Monthly Archives: October 2022

TVD Radar: The Skippy White Story: Boston Soul 1961–1967 in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Skippy White Story: Boston Soul 1961-1967, a 15-track various artists compilation that pays tribute to the soul music of Boston and the legendary record store owner turned label owner and curator who captured the music on tape, is out today on Yep Roc Records; listen/buy here.

Specializing in R&B, soul, and gospel music, in 1961, Skippy White opened his first record store in Boston. Along with his radio show on WILD-AM, they served as a resource and beacon for R&B and soul until 2019, when his last store closed. For decades, fans and musicians from the Boston area and beyond would come to his store for the best and latest in R&B, soul, and gospel music. In addition to the stores, Skippy’s radio show began recording music by local Boston artists to capture the music of these great musicians.

An avid record collector, the set was curated and produced by Eli Paperboy Reed. Culled from obscure R&B, soul, and gospel 45s from the early 1960s, many of these recordings are from Eli’s private collection of 45s and acetates. The set features extensive liner notes by Peter Guralnick, Peter Wolf, Eli Paperboy Reed, and co-producer Noah Schaffer. Each provides context for the music, the time, and the impact that Skippy White, his stores, and the music he discovered and released had on those who frequented his stores, loved the music he released, and were influenced by it all.

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TVD Radar: Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come 50th anniversary vinyl edition in stores 12/9

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Celebrating five decades of his magnum opus, one of the most important reggae artists of all-time, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame® inductee, and GRAMMY® Award-winning icon Jimmy Cliff will unveil The Harder They Come 50th Anniversary Edition Vinyl on December 9, 2022 via UMe. This notably stands out as the record’s first commercial vinyl release. In addition to a 2LP gatefold wrapped jacket with lamented gloss coating, the package boasts the liner notes from the 40th Anniversary Edition in addition to brand new words courtesy of Jimmy personally and revered reggae historian Dana Smart.

In 1972, the film The Harder They Come arrived and eventually emerged as a cult classic with Cliff in the starring role. The accompanying The Harder They Come Soundtrack brought an international spotlight to reggae music. The album initially climbed to #141 on the Billboard 200, and its legacy would only grow as time passed. 2021 saw the Library of Congress choose it for preservation in the National Recording Registry, deeming it “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

The record essentially put reggae on the map. Rolling Stone touted The Harder They Come Soundtrack on its coveted “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” In tandem, Jamaica recently celebrated its 60th Anniversary of Independence from the UK on August 6, 2022. If you haven’t experienced The Harder They Come, now is your chance…

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Graded on a Curve:
Jerry Lee Lewis,
“Live” at the Star Club, Hamburg

Remembering Jerry Lee Lewis.Ed.

When it comes to the strange and ornery case of Jerry Lee Lewis, it’s illustrative to look to genetics. And the fact that it could be claimed that Jerry Lee got his contrary and bellicose genes from his great grandfather, of whom it was said he could knock a horse to its knees with a single punch. But it doesn’t really matter where he got his meanness; all that matter is he’s a volatile menace with a police record longer than a king cobra, and is every bit as venomous.

Exhibit one: following a dispute between The Killer and Chuck Berry over who would open a show, Jerry lost. He proceeded to drive the audience mad, set the piano on fire, and continued playing despite the flames before finally stalking off stage and saying to Berry, “Follow that, n____.” Exhibit two: At a birthday party for Lewis, he produced a .357 magnum, pointed it in the general direction of his bass player Norman “Butch” Owens, announced, “I’m gonna shoot that Coca-Cola bottle over there or my name isn’t Jerry Lee Lewis,” and proceeded to shoot Owens twice in the chest. Guess he wasn’t Jerry Lee Lewis that day. And to add insult to injury, Lewis’ current girlfriend’s only response to what amounted to near homicide was to holler at Owens for bleeding on her carpet.

