Monthly Archives: April 2021

TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

The hand that wrote this letter / Sweeps the pillow clean / So rest your head and read a treasured dream / I care for no one else but you / I tear my soul to cease the pain / I think maybe you feel the same / What can we do? / I’m not quite sure what we’re supposed to do / So I’ve been writing just for you

As we slip into Spring there are a few things I’m grateful for. Certainly the vaccine and good ol’ Joe Biden.

Life in our city of angels feels like it’s slowly returning. Jonah had his first day back at school. Wednesday evening I took him for a pitching lesson. Watching my son hurl fastballs during a warm and peaceful Spring sunset was a slice of heaven. I know there will be setbacks and bumps ahead, but enjoying the simple things in life is not only what it’s all about, it’s all I have.

So I’m going to enjoy Spring. It reminds me of “girls.” From a guy’s perspective, seeing Jonah is now off to the mall with “new friends,” I thought I’d dig through my crates and pull some of my faves of the past. Odes to Laura, Gloria, Hermione, Stephanie, Caroline, Emily, Maggie, Cindy, Bertha, Delilah, and of course Carol.

“Oh Carol, don’t let him steal your heart away…”

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Graded on a Curve: Sonny Rollins,
A Night at the Village Vanguard

Sonny Rollins’ name met the marquee of The Village Vanguard in the fall of 1957, and by November 3rd the saxophonist had honed his group to basic rudiments and figured out exactly what he wanted to do. With drummers Elvin Jones and Pete La Roca and bassists Wilbur Ware and Donald Bailey, he delivered one of jazz’s core documents, the undyingly superlative A Night at the Village Vanguard.

According to Leonard Feather’s liner notes for the original 6-track LP documentation of Sonny Rollins’ ’57 Vanguard stand, the saxophonist first hit the stage for a week with a quintet including trumpet and piano. Not happy with the results, he ditched the other horn and grabbed a new rhythm section for week two. Dissatisfied with the quartet lineup as well, Rollins then decided upon a sax-bass-drums trio. And that’s what we hear on the still startling A Night at the Village Vanguard. If Rollins’ rapid-fire retooling seems odd for a concert engagement, understand that he was basically using the bandstand as a live laboratory, experimenting loosely and approachably for proprietor Max Gordon’s hip urban clientele.

Though the Vanguard opened its doors in 1935, based on Feather’s notes, through the ‘40s and well into the next decade most live jazz had moved uptown, and Gordon’s club had then only recently underwent a substantial return to its now legendary intersection of serious jazz and bohemia. In attempting to steer his joint back in the direction of the cutting edge, Gordon casually inviting Rollins to spontaneously create in his spot was an extremely bright maneuver.

For at this point in his career Sonny Rollins was at an early peak. Frankly, the previous sentence is understating the case almost criminally; from ’56-’58 he cut 17 LPs as a leader, and by my count (and I’m far from alone in this arithmetic) at least ten of those recordings are classics. The performances corralled on A Night at the Village Vanguard arrived in the midst of all that activity, and the vinyl configuration’s slim but thoughtful annotation of the significant invention presented by these group’s (there are two, each with individual characteristics) remains an absolute masterpiece.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 33: Pete Krebs

PHOTO: ANDREA BOHON | Pete Krebs is a musical chameleon. It was the 1990s when his career began in the band Hazel which was a very popular alternative rock and roll group on Sub Pop Records. In those days, Krebs even formed a friendship and musical partnership with indie rock hero and legend Elliott Smith. Yes, I’ve been trying to track down their split-single for many years, but that’s another story. He’s also been inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame.

Since then, Krebs has continued experimenting and expanding his musical palate. Catching one of his shows, or listening to one of his records, might find one encountering Western swing, jazz, country, or just straight up, no holds barred rock and roll. While some musicians work hard to stay in their lane, Krebs enjoys grabbing his guitar and exploring wherever his ears lead him.

