Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Art Pepper Quintet,
Smack Up

On February 23 Craft Recordings and Acoustic Sounds kick off a year-long 180 gram vinyl reissue series sourced from the catalog of Contemporary Records with a welcome new edition of Smack Up by the Art Pepper Quintet. Cut in 1960, it captures alto saxophonist Pepper in superb form leading a top-flight band of West Coasters on six selections that mingle accessible swing with bluesy and occasionally progressive motifs. The cohesiveness of the whole is playful but sharp and will broaden perceptions of Pepper for listeners who mainly know him for a certain canonical quartet session.

Art Pepper’s undisputed entry into the jazz canon was also his debut for Lester Koenig’s Contemporary label; cut and released in 1957, Art Pepper Meets the Rhythm Section teamed the saxophonist with pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones, aka Miles Davis’ celebrated rhythm section of the time (hence the title).

The quality of the music this august group produced in a one-day session (January 19) has endured since and helped bolster the album’s legendary stature. It was a first time meeting, connecting the East Coast to a rising West Coast star who was to some extent unprepared for the date (sources vary), in part due to a drug problem. This is all long-established info, but it’s particularly worthy of mention in this review, as the title Smack Up has been perceived as either a direct or coincidental reference to Pepper’s heroin addiction.

It’s also this album’s opening cut. “Smack Up” was composed by Harold Land and appears on the tenor saxophonist’s 1958 album for Contemporary, Harold in the Land of Jazz. This adds a bit of ambiguity to the drug association (Land having stated the piece’s title was inspired purely by the music’s structure) as it clarifies Smack Up’s conceptual reality; all six tracks were composed by saxophonists.

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We’re closed.

We’ve closed TVD’s HQ for the Presidents’ Day holiday. While we’re away, why not fire up our 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 tomorrow, 2/20.

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TVD Radar: Talking Heads, Live At WCOZ 77 2LP in stores 4/20

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Talking Heads’ seminal live performance recorded for WCOZ-FM in 1977 will be released in full for the first time on Record Store Day 2024. While parts of the show appeared on the band’s 1983 live album, The Name of This Band Is Talking Heads and its subsequent 2004 reissue, this marks the first time the entire 14-song concert will be available.

Limited to 13,300 copies worldwide, Live at WCOZ 77 will be released as a double album exclusively at select independent music retailers on April 20 for $34.98. The LPs were cut at 45 RPM to optimize audio fidelity and sourced from the original two-track tapes, which were recorded and mixed by Ed Stasium.

Recorded on November 17, 1977, at Northern Studio near Boston and broadcast on WCOZ, this seminal performance took place just two months after the band released its debut, Talking Heads ’77. At the show, David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth played more than half of the album’s tracks, including the previously unreleased version of “Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town” featured on the upcoming collection.

In addition, the show’s setlist also boasts early renditions of five songs destined for the band’s next album, More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978). All of those recordings have, until now, remained in the vaults, including versions of “Take Me To The River,” “The Good Thing,” and “Thank You For Sending Me An Angel.”

This remarkable live recording captures a pivotal moment in Talking Head’s trajectory as the band embarked on a groundbreaking 11-year journey, one that would produce eight studio albums and two live albums, including the double-platinum masterpiece Stop Making Sense, which celebrated its 40th-anniversary last year. The legendary concert film returned to select theaters across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. earlier this year. Find a screening near you HERE.

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TVD Radar: Type O Negative, Bloody Kisses: Suspended in Dusk 2LP green vinyl in stores

VIA PRESS RELEASE | 1993 was a year of change for Type O Negative.

Not only was it the year that things started to connect as the world embraced their dark textures and dark humor (despite the band’s best efforts to upset people at every turn) but it was also the year of sonic and textural change for the band.

Peter had definite loves and roots in the metal/hardcore world as well as the goth world and you could hear them both on Bloody Kisses. Peter was evolving and even though Bloody Kisses was working he wanted to lean even more into his goth side and made the label re-issue the album with some changes. Gone were the more metal tracks (“Kill All the White People” and “We Hate Everyone”) and added was the track “Suspended in Dusk.”The packaging of this release was altered with a different cover from the same photo shoot as well as more gothic imagery being added, and the track listing was re-ordered as per Peter’s vision. In honor of the 30th anniversary—for the first time ever on vinyl is the Suspended In Dusk version of Bloody Kisses.

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Graded on a Curve: Sonny and Cher,
The Beat Goes On

Remembering Sonny Bono, born on this day in 1935.Ed.