Why, the Killer doesn’t even give a flying fuck about you or me. A fervent believer in the firebrand form of Christianity purveyed by his televangelist cousin Jimmy Lee Swaggart, he is dead certain that playing rock’n’roll buys you a one-way ticket to Hell, and has been quoted as saying, “I’m dragging the audience to Hell with me.” Dress for warm weather, people.

Over the course of his long and checkered career Lewis has gone from playing rock’n’roll to playing country and back, but he has always believed he’s destined for Hellfire, as if predestined not for Heaven but for fire and brimstone. He makes all those satanic metal guys look like pussies; how many of them, if pressed, really believe they’re going to Hell because of the music they play?

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 89: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter

Meet one of the most celebrated session guitarists of all time—a man who was also once a full member of both Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

Goodness knows that the previous sentence gives he and I plenty to talk about, but we’re here to discuss the fact that Jeff has released his first solo album after being in the music industry for over half a century; the album is titled, Speed of Heat which clues us into another one of Jeff’s interests: missile technology!

Music and the arts are driven by passion and creativity, but there is also a science that can propel the mediocre into the extraordinary. When those two traits combine, well, hold on to your socks! Baxter is a master at doing just that, and he is more than happy to explain the commonalities between those two disparate chosen career paths.

Of course, we go over all of the territories that you’re hoping we do: we discuss his time slinging a six-string (and more) in the Doobies and the Dan, the music off of his energetic first solo record, where exactly the “Chuck Berry Portal” is and how to get through it, the many heavyweight legends he’s worked with and—since you never know where a conversation with Jeff Baxter might end up—you can also expect to learn about the latest in missile defense systems. He’s intellectually voracious, never boring, and has the coolest nickname you’d ever want. Let’s spend some time with Skunk.

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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Graded on a Curve: Budgie, Budgie

There are lots of reasons you should own the 1971 LP Budgie. There’s the cool cover with its fierce-looking budgerigar in samurai garb riding a mighty steed across a lavender sky. Then there are the three guys in the band, who are Welsh and scruffy and look like they enjoy heading down to the tafarn to drink cwrw like everybody in Wales. And let us not forget (who could?) song titles like “Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman,” which not even a consortium of French surrealist poets could come up with. But the real reason to own Budgie’s debut LP is its 1,280 HP riffage, which has made Budgie heavy metal legends amongst both fans and subsequent bands like Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age, and Metallica, the last of whom have covered a pair of Budgie’s songs.

The Cardiff power trio featured singer and bass player Berke Shelley, whose high-register vocals bring to mind Robert Plant or a less annoying Geddy Lee, who has over the course of his long career mastered the daunting feat of sounding like a parody of himself. Shelley and drummer Ray Phillips put the heavy in the metal, but it’s guitarist Tony Bourge’s Stonehenge-sized riffs that make Budgie one of the finest of metal pioneers.

Aside from drippy fifty-second acoustic throwaway “Everything in My Heart” and the quite pretty acoustic love song “You and I,” Budgie is one kick-ass, high-octane, stick-to-the-basics metal mover. The obvious point of comparison is Led You Know Who, cut with Black Sabbath, but Budgie aren’t as eclectic as the former (no California hippie rock) or as heavy as the latter. Still there’s no denying Zep’s influence on “The Author,” with its acoustic guitar intro and (once the song kicks into gear) guitar riff that is pure “Immigrant Song.”

Meanwhile, “The Rape of the Locks” is all Bourge, from the opening squall of feedback to the fire sale of a guitar solo that dominates the proceedings. But what really makes the song indispensable is its storyline, which has some cretin (the unmitigated gall!”) out to give Berke’s a haircut, which ain’t going to happen because Shelley needs his long hair the way Popeye the Sailor Man needs his spinach (“I grow my mind inside my head/I grow my hair to keep it fed”)!

