Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve: Norman Blake,
Day by Day

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Norman Blake’s contribution to recorded music has been significant. He’s played on Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline, John Hartford’s Aereo-Plain, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Kris Kristofferson’s The Silver Tongued Devil and I, Joan Baez’s Blessed Are…, the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou, and a slew of albums solo and as a duo with his wife, the multi-instrumentalist Nancy Blake. Day by Day is his latest, a nine-track set offering versions of his favorite folk songs alongside two of his own writing, all delivered in single takes. It’s a powerful, historically rich CD, available from Smithsonian Folkways and Plectrafone Records on October 22.

The first LP to feature the talents of Norman Blake, wherein he played the mandolin, was 12 Shades of Bluegrass by Bob Johnson and the Lonesome Travelers, released in 1963 by the Parkway label, though a year earlier he played guitar on and co-wrote “Uncle John’s Bongos” as recorded by Houston Turner and the Dixielanders, essentially a novelty tune about a Tennessean (that would be one Uncle John) who ditches the fiddle and starts slapping a set of bongo drums as he goes Greenwich Village beatnik.

Perhaps not the most auspicious of beginnings (and there’s a better-known version of “Uncle John’s Bongos” recorded around the same time by the country duo Johnnie and Jack with Blake also credited as co-writer), but that’s alright, as a couple years later he was playing dobro with Johnny Cash and heading down the road toward the Nashville Skyline.

Dylan’s album and the list in the intro up above might portray Blake as a high-profile session guy, but that’s not really accurate. While he was surely in demand, he spent as much time in studios working on his own albums or collaborating with his Newgrass cohorts Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Tut Taylor, and Tony Rice.

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TVD Live Shots: WILLOW at The Royale, 10/13

BOSTON, MA | WILLOW charmed fans at in Boston Wednesday night with a sold-out electric showcase of vocals, guitar and drums. Connecting with fans as friends, she sang to them as if they were just catching up. Stunning and sweet, each moment between songs was an opportunity for gratitude and WILLOW missed no opportunity to give thanks.

After delighting her audience with songs off of her latest album “Lately I Feel Everything,” WILLOW welcomed to the stage Tyler Cole, who together have performed under the band name The Anxiety. The duo performed their single “Meet Me At Our Spot,” a melodically addicting track that has skyrocketed in success, with credit to both their talents and TikTok for continued viral shares. Cole also shares credits as producer and co-writer for many of the tracks on “Lately I Feel Everything.”

The late July release highlights a pop/punk side of WILLOW that fans have had no trouble embracing. She is in good company on the album with Travis Barker on “Transparent Soul,” “Gaslight” and “Grow” which also features Avril Lavigne.

WILLOW’s Life tour continues through October 19.

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TVD Radar: Chuck Berry, Live From Blueberry Hill in stores 12/17

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Today—on Chuck Berry’s 95th birthday—Dualtone Records announces the December 17 release of Live From Blueberry Hill, an indelible document of the rock & roll icon’s legendary hometown shows at St. Louis’ Blueberry Hill. Taken from performances recorded between July 2005 and January 2006, Live From Blueberry Hill features Berry tearing through classics like “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” and “Johnny B. Goode” on the stage that he played more than any other in the latter decades of his life.

By 1996, Chuck Berry had conquered the world and, after his seminal “Johnny B. Goode” was included on the Voyager Gold Record and sent into space, the stars. But one evening, in a conversation with Joe Edwards—longtime confidante and owner of the beloved St. Louis restaurant Blueberry Hill—Berry commented “You know, Joe, I’d like to play a place the size of the ones I played when I first started out.”

A lightbulb went off and a scheme was hatched. “Let’s do it at Blueberry Hill,” they decided. On a new stage that Edwards had christened The Duck Room after Chuck’s signature onstage move, Berry would give 209 performances over seventeen years. Chuck Berry shows at Blueberry Hill became a rock & roll talisman, inspiring pilgrimages from all sorts of luminaries: the Band’s Robbie Robertson, Motorhead’s Lemmy, Lorde, fellow St. Louisans Nelly and Bob Costas, to name just a few.

Berry’s hand-picked backing group for the Duck Room shows evolved over time, but eventually became codified as the “Blueberry Hill Band,” a combination of family members, longtime Berry collaborators, and stars of the St. Louis scene, including daughter Ingrid Berry on harmonica, son Charles Berry, Jr. on guitar, bassist and band leader Jimmy Marsala, pianist Robert Lohr, and drummer Keith Robinson. Together they formed the longest-running band of Berry’s 60+ year career.

