Monthly Archives: November 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’ve closed up the shop for the Thanksgiving holiday. While we’re away, why not fire up our free Record Store Locator app and visit one of your local indie record stores on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday?

Perhaps there’s an interview, review, or feature you might have missed? Catch up and we’ll see you back here on Monday, 12/2.

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TVD Live Shots: The Aquabats, PPL MVR, and Jacob Turnbloom at the Regency Ballroom, 11/23

The Aquabats wrapped up their current tour this past Saturday at San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom. The fans turned out early for their superheros and the kiddos were running rampant on the general admission floor well-before the openers took the stage.

Supported by some backing tracks, Jacob Turnbloom kicked things off with a solo set of originals but while the music was approachable, the vampire shtick made no sense. Nevertheless, he had a good-sized crowd that was receptive to vamp rock as they geared up for the Aquabats. But first they had to suffer through PPL MVR.

Never heard of PPL MVR? Imagine an unholy alliance between a yeti, Chewbacca, and the Grinch delivering abominably auto-tuned drivel designed to torture mankind. Unfortunately there were many small children in the room that will be forever scarred.

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TVD Live Shots: Bloc Party at the Hollywood Palladium, 11/19

PHOTOS: JULIA LOFSTRAND | Britain’s NME voted Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm the best album of 2005 when it arrived in stores, yet in March, NME asserted that Bloc Party’s “Silent Alarm” tour will be worthless without its original line-up.

Yes, it’s true original drummer Matt Tong was replaced by Louise Bartle and bassist Gordon Moakes has been replaced by Justin Harris, but frontman Kele Okereke and guitarist Russell Lissack are permanent fixtures in Bloc Party’s DNA. Lissack is solely responsible for creating the aggressive and fun experimental guitar sounds that separate Bloc Party from the pack. Songwriter Okereke with his unmistakable British, soulful punk voice could never be replaced. All that is Bloc Party starts and ends with him.

Bloc Party has often been a band mired in controversy. Liam Gallagher once dubbed them “indie shits,” seething with obvious envy over their rapid success. As such Okereke has had an ongoing public feud with Gallagher, intellectually navagating the situation. In 2005 Kele was outed by the media—as a gay black man fronting one of the biggest post-punk revival dance bands in the UK, he’s been fighting racism and complacency ever since. Despite the tension, one thing has remained constant: Bloc Party hasn’t faded away like so many other acts and they’re still selling out venues.

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TVD Radar: Gorillaz: Reject False Icons in cinemas 12/16

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Gorillaz today announce a brand new feature documentary film titled Gorillaz: Reject False Icons, directed by Denholm Hewlett and available in cinemas worldwide for one night only on December 16th.

Released in partnership with Gorillaz Productions, Eleven, Trafalgar Releasing and Warner Music Entertainment, Gorillaz: Reject False Icons documents life in the studio with Gorillaz co-founders Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett; producers The Twilite Tone of D /\ P, Remi Kabaka and James Ford; as well as stellar roll call of featured artists including Vince Staples, Jean-Michel Jarre, De La Soul, DRAM, Pusha T, Peven Everett, Little Simz, Jamie Principle, Yasiin Bey, Bootie Brown, Cheick Tidiane Seck, Graham Coxon, Pauline Black, Zebra Katz, Danny Brown, Ben Mendelson, Kelela, Jehnny Beth, Hypnotic Brass, Junior Dan, Shaun Ryder, Mavis Staples, Sidiki Diabete, and Noel Gallagher.

In his debut feature, director Denholm Hewlett followed the band’s every move for three years, covering the making of two critically acclaimed albums, Humanz and The Now Now, as well as the band’s most ambitious world tour to date encompassing dates across Europe, North America, South America, and Mexico, bookended by its own Demon Dayz Festivals in the UK and US. The result is the first ever all-access immersive journey into the world of Gorillaz and its extended family – featuring never-seen footage, where the virtual meets the real – to capture the wondrous chaos of life under the watchful eye of Murdoc Niccals (bass), Noodle (guitar), Russel Hobbs (drums), and 2D (vocals).