They were, during their time, America’s most beloved singing couple. The short one wasn’t much to look at, but, boy, was that Art Garfunkel hot!

No, I’m talking about Salvatore Bono and Cheerily Sarkisian, who started their career together as Caesar and Cleo but won hearts and minds as Sonny and Cher. The duo did it all; put out a lot of great songs, parlayed their musical success into a successful CBS television variety show, even popularized animal skins and knee-high caveman boots.

Many Sonny and Cher best-of compilations muddy the waters by sneaking Cher’s solo hits into the mix, but me, I’m a purist–you might as well slap a couple of Paul McCartney songs onto a John Lennon greatest hits record. Which is why I chose to review 1975’s The Beat Goes On. Except, wait–the great “Laugh at Me” was Sonny’s only solo hit, so what’s it doing here? And if they saw fit to include it, why not also toss in his legendary LSD freak-out ode “Pammie’s on a Bummer”?

The duo will forever be best remembered for “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe.” The former captured the ebullient spirit of young America every bit as well as Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)”; the latter’s shared avowal of love so moved the Dictator’s Andy Shernoff and Handsome Dick Manitoba they sang it together on 1975’s Go Girl Crazy. Anybody who hates either song is certifiably insane.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 136: Jesse Colin Young

What happened to that 1960s optimism, the peace, the love, and the understanding? Unfortunately, the sentiment hasn’t endured socially in the mainstream dialogue over the last few decades. But—as Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello are aware—there’s nothing funny about those ideas. It may not be fashionable, but a focus on spreading peace and love and trying to understand those who are different from you are incredibly important tasks; ones that must be seriously explored if we hope to keep this world spinning for a few thousand more years.

It was Jesse Colin Young’s voice in the summer of 1967 that implored everyone to “Get Together” in a song that wasn’t just a big hit of the psychedelic ’60s, it was a clarion call that epitomized the best ideals of that summer of love. While Young didn’t write the song, it was his version with the Youngbloods that became the touchstone of the concept, transferring a feeling that so many strongly felt into a song. The message has endured as well—albeit through different generational lenses—Nirvana even lifted the introductory lyrics to use in a song from their Nevermind album in 1992.

After the breakup of the Youngbloods in 1972, Jesse continued a solo career and 2023 saw the 50th anniversary and remastered reissue of Young’s most important solo work, Song For Juli. The album was recorded at a home studio that Young built upon a ridge in Inverness, California, about 30 miles north of San Francisco. It’s a dynamic group of songs that explore a wide range of genres and styles. Jesse joins me on this episode to discuss the reissue, but also walks us through many of the high points and pivotal moments of his long career.

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Graded on a Curve:
Uriah Heep,
The Best of Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep played Hobbit rock. The English progressive rock band’s unholy fascination with swords and sorcery, dungeons and dragons, and castles and fair damsels was enough to make you suspect the guys in the band wore sky-blue capes emblazoned with golden stars around the house. And owned extensive codpiece collections.

Depending on your feelings about Merlin-friendly fantasy, their pair of 1972 releases Demons and Wizards and The Magician’s Birthday were either manna from Middle Earth or laugh riots. I fall into the latter camp—I was once coerced into seeing a Lords of the Rings flick at a multiplex theater and spent the totality of its inexcusably protracted running time wishing J.R.R. Tolkien was still amongst the living so I could punch him in the kisser.

But musically Uriah Heep were one of the most palatable of England’s progressive rock bands, precisely because they put the rock, which in their case ventured into the metal realm, first. They were lean and mean and cast a unique spell thanks to Ken Hensley’s hard-charging steed of an organ. Throw in guitarist with mad skills Mick Box and the 43-octave pipes of David Byron, who is admittedly an acquired taste because at any given moment he may screech like a bat out of hell or shriek like a guy who’s balls are being squeezed really hard, and what you had was totally sui generis.

Their 1970 debut was entitled …Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble was very ‘eavy indeed. At their best they could melt stone. At their worst they were every bit as insufferably pompous and pretentious as any progrock unit of the time, with the possible exceptions of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Rick Wakeman.

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TVD Radar: Torn Boys archival release in stores 4/12

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Independent record label Independent Project Records (IPR) announced today that 1983, the first-ever release from the Torn Boys, the until-now hermetically-sealed early 80’s post-punk quartet out of Stockton, California featuring Jeffrey Clark, Kelly Foley, Duncan Atkinson, and a 19 year-old Grant-Lee Phillips, is set to be released on April 12. 

