Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Thelonious Monk,
Brilliant Corners

Thelonious Monk’s 1957 LP Brilliant Corners, his third for the Riverside label, belongs in any serious collection of Modern Jazz. But only 4,000 people will be able to place Craft Recordings’ Small Batch edition of the album on their shelves. It’s out today, October 4, pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI using Neotech’s VR900 compound and cut via one-step lacquer process from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman. Each individually numbered set is nestled into a foil-stamped, linen-wrapped slipcase with an acrylic inset of the original artwork, a reproduction of the original tip-on jacket, frictionless packaging, and words by Ashley Khan. It suffices to say the set is an immaculate beauty to behold and hear.

Like the other greats of Modern Jazz, Thelonious Monk recorded a whole lot, in studio and captured in live performance. And in Monk’s case, the discography hasn’t been static, as documentation of gigs has been recently discovered, in one case rescued from a dumpster, to fan the flames of contemporary interest in one of the greatest of all jazz pianists.

But as fine as these new entries to the catalog have been, it’s important to not lose track of the recordings that established Monk’s status. Brilliant Corners is prime amongst them. To argue that this LP is the apex of his studio discography is in no way a contentious statement, as there are only two or three other candidates truly deserving of this distinction.

Brilliant Corners is doubly attractive as it heightened Monk’s profile in the 1950s. After emerging on the scene as a leader through essential records for Blue Note, he then lost his cabaret license, which kept him from performing live. Thereafter, he recorded for Prestige for a long stretch, then switched to Riverside as his fortunes improved. Along with returning to live performance, Brilliant Corners sold quite a few copies and also spotlighted Monk’s own compositions (his first Riverside album was a Ellington tribute and the second was made up of standards).

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TVD Live Shots: Royal Blood with Bad Nerves
at the Fillmore, 9/30

PHILADELPHIA, PARoyal Blood made a stop on their “Back to the Water Below” tour at the Fillmore in Philadelphia Saturday night. Touring to support their brand-new album of the same name, they’re bringing punk upstarts Bad Nerves along for the fun.

The night kicked off at 9PM, when Bad Nerves took the stage for a kinetic, loud, and fun set. The young punk band from Essex, in southeast England, released their debut album, Bad Nerves, in 2020. They wear their influences on their sleeves, as front man Bobby Nerves donned a Ramones shirt under a jacket onstage. The rest of the band is straight up throwback punk—they look the part and have the chops.

Bad Nerves has tons of attitude, the confidence of a veteran punk band, and are a ton of fun to watch. In true ’70s punk tradition, their garage punk riff heavy songs clock in at 2-3 minutes each, so their 30-minute set packed in 10 songs. They clearly seem excited to be on tour with Royal Blood, later coming out to watch their set, hang out at the merch stand, and greet fans like old friends. I’m kicking myself for not picking up a shirt.

Royal Blood (singer-bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher) took the stage at 10PM sharp. There were no worries about an unenthusiastic audience at the Fillmore Saturday night. From the opening notes of new release “Mountains at Midnight,” to the final notes of “Figure it Out” over an hour later, the Philadelphia crowd was loud and fully focused on the duo. Everyone knew all the words to all the songs and sang just as loudly as Kerr.

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TVD Radar: The English Beat, I Just Can’t Stop It (Expanded) 2LP crystal clear vinyl in stores 11/24

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Rhino has entered into a long-term license agreement with The English Beat’s catalog and merchandise, marking the beginning of this exciting partnership with the release of an expanded version of the influential ska group’s 1980 debut, I Just Can’t Stop It.

The acclaimed album will be reissued as a 2-LP set on crystal-clear vinyl exclusively for Record Store Day Black Friday on November 24. The album is limited to 8,000 copies worldwide at participating indie retailers while supplies last. In addition, the band’s catalog is now available digitally through Rhino, including I Just Can’t Stop It and Special Beat Service.

