Monthly Archives: October 2020

Graded on a Curve:
The Pogues,
Peace and Love

Before I get to my review, a bit of stereotype slinging. About the Irish, who are oft said (you can ask anybody) to have produced the greatest drunken poets the world has ever seen. Here in the States, a drunk is a drunk is a drunk. In Ireland, if you believe the hype, every drunk is a poet and every poet is a drunk, and when the pubs close every last inebriated man, woman, and child who spills into the dimly lit street to stagger home or fall fecklessly into the filthy gutter is conjuring brilliant quatrains in their brain.

It’s obviously shite, and to the part of my lineage that is Irish (or is it Scottish, who knows?) offensive even, but I do believe the Irish harbor a romantic soul and love their whiskey as much as they love a gift for high-blown (Oscar Wilde and Brendan Behan, anybody?) speech. So just for argument’s sake, who is the greatest drunken Irish poet of them all? My vote goes to The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan, hands down.

He may be a spent force now; it’s been years since he wrote any new songs (that we’ve heard, anyway); his voice is every bit as much a ruin as the Acropolis; and the last time I saw him perform he hung precariously onto the microphone stand like a sailor clinging to the ratlines for dear life in the face of 90 mph typhoon winds. But the fact that he continues to draw breath at all is in itself a miracle.

I have done the math, and more whiskey has passed MacGowan’s lips over the course of his lifetime than was imbibed by F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Jones, Malcolm Lowry, and Dylan Thomas put together. Despite this dubious achievement, he has written some of the best poetry ever set to music, and has brought more happiness to mankind than a regimen of teetotalers.

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The TVD First Date

“I first came into contact with records at probably 5 or 6. My dad had his small collection of Merengue records in the closet where we kept our winter wear. My parents never played them because they were very much in the home entertainment era of the ’90s, and in typical Latin household fashion they had a drawer with probably 300 + CD’s with salsa, merengue, all types of Latin music which had a profound effect on me and thus on Conclave.”

“Later when I got to high school I fell in love with jazz. I played in the school jazz band and combo and formed a side jazz combo. All I listened to was jazz, but it was in the format of CDs, which I bought or burned. This continued until I got to Berklee College of Music in Boston. I was finally living in a space that wasn’t my parents house for the first time and wanted to make it my own, so I did what a lot of millennial art students in college did at that time: I bought a shitty record player. That started my love affair with the vinyl medium. I finally could buy all of the jazz records I’d been listening to all these years in their original medium and could discover more.

Around the corner from the school was a super dope record store called Looney Tunes (RIP). They had two locations—one by Harvard campus in Cambridge, and lucky for me, another one right by Berklee. The guys that worked there were a couple of super nice older white Boston dudes. They were more into rock and probably were in punk or rock bands in the ’70s and ’80s. The store had an extensive rock selection but funny enough they had a jazz selection that rivaled it (probably because of the proximity to a jazz school).

I would go every week, multiple times a week, and buy jazz records from artists I recognized and sometimes a jazz artist I had just learned about in class that day. I would go home, smoke a lil sum’, and actively listen with friends or alone. One record during this era that flipped my shit and a lot of my friends shit was Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis and Gil Evans. This was a movie in every sense to us and I remember us laying on the ground with our backs on the floor and facing the ceiling and could imagine the scenes that took place in a continent and culture none of us had ever experienced to yet.

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Graded on a Curve:
Seven from Thrill
Jockey Records

In its mission quest to release records by a variety of contemporary musicians, both solo and in groups, the Thrill Jockey label of Chicago, IL is simply indefatigable. Today, we spotlight seven additions to their catalog, with releases by Matmos, Sam Prekop, Sally Anne Morgan, Sidi Touré, and SUMAC available now, and sets by Black to Comm and Holy Sons out October 30. With the exception of the Matmos and Sidi Touré releases, everything reviewed below is currently available on vinyl.