The comprehensive archival ten-track set of rare, unreleased studio and live tracks documents the short but eventful life of Torn Boys, a group comprising future members of Shiva Burlesque, Gary Young’s Hospital, and Grant Lee Buffalo. It will be available on digital formats as well as compact disc and black, white and green vinyl with both formats including a bonus all-region DVD of previously unseen live recordings and newly made music videos.

Formed in 1982 by Jeffrey Clark (vocals, electric guitar) and Kelly Foley (vocals, acoustic guitar) and disbanded by late 1983, the Torn Boys lived out their one and a half summers fusing dreamscape lyricism with ultra-’80’s synth rhythms and Fripp-meets-Carl-Perkins electric guitar textures, leaving behind a scant recorded legacy before dissolving.

Local musician Duncan Atkinson started helping out as sound engineer before joining the band live on Pro One synthesizer and drum machine. In the Spring of ’83 nineteen-year-old Grant-Lee Phillips was recruited on lead guitar, his Chet-Atkins-plays-Scary-Monsters sound adding an indelible and unique ingredient to the band’s alchemy. “What Jeff (Clark) and Kelly (Foley) were doing, you just didn’t see that kind of thing happening in Stockton,” says Grant-Lee Phillips. “So we connected right away over a mutual obsession with the alluring fringes of music, art and film.”

Forty years after the fact, the Torn Boys recordings still fend off basic categorization, conjuring the darker corners of neo-psychedelic California, infusing New Wave-era sensibilities with the moodier angle of home-grown, art-punk-surrealism.

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Graded on a Curve: Bright Eyes,
I’m Wide Awake,
It’s Morning

Celebrating Conor Oberst, born on this day in 1980.Ed.

You know you’re in trouble when the most uplifting song on an LP is about a fatal airline crash. And yet in the case of the 2005 LP I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, Bright Eyes’ front man Conor Oberst somehow makes it work. This album may not be a mood elevator, but it’s lovely from spiritually charged beginning to political end, thanks in part to Oberst’s excellent lyrics and thanks in part to the melodies, doleful as they often are.

Folk influenced, but with touches of musical discord, “I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning” left me cold at first, with the exception of the airplane crash classic, “At the Bottom of Everything.” But it slowly grew on me, like fuzzy green mold on the animated corpse of Rod Stewart. Oberst may truck in depression, and his idea of a happy song may involve mass death, but he’s not taking life lying down.

On “Ode to Joy” (which borrows, musically, from Beethoven), for instance, he defiantly faces down the darkness at noon, raging against the futility of war to the accompaniment of some cool guitar feedback before tossing in the great lines, “Well I could have been a famous singer/If I had someone else’s voice/But failure’s always sounded better/Let’s fuck it up boys, make some noise!” If all he’d written in his life were those last two lines, I would still love the man.

“We Are Nowhere and It’s Now” boasts a lovely melody and the vocals of Emmylou Harris, dueting with Oberst. Oberst is falling apart, what with the waitress at his favorite bar looking concerned and the drugs he’s taking giving him a “head full of pesticide.” The trumpet is great, the vocals are transcendental, and somebody else’s suffering has never sounded so good.

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TVD Radar: Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe, La Gran Fuga reissue in stores 4/12

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Craft Latino announces a vinyl reissue of 1970’s La Gran Fuga (The Big Break), the Gold-certified sixth collaboration between the legendary duo of trombonist, composer, and musical director Willie Colón and famed singer Héctor Lavoe.

Set for release on April 12 and available for pre-order today, La Gran Fuga features such classics as “Barrunto,” “Pa’ Colombia,” and “Abuelita”—all newly remastered, featuring (AAA) lacquers cut from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio and pressed on 180-gram vinyl. Rounding out the package is a classic tip-on jacket and, as an added bonus, an 11” x 22” insert featuring the album’s iconic “Wanted” poster. La Gran Fuga will also make its debut in 192/24 hi-res digital audio on April 12. In addition, a Salt ‘n’ Peppa deluxe color vinyl exclusive with an exciting bundle option that includes a limited-edition La Gran Fuga T-shirt featuring the iconic album cover art is available for pre-order at Fania.com.