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Graded on a Curve: Chuck Berry,
The Definitive Collection

Remembering Chuck Berry, born on this day in 1926.Ed.

The passing of Chuck Berry—whose contributions to rock’n’roll surpass those of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, hell Jerry Lee Lewis even—is a sad event for anybody who has ever fallen in love with the sound of a Gibson ES-350T. Berry did more than just produce many of the most iconic songs of rock’n’roll, he was instrumental in the invention of rock’n’roll itself, which makes him more important than Nicola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and the Wright Brothers put together. And you can toss Johannes Gutenberg onto the pile if you want.

Berry had it all. Mad songwriting skills that focused on teen culture, a great voice, a unique approach to playing the guitar, and a mastery of stagecraft that is best exemplified by his famous duck walk. How influential was Berry? Well, John Lennon once said, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’” And none other than Bob Dylan pronounced Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll.”

All of that said, you would think it’d be easy to find a great compilation of Berry’s best songs. Not so. Some of the massive compilations—such as 1988’s The Chess Box, 2000’s The Anthology, 2007’s Johnny B. Goode/His Complete ‘50s Chess Recordings, and the compilations of his post-peak Chess Records years are freighted with either numerous alternative takes and filler or both—which is fine if you’re the type of person who loves outtakes and filler, which I’m not—while others inexplicably omit songs I simply can’t live without.

Take the 1982 Chess Records compilation The Great Twenty-Eight, for example. It includes most of the songs Berry is best remembered for, and omits to include the embarrassingly infantile “My Ding-a-Ling,” but I simply find it impossible to forgive the omission of “You Never Can Tell,” which is perhaps my favorite Berry song.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 50: Ted Riederer of Never Records

Whenever the mailman delivers a package that looks like a record, there’s no doubt that I become excited.

Such was the case when I received something from Ted Riederer and Never Records. Except, something was off…while the package’s dimensions were correct, the weight was wrong, “This is light,” I thought. The packaging inside was that of a fully designed record sleeve, but—as I was to soon learn—there was no actual record inside, no disc. Intrigued, I began to uncover the story of Never Records and learn its motto which is: you are not listening. My astonishment at the empty sleeve was indicative of the fact that I wasn’t listening; but my attention had been captured and I was ready to open my ears.

Never Records is really an art project and describes itself as, “a combination recording studio and record shop, all operating in one building. The sole proprietor, interior decorator, and engineer is New York-based artist Ted Riederer.” Ted travels to different geographic locations (the UK, New York, New Orleans, Amman, Jordan and more), finds a space that would serve as a temporary and fictional record shop, connects with local performers, records them, and creates two lone lathe cuts of their work on vinyl—one for the artist and one for Ted’s archive. The genre of music doesn’t matter, it’s all part of encapsulating the sounds of the communities that he visits.

Join Ted and I as we get to the bottom of Never Records’ artistic vision and float some lofty dreams and theories. It’s an opportunity to observe how we currently consume music through a different lens. We also discuss his work with Arturo Vega and the art of operating a lathe. In fact, we may even cut this interview to vinyl!

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Graded on a Curve: Metallica, Metallica

People often ask me “Mike, what’s your grudge with Metallica? And why did you throw them out of your house then sic your Chihuahua on them after paying their cabby to skedaddle to Peoria, leaving them to run two miles down a creepy country road to the nearest house, whose owner just happens to have the tri-state area’s largest collection of chainsaws and hockey masks?”

“I don’t know,” I reply. “It could be the football tough meatloaf they brought as a housewarming gift. Or the way they always refer to themselves in the third person. ‘Metallica loves your sofa throw cushions.’ ‘Metallica really likes what you’ve done with the breakfast nook.’ And let’s not forget ‘Metallica is wondering if those blueberry muffins are homemade.'” Which really pisses me off. If Metallica wants a blueberry muffin, Metallica should just come out and ask.

But I have more important reasons, which I’ll get to after saying I felt really guilty for nearly have them sawed into convenient-to-eat pieces. It certainly had nothing to do with the fact that Metallica were instrumental in the development of thrash metal. It’s as if they’d said, “Metal’s great and all, but it would be even greater if we turned it into a funny car.” In short they combined metal’s massive tonnage with punk velocity, and ended up with a Tyrannosaurus Rex capable of running the fifty-yard dash in six seconds flat.

