Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Joni Mitchell, Shine vinyl debut in stores 4/3

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Recordings is thrilled to announce the first-ever vinyl release of Joni Mitchell’s best-selling 2007 album, Shine. Available April 3rd and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI, the acclaimed title includes such tracks as “One Week Last Summer” (which received the 2008 GRAMMY® Award for Best Instrumental Pop Performance), and an updated version of Mitchell’s iconic 1970 track “Big Yellow Taxi.”

The 19th studio album from Mitchell, Shine marked the legendary Canadian singer-songwriter’s first collection of original material in nearly a decade, and came as a welcome surprise to the artist’s fans, following her well-publicized break with the music business at the turn of the millennium. Described by Mitchell to be “as serious a work as I’ve ever done,” Shine was inspired by the environmental, social and political turmoil which plagued the era of the Iraq War.

The 10 tracks on the album echo Mitchell’s pensive mood—reflective lyrics and beautiful, often-minimalist, piano-driven melodies paint a somber, yet hopeful picture. Highlights include the instrumental opener, “One Week Last Summer,” featuring the versatile multi-instrumentalist Bob Sheppard on soprano saxophone; the epic “Night of the Iguana,” loosely based on John Huston’s 1964 film; the title track, featuring an appearance by longtime friend James Taylor on guitar; Mitchell’s revisit to “Big Yellow Taxi,” which feels eerily prophetic 50 years after its debut, and “If I Had a Heart,” which the New York Times described as “one of the most haunting melodies she has ever written.”

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Little Dume,
The TVD First Date

“Vinyl has always been so enchanting and mysterious to us in our musical journey.”

“My earliest memory with vinyl started with my brother David (singer) and our uncle Bruce. Bruce lives in Palo Alto, CA and grew up in the heart of the ’60s. Palo Alto was the birthplace of a lot of bands but most notably The Grateful Dead.

I went up there to visit one weekend when I was 15 (David must have been 10) and he sat me down from 2:00pm to 3:00am every day and showed me everything from early Miles Davis, Jaco Pastorius, Chambers Brothers, Marvin Gaye, to Harry Nilsson, Cream, King Crimson, and much more. Every genre. Honestly it was overwhelming but incredible.

As we got older David and I started collecting our own vinyl. We’d pick up our own and share it whenever able. Some of our early records were Parachutes by Coldplay, Led Zeppelin IV, U2’s The Joshua Tree, and many more.

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Graded on a Curve:
Howlin’ Wolf,
The London Howlin’
Wolf Sessions

Before we turn to a serious discussion of Chester Burnett aka Howlin’ Wolf, a true story about another wolf, last name Blitzer. A friend of a friend of his cousin’s friend who lives in Blitzer’s swank neighborhood in Bethesda, MD swears come one full moon night he watched a howling Blitzer lope naked across his backyard, in pursuit of a terrified deer. This friend of a friend of a cousin’s friend assumed it was just an acid flashback, but when he turned on CNN the next day he swears he saw flecks of blood in Wolf’s beard.

As for Howlin’ Wolf, he’s only one of the greatest blues musicians to ever walk Planet Earth. The Wolf could do it all: sing, play guitar and harmonica–hell, I betcha he could have rocked the blues on the hornucopian dronepipe had somebody handed him one. Thousands of people have paid homage to Howlin’ Wolf over the years, but my favorite encomium comes from the late Cub Koda of Brownsville Station, who said, “No one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.” Howlin’ Wolf and Wolf Blitzer have a lot in common.

There are better Howlin’ Wolf albums out there, but listeners have long been drawn to 1971’s The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions on the basis of its who’s who cast of renowned musicians. Session attendees included Eric Clapton, long-time Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumin, Steve Winwood, sessions pianist extraordinaire Lafayette Leake, Charlie Watts, Ian Stewart, Ringo Starr, Bill Wyman, Klaus Voormann and some other guys whose names elude me at the moment.

The players’ excitement at being in the presence of a great is palpable, and they give their best as a result. Clapton’s playing is breath-taking throughout–his stinging leads on such tracks as ”Highway 49,” “Do the Do,” “Red Rooster” and “Rockin’ Daddy” are almost enough to validate all that “Clapton Is God” nonsense. Rolling Stones co-founder Ian Stewart, Lafayette Leake, and Winwood share piano duties on the sessions, but it’s Stewart who shines–his rollicking 88s lend a shakin’ shotgun shack feel to tunes like “Rockin’ Daddy” and “Do the Do.”