Gorillaz: Reject False Icons will be screened in cinemas around the world on December 16th 2019. Tickets will be on sale on November 27th from where fans can find the most up-to-date information regarding participating theatres.

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Needle Drop: Sarah J’Vine, Embracing Eternity Within

Brisbane Australia-based Sarah J’Vine’s life changed drastically after a near death experience, activating psychic gifts which led her to become a medium. But Sarah could not only witness higher realms and glean spiritual insights, she could hear songs—personalized melodies and messages that she translated for her clients.

Having now used music as a healing modality for years, J’Vine decided to develop these light language readings into broader sonic compositions and has now released a gorgeous collection of soaring meditations entitled Embracing Eternity Within. “My intent is to be a conduit for that authentic connection to spirit, so one can fall madly in love with their inner and outer worlds, seen and unseen,” Sarah reflects. “This is a journey that will bring the listener to the higher vibrations, cultivating a true spiritual connection within themselves.”

The album is awash with delicate ambience and powerful vocals, not unlike the early work of Enya or the modern lullabies of Lisa Gerrard. Indeed, it does create a warm, lulling state which allows entrance into the deeper inner realms of the subconscious, encouraging one to surrender to the sounds of light.

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Grounded and in contact: Roan Yellowthorn’s melancholy “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”

Jackie McLean knows how to make a cover—and a Christmas song—her own. Her most recent holiday single, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” arrived in stores on November 15, with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River” released earlier this month.

“River” might seem like a strange choice for a holiday single. While Christmas is mentioned, it’s not explicitly a Christmas song—but that’s just what McLean likes about it. “When I’m choosing something to sing,” she says, “I try to pick something that resonates with me and my emotional landscape the most. And for me, I think most of the time I do see kind of the more melancholy side of things.”

That includes Christmas. The holiday season can highlight feelings of loneliness and isolation just as easily as it can bring people together. Putting those conflicted feelings to music can be cathartic for McLean, the voice of indie-rock outfit Roan Yellowthorn. “If I’m able to sing a sad song that taps into the bluer side, it makes me feel more aligned, in a weird way.”

Her approach to the seminal “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” emphasizes the same sense of sadness. “It definitely is a traditional Christmas song,” she says, but “devastatingly sad… I imagine it being sung by somebody who wants to return to a place that doesn’t exist anymore, so we tried to sort of do it in that spirit.” The single is a piano-vocal collaboration with keyboardist Ty Bailey, who’s usually on tour with Katy Perry. “I loved working with him,” McLean says. “I just told him I had this idea of making the song into a weird, Twin Peaks kind of trippy, sad, weird moment and he just knew exactly how to give it that sound.”

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UK Artist of the Week: Dictator

Like it or lump it, there will always be a place for a bit of good old-fashioned indie music here at TVD HQ. Our latest discovery are none other than Scottish newcomers Dictator who have just released their addictive debut single “Anthem For A Doomed Youth.”

If you’re a fan of the likes of The Courteeners and Kasabian, then you are in for a treat. “Anthem For A Doomed Youth” (we’re assuming they’re Libertines fans?) combines elements of both indie and electronica to create a sonic soundscape that will instantly mesmerize.

Despite having only just released a single, Dictator are no strangers to the Scottish live circuit and they will be playing next on 29th November at Dreadnought Rock, supporting Luke La Volpe. Indie rock may not everyone’s cup of tea but if you’re into it, Dictator are definitely a band for you.

“Anthem For A Doomed Youth” is in stores now.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores for November 2019, Part Five

Part five of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for November, 2019. Part one is here, part two is here, part three is here, and part four is here.

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: V/A, Land of 1,000 Dances: The Rampart Records Complete Singles Collection (Minky) Here are four compact discs tucked snugly into pockets inside an essay and picture-packed hardcover book spotlighting the label that gifted unto the world the Los Angeles-based ’60s Mexican-American rock impulse, aka the “West Coast East Side Sound.” The larger intention of owner-producer Eddie Davis (who’s also credited with stewarding into existence the all-time classic “Farmer John” by The Premiers via his other label Faro) was to build an equivalent to Motown for Chicano performers, and if he didn’t reach Gordy’s levels of success, his company did carry on into the ’90s while adapting stylistically to the times.