Rhino Entertainment President Mark Pinkus expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership: “I am thrilled to have the incredible opportunity to work with the English Beat catalog. For Rhino to collaborate with such a legendary band is an absolute privilege, as it allows us to immerse ourselves in the timeless magic of their music, share in their creative brilliance, and contribute to the legacy of a group that has inspired generations.”

I Just Can’t Stop It (Expanded) includes the original album, a selection of rare mixes and live recordings. The original, which peaked at No.3 on the U.K. album chart, featured hit singles like “Hands Off…She’s Mine,” “Twist & Crawl,” and a fiery cover of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “Tears Of A Clown.” The newly expanded version adds alternative mixes for all three songs and a dub version of “Stand Down Margaret.” The double album also includes live recordings from 1982 for “Mirror In The Bathroom,” “Best Friend,” and more.

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Graded on a Curve:
Big Star,
Nothing Can Hurt Me

Celebrating Jody Stephens in advance of his 71st birthday tomorrow.Ed.

The Memphis group Big Star has long been a favorite of folks who love smartly conceived guitar-based pop-rock, and while few bought their records when they were hot off the presses, their status as an enduring cult staple is undeniable. After a long relationship with discerning turntables everywhere, Big Star received the Big Screen treatment with a documentary titled Nothing Can Hurt Me, and the soundtrack collects unique mixes of material long-considered classic. That the songs included here could easily slay a busload of Big Star newbies is testament to not only the band’s everlasting importance but also to the admirable ambitions that made this 2LP set and its accompanying film possible.

Over the last few decades the music documentary has really become one of the steadiest (some might say unrelenting) currents in the whole vast field of non-fiction filmmaking. And this shouldn’t be any kind of surprise. For everybody loves music, or so it’s often been said. But this doesn’t change the fact that some musicians/bands are far more deserving of having their story represented on film than others.

Simply stating that a very few groups are more worthy than Big Star of having their existence outlined through the medium of the film doc can initially smack of extreme devotion and perhaps even flat-out hyperbole. For just like the old saw that everybody loves music, it’s just as often been said that everybody has a story, and even, nay especially, in the non-fiction field the plain facts of the narrative ultimately aren’t as important as the way the events get told.

But if we dig a little deeper, the documentary’s inherent connection with the “real world,” or specifically the manner in which things don’t always work out the way we’d like them to, is especially resonant to the tale of Andy Hummel, Chris Bell, Jody Stephens, and Alex Chilton. For unlike the life of Ray Charles or the early years of The Beatles, Big Star is far from a good fit for the Hollywood treatment, or at least for the situation as it currently stands in the movie-making industry.

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Graded on a Curve: Creation Rebel,
Hostile Environment

As a vital component in the thriving late ’70s-early ’80s UK dub scene, Creation Rebel amassed a worthy discography. On October 6, after 40 years, the trio of core members Crucial Tony, Charlie “Eskimo” Fox, and Mr. Magoo return with a new record, Hostile Environment, that is as engagingly bent as its grooves are deep. Its high quality is no surprise, as the list of guest contributors is substantial, and there are archival recordings from the late deejay Prince Far I in the equation. Furthermore, the outfit’s constant associate Adrian Sherwood aided with production as he released the results on yellow vinyl and four panel digipak CD on his On-U Sound label.

As told by Adrian Sherwood, who was there from the start, Creation Rebel initially came together as a studio project and backing group. The first record released by Sherwood, not on On-U Sound but on the Hitrun label, was credited to Creation Rebel. Issued in 1978, Dub From Creation features productions and vocals from Prince Far I that were gifted to Sherwood for use on the record.

This sets up a robust circularity, for as mentioned, this return to action from Creation Rebel gets boosted by two Prince Far I vocals that were discovered in the vault, and right off the bat in “Swiftly (The Right One),” where the deejay’s voice gets speed altered until he sounds like a groggy mountain giant. It’s just one part of a deliciously twisted dub scheme that includes some sweetly unusual synth playing from the noted reggae affiliated musician-producer Gaudi.

