Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Enormous: The Gorge Story documentary streaming now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | As preparations are underway for another busy concert season at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy, WA, unreleased footage from the widely acclaimed documentary film, Enormous: The Gorge Story—featuring Dave Matthews, Jason Mraz, Lake Street Dive, Shakey Graves, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Steve Miller and others—has been released, finding acts creating comedic viewpoints on how the topography of The Gorge could have been formed. The reel is a compilation of these humorous outtakes starting with Dave Matthews who is gearing up to headline The Gorge with another installment of his three-night engagements this summer.

Enormous: The Gorge Story was directed by Nic Davis and produced by Tim Jack, CEO of JACKTV and 4:08 Productions, both earning an Emmy Award for their work on the film. Additionally, Enormous: The Gorge Story secured multiple film festival awards, and found critical acclaim from The New York Times and Rolling Stone during its theatrical release.

It’s a story of unlikely beginnings and beautiful accidents that no one saw coming. Enormous: The Gorge Story chronicles the evolution of a family-owned Washington winery—with a makeshift plywood stage—that eventually became “The Gorge,” an internationally-renowned concert venue that has attracted over seven million fans, and the world’s biggest musicians, to a patch of rural farmland “150 miles from nowhere.”

Despite the long trek (and perhaps because of it), The Gorge has become “a pilgrimage for the artist and the audience,” according to Jason Mraz, who first played at the amphitheater in its parking lot during one of Dave Matthews’ epic three-day shows. And if you’ve ever been to The Gorge, you know exactly what he means. The setting is breathtaking, the performances are unparalleled, and the community among its fans is undeniable.

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Graded on a Curve:
Taj Mahal,
Taj Mahal

Celebrating Taj Mahal on his 82nd birthday.Ed.

Taj Mahal’s been at it for longer than some of us (myself included) have been alive, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. He’s got an extensive rack of recordings under his belt, with his self-titled ’68 debut being the most sensible place to begin. Whether a person chooses to scoop up one or more of his albums, elects to soak up what he’s putting down in the live setting, or lets it all hang out and does both, the result will certainly be a highly enlightening good time.

There isn’t really another musician quite like Henry St. Clair Fredericks, the man known to the world by his stage and recording moniker Taj Mahal. While an almost ludicrous number of players have explored the bottomless well of inspiration that is the blues, few have engaged with the form in such a complex, multifaceted manner while remaining so naturally accessible to listeners from different generations and varied backgrounds.

As a farmer and graduate of the University of Massachusetts, where he majored in agriculture and also studied ethnomusicology, he’s emblematic of the once common but increasingly rare phenomenon of individuals well-versed in both the fruits of physical, land-based toil and the rewards of intellectual pursuit. And as a musician, it could perhaps be summed up that Taj Mahal was just substantially more curious than the majority of those touched by the blues impulse, recognizing in the music a connection to a much wider global experience.

While most of his cohorts tapped into one or two streams of the blues; say the early acoustic “country” style and the later electric form it directly inspired, or the grit and fire of ‘50s R&B and the attempts at sophisticating it for a wider audience that developed afterward, Taj interacted with a much broader spectrum and fused it all with distinct but stylistically compatible genres. As his career has progressed he’s incorporated the music of Africa, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific into his vast thing; in fact, after moving to Hawaii in the ‘80s he began hanging socially with local players, a circumstance that resulted in the formation of The Hula Blues Band.

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Graded on a Curve:
Nico,
The Marble Index

You have to hand it to Nico—she made her mark in rock history by dint of a set of vocal cords that would have made Siberia jealous. You have to put on winter clothes to listen to them.

The German one-time actress/model made her mark with the Velvet Underground, of course, then embarked on a solo career, and while her debut album is accessible in a shivery Teutonic way, her second album, 1968’s The Marble Index, is about as huggable as an ice machine. It’s one frigid piece of vinyl. Heavy gloves are necessary just to put it on the stereo. And talk about catatonically depressing. I strongly suspect it was Nico’s vocals that led Cher to say of the early music of the Velvets, “It will replace nothing but suicide.” This has not stopped The Marble Index from becoming a real cult favorite. Some people like dying in the snow.