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TVD Radar: The Rock
& Roll Hall of Fame in Concert: The Blu-Ray Collection
in stores 2/18

VIA PRESS RELEASE | For more than 30 years, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has honored rock music’s greats during annual prestigious black-tie ceremonies which have become nearly as epic as the artists they celebrate. Featuring the biggest names in classic rock from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, as well as once-in-a-lifetime collaborations that can only happen at these very special events, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Concert: The Blu-Ray Collection is the biggest and best video music collection Time Life has ever produced.

Giving home audiences front row seats to the greatest performances from the historic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concerts, this Blu-ray collector’s set—never before available at retail in one comprehensive collection—features nearly 30 hours of entertainment and over 150 unforgettable performances from 2009-2017, as well as historic, irreverent and emotional induction speeches across 6 gleaming discs. Among the iconic acts featured are Alice Cooper, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Electric Light Orchestra, Heart, James Taylor, Journey, Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Ringo Starr, Simon and Garfunkel, Sting, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, Stevie Nicks, Glenn Frey, Green Day, Yes, Bill Withers, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Beastie Boys, Genesis, N.W.A., Randy Newman, Public Enemy, and U2. Simply put, if you’re a fan of live classic rock, this is the collection to own.

Housed in one handsome collector’s case are three distinct Blu-ray collections: Rock Hall In Concert – Encore (2 BD discs), Rock Hall in Concert (2 BD discs), and The 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concerts (2 BD discs):

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: In Concert – Encore — Features 44 iconic performances from the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 induction ceremonies. Among the highlights: 

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TVD Radar: The Donnas, Gold Medal black and gold splatter vinyl reissue in stores 2/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Real Gone Music’s reissue includes reproductions of the original poster and printed inner sleeve for its black and gold splatter vinyl edition, limited to 750 copies.

Famously formed in 8th grade for a school talent show, The Donnas began as a self-styled co-ed answer to The Ramones, each taking the first name of Donna (as opposed to the last name of Ramone), and playing gleefully unapologetic, pop-punk paeans to adolescent alienation and hedonism from a decidedly female perspective. But by the time of 2004’s Gold Medal, their sixth album and second for the major label Atlantic, the group has clearly—dare we say it?–matured.

With the notable exception of the single (and career highlight) “Fall Behind Me,” Gold Medal marks a move away from the Donnas’ harder/faster ethos towards a more polished (acoustic guitars…whaaat?) pop sound veering towards ‘70s psychedelia under the helm of Avril Lavigne producer Butch Walker. And you can tell it from the album’s graphics, which flash vintage, Peter Max-esque squiggles on the front cover and feature a faux black light poster inside (which we have reproduced for this reissue along with the original printed inner sleeve).

The result was an album that lead vocalist Brett Anderson a.k.a Donna A. deems her favorite, and one that stands as probably the band’s crowning artistic achievement. Our reissue comes in black and gold splatter vinyl, and is limited to 750 copies…an overlooked early-oughties gem!

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Graded on a Curve:
Marie et les Garçons,
1977-1979

There are plenty of good reasons to hate the French. Their food is catastrophically overpriced, they have an army whose only tactical maneuver is charging backwards and–get this–speak a language you actually have to study if you want to understand a word they’re saying. And don’t even get me started on their punk rock.

You don’t have to be a truffle pig to sniff out a lousy French punk rock band, but a few are quite good. One of the best is Marie et les Garçons, which was formed in 1975 by five graduates of the Lycée Saint-Exupéry in Lyon. In 1978 Marie et les Garçons came to the notice of John Cale, who offered to produce the band and ultimately played on their single “Attitudes” / “Re-Bop.”which Cale released on his Spy label. They would soon find themselves opening for the likes of X-Ray Spex, Patti Smith, and the Talking Heads.

Marie et les Garçons’ sound is best captured on 1977/1979, a 23-song compilation of studio and live recordings and a couple of remixes and demos. It takes some getting used to, listening to punk rock sung in the language of Marcel Proust and Arthur Rimbaud, but Marie et les Garçons makes up for it with good songs and the wiry guitar sound of Erik Fitoussi and Christian Faye. And Patrick Vidal sings with conviction, or as much conviction as the member of a race of people raised on bon-bons and confit can muster. And to their credit Marie et les Garçons keep things at a brisk pace; you won’t catch these guys moping around like Charles Baudelaire.

