Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Psychedelic Furs,
The Psychedelic Furs

Celebrating Richard Butler who turned 67 yesterday.Ed.

Love a band? Hate a band? It often comes down to simple timing. For instance, had My War been the first music by Black Flag I ever heard, instead of their earlier EPs and singles, I would never have given them the time of day. The same is true for The Psychedelic Furs. I first heard them when they were putting out such catchy and undeniably lovely new wave songs such as “Love My Way,” “Heaven,” and “Pretty in Pink.”

Unfortunately, I disliked new wave, because in the wake of first-generation punk it sounded too wimpy, emasculated, and dance-oriented for my tastes. To paraphrase one David Bowie, “I never got it off on that new wave stuff/How bland/Too many Duran Durans.” Or to quote the great Minutemen, “Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth?”

But had I heard the Furs around 1980, instead of, say, 1983, things would have been very different. In fact, I’d have loved them. Because 1980 was the year they released their debut LP, the eponymous and post-punk The Psychedelic Furs. Forget their melodic new wave tunes that ended up on film soundtracks and got played at every prom in the land.

The Furs’ debut is a fabulous collection of droning grooves over which vocalist Richard Butler talk/sings enigmatically about who knows what to the accompaniment of guitars and one great saxophone. And to think I never heard so much as a song off it until Kid Congo Powers covered the ecstatic “We Love You” at a live show here in DC. Thank you, Kid, for your great tastes in music and your great mustache and for turning me on to The Psychedelic Furs. I owe you big time.

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Graded on a Curve: Albert Ayler, Sonny Sharrock, Byard Lancaster reissues from Superior Viaduct

The ever-dependable Superior Viaduct label of San Francisco is reissuing three slabs of primo avant-garde jazz on June 9, Albert Ayler’s In Greenwich Village, Sonny Sharrock’s Black Woman, and Byard Lancaster’s It’s Not Up to Us. It’s a deliciously wide-ranging yet interconnected trio of albums that are expanded upon further below.

As his discography is currently undergoing something of a resurgence, let’s start with the great saxophonist Albert Ayler’s In Greenwich Village, particularly as the performances it offers are directly related to the live material collected in ORG Music’s recent Record Store Day box set release Europe 1966 (a 4LP edition featuring music previously heard on the Hat Hut label’s 2CD Berlin, Lörrach, Paris & Stockholm Revisited).

Superior Viaduct’s trim reissue features Ayler’s band from that ’66 tour, with Ayler on saxophones, his brother Don Ayler on trumpet, Michel Samson on violin, William Folwell on bass, and Beaver Harris on drums, with the Stateside addition of Joel Friedman on cello and either Alan Silva or Henry Grimes completing a two-bass lineup with Folwell. In short, this is Ayler’s music at the height of its power, at once weightier and at its most breathtakingly expansive in its ecstatic energies.

The beautiful simplicity of Ayler’s melodies is in full effect, as is collective abstraction of a jaw-dropping intensity, with both aspects reaching an apex in “Truth is Marching In.” As amazing as Ayler’s studio albums could be (and a handful of masterpieces reside in that number), Ayler’s music fully flowered in the live setting, and for decades In Greenwich Village was the amongst the easiest ways to access its glories; the album came out on CD in 1989, with Love Cry (one of the aforementioned studio masterpieces) following in ’91.

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TVD Radar: Starship Troopers (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) 2LP vinyl debut in stores 8/4

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Varèse Sarabande and Craft Recordings announce the first-ever vinyl release of Basil Poledouris’ thrilling score for the 1997 cult classic, Starship Troopers. This 2-LP Extended Edition includes 29 cues from the film, remastered by Chas Ferry and Melinda Hurley.

The album is housed in a gatefold jacket, featuring new artwork by illustrator and graphic novelist, Malachi Ward. Rounding out the packaging is a fold-out poster of Ward’s design, plus new liner notes by the film’s director, Paul Verhoeven, and musician Zoë Poledouris, who reflects on her late father’s work. Starship Troopers Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is set for release on August 4 and available for pre-order now. Fans can also find a Varèse Sarabande Vinyl Club edition of the album (pressed on Blood & Bug Juice Marble vinyl and limited to 500 copies) exclusively at

Based on the 1959 novel by Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers is set in the 23rd century, when Earth is governed by the militarized United Citizen Federation. Equal parts science fiction and satire, the 1997 film lampoons right-wing nationalism—but cleverly packages it in an action-packed teen drama. The plot centers around teenager Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) and his friends, who join Earth’s military to fight an interstellar war against an alien species known as the Arachnids. Directed by Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct), Starship Troopers also stars Denise Richards, Neil Patrick Harris, Jake Busey, Dina Meyer, Michael Ironside, and Patrick Muldoon. Elevating the film’s action-packed scenes is a propulsive score by the Emmy®️ Award-winning composer and conductor, Basil Poledouris (Lonesome Dove, RoboCop, The Hunt for Red October).