Sherwood’s telling of the Creation Rebel story details an increase in vocals that found them straddling the roles of backing band and proper group, but it’s still nice to hear they’re capable of spirited instrumentals like the melodica-driven “Stonebridge Warrior.” But a hearty lead-backing vocal weave (complete with toasting and a little off-kilter scatting) is integral to the forceful impact of “Under Pressure.”

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TVD Radar: Shiva Burlesque, Mercury
Blues + Skulduggery
reissue in stores 11/17

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Creators of what Uncut magazine editor Allan Jones lauded as “…timeless, brilliant music” Shiva Burlesque was founded by transplanted northern Californians Jeffrey Clark (current IPR partner) and Grant-Lee Phillips (later of Grant Lee Buffalo), emerging from the alternative music scene of subterranean Hollywood/Downtown Los Angeles in the mid-1980s.

Drawing comparisons to everything from John Cale to Echo & the Bunnymen to early Leonard Cohen, the band was described by All Music Guide as “…a powerful and graceful band too post-punk to be folk rock, and too folk to be post-punk.” The original Mercury Blues album was recorded in early summer of 1990, and after being out of print for over two decades was remastered in late 2021 by Josh Bonati and released as a double CD by IPR in 2022 with a second full album of previously unreleased demos and outtakes called Skulduggery.

This newly expanded vinyl version features a 5-color 12” x 24” folding insert with liner notes by David Fricke—who in a 1988 issue of Melody Maker called the sound of Shiva Burlesque “a marriage of Joy Division’s shadowy abstractions and Love’s Forever Changes.” Also featuring entirely new artwork, printed in 5 colors on IPR’s iconic die-cut packaging created by label founder Bruce Licher, this new double album will be released on both black and translucent blue vinyl, and includes a postcard-sized full-color download card with code for a free download of the album.

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TVD Radar: April Fool’s Day OST 2LP Killer Crimson splatter vinyl
in stores 11/3

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Varèse Sarabande and Craft Recordings are thrilled to announce a Deluxe Edition expansion of Charles Bernstein’s score for the 1986 black comedy classic April Fool’s Day.

Available to pre-order now and due out November 3rd, the Deluxe Edition features the synthesized performance of the original score, the first-ever release of the original 23-track orchestral film score, plus five previously unreleased bonus tracks from Charles Bernstein’s own vaults, and new liner notes from award-winning composer Brian Satterwhite.

In addition to the previously announced CD release (Varèse Sarabande’s CD Club series), the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack will make its long-awaited return on black vinyl at select-retailers while a Varèse Sarabande Vinyl Club edition (limited to 500 copies and pressed on Killer Crimson splatter vinyl) can be purchased exclusively at

Thomas F. Wilson (in his first starring role after his iconic performance as the villainous Biff Tannen in Back to the Future), Deborah Foreman, Clayton Rohner and other familiar faces from the 1980s star as college friends whose spring break trip to an island mansion unfortunately coincides with April Fool’s Day. Innocent pranks lead to a steadily rising body count as murders decimate the group—with a surprising twist climax.

The film received positive responses from film critics, with some commending it for its non-gratuitous violence and plot twists, while others lambasted it for its surprise ending. After a modestly successful theatrical run, the film went on to become a cult-classic after receiving a reappraisal from audiences upon its home video release.

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Graded on a Curve: Richard Hell and
the Voidoids,
Blank Generation

Celebrating Richard Hell on his 74th birthday.Ed.

Of New York punk’s first wave, only Richard Hell and the Voidoids truly embraced the nihilism that punk has come to represent in the popular imagination. The Ramones, great as they were, were one step away from being a joke band; Television was far too ascetic and monk-like; and the Talking Heads were too intellectually frigid. As for Patti Smith, she flirted with the idea of anarchy, but was far too positive a soul to be a nihilist. It’s not her fault; nihilists never hail from New Jersey.

I could go on but I won’t, because the only point I want to make is that Hell was the only musician at that time and place asking the only question the existentialists found pertinent, to wit, “Why should I bother living?” And his grappling with this question—along with the excellence of his band, which included the late, great guitarist Robert Quine—are what makes 1977’s Blank Generation such a seminal punk recording.