Matmos, the Baltimore-based partnership of M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, have been with Thrill Jockey since 2012. It’s been a productive relationship that’s allowed the electronic duo to extend their creative ambitiousness, with The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form standing as a pinnacle in this regard; it presents a nearly three-hour piece broken into roughly hour-long thirds and offered on three CDs. But the most substantial component in The Consuming Flame’s construction is Matmos’ invitation of 99 contributors from a range of artistic disciplines, mostly music (from New Music to electronics to metal to noise to indie rock) but also writers and even a conceptual artist. The results, intended to be absorbed as an uninterrupted piece (which is how I’ve interacted with it, a half-dozen times since its late August release date), are occasionally rhythmic, just as often fascinatingly abstract, and if rigorous, intermittently peppered with hilarity. A release that’s undeniably time-consuming, but never a chore. A-

Sam Prekop is one of the Thrill Jockey’s long-haulers, with his band The Sea and Cake releasing their self-titled debut for the label in 1994, along with a handful of solo efforts along the way. Comma is his fifth, finding him deeply engaged with beat programming, a new creative wrinkle for him as the album further documents his use of analog synthesizers, an instrument that has, over the last decade or so, become far more common in the musical landscape. With opener “Park Line,” Comma’s rhythmic propulsion suggests a dancy scenario, an approach that intermittently resurfaces throughout the record, though more prominent are sustained tones, swelling beauty cascades, and melodic motifs that establish a sound that reaches back decades but is not explicitly retro. Prekop is too deft a hand for that; I especially like how, by the end of “September Remember,” he’s subtly manipulated the sound of (what sounds like) tape hiss into a recurring pulse in counterpoint to the prettiness of his concurrent synth line. B+

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In rotation: 10/28/20

Annville, PA | New used books and music store in Annville boasts thoughtful inventory and interesting stories: Inside the front door of Salamander Books & Music in Annville sit shelves of classic books, vinyl records, CDs, and music gear, while old-fashioned posters and assorted knick-knacks hang from the walls. The cool factor is undeniable, but don’t be tricked into thinking it’s all surface level — what’s for sale is just as compelling. Michael Cantor, a recently new resident of Annville himself, is the owner of the store, which opened at 1244 East Main Street at the beginning of September. “I want [the books] to be good solid reading material,” Cantor told LebTown in a phone interview, adding that “[the store] is particularly geared toward people that might have any specific interests they might want to look into.” The range of genres and content is diverse, with everything from theology to philosophy to science fiction and more represented.

Cornwall, CA | Bud’s Records and Kool Things reopens its doors: A beloved Cornwall record shop is reopening – a turn of events that will be music to the ears of music fans from near and far. Bud’s Records and Kool Things officially reopens on Saturday, October 31st, offering music lovers a one-stop shop for vinyl, CDs, cassettes, band t-shirts and other music-related accessories. “We’ve got all kinds of genres of music. There’s pretty much something for everyone,” said Jason Lavoie, the new owner of Bud’s along with his partner Emily. The road to the Halloween reopening at Bud’s is one of great tragedy and heartbreak mixed with love, legacy and friendship. Opened in 2019, Bud’s was the creation of Bud O’Byrne, a Cornwall resident with a great personality and a deep-rooted passion for music. That passion eventually translated into a massive record collection. After doing online sales for a while, O’Byrne decided to make the full dive into entrepreneurship and open his own record shop.

McKinney, TX | Nostalgic Shopping Through the Decades: Red Zeppelin Records. …Red Zeppelin opened earlier this year and celebrated its grand opening in September. So far, they’ve enjoyed a smashing success. The quixotic allure of vinyl requires some explaining. Vinyl’s popularity seems to reach all ages from today’s teenage punk fans to Gen Z and X-ers to Baby Boomers. Vinyl albums offer a physical experience that music streaming doesn’t. Browsing album covers encourages exposure to new artists and genres. People use tactile senses to hold an album, appreciate the cover art, and turn it over to find other details — song titles, lyrics, band members’ names, and more. There’s also the possibility of surprise when looking inside a vinyl album. The record’s color, the printed label or inner sleeves, posters, lyric sheets, and booklets offer a context for discovering new music. Used CDs, stickers, refrigerator magnets, posters, patches, pins, and T-shirts sell alongside the long, browsable shelves of vinyl albums. Red Zeppelin’s potpourri of music genres represents a variety of retro music.

