Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Tito Puente, Mambo Diablo reissue in stores 5/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Latino proudly announces the first-ever vinyl reissue of Mambo Diablo, the acclaimed 1985 album from legendary bandleader and percussionist Tito Puente.

Offering a lively blend of standards and originals (including fan favorite “Mambo Diablo”) this long-out-of-print classic finds the King of Latin Jazz putting his own twist on classics like “Take Five,” “Lush Life,” and “Lullaby of Birdland” (featuring its composer, George Shearing, on piano).

Set for release on May 26 and available for pre-order, Mambo Diablo was cut from the original master tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl and housed in a tip-on jacket, the album also features its original liner notes by the Emmy®-winning journalist and longtime New York City TV reporter Pablo Guzman. Additionally, Mambo Diablo will make its debut on hi-res audio (192/24).

This special reissue arrives as Craft Latino celebrates the centennial of Tito Puente. Throughout the year, Puente’s vital contributions to Latin music will be honored through special reissues (including an April release of the bandleader’s 1972 classic, Para los Rumberos), exclusive digital content and much more.

Tito Puente (1923–2000) lived countless musical lives during his five-decade-long career. When he signed with Concord Picante in 1983, the celebrated songwriter, bandleader, producer, and percussionist was enjoying living legend status, with absolutely no signs of slowing down.

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Graded on a Curve:
Mott the Hoople,
Mott the Hoople

Celebrating Mick Ralphs on his 79th birthday.Ed.

The ballad of Mott the Hoople—the English glam band that gave us one of the most ecstatic moments in rock history with Ian Hunter’s “I’ve wanted to do this for years!” in “All the Young Dudes”—begins not in 1969, when the band was formed, but 3 years earlier, when one Willard Manus wrote a novel called Mott the Hoople, which rock visionary and total madman Guy “There Are Only Two Phil Spectors in the World and I Am One of Them” Stevens happened to pick up and read while in gaol for drug offenses.

We will never know what Stevens, a kind of manager, producer, and talent scout famed for his prodigious intake of mind-altering substances and eccentric behavior—his favorite method of inspiring a band in the studio was to destroy every piece of equipment in sight, or in the case of The Clash, pour beer on the piano—thought of Manus’ novel. But we do know Stevens loved its title, so much so that he saved it as a name for a truly special band. That band turned out to be Silence, which had been fecklessly wandering to and fro across the earth in search of a record contract. That is until Stevens, who worked for Island Records, saw something in them that no one else did.

That said, Stevens knew they needed molding, and he wasted no time doing it. The first thing he did after changing their name to Mott the Hoople—which nobody in Silence particularly liked—was dismiss vocalist Stan Tippins, and put out an advertisement for a new singer. The ad was answered by one Ian Hunter, a wild-haired punter who couldn’t decide whether he wanted to be Bob Dylan or Sonny Bono (seriously). He auditioned by performing Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” which made him just the person Stevens was looking for, because it was the crazed producer’s goal to create a band that fused the sounds of Dylan and the Rolling Stones.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 104: Jann Klose

To surrender does not always mean to give up. Sometimes, it takes an incredibly strong person to recognize that the flow of life is trying to tell them something. Often, one’s real power can be found by letting go and allowing the natural direction of things to take their course.

Jann Klose’s new album, titled Surrender (Honey Rose Records), is an exploration of many things, but notably that concept as well. His seventh studio album finds this pop/rock singer-songwriter honing his already sharp songwriting chops. There are some notable guests on this album as well: singer, Alicia Madison duets on a song she co-wrote with Klose titled, “Love You the Most,” fellow songwriter and friend Alex Forbes also co-writes some songs, and you’ll hear some beautiful choral embellishments courtesy of a 15-member choir from PS 171 in New York City.

If you like a pop hook, an earworm that won’t escape your brain no matter how hard you try, you’re in the right place. Join Jann and I as we discuss his newest work, his upcoming world tour, and how it doesn’t always make sense to fight against the forces around you, about how sometimes real strength can be built from learning how to surrender.