Krebs’ latest album (with his band The Gossamer Wings) is titled All My Friends are Ghosts and one might say the record is a sort of an amalgam of the many styles and sounds that Krebs can make with his voice and some steel strings in his hand. It’s an excellent recording and deftly showcases his compositional skills.

Krebs isn’t through exploring yet. As you’ll hear in the following conversation, he is still searching out unique sounds to play on his stereo. When he’ll try to figure out how to make those sounds himself is anyone’s guess, but you can be sure he’s thinking about it.

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

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TVD Radar: Punk the Capital–The Story Of Punk in Washington DC 1976-1983 premiering 5/14, DVD/Blu-ray in stores 6/8

VIA PRESS RELEASE | When punk rock erupted in Washington, DC it was a mighty convergence of powerful music, friendships, and clear minds. This film is the first to explore the incredible challenges that this subculture faced when it took root in the Nation’s Capital in the late 1970s.

Punk the Capital situates DC punk within the larger narratives of rock ‘n’ roll, working as a powerful multi-layered story for both fans and non-fans of punk rock. Featuring musicians such as Bad Brains, Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, and Jello Biafra, this film dives deep into the ideas and sounds from this transformative music scene which continues to be influential culturally and politically around the world.

Created by James June Schneider (Co-Director, Editor), Paul Bishow (Co-Director), and Sam Lavine (Associate Producer, Co-Editor), Punk the Capital has been on the road since its world premiere weekend in Washington, DC held simultaneously at the American Film Institute and the Hirshhorn Museum (Sound Scene festival). The filmmakers took the film around the USA and Europe to festivals, cinematheques, cinemas, galleries and community spaces. It has been selected for festivals including In-Edit (Barcelona and Brazil) BAFICI, Leeds International Film Festival, and Sound Unseen.

Each screening has been an event, with at least one of the filmmakers present and for the majority of dates, there has been a special guest (Henry Rollins, Ian MacKaye, Cynthia Connolly, HR of Bad Brains and many others.) The goal of the team was to reach 100 consecutive in-person events. They made it to 50 before the pandemic began.

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Graded on a Curve:
Elton John,
Here and There

An extraordinary live document, this. Recorded at London’s Royal Festival Hall and New York City’s Madison Square Garden (hence the LP’s title) in 1974, 1976’s Here and There captures Elton John at the height of his powers, and by design proffers a career retrospective of his work from his 1969 debut Empty Sky through 1974’s Caribou.

And what a career projectory it was–in only five years Elton had gone from the introspective and camera-shy nebbish on the cover of 1970’s Elton John to the glam fabulous cartoon figure on the splashy cover of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. His was a remarkable transformation from wallflower to glitter-bedecked showman, and along the way he became perhaps the premier (and certainly most entertaining) rock artist of the otherwise dour and colorless mid-seventies.

Here and There might have been your average live album. You know–artist performs mostly new material (in Elton’s case Caribou) but tosses in some familiar red meat to satisfy the crowd’s hankering for the hits. Instead Sir Elton chose to offer up an overview of his career–an odd but gutsy move on the part of an artist whose career spanned only five years–and by so doing introduced listeners familiar only with his hits to songs like “Burn Down the Mission,” “You’re So Static,” and “Grey Seal” that may have never crossed their radar.

But Elton’s strategy works, and it works spectacularly. The crowds sound as happy to hear “Take Me to the Pilot” as they are “Your Song” and “Crocodile Rock.” And tossing songs like “Take Me to the Pilot” into the mix wasn’t simply a matter of sheer guts on John’s part; it was a canny way of sending the folks in the seats in England and America straight to his back catalogue.