Hell, aka Richard Mayers, was born in Kentucky and took the scenic route to the Voidoids. Having moved to New York City, he commenced his rock career as a member of the Neon Boys, which became Television. Friction with Television’s Tom Verlaine led Hell to leave and co-found the Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunders, but Hell found it no easier to work with Thunders than he did with Verlaine, so he finally set about establishing a band in which he was boss. The Voidoids—they got their name from a novel Hell was writing—included Hell on vocals and bass, Quine and Ivan Julian on guitars, and Marc Bell on drums.

Hell—he took his name from A Season in Hell by that enfant terrible of French letters, Arthur Rimbaud, whose life and work made him a totem amongst the intellectual wing of the CBGB’s crowd—was a well-read poet who gravitated towards literature’s dark side, and found there—just as I did—plenty of reasons to give the gimlet eye to human existence.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 123: Harper Simon

We all know that crime doesn’t pay, but that doesn’t stop the world’s fascination with it. What is it about the seedy underbelly of our social structures that makes it such an intriguing topic? And there are no shortage of types of criminal activities to explore: white-collar crime, violent crimes, crimes of passion, cyber crime, and even crimes of the heart. How can we think about these things without glorifying them? It’s also a study of our individual morals: what you think is a crime, might be fine with me.

Harper Simon has chosen to explore these topics in a brand-new, wide-ranging, multimedia project titled, Meditations on Crime. What began as a music project eventually morphed into a book containing essays, artwork, a short film, and an album. It’s a thought provoking thesis that examines the unfortunately, ever-present entity of crime in our lives.

While we’ve all had criminal activities touch us in different ways, it’s those uncomfortable experiences that might bring us together in an exploration of crime—and in a more complicated way—it invites us to ask the question of what do we do about it?

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:
Don McLean,
American Pie

Celebrating Don McLean on his 78th birthday.Ed.

Where were you the day the music died? I was living in rustic Littlestown, Pennsylvania, and at the tender age of 4 months I didn’t know Buddy Holly from a jar of pureed peas.

But that’s the amazing thing about Don McLean’s 1971 masterpiece “American Pie.” I can’t listen to it without feeling a sense of immense loss. McLean brings the November 1959 plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa that took the lives of Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper and lays it at my door.

The music didn’t really die that day; had that been the case, Don McLean wouldn’t have had the material to write the moralistic social and musical allegory that is “American Pie.” Anyway, without further ado, here are some random thoughts on some words and music that spoke to an entire generation.

1. “American Pie” succeeds as a piece of narrative poetry. It’s not great narrative poetry like Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” mind you, but its’ encapsulates the years between 1959-1969 in order to anatomize two kinds of death; first, the death of first wave rock and roll in that frozen cornfield in Iowa, and second, the death of hippie innocence personified by the murder of Meredith Hunter at the hands of the Hell’s Angels at Altamont.

2. McLean kept mum about the meaning of his lyrics for decades. He told one interviewer, “They’re beyond analysis. They’re poetry.” When another interview asked what the song meant he replied, “It means I don’t ever have to work again if I don’t want to.”

3. Buddy Holly chartered that doomed Beechcraft 35 Bonanza because he wanted to catch up on his laundry. In short, he didn’t die in the name of rock’n’roll. He died in the name of clean underwear.

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TVD Radar: Tito Puente, El Rey Bravo newly remastered reissue in stores 11/10

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Latino proudly announces a vinyl reissue for Tito Puente’s foundational Latin jazz masterpiece, El Rey Bravo. Originally released on Tico Records in 1962, the album includes the legendary bandleader and percussionist’s iconic hit, “Oye Cómo Va,” plus enduring favorites like “Tombola” and “Tokyo de Noche.”

Set for release November 10th and available for pre-order today, El Rey Bravo features (AAA) lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and is pressed on 180-gram vinyl. Completing the package is a vintage-style tip-on jacket featuring the album’s classic design. Additionally, for the very first time, fans can experience El Rey Bravo in 192/24 hi-res audio on select digital platforms. In addition, a Canary Yellow color vinyl exclusive, limited to 500 copies, with exciting bundle options that include a commemorative Tito Puente T-shirt is being offered at Vinyl Me, Please is also releasing a 180-gram Orange Crush exclusive variant.