That means there’s disco from Eastside Connection and even a cover of Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting,” in English and Spanish by Didi Scorzo. I’ll confess to having no use for that one as the later stuff is hit-and-miss, but roughly half of the set derives from the ’60s and is a stone blast of R&B instrumentals, vocal group sounds, Chicano soul, and yes, Mexican-American rock, of which Cannibal and the Headhunters’ cover of Chris Kenner’s “Land of 1000 Dances” is a prime example. Other highlights include The Blendells’ cover of Stevie Wonder’s “La La La La La,” and The Village Callers’ killer “Hector Parts 1 & 2.” The background info is welcome, and the photos are pretty special, including previously unpublished shots the Headhunters’ ’65 tour as openers for The Beatles. A valuable thing. A-

New Riders of the Purple Sage, Thanksgiving in New York City (Live) (Omnivore) Captured at the Academy of Music in NYC on November 23, 1972, this is six sides of country-rock hippie style for Black Friday, though the 2CD and digital aren’t available until 12/6. In their hippie comportment the New Riders (by this point sans Jerry Garcia on pedal steel, replaced by Buddy Cage) could get a little eccentric, but mainly through vocalist John “Marmaduke” Dawson and a few of his song selections (like R.B. Greaves’ “Take a Letter Maria,” which they later cut in the studio). The rest of the members; alongside Cage, that’s guitarist David Nelson, bassist Dave Torbert, and drummer Spencer Dryden (Nelson and Torbert also sang), were busy being crack instrumentalists. The pleasure offered here never ebbs. A-

Edan, Beauty and the Beat (Lewis Recordings) Edan’s 2002 debut Primitive Plus endures as a mainstay of alt-underground-indie hip hop, but his ’05 follow-up is even better as it enters into psychedelic realms without the negative connotations that frequently emerged when druggy expansiveness mingled with rap’s intensity and forward momentum. Indeed, Edan continues to explore the classic structural launching pad of late ’80s-’90s hip-hop in a manner that’s far deeper than the typical cred-establishing nods to the past (making this a true extension of his first album), but more importantly, his approach to psychedelia is never shallowly, stereotypically trippy. Truly bent, there are more ideas in the consecutive “Rock and Roll” and “Beauty” than in many hip-hop records twice this one’s length (a tidy 34 minutes). A

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In rotation: 11/26/19

Dubai, UAE | Dubai’s only independent record store has banned influencers. Here’s why: Founder of The Flip Side has declared a no-photos policy for Dubai influencers. Shadi Megallaa is Dubai’s best-loved music maverick. The Egyptian-born owner of The Flip Side in Alserkal Avenue has been purveying rare Arabic records and Japanese pressings, among other musical curiosities, to a growing number of Dubai DJs and denizens since 2017. As well as being the first independent record store in the emirate, it’s also become a creative space for production seminars, documentary screenings and live DJ sets from local luminaries. However, Shadi’s noticed a pervasive insurgence among the crate diggers in the past two years. “We have lots of people coming in and taking anything from ten to twenty pictures of themselves posing,” he wrote in a Facebook announcement. Addressing influencers visiting for the photo opportunities, he clarifies, “The Flip Side is not here to be your personal backdrop for your Instagram stories. If you happen to be an influencer, kindly take your ‘influence’ somewhere else. Please respect our space like we respect yours.”

Jacksonville, FL | Amid height of vinyl revival, Tiger Records opens in Jacksonville’s Riverside: As vinyl rides a new wave of popularity, Tiger Records — out of Riverside — marks the latest record store to open in Jacksonville. …Tiger Records marks the city’s second new record shop to open this year. In July, Eraser Records opened in Murray Hill on Edgewood Avenue. Both shops join older spots including DJ’s in Westside, Yesterday and Today in San Marco, Wolfson Equipment and Records on University Boulevard and Young, Loud, and Snotty in Mayport. “I just want to be the record store that everybody wants,” Siboni said. “I’ve got a lot of indie rock and punk, but if the only thing selling here is Lady Gaga, then I’ll sell only Lady Gaga.” Records range in price from $1 — with about eight bargain bins chock-full of everything from Lou Reed to Manilow — to $1,000… Right now on the floor, Siboni says there are roughly 5,000 records and 75 percent of them are secondhand. “I think it’s cooler,” he said. “I love going through boxes of old records.”