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TVD Radar: Tom Waits, Closing Time 50th anniversary reissue in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Originally released in 1973, this year marks fifty years since the release of Tom Waits’ highly influential debut album Closing Time. To commemorate the occasion, new 50th anniversary vinyl is out now. Available in black and clear versions as a double 180g LP cut at 45 RPM with half speed mastering by London’s Abbey Road Studios, the gatefold jacket was also specially created with thicker board and black poly-lined inner sleeves.

Included in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Song Writers of All Time and a 2011 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Waits’s Closing Time began the career of this legendary artist and his foray into the exploration of sound and the canon of American and European songwriting—from folk to jazz to blues and gospel to cabaret and spoken word—all in service of his experience of the human condition from every rung of the ladder. This is the launch of a voice and eye so singular that “Waitsian” has become an adjective used by critics and dictionaries to describe his aesthetic and style.

Called “a minor key masterpiece filled with songs of late-night loneliness” by All Music Guide, Closing Time features the distinctly lyrical storytelling and a seminal blending of jazz, blues, and folk styles that would come to be associated first with Waits.

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Graded on a Curve: Laurie Anderson,
Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith, Songs from the Bardo

Celebrating Laurie Anderson on her 76th birthday.Ed.

Eastern spirituality has inspired a lot of music, with only a small percentage aptly assessed as substantial. An even tinier amount rises to the level of artistry found on Songs from the Bardo, the release from NYC avant-garde cornerstone Laurie Anderson, multi-instrumentalist, composer and musical director Tenzin Choegyal, and multi-instrumentalist, composer, and climate activist Jesse Paris Smith. Described as a collaborative composition featuring Anderson’s readings from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the results are contemplative and exploratory without ever meandering into facile formlessness.

It might read as if I’m being unnecessarily hard on music that’s infused with Eastern spiritual-philosophical qualities. Twenty years ago, that would’ve been true, and I’d probably have expressed matters much more harshly (and with less maturity), but in the ever-loving now I’m merely riffing on Sturgeon’s Law (and that’s not to suggest Ted’s maxim is the gospel truth).

I’ll add here that the term Eastern spirituality is a rather severe generalization, so let me highlight the specific; Songs from the Bardo is described by the label as a “guided journey through the visionary text of the Tibetan Book of the Dead,” the enduring masterwork of Nyingma Buddhism, with the intention to open up the philosophy’s traditions to current and future generations as both pure listening and a store of insightfulness.

Accompanying downloads are certainly useful, but for those buyers with working turntables, they are generally inessential. In the case of Songs from the Bardo, which does offer the card with the code, this observation is somewhat arguable, as listening to the music in one uninterrupted stream, having done so now numerous times, feels optimal.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 110: Charlie Bruber

Artists need to be inspired to create their best works, and it’s not always easy to have the wherewithal to clearly see the inspiration around us. In fact, for a musician, the insight to this inspiration is often more important than musical or production ability. Listeners love sounds that touch them on an emotional level, but how do you search out that spark? How does the musician find the muse?

This is the journey that Charlie Bruber finds himself traversing on his latest album Finding the Muse, and as you’ll learn, Charlie is open to the idea that there are many sources of inspiration to explore. It may be a famous musician, a vintage keyboard, or something else. In any case, Charlie has created a far-reaching album that delves into all facets of his talents and skills as a multi-instrumentalist and composer. While you’re listening, you may wonder if you’re hearing the same performer, but you’re just seeing all the many different sides of Charlie Bruber.

Charlie joins us directly from his recording studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota and we end up digging through our respective record collections in real-time for a fun back-and-forth about albums we both appreciate. We also discuss Charlie’s other important musical projects, specifically, Black Market Brass on Colemine Records. It’s entirely possible, by joining in on our search for Charlie’s muse, you might be given some direction in finding your own.

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:
Oren Ambarchi, Sagittarian Domain

“To a man with a hammer,” goes the old saying, “everything is a nail.” Such is the case with Australian avant garde drummer Oren Ambarchi, who in a moment of serendipity laid eyes on an electric guitar and, well let him tell it: “There happened to be one laying around in our rehearsal room. I picked it up and starting hitting it with drumsticks and using it in whatever way I wanted to use it in, and one thing led to another. I’m glad I wasn’t trained… I never wanted to learn to play it properly, it was an object as much as an instrument.”