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: Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Now I Wanna Sniff Some Prog: A Tribute to the Ramones

This review marks the March 2023 Atlantic Records release of a remastered version of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s original 1977 recording of Now I Wanna Sniff Some Prog: A Tribute to the Ramones. It includes interviews with Greg Lake, the late Keith Emerson, and the late Joey Ramone, and includes never-before seen photos taken at the March 1977 recording sessions at Pathé-Marconi EMI Studios, Paris. Also included is a brief essay on the genesis of the LP written by ELP Fan Club President, the late Lester Bangs.

In January 1977 Keith Emerson of progressive rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer told rock critic Greil Marcus, “People are always after me to make snide remarks about the Ramones, as if we’re in opposing camps or something. Which is pure, unadulterated codswallop. I have enormous respect for the band, which may surprise some. And the reason I respect them is that, if you look beyond their short blasts of sheer sonic speed, what you’ll hear is a continuation of the neo-classical music tradition. What most hear when they listen to “Cretin Hop” is what has become known as “punk rock.” What I hear are musically sophisticated echoes of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. The reason very few people hear them is they’re gormless gits.”

Progressive rock’s equivalent of the Axis Powers put their money where their mouth is with 1977’s Now I Wanna Sniff Some Prog: A Tribute to the Ramones. The double album includes progrock adaptations of four songs culled from the Ramones 1976 eponymous debut and its 1977 follow-up Leave Home. After its release Joey Ramone told Bangs, “ELP get us. We would have loved to add a full orchestra and the Vienna Boys Choir to “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment” but there’s no way we could have squeezed them into CBGB.”

This critic has no musical training whatsoever and couldn’t identify 4/4 time in a police line-up, so bear with me as I discuss the songs that appear on Now I Wanna Sniff Some Prog, which received a Proggie Award in 1978 from Progressive Rock Monthly, which is published thrice annually and edited by Quentin Watt-Muzzlewit, noted Doctor of Progology at London’s Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital and keyboardist of the short-lived English progressive rock group Sistine Uncle.

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TVD Radar: The Gospel of The Hold Steady: How a Resurrection Really Feels oral history book in stores 7/25

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Hold Steady are marking their landmark 20th anniversary with the upcoming publication of The Gospel of The Hold Steady: How a Resurrection Really Feels, a new oral history by Michael Hann and The Hold Steady, arriving July 25 via Akashic Books. Preorders are available now. Pre-order options will include, a Limited-Edition Preorder Package for The Gospel of the Hold Steady includes a copy of the book signed by the band as well as the signed chapbook, TJK on THS—a behind-the-scenes photo journal by guitarist Tad J. Kubler spanning the band’s two-decade history (along with an exclusive introduction by THS frontman Craig Finn) only available as part of this package.

On January 22, 2003, four men stepped onto a stage in Brooklyn and did something no one else was doing at that time, in that place—they played old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll with skyscraping riffs and unhinged solos, topped with extraordinary lyrics about an out-of-focus America, blurred by pills and powders, filled with stories of crime and fear and desperation and redemption. Twenty years later, The Hold Steady are one of America’s most beloved rock bands, famed for live shows that turn the uninitiated into converts, and for a catalog filled with some of the most exciting yet poetic music of the twenty-first century.

The Gospel of The Hold Steady: How a Resurrection Really Feels addresses all the triumphs and setbacks of The Hold Steady’s two-decade career—from high times to near deaths, from the brink of splitting to their current renaissance—told through interviews with everyone who has played in the band, and those who have worked with them over the course of their career. The volume includes over 200 photographs and images along with essays by writers Michael Hann, Rob Sheffield, Laura Barton, and Isaac Fitzgerald, as well as the thoughts and memories of “The Unified Scene”—the devoted fans who have helped fuel and define The Hold Steady’s identity over the past 20 years.

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Demand it on Vinyl: Peggy Lee, I’m a Woman in stores 3/31

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In celebration of its 60th anniversary, Capitol Records and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), in conjunction with Peggy Lee Associates, announces the release of a digital expanded edition of Peggy Lee’s I’m A Woman.

