Monthly Archives: May 2021

TVD Radar: Independent Label Market: London announces its 10th Anniversary Summer Market, 7/10

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Independent Label Market celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special Summer Market on Saturday 10th July. Taking place at Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross with a first class line up of independent labels and partners including 4AD, Rough Trade, Sunday Best, Moshi, and Music Declares Emergency. A celebration of music and vinyl culture plus DJ sets throughout the day and an after party at Spiritland. ILM is also teaming up with Dice and London Brewers Market to offer 10% discount on their finest beer, sign up here in advance. In 2021, the ILM Mentoring Scheme is working with Clue Records and Sad Club Records.

ILM is looking forward to a knock out summer event as 2021 marks the 30th London edition and 10 years of Independent Label Market. It all started with humble beginnings at Soho’s Berwick Street market in the summer of 2011. Since then, ILM has hosted 68 events across the globe and shared adventures with an eclectic crew of 600+ independent record labels from all over the UK to Paris, Berlin, Bari, Barcelona, Rome, LA, Hamburg, Toronto, New York and LA.

Joe Daniel, ILM Co-Founder says “When we came up with the idea for an indie label market, we never imagined doing a second one, let alone another ten years of events. The idea back in 2011 was to bring together our favourite labels to celebrate a particular kind of creativity and passion that you only find in the independent sector. The fact that we are here ten years later is a huge credit to the community of labels who consistently find new and exciting ways to grow and adapt in a fast changing industry. We love the camaraderie and their tireless commitment to presenting the most envelope-pushing music around.”

The ILM Summer Market takes place Saturday 10th July at Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross with an all star crew of labels including 4AD, Bella Union, Brownswood, Caught by the River, Cherry Red, Erased Tapes, Fierce Panda, Fire / Earth, Full Time Hobby, Gare du Nord, Heavenly Recordings, Hyperdub, Late Night Tales, LEX, Matador, Memphis Industries, Moshi, Mukatsuku, One Little Independent Records, Partisan, Rough Trade, Sonic Cathedral, Sunday Best, Upset The Rhythm, Whities/ad93 and many more.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Animals,
The Best of The Animals

Celebrating Eric Burdon on his 80th birthday.Ed.

No single album can encompass the range of The Animals’ ’64-’65 run, but ABKCO’s recent vinylization of the ’88 compact disc The Best of The Animals comes pretty close. Gathering all the early hits without neglecting the enduring appeal of their R&B core, it sports the same cover photo as MGM’s 11-track ’66 LP while slightly modifying and significantly expanding the contents. 

The pop success of great rock bands, and the one formed in Newcastle upon Tyne when Eric Burdon joined the Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo definitely qualifies, often gets belittled as concession, cash-in, or more likely some combination of the two. The reality is that music and commerce, particularly in the middle of last century, weave together like amorous but argumentative vines. The four largest hits of The Animals’ first two years are all represented on this fresh reissue, which places onto vinyl the contents of a CD designed to usurp an LP not all that hard to locate in used bins at the time, at least in my neighborhood; this sequencing of The Best of The Animals (there have been others) includes the A-sides from the first nine 45s.

“House of the Rising Sun,” easily The Animals’ biggest commercial success, also endures and by a wide margin as their most famous recording. Indeed, sans exaggeration it can be described as one of the defining singles of the 1960s. A few may balk, but the sheer seriousness, ambition and intensity was unusual for ’64.

Gleaning a traditional tune found on Bob Dylan and Just Dave Van Ronk and in the process setting folk-rock into motion with an intercontinental smash (#1 in four countries, #2 in Australia, Top Ten in two more), it was a massive chart breakthrough achieved without compromising The Animals’ angelic comingling of blues, R&B, and R&R (it’s gobsmacking to note, but their producer Mickie Most was initially disinclined to record the song).

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UK Artist of the Week: Alys Williams

UK-based artist Alys Williams charms us with her stunning new single “You,” out now. The British newcomer combines woozy electronics with ethereal soundscapes on her latest cut and we’re extremely excited to see what the rest of 2021 has in store for the talented songstress.

The harmonies, the glitchy electronica, the poignant lyricism, Alys Williams’ “You” just has it all. Fans of the likes of Laura Mvula and Emily King will certainly feel at home here. Produced by Rich James Roberts in the Welsh mountains, the single feels instantly celestial as sparse electronic soundscapes compliment Alys’ majestic vocals effortlessly.