Virginia Beach, VA | Lengthy corporate career leads to indie book and record store in Virginia Beach: John Brittell spent a career opening stores across the country for someone else and learning all he could about what made their customers tick. Then he cashed in on that experience to open his own place. Before opening AFK Books and Records on Valentines Day in 2011, he was the vice president of e-commerce and direct marketing for video game retailer GameStop. It was the result of 23 years in the video game business that started at the Lynnhaven Mall with a job at Games ‘n’ Gadgets, a store owned by Electronics Boutique – the brand later gobbled up by Gamestop. Throwing corporate analytics and measurements to the wind, for the most part, his customer service strategy has been simple: focus on being joyful and kind. “It was really easy to get distracted by those numbers,” he said. Now, he knows he might need to recalibrate if a week goes by when he doesn’t hear someone say “oh man, this is the best store ever.”

Meet the man who restores old music to its original glory: Pete Hutchison’s Electric Recording Co. uses era-specific gear to reissue records the way they were meant to be heard. Listening to records was a reverent act in Pete Hutchison’s childhood home. Whenever his parents played their beloved Ravel and Debussy works, they enforced one rule: “You weren’t allowed to talk,” he says. Though Hutchison favored rock and jazz when he started his own collection as a teen in the 1970s, he returned to classical upon inheriting his father’s LPs. His interest in the genre eventually grew so deep that he spent $12,000 on a pristine copy of ­Mozart a Paris, a rare seven-disc set released in France in 1956. Hutchison now makes what many music aficionados consider the finest records on Earth. He meticulously crafts reissues of jazz and classical titles (including his prized Mozart) from the 1950s and ’60s—wrapped in letter­pressed sleeves—that sell for $350 or more. Most labels churn out vinyl by the thousands with modern equipment, but Hutchison’s outfit, the Electric ­Recording Co., mints no more than 300 copies of each ­album. “Some of these very famous studios take the ­original master, and put it onto a digital system to play around with it and process it,” he says. “I don’t know why they’re ­bothering. They’re just degrading the sound.”

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TVD Live Shots: Electric Wizard with Midnight at the Fillmore, 11/18

It was a night of doom and black metal as veterans Electric Wizard made an appearance at the Fillmore Silver Spring supported by the barely contained black metal and punk energy of Midnight.

For the uninitiated, an Electric Wizard show involves slurping from a chalice of sludgy metal masterpieces, with lyrics touching on gothic literature and obscure horror films. In concert this is all set against a backdrop of ’70s Satanic Panic exploitation films and bathed in orange and red lights. The guitars (Liz Buckingham with Haz Wheaton on bass) are raw, the drums (Simon Poole) pound, and Jus Oborn’s vocals are tortured while blood and Satanic ceremony flash above the stage on the screen. It’s hypnotic and intense, and a little unnerving if you’re unaccustomed to it.

The fans gathered at the Fillmore were there for it, however. The usual roundup of black-clad metal fans came to see Electric Wizard on their brief jaunt through the East Coast, two years after their 2017 release, Wizard Bloody Wizard. The stop at the Fillmore Silver Spring was number three of six for the US this fall, so a special appearance indeed, and a treat for doom metal fans.

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TVD Live Shots: Yungblud at Le Trabendo, 11/17

PARIS, FRANCE | Paris is such a magical city, especially when it comes to its fantastic music scene and unique venues. Last time I was in town, I caught Foals playing an “intimate” gig at Le Bataclan, and was blown away by one of the best shows I’ve seen all year. But last week, that show was topped by Doncaster born Yungblud when he played two nights at a very intimate venue called Le Trabendo.

It was easily the hottest ticked that evening (although Tropical Fuck Storm was playing that evening as well, and I would have loved to catch both). It took me a while to find this place as it’s a bit hidden, and once I got in, I was impressed by its cool and unique layout. This place is literally a stage and then a bunch of different levels of platforms, so pretty much every place you can stand has a great view.