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In rotation: 10/31/22

The Case for Listening to Complete Discographies: In a world of obscene musical abundance, a listener needs a strategy. Earlier this year, the critic and historian Ted Gioia published an essay called “Is Old Music Killing New Music?” At first, this looks like a textbook case of Betteridge’s law, which states that “any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word ‘no.’ ” Nevertheless, old music’s encroachment on the cultural space once occupied by new music has become difficult to ignore. Gioia marshals compelling evidence: from a music-industry analytics firm that found that old songs represented seventy per cent of the U.S. music market in 2021 to recent bidding wars over song catalogues by artists who are now septuagenarians, octogenarians, or dead. own musical life in this decade offers an extreme example, dominated by the likes of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. This resoundingly un-idiosyncratic list is the result not of an ossified musical incuriosity but of a deliberately undertaken project….

Philadelphia, PA | 20 years for Hill music store even surprises its owner: Brian Reisman never thought his business would last 20 years when he opened Hideaway Music Store in the parking lot behind what is now Chestnut Hill Sushi on the 8600 block of Germantown Avenue. “I was tired of freelance writing for many years, and I wanted to try something new,” he said last Friday. “I thought that Chestnut Hill needed a music store, but I am surprised to still be here after all this time.” Reisman and his son Sean, who has worked with him for the entire two decades, are celebrating this Saturday, Oct. 29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the current store’s location, the ‘hideaway’ spot in the ground floor of 8232 Germantown Ave. (The store has moved around the Avenue over the years, moving to the spot next to Weavers Way and alto to the top of the hill, just opposite Bethlehem Pike before settling in where it is now.) They’re planning cupcakes with the Hideaway logo, and 20 percent off any new or used record except for sealed box sets. Only one per customer.

Should You Buy a Vintage Turntable? There are definite pros and cons to buying a vintage turntable instead of a new one. We weigh them up. Vintage audio is undoubtedly in vogue. Vinyl has been experiencing an incredible renaissance — so much so that it has encouraged a whole industry to making new turntables, preamps, phono cartridges and other components. And it seems to have had a trickle down effect into other old-school playback formats. Interest in CDs and cassette tapes are both experiencing resurgences, as well (albeit not to the same level as vinyl). But it’s not just listening to vintage audio formats that a lot of hi-fi enthusiasts love — it’s listening to them on vintage components and machines. Any purist will tell you that “they just don’t make them like they used to” and that’s actually true in some ways. The look, feel and nostalgia of an old-school turntable or receiver is simply unmatched. The good news is that if you’re in the market for a vintage turntable — like an old-school Rega Planar 3 or a Thorens TD-125 MK II — they are out there. It’s not actually that difficult to find a vintage machine. But purchasing one and getting it in working order might not be as straightforward as you think.

New Westminster, BC | Chat about books and music at this groovy New West bookstore: Bored of adding books to your online cart? Pick up a dog-eared classic, and listen to a vinyl record at the city’s newest bookstore, Groove Cat Books and Records. A slim Kindle is great for your travel bag, but even the most high-tech one cannot replace the faint vanilla scent that an old sepia-coloured book gives off, does it? That’s what the Coquitlam-based couple John and Catherine Hughes thought as well when they decided to open a used book and record store, Groove Cat Books and Records, (Groove Cats because “we love cats and we like the idea of all things hip, groovy and cool”) on New West’s Sixth Street. Starting an independent bookstore in the age of online retail behemoths like Amazon was “terrifying,” said John. “You have to be really sure that it’s what you want to do, and you’ve got to be brave,” he said. Besides that, there should be a business plan that works, the necessary money, and the organization behind all of that, before making the move

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TVD’s The Idelic Hour with Jon Sidel

Greetings from Laurel Canyon!