Talking about the single, Alys explains, “We recorded this one a week before the pandemic hit the UK, but I feel it sounds even more relevant a year on, with everyone trying to find their peace after a turbulent time of highs and lows. Hope you like it.”

“You” is in stores now.

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Graded on a Curve:
Damien Jurado,
The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania

The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania is the twentieth album in the discography of singer-songwriter Damien Jurado (there are nearly as many EPs), but it’s the first he’s issued himself, doing so through his own imprint Maraqopa Records. Self-produced and stripped-back but methodically so (inspired by records like Lou Reed’s The Bells and Paul McCartney’s Ram), it’s another powerful statement that’s also distinctive, making it a fitting inaugural release for his new label. It’s out May 14 on vinyl, compact disc, and digital.

Damien Jurado just keeps putting out solid record after solid record, productivity that is duly noted in the music press (often with accolades) and soaked up by his listenership, but also without the sort of hubbub that frequently accompanies the activities of musicians with discographies as prodigious as the one Jurado has built.

That he’s a guy with a guitar and a voice singing songs (of which there is no shortage in the world) surely adds to the fairly measured response, but on the other hand, Jurado debuted on Sub Pop (back in 1997, with Waters Ave S.) and after four full-lengths with that company, commenced a long stretch, 11-albums deep, with Secretly Canadian (a run culminating with The Horizon Just Laughed in 2018).

Since then, he’s recorded two that were co-issued by Mama Bird Recording Co. in North America and Loose in the UK and Europe, which plants us firmly in the present. In the grand scheme of things, Jurado’s achievements can be assessed as substantial and his longevity rare, considerations that only increase after time spent with The Monster Who Hated Pennsylvania.

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In rotation: 5/11/21

New York, NY | Following seven successful years in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Rough Trade NYC is excited to make its much anticipated move over the East River… Our new Rough Trade NYC will be located at Rockefeller Center (30 Rockefeller Plaza, on Avenue of the Americas between 49-50th Streets), just steps from the iconic Radio City Music Hall. “Following the impact of COVID-19, Rough Trade’s decision to relocate reflects a wider reimagination of cities worldwide”, says Rough Trade Co-Owner, Stephen Godfroy. “Manhattan has a glorious history of great record stores. Now there’s an exciting present as well. The opportunities afforded by the pandemic in the reconfiguration of central city districts have brought us, counter-intuitively, to the heart of New York, an area barren of record stores for years. But Rough Trade’s instinct has always been to surprise! …We loved our amazing Williamsburg store, but thousands of gigs and vinyl sales later, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to move over to Manhattan, downsizing on scale but upsizing on ambition and reach.”

Walmart to host its first online ‘Vinyl Mania Week’ Tapping into a growing trend where old is new again, Walmart will host its first online Vinyl Mania Week beginning Monday, May 10 with exclusive and limited editions of vinyl records for music fans of all genres. The five-day event on, will include color vinyl discs from artists such as Machine Gun Kelly, Johnny Cash, Halsey, Post Malone, Keith Urban, KISS, Frank Sinatra and John Denver. More than 150 titles — ranging from pop, soul and rock to country, folk and jazz — will be available, with new selections popping up each day. Prices vary. A vinyl version of Journey’e greatest hits, for example, sells for $32.23, while AC/DC’s “Back in Black” album is listed at $18.97. “As vinyl continues to make a big comeback and become the preferred music format, Walmart is committed to offering customers the albums they want at everyday low prices,” the company said in a statement.

Barrow, UK | Barrow’s TNT Records named Shop Of The Month by Record Collector: A Barrow record shop has been named ‘Shop Of The Month’ by hit music magazine Record Collector. TNT Records was the winner of the prestigious title for the magazine’s May edition. Owner and founder Dave Turner revealed he was ecstatic that Record Collector honoured his business. He said: “We’re overwhelmed with it. “They have been going for over 40 years, Record Collector and they are an iconic magazine and they are the biggest music monthly out there. “To even have a mention in it is a big deal, but to be highlighted as Shop Of The Month is just crazy. “We are really proud of it. “We are just blown away by it. “We stock the magazine every month, but to be in it is a completely different thing.” The shop, which opened in 2019, has proved to be a huge hit, with customers coming from across the country.