Available at all digital service providers, the newly remastered expanded edition features the 12 original album tracks, including the Leiber and Stoller-penned title track, plus “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Culled from the Capitol vaults, five of the eight bonus tracks are previously unreleased alternate recordings and session outtakes. Liner notes for the 60th-anniversary release, written by archivist Iván Santiago, will be available at on release date.

The bonus tracks include the first take of “I’m A Woman” with a never-before-heard verse; “Jealous,” a previously unreleased collaboration with Bobby Darin with Lee singing back up and a playful exchange between the vocalists; “Please Don’t Rush Me, “Little Boat (O Barquinho),” and “Try A Little Tenderness” not included in the album’s original release; a session outtake of “Close Your Eyes”; and alternate takes of “I’m Walkin’,” and “A Taste of Honey.”

Originally released in March 1963, I’m A Woman spent 26 weeks on the album chart. Now perennially associated with her, the title track and album’s first single, “I’m A Woman,” spent nine weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 and garnered Lee a sixth consecutive GRAMMY nomination for Best Vocal Performance, Female.

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Graded on a Curve:
Black Oak Arkansas,
Raunch ‘N’ Roll Live

Celebrating Jim “Dandy” Mangrum, born on this day in 1948.Ed.

Black Oak Arkansas’ Jim “Dandy” Mangrum is the Ryne Duren of rock. Duren was the journeyman pitcher who could throw the ball like 167 mph. His only problem? He was legally blind. Not even Coke-bottle-thick glasses helped. From 1954-65 batters suffered nervous breakdowns at his appearance, because as famed Yankee manager Casey Stengel noted, “If he hit you in the head you might be in the past tense.” It didn’t improve batters’ nerves that Duren’s first pitch generally zoomed 20 feet over the catcher’s head. You never knew if Duren was going to hit the strike zone, the third base coach, or some poor kid in the bleacher seats.

Jim Dandy’s voice, same deal. I’d call it a wild pitch, but Mangrum has no pitch, and no control of his amazing instrument whatsoever. He might hit a note, or he might hit some stoned head in the 43rd row. But that’s what I like about Black Oak Arkansas; it managed to become one of the premier live acts of the seventies with a tone-deaf singer with mighty pipes, while playing a lascivious acid-fried hillbilly boogie you have to hear to believe.

Unlike its Southern Rock brethren, BOA was a band of bona fide freaks, LSD-soaked long-hair rednecks who lived off the land commune style (to avoid a felony warrant, basically) in the hills of rural north-central Arkansas. Black Oak played a whoop-ass psycho-boogie that might include Mangrum soloing on the washboard and drummer Tommy Aldridge playing the drums with his hands on such cosmic cornpone as “Mutants of the Monster” or “Lord Have Mercy on My Soul,” with its monologue by Jim “Aldous Huxley in bib overalls” Dandy about the Halls of Karma and how we can all be as one if we only do enough bong hits, like the one the boys do at the beginning of unreleased 1972 studio cut “UP, UP, UP.”

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Ben Christo,
The TVD Interview

Ben Christo may be one the best musicians you’ve never heard of—until now. From an early age, Christo had a passion for music as well as a deep appreciation for the guitarwork that permeated the pop airwaves of his generation. After a thrilling performance at a Christmas talent show, Ben knew music—and the guitar—were his future. Inspired by legends like Steve Clark of Def Leppard as well as by live performances from AC/DC and Judas Priest, Christo dedicated his life to music and his dream of playing on the same stages his childhood heroes performed upon.

After a strange turn of events landed him a spot with The Sisters of Mercy, those childhood dreams became a reality, and he’s not looked back. In this interview, we dig into Ben Christo’s early days as a musician, his 16+ years with The Sisters of Mercy, as well as his new undertaking Diamond Black.

What are your earliest memories of music as a child?

I found that as a kid I always gravitated toward any pop music that had guitars in it. So you could imagine a lot of Michael Jackson or Tina Turner, or pop bands, that suddenly would have this bursting guitar solo in it. Even stuff like Belinda Carlisle. It was the pop music I’d hear on the radio and see on TV—and if there was a guitar solo in it, that would really draw me toward it. That was very early.