Our band could be your life / Real names’d be proof / Me and Mike Watt played for years / Punk rock changed our lives

We learned punk rock in Hollywood / Drove up from Pedro / We were fucking corn dogs / We’d go drink and pogo

Mr. Narrator / This is Bob Dylan to me / My story could be his songs / I’m his soldier child

Our band is scientist rock / But I was E. Bloom and Richard Hell / Joe Strummer, and John Doe / Me and Mike Watt, playing guitar

Hearing Dee Boone’s words rocketed me back to age 20. Oh, those were days filled with rocking fun times.

By the way, has the pandemic and fentanyl bummed your Halloween? Certainly more so than AIDS and ecstasy? The holiday and time of the year has always been my favorite, so I’m trying to keep my “boo” and “hoos” apart.

This said, I found it way more appealing to pull a few “cry in your soups” into the mix than the usual spooky tunes. The forecast is for absolute ideal weather in the canyon so I’m sending good vibes for all you kids out there.

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New Release Section: Matthew Sweet covers Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Today, Matthew Sweet is releasing his version of Kate Bush’s landmark 1978 single, “Wuthering Heights,” on all digital platforms. This is the first new recording from Sweet since his January 2021 album Catspaw, which was recorded pre-covid. Sweet, known for his collaborations with hotshot guitarists over the years, plays the searing guitar solo on the track as well as all the additional instruments save for the drums, played by longtime Sweet sideman Ric Menck.

“As the latest season of Stranger Things (Netflix) came and went this year, it was hard not to notice the resurgence of Kate Bush’s song “Running Up That Hill” in this covid recovering world of 2022.

I do love that song, but this got me thinking about a piano and vocal demo I once made of “Wuthering Heights,” the 1978 hit that first brought the 19 year-old Kate to the attention of the world of music. Like Kate herself, I have a strong amount of Irish blood in me, as my mother, like hers, was 100% Irish. In fact, I have dual citizenship between Ireland and America. Maybe this helps account for my always feeling a mystic kinship with Kate, despite our music being worlds apart in so many ways.

Regardless, my wife recently urged me to dig up that demo of mine, and although I couldn’t find a multitrack of it, I did locate a rough of the song I had bounced down many years ago. And so it is I came to overdub some guitars and other instruments and produce this single track for release in tribute to Kate. In this streaming world we live in, there is nothing to stop me from doing so.

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Graded on a Curve:
Black Oak Arkansas, Keep the Faith

Remembering Rickie Lee Reynolds, born on this day in 1948.Ed.

Black Oak Arkansas may well be—and I say this with affection, and as a fan—the most stunningly inept band in the history of rock. The Village Voice’s Robert Christgau once rhetorically asked why Black Oak—despite relentless touring and a big name tour manager—still couldn’t “sell out the Academy of Music on a Saturday night.” His answer: “They are actively untalented, incapable of even an interesting cop.”

Me, I think Christgau’s right about Black Oak’s incompetence, but wrong about everything else. I find Black Oak Arkansas tremendously interesting, exciting even, thanks in large part to the uncanny vocal acrobatics of the perpetually shirtless James “Jim Dandy” Mangrum. I find it hard to describe Mangrum’s voice except by comparing it to the pitching of Dock Ellis on that immortal June night in 1970 when he threw a no-hitter while on acid. Ellis’ pitches may have been all over the place—he walked eight batters, and probably narrowly missed hitting and killing a few more—but nobody could touch them, because Ellis was possessed.

And so it goes for Mangrum. He can’t carry a tune in his purse, and is likely to go from a macho growl to high-pitched keening to flat out making rabid possum noises in the amount of time it took me to write this sentence. And it’s not like he’s trying. For the horrible truth is that Big Jim has no control of the sounds coming out of his mouth whatsoever. All he can do is let rip and hope nobody gets hurt. It’s scary but in a wonderful way, that is if you possess a sense of humor and are wearing a state-of-the-art batting helmet.