Huntsville, AL | Find the best music at Alabama’s 40th Annual Record Show: If you spend your weekends perusing yard sales, thrift stores and record shops for some good vinyl, we’ve got a good show in store for you. It’s the 40th Annual Record and CD Show. If you’re feeling inspired to do some shopping and talk with other music fans and collectors, the Alabama Record Collectors Association is hosting a weekend chock-full of that stuff. Friday, May 14th through Saturday, May 15th, the Gardendale Civic Center will have thousands of records, CDs and tapes for sale. You can find music that dates all the way back to the 1940s, to 2021 from dealers all over the country. We’re not just talking music you can listen to though, we’re talking music memorabilia as well. Think of posters, buttons, photographs and more. You know, the fun stuff you can hang on your walls and slap on that old denim jacket. Alright, you may be asking yourself, when is all of this going down?

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TVD Radar: Curtis Mayfield, Curtis 2LP
and Charles Mingus,
At Carnegie Hall 3LP
for preorder now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Each month, Run Out Groove allows fans to vote on the label’s next high-quality vinyl pressing, chosen from selections of unreleased material, reissues of out-of-print titles, or brand-new collections compiled from the Warner Music vault.

In honor of Black Music Month this year, Run Out Groove is proud to offer two new and exciting releases that have been given the “special” ROG treatment. Curtis Mayfield’s classic debut album, Curtis, is ROG’s new pre-order title #1. Chicago-born Mayfield was one of the most influential musicians in soul and politically conscious African American music in the 60s. Curtis won a Grammy Legend Award in 1994, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and is a double inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

This expanded and limited edition of Curtis features a second LP of bonus tracks making their debut on vinyl and new liner notes by British DJ, soul expert and GM of Acid Jazz Records, Dean Rudland. The 2LP 180g set comes in a beautiful gatefold tip-on style jacket with an exclusive Curtis turntable mat, only available in this release.

Our second featured Black Music Month title is Charles Mingus At Carnegie Hall (Deluxe Edition). A bigger than life icon, Charles Mingus is considered one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history with a career spanning three decades and collaborations with other jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Herbie Hancock.

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Graded on a Curve: Donovan,

Celebrating Donovan on his 75th birthday.Ed.

Where have all the flower children gone? And more importantly, where would they have been without Donovan Phillips Leitch? Stuck eating their FLT (flower, lettuce, and tomato) sandwiches to the sound of Scott McKenzie’s faux Flower Power ode, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair),” that’s where. It was Donovan who best channeled the gentle and peace-loving vibes of the love-bead set into song, and without the fey Scot they’d have been, to quote one of the man’s lyrics, “as dragged as any hippie should be in old hippie town.”

Donovan began his career as a folkie and Dylan clone, right down to Bobby D.’s trademark corduroy cap. Donovan’s blatant aping of his hero reached its absurd culmination at the infamous Dylan/Donovan confab at London’s Savoy Hotel in 1965, when Donovan proudly offered to play his idol a brand new song. Which turned out, much to Dylan’s amusement, to be a note-for-note rip of “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Small wonder Donovan serves as a running joke amongst the caustic Dylan entourage in D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 documentary “Don’t Look Back,” with Dylan himself at one point saying, “Donovan who?”

Donovan might have gone the way of Phil Ochs, but in 1966 he went from Dylan manqué to Sunshine Superman after dropping acid and tapping into the Universal Mind to watch groovy Technicolor mind movies of a smiling God grokking the ineffable infinite. The turned-on Donovan promptly helped pioneer the psychedelic sound, which in tandem with his gentle-to-the-point-of-wimpy voice (think Belle and Sebastian’s Stewart Murdoch, twee factor multiplied by 10) and mellow yellow emanations quickly made him the perfect avatar for the Age of Aquarius. A string of U.S. Top Ten hits followed, including “Sunshine Superman,” “Mellow Yellow,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and “Atlantis,” which started life as a b-side but reached No. 7 after DJs flipped the 45 and flipped their lids to the far-freaking-out Atlantean sing-along. (Surprisingly, the great “Season of the Witch” was never released as a single, either in the United States or the United Kingdom.)

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Ben Cosgrove,
The TVD First Date

“I remember playing with my parents’ turntable as a kid. They had boxes and boxes of old records that I’m sure they assumed they’d eventually never have any use for after all those albums gradually became available on CD, and I recall marveling at the fact that you could see, right there on the record, exactly where the information was that would tell the needle to tell the machine to tell the speakers what sounds to make.”

“Long songs were thick, short songs were narrow; a visible scratch would mean a corresponding skip in the audio. I would flip the things back and forth for hours, staring mesmerized at the slowly spinning discs, thinking there was something so thrilling about being able to physically see and feel what a musical recording would sound like.