Dublin, IE | Freebird Records – Hidden in plain sight: If you like music as much as I do (or anyone else in the world, because let’s face it, it is the first thing we mention when people ask about our tastes or interests) I got you covered. Freebird Records in Dublin is the perfect place to get lost among CDs and vinyls like in that iconic scene from 500 Days of Summer. Plus, it’s also a book store! There are all kinds of second-hand books at a good price, from the newest to the most classic. At Freebird Records, you can also find many cool vintage things like postcard books set in the 1920s or copies of old magazines and pamphlets. What I like the most about Freebird Records, The Secret Book and Record Stores is, as its own description indicates, how secret and mysterious it is. Walking down Wicklow Street a couple of buildings before the street ends and Grafton Street begins you will find this little gem. But pay attention, otherwise its small entry could go unnoticed. Don’t worry, the secret sign outside the secret store that reads The Secret Book and Record Store will give you a hint about where to find Freebird Records…

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TVD Live: Ziggy Marley at City National Grove of Anaheim, 10/24

It’s been over 8 months since I’ve seen a live show and Ziggy Marley’s performance at City National Grove was just what the doctor ordered on a crisp Saturday afternoon in Southern California. In the 35 years I have been attending / covering live shows, I have never attended a drive-in performance. However, I was eager to give it a spin with a few hundred of Ziggy’s closest friends in the shadow of the historic Anaheim Stadium.

Nederlander Concerts pulled out all the stops to ensure guests were safe, secure, and well taken care of through the 2-hour event. Concert goers were able to scan a QR code assigned to their parking spot for food, drink orders, as well as restroom queuing located within the main building. You could tell from the moment you entered the parking lot that these folks were serious about state and local Covid protocols and they translated nicely from start to finish with zero impact on the fans or their live music experience.

After a short and incredibly cool set by Los Angeles based, Rhythm Child, Ziggy Marley took the stage around 3:00PM and performed a condensed “Children’s Set,” comprised of songs from his recent release More Family Time as well as hits from Ziggy’s critically acclaimed 2009 Family Time LP. In addition, fans were treated to two Bob Marley and the Wailers covers including “Three Little Birds” and encore “Lively Up Yourself.” Ziggy sounded amazing as always and that incredible smile lit up the parking lot in ways that you wouldn’t be able to understand unless you were actually there.

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Graded on a Curve:
Lee Morgan,
“The Roulette Sides”

The list of hard bop trumpeters is extensive and the artistry of its practitioners deep and wide; amongst Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Kenny Dorham, Donald Byrd, and Booker Little, Lee Morgan’s achievement stands tall. This does not mean every nook of his ample discography has been given its proper due; backing this up is Warner Music Group’s “The Roulette Sides,” which tucks three tracks from a 1960 session onto 10-inch vinyl. Akin to Warner’s recent John Coltrane reissue program, the results are presented in mono, and it’s altogether a tasty Morgan appetizer.

Due to consistent accessibility and a disdain for stagnation, the appeal of Lee Morgan’s brand of jazz has extended right up to the present. Additionally, his profile has been given a current boost through I Called Him Morgan, Kasper Collin’s 2016 documentary spotlighting the trumpeter’s life and untimely death at age 33 at the hands of common-law wife Helen.

As with any successful mid-20th century modern jazzman, the points of entry into the Morgan’s oeuvre are vast. He recorded a ton as a leader, beginning in 1956 with the double-shot of Indeed! for Blue Note and Introducing Lee Morgan for Savoy, and his discography grows substantially when sideman dates are added; by ’56 he was in Dizzy Gillespie’s big band, but the crown jewels of his ’50s work as accompanist are John Coltrane’s Blue Train (’57), Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ Moanin’ (’58), and Jimmy Smith’s The Sermon! (’58), all released by Blue Note.