Marie et les Garçons wears it Anglophilic influences on the sleeve of its Breton shirt–you get the Talking Heads (“Decisions ou parti pris” and “P4 N°1″); Wire (“Attitudes”); and Television (“Rien à dire,” and “Mardi soir”). Listeners will also want to check out Marie et les Garçons’ cover of Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel” on 1977/1979’s companion comp, 1976-1977.

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Graded on a Curve:
Six from Black and Wyatt Records

We’ve commenced the second decade of the 21st century, and record labels still matter. This applies equally to enduring companies and recent upstarts, though the men behind newer enterprise Black and Wyatt Records, namely Dennis Black and Robert Wyatt, are longtime music fans. Based in Memphis, they transformed their shared love of attending live shows into a tandem effort to get some unheard hometown sounds into brick and mortar shops. The results, with the crucial exception of an archival 45 by The Heathens, all date from the 2000s, with full-lengths by Fingers Like Saturn, The Toy Trucks, Jack Oblivian, The Opossums, and a just-out 45 by Mario Monterosso surprisingly and satisfyingly varied. The whole discography is available now, and it’s reviewed below.

The release that has thus far thrown the brightest spotlight onto Black and Wyatt Records’ nascent activities is the outlier in the discography, “Steady Girl” by The Heathens, a group of five teenagers enrolled in Memphis’ East High School who cut two takes of their sole song at Memphis Recording Service (a.k.a. Sun Studio) four days after the Presley-Perkins-Lewis-Cash Million Dollar Quartet session (which dates from Dec. 8, 1956).

The song, co-written by 15-year old Colin Heath (his surname giving the band their moniker) caused a considerable if long belated stir, and was reviewed in TVD’s New in Stores column in March of last year, with its grade holding strong. The idea was floated (and persists) that “Steady Girl” was the earliest example of garage rock, which is understandable as the tune’s utterly nonfancy rhythmic thump is a component in the recipe of many future garage 45s.

But to my ear, the song, co-written by Heathens’ guitarist Kaye Garren (notably, an early gal in the R&R scene) is a wild and fun example of Memphis’ rockabilly bedrock crossed with the burgeoning youth music (aka Teen Beat) impulse. Issued in a sturdy and attractively designed picture sleeve with informative notes on the back, its historical importance is matched by its sheer oomph.

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TVD Radar: Sorcerer OST by Tangerine Dream 180 gram “rainforest green and black” swirled vinyl in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Waxwork Records is proud to present Sorcerer Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Tangerine Dream.

Directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist, Cruising) and starring Roy Scheider, Sorcerer is a 1977 intense, existential thriller that follows four outcasts from varied backgrounds that meet in a South American village. They are then assigned to transport cargos of aged, poorly kept dynamite that is so unstable that it is sweating its dangerous basic ingredient, nitroglycerin. The mounting expense to make the film required the involvement of two major studios, and production was troubled with its various filming locations in multiple countries, often times within dangerous rainforests and raging rivers. Sorcerer was a commercial failure and this has long been attributed to the George Lucas’s Star Wars which was released one month earlier, instantly becoming a pop-culture phenomenon and forever changing how Hollywood movies were made. Sorcerer has enjoyed a critical re-evaluation and is now widely considered to be a cinematic masterpiece.

The film’s music by German Krautrock/electronic group Tangerine Dream features the band’s first film score. Before the explosion of electronic and synthesizer based film scoring prevalent in the 1980’s in movies such as Blade Runner and The Terminator, and before the explosive modern-day interest and revival of successful synth-scored TV series’ and movies such as Stranger Things and Drive, the music to Sorcerer by Tangerine Dream is a wildly influential blueprint and example of how movie scoring could be approached. Director William Friedkin instinctively sensed this during a chance encounter while witnessing a secret Tangerine Dream concert deep within the German Black Forest in an abandoned Church in the mid 1970s.

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Wildlife,
The TVD First Date

“I think one of the funniest things about obtaining vinyl is the sheer number of albums in my not-that-big collection that I have NEVER actually listened to!”

“You can wear out the B-side to Abbey Road or only ever play “More Than a Feeling” (the first song and lead single off Boston’s self-titled debut). You can own The Collected Broadcasts of Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin and not drop the needle on it for TEN YEARS only to find out that it is a parody album by a British comedian and pretty (totally) racist by 21st Century standards.