I am now an adult, and I write instrumental music about landscape—it’s a funny niche to have fallen into, but one I’ve found extremely gratifying for years now. For the first several years I was doing this, I mostly focused (largely without meaning to) on big places: national parks, oceans, rivers, wilderness areas, and vast plains, but with my new project, an album I released in April called The Trouble With Wilderness, I tried making a change.

I was concerned that I might be reinforcing an impression among my audience members that nature was something exotic and separate from the world they knew—something to go and visit rather than to appreciate where you find it—and so to correct this, I tried writing about small places: weeds growing out of the sidewalk, gardens, roadside plants, and other places where it’s harder to say exactly what is wild and what is not.

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Graded on a Curve:
Paul Revere & The Raiders, Greatest Hits (Expanded Edition)

Talk about your camouflage. On the surface Paul Revere & The Raiders were five smiling and well-groomed (at least by Fab Four mop top standards) young men tricked out in Revolutionary War garb complete with tricorn hats. They certainly didn’t look like long-haired sex fiends out to run off with your daughter to San Francisco where she’d die from an LSD overdose. They looked like The Monkees, and everybody knew The Monkees were safe as Milk Duds.

But 1967’s Greatest Hits (Expanded Edition) tells a different story. Boise, Idaho’s Paul Revere & The Raiders weren’t The Monkees. They were a garage rock band like The Seeds and The Standells, and if America’s parents had just listened to them they’d have packed their daughters off to the nearest nunnery and sent their sons off to military school the minute they found a copy of this baby in their rooms.

Most of the songs on the compilation come straight out of juvenile hall. The Rolling Stones comparisons are obvious–the Raiders follow the Stones’ career trajectory from scruffy R&B to subversive “Under My Thumb” pop, and vocalist Mark Lindsay comes off like an American Mick Jagger. But you also get The Who on “Just Like Me,” an intercontinental kissing cousin of “I Can’t Explain,” and some derivative Beach Boys on “Action.”

But what you mainly get is lip and a bad attitude. When Lindsay isn’t laying down the law with a shameless social climber (see garage rock masterpiece “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone”) he’s snarling mad ‘cuz he’s been hearing rumors his girl’s been running around and he isn’t going to put up with it (see “Steppin’ Out”). Our boy has woman problems galore, and he’ll chew your ear off talking about them if you let him.

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In rotation: 5/10/21

Inverness, CA | Record store opens this weekend next to Western: The first-ever record store in West Marin is opening on Saturday in Point Reyes Station. Loose Joints Records, next door to the Western, is a venture by musician Dylan Squires and record collector Brian Ojalvo. Their goal is to create a customer-centric outlet for collectors and newbies alike. Their inventory consists of about 1,500 records across the spectrum of price points, genres and time periods, and they plan to keep it fresh. “We really want to engage the customer, find out what they want, what they like, what we think they might like, and make recommendations,” Mr. Ojalvo said. The partners each bring something different to the table. Mr. Ojalvo, 52, owns a boutique wine business in Santa Rosa and has about 8,000 records at his home in Bolinas.

Bologna, IT | Bologna, is a desire for vinyl: so the record shops come back to life: The wind of the pandemic was also felt in record stores. Those businesses that have been trying to survive the decline in sales, e-commerce sites and streaming for years. A difficult period that the owners of some Bolognese stores tell us, while the scratched music of the Clash returns to echo. Pleasant surprises and the will to overcome this period as well. …“Obviously it was a very hard period, – says Emanuele Gambardella – but by now we have turned 17 and our customers, whom I never tire of thanking, have always followed us and allow us to survive”. Discobolandia is a shop that offers used and new and among the most successful titles in recent months is the reissue of Mack Porter “Peace on you”, a very rare record from 1972 with a fantastic cover and Paul Rodgers’ tribute to Muddy Waters with the collaboration of many artists. In fact, it is vinyl that reigns supreme in the store to the detriment of the compact disc, now towards the avenue of sunset.

London, UK | You could live at the Old Vinyl Factory, an exciting new London development with a rich musical heritage: The site has been reimagined and Weston Homes are offering 181 contemporary and luxurious apartments. Once home to the EMI record plant where ground-breaking records by The Beatles and Pink Floyd were pressed, The Old Vinyl Factory has been re-tuned for the 21st Century. The result is an innovative development within the 18-acre site in Hayes, with residential apartments alongside a three-screen cinema and music venue. New investment in the area will see eateries, workspaces, educational spaces and a gym, as well as an EMI photographic exhibition that reveals the history of the area, as part of the wider regeneration. The beautiful collection of 181 one, two and three-bedroom contemporary apartments at The Venue will be built to Weston Homes’ high specification, featuring designer kitchens, cutting edge bathrooms and stunning finishes. Hayes is the perfect location to get the best of both worlds – with numerous green open spaces as well as its close connections to London.

