

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: Pierre Sandwidi, Le Troubadour De La Savane – 1978/1982 (Born Bad) This set throws a deserved spotlight onto the slim discography of Sandwidi, a singer-guitarist who hailed from Burkina Faso, the African country formerly known as Upper Volta. Considered part of the Francophone African elite amongst such artists as Francis Bebey and G.G. Vikey, Sandwidi’s music is sprightly, with the band at times effectively turning up the heat, as much of this LP is clearly designed for dancing. And yet, the deeper impression is made by the budget keyboard and guitar-inflected glide, its temperament frequently gentle in its infectiousness and by extension often quite pretty. Sandwidi’s vocals are just as inviting, and the breadth of influence, including a few Western elements, deepens enjoyment. A-

Sensation, S/T (Folk Evaluation) That the vinyl resurgence has proven healthy enough to see once scarce and prohibitively expensive private press items getting reissued with some regularity is just dandy. Take as evidence this ’76 LP from Wisconsin songwriters/ multi-instrumentalists Donald S. Fisher and Jeffrey L. Engel. Recorded in a makeshift local studio on budget equipment, it delivers a refreshing wrinkle on the “usual” private press thing, emphasizing serious post-Beatle pop and soft-folk instead of bluesy hard rock or psych (though there is some nice fuzz guitar). There are a few sweet twists, e.g. a couple spots clearly impacted by 3rd and 4th album Velvets, plus the smart use of horns. All this and a nifty bonus 7-inch pairing two later outtakes with the 45 of Sensation backing local soul singer Tina Smith. Wow. A-

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In rotation: 5/31/18

Cleveland, OH | After four years in Tremont, A Separate Reality record shop set to move to Ohio City: Four years after Augustus Payne planted A Separate Reality in Tremont, the record shop is closing up its location at 2678 West 14th St. on June 24. But the song’s not over yet. This July, it moves into a new space at 3932 Lorain Ave. in Ohio City. The storefront, a former daycare, is about the same size at 1,2000-square-feet. But this time, a spacious patio opens up a world of possibilities for regular live music and flea markets. It’s nestled near other small businesses, like Jack Flaps, The Grocery and All Things For You, the home decor resale store that moved into the former Canopy space late last year. The store soft opens the first week of July, but mark your calendars for a huge grand re-opening party on Friday, July 13, with bands, DJs and a sale in conjunction with All Things For You.

Dover, NH | One of Portsmouth’s best tea shops has a ‘must see’ vinyl room: One of my favorite coffee / tea places in Portsmouth is the White Heron on Islington. Not only do they have a great collection of teas, coffee, salads and sweet stuff, but recently, the owner, Jonathan Blakeslee, (seen here with his eyes closed…. haha! Sorry, Jonathan) added a vinyl record room. As I flipped through all the records, I couldn’t help but think over and over again, “Had that one, had that one too. Oh yeah, HAD TO HAVE that one…” It’s way cool to go through all these records and remember what I gave away or sold or plain ol’ thrown away! I now have to buy my old records again! Jonathan also has really cool artwork on the walls for sale. These pieces are melted seaglass and I think I want all of them.

Central Coast, CA | New record store opens up shop in Atascadero: Music lovers in northern San Luis Obispo County no longer have to drive south of the Cuesta Grade to get their vinyl record fix. Traffic Records opened its doors in downtown Atascadero in mid-April. Co-owner Manuel Barba says the response from the community has been amazing. “People walk in here already happy about the fact that they’re walking into kind of an old-timey record store and they leave happier,” he said. Traffic Records specializes in used vinyl records, but you’ll find some new stuff, too. Mostly from local artists. But at a time when convenience is king and listening to your favorite music is as easy as tapping an app on your phone, why records?

Black Country, UK | Vintage vinyl up for grabs as Kiki & Henry’s Record Fair returns: A popular Black Country record fair is returning to the region once again, with another wide selection of vintage vinyl up for grabs Kiki & Henry’s Record Fair is back at its regular spot in the historic Talbot Hotel in Stourbridge High Street from 11am to 4pm on Saturday (June 2). The vinyl-loving pair will be joined as usual by some of their usual trusty traders, as well as a couple of new faces travelling over to make their selling debut and receive a warm Black Country welcome. Traders will be offering a vast array of vinyl records and collectables to suit all tastes and budgets, while music books, CDs and memorabilia will also be for sale.