Moving chronologically through Morgan’s work means it’ll take a while to get to the remarkable combo punch of ’63’s The Sidewinder, which provided an unexpected dalliance with the R&B singles chart through a two-part 45 of its sublimely grooving title-track, and ’64’s Search for the New Land, a disc that captured Morgan at an expansive highpoint (if securely within an advanced bop framework) with the assistance of Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock, guitarist Grant Green, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Billy Higgins.

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Rat Scabies,
The TVD Interview

PHOTO: JASON BRIDGES | One of the best-named drummers of the original punk wave, Rat Scabies remains busy with a handful of projects these days, including the new one from The Professor and the Madman, Séance, due out November 13 on Fullertone Records. The band combines Alfie Agnew of the Adolescents and Sean Elliott of Mind Over Four (who was also in D.I. with Agnew), with Scabies and a bandmate he had in The Damned on a series of albums, bassist Paul Gray. Scabies, who is also in the instrumental duo The Sinclairs and plays with the psychobilly band 69 Cats and the goth Nosferatu, also makes the occasional solo album.

No longer the shirtless maniac of his youth, the former Christopher John Millar is a more thoughtful but no less passionate player at 65, though he speaks of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Drummer. We spoke to him via Zoom from the attic of his home in the Brentford district of London, and talked about days in The Damned, how perfection is overrated, his work with Joe Strummer and Ginger Baker, and how good things can come out of a Bad Christmas Sweater Party.

With the pandemic shutting everything down, has it been a long time since you’ve played out live?

I haven’t been on a big tour for a long time. The last tour I did was with The Members which was a lot of small bars in Europe and was pretty good. I have to say, touring Europe as opposed to England—where the band that shows up to play that evening is regarded as a pain in the ass and something that makes the stalls life a little more difficult—in Europe, France, Germany and like that, they’re actually quite pleased to see you and make you tea and chocolate when you arrive. You feel much more appreciated. But now nobody’s getting to go on the road at all.

In actual fact, it’s turned into quite a blessing because most of my work is studio-based, so during lockdown, I regard myself incredibly lucky that I can still function and work and make music without being dependent on going on the road, whereas most of my friends have absolutely been killed by the whole thing. It’s tragic. It is what it is, but I just really hope we can get some kind of recovery from it. Everything public, not just this business but football, rugby, cricket.

This album was recorded much the same way with previous albums by Professor and the Madmen. How does that work?

Well, apart from the distances and the problems with work visas, it’s one of those things where actually technology, as much as I am a Luddite—“No the old ways are by far the best!”—works well. I like being able to send the drum takes from the studio and by the time I get home by train they’ve got them in California and they’ve already emailed me to say yeah, these are OK, that’s pretty good. So I have to say I really enjoy that.

And the recording process is generally always been one of laying the drums and then everybody else kind of works around that. Dropping and overdubbing. So the process is actually for me very much the same it’s always been. I guess the thing I really miss is having a band there—people in the background making comments and farting. That kind of thing where you can tell when you walk into a room whether you’ve done a good take or not, whether people are happy.

I’m turning into my catchphrase this year: the Loneliness of the Long Distance Drummer. I’ve done a couple of albums like that this year. And it’s kind of weird, because they’re turning me into an engineer. The judgmental call of whether it sounds right, or whether it sounds good, that suddenly all gets thrown on me, when I’m used to being the drunk guy who says, “I’m going to go out for a cigarette while you listen to this and tell me if you want me to do this again.” It’s shifted the whole way I think about what I do.

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UK Artist of the Week: Collect Call

Ease your way into the working week with Collect Call and their stunningly intricate new single “Pretense,” out now.

Instantly reminiscent of the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Collect Call’s “Pretense” is the perfect indie-folk song to get your through the winter months. Lead singer Joe Thorpe’s beautifully fragile vocals are at the forefront, soaring effortlessly over gentle guitar strums and tentative drum beats to create a sound that is wonderfully poignant.

Talking about the single, Joe explains, “This song is love letter within the digital age. It’s hard to perceive what people are really thinking alongside the echo chamber of the internet exacerbating our frustrations. It’s important to leave your phone alone and care for the people who actually matter in your life and love them properly.”

Collect Call has developed from Joe’s solo project into a fully fledged band and Joe shows no signs of looking back.