The band’s 1972 sophomore LP Keep the Faith includes all of the hallmarks of the Black Oak Arkansas sound—a three-guitar attack that is far too psychedelic to fit neatly into the “Southern Rock” genre, a barely competent backbeat, and the snake oil ululations of Mangrum, who pitches his vocals just about everywhere but over the plate. And despite what Christgau says, Black Oak Arkansas has some more than decent songs on offer, even if the boys in the band don’t exactly do a stellar job of performing them.

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TVD Radar: Bryan Ferry, Taxi yellow vinyl reissue in stores 11/25

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Bryan Ferry’s eighth solo studio album Taxi is being re-issued for the very first time since its initial release in March 1993. The album will be available from November 25th 2022 on limited edition yellow vinyl, and on CD in a limited edition Japanese-style oversized card sleeve, with new artwork overseen by Bryan. Pre-order Taxi HERE.

The news closely follows the 50th anniversary of Roxy Music, celebrated by the band with an arena tour of North America and the UK, widely acclaimed by critics and fans as a triumphant career high with stunning live performances of some of the most cherished and celebrated songs in popular music.

Alongside his peerless song writing as frontman and bandleader of Roxy Music, and as a prolific solo artist, Bryan Ferry remains a master of the art of the cover version. From the 1973 release of his first solo LP These Foolish Things—itself a collection of the rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, and pop songs so vital to his musical development—to the 2022 “Love Letters” EP, featuring new interpretations of four classic love songs, Bryan’s work has seen him illuminate the songbooks of some of the most acclaimed songwriters of all time.

Stephen Sondheim to Cole Porter, Holland/Dozier/Holland and Lennon/McCartney to Al Green, Bryan’s covers of classics like “Jealous Guy” (a UK Number 1 single), “Let’s Stick Together” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” have come to be regarded as the definitive versions.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 88: Kaleta and Super Yamba Band

The Afrobeat sound has become a very popular genre in the last few years. Many bands—from all over the world—have embraced this exciting, funky sound that combines elements of West African music and couples it with American funk, jazz, and soul. While these recent creators make some wonderfully exciting music, the Super Yamba Band has a secret weapon that the others don’t have and his name is Kaleta.

Born in the West African country of Benin Republic and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Kaleta is a longtime veteran of the Afrobeat scene. He has toured with none other than the godfather of Afrobeat music, Fela Kuti, but over the years has also lent his guitar chops to Lauryn Hill and others. Kaleta finds himself teaming up with the Super Yamba Band, a group of young American musicians who have a supreme devotion and dedication to the music of West Africa and Afrobeat in particular.

Kaleta & Super Yamba Band find themselves back on the road still supporting their last release, Mèdaho. However, they reveal that they do have a completed follow-up album on the shelf and promise to get to that right after their tour ends. But first, it’s what some might see as a pinnacle of their performing schedule, The Kennedy Center on 11/3.

Also joining us in the conversation is the band’s drummer, Daniel Yount; he and Kaleta explore and describe how much they value the authenticity that Kaleta brings to their group, but also how Kaleta appreciates the youth and exploratory nature of the band that he has connected with. On all accounts, it seems as though this symbiotic union was a match made in heaven. You’ll also hear us discuss how Kaleta found his favorite records in Lagos, and the experience of being fined by Fela Kuti. You can hear a lot of Afrobeat out there nowadays, but only the Super Yamba Band has someone who was there during its formation; only they have Kaleta.

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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Graded on a Curve: OXBOW & Peter Brötzmann, An Eternal Reminder of Not Today/Live at Moers

Talk about your legendary collaborations. People are still talking about the Bee Gees’ 1942 collab between KC & the Sunshine Band and Hideki Tojo that brought us “Banzai Shoes” and “I’m Your Kamikaze Man.” But even it pales in comparison to this year’s mating of San Francisco noise rock band OXBOW and German avant garde saxophonist and clarinetist Peter Brötzmann. During the live concert at the annual music festival in Moers Germany captured on this 2022 LP, OXBOW and Brötzmann produce some of the most emotionally powerful music of this or any year, and if your tastes run to either experimental noise rock or jazz this is the album for you.