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In rotation: 4/30/21

Dallas, TX | [Q&A] Inside one record store’s successful online pivot. When The Pandemic Hit, Denton’s Mad World Records Was Forced To Close Its Brick-And-Mortar Location — Only To Then Find Salvation As An Online Retailer. Mark Burke has worked in the record store business since 1991. From clerk to owner, he’s worked in every facet of the game — and served as a firsthand witness to the CD boom and the vinyl resurgence alike. Still, that doesn’t mean he’s immune to changes within the industry. As the pandemic claimed hundreds of small businesses in the region last year, his Denton Square storefront for Mad World Records shop was sadly among of them. Just because he had to close his storefront did not mean Mad World had to cease as an operation, though. In fact, Burke says he’s much, much happier running his business as an online, mail order and delivery retail service. Working with his wife Maria and their son, they now run operations out of their Denton home — and, better yet, they’re finding some success in their new model. Curious to learn more about this pivot, we recently caught up with Burke after a busy afternoon of hand-delivering items — and got a whirlwind of answers from him about the state of Mad World.

Swansea, UK | Swansea is getting another new record shop following a boom in vinyl sales: The Tangled Parrot at Alleyway Coffee on the city’s High Street follows the opening of another new record business two years ago—Swansea Bay Records in Swansea Market. The digital revolution was supposed to herald the death of vinyl. Yet sales of the once seemingly-dated musical format in the UK are the highest since the early 90s, with sales soaring and reaching a 13-year high, according to British Phonographic Industry figures for 2020. It’s one of the reasons Swansea is about to see the opening of a new store selling exclusively vinyl records. The venture on High Street has a celebrated pedigree, being the latest venture by Carmarthen ‘s Tangled Parrot. The business on the town’s King Street has been serving music buffs since 2011, having began life as a market stall in 2000, and until three years ago ran a hugely popular live music venue. And next week will throw open its doors at the former home of Gallerie Simpson in Swansea, in a joint venture with cafe Alleyway Coffee. Despite the pandemic and its restrictions, owner Matt Davies said he is convinced the time is right for a new vinyl store in the city.

Alberta, CA | Leduc family prepares to part with rare vintage music collection: The Kiss family has been busy restoring and cataloguing their grandfather’s prized gramophone and audio collection for auction in Texas. Some of the items date back to the 1890s. Jeff Kiss and daughter Kennedy say they’ve decided it’s time for others to appreciate this slice of musical history. “It goes back a long time. My grandfather was one of the first gramophone record collectors and restorers in Alberta,” said Jeff Kiss. The incredible collection includes dozens of century-old gramophones, hundreds of vinyl records and audio cylinders that have been in the Kiss family for more than 60 years. Jeff’s grandfather Coleman would spend his spare time scouring garage sales and flea markets all over North America looking for old gramophones to salvage, and also rare audio recordings. The recordings from the latter part of the 19th century include fragile Edison cylinder recordings as well as political speeches, opera, nursery rhymes and comedy sketches. “These are very historic because they had low production and did not survive well, so with new technology they became outdated and disposed of…”

Amityville, NY | Cassettes are making a comeback. Really. When Charlie Kaplan started Tapehead City, an online store devoted to selling used audio cassettes, friends called him crazy. The year was 2014 and cassettes had all but vanished, with yearly sales officially totaling $0 according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Sure, vinyl was a hot seller again – but tape? “People were like: What? Why would you do that?” said Kaplan, who lives in Long Beach and goes by the nickname Charlie Tapes. “And I would tell them: They’re selling.” It turns out Kaplan was onto something. Flash forward seven years, and his business has more than quadrupled. Cassette sales last year jumped by one-third at the online music marketplace Discogs, according to Billboard, and nearly doubled in the U.K., according to the British Phonographic Industry. Granted, the numbers are small: Cassettes tend to sell in the tens of thousands, not millions. But popular artists such as Lady Gaga, 5 Seconds of Summer, Sturgill Simpson, Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez are riding the trend, making their new releases available on a format that once seemed extinct. You can even find cassettes on sale at the youth-oriented retail chain Urban Outfitters.

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TVD Radar: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Back The Way We Came: Vol. 1 (2011–2021) 2LP in stores 6/11

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds today announce details of Back The Way We Came: Vol. 1 (2011-2021). Released on 11th June via Sour Mash Records, Back The Way We Came: Vol. 1 (2011-2021) is a definitive 18 track greatest hits package, and a timely reminder of the breadth and depth of classic songs from the first decade of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

The album is also available on limited edition deluxe formats with a bonus disc including previously unreleased acoustic versions, remixes, instrumentals, and an unheard demo. There will also be a limited edition numbered, hand pressed, coloured double LP with exclusive art print released for Record Store Day on the 12th June.