So far as I know, Nico’s first musical press clipping was Richard Goldstein’s “A Quiet Night at the Balloon Farm.” Goldstein is worth quoting. “[The Velvet Underground] are special. They even have a chanteuse—Nico, who is half goddess, half icicle. If you say bad things about her singing, she doesn’t talk to you. If you say nice things, she doesn’t talk to you either. If you say that she sounds like a bellowing moose, she might smile if she digs the sound of that in French. On-stage, she is somewhat less than communicative. But she sings in perfect mellow ovals. It sounds something like a cello getting up in the morning. All traces of melody disappear early in her solo.” And so on.

But back to The Marble Index. One of its champions was the late, great Lester Bangs, who praised it despite the fact that it “scared” him. He described it as “self-torture.” Now that’s what I call a glowing review. The album was produced by John Cale, who had special things to say about Nico’s non-negotiable determination to accompany her trance-like vocals on harmonium on every track. Said Cale, “The harmonium was out of tune with everything. It wasn’t even in tune with itself.” He was wrong. The harmonium is in tune with her vocals, which are tuneless.

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TVD Radar: Yes, Fragile (Super Deluxe Edition) LP/4CD/Blu-ray in stores 6/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Yes’s fourth album, Fragile, first reached the American Top 10 in February 1972. Reaching platinum in the U.K. and double platinum in the U.S., the record launched the group to new heights with hits like “Roundabout” and its beloved B-side, “Long Distance Runaround.”

This summer, Rhino is releasing an extensive reissue of Fragile featuring a newly remastered version of the original album on both CD and vinyl, plus rare and unreleased recordings. A Blu-ray disc completes the collection with Steven Wilson’s new mixes, including the album in Dolby Atmos and 5.1 Mix DTS-HD MA. Fragile (Super Deluxe Edition) will be available on June 28, including four CDs, one LP, and a Blu-ray disc. Renowned audio engineer Bernie Grundman cut lacquers for the set’s LP. Pre-Order HERE. The music will also be available on digital and streaming platforms on the same day. Ahead of the album’s release, an alternate version of “Long Distance Runaround/The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)” is out digitally now.

Fragile marked keyboardist Rick Wakeman’s debut with Yes, which included Jon Anderson (lead vocals), Chris Squire (bass, vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), and Steve Howe (guitar). After he joined in the summer of 1971, the band recorded nine songs for the album, four group arrangements (“Roundabout”), and five individual compositions, including Anderson’s “We Have Heaven” and Howe’s instrumental “Mood For A Day.”

Fragile (Super Deluxe Edition) introduces a new remix of the album and instrumental mixes by Wilson. In addition, two discs of rarities provide a glimpse of the album’s creative journey, from early versions of “Roundabout” and “South Side Of The Sky” to unreleased live recordings from the Fragile Tour, including “Long Distance Runaround / The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus).”

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Graded on a Curve: Robert Fripp,
Exposure

Celebrating Robert Fripp, born on this date in 1946.Ed.

What a great album! The songs are brilliant! The entire cast of musicians, which include Daryll Hall, Tony Levin, and Terri Roche defy the laws of talent! Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins also make guest appearances! And Mary Lou Green does hair! And does a bang-up job of it I’m sure!

On 1979’s Exposure—the first of his four solo albums—Robert Fripp condescends to the conventional, or as close as the dyed-in-the-wool avant gardist would get to making an album for progressive rock haters. Fripp has spent his long and illustrious career on the experimental end of the rock party; he co-founded and played guitar for King Crimson on all thirteen of the albums they released between 1969 and 2003.

He also kept himself busy during those years by recording two LPs with Giles, Giles & Fripp, two with the League of Gentleman, and collaborating with the likes of Brian Eno and David Sylvian. He also fell in with the crowd attracted to the work of Russian spiritualist George Gurdjieff and went off to a ten-month course at Gloucestershire, where he achieved so much deep spiritual wisdom he would later say, “I was pretty suicidal.” I’m thinking of signing up myself.