You get attached to things that come by at certain times in your life when you need them, sometimes when you didn’t even know it. The National’s Boxer is probably one of the most frequently played records in my collection, but it’s the one-two punch of “Pink Rabbits” and “Hard to Find” that close out 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me that brings me immediately back to a period of crying relentlessly in the shower at the mystifying and devastating beauty of those two songs.

Maybe it was the break up. I don’t think so, though, because songs also constantly take on new meaning as time moves on, for me anyway. We grow from younger to older and things that were once so simple gather complexity in our heads. That’s just the way it is, things will never be the same / Some things will never change.

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Graded on a Curve: Σtella, The Break

To quote her Bandcamp bio, Σtella, a resident of Greece, “was born beside the sea and raised by a Canadian nanny who waterskied topless.” If this is indeed true, that’s terrific. What’s indisputably a fact is that Σtella has a new record out, The Break, with its contents illuminating her output as unabashedly pop, often with a synth flavor. One thin dime can procure a dozen examples of this exact same scenario, but they won’t likely be as pleasurable, even when she delves into boldly commercial territory. Part of the reason is musicality that’s deeper than the norm for the style, even if it occasionally seems like that’s only slightly the case. It’s out on LP, CD and digital January 24 through Arbutus Records.

Σtella (real name Stella Chronopoulou) has previously issued a self-titled effort from 2015, with Works for You arriving two years later, but The Break is being described as her international debut; it’s her first for Arbutus, and it’s also the first of the bunch that I’ve heard. Once cognizant of the style she proffers but having yet to drop the needle, I was braced for disappointment, as the subgenre’s contemporary manifestation is (over)loaded with retreads of Depeche Mode, The Human League, and Berlin, etc.

I still haven’t sat down with Σtella’s earlier stuff, in part because The Break bears up to repeated listens. Doing so strengthens the contents as a few subtle cuts above the norm, though I’ll confess that opener “Bellaria” had me expecting something much closer to library music than synth-pop. What’s nifty is that she avoids the cheesiness (to be blunt) that too often emerges in library stuff.

Instead, her track is a delight of cyclical electro wiggle, glistening cascades, intertwined wordless vocals both reverberating and atmospheric, a unifying big beat, and some sneaky guitar late in the game. Successful on its own terms, “Bellaria” also illuminates the instrumental moves that deepen the more forthright pop maneuvers shaping the majority of The Break.

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We’re closed.

We’ve closed up the shop for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday. While we’re away, why not fire up our free Record Store Locator app and visit one of your local indie record stores?

Perhaps there’s an interview, review, or feature you might have missed? Catch up and we’ll see you back here on Tuesday, 1/21.

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TVD Radar: I Got You Babe: The Best of Sonny & Cher DVD in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The hilarious beat goes on with this nostalgia-filled 5-disc Collector’s Set, available now and packed with never-before-released episodes of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, incredible guest stars and exclusive extras including a brand-new interview with Cher.

When Salvatore “Sonny” Bono and Cherilyn “Cher” Sarkisian came together it was undeniably magical. America first knew them as the duo behind the classic hit “I Got You Babe,” and their popularity exploded with the ’70s smash variety show The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. The perfect match on stage and off, millions of fans tuned in each week to watch the sparks fly and see what Cher was (or wasn’t!) wearing and the show quickly became essential viewing. Now, this February, the TV DVD archivists at Time Life open wide the Classic TV vaults for a very special collection of one of the ’70s hippest, goofiest and most fondly remembered TV variety programs with I Got You Babe: The Best of Sonny & Cher.

After finding chart-topping success in the late ’60s, Sonny and Cher found themselves performing in nightclubs in 1970 when they were “discovered” by CBS entertainment chief Fred Silverman, who decided they had great potential for a weekly variety series. The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour premiered on August 1, 1971 as a summer replacement, but quickly reached the top 20, becoming a Wednesday night draw for the Network and cementing Sonny and Cher as one of Hollywood’s most beloved couples.

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Graded on a Curve:
David Bowie,
David Live

The most succinct review of David Bowie’s unspeakably mediocre live LP, 1974’s David Live, came from the mouth of Bowie’s long-time frenemy Mick Jagger. “If I got the kind of reviews that he got for that album,” quipped Bowie’s future “Dancin’ in the Streets” partner, “I would honestly never record again. Never.”