This reissue offers a fitting cap to Craft Latino’s year-long centennial celebration of the influential artist. Throughout 2023, the label has honored Puente’s vital contributions to Latin music through exclusive digital content and a series of releases, including 180-gram vinyl pressings of Puente’s 1972 classic, Para los Rumberos, and his best-selling 1985 album, Mambo Diablo.

In the late 1940s, an exciting new sound was taking root in New York jazz clubs, as Puerto Rican and Cuban musicians settled in the city, introducing Afro-Cuban and Caribbean rhythms to American audiences. Within a few years, everyone was dancing to the cha-cha-chá and mambo, thanks to a host of inspired young artists, including Tito Puente (1923–2000). The Manhattan-born, Puerto Rican percussionist honed his craft under the legendary Cuban bandleader Machito, who was instrumental in bringing Afro-Cuban jazz to America.

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TVD Radar: The Kinks, The Journey – Part 2 2LP & 2CD in stores 11/17

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Kinks, one of the greatest ever British rock groups, continue the 60th Anniversary celebrations of their illustrious musical journey with part two of their career-defining anthology, The Journey, out 17 November on BMG.

Following the release of The Journey – Part 1 in March this year (featuring hits such as “You Really Got Me,” “Waterloo Sunset,” “All Day And All Of The Night,” “Supersonic Rocket Ship,” and “Dead End Street”) The Journey – Part 2, compiled by the band, will be available on 2CD, 2LP, Digital and HD Digital formats. The physical formats contain a booklet with band photos and track-by-track notes written by original members Ray Davies, Dave Davies, and Mick Avory, sharing their memories of the time and weaving them into The Kinks’ incredible story. Preorder and presave The Journey – Part 2 here.

The Journey – Part 2 includes singles, B-sides, album tracks and, notably, six new Ray Davies mixes, three of which are previously unreleased live performances from the New Victoria Theatre, London in 1975. New digital single “Everybody’s a Star (Starmaker) (Live 1975, 2023 Mix),” can be heard above. Hits featured on the release include: “Lola,” “Sunny Afternoon,” “20th Century Man,” “Dedicated Follower Of Fashion,” “Till The End Of The Day,” “A Well Respected Man,” “See My Friends,” and “Everybody’s A Star (Starmaker).”

This release is accompanied by a brand new Official Kinks merchandise collection that represents their 60 years as a group. The full range of merchandise is available from Backstreet. Visit the store here.

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Graded on a Curve:
Grand Funk,
We’re An American Band

Celebrating Mark Farner on his 75th birthday.Ed.

Jesus Funkin’ Christ, Grand Funk. Where does one even begin? Homer Simpson’s immortal description of the band’s members is as good a place as any: “You kids don’t know Grand Funk? The wild shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner? The bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher? The competent drumwork of Don Brewer? Oh, man!”

Grand Funk was one of the biggest arena acts of the 1970s, but nowadays you’d be hard pressed to find anyone besides Homer Simpson who will admit to liking them. I’ve never heard a single rocker cite Grand Funk as an influence, and unlike their Michigan brethren the MC5 and Iggy and the Stooges, Grand Funk scored a big zero when it came to hipness factor. Their talk of revolution was transparently empty jive, they didn’t have a proto-punk bone in their bodies, and in general all they did was fill arenas—something the far cooler MC5 and the anarchic Stooges never came close to doing—and make the people in those arenas (and their bongs) happy.

Of course filling arenas doesn’t prove much, except that it’s impossible to overestimate the ignorance of the American public, but still it’s intriguing—what did all those pothead on reds at all those Grand Funk shows hear that we simply can’t hear in 2014? Did people back then have an extra Grand Funk ear? That closed up around the time of 1976’s Born to Die, which marked the band’s downward slide following seven consecutive LPs in the Top Ten?