Ambarchi is a musical gadfly with a preference for a good, steady metronomic groove who’s played with just about everybody who’s anybody in the avant/noise rock world, including Sunn O)))—he’s appeared on several albums and played with them live. He’s engaged in projects with its individual members as well, in the bands Burial Chamber and Gravetemple. He’s also collaborated with the equally eclectic Jim O’Rourke, who was a member of Sonic Youth between 1999 and 2005, composer/musician Chris Townend, Warm Ghost’s Paul Duncan, composer Alvin Lucier, and enough other musical pioneers to populate New York City’s Lower East Side. Just take a gander at his discography and start counting. Ambarchi is one busy guy.

Ordinarily such rarified bona fides would mean as little to me as his highfalutin’ goal of “re-routing the instrument into a zone of alien abstraction where it’s no longer easily identifiable as itself. Instead, it’s a laboratory for extended sonic investigation.” Believe me, I’d be much more impressed if he were to collaborate with Black Oak Arkansas’ Jim Dandy Mangrum. And I’d have never even heard of him had I not been sitting in my brother’s minivan when he turned on Ambarchi’s 2012 LP Sagittarian Domain.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Rolling Stones,
The Rolling Stones No. 2

Remembering Charlie Watts, born on this day in 1941.Ed.

Step back in time with me, won’t you, to the year 1965, when Dylan went electric, The Beatles went “Nowhere Man,” and a scruffy English R&B band called the The Rolling Stones released The Rolling Stones No. 2, which included a few tentative attempts at writing their own material.

In hindsight, the last named might be the most important musical occurrence of 1965, but Rolling Stones No. 2 isn’t a great album because it includes a trio of songs by what would become one of rock ’n’ roll’s most formidable songwriting teams. It’s a great album because The Rolling Stones had their R&R and R&B chops down, and were producing a cocksure product that belied their tender years.

So named because it was the second Rolling Stones LP released in England (if not in America), Rolling Stones No. 2 is a jaunty, swaggering romp through the archives of American popular music by a quintet of wide-eyed English lads who knew what they loved and were dead set on living up to the high standards of the artists who inspired them.

They kick first-generation rock ’n’ roll’s keister with their motorvatin’ version of Don “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” Raye’s “Down the Road Apiece,” which tools down the road just fine; prove they can’t be caught on their souped-up cover of Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me,” on which they say goodbye to New Jersey forever; and go swamp rockabilly with a vengeance on their hand-clap heavy and reverberating take on Dale Hawkins’ immortal “Suzie Q,” which boasts lots of berserker drumming and some of the most frenzied guitar playing you’ll ever hear.

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TVD Radar: Marcia Griffiths and Desmond Dekker, 2LP Essential Artist Collections from Trojan Records in stores today

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Trojan Records release the final set of releases from their new The Essential Artist Collection—a brand new series of artist-focused compilation albums showcasing some of the very best talent from the label’s esteemed roster, in Desmond Dekker and Marcia Griffiths. Championing their stellar catalogues, the series highlights the most important ska and reggae tracks from the most influential artists and vocal/instrumental groups with each title available in double colour vinyl, double CD, and digital formats.

Before Bob Marley’s rise to pre-eminence, the title of the world’s leading reggae performer rested firmly with another young singer from Kingston: Jamaica’s Desmond Dekker. Between 1967 and 1970, Desmond enjoyed a succession of international hit singles, breaking new ground with singles such as “007,” the first Jamaican-produced single to break into the UK top twenty, and “Israelites,” the first reggae single to reach the Number One spot in Britain and to breach the US chart.

Further triumphs followed thereafter, with major chart hits including “It Mek,” “Pickney Gal,” “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” and “Sing A Little Song,” all of which cemented his place in history as Jamaica’s first global superstar. This Essential Artist Collection set pays due respect to the original King of Reggae and superbly demonstrates the immense talent that set Desmond Dekker apart from his peers during the Golden Age of Jamaican music.

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Graded on a Curve:
Peter Gabriel,

Like David Byrne and Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel fell hard for world music. Unlike his fellow aesthetes, Gabriel is afflicted with terminal cases of both gravitas and bombast. The former Genesis front man may have injected that band’s music with a degree of absurdist levity (at least live) uncommon in a genre, progressive rock, not known for its sense of humor, but the same can’t be said for his solo material. He’s one serious individual, our Peter, and his music is suitably ponderous. It’s not light on its feet and rarely makes you want to dance. It can’t. Peter Gabriel’s oeuvre has a serious weight problem. In his case that “art” in “art rock” weighs a ton.