On Exposure Fripp enlisted the usual array of prog-rock musicians, including Brian Eno, Tony Levin, Peter Gabriel, and Peter Hammill of Van der Graaf Generator fame. But his real genius lay in enlisting Hall and Oates’ Daryl Hall in the project. Hall was not as surprising a choice as, say, John Denver, but many wondered why Fripp engaged a top notch pop songwriter and blue-eyed soul singer to participate in a project that—with the noticeable exception of “North Star”—made so little of Hall’s perceived musical strengths.

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TVD Radar: Monsters
of Folk, 15th anniversary expanded reissue in stores 6/14

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Monsters of Folk—the acclaimed band comprised of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), M. Ward, Conor Oberst, and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes)—are celebrating the 15th anniversary of their self-titled, one-and-only album with an expanded new edition, arriving Friday, June 14 via ATO Records on clear vinyl and digital download. Pre-orders are available now. In addition, a number of multi-colored vinyl options will also be offered exclusively via Barnes & Noble, Vinyl Me Please, and Rough Trade.

First released in 2009, Monsters of Folk now sees the original 15-song album joined by five additional studio tracks from a previously unreleased 2012 session featuring “Fifth Monster” Will Johnson (Centro-matic), including the high-energy heartland rock anthem, “Disappeared,” premiering today alongside an official visualizer streaming now at YouTube.

“That session was very much kept in the moment,” says Will Johnson. “I remember looking over at Jim playing drums on ‘Disappeared,’ joyfully bashing away, and it harbored that same exuberance of starting your first band: that moment in the garage where things take flight, and the energy and happiness just lead you onward.”

Twenty years ago, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, M. Ward, and Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis came together for a revue-style tour that found the four musicians quickly developing a rarefied camaraderie. Taking their moniker from a tongue-in-cheek nickname bestowed by the tour’s road crew, the so-called Monsters of Folk reconvened a half-decade later and set to work on a self-titled debut album that alchemized their distinct sensibilities into 15 idiosyncratic yet strangely timeless songs, redefining the context of the supergroup while fully devoting themselves to the singular magic of creating without constraint.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Supremes, We Remember Sam Cooke
& The Temptations,
Wish It Would Rain

The productivity of Motown Records endures as a highpoint in 20th Century music, an achievement that endures right up to the present. Long playing records are a superb point of entry into this bountiful garden of aural delights, and beginning this month Elemental Music kicks off the Motown Sound Collection, a thoughtfully assembled series that will reissue over two dozen Motown albums monthly throughout 2024 and into next year from a wide range of celebrated acts. The first two LPs, The Supremes’ We Remember Sam Cooke and The Temptations’ Wish It Would Rain and are available now.

There would seem to be little argument that Motown Records’ crucial format was the 45rpm single. For over two decades, Barry Gordy’s organization was an unstoppable hit machine (indeed, Hitsville, USA), and singles delivered a steady stream of material to the radio stations where the hitmaking process was extended, inspiring listeners young and old to bring those songs into their homes for repeat play.

If the hit single was Motown’s bread and butter, full length albums were a further validation of success. It’s to Gordy’s credit that he didn’t simply choose to dump hit singles and their flipsides onto LPs as an afterthought. Taking a considered and occasionally thematic approach to album assemblage secured Motown as a prestige enterprise in an era where youth music was still undervalued as largely disposable. The label’s LPs were regularly crossover hits themselves.

Recorded and released in 1965, We Remember Sam Cooke is the fifth album by The Supremes and the third in a trio of themed albums, following The Supremes Sing Country, Western and Pop, and A Bit of Liverpool. Those prior entries have their moments (and a reissue of the Brit Invasion set is on the horizon from Elemental), but the Cooke tribute connects as the most natural fit for the vocal group’s talents.

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TVD Radar: Dead Man’s Town: A Tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A., tri-color vinyl in stores 6/14

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Artists include Blitzen Trapper, Low, Trampled By Turtles, Joe Pug, Amanda Shires, Quaker City Night Hawks, Jason Isbell, Nicole Atkins, and more.