“Pretense” is in stores now.

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Graded on a Curve: Lunchbox,
After School Special

Oakland’s Lunchbox is the long-extant partnership of guitarist Tim Brown and bassist Donna McKean; their latest album is After School Special. Fitting for the title, its 11 songs cohere into a teen music fiesta, blending bubblegum, sunshine-pop, power pop, and classic C86-style indie-pop. That’s a lot of pop, but the duo (plus guests) also has a nice grip on ’77-punkish velocity and gnarl (with horns). Furthermore, that cover photo insinuates a hint of unease keeping things from getting too sugary sweet; I do hope that kitten is okay. The record is out October 30 on blue and white marbled vinyl and CD through Slumberland Records.

To elaborate upon Lunchbox’s span of existence, they’ve been at it for roughly a quarter century (with some breaks here and there), releasing a 7-inch and a cassette in 1995 (this is their sixth full-length overall), so while the stylistic tendencies listed above date from the ’60s to the ’80s, they distill them into a sound that’s remains representative of the ’90s indie scene.

That they can resonate like an outfit from the Elephant 6 stable is well-established, but I must say that, upon a blind introductory listen to After School Special, the sound of Ladybug Transistor-esque horns really snuck up on me. Upon checking out the credits thereafter, it was revealed that Gary Olson, he of Ladybug Transistor, plays trumpet, alongside Jeremy Goody.

Don’t go thinking After School Special is as opulent as the Transistor’s The Albemarle Sound, though. Maintained from earlier Lunchbox efforts is energy and forward motion that’s similar to the buoyant psych-pop pf Rob Schneider’s ’90s bands. Except that opener “Dream Parade” goes heavier on the jangle, with McKean’s vocals reminding me of something that might’ve landed a spot in K Records’ International Pop Underground 7-inch series.

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In rotation: 10/27/20

Daytona Beach, FL | Volusia, Flagler mom-and-pop stores counting on public to ‘Shop Local’ amid COVID crisis: Atlantic Sounds. Mike Toole, owner of the Atlantic Sounds record store at 138 W. International Speedway Blvd. in downtown Daytona Beach, said he, too, has benefited from having a large base of regular customers. Toole put up large see-through plastic sheets at various points along his shop’s check-out counter where he and his staff typically interact with customers to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The store also requires customers to wear face masks inside the store and to stay at least six feet apart. A sign on a stool next to the front entrance encourages customers to use the hand-sanitizer solution dispenser Toole has provided before entering. The store now in its 38th year sells both new and used vinyl records as well as compact discs and record turntables. …”People seem to be a lot kinder and more considerate since the pandemic began,” Toole said. “We’ve got the greatest brotherhood in the world here.”

Mansfield, OH | Operation: Fandom and Blackbird Records: DeLoreans on site for downtown shop grand opening weekend: “Back to the Future” film fans won’t want to miss seeing two DeLorean cars during a downtown shop’s grand opening weekend at the end of the month, Oct. 29 through Nov. 1. A ribbon-cutting is set for 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at Operation: Fandom and Blackbird Records at 31 E. Fourth St. Operation: Fandom, launched in 2018, specializes in toys, collectibles and pop-culture merchandise. In addition to toys, sought-after collectibles, movie merchandise and autographs, the newest addition to the historic Carrousel District has turntables, CDs, cassettes and both new and used vinyl. Owner Josh Lehman, standing amidst his shop filled with iconic film posters and photographs, including a poster of the film, “Back to the Future,” said a red DeLorean is set to come downtown Oct. 30. And a stainless steel DeLorean also is going to make an appearance downtown Oct. 31.

Manila, PH | Record shops for vinyl collectors to visit in Metro Manila: Own your favorite albums in vinyl format at these cool record stores. In case you haven’t noticed, vinyl records (or plaka, as we call it) are back and thriving. Its resurgence can be traced back to 2007 when vinyl sales noticeably picked up. The momentum kept on building until it was reported this year that vinyl records have outsold CDs in the US for the first time since the 1980s. The trend is also evident here in the Philippines. In fact, local record labels have released some of their back catalogs in vinyl format to get on with the trend. Last year, the remastered vinyl edition of the Eraserheads’ 1994 debut album, Ultraelectromagneticpop!, quickly sold out. Today, that record could fetch as high as P16,000 in the secondary market, with fans either reselling their lone or spare copy of the album for some quick cash. Likewise, young local bands have released their records in vinyl in limited numbers to complement digital releases. In other words, vinyl records are cool again.