You Can Now Build Your Own Record Player Using a Household 3D Printer: The vinyl revival inspired a lot of companies and the British startup Frame Theory 3D is one of the many to catch the wave. The company created a do-it-yourself (DIY) turntable kit that is 3D printed. The kit is called The SongBird Turntable and you can find it on Kickstarter. Frame Theory 3D already managed to exceed its initial goal of approximately $14,000, as the project got funded immediately and raised over $28,000 so far. And there are still 28 days left, which can only be good news for the startup. The SongBird turntable is a fully functional record player that can be made with almost any domestic 3D printer. The minimum build volume required is 220 X 220 X 50 mm (8.6 x 9.6 x 1.9 in). The necessary electronic parts are completely solderless, to make the building process as user-friendly as possible. Moreover, the kit comes with clear instructions that will guide you throughout the entire operation. The assembly time is 1 to 2 hours, according to Frame Theory.

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TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Bit off more than I can chew / And I knew, yeah, I knew what it was leading to / Some things, well, I can’t refuse / One of them, one of them the bedroom blues

She delivers right on time, I can’t resist a corny line / But take the shine right off your shoes / Yeah, right off your shoes / Carryin’, carryin’ the bedroom blues

What to do this weekend? To be honest this work week has been a lot. I would say our family—maybe society?—is having psychological growing pains. Some physical too! A civilization is rarely “hunkered down” for so long. Most of us certainly have never experienced living in a mental and emotional bomb shelter. Well, we’re digging out.

I ate lunch at Fred Segal’s cafe on Melrose yesterday. For those of us coming out from the ’80s into the ’90s, Fred Segal has been been quite an institution in more ways than one. I’m dumbstruck that this clothes boutique and adjacent cafe has walked side by side with LA film, music, fashion, and culture trends. It’s where “ice lattes” and fine cotton t-shirts were born. We went for lunch, looked at pretty people, and chatted about deals and projects.

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Graded on a Curve:
Bob Seger and the
Silver Bullet Band,
Night Moves

Celebrating Bob Seger who turned 76 yesterday.Ed.

Through no fault of his own—or maybe it is his fault, I don’t know—Bob Seger has never gotten any respect. He’s the Rodney Dangerfield of rock, and this despite the fact that he’s written his fair share of memorable, and even great, songs. He’s always been the consummate journeyman—someone you might go to see, but without being totally psyched about it—but in the bicentennial year of 1976 he rose above his station to produce two very, very good LPs, Night Moves and Live Bullet.

The former included a couple of instant standards, while the latter made a convincing argument that seeing him live might just be a better bet than you think. I’ve liked him since I first listened to my older brother’s copy of Live Bullet way back in 1976, and I continue to have a soft spot in my heart for him, this despite the fact that he’s the force of evil who bequeathed us such awful songs as “Like a Rock,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” and the dreadful “Old Time Rock and Roll,” which to his credit he didn’t write but still recorded, which probably merits the electric chair. Why he even helped the Eagles write “Heartache Tonight,” a song that deserves to be burned at the stake.

But I forgive him, because he’s also given us such great tunes as “Get Out of Denver,” “Turn the Page,” “Beautiful Loser,” “Looking Back,” “Katmandu,” “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” “Night Moves,” and “2 + 2 = ?” And his version of “Nutbush City Limits” is almost as good as Tina Turner’s. As much a product of Detroit as the trucks he’s helped to sell via the suckass “Like a Rock,” Seger played in or founded a number of bands—the most notable being The Bob Seger System—without achieving much more than regional success before forming the Silver Bullet Band in 1974. Live Bullet finally propelled him to national stardom, and Night Moves solidified his status as a player in the big leagues.

Unlike fellow Detroiters the MC5 and The Stooges, Seger was never a firebrand; instead he was the epitome of Heartland Rock, which pays due respect to rock’s origins and doesn’t have a musically radical bone in its body. He was John Mellencamp before there was a John Mellencamp, a purveyor of meat and potato songs that told stories and that never veered too far from a relatively conservative template that fit neatly into the classic rock tradition. Which is undoubtedly why he’s been inducted into that den of iniquity, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 34: Frank Ene

“What are you about, man?” That’s the question Frank Ene asked himself when writing and recording the music for his latest EP, “No Longer.” As Frank explains, this was his opportunity to gaze into the mirror and paint a musical portrait of who he is, or who he was.