Curated and compiled entirely by Noel, the tracklisting of Back The Way We Came: Vol. 1 (2011-2021) encompasses songs from High Flying Birds’ three UK Number One albums (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Chasing Yesterday, and Who Built The Moon?) and the three acclaimed EPs (‘Black Star Dancing’, ‘This Is The Place,’ and ‘Blue Moon Rising’). Back The Way We Came: Vol 1 (2011-2021) also features two brand new songs produced by Noel Gallagher & Paul ‘Strangeboy’ Stacey, ‘We’re On Our Way Now’ and ‘Flying On The Ground.’ A songwriting masterclass that sits effortlessly in one of the great songbooks, ‘We’re On Our Way Now’ is unveiled today, a taste of the future-fan-favourites to come.

Since establishing Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds post the legendary success of Oasis, Gallagher has never sat still creatively. He’s mastered the art of embracing an instinctive sonic evolution and creative freedom whilst never neglecting the songcraft. From the New Orleans brass powered blast of debut single ‘The Death Of You And Me’ to the self produced psych-pop and space bound experimentation of ‘Chasing Yesterday’ and the disco saturated, sonic veer of ‘Who Built The Moon?’ at the hands of renowned producer David Holmes and the subsequent EP releases, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have proven time and time again to be unshackled by genre and expectation.

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TVD Radar: Chet Baker, Cool Cat first ever vinyl issue in stores 6/12

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Chet Baker (1929–1988) was an American jazz trumpeter, actor and vocalist who needs little introduction. Baker earned much attention and critical praise through the 1950s but his well-publicized drug habit also drove his notoriety (he was in and out of jail frequently before enjoying a career resurgence in the late ‘70s and ’80s). Chet’s career included collaborations with greats such as Elvis Costello, Charlie Parker, and Van Morrison. Mr. Baker was the subject of many books and documentaries throughout the decades and he was even portrayed by Ethan Hawke in the 2015 film Born to Be Blue.

Chet began his musical career singing in a church choir and his mother said that he had begun to memorize tunes on the radio before he was even given his first instrument. Peers called Baker a natural musician to whom playing came effortlessly. In the early 1950s he was chosen by Charlie Parker for a series of West Coast engagements. Shortly after this, his song “My Funny Valentine” became a hit and would be associated with Baker for the rest of his career. Mr. Baker (with his quartet) was a regular performer at famous Los Angeles jazz clubs such as The Haig.

Chet Baker’s quartet released popular albums between 1953 and 1956 and he won reader’s polls at Metronome and Down Beat magazine, beating trumpeters Miles Davis and Clifford Brown. In 1956, Pacific Jazz Records released Chet Baker Sings, an album that seriously increased his visibility. During most of the 1960s (before heading to Europe more frequently) Chet recorded music that could be classified as “West Coast jazz.” From 1978 until his death in 1988, Chet Baker lived and played almost exclusively in Europe, returning to the U.S. once a year for a few performances. This was Baker’s most prolific era as a recording artist.

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TVD Radar: Laura Nyro, American Dreamer 8LP career spanning box set in stores 7/30

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Madfish and Snapper Music release a new 8LP deluxe vinyl box set featuring singer-songwriter Laura Nyro’s 7 breathtaking original albums—More Than A New Discovery, Eli And The Thirteenth Confession, New York Tendaberry, Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat, Gonna Take A Miracle, Smile & Nested plus an original LP of rarities and live recordings. The box set arrives 7/30.