2024 marks the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A. Although it would become his biggest selling album with seven top 10 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars says “any of those songs could be played with acoustic guitar alone and still be great.” Taking this idea as its premise, Dead Man’s Town: A Tribute to Born in the U.S.A. strips the album’s twelve indelible originals to the core, with contributions from Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, Low, Nicole Atkins, Justin Townes Earle, Blitzen Trapper, Joe Pug, Trampled by Turtles, and more.

Rolling Stone described Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires’ Dave Cobb-produced cover of “Born In The U.S.A.” as “reimagining ‘Born in the U.S.A.’… with a reduced approach more influenced by that of the acoustic ‘Nebraska.’” Isbell says of his cover, “”Born In The U.S.A.” is one of my favorites because so many people have seemingly misunderstood the lyrical content and the song’s overall tone. When you listen to the demo, the dark, minor key arrangement makes it clear that this is not strictly a song of celebration. We wanted to stay true to that version.” Amanda Shires adds, “I love that the song paints a picture of struggle in the face of the American dream, and the irony in the chorus is delivered with such force that it nearly transcends irony altogether.”

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Graded on a Curve:
VA, You Can Walk
Across It On The Grass: The Boutique Sounds of Swinging London

If a time machine existed, there might be several periods and more importantly places cultural travelers would love to go back and visit. Going way back, a trip to Florence during the Renaissance would be heaven for art lovers. Also appealing would be Paris in the 1920s, an explosion of modern art and literature and an exploration of new modes of living.

More recently, there were many happening places to be during the 1960s, such as the Greenwich Village folk scene and San Francsico for the psychedelic experience, but few would rival England during the Swinging London scene. While this time only lasted a few years, primarily in the mid-’60s, that time-frame is somewhat elastic. Though new modes of living, art, fashion, photography, film, pirate radio, the shops, the clubs and other happenings exploded, perhaps the music of the era was its best feature and has had the most enduring legacy.

This new 3-CD, 63-track box set presents some of the grooviest sounds from that amorphous time, with tracks here from 1963 through 1968, but it also includes music that is part of other scenes, genres and sounds. The tracks here mostly reflect the period just before The Beatles made the A Hard Days’s Night movie and mostly before psychedelic music seemed to be at its peak.

There are many familiar names included here such as Kiki Dee, Manfred Mann, The Yardbirds, Dusty Springfield, The Troggs, The Kinks, Eric Burdon & the Animals, The Who, Tom Jones, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, The Spencer Davis Group, The Easybeats, Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames, Small Faces, Jack Bruce (including as a member of The Graham Bond Organization with Ginger Baker), The Moody Blues, and Petula Clark (with England Swings). The tracks from these artists are wonderful, some are even fairly well known and certainly Small Faces, The Kinks and The Who were also central to the mod scene.

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TVD Radar: Bruce Springsteen, Born In The U.S.A. 40th anniversary red vinyl reissue in stores 6/14

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Sony Music will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Bruce Springsteen’s history-making Born In The U.S.A. on 14th June with a special-edition release featuring new coloured vinyl and expanded packaging.

Available on translucent red vinyl, this anniversary edition of Born In The U.S.A. will feature a gatefold sleeve and exclusive booklet with archival material from the era, new liner notes penned by Erik Flannigan and a four-colour lithograph.

Released on 4th June 1984, Born In The U.S.A. had an unprecedented seven Top Ten singles, sold over 20 million copies to date and captured the pop culture zeitgeist with once-in-a-generation impact. Springsteen and The E Street Band’s accompanying Born In The U.S.A. tour included 156 sold-out performances across the globe, while tracks like “Dancing In The Dark,” “No Surrender,” and “Glory Days” remain staples of their live show to this day.

Forty years after the Born In The U.S.A. tour kicked off in the summer of 1984, Springsteen and The E Street Band started the European leg of their 2024 run last weekend in Cardiff, garnering five star reviews in The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Sun and Mail on Sunday. The tour follows a triumphant run across the continent last year, which sold 1.6 million tickets and was praised as among the best of the band’s career.

The 40th anniversary release for Born In The U.S.A. follows Sony Music’s career-spanning Best Of Bruce Springsteen collection, which is now available as an 18-track set across 2 LPs or 1 CD and digitally as an expanded 31- song package.