Oh, he’s had his moments. Songs like “Solsbury Hill” and “Games Without Frontiers” were light of foot. But he’s English and he’s earnest (he put away childish things with Genesis) and he’s very much a product of progressive rock, a genre afflicted with a fatal case of pomposity. Further, his take on world music has always had a calculated feel to it–as The Village Voice’s Robert Christgau noted bluntly of his 1982 LP Security, “Self-conscious primitivism hasn’t cured his grandiosity,” although I for one don’t detect the primitivism. The percussion trimmings, sure, but the man’s a classic rarified product of advanced Western Civilization, and definitely of that breed of musical explorers who wouldn’t venture into the jungles of sound without porters and a thunderbox.

And to make matters worse Gabriel has a social conscience—which is laudable, of course, but hardly gives his music bounce or, God help us, lends it a sense of humor. Caring deeply about the state of the world is a burden, added gravity as it were, and gravity is a heavy proposition—it keeps things down, not up. All of which means the joys of world music are beyond him, and the last thing I would call his music (and this isn’t the case with the best of Byrne and Simon) is joyous.

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TVD Radar: Alanis Morissette, The Collection 2LP vinyl debut in stores 8/25

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Today, internationally renowned singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette celebrates her birthday. Nearly two decades ago, she released her jampacked greatest hits CD, The Collection, which will see its vinyl debut this summer.

The Collection will be available on August 25 as a 2-LP ($34.98) on black vinyl. Pre-order HERE. A transparent grape-vinyl version ($34.98) will be available the same day exclusively from Target, as well as a crystal-clear version at your local indie retailer.

The Collection covers the seven-time Grammy® Award-winner’s career between 1995 and 2005, when the Canadian popstar first broke out in the States. It includes a handful of Morissette’s well-known singles, several soundtrack selections, and her performance of Seal’s hit “Crazy,” which debuted on The Collection in 2005.

Five songs from her #1 album, Jagged Little Pill (1995), appear on the set, including the smash singles “You Oughta Know,” “Ironic,” and “You Learn.” The album catapulted Morissette to global stardom, earning her five Grammy® awards, including Album of the Year. The record was certified 16x platinum, selling over 33 million copies worldwide. It is the 16th best-selling album of all time in the U.S. and the third best-selling album by a female artist.

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TVD Radar: Jack Dejohnette, Idris Muhammad, and Leon Spencer ‘Top Shelf’ reissues in stores 7/14

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Jazz Dispensary is proud to announce the next harvest of its offerings from the acclaimed Top Shelf series, with a triple groove of reissues featuring Jack DeJohnette’s Sorcery, Idris Muhammad’s Black Rhythm Revolution!, and Leon Spencer’s Where I’m Coming From.

These reissues mark the first wide vinyl release of all three albums in over 40 years. As with every title in the Top Shelf series, which reissues the highest-quality, hand-picked rarities (all culled from Craft Recordings’ vaults), the albums have been cut from the original analog tapes (AAA) by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed on audiophile-quality 180-gram vinyl at RTI. The LPs are housed in tip-on jackets, featuring faithfully reproduced original designs. Available to pre-order, the releases are due out July 14th at and record stores worldwide. Additionally, Jazz Dispensary is releasing its first-ever Smokeware collection, which features rolling papers, grinders, and rolling trays, as well as a brand-new tote bag.

In a career that spans five decades and includes collaborations with some of the most iconic figures in modern jazz, GRAMMY®️ winner Jack DeJohnette has established an unchallenged reputation as one of the greatest drummers in the history of the genre, collaborating with the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, and so many more. Along the way, he has developed a versatility that allows room for hard bop, R&B, world music, avant-garde, and just about every other style to emerge in the past half-century.

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Graded on a Curve:
Ron Wood,
Gimme Some Neck

Celebrating Ronnie Wood on his 76th birthday.Ed.

If your idea of heaven would be a cross between the Rolling Stones and the Faces, then Ronnie Wood’s your man. He’s done stints in both bands after all, and while I infinitely prefer his work with the Faces (he kinda disappeared into the Stones machine, in my opinion) you can hear echoes of both bands in his 1979 solo LP Gimme Some Neck, which boasts a mix as dirty as Rod Stewart’s mind and lots of Wood’s jet engine of a guitar, the one to be heard on the immortal “Stay With Me.”