One of Latin music’s most formidable duos, salsa pioneers Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe were teenagers when they began working together under Fania Records. Known as “El Cantante,” Lavoe (1946–1993) was one of the great interpreters of salsa music, revered for his bright vocals, seamless phrasing and witty, ad-libbed anecdotes. Colón (b. 1950), meanwhile, quickly became a key figure in the scene, who shaped the sound of salsa on and off stage as a trombonist, composer, producer and leader of his namesake orchestra. Together, Colón and Lavoe defined one of Latin music’s most exciting eras through 11 legendary albums, beginning with the 1967 salsa and boogaloo classic, El Malo.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Children’s Hour,
Going Home

Formed in Chicago in the early 2000s, The Children’s Hour featured the vocal and multi-instrumental talents of Josephine Foster alongside the guitar and bass of Andy Bar. Gorgeously folky, they released one LP in 2003 and then recorded some tracks with the addition of David Pajo on drums, material that was long lost and recently thankfully found, mixed, mastered, and scheduled for release as Going Home. It’s available February 23 via the Sea Note label with distribution by Drag City.

Not to be confused with the mid-’80s New Zealand-based Flying Nun-affiliated outfit Children’s Hour, the outfit reviewed here, until recently, was mainly discussed as one entry in Foster’s prodigious body of work. Had Going Home been finished and released in a timely fashion, the group would surely be remembered differently, as Pajo’s involvement was a direct result of his double-duty drum backing for The Children’s Hour as they toured as openers for Zwan.

It was SOS JFK, released on CD by Minty Fresh in 2003 (and reissued on LP by Fire in 2016) that landed The Children’s Hour that plum gig. It was a terrific debut, placing the duo of Foster and Bar on the outskirts of the New Weird America, though it’s worth underscoring that there’s nothing especially freaky about SOS JFK’s folky orientation. Instead, the record establishes and sustains a high level of beauty.

Their moniker comes not from the 1934 Lillian Helman play The Children’s Hour or its 1961 William Wyler film adaptation, but the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem that was first published in 1860. The inspiration jibes well with the out of time quality that heightens the distinctiveness of Foster’s work. The characteristic of being spiritually aligned with earlier eras rather than the present truly flourishes in her later output but does have roots in SOS JFK.

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TVD Radar: Family Values: Kurt, Courtney,
& Frances Bean
Photographs by Guzman in stores 4/24

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In an era obsessed with Family Values, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were well known for their struggles with addiction and parenthood. To reframe their notoriety, Kurt and Courtney consented to a rare photoshoot for Spin magazine with their newborn, Frances Bean. Only five images were originally published in Spin; the entirety of the photoshoot is seen in this book for the first time ever.

With an ineffable ability to connect with people through his music, Kurt Cobain was charismatic and full of pathos, something of a lost boy poet struggling against his personal demons while holding the world in thrall. And yet in the midst of his struggles with success, fame, fortune, drugs, and the wounds of a traumatic childhood, he managed in his brief adulthood to get married to Courtney Love—who of course had her own accomplishments as an electrifying and unrestrained lead singer and lyricist. The couple had already emerged as a cultural touchstone when their baby, Frances Bean, was born in 1992.

Family Values is a photography book presenting approximately 90 images featuring Kurt, Courtney, and their baby Frances taken one morning in their modest Hollywood home. These photos are selected from a 1992 photoshoot that award-winning husband-and-wife image-making duo Guzman did for Spin amidst toys and pajamas, the sweetness, humor, irony and the simple happiness of a new mom and dad at home with their baby girl.

In addition to the never-before-seen photographs, Family Values includes two personal essays. The first is written by Michael Azerrad, American author, music journalist, and musician who was close friends with Kurt Cobain and wrote the 1993 definitive biography on Nirvana titled Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. The second essay is written by Guzman, the photography duo who shot the iconic Spin shoot pictured in the book’s pages. Below are experts taken from the two essays.

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Graded on a Curve:
Tim Buckley, Lady, Give Me Your Key and Wings: The Complete Singles 1966–1974

Remembering Tim Buckley, born on this day in 1947.Ed.

Two releases illuminate Tim Buckley as being far from the typical 1960s folkie. Light in the Attic’s Lady, Give Me Your Key uncovers two ’67 demos and is easily the more consistent of the two, its contents complementing a significant portion of Omnivore’s Wings: The Complete Singles 1966-1974. That set leaps over a highly fertile period in chronologically documenting the 45s of an artist primarily known for his albums, but still manages to detail the lessening of quality in Buckley’s work. The former comes with vinyl, compact disc, and digital options, and the latter is CD only.

Tim Buckley’s output can be divided into three segments: the early formative period that includes his self-titled ’66 debut and the following year’s Goodbye and Hello, a fertile middle section beginning with ’69’s Happy Sad and Blue Afternoon and continuing with ’70’s Lorca and Starsailor, and a highly disappointing shift into strained soulfulness and off-putting conventionality that includes ’72’s Greetings from L.A., ’73’s Sefronia and ’74’s Look at the Fool.