Believe it or not, there was a tiny photo pit to which I managed to climb over the jam-packed room to get in. Then it was off to the races as Yungblud launched himself onto the stage and immediately set the room in a frenzy. The energy this guy has is astounding. Yungblud lists among his influences Arctic Monkeys, Eminem, and The Clash, and that’s precisely what’s coming out of him.

And you really do have to admire this guy for not only his ability to write one hell of a hook but also to bring the crowd along with him and make them all feel comfortable in their own skin. While his song titles don’t necessarily reflect positivity, the overall message is resonating with a new generation of youths who are always under pressure to look cool on social media. Yungblud is helping these kids to not only be okay with imperfection but to celebrate it and build it into confidence.

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TVD Radar: The Marshall Tucker Band, New Year’s In New Orleans: Roll Up ’78 And Light Up ’79 2-LP in stores 11/29

VIA PRESS RELEASE | When The Marshall Tucker Band played their 12/31/78 show at The Warehouse in New Orleans, it was simulcast on over 150 radio stations nationwide, making it the most widely-heard rock concert of its time. Now, Ramblin’ Records is releasing the concert on gatefold double LP and CD for the first time. The album will first be available at independent record stores only on November 29 as a “RSD First” in conjunction with Record Store Day’s Black Friday event. It will then be available online and everywhere else in late January.

In 1978, the Marshall Tucker Band (Tommy Caldwell, Toy Caldwell, Jerry Eubanks, Doug Gray, George McCorkle, and Paul Riddle) were one of the biggest groups around and one of the best live acts in the business having toured non-stop for years supporting a string of six gold and platinum records with huge hits like “Heard It In A Love Song” and “Can’t You See.” In a live review of their Madison Square Garden show just six weeks prior, the New York Times’ Robert Palmer wrote, “The Marshall Tucker Band does not play conventional southern rock, although by now the group is successful enough to be setting conventions of its own…So, unlike many southern bands, which tend to get locked into narrow blues grooves, the Marshall Tucker Band soars.

Most of the tunes turn into more or less extended jams led by Toy Caldwell, whose lead guitar work builds from short, cleanly articulated phrases into high note barrages with a sure sense of pacing. Thursday night’s show was crisp and energetic. It was the kind of show the band used to give at the Palladium or in Central Park…the music worked handsomely, and the crowd was on its feet through most of the show. The Marshall Tucker Band has managed to become a major group without compromising its original stylistic integrity and without resorting to theatrical staging or other tricks of the trade.” (11/12/1978)

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Needle Drop: Albon,
“Call Me Up”

LA-based singer-songwriter Albon creates tender jangle pop, modern in its approach, yet steeped in nostalgia.

With motifs dealing with loss, exploration, and a general sense of wanderlust, his compositions are smart and familiar yet slightly left-of-center, landing somewhere between the Fleet Foxes and golden-era Beach Boys.

His debut single “Call Me Up” is flush with promise, revealing a talented and tender artist who is more than willing to expose his hopes and fears on record. Hold tight for the bright, expansive chorus which owes as much to Brooklyn psych pop as it does to vintage Disney show tunes.

“Call Me Up” is an excellent entry into Albon’s insular world, lifted from the wily 6-song EP, “Dream Weaver//Bee Keeper,” which arrives in stores January 31st.

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Graded on a Curve: New in Stores for November 2019, Part Four

Part four of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for November, 2019. Part one is here, part two is here, and part three is here.

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: V/A, No Other Love: Midwest Gospel (1965-1978) (Tompkins Square) This label has a fine track record in the documentation of 20th century African-American gospel sounds, with the contents offered in multi-disc sets that have been amongst my favorite releases of the last few decades. However, as cathartic as those sets can be, they don’t pack the emotional wallop of this single LP of recordings uncovered in and around Chicago and compiled by Ramona Stout. The punch is surely musical, as the contents derive from preachers, congregations, family bands, and children’s choirs, but the impact gets intensified by Stout’s accompanying essay, which is frankly some of the best writing I’ve read on the American Experience in a long time. More from me on this one in a few weeks. A

Chet Baker, The Legendary Riverside Albums (Craft) Trumpeter and sometimes singer Chet Baker has long been a divisive figure in the annals of jazz, and this box set exemplifies the reasons why; in a nutshell, these LPs, five in all, with one a collections of outtakes, were cut because the artist was young, good-looking and Caucasian, with the album covers really amplifying those qualities and validating the cliché of Baker as the matinée idol of ’50s jazz. It’s not hard to understand why some would (and still do) take issue with the guy’s success, and we haven’t even mentioned his heroin addiction and the second chances and comebacks he was allowed when others surely were not. These observations may seem odd in relation to an artist’s pick, but it’s all an inextricable part of Baker’s story.