Given this stupendous accomplishment–and stupendous achievement it is–I decided to invite the foursome back to my place to apologize and explain the reasons for my inexcusable behavior. Surprising, the band accepted my invitation. (They’re very nice guys.) Which is how Metallica ended up sitting on my couch eating blueberry muffins while I sat across from them with my Caligula of a Chihuahua sitting sphinxlike on my lap, silently baring his fangs.

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TVD Radar: Show Me The Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall documentary screening now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | New to digital platforms, feature documentary Show Me The Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall celebrates the legendary photographer’s captured moments of the rock ‘n’ roll gods and goddesses who changed the world and introduces viewers to the man himself.

Told through more than 850 iconic photos and interviews, the film chronicles the infamous photographer’s life behind and outside the camera. A child of immigrants and a life battling inner demons, Marshall fought his way to become one of the most trusted mavericks behind a lens, with an all-access pass to the musicians, music, and seminal events that defined the ’60s.

A passion for music led him to capture defining moments in the lives and careers of iconic figures including The Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, and Miles Davis. Throughout his groundbreaking career, Marshall crossed boundaries to record images of protest, civil unrest and poverty along with the American jazz scene, San Francisco’s Summer of Love, and the early New York folk scene.

Synopsis: Photographer Jim Marshall captures the heights of the Rock and Roll music era, from the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, to the civil rights movements and some of the most iconic moments of the ’60s.

Show Me The Picture is available on AppleTV and Altavod now and playing at select theaters nationwide courtesy of Utopia.

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Graded on a Curve: Angel,
Helluva Band

Celebrating Frank Dimino on his 70th birthday.Ed.

My favorite story about Angel, Washington, DC’s glammed-out, all-white spandex retort to Kiss, which seemed poised for superstardom in the mid-seventies (giant billboards on the Sunset Strip, selection by the readers of Circus magazine as the Best New Group of 1976, and tours of the great American arena circuit with the likes of Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, Journey, and Rush) is pure Spinal Tap.

The band, with some major financial backing from Casablanca Records mogul Neil Bogart, had developed one of the most elaborate stage shows in rock, a fantasia of smoke, magic, and mirrors that led one wag to suggest that the band might be better off staying home and sending its props on the road. One gimmick involved the band appearing magically on stage one by one in puffs of smoke, to be introduced by the face on the giant Angel logo—which none other than Ian MacKaye pointed out to me is ambigrammatic, meaning it reads the same when turned upside down as when viewed normally—that served as the band’s backdrop.

One night, as Punky Meadows, Angel’s guitarist and the most androgynous pretty boy in a band full of androgynous pretty boys, told me: “Of course, all we were doing was coming up through trapdoors from beneath the stage. Well, one night, the big talking head introduces [drummer] Mickie Jones, and Mickie isn’t there. We’re looking at each like, ‘Where the fuck’s Mickie?’ Turns out his trapdoor got stuck. And all those stoned kids in the audience are going [Meadows sucks on an imaginary joint], ‘That’s really weird, man…'”

Angel was ahead of its time as a hair metal band, but while publicity photos featuring Meadows sporting hair the females of the era would have died for and a pout that put Scarlett Johansson’s to shame helped increase Angel’s popularity amongst certain sectors—predominantly teenage girls—it didn’t win them any points with critics.

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Needle Drop: Hello Lightfoot, “Twenty Seven”

Jessica Louise Dye, frontwoman for NYC surf-pop combo High Waisted, steps out with grace and poise on her new solo venture Hello Lightfoot. With her kitty meowing in the background, she sat down with us to shed some insight on her new confessional, off-shoot endeavor.

Upon moving to New York City to start her solo project, Dye realized she didn’t possess the confidence to make the record she wanted to make. Dave, one of her best friends during this time, who in a support role steadfastly pushed her to believe in herself and her talents. Forming High Waisted, Dye learned to challenge herself within the confines of a band, but after Dave’s passing in March she knew it was time to let the sun in the room and revisit some earlier, brushed-aside songs.

Referring to Hello Lightfoot as her “self-care project,” she went through the many stages of grief and says that “having something to feel inspired by is one of the only things that can really help you when it’s so hard to put the energy into yourself. Even though I did a lot of the recording on my own, having this project was a good reason to reach out to people when it came to mixing or photos. It gave me a reason not to hide, and the connection part is enormously important.”

Looking at old songs with fresh eyes was an organic process, like a living creature that grows and changes through the years of emotional experiences, Dye says. At their inception, the songs’ melody and vocals were influenced by Metric and Feist, but in this new era she finds herself drawn to other diverse, strong women such as Robyn, Lykke Li, and Billie Eilish, for inspiration.