Since his premature death in 1975, Buckley’s discography has roughly doubled, mostly through performance material, a circumstance helping Lady, Give Me Your Key to stand out a bit; composed of a pair of demos made for producer Jerry Yester in aid of choosing the contents of Goodbye and Hello, there are enough new song discoveries to enhance the familiar numbers, and if belonging to Buckley’s earliest period the album deepens the man’s work rather than just offering minutiae for diehards.

If predominantly straightforward in approach, it’s important to qualify that on his first LP Buckley was already more than a clichéd strummer. Working largely in baroque mode with a full band including drummer Billy Mundi, his longtime guitarist Lee Underwood, and on piano, celesta, and harpsichord Van Dyke Parks, a third of the album sets Wings: The Complete Singles 1966-1974 into motion, the A-side to the first 45 lending the collection its title.

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The Continuing Stories of The Beatles

This is a follow-up to our previous round-up of recently released books on The Beatles.

The Beatles Fab But True (Schiffer) By Doug Wolfberg

Wolfberg offers sixteen, chapter-length, individual stories about The Beatles that may be known to some fans of the group, but here receives an in-depth sort of retelling. Wolfberg digs deep and the stories reflect his richly detailed research and keen insights. The stories unfold in chronological order and collectively provide an almost alternative short-hand history of the singularity of The Beatles phenomenon. He also offers a postscript for every chapter that brings the stories up to date.

Wolfberg thankfully doesn’t just merely retell these stories, but through fresh analysis, brings into focus what really happened, and in some cases debunks some of the myths and incomplete narratives that can get preserved for posterity in some articles and books on the group. The book is a beautiful hardcover tome, with glossy pages and a dust-jacket and is fully illustrated. It is another book that makes for great reading straight through or by cherry-picking certain chapters or just paging through it.

Paul McCartney: The Lyrics (Liveright) By Paul McCartney

Originally released in November of 2021 as a two-volume hardback set in a slipcase, covering 154 songs, presented alphabetically, that McCartney has written, this new paperback edition includes seven additional songs: “Bluebird,” “Day Tripper,” “English Tea,” “Every Night,” “Hello, Goodbye,” “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Step Inside Love.”

The book includes lyrics and annotations by McCartney and is beautifully illustrated. The original volume was nearly 900 pages and this new paperback edition is closer to 600. The size of the new edition is smaller and everything has been condensed into one paperback edition. For those who couldn’t afford the $100 original set, this new one is much more affordable at only $30 list price.

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TVD Radar: Bob Marley & The Wailers, Exodus LP + Bonus 10” with alternate cover in stores 5/24

VIA PRESS RELEASE | In conjunction with the upcoming biopic Bob Marley: One Love, which is based on the life of global icon, Island/UMe will be releasing a new limited edition of Bob Marley’s timeless album, Exodus, on May 24, 2024. Including an exclusive 10” LP of rare bonus tracks and an essay by Jamaican historian Herbie Miller, this all-new package will be encased in a gatefold design for the first time and is available for preorder HERE.

Cited by Time magazine as the Best Album of the 20th Century (“Every song is a classic, from the messages of love to the anthems of revolution”) and the BBC as the “album that defined the 20th Century,” the legacy of Exodus extends beyond genres, eras, and continents, whose impact propelled Third World culture and politics into the global spotlight.

Exodus is a timeless document that publicly reveals the contemplations and reflections on the life of one of the 20th century’s most revered artists and revolutionaries,” Miller writes in the new liner notes. “It shows Bob’s fears and vulnerability, his steadfast commitment to making humanity as equitable and ideal as imaginable and spreading his Rastafari spirituality to the four corners of the earth.”

As depicted in a critical scene in the One Love film, this special edition will feature the original cover design of the album created by longtime Marley family friend, creative designer, and lighting director Neville Garrick. Originally conceived in the context of flight, depicting a green, gold, and red-winged migrating bird, with Marley and the Wailers enclosed in a global sphere overseen by Haile Selassie, the design was symbolic of the parting of the Red Sea. Garrick’s final and now-classic album art will adorn the back of this new package.

Released on vinyl for the first time in decades, the 10” includes dub versions of “Exodus,” “Jamming,” and “Punky Reggae Party”—the latter associated with Exodus as the B-side of “Jamming”—plus the rare “Roots,” first issued as the B-side of “Waiting In Vain.”

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