During the singer/songwriter movement in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Laura Nyro was one of the most celebrated tunesmiths of her day. She penned soulful, literate songs that took the folky introspection of her peers and infused it with elements of soul, R&B, jazz, and gospel, giving them an emotional heat that set her apart. Nyro was a hugely respected recording artist, whose confident piano work and rich, expressive vocals made other sonic trailblazers such as Miles Davis and Alice Coltrane navigate towards her. She has influenced the greatest of songwriters—Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Elton John, Neil Young, Carole King, Kate Bush, and Elvis Costello among them. That influence continues today being heard in the works of Alicia Keys, Tori Amos, Suzanne Vega, Jenny Lewis and more.

Nyro’s wonderfully expressive and poetic songs—of which many became major hits by other artists, most notably The 5th Dimension, Three Dog Night, and Barbra Streisand—remain hallmarks of outstanding quality. “Eli’s Comin,” “Gibson Street,” “Wedding Bell Blues,” “And When I Die,” “Stoned Soul Picnic,” “Map To The Treasure,” “Sweet Blindness,” and “Stoney End” are magnificent examples.

Nyro was 18 years old when she signed her first recording contract and wrote the songs for which she is likely to be best remembered. By the time she was 22, she had become one of the most successful composers in American popular music. But at the age of just 24, she drew back from her creativity and fame, battered and drained by the sheer energy and nerve required to sustain her career.

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Graded on a Curve:
New in Stores for
April 2021, Part Four

Part four of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for April 2021. Part one is here, part two is here and part three is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Sarah Louise, Earth Bow (Self-released) Once upon a time, Sarah Louise Henson was primarily known for her skills as a fingerpicking guitarist and then a little later, as half of the progressive Appalachia duo House and Land with Sally Anne Morgan. But with her pair of LPs for Thrill Jockey, Deeper Woods (2018) and Nighttime Birds and Morning Stars (2019), she began making expansive headway that has come to some beautiful conclusions with her latest, Earth Bow. The blend of New Age and kosmische and drones and psychedelia might not seem like much of a big deal, seeing as how variations on this combination have been pretty common over the last decade or so, but a few things are working in Sarah Louise’s favor. Foremost, she’s deeply invested in song form, even flirting with pop here and there. Second, those songs can get quite intense. Earth Bow didn’t help me to relax; it took me for a ride. Third is her voice, powerful and beautiful, deepening the attentiveness to matters of nature and healing and bringing added dimension to the LP. It’s called sincerity. It means a lot. A

Innov Gnawa, Lila (Daptone) Based in NYC, Innov Gnawa is comprised of five Moroccan expats led by Mâallem Hassan Ben Jaâfer, who sings and plays the guembri, the three-stringed African bass (also called the Sintir), the featured instrument of Joshua Abrams on the latest record by his band Natural Information Society (a new release pick in this column just two weeks ago). The sound of the guembri here is traditional in nature, amply anchoring and propelling a style that’s been tagged as Sufi Blues. Please note that this sound is distinct from Malian Desert Blues, as Innov Gnawa’s four other members, Amino Belyamani, Ahmed Jeriouda, Samir LanGus, and Nawfal Atiq, along with singing richly in response to Ben Jaâfer’s powerful lead, all play metal castanets called qraqebs. An exception is the closing track “Hamdouchia,” which features Ben Jaâfer alone, his guembri playing as the start reminding me of Jimmy Garrison’s solo preludes in performance with John Coltrane (e.g. Live in Japan). Lila (which translates to “night” and describes an all-night Sufi musical healing ceremony) is utterly sublime. A

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICKS: Michael Nesmith, Different Drum: The Lost RCA Victor Recordings (Real Gone) The albums Michael Nesmith cut for RCA, six from 1970-’73, are still too often overlooked today, a circumstance that directly extends from their general neglect by consumers when they were new in the racks. While not flops (Magnetic South, his debut with The First National Band, produced the Top 40 hit “Joanne”), they certainly undersold in relation to RCA’s hopes for the man freshly departed from The Monkees. Now, for those with a long abiding love for Nesmith’s distinct strain of country-rock worthiness (abetted by the pedal steel of O.J. “Red” Rhodes, drummer John Ware, and bassist John London, under the supervision of Chet Atkins and Felton Jarvis), this CD is a sweet dish 22 tracks deep from across his time with RCA. Yes, it’s loaded with alternates and the back end is mostly instrumentals, but there’s distinctiveness in the versions and the playing is as shit-hot as skillet gravy. So I guess that means this set will make a fine primer for those having not yet plunged into Nesmith’s solo stuff. A-