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Graded on a Curve:
X-Ray Spex,
Germfree Adolescents

Anyone who thinks the first wave of English punk was an all-lads affair has never listened to X-Ray Spex. Band vocalist and songwriter Poly Styrene spit as much bile as anyone, but she came at it from a woman’s point of view; the famed first words out of her mouth on the band’s 1977 debut single were “Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard/But I think… oh bondage up yours!” And from there on X-Ray Spex one-upped most of the bands in punk’s boys’ club. And they did it with the assistance of a very unpunk instrument, the saxophone.

X-Ray Spex were self-described “deliberate underachievers,” which helps explain why they only released four excellent singles and one album, 1978’s Germfree Adolescents. (Almost two decades later they released a second album, 1995’s Conscious Consumer, but I’ll be damned if I’ll count it.)

The only problem with Germfree Adolescents is it doesn’t include the singles, which include “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” This is a serious omission, but Caroline Records corrected things in 1991, when they re-released Germfree Adolescents with singles included. Who says record labels are all spawn of the devil?

It’s hard to escape the suspicion that X-Ray Spex didn’t receive the same acclaim as their as their contemporaries because they were fronted by a woman unafraid to express her opinions and keep up with the boys, Punk—and later hardcore—were primarily the preserves of the males of the species, although X’s Exene Cervenka certainly held her own.

Styrene, same deal; one listen to that thick accent and the band’s pure punk thrust belies any such prejudices. And anyone who doubts the band’s ferocity need only listen to 1977’s Live at the Roxy (which wasn’t released until 1991) and the band’s 2008 reunion LP Live @ the Roundhouse London—one of the small handful of reunion LPs I’ve ever loved.

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TVD Radar: Daryl Hall & John Oates, Live At The Troubadour 3LP, 2CD in stores 11/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and the number-one selling duo in music history, Daryl Hall and John Oates, are releasing Live At The Troubadour for the first time ever on vinyl.

The album, which will be gracing the shelves in 3LP vinyl format on November 26th (Black Friday) is a collection of live, stripped-back classics, including hits such as “You Make My Dreams’” Maneater,” “Sara Smile,” and many more. Alongside this, the album will also be released in 2CD format and is available to stream on DSPs.

John Oates explains; “Playing the Troubadour in LA has been a “rite of passage” for live musicians for 64 years and Daryl and I played our first show there opening for the late great Harry Chapin in 1973. Over the years I always loved seeing shows and hanging out there with musicians and friends…returning to play again in 2008 was a full circle moment for me and the vibe was amazing.”

Live At The Troubadour was initially released in CD and DVD format in 2008, however this is the first time the album will be available for fans in vinyl format—and it’s sounding bigger, better and more iconic than ever! This release adds to Daryl Hall and John Oates’ extensive and highly successful discography, which is still resonating with existing and new fans across the globe. Reflecting on the recorded shows, Daryl Hall whimsically adds; “It’s always interesting to return to the scene of the crime.”

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TVD Radar: Blondie, ‘Yuletide Throwdown’
3-song holiday EP in stores 11/5

VIA PRESS RELEASE | As the summer months come to a close, one can’t help but look ahead and begin daydreaming about the holidays to come. And this year, legendary New York rock band Blondie are bringing a little more fun to the holiday season with the release of their EP “Yuletide Throwdown.” The 3-track EP, released digitally October 8th, and on 12” limited edition vinyl in both magenta and black, on November 5th (via UMe-Capitol/Numero Group) features the ultra-rare ’80s Christmas-inspired track “Yuletide Throwdown,” co-written and performed with Fab 5 Freddy, along with a new, exclusive remix of the song by Cut Chemist.

The ultra-rare 1981 holiday flexi-disc, now being reissued for the first time on 180gram vinyl, was originally given away by the UK magazine Flexipop and then rediscovered as the band was researching and reviewing material from their personal archive for their forthcoming box set, to be released in August of 2022.

If it sounds familiar, here’s why: the track was actually the original recording for what would later become one of Blondie’s biggest hits, “Rapture.” After shelving this version because the tempo was recorded too slowly (it was later recut into what became the global hit song), Chris Stein decided to go back into the studio a year later with the original track to record Debbie Harry and Freddy’s “Throwdown” vocals for this cheeky, holiday masterpiece.

“It has been an impossible amount of time since I believed in Santa Claus, but I could very well believe again if he was Freddy Brathwaite!! Some of my best times have been making music with Chris Stein and Freddy B,” notes Debbie Harry, with Chris Stein adding: “Freddy has done as much as any multi-platinum selling Hip-Hop star to promote rap culture.”