Since the tail end of the 1960s, elder statesman Brötzmann has produced some of the most abrasive music in all of jazz, both as a band leader and in collaboration with a wide variety of artists. His 1968 release Machine Gun remains perhaps the most effective room clearer of all time, and his mid-eighties to early nineties LPs with free jazz supergroup Last Exit, which included guitarist Sonny Sharrock, bass guitarist Bill Laswell, and drummer Ronald Shannon Jackson, released five albums of ear-molesting genius.

OXBOW’s gut-wrenching and downcast music is the result of the tortured vocals of Eugene S. Robinson, the nerve-fraying guitar of Niko Wenner, the heavy bottom of bass guitarist Dan Adams, and drummer Greg Davis. Robinson is a Renaissance man who cuts an impressive figure—not only is he a giant of a man and real-life fighter and author of Fight: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Ass-Kicking but Were Afraid You’d Get Your Ass Kicked for Asking, he’s written for scores of top-notch publications, appeared on television and in films, and engaged in too many other creative ventures to list here. He likes to take his clothes off on stage and has been known to put unruly audience members on the injury list. Call it suicide by lead singer.

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In rotation: 10/28/22

Jackson, MI | In the pre-holiday scramble, small businesses see a little bit of supply chain relief: Although inflation has been running persistently high — minus food and gas, it was 6.6% year over year in September, as measured by the consumer price index — there are signs that supply chain pressures might be easing. Small retailers are seeing some of that. Phillip Rollins, the owner of the record, comic and apparel store OffBeat in Jackson, Mississippi, said his costs have been stable recently. “As far as costs, there hasn’t been a big change per se,” Rollins said. “We’ve kind of minimized costs by switching to a new printer for our apparel line. Everything else has pretty much stayed kind of the same since last month.” Rollins chief concern has been moving his store to a new location in downtown Jackson. “I’m still kind of getting settled in at the new location,” he said. “We only been open a week now. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future holds at this location.”

Bellefonte, PA | You Spin Me Round: Fez Records Opens Near Downtown Bellefonte: Calling all music junkies! Fez Records opened up near downtown Bellefonte earlier this month on October 1. Owned by Michael Fester, the shop buys and sells a variety of old and new records, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Fester moved to Pennsylvania a little over a year ago. Before moving to Bellefonte, Fester had traveled and lived all over the country. “I moved here from Arizona and before that I was in Las Vegas,” Fester said. “I lived my first eight years on this planet in the suburbs of Chicago and for the last 40-something years, I lived in the desert. Last year, the opportunity arose to move out here. My fiancée and I agreed that it was time for a change. When I visited here a few years prior, I was so enamored with the downtown Bellefonte area.” …“I have always loved going into record shops as a kid and as a young adult,” Fester said. “All my best memories revolved around music…”

Phoenix, AZ | Recordbar Radio Is Opening Central Records in Downtown Phoenix Later This Year: When the COVID-19 pandemic turned everything inside out for the better part of two years, the music world saw projects large and small alike sidetracked or completely upended. Just ask Jake Stellarwell and others involved with the Valley’s Recordbar Radio, who had their plans to open local music and cultural hub put on hold. Now, more than two years later, Stellarwell tells Phoenix New Times they’re finally getting things back on track with the project, which is now known as Central Records. The new business, which Stellarwell describes as a combination record store, radio studio, performance venue, art gallery, and cafe, is set to open later this fall along Central Avenue near Garfield Street. Its creation is a culmination of three years of work, which included a lot of what Stellarwell, a local promoter and DJ, calls “frustration, sacrifice, and compromise.”