Zouo, Agony憎悪Remains (Relapse) This set is the second in what’s hopefully an ongoing series of reissues by Relapse diving into 1980s Japanese hardcore; the first, Detestation, the debut LP from the highly influential band GISM (I’d call them legendary, but they appear to be currently active), emerged late last year. Agony憎悪Remains collects the debut 4-song 7-inch EP by Zouo, originally released in 1984, and adds two comp tracks from the same year to complete side one. The flip offers nine live cuts culled from Relapse’s 41-track digital release. It’s not clear if the vinyl editions (there appears to be four different color variations available but selling quickly) come with a download card; this review focuses on the 15-tracks grooved into the wax. Metal-core was too often hackneyed, but at its bizarre and extreme best, Japan’s strain was in a class by itself. Speed is integral, but it’s never the soul objective. Pristine fidelity gets nixed as murk and echo are abundant; indeed, some of the live stuff sounds like it was recorded in a metal culvert by a single microphone from 25 feet away. This is just as it should be. A-

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In rotation: 4/29/21

UK | Stylus counsel: Music industry execs on the 2021 vinyl boom: It’s official: the vinyl revival is here to stay. As Music Week revealed in our Q1 analysis, sales of vinyl LPs were up 16.1% year-on-year in the first three months of 2021 to pass a million units (1,080,653), according to Official Charts Company data. Remember, those results were achieved during a national lockdown. Last year, vinyl sales were also up – by 11.5% to 4.8 million units – despite the effects of the pandemic on retail and release plans. Following the return of non-essential retail on April 12, sales have spiked. According to ERA research, the reopening of record shops has seen an aggregate year-on-year increase of 91% so far. The results have been remarkably consistent over the two chart weeks since record shops returned: vinyl was up 92.3% year-on-year for chart week 15 and 91% for chart week 16. Even CD sales have increased markedly – up 64.6% year-on-year on aggregate for the fortnight. However, the long-term trends for CD are downwards, with Q1 registering a decline of 29.9% year-on-year.

Cloverdale, BC | Music producer opens record store in Cloverdale as pandemic project: Town centre is now home to both Elevated Music and Redrum Records. With Elevated Music, Bill Haggerty has taken his music production work to another level. The Surrey-based record producer, audio engineer and musician has opened a record store under that name as well. In Cloverdale, the shop buys and sells vinyl, CDs, cassettes, some clothing and “culture,” as Haggerty calls it. Elevated Music opened last August on 57th Avenue, a few blocks from where the Urban Safari store has become Redrum Records, on 176th Street. “When I was a kid,” Haggerty recalled, “I always thought it’d be cool to have a record store like this, and as my career started to grow with the production side of things, I was collecting (records). I’d always been a collector from way back, and it got to the point where I didn’t need five copies of Dark Side of the Moon anymore.” The store became Haggerty’s pandemic project, at a time when more people are spending days and nights at home. “People come in here and tell me they’re playing music more and digging through their collections…”

Princeton, NJ | A Birthday Tour of the City of Lost Record Stores: You could say that growing up with the Princeton Record Exchange sealed my son’s fate. I can still see him sitting on the floor, plowing through the $1.99 bargain bins at the back of the legendary store’s first location on Nassau between Chambers and Bank streets. When Prex was two years old in 1982, Ben had just turned six, and there he was, hunkered down picking out albums that would be recycled over the years as his taste began to shift from mainstream pop to power pop to metal to psych to prog, and on and on into the most exotic, obscure, and far flung reaches of the rock and roll universe.