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TVD Radar: Death Cab For Cutie, The Photo Album 20th anniversary LP/EP in stores Spring 22

VIA PRESS RELEASE | This past weekend marked the 20th anniversary of Death Cab For Cutie’s The Photo Album, which was released on October 9, 2001 via Barsuk Records.

In celebration of the record’s anniversary, the band and Barsuk will release a special deluxe edition of DCfC’s third studio album. The Photo Album (Deluxe Edition) is a 35-track reissue featuring a newly remastered version of the original album, and includes the three bonus tracks released with its first CD pressing, which were later released in 2002 as “The Stability EP.” The extensive reissue includes covers of Björk’s “All Is Full of Love” and The Stone Roses’ “I Wanna Be Adored,” previously unreleased tracks, rarities and UK B-sides which have never been available on digital services and, finally, all of the band’s original demos for the album.

The deluxe edition will be available on all digital platforms on October 29th, and a limited edition LP+12” EP version of the album, also newly remastered for vinyl, will be released in the spring of 2022. The gatefold vinyl will include the original album on one disc and “The Stability EP” on the second disc. “The Stability EP” has only been issued on vinyl once, as part of the long out-of-print limited edition 2013 Death Cab for Cutie: The Barsuk Years box set released by Artist in Residence. The vinyl reissue will be on clear 180-gram vinyl and limited to 5,000 copies worldwide.

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Graded on a Curve: Nazareth,
Hair of the Dog

Celebrating Dan McCafferty on his 75th birthday.Ed.

The Scottish clods o’ peat in this hard-working, hard-rocking man’s man band never won any originality awards, and weren’t exactly well-versed in the songwriting arts either, and given their high scunge factor, I doubt they’d even be allowed into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as paying customers, much less as inductees.

They’re not going to be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame anytime soon, either. Hell, they only hit two homers over the course of their long career, and their lifetime batting average is in the .233 range. Forget about Cooperstown; these guys would be lucky to earn a spot on the bench of the 1962 New York Mets.

But I’ll say this for ‘em–way back in 1975 every badass or wannabe badass in my home town was blaring Nazareth’s Hair of the Dog out of their car 8-track speakers, whether that car be a GTO or a rusted-out Ford Pinto. The title track–with its “Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch”–was a blast of pure unbridled belligerence and without a doubt the orneriest cut of the summer, hell the whole year probably. Alice Cooper may have put out “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” but that was play acting; Nazareth’s Dan McCafferty came on like the Real McCoy.

As for the album title, me and my buddies prided ourselves on knowing what it meant even though we’d never cracked a beer (much less suffered a hangover) in our lives–it made us feel adult, worldly even, just as that “Now you’re messin’ with a son of a bitch” made us feel tough, when in effect we were probably the wimpiest band of geeks to ever gingerly trod the halls of Littlestown High School, on the lookout for the real sons of bitches.

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TVD Radar: Bernard Purdie, Soul is … Pretty Purdie reissue in stores 12/17

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Bernard “Pretty” Purdie is an American drummer who needs little introduction. At an early age he began hitting cans with sticks and learned the elements of drumming techniques from overhearing lessons being given. Considered an influential and innovative soul-jazz-funk musician, he is known for his precise musical time keeping and his signature/unique drumming techniques—considered one of the greatest drummers of his generation, in 2013 he was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame.​

In 1961 he moved from his hometown to New York City where he was contracted to play session work for James Brown (Purdie can be heard on the albums ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’, ‘Cold Sweat’, ‘Say It Loud-I’m Black and I’m Proud’ and ‘Get on the Good Foot’). These JB sessions display some of the most sophisticated and driving shuffles ever recorded for Brown’s catalogue. Purdie then started working with Aretha Franklin as her musical director in 1970 and held that position for five years as well as drumming for Franklin’s opening act, King Curtis.

Bernie Purdie was credited on countless albums (spanning several decades) by legendary artists like Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, John Lee Hooker, Steely Dan, Cat Stevens, B.B. King, The Rolling Stones and Gil Scott-Heron.​

Purdie recorded his first solo album Soul Drums as early as 1968 and other milestone solo albums include Purdie Good (1971), Soul Is … Pretty Purdie (1972) and the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Lialeh (1973). With such an extensive body of work (Purdie laid down the beat on over 3,000 recordings) it comes as no surprise that his rhythms have appeared as samples on groundbreaking tracks from high profile acts such as The Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, Beck, DJ Shadow, The Prodigy and many others.

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