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Graded on a Curve:
Tim Easton,
Find Your Way

Since debuting on his own in the late ’90s, singer-songwriter Tim Easton has released a slew of records and played countless shows all over the globe. Currently in the midst of an extensive tour, his latest album Find Your Way is out May 17 on LP, CD, and digital through Black Mesa Records. It’s a robust set of blues-tinged, country-infused folky Americana that finds Easton in strong voice across ten solid songs.

Prior to releasing his first solo album Special 20 in 1998 (reissued in 2023 by Black Mesa on LP and CD), Tim Easton was part of the Haynes Boys, a Columbus, OH-based Americana outfit that released a pair of 45s and a CDEP spanning back to 1993 plus one self-titled full-length in ’96 (reissued on LP by Re-Vinyl Records in 2015). Haynes was also in Kosher Spears, and fronting the Freelan Barons, he recorded Beat the Band in 2011.

In tandem with Evan Phillips (of The Whipsaws) and Leeroy Stagger (of an extensive solo discography), Easton is also part of the contemporary folk aggregation Easton Stagger Phillips, the trio having cut two albums, One for the Ditch in 2008 and Resolution Road in 2013, both for Blue Rose Records (the Rebeltone label handled the vinyl for Resolution Road).

But now a dozen albums deep, Easton is best known as a solo artist. His latest, produced by Stagger and recorded in Victoria, British Columbia with an all-Canadian backing band that includes Geoff Hicks, Jeremy Holmes, Jeanne Tolmie, Ryland Moranz, and Tyler Lieb, opens with the title track’s strummed acoustic, double bass and snare foundation, soaring pedal steel, a hint of Dylan in Easton’s vocal, and brief injections of fiddle.

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TVD Radar: Erasure, Cowboy 2CD deluxe hardback book edition
in stores 5/31

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Erasure (Andy Bell and Vince Clarke) will release the 2CD Deluxe Hardback Book edition of 1997’s classic Cowboy album on Mute / BMG on 31 May 2024.

Cowboy—their eighth studio album, originally released in March 1997—saw the duo return to the UK Albums Top 10 and lead single, “In My Arms” (described by The Guardian as “pop at its purest”) is available here also in a rare acoustic version, giving the synth-pop ballad a more intimate feel. The “downright anthemic” (Billboard) “Don’t Say Your Love Is Killing Me” soon followed, and the 2CD collection includes a new remix by Belgium synth pop maestros, Telex. Third single “Rain” is given the remix treatment for this release by Blancmange, who celebrate their 45th 2024, and outsider pop trio Stealing Sheep.

Produced by Gareth Jones (Depeche Mode, Liars, Yann Tiersen), and Neil McLellan (The Prodigy), the album was recorded in studios in sunny Spain and in London, and released in North America on Madonna’s Maverick label. This new edition of Erasure is packed with a booklet that features sleeve notes by Electronic Sound’s Mat Smith and exclusive photographs by Peter Ashworth, and includes three previously unreleased remixes, along with B-Sides, demos, classic remixes, an extended version of their cover of Blondie’s “Rapture,” and rarities.

This is the latest release in a series of 2CD Deluxe Hardback Editions. Erasure’s eighteenth studio album, The Neon, was released in 2020, going straight into the UK Official Albums Chart at #4—their highest chart position since I Say I Say I Say.

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Graded on a Curve: Talking Heads,
Fear of Music

Celebrating David Byrne on his 71st birthday.Ed.

Am I the only one who thinks the pre-Remain in Light David Byrne was the funniest rocker this side of Randy Newman? He turned twitchy paranoia into humor, and then did such a good job of channeling his alternately hysterical and wooden persona we were left wondering whether we were listening to an actor or the real David Byrne. He was, in his own way, rock’s equivalent of Andy Kaufman.

Take “Animals” off my favorite Talking Heads LP, 1979’s Fear of Music. It may open with “I Zimbra,” that portent of the Talking Heads future what with its tribal disco, heaps of percussionists, Afro-centric rhythms, and lyrics by Dadaist Hugo Ball (to say nothing of Robert Fripp on guitar!), but on the remainder of the LP Byrne has yet to stop making sense. Crazy sense, perhaps, but sense nonetheless.