The only problem is Wood’s vocals; at best he sounds like a Dylan imitator, at worst his voice is as thin as cheap toilet paper. He’s at his best when he’s joined by the LP’s backing vocalists, who include some bloke named Mick Jagger, some other bugger named Keith Richards, and the legendary Jerry Williams, aka Swamp Dogg. Other notables on the LP include Mick Fleetwood, Dave Mason, Charlie Watts, Bobby Keys, and former Faces’ band mate Ian McLagan, whose keyboards give such songs “We All Get Old” an indisputable Faces feel.

But as I said previously, it’s the gritty mix, reminiscent of the Faces’ best music and the Stones’ Exile on Main Street, that makes this LP special. No polish here, thank you very much. Instead the best songs almost sound like demos, albeit good ones. Wood has his limitations both as a vocalist and a songwriter, but he sure knows his rock’n’roll, which means he’s well aware that it’s best left unvarnished, like a coat of primer on an old muscle car.

Songs like “F.U.C. Her” (which features Dave Mason on both acoustic guitar and drums) and “Infekshun” (great drumming, C. Watts, and keyboards by who knows who!) make up for what they lack in political correctness with a raucous sound that takes you all the way back to the invention of the duckwalk; “F.U.C. Her” features bona fide decent vocals by Wood and doesn’t sound like either the Faces or the Stones, while Wood’s wild and wooly guitar on the latter tune definitely makes up for his limited vocal range. And both he and McLagan dirty up the big sound of the Bob Dylan tune (Bobby wrote it for Eric Clapton, but dummy turned it down) “Seven Days.” Kudos to Wood’s pedal steel guitar, as well as to Mick Fleetwood’s tight drumming.

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Demand it on Vinyl:
The Stranglers, The Stranglers 4CD set in stores 7/7

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Over the course of five decades, pioneering English rock band The Stranglers—one of the longest surviving bands to emerge from the 1970s UK punk rock scene—have crossed genres and fanbases, amassing 23 UK top 40 singles and 19 UK top 40 albums.

On July 7, 2023, Mercury Studios is proud to release The Stranglers, a four CD-boxed set compiling four of their classic 1990s albums: About Time (1995), Written In Red (1997), Coup de Grace (1998), and the live album Friday The Thirteenth: Live At The Royal Albert Hall (1997). These albums, which were all previously released by Eagle Records in the ’90s, are now being packaged together for the very first time.

Originally brewed in the mid-70s UK pub rock scene, The Stranglers held a certain distinction from their local scene peers. They were ahead of the curve of the UK punk explosion, and though they could channel the aggressive spit-and-snarl of the time, they also harbored a unique musical hunger that kept them unchained to a singular genre. Exploring the wells of art rock, ’60s psychedelia, new wave, goth, and pop music, their sound was a blend of underground influence and melodic pop sensibility.

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Graded on a Curve:
Ray Barretto,
Que Viva La Música

If you dig rhythm and are unfamiliar with percussionist-bandleader Ray Barretto, jeepers creepers are you in for a substantial series of treats. And in a sweet turn of events, Craft Latino, the Craft Recordings subsidiary that specializes in reissuing prime Latin heat from numerous labels including Fania (the imprint’s logo a reliable sign of quality), has just returned Barretto’s 1972 LP Que Viva La Música to print after a long overdue absence. The exquisite blend of fire and finesse is available now on 180 gram vinyl and hi-res digital.

Raymundo “Ray” Barretto Pagán was one of the greats of Latin music, though in fact his considerable rep is further distinguished through his extensive jazz background prior to his mastery of the salsa style, and with pachanga and boogaloo along the way; “El Watusi” was a sizable pachanga hit in 1963 and the man’s Acid LP was a considerable boogaloo breakthrough in ’68.

While no single musician is responsible for salsa’s development, Barretto was a major contributor to its growth, and as the opening title track of Que Viva La Música makes obvious, by the early 1970s his band’s artistry was in full blossom, with Barretto responsible for arranging (on this album alongside pianist Luis Cruz) in addition to hitting the congas and leading the group.

The trumpets soar via a three horn line featuring René López, Joseph Roman, and Roberto Rodriguez, as Adalberto Santiago’s vocals are warm and expressive, Luis Cruz’s piano adds dimension to the whole, and the rhythms, courtesy of Barretto, Johnny Rodriguez on bongos and congas, Orestes Vilató on timbales and percussion, and Santiago doubling on guiro, are in full effect. Bassist David Perez strengthens the foundation with panache.

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