The music on “No Longer” is dark, and the ’90s kids in the room might hear some influences in the way of Enigma, or late-stage Duran Duran, and Frank is happy if that’s what you hear because he loves those sounds from the 1990s as well which he fuses into his own subterranean musical landscape.

But, Frank will not be typecast. Nope, in fact, the way he tells it, he’s already completed his next album and is working on the next one and neither of those records will sound like this one. So, while we hope you enjoy the music you hear from “No Longer,” don’t get used to it, you may not hear it again, at least not from Frank.

Or, maybe you will. That’s the fun thing about Ene: he seems to always be driving himself to the next destination, but if he’s so inclined and can find a good artistic reason for doing so, he might just turn that car around. Perhaps from the back seat you’ll see Frank’s eyes flash in the rearview and hear him ask, “What are you about, man?” Will you have an answer?

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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Bob Lord,
The TVD First Date

“Some of my earliest memories of music begin with the crackle of a needle drop.”

“I can distinctly remember sitting in my childhood friend’s family room at age 4 or so, around 1980, listening to Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade and being hypnotized by the disc going around and around on the turntable, totally immersed in the sound and the cover art and all the spectacle and ceremony of the whole thing.

My parents had some vinyl which I listened to—I still have their original 45 of “Funkytown” right here next to my desk—but the first brand-new, just-released record that was my very own was Business As Usual by Men At Work, and I couldn’t get enough of “Who Can It Be Now?” Still can’t. Around that same time, I got The Beatles’ Blue and Red album compilations on cassette and found myself stuck on that first volume of Blue, it simply entranced me. I went through multiple copies of that one.

A bit later I got Synchronicity by The Police on vinyl, around the time when “Every Breath You Take” became a hit, and after hearing side one with the “I” and “II” bookends I have to say I was hard-pressed to even turn it over (same thing happened with side one of Back to Oakland by Tower of Power when I was in high school many years later).

But there was one particular musical experience in 1987 which I still think about frequently. I was 10 years old or so at the time and had been a regular watcher of the syndicated series Solid Gold. The show typically featured hits of the day, but this one episode had a guest who had a hit many years before, making his first appearance on TV in quite some time—the British singer Arthur Brown, performing (cough, lip-syncing, cough) his 1968 hit “Fire.”

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Graded on a Curve:
Rod Stewart/Faces Live,
Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners

What a rotten deal. The Faces were one of the premiere bands of the seventies–and one of the best live acts as well–and what do we have in the form of a live LP? This crumby piece of half-baked crap. Recorded during the Faces’ sad downward slide (they would never release another album) and including only three Faces originals, 1974’s Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners is nothing less than a travesty of justice.

By the time the Faces got around to recording Coast to Coast they weren’t really the Faces in name only. They’d become Rod Stewart’s de facto backing band–just check out the billing on the album cover. The Faces acquiesced to the demotion with the exception of bassist (and band heart and soul) Ronnie Laine, who wrote or co-wrote such classics as “Ooh La La,” “Glad and Sorry,” “Debris,” and ‘Too Bad,” amongst others. Laine opted to quit the band and go solo, and his replacement Tetsu Yamauchi was left the impossible task of filling his shoes.

It was inevitable, I suppose. Stewart’s 1971 solo album Every Picture Tells a Story transformed him into a superstar, and the Faces–from his perspective at least–had outlived their usefulness. He would use the Faces on his solo albums as sidemen, but he was done recording or touring under their name. The band might have gone on without him, but the additional loss of guitarist Ron Wood–who would continue to play and write with Stewart before ultimately joining the Rolling Stones–was a death blow.

Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners reflects the schizophrenic state of Stewart’s career come 1973. As mentioned, only three of its songs are Faces originals, while another six appear on Stewart’s solo albums. Also included are two covers (the Temptations’ “I Wish It Would Rain” and John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”) not released by the Faces or Stewart. In short Coast to Coast is a rags and bone affair that doesn’t cohere, and it doesn’t help that the boys tuck “Amazing Grace” in the middle of “Borstal Boys” and tack the chorus of “Every Picture Tells a Story” to the end of “Too Bad.” What listeners are left with is a confusing mishmash, and the LP’s running time is short to boot.

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