That’s right: seven consecutive LPs in the Top Ten. How they managed this feat, given their lackluster body of work, remains a mystery, like what became of Amelia Earhart or how Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitcher Dock Ellis managed to throw a no-hitter while tripping his balls off. It is possible people really did come to hear the shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner? Or were they truly that hard-up for entertainment in the Dark Ages of the early to mid-seventies, when rock had become empty entertainment, with the talk of music changing the world having become passé on one side and the soon-to-come (and equally unsuccessful punk revolution the other. Never having seen Grand Funk—they were well into their precipitous fall from superstardom when I started attending concerts, I can’t say.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 122: Anouk Rijnders

If you love vinyl, there’s only one place to be this weekend (9/26–10/1) and that is Haarlem, Netherlands.

There won’t be just one gathering dedicated to vinyl either: the town will host a conference and a festival who have made the wise decision to co-locate in the capital of North Holland. A few months ago on this program we spoke with Larry Jaffee and Bryan Ekus about the Making Vinyl conference that took place last spring in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During that conversation, they gave us a sneak peek at what to expect this week in the Netherlands as they set up shop to hold a European conference there.

But, they won’t be alone. Following the conclusion of the Making Vinyl conference will be the beginning of the Haarlem Vinyl Festival which takes place during the second half of the weekend and which is billed as, “the world’s first multi-day festival entirely dedicated to vinyl culture.” One of the architects of the event is Anouk Rijnders (RHINEJERS) who is the sales manager at the Netherlands record pressing plant, Record Industry.

After working as a producer and director in the television and advertising industry, Anouk joined the Record Industry vinyl pressing plant in 2000. In addition to her role as a Sales Manager for the company, she has produced two books, Passion For Vinyl and its sequel, Passion For Vinyl Part II and will debut Part III this weekend. Anouk is also the Project Manager of Artone Studio which is Record Industries’ brand new mastering room and studio, offering direct-to-disc recording amongst other services.

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Graded on a Curve: Suede, Suede

Celebrating Brett Anderson on his 56th birthday.Ed.

When Suede released their eponymous 1993 debut, Glam fans took notice. No they didn’t. They leapt to their feet and dug through their closets for their six-inch platform Ziggy Stardust boots and moth-balled space age Brian Eno ultra-high collars before sprinting, or more accurately tripping and wobbling—have you ever tried to run in six-inch platform boots?—to loot the make-up counters of every store in London. Finally, they managed to lose (in six minutes flat!) the eighty pounds necessary to squeeze themselves into their old designed-for-skeletons glam attire. Depending on your point of view, it was a glorious moment or a bleeding horror show.

Actually, of course, none of this happened, because while Suede had that classic Glam sound, they didn’t necessarily look the part. They were, for the most part, Glam in mufti, and dressed, for the most part, in fashionable black, with the notable exception of vocalist Brett Anderson, who had that vintage Brian Ferry look—sans the 1940s tailored suits and jaded sophistication—down flat.

But none of this has anything to do with Suede, which ranks amongst the finest LPs of the Britpop era. By turns lush, romantic, low key, high strung, guitar heavy and flat-out metallic, the album’s songs are showcases for Anderson’s vocals, which tend towards the histrionic fabulous. His voice is the Glam glue that draws it all together—Bernard Butler’s guitar shapes the music, for sure, but it’s primarily Anderson’s arch delivery that sets the band squarely in the Great Glam Tradition.

“So Young” is as good as it gets. The song’s fresh melody captures the sound of youth, Anderson goes big time romantic, Butler’s piano adds flavor, and his guitar gives the song just enough muscle to keep it from dissolving into a lovely fey wisp. “Animal Nitrate” is a tougher beast boasting a killer chorus and Anderson singing, “Oh, it turns you on, on/Now he has gone/Oh, what turns you on, on?/Now your animal’s gone.” The ballad “She’s Not Dead” showcases Anderson’s ability to hit those dramatic high notes, while the band produces a Starman solar sound that fits Anderson’s voice like a tailored space suit.

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