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TVD Live: Pussy Riot at the Black Cat, 5/23

Pussy Riot always seemed the last of the fearless punk bands, a group that would thrash for what it believed in and be willing to be jailed for it, as they famously were in Russia’s capital in 2012 after a church performance. By the time they made it to the US capital Wednesday as part of its inaugural North American tour, the attitude, neon ski masks, and political fervor were all still there. But they had long since given up guitars.

By now, Pussy Riot is animated by electrobeat dance music. In their succinct performance at the Black Cat, as a masked DJ kept the beats (and a crucial slide show) going from a laptop, one member chanted, sung or rapped to a dozen songs, accompanied at times by two flanking (and also ski-masked) colleagues.

Once, Pussy Riot declared they’d never be part of the Western style music business, preferring to throw surprise actions at unconventional sites like the one that got them rounded up by Putin. But here was a largely conventional setting with $30 tickets sold at the door—and a large crowd willing to pay it if only to provide support to their political and deeply feminist mission.

The set began with a 25-point manifesto, displayed on a large screen and read in a robotic voice (in English). Its declarations, from “82% of all wealth generated in the past year went to the top 1%” to “The super-rich enjoy undue influence,” was not exactly news to the Washington crowd as it stood mostly and followed attentively along, rather than cheering as would occur at a rally.

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TVD Radar: Julee
Cruise, Three Demos
and The Voice of Love
on vinyl for the first time, in stores 8/17

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The two releases bookend Cruise’s incredibly fruitful Twin Peaks-era collaboration with David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti.

25 years after its initial release, Julee Cruise’s sophomore album The Voice of Love will be issued for the first time on vinyl August 17 via Sacred Bones Records. Also available August 17th, Three Demos, a very unique companion 12” featuring the very first demo recordings for songs from Cruise’s initial LP with Lynch and Badalamenti, Floating Into the Night. Stream the original demo version of “Floating” from that release below.

Julee Cruise fulfills a special cornerstone in the Twin Peaks universe. Her initial collaboration with Lynch and Badalamenti on Blue Velvet’s “Mysteries of Love” set into motion a chain of events that would ultimately help birth the core sonic identity of the 1990 series…all before a frame of it was ever shot.

In 1985, Lynch’s obsession with This Mortal Coil’s “Song to the Siren” was at a fever pitch. Wanting to feature the song in Blue Velvet, the rights to the Tim Buckley cover proved problematic and prohibitively expensive. Lynch had famously just began working with Angelo Badalamenti, who had been suggested by producer Fred Caruso to coach Isabella Rossellini with singing “Blue Velvet” for the film.

Faced with the “Song to the Siren” dilemma, Caruso again suggested his friend Badalamenti as a possible solution…encouraging Lynch himself to pen lyrics in order to come up with an original alternative for the film. “David reluctantly agreed to write a lyric, but he thought writing a new song was absolutely preposterous because ‘Song to the Siren’ was his favorite song of all time,” Badalamenti says. The result ended up forging a rich blueprint for not just one song, but two full-length albums.

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Graded on a Curve: Foxygen,
We Are the 21st
Century Ambassadors
of Peace & Magic

Foxygen’s 2013 full-length We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic raises an interesting question. To wit: Just how good can an album be when the strongest cut on it is a shameless Pavement rip?

The answer, surprisingly enough, is pretty damn good indeed. It doesn’t hurt that the Pavement steal in question–”No Destruction”–is for the ages. Nor does it hurt that the indie pop duo of Sam France and Jonathan Rado have an uncanny knack for raiding the old musical closet to put together new and garishly interesting outfits.

When it comes to retro, Foxygen prefers the AM band to the FM one; their songs are twisted, for sure, but most of them have the exuberant pop! of a cork coming out of a bottle of expensive champagne. And like a good bottle of bubbly, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors will definitely go to your head.

The album’s potpourri of sounds runs the gamut from the dizzy-making French pop readymade that is “San Francisco” (dig those cheesy glockenspiels and the dreamy backing vocals of Sarah Versprille) to the truncated mutant blues that is “Bowling Trophies.” The latter is a total musical outlier (it borders on noise rock, from the Cows bugle blurt on down) and our favorite pot-loving duo’s retort to those people who wondered what it was doing on the LP probably ran along the lines of, “Hey, it sounded great when we were stoned.”