Framlingham, UK | Shop Local: how getting online helped independent businesses survive lockdown: Better on Vinyl. …Better on Vinyl is a second-hand record store in Framlingham. Owner Chris Edgcombe has run an online store for ten of the 15 years that he has sold records. Now he does most of his business through the website. “I set up the website about ten years ago,” he said. “It’s still growing. But it can only grow when I’ve got the time to actually put things online. I’ve got approximately 26,000 records online now but it’s taken the best part of ten years because I’m only managing to get about 200 records a month online. “I’m kind of a bit hampered by how long it takes to actually get round to listing stuff. It’s a long process. And I’m not quite busy enough to employ someone full-time to run the shop.” Despite the slow process of establishing his online presence, during lockdown, Mr Edgcombe saw sales through his website skyrocket. He said: “Since March my online sales have doubled and stayed there.

Portland, ME | The Roots’ Questlove seeks woman who gifted him a turntable and records in Portland when he was 5: The Roots frontman’s record collection started in Portland, Maine back in 1976. Now he wants to find the woman who made it happen. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson loves music. Considering he’s the son of two musicians, one can see why. However, it was actually a woman in Portland, Maine who bought him his first turntable and his first three records. Now he’s trying to track her down. In a post to social media Saturday, The Roots’ drummer and frontman told the story. He said he was in a Portland nightclub in 1976 at the age of five, waiting for his parents to finish their sets, when he talked an “older woman” named Ellie into buying him a stereo and a record collection. “I knew talking to strangers was a no no but my instincts paid off,” he wrote. “She started writing it down. I was 5 so I didn’t think anything was coming of this.”

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TVD Radar: Record to Record, A Monthly Book Club for Music launches 10/29

VIA PRESS RELEASE | ArtHyve is pleased to announce the launch of a new series of panel discussions called Record to Record: An overt homage to vinyl audio recordings, especially of musical content, as this is a media format with myriad concomitant subcultures whose significance has long been too readily dismissed due to the misperception of it being of a merely fleeting, often fad-like nature.

When words/ideas are transmitted through that primordial auditory channel using nonverbal kinds of instrumentalized stuff, it makes language become fully alive — as its unequivocal, intense, and raw emotional qualities are expressed with pitch, tone, stress, intonation, volume, etc. using various inventive vehicles involving organic, analog, digital, etc. media.

This offers a definite sense of a magical and/or religious experience that more readily accesses the mind, body, and spirit; and it is a fervor that has been both addictive and contagious. So much so that the vinyl recording could be considered to have transformed (often reinvented) the very concept of musical expression on every level: creation, selection, organization, presentation, consumption, and preservation.

Other formats, such as cassettes, compact discs, digital download formats (like mp3), and streaming services will easily come and go… yet the vinyl record stubbornly persists. This alone makes it seem vital in many ways. As such, this effort could be considered even more timely and crucial — especially considering how the more traditional, retail-based endeavors like mom-and-pop record stores continue to be fraught with extinction.

As an archive, we often think of the idea of the “record” or what will be “recorded” as an imprint in history, but this program is also about our records that exist as careful and intentional works of sonic art more readily dismissed by conventional institutions of art history and preservation. We often ask the artists we work with in our programs and archive to muse on what albums they were listening to when they created a piece or body of work. We want to recognize inspiration on every sensory level.

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Graded on a Curve:
Jerry Jeff Walker,
¡Viva Terlingua!

Remembering Jerry Jeff Walker.Ed.

When it comes to outlaw country, Jerry Jeff Walker is a proud representative who rarely tops anybody’s list. Chiefly noted for writing the ubiquitous “Mr. Bojangles” and for his cover of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” Jerry generally gets short shrift in comparison to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Townes Van Zandt. But a listen to his 1973 live LP, ¡Viva Terlingua!, demonstrates conclusively that Walker can hold his own with the best of them.