Sometimes that story overshadows the talent. As this collection offers some his strongest and most distinctive recordings, it provides a well-rounded portrait and serves as a solid corrective to those who insist on denying his abilities. (Chet Baker Sings) It Could Happen To You (A) (available as a standalone reissue for RSD) wasn’t Baker’s first vocal outing, but it’s his best as it emphasizes the unruffled unusualness of his style. Even today, as he sings, one can easily envision the slowly tightening fists of macho jazzbos. Chet Baker in New York (A-) is a record much more suited to their tastes, as it features tenor saxman Johnny Griffin and two thirds of Miles Davis’ famed ’50s rhythm section in bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones. Pianist Al Haig completes the band.

What the album, and all of the trumpeter’s Riverside material (and beyond), shares with Chet Baker Sings is a sincerity in its approach to standards. Chet (A) is loaded with tunes from the Songbook and has the added value of an interchanging all-star lineup, with Chambers and Jones back along with pianist Bill Evans, baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams, drummer Connie Kay, flute and tenor sax from a pre-shirtless Herbie Mann, and two cuts with guitarist Kenny Burrell. Everyone sounds sharp throughout, and I prefer this one to Chet Baker Plays the Best of Lerner and Loewe (B+), which is a little stuffy in its tribute concept, even as saxophonist Zoot Sims makes the scene. Outtakes and Alternates (A-) is exactly that, with all the songs having featured on previous CD reissues of these LPs. Overall grade; A

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Graded on a Curve:
Blue Öyster Cult,
Secret Treaties

So what do we have here? An album by a band that purports to be heavy metal but isn’t, lyrics by Patti Smith, famed rock crit Richard Meltzer and producer/manager/svengali Sandy Perlman, songs about a famous Nazi jet, cagey cretins, a guy who gets high on human eyeballs, dominance & submission and other everyday topics, and a vocalist/guitarist so cool the Minuteman named dropped him in a song. No wonder a Melody Maker critics’ poll declared it “the Top Rock Album of All Time.” Not band for a bunch of Long Island boys.

BOC began their career as Soft White Underbelly, changed their name to Oaxaca and then to the Stalk-Forrest Group before being signed to Columbia Records by Clive Davis. Pearlman saw BOC as America’s answer to Black Sabbath, which was kinda like declaring the Doobie Brothers America’s answer to Led Zeppelin. A lot of my badass pig farmer pals thought BOC were psychopomps sent to guide them to the underworld; in reality they were the kinds of well-mannered boys who would carry granny’s grocery bags up the stairs. Their “career of evil” most likely consisted of forgetting to pay a couple of parking tickets.

Metal these guys ain’t. Sabbath’s “Iron Man” crushes anything BOC ever recorded, Tokyo menace “Godzilla” (BOC’s least representative tune) aside. Secret Treaties’s less GTO than finely tuned sports car. It places a premium on speed and turning power. The LP’s sound is streamlined and clean, and there’s no muffler noise. It wouldn’t be stretching a comparison too far to say BOC have more in common with Bon Jovi.

No surprise, then, that my least favorite tune on the album is the lumbering “Subhuman.” That said, the lyrics are tres cool: “Left to die by two good friends” recaps their debut’s “Then Came the Last Days of May,” in which three “three good buddies” get offed in a dope burn. Better is the slow-paced “Astronomy,” which works thanks to Allen Lanier’s piano and a Van Halen-like “Hey! Hey! Hey!” chorus. Pearlman’s lyrics (sample couplet “In hellish glare and inference/The other one’s a duplicate”) don’t make a lick of sense to me, but then again, T.S. Eliot I ain’t.

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