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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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Graded on a Curve:
Guru’s Jazzmatazz, Deluxe Edition

Billed on its sleeve as an “experimental fusion of hip-hop and jazz,” the 1993 release of Guru’s Jazzmatazz delivered historical perspective, seriousness of intent, and organic richness in a sweet-sounding package that, rather than succumbing to grandiosity, registered as a natural (and inevitable) encounter. It was a landmark affair that spawned numerous sequels, but UMG’s Urban Legends division has kept the focus on the first with a sharp 25th anniversary expansion, adding instrumental versions and a rack of remixes for a total of three LPs. Certain to be cherished by longtime fans, this edition’s approachable depth and diversity make it a worthwhile pick-up for appreciative newbies. It’s out now.

Although the parameters of its ambition get established in its opening introductory track, Jazzmatazz is a crisp pleasure to listen to throughout, and its success now stands as an essential chapter in the voluminous tome that is ’90s hip-hop’s golden era. Like the music of his contemporaries, Guru, an MC who came to prominence in the Brooklyn-based duo Gang Starr (alongside turntable wizard DJ Premier), was a meticulous and levelheaded purveyor of urban groove science, and it was through this approach that he shared a baseline with the jazz that is his most celebrated album’s inspiration.

Too many fusions are nearer to patchwork, but Jazzmatazz not only seamlessly blends elements of post-bop and soul-jazz (its cover design in homage to the bountiful achievements of the Blue Note label) with the thrust of cutting-edge East Coast hip-hop, it also pulls off the tricky combination of live instrumentation (which works better at deepening the relationship of hip-hop and jazz than it does in other’s attempts to fuse rap and rock) and the style’s original tools, namely a pair of turntables, some records, and a microphone.

If a byproduct of the LP was the mass awakening of doubters to hip-hop’s burgeoning artistry (a still somewhat contentious topic in ’93), there were no traces of pleading for acceptance (and by extension, lessened impact). Instead, Guru (who sadly passed in 2010) cut an album that aficionados would be (and still are) proud to pull off the shelf, its contents also dropping a knowledge bomb regarding the general connectedness of African-American musical experience.

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In rotation: 5/30/18

Fort Worth, TX | After 61 years on University Drive, Record Town packs up with a new groove on the way: Jim Milan Jr. remembers the first 45 he bought at Record Town, the 61-year-old University Drive record store: Ricky Nelson’s “Travelin’ Man,” which came out in 1961. Milan would’ve been around 7 or 8 at the time. “I remember I was really kinda antsy about getting it because it was 79 cents, and I only had [14] cents,” says Milan, who would come to the store with his father, the long-running Fort Worth jazz musician Jim Milan. “So I was gonna hit him up for like 63 cents or whatever it was. ‘Is he going to go for this?'” Milan, who still has the single, says that Record Town used to be the “Saturday hang,” where music fans could preview their purchases in listening booths and otherwise just hang out.

Liverpool, UK | Massive new gig venue and bar opening from team behind The Jacaranda and Heebie Jeebies: The brand new venue is from the team behind The Jacaranda, Heebie Jeebies and EBGBS. Liverpool’s music scene is constantly evolving – since the days of The Beatles and The Cabin Club a lot has changed and the latest chapter in the city’s illustrious history is about to open. A brand new 400 capacity gig venue, record store, bar and restaurant from the team behind The Jacaranda, Heebie Jeebies and EBGBS is opening on Seel Street. The Jacaranda has been one of the cornerstones of Liverpool’s music industry for almost 60 years, so it seems fitting for it to carry on the legacy another venue…Aptly named Jacaranda Records: Phase One, the venue is setting its sights on becoming Liverpool’s newest musical institution.

Southend, Essex, UK | Magazine photographer Andrew Cotterill’s work on display at South Records: The work of photographer Andrew Cotterill, who has shot pictures for some of the nation’s most popular music and lifestyle magazines – Q, Mojo, Spin, Sony Style, NME, Big Issue and Dazed and Confused – can be seen in a semi-permanent exhibition at a Southend record shop. South record store proprietor Richard Onslow, said: “We’re really excited to be hosting an ongoing exhibition of Andrew Cotterill’s music photography. “Anybody that’s ever so much as glanced at a music magazine in the past 20 years would’ve seen his work. He took the first photos of the Strokes when they came to the UK to tour their debut record (an image we have on show), along with iconic images of greats like Lee Scratch Perry, Chuck D, Beck, up to the recent shoot for Arctic Monkeys MOJO cover.