And on “Animals,” which I consider one of the funniest songs ever, Byrne plays a barking mad fellow with a paranoid grudge against our cohabitants in the animal kingdom. “I’m mad/And that’s a fact/Animals don’t help/Animals think/They’re pretty smart/Shit on the ground/See in the dark.” He then adds, “Trusting them/A big mistake!” followed by “They’re never there when you need them.” And he concludes his diatribe by ensuring us that we’re being snickered at behind our backs by our animal fellows: “I know the animals/Are laughing at us,” he sings, and then adds, “They think they know what’s best/They’re making a fool of us.” I crack up every time I hear the tune.

On “Electric Guitar,” meanwhile, Byrne fears electric guitars, or at least considers them “a crime against the state.” Indeed, a guitar finds itself before a judge and jury; their verdict, “Never listen to electric guitar.” And it’s sound advice, because as he repeats at the end of the tune, which is catchy as all hell by the way, “Someone controls electric guitar.” He never says whom, but if that isn’t paranoia, I don’t know what is.

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Graded on a Curve: Hampton Hawes,
For Real!

On May 17, the Craft Recordings Contemporary Records Acoustic Sounds series continues with an 180 gram pressing of For Real! by pianist-composer-bandleader-survivor Hampton Hawes. A superb mix of original material and standards, the LP’s six songs undeniably extend from bebop and yet are wholly in tune with their year of origin 1958, as an unperturbed West Coast ambience deepens the vibes. Cut from the original master tapes by Bernie Grundman and released in a tip-on sleeve, the set has never looked or sounded better.

Saxophonists are notorious thunder stealers, so it’s unsurprising that most of the records Hampton Hawes cut as a leader are trio sessions. His first three, all released by Contemporary in 1955–‘56, are trios with bassist Red Mitchell and drummer Chuck Thompson. These are The Hampton Hawes Trio, This Is Hampton Hawes, and Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes.

But the man did branch out a bit, following up the above albums with three more for Contemporary from a quartet that featured Mitchell, drummer Buzz Freeman and guitarist Jim Hall, all titled All Night Session!. The contents of those LPs, essentially studio jam sessions, were recorded in 1956 but not released until ’58 as three separate volumes that shared the same photograph of a suave and smiling Hawes.

Adding Hall broadened the sound with little risk of the pianist being overshadowed. Another quartet record, Four!, was recorded and released in 1958, this one replacing Hall with guitarist Barney Kessel and Freeman with drummer Shelly Manne. If lacking the loose spontaneity of the recordings with Hall, Four! benefits from a killer band as Hawes was entering his prime.

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TVD Radar: Keane,
Hopes and Fears 20th anniversary reissues
in stores 5/10

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Exactly 20 years after its initial release on May 10th, Keane announce full details of their forthcoming special remastered version of Hopes and Fears, undoubtedly one of the best debut albums ever. Pre-order HERE.

The band also take to the road this year to embark on a full world tour. US dates include LA’s prestigious Greek Theatre on September 5th, Nashville’s fabled The Ryman Auditorium on September 15th, and NYC’s legendary Radio City Music Hall on September 24th. UK and Irish dates include two huge and extremely special shows at London’s O2 Arena on May 10th and 11th.

Making up this 20th anniversary celebratory release, comes a special version of the original album remastered and cut by Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road Studios, as well as the unveiling of B-Sides, previously unreleased demos and rarities. 5.1 Dolby Atmos mixes come from David Kosten.

On the same day as the box set release, the band play the first of two London 02 Arena shows as part of a world tour that kicks off April 1st in Mexico City before reaching Europe and the UK. Their U.S. tour starts off in September at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on September 4th and concludes at Washington, DC’s The Anthem. More dates are to be announced.

Keane recently took their live show to India and South Africa, playing these countries for the very first time and proving the ever-growing demand for the band worldwide. They were joined onstage in Mumbai with Anoushka Shankar to play a special version of “Everybody’s Changing.”

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