Recorded with his Lost Gonzo Band at the Luckenbach Dancehall in 1973, ¡Viva Terlingua! is a masterpiece, featuring a unique mix of “outlaw” rock, blues, and traditional Mexican music styles that makes him one of a kind amongst his outlaw compadres. The album’s wonderful mixture of covers and originals helps—there isn’t a weak cut on the damn thing, from the carefree opening track, “Getting’ By,” a rollicking country tune on which Walker sets down his easy-going philosophy of living. The solos are great, Walker is charmingly insouciant, and if this one doesn’t make you happy, I recommend you look into ECT.

His cover of Guy Clark’s “Desperados Waiting for a Train” is a slow and lovely country lament over an old man who took him under his wing when he was a kid. The desperados turn out to be drifters and domino players, and Walker hits just the right note, avoiding bathos and steering clear of the maudlin, while the band kicks out the jams on the choruses and then kicks into the overdrive at the end, taking the song out, on a rock note.

Walker goes South of the Border on the joyous “Sangria Wine,” a celebration of one great alcoholic beverage. Drinking it with old friends in Texas on a Saturday makes him happy, and it brings out the music, as the song’s cool instrumental passage proves. You’d be hard pressed to find a more joyous celebration of booze than this tune, and if I weren’t a reformed drunk I’d go out and buy me a bottle right this minute. Shit, I might just do it anyway, to make sure Jerry Jeff ain’t exaggerating. “Little Bird” is a great honky tonker, a perky yet sad tune complete with excellent pedal steel by Herb Steiner; there’s a bird on Jerry Jeff’s windowsill and he’s looking out that window and wondering if his reflection on that window pane is clouded by tears or rain. Great tune, a little classic.

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Imogen Mahdavi,
The TVD First Date

“My parents bought a vinyl player when Sony started doing compact ‘modern’ remakes, it was funny the disc area was minuscule in comparison to the huge speakers that came with it. I still have the photo of it taking up an entire living room wall in our old house.”

“My mum would take me to a record store in Cambridge (that’s unfortunately shut now) and go in the bargain bin area. I always hated that they called it a bin. My earliest memory was her buying Rage Against The Machine’s Sleep Now In The Fire with the huge coin on the front and as a child I never understood the imagery. We took it home and she played it for my sister and I. Some years later I returned to that record to choreograph a dance for my primary school…looking back it was pretty rogue.

As I got older I moved to London in hopes of working as a ‘real’ singer. I spent many an afternoon alone in Soho record stores (before I made any friends here). Sometimes I would look for classics I loved, and sometimes for the cheapest vinyl or weirdest cover I could find. Rough Trade is still round the corner from my flat and the East End has some great vintage markets selling vinyl.

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Graded on a Curve:

There was a time when Yanni was the best keyboardist in jazz. “First time I heard him play,” said Thelonious Monk, “I about set fire to my piano.” McCoy Tyner told the music critic Leonard Feather, “John [Coltrane] took me aside one day and said, ‘Frankly, McCoy? If Yanni was available you’d be out of the quartet.’” Even the intergalactic Sun Ra, normally the most peaceful of men, broke into Yanni’s house and pissed on his dog.

Then Yanni had a revelation. Why play small clubs and live off his meager Blue Note royalties when he could play Madison Square Garden, then buy it? All he had to do was align his chakras, buy a copy of The Celestine Prophecy, part the Veil of Maya to reveal the illusory nature of existence, and reinvent himself as a New Age musician.

The result was the man with the magical mustache’s 1984 debut, Optimystique. Recorded in 1980, its release was delayed by Yanni’s refusal to concede to demands by the Parents Music Resource Center that he place a Parental Advisory sticker on the cover. In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, PMRC co-founder Tipper Gore said, “This album is a menace to our children. Do we really want them joining the Rainbow Family of Living Light?”