And then after that I started to get into a lot of the kind of classic rock bands such as Def Leppard, AC/DC, Judas Priest, Europe, and The Cult through an uncle who was eight years older than me. He was a bit like a big brother, but I didn’t actually have to live with him, so that was kind of cool. And then the first actual concerts I saw in very quick succession were Judas Priest and AC/DC, and that really cemented it for me. I knew I already loved music, but now I actually wanted to make it too.

Who were your biggest inspirations as a musician growing up?

Steve Clark from Def Leppard, who unfortunately passed away in 1991. He had such a good command of what I like to call gritty melody that really ignited my imagination when it came to music. There was a real cinematic quality to the way that he would write riffs. So, rather than it being almost sort of throw away licks and riffs, I felt there was real meaning behind what he did, and that connected with me in a way perhaps moreso than just how your average kind of fun rock song worked.

And the bits I love a lot about the Steve Clark songs is when there’s a solo section where he’ll often go off on something very musical, which really holds its own. The midsections of songs like “Die Hard The Hunter” or Def Leppard’s debut album On Through the Night really highlight his genius. Clark’s instrumental masterpiece “Switch 65” on High and Dry—that just made me so excited about guitar playing. And his playing isn’t necessarily very technical, but it was very melodic and very imaginative, and that really kind of laid the foundations for where I wanted to go.

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Graded on a Curve:
The OhNos,
Waving From Hades

A four-piece hailing from Malmö, Sweden, The OhNos specialize in raw, anthemic garage punk. That may not read like a bombshell exploding onto the contemporary radar screen, but the scoop is The OhNos do it right. Their debut came out back in 2017 and it’s follow-up Waving From Hades was released last October via Beluga Records, but don’tcha just know it, the Memphis-based Black & Wyatt Records is distributing copies of the LP stateside. The album’s loaded with 11 raucous catchy bangers that cohere into a righteous power kick.

The OhNos are Anna Wagner on guitar and vocals (lead and backing), Åsa Meierkord on guitar, vocals (lead and backing), harmonica and whistles, Sanna Rönngård on bass, backing vocals, and flute, and Malin Olsen on drums, backing vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion, and xylophone. The band’s first album Sounds From the Basement was issued by Rundgång Rekords; vinyl copies are still available on Bandcamp. The debut is a solid affair, but the new LP is a tangible improvement, with the sharpening of quality perhaps due to an unchanged lineup.

The comfort of familiarity, strength built upon longevity, and yes, constant practice, as The OhNos thrive in a style where practice is a must. It’s clear right away in Waving From Hades’ opening title track, which is raw and hard driving but fully-formed melodically, with touches of echoey-dreamy ’60s flair amid an extended lyrical cop from the Violent Femmes’ first album.

Bold swipes of influence without a hint of anxiety underscore that it’s preferable to be memorable than original. Off to a strong start, “Final Call” is a fast-paced and hard-pounding belter, while “Trouble on Legs” luxuriates in the spot between raving-up and getting tuneful. Next, “The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Only Eternal Hellfire” dishes a few deftly handled tempo changes and reinforces the necessity of practice.

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TVD Radar: Poe, Hello first ever vinyl reissue
in stores 4/22

VIA PRESS RELEASE | MNRK Music Group has announced the first ever vinyl repress of singer-songwriter Poe’s widely-influential debut album Hello for Record Store Day on April 22, 2023. Originally released in 1995, Hello received universal acclaim.

The New York Times listed Poe as among the defining voices of a female “movement in music,” Esquire named her one of the top 5 “Women Who Rock Our World” in 1997, and Glen Ballard, producer of the iconic Alanis Morissette album Jagged Little Pill, cites Hello as one of his biggest influences at the time: “It was a brilliant record that had jazz influence, hip hop, electronic, rock. It was a hybrid of the first degree. It blew my mind.”