UK | Over 1 million vinyl LPs sold in first three months of 2021 in UK: Vinyl sales in the first quarter of 2021 are up 16.1% from last year. With UK vinyl sales having gone up last year by 11.5%, new data suggests that upward trend is to continue through this year. Sales of vinyl LPs in the UK were up 16.1% year-on-year in the first three months of 2021 to pass a million units (1,080,653), according to Official Charts Company data. This continued increase is seen as particularly remarkable having come at a time when the UK was in a national lockdown due to COVID-19, with music buyers simply purchasing records online instead of in shops. Following the return of non-essential retail on April 12, sales have also spiked, according to Music Week. ERA research says the reopening of record shops has seen an aggregate year-on-year increase of 91% so far. Speaking to Music Week, ERA CEO Kim Bayley said: “This is better than we could have hoped for. Like all physical retail, record shops have been through the wringer these past 12 months. Apart from dealing with furloughing staff, worrying about paying the bills and sickness among nearest and dearest, many shops have had to adapt to a whole new business model, and start trading online.

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TVD Radar: UB40 Featuring Ali & Astro streaming performance of debut LP Signing Off
in full, 6/16

VIA PRESS RELEASE | UB40 Featuring Ali & Astro have announced a very special online concert available to view from June 16, 2021. The band’s very first online concert will see them performing UB40’s seminal 1980 album Signing Off in its entirety. Filmed at Stabal Studios on the outskirts of London, Ali & Astro will be accompanied by their incredible eight-piece touring band.

“These are the first songs we wrote together as a band,” comments Ali Campbell. “It will be a joy to revisit them 40 years on. Sadly, ‘King’ and ‘Food For Thought’ are still relevant today. We give thanks that Gary Tyler has now been released,” adds Ali, referring to the inspiration behind the album’s opening track ‘Tyler,’ who was finally released from prison in Louisiana in 2016. “After 40 plus years, we can’t wait to play our debut album Signing Off in its entirety to the fans, it’s gonna be a happy trip down memory lane!” comments Astro.

Tickets available now from The first 100 tickets will cost £4.99, which is the original album price, and the deluxe 30-day ticket will have three extra songs and an interview with Ali and Astro. With any 30-day tickets purchased before May 7 the customer will get their name on the show’s closing credits.

An instant critical success, Signing Off debuted at #2 on the UK album charts and was later certified Platinum by the BPI, with singles “Food For Thought” and “I Think it’s Going To Rain Today” reaching the top ten of the UK singles charts. The album was recently reissued on limited edition double vinyl by UMC. The 2LP (180g) red vinyl reissue features all 10 original tracks, as well as three bonus tracks (“Madam Medusa,” “Strange Fruit,” and “Reefer Madness”).

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TVD Radar: Art Blakey and His Jazz Messengers, Chippin’ In first time on vinyl, 180 gram 2LP, in stores 6/12

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Art Blakey (1919–1990) actually needs little introduction, the American Jazz drummer and bandleader made a name for himself in the 1940s and 1950s playing with contemporaries such as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker. He is often considered to have been Thelonious Monk’s most empathetic drummer (he played on both Monk’s first recording session in 1947 and his final one in 1971). In the decades that followed Blakey recorded for all THE labels that mattered in the field of jazz (Columbia, Blue Note, Atlantic, RCA, Impulse!, Riverside, Prestige, Verve, etc.). His collaborations were numerous and include working with equally legendary artists such as Sonny Rollins, Max Roach, Chet Baker, John Coltrane and countless others.

Art Blakey was a major figure and a pioneer for modern jazz, he assumed an aggressive swing drumming style early on in his career and is known as one of the inventors of the modern bebop style of drumming. His signature polyrhythmic style was amazing, exuding power and originality, creating a dark cymbal sound punctuated by frequent loud snare and bass drum accents in triplets or cross-rhythms. A loud and domineering drummer, but Blakey also listened and responded to the others in the band. He was an original, an important drummer you’d hear and would recognize immediately.