Saint Paul, MN | Late Night Vinyl returns with introspection and groove: Long after classes were over for the day on Wednesday, Oct. 5, Mark Mandarano wheeled a turntable onto the Mairs Concert Hall stage. At 10:30 p.m., nearly 50 Macalester students gathered in the venue for Late Night Vinyl. Mandarano, the director of instrumental activities at Macalester, has held Late Night Vinyl three times a semester since 2013. Every session, he chooses an album to play on vinyl and invites students and faculty to attend. For the first late night spin of the semester, he chose Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album “What’s Going On,” a record that Mandarano has looked forward to featuring. “[‘What’s Going On’] is deep and rich, and is one of those albums that is a unit,” Mandarano said. “It works as a suite, as a progress from moment to moment. There’s a lot to be gained from listening attentively to this album.”

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TVD Live Shots: Iron Maiden at Capital One Arena, 10/23

Iron Maiden, the heavy metal titans from East London made Capital One Arena in Washington, DC their home last Sunday evening for their Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022. Playing to a sold out crowd of 20,000+, Steve Harris and the boys filled every seat clear up to the nosebleed sessions.

Fortunately, no matter where you were in the arena on Sunday night, there’s two things that were undeniable. First, the energy (and volume) of Iron Maiden’s performance was a spectacle in itself. Secondly, the electricity that the crowd gave back to the band was uncanny. It’s a rare gift when these elements come together—and Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson owns it, feeding the crowd exactly what they wanted with seemingly endless stamina.

In distinctly good form, Iron Maiden blazed through the evening’s setlist which spanned material both old and new(er). One song after another, the audience hung right with the band, singing along with every word of every song. The magic didn’t stop there. An Iron Maiden show wouldn’t be complete without tons of props, background changes, large scale pyrotechnics, fog machines, bone chilling theatrics, and enough raw pageantry to make even John Cena jealous.

Iron Maiden wasted no time bringing their beloved mascot, Eddie to the stage to join his bandmates. During the very first song of the set, “Sanjutsu,” Eddie appeared in full Samurai armor wielding a blood covered sword. He took turns battling band members one by one before he retreated backstage. Not to worry though, Eddie would appear throughout the night in some form or another.

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Graded on a Curve:
Judas Priest,
Screaming for Vengeance

Celebrating K. K. Downing on his 71st birthday.Ed.

Six Six Six/My Judas Priest tix/I’m out in the parking lot/And I’m looking for kicks!

What am I supposed to say about Judas Priest, Birmingham England’s contribution to heavy metal, that hasn’t already been said by those three great music critics, Bart Simpson and Beavis and Butthead? Judas Priest has received the imprimatur of the greats, for being the guys who put out “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight” on their groundbreaking 1980 LP English Steel, and what’s more introduced plenty of your basic heavy metal tropes (S&M gear, operatic vocals, the twin guitar attack) that we now take for granted. In short, I’m going to have to reach to find anything original to say about Judas Priest, and I’m not sure I have the cojones. Beavis and Butthead’s rendition of “Breaking the Law” captures the essence of the band better than any critic ever will.

But I’m nothing if not intrepid, and Judas Priest has released 17 studio albums starting with 1974’s Rocka Rolla, which leaves me with lots to natter on about. Like the infamous civil action following the suicide of one young man and the attempted suicide of another, which their parents alleged were the result of a backwards masked message on a Judas Priest album saying “Do it.” It’s possible the subliminal message was there, but it’s also possible the message was encouraging the pair to buy Big Macs, or learn Esperanto. Personally I think the whole backwards masking thing is bunk, but just in case it’s real and works, I’ve placed a subliminal message or two in this review encouraging you to click on the Like button.

What else can I say about the great Judas Priest? Well, singer Rob Halford used to appear on stage on a Harley-Davidson, which I would probably think was pretty rad if I hadn’t (no kidding) seen Karen Carpenter do the exact same thing in the mid-seventies. And she never wrecked said Harley while doing so, as Halford did, colliding with a drum riser obscured by the dry ice that metal fans so love.

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