Dubbed the “daughter of the electronic revolution” by Elle magazine, Poe was one of the first artists to embrace the internet, cultivating a two-way relationship with her fanbase, garnering a devoted online following and connecting herself with fans in a way reflective of modern social media that had never truly been seen before. Poe’s “unheard of and pretty phenomenal” presence earned her the title of “web diva” from USA Today.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Poppy Family,
A Good Thing Lost:

Celebrating Terry Jacks, born on this day in 1944.Ed.

First, a plug. I’m reading 2001’s Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth, The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop, From The Banana Splits to Britney Spears. Edited by Kim Cooper and David Smay, the book is the Rosetta Gumball of preteen pop, including as it does essays on the machinations of record label svengalis like Don Kirshner, behind the scenes super-producers such as Kasenetz-Katz, here-and-gone-in-a-45rpm- flash record labels like Colgem Records, cartoon groups from Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids to The Beagles, and most importantly bands you’ve probably never heard of, like Salt Water Taffy, The Yummies, and Professor Morrison’s Lollipop.

Amidst such obscurities the group that most piqued my interest was The Poppy Family, because they weren’t really a bubblegum band at all. In fact they were an anti-bubblegum band. Their songs lacked bubblegum’s sunny sound and infectious choruses. Instead they were dark vignettes of existential despair which, strung from end to end, would make for a sturdy Juicy Fruit noose. What Kim Cooper’s essay on The Poppy Family, which was really just a front for husband and wife team Susan and Terry Jacks, is doing in this anthology is just as great a mystery as why if you licked The Archies flexi disc on a box of Honeycomb it tasted suspiciously like the Monkees flexi disc on a box of Raisin Bran.

I suspect it came down to the fact that Cooper co-edited the anthology and could do whatever the hell she wanted. More importantly, the band’s name perfectly encapsulated the bubblegum aesthetic; you blow bubbles and they pop, and wholesome family values still meant something to the preteens of that era. Not only could they stomach their parents, they even fantasized about starting bands with them. Just ask the Partridges.

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Paperback Writers

A plethora of recent books on The Beatles have been published lately. Here’s a look at some of the best.

Love and Let Die: James Bond, The Beatles and the British Psyche (Pegasus/Simon & Schuster) by John Higgs This may be one of the most imaginative ideas for a book on The Beatles. Higgs, who has written extensively on William Blake among other topics, neatly draws parallels between the history of The Beatles as a group and as solo artists and the literary and cinematic history of James Bond and how the two relate to British history and culture.

The book is heavy on analysis, but unlike some books on The Beatles, Higgs deftly and with a light touch draws parallels and distinctions of The Beatles and Bond. One could argue that in addition to William Shakespeare, the two entities featured in this book, rank among the most dominant figures of the history of Britain. Higgs comes up with fascinating ways that James Bond and The Beatles are inextricably linked and fans of either 007 or the Fab Four will find much here to make truly engrossing reading.

The McCartney Legacy: Volume 1, 1969-73 (Dey St./William Morrow) by Allan Kozinn and Adrian Sinclair This is the first volume of a trilogy on the life and career of Paul McCartney. The depth of knowledge and engaging writing of the two authors of this book makes clear that their trilogy will most likely become the most comprehensive and authoritative biography of McCartney. While this book is not an authorized biography, the myriad of those interviewed for the book essentially had McCartney’s blessing.

The beginning of the book carefully balances the end of The Beatles with McCartney emerging as a solo artist and how the two at times overlapped. One of the welcome aspects of this book is a more even-handed portrait of Linda McCartney, particularly her place in Wings. The formation of Wings and the group’s slow and sometimes fraught evolution to the breakout success of Band on the Run is vivid and detailed. The group’s time in Africa making Band On the Run and its hard-won success and feel of what many regard as McCartney’s best post-Beatles album, is a highlight. This book takes 720 pages to cover only four years. It will be interesting to see how the authors cover the next 50 years.

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Graded on a Curve:
Peter Case,
Doctor Moan

Whether you appreciate Peter Case as a founding member of The Nerves and The Plimsouls, or you dig the man for his numerous solo recordings, there’s really no argument the guy’s career has been lengthy and fruitful. Doctor Moan is Case’s most recent album, his 16th solo release overall, and it captures him mostly at the piano with minimal accompaniment. It is a powerful set that finds his skills as a songwriter and his strength as a singer undiminished. It’s out on CD March 31 (with vinyl to come, date TBA) via Sunset Blvd Records.