Symbol Audio creates sleek new minimalist turntable console: New York Hudson Valley based company Symbol Audio has unveiled the Modern Record Player, a sleek new integrated turntable that combines a classic aesthetic with contemporary connectivity. As the name suggests, Symbol Audio knowingly reference the old in their creation of the new, inspired in particular by Dieter Rams’ classic Braun SK55 turntable, which shocked the audio world by replacing typically heavy, wooden record player cabinets with a clean plastic finish (that would also go on to inspire Steve Jobs’ early iPod designs). The Modern Record Player is fully wi-fi compatible and makes a point of hiding away any unwanted wires, with an integrated AB amplifier and speaker system designed by Morel hoping to provide the punch, although the site of the platter atop the speaker may make some audiophiles wince.

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TVD Live Shots: Steel Pulse, The Celebration
of Life Concert for Steve “Grizzly” Nisbett at the Fonda Theater, 5/23

Grammy Award winning British reggae legends, Steel Pulse played a special show at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles last week. The “Celebration of Life Concert” was a memorial and tribute to their late drummer, Steve “Grizzly” Nisbett.

Steve came from a large family, and was born and raised in the Caribbean. At the age of 9 his family moved to Birmingham, England where he started playing drums and percussion as a teenager. He joined Steel Pulse in 1977, right before the release of their debut album, Handsworth Revolution. Surprisingly, he had minimal experience playing reggae before joining the band, however he remained their primary drummer until 2001 when he was forced to retire due to health reasons. He passed away in the beginning of 2018 at the age of 69.

The event was hosted by producer Native Wayne (Wayne Jobson), and co-hosted by tour manager and concert marketing agent, Anjali Raval. Steel Pulse performed the entirety of Handsworth Revolution as well as several others classics from their vast catalog. Toward the end of the show, Steve’s brother took a moment to appear on stage and delivered a thoughtful and emotional tribute. He also announced that the proceeds from the evening were to be donated to a sickle-cell anemia charity.

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TVD Live Shots: U2 at
the United Center, 5/22

After recently concluding their extensive Joshua Tree tour, U2 took what appears to be no time at all to rest before diving into their next excursion.

Those who have seen U2 through the years know this is no small feat, as their productions are close to unparalleled by anyone in the industry, aside from perhaps Roger Waters. This particular arena experience did not disappoint—and that’s no surprise as U2 certainly knows how to put on a show. And while the set list wasn’t necessarily my dream U2 set, relying heavily on their most recent releases, it still consisted of some serious heavyweights.

And yes, Bono was at his Bono-est, although who can hate a guy who preaches love thyself and thy neighbor? (All hail Irish Jesus!) Seriously however, it was apparent from start to finish that the band was thinking about the fan experience. Each song held a unique visual accompaniment, and the stage design was incredibly thoughtful, visually provoking, and enabled the band’s mobility to bounce around the arena, creating more intimate moments for each section.

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TVD Radar: Craft Recordings to reissue solo titles from CCR’s Doug Clifford and Tom Fogerty, in stores 6/22

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Recordings is pleased to announce two special reissues from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Doug Clifford and Tom Fogerty.

The two helped make up CCR’s distinctive “chooglin'” rhythm section, roles that, along with John Fogerty and Stu Cook, earned them a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Besides being members of the Greatest American Rock Band, they each recorded solo albums. Tom Fogerty’s Excalibur and Doug Clifford’s Doug “Cosmo” Clifford were both originally released in 1972 and have been long out-of-print until now. These reissues, pressed on 180-gram vinyl from lacquers cut at Fantasy Studios by George Horn and Anne-Marie Suenram, are essential additions to the record collection of any Creedence aficionado. A special bundle is also available via the Craft Recordings store, including a very limited number of LPs signed by Doug Clifford.

About Doug Clifford’s Doug “Cosmo” Clifford | Doug Clifford is best known as the powerhouse drummer for legendary American rock band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Clifford’s signature simple grooves and impeccable timing, as heard on CCR hits including “Fortunate Son,” “Born on the Bayou,” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” have proven to be timeless and influential on future generations of Americana and roots rock drummers.

In 1972, Clifford recorded Doug “Cosmo” Clifford, his first and only solo outing and a fascinating artifact from the end of the Creedence era. This 11-track outing includes eight originals that range from country-infused R&B (“Take a Train”) to Latin rock (the aptly titled “Latin Music”) to CCR-style rockers (“Get Your Raise”). It also features rollicking covers of the Lovin’ Spoonful (“Daydream”), Doug Sahm (“She’s About a Mover”), and the Spencer Davis Group (“I’m a Man”).

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