Recorded during Bowie’s 1974 Diamond Dogs Tour at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby Philadelphia, David Live demonstrated just how much Bowie owed to guitarist/arranger Mick Ronson, who Bowie coldly dismissed (along with the other Spiders from Mars) as he reinvented himself as plastic soul man. Bowie would later say cattily, “There’s only so much you can do with that kind of band. I wanted no more to do with that loud thing. Hurt my ears.” No mention on his part how much David Live hurts mine.

The Diamond Dogs Tour was big on gimmickry but short on quality music. Amongst the massive stage props was a bridge that could be raised and lowered by remote control, and at a Montreal show the bridge collapsed Spinal Tap fashion, with Bowie–a confirmed acrophobic–on it. A dire omen perhaps–or proof that even inanimate objects saw fit to register a protest against Bowie’s insipid new sound.

David Live wilts in comparison to Live Santa Monica ‘72 and the July 1973 Hammersmith Odeon performance released in tandem with the 1983 film Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture. The latter was recorded only a year and a half before the pair of Tower Theater performances documented on David Live, but the contrast is sharp. Bowie and the Spiders delivered an electrifying show, kicking things off with a punk-speed “Hang on to Yourself” and a bone-crushing “Ziggy Stardust” before closing the show with a transcendental version of “Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide.”

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TVD Radar: Marty Stuart, The Pilgrim: A Wall-to-Wall Odyssey book with bonus CD in stores 2/14

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2020, Marty Stuart will release The Pilgrim: A Wall-to-Wall Odyssey, a beautifully illustrated, 11″ by 10.5″ tabletop book (with CD) that details the making of his seminal record The Pilgrim, an album that reconnected Stuart with the deepest spirit of country music’s rich traditions while also breaking new ground.

“The Pilgrim project was the first step in a journey that led me to the outer edge of the awakenings of my true musical heart and soul,” says the country music legend. “It’s an album that’s close to my heart, and one that explores a true story of an unbelievable romance that unfolded in my hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi when I was a kid. It’s a story of the power of love to overcome life’s darkest moments. The story that’s told in The Pilgrim, and my own story of how the project came to be and continues to shape me, makes my heart swell. When thinking about when I wanted to share this book with the wider world, I couldn’t think of a better time than Valentine’s Day.”

The Pilgrim, Stuart’s tenth studio album, was originally released in 1999. The risky and ambitious concept project—based on true events that transpired in his hometown—was a turning point in Marty’s unique artistry. While not a commercial success at the time, The Pilgrim represents a rediscovery of his roots and a creative rebirth that has since become a modern-day country music classic. The hefty hardcover volume, however, is about much more than just one landmark album. It’s about spiritual discovery, artistic integrity, and a vision that set Stuart on an enlightened path.

Originally available in limited release during the 20th anniversary celebration of the album in the fall, The Pilgrim book is now available as a wide-release title via BMG, which began publishing music-related books in 2017. Included in The Pilgrim: A Wall-to-Wall Odyssey is a newly remastered CD of the original album, along with ten bonus tracks that feature guest performances by Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris, Uncle Josh Graves, Earl Scruggs, and Stuart’s wife, Grand Ole Oprylegend Connie Smith.

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Needle Drop: Chasson Gracie, The Music Sounds Better with Whom?

Documentary filmmaker Chasson Gracie’s music docs have always investigated the bleeding edge of music alliances.

His 2015 debut, Gonna Sip That Sip, Hit That Dip: The Emerging Queer Hip-Hop Movement, shined a light on a genre of music that is clearly ahead of its time. With his new project, The Music Sounds Better with Whom?, Gracie endeavors to understand our artistic relationship with technology—is this a partner, a crutch, or a silent killer?

Each participant in the documentary brings a singular viewpoint to the discussion. Some embrace AI and some fear that the integrity of music is jeopardized now that we are so dependent on technology for both the recording and live aspects of delivering music to listeners. Overall there are many questions being asked, and although we don’t receive a resounding answer, by the end of the doc we are more informed about our consumption and collaboration with Artificial Intelligence.

The documentary is currently wrapping up a 12 point film tour and most notably was awarded Best Documentary at the Toronto Shorts International Film Fest. The Music Sounds Better with Whom? is now available to stream on Amazon in the UK and US.

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