Formed in 1974 and featuring Peter Case on bass, Jack Lee on guitar, and Paul Collins on drums, The Nerves didn’t last long but they left behind a fine batch of recordings, including the original version of “Hanging on the Telephone” (covered more famously by Blondie). Those songs have endured as a wellspring of inspiration for scores of younger listeners and groups smitten by the power-pop impulse.

Upon breakup, Case formed The Plimsouls, a slightly more refined affair, but still quite hooky, as the band dented the lower end of the album charts with their self-titled 1981 debut and ’83 follow-up Everywhere at Once. Lasting until 1985 (though there have been Plimsouls and Nerves reunions), Case began a solo career that found him aging into the singer-songwriter zone and with an attention to roots that presaged what’s now known as the Americana shebang.

His new record is his first in seven years and finds him at the piano almost entirely (he also plays harmonica, mellotron, and guitar), as Jonny Flaugher helps out on electric and acoustic bass and Chris Joyner adds Hammond B-3 organ. The additional instrumentation brightens and broadens the record, but the focus, with one exception, is on Case, who recorded the album with Ryan McCaffrey at The Sun Machine in Novato, California and played a restored 1905 Steinway piano.

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TVD Radar: Stephen Stills, Live At Berkeley 1971 2LP in stores 4/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Fourteen tracks from Stephen Still’s First US tour, previously unissued and recorded Live at The Berkeley Community Theater in 1971.

In 1971 Stephen Stills embarked on a US tour, opening each show with an intimate acoustic first set, and closing each night with a riveting electric set featuring the Memphis Horns. These historic, previously unreleased recordings took place over two nights at the Berkeley Community Theater, with David Crosby joining him on vocals and guitar for “You Don’t Have To Cry” and “The Lee Shore.” These recordings find Stills at peak performance in both vocal delivery and musicianship, effortlessly incorporating alternate instrumentation on his instantly recognizable tracks, including a seamless medley of “49 Bye Byes” and “For What It’s Worth” unexpectedly played on piano.

Hand-picked by Stills from his personal archives, this album captures timeless and era defining performances. Fans who were lucky enough to catch his historic debut trek, dubbed “The Memphis Horns Tour,” were treated to the balladeer, the raving troubadour, the acoustic bluesman, the soul driver, and by far the most passionate music maker.

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Graded on a Curve:
Lady Gaga,
“Poker Face”

Celebrating Lady Gaga, born on this day in 1986.Ed.

I’ll be the first to admit I sold Lady Gaga short when she detonated like a hyper-sexualized glitter bomb on the pop scene with her 2008 debut LP The Fame. Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta sounded like a brazen Madonna copycat to me, and if there’s one thing I can’t abide it’s a cheap Lower East Side Madonna knock-off. Ms. Ciccone and I go back too far.

Ah, but then her Gaganess sat down for an interview with Vanity Fair, and said an astounding and wonderful thing. Namely, “I have this weird thing that if I sleep with someone they’re going to take my creativity from me through my vagina.”

I mean, wow. Those words hit me like a diamond bullet smack in the third eye. Because NOBODY who says crazy shit like that can be written off as fake goods. No, I knew right then and there that Lady Gaga was a stone American original, and deserving of the kind of same degree of unwavering respect as the Dali Lama, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Kanye “This hat makes me feel like Superman!” West.

Why, I haven’t heard such naked honesty since Little Richard said, “The only thing I like better than a big penis is a bigger penis.” And with her refreshing candidness in mind I promptly sat down to listen to Lady Gaga with new ears.

My favorite and your favorite and the whole world’s favorite is “Poker Face,” Lady Gaga’s robotic anthem to both 7-card stud and studs in general. It’s both a great piece of stutter synth and a tribute to “The Song of the Vulga Boatmen,” and in muh muh muh opinion one of the most dance-floor friendly songs to come along since John Travolta invented the dance floor.

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