Art Blakey was inducted into the Downbeat Jazz Hall of Fame (1981), the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame (1991), the Grammy Hall of Fame (1998 and 2001) and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously in 2005. He was sampled and remixed by renowned acts such as Raekwon, Black Eyed Peas, A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, Buscemi, KRS-One and Madlib.

In the mid-1950s he and Horace Silver formed The Jazz Messengers, a group that Blakey would perform and record with for the next 35 years. Originally formed as a collective of contemporaries but over the years the band became known as an incubator for young talent that included artists such as Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Cedar Walton, Chuck Mangione, John Hicks…and MANY others. Art Blakey went on to record dozens of albums with a constantly changing group of Jazz Messengers. Blakey’s final performances were in July 1990. He died on October 16 of lung cancer. The legacy of Art Blakey and his band is not only the music they produced, but also the opportunities they provided for several generations of jazz musicians.

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TVD Radar: Ska Boom! An American Ska & Reggae Oral History from Marc Wasserman
in stores 7/4

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Musician, podcaster, and author Marc Wasserman’s debut book Ska Boom! An American Ska & Reggae Oral History is now available for pre-order and will be available on July 4, 2021. Published by DiWulf Publishing House, the 400+ page book is an exhaustive, extensive, entertaining, and action-packed tale about the pioneers of the American ska and reggae music scene.

Three and a half years in the making, this cinematic story is lovingly told through hundreds of hours of interviews with key musicians, artists, managers, club promoters, writers, and the fans who were there at the dawn of the ‘80s to witness the birth and spread of a uniquely American version of a time-honored subculture.

From the story of The Shakers, the first American reggae band signed to a major label deal by David Geffen, to the spreading wildfire of inspiration that was seeing The Specials on Saturday Night Live in 1980, to the mighty Skavoovee Tour of 1993 that helped give rise to the third wave of ska, Marc collects hundreds of stories, anecdotes, history, gossip, and (most importantly) the feeling of what it was like as groups of young, ska-crazed acolytes spread their passion from Boston to New York and from Chicago to Los Angeles while igniting a fiercely loyal dedication to a burgeoning culture inspired by Jamaican ska, rocksteady and reggae, and British 2 Tone and mod sounds.

The fashion, the feeling, the exciting days of true, DIY independence… Marc captures it all in this exciting, intimate and informative tome.

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Graded on a Curve:
Willie Dunn, Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology

Many ears were hipped to Indigenous folksinger, poet, filmmaker and activist Willie Dunn by the 3LP/2CD set Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966-1985. Issued by Light in the Attic in 2014, that one’s received a recent repress, and in even better news, the next volume in the series is Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies: The Willie Dunn Anthology, which gathers tracks from his four albums and more, with everything remastered by John Baldwin. The icing on the cake for vinyl buyers is the inclusion of Willie Dunn Notes, the 24-pg newsprint insert with exhaustively researched liners assembled by the set’s producer Kevin Howes. Essential for folk fans, it’s out now.

Willie Dunn’s best-known song is “I Pity the Country,” in large part because it was one of two recordings featured on Native North America (Vol. 1). That revelatory compilation, GRAMMY®-nominated and prominent in numerous year’s best lists including the top 10 reissues offered by this very website, smartly placed “I Pity the Country” as track one on side one.

When a musician attains a belated boost in profile, their best-known song often just happens to be their best song period, but that’s not the case with Willie Dunn, as Creation Never Sleeps, Creation Never Dies begins with the nearly 10-minute powerhouse “The Ballad of Crowfoot.” Now, that song is arguably the artist’s greatest composition (as it plays it sure feels that way); that the ensuing 21 songs here are unmarred by even a hint of anticlimax is testament to Dunn’s talent.

“The Ballad of Crowfoot” is included on both his debut and its follow-up (both eponymous, released in 1971 and ’72 with an overlap of six tracks), but neither of those shorter versions are the one that’s heard on Creation Never Sleeps. The recording collected here is sourced from the soundtrack of the short film of the same title that was made in 1968 by the National Film Board of Canada’s Indian Film Crew, of which Dunn was a member.

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