The objective of New Age music is to lull listeners into a blissful trance, allowing them to forget the everyday problems that make their lives duller than that bearded guy in those Ameritrade commercials. In the October 1991 issue of Psychology Today, the famed clinical psychologist Albert Bandura wrote, “The tedium of a modern life is the cause of much anxiety, and human consciousness has become an unbearable burden. Frankly, most people would prefer to be rhododendrons. And that’s what the music of Yanni affords them–the opportunity to be rhododendrons.”

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In rotation: 10/26/20

Pittsburgh, PA | Opinion: Support your local record stores. There is no greater feeling than walking into a local independent record store. The smell of dusty records, the friendly staff and the stacks upon stacks of records instantly improve your mood. But this feeling could disappear soon if not enough people support these great institutions and instead choose to prioritize convenience over experience. Record Store Day is Oct. 24, a day established in 2008 by independent record store owners to promote their stores. This year it’s more important than ever to support these stores. While vinyl sales have been increasing in the last 10 years, independent record stores have been closing down and doing so even more rapidly because of the pandemic. As vinyl has been becoming more popular again, stores like Urban Outfitters and online retailers like Amazon have been jumping on the trend, slowly killing the independent record stores and hurting the local economy in the process.

Record stores could cease to exist, thanks to Covid-19. Opinion: You love your local record store, right? Well then use it or risk losing it. At a press conference in New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in June 1948, Columbia Records introduced its long-playing vinyl discs – and the format that refuses to die was born. A 12-inch vinyl disc that turned at a mere 33.3 revolutions per minute challenged the 10-inch, 78rpm shellac standard – and by 1956, every major recording company in the United States had seen the light. 78rpm was no more, and the LP became the world’s favorite music storage format. Obviously it hasn’t been all plain sailing since. Vinyl has been read the last rites on numerous occasions, most recently during the digital revolutions pioneered first by the compact disc and, more recently, by the music streaming uprising spearheaded by Spotify. But somehow vinyl has survived and, at least until recently, thrived – relatively speaking, anyhow. And along with the survival of the format, sales of record players have held reasonably steady too ≠ to the point that turntables comfortably outsold CD players during the second half of the last decade. Any number of manufacturers have been doing quite nicely with their range of record players.

Jackson, TN | Local record store benefits for the homeless: In downtown Jackson, you can find people having plenty of fun while giving back to the community with an event called ‘Krew Fest’. The event helps people in need. “So many homeless people out and they need extra clothing, food and need general help all around so we’re out here to support and help to do what we can to help a good cause,” said Mark Roberts, Crazy Dawg Catering. Saturday was National Record Selling Day and the Third Eye Curiosities Record Store along with many partners are raising money to give back to the homeless in Jackson. Hunter Cross, co-owner of Third Eye Curiosities, says this event has plenty of meaning to it with a lot of donations. “Basically 20 percent of our proceeds is going to RIFA and Area Relief Ministries. We’re also having people donate coats, non-perishable foods as well as hygiene products,” said Cross. One of the event partners, ‘Rescue One’ came out to add to the donations making sure the event leaves an impact on others.

Kearney, NE | Record Revival: Love of vinyl keeps Buffalo Records spinning: Vinyl record sales have made a comeback nationally, and Buffalo Records co-owner Bryce Jensen is proud that his Kearney business is a part of that resurgence. U.S. vinyl album sales exceeded CD sales in the first half of 2020 for the first time since the 1980s, according to a music revenue report from the Recording Industry Association of America. Vinyl album revenues were $232 million, the RIAA report cited, while CD sales were $129.9 million. Vinyl sales increased nearly 4% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 while CD sales slid 47.6% in the first half of this year. Jensen, who has owned Buffalo Records with his brother-in-law Rex Herrick for the past five years, said, “It’s kind of neat that our little community in the middle of Nebraska can have that impact, too.” At Buffalo Records, Jensen and Herrick sell used, which they call “pre-loved,” and new vinyl records. Only the new record sales would be accounted for in RIAA’s report. Regardless, Jensen said business at Kearney’s small independently owned record shop has steadily increased since they opened it five years ago. Jensen said buyers from across the country seek out the store.

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