Category Archives: The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Pussy Galore,
Sampler

To fully comprehend the superstars of sleaze Pussy Galore you must listen to their 1986 homage to/destruction of the Rolling Stones’ 1972 masterpiece Exile on Main Street. Sloppy to the point of incoherence, their cassette-only desecration is guaranteed to either inspire disgust or disdain in just about everybody but people who enjoy half-assed first takes, a lack of interest in how to play much less tune musical instruments, and piss-taking in general. Pussy Galore brought a breath of fresh stench to the Capitol City music scene in the mid-1980s, which was then in the grips of the New Puritanism of the straightedge crowd. When it came to filthy morals, Pussy Galore were Caligula.

Folks talk about bands that didn’t set a premium on musical competence, but Pussy Galore went out of their way to set the musical bar so low a turtle could jump it. Their studio LPs make The Stooges’ “Loose” sound like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. When it comes to instrumental mastery, they made Sid Vicious sound like Jaco Pastorius.

But the degenerates who attended their shows loved them for it, although it should be kept in mind that said fans were of the sort who wrote off The Cramps as slick professionals playing ho-hum retro-rockabilly. I’ve heard Pussy Galore described as a garage band but that’s bullshit—set them down in a garage and they’d torch it. I’ve also heard them described as noise rock band, but in my universe noise rock is produced only by bands in the Midwest who would never be caught dead living in New York City.

1998’s live Sampler is a dirtball classic—the sound is sloppy, the needle stays in the red, the fuzz levels make the Stones’ Exile on Main Street sound like a two million dollar production, and Jon Spencer’s vocals seem to be coming through a $25 guitar amp somebody tossed out a fourth-floor window. And Neil Hagerty’s lead guitar makes Ron Asheton’s sound crystal clear.

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Demand it on Vinyl: Mr. Soul!: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture in stores today

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Mr. Soul: Music from and Inspired by the Motion Picture arrives at all platforms today via Hillman Grad Records/Def Jam Recordings.

The all-star soundtrack, with classic soul/R&B tracks from Donny Hathaway, Patti LaBelle, Hugh Masekela, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Delfonics, Kool & the Gang, and others, is a celebration of the award-winning new documentary film created by Melissa Haizlip and executive produced by Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood, Chaz Ebert, Rishi Rajani, Ron Gillyard, Stan Lathan, and Stephanie T. Rance, that pays tribute to SOUL!, the groundbreaking 1968-1973 public television variety show guided by its enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip. MR. SOUL!, winner of a 2021 Critics Choice Award, NAACP Image Award, and many other film festivals and critical honors, is streaming on HBO Max.

Released in advance of the Mr. Soul! album was the newly recorded single and video “Show Me Your Soul,” a collaboration by multiple-Grammy® winners Lalah Hathaway and multi-talented musician-producer Robert Glasper. Featured in the film, the song also serves as the opening track of the Mr. Soul! soundtrack.

“Before Oprah … before Arsenio,” there was SOUL!, America’s first “Black Tonight Show,” whose mission was to provide national television exposure for the exploding spectrum of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics that was taking hold in the tumultuous late-’60s and ’70s.

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Graded on a Curve:
Slade,
Slade Alive!

Celebrating Don Powell on his 75th birthday.Ed.

You can forget all about Kiss Alive! because Slade’s Slade Alive! is the real thing–a gut-bucket blast of pure rock ‘n’ roll energy from the poorest spellers in the history of music. This 1972 studio live affair captures this band of Wolverhampton rowdies at their rawest, and the spirit of raucous fun is contagious.

This baby was released before Slade reached full maturity and here’s how you can tell–there isn’t a single spelling error on it. And here’s another way you can tell–four of its seven cuts are covers, and the other three you probably don’t know.

The foursome’s subsequent release, 1972’s Slayed?, cemented the band’s reputation as Top of the Pops hit makers, but on Slade Alive! they established their bona fides as a formidable live act–one that pitted musical brutalism against vocalist Noddy Holder’s formidable tonsils and crowd-rousing charisma.

Slade gets filed under “Glam,” but theirs was an awkward fit. They looked ridiculous in their glitter clobber–like a bunch of roofers playing dress up–and unlike most of their Glam contemporaries appealed directly to England’s working stiffs.

Their proto-Oi! placed pints above androgyny, and their audiences did the same. When Noddy Holder says, “All the drunken louts can shout anything they like” he’s talking to the entire crowd, and not just a couple of unruly yobs.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 45: Suzanne Vega

For some folks, New York City is a place they’ve only seen in movies or read about in books; a mysterious, mystical place full of danger and excitement where fame or fortune—or failure—might be lurking around any corner. For those of us familiar with the Big Apple, we know that description is mostly true. No one, however, has characterized New York City in a song quite like Suzanne Vega. Vega began her career as part of the neo-folk scene that was taking hold in Manhattan in the early 1980s, but she broke through to the big time with her songs “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner,” the latter of which was famously remixed to become a global phenomenon.

Vega has, of course, continued writing and performing; crafting a catalog of music that is poetic, clever and adventurous. Location is of paramount importance to Vega and the thread of her body of work always ends up somewhere in New York City. This leads us to Suzanne’s latest project and release, An Evening of New York Songs and Stories which was the encapsulation of a run of shows Suzanne performed at New York City’s famed Cafe Carlyle. Like many projects in the last year or two, the release and tour to support it was hampered by the pandemic, but Vega is ready to get back out on the road to share this song-cycle focused on New York, New York.

Suzanne was kind enough to sit down with me and discuss not only her latest record, but also her career from its humble folk beginnings to finding herself on the international top singles charts. Certainly, we discuss New York City and how events like 9/11 and the recent pandemic have shaped her both personally and as an artist.

Suzanne has a string of shows approaching as well. Our New Jersey listeners can see her at the South Orange Performing Arts Center on September 11th. Our Long Island listeners can see Suzanne at the Sufffolk Theatre in Riverhead, NY on September 12th. Before embarking on a European tour, Suzanne will also return to New Jersey to perform at the The Vogel in Red Bank on October 14th and at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood, NJ on October 16th before performing in New York City’s City Winery on November 26th and 27th.

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Graded on a Curve:
Paul Williams, Evergreens: The Best
of the A&M Years

It is the fate of some singer/songwriters to be the worst interpreters of their own work. Burt Bacharach springs to mind. Ditto Hoyt “Joy to the World” Axton and Jimmy “MacArthur Park” Webb. Kris Kristofferson falls into this category—unlike Webb and Axton he’s instantly recognizable for his rugged good looks and ragged voice, but few prefer his versions of “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and “Help Me Through the Night” to those of Janis Joplin and Johnny Cash.

The premiere example of the phenomenon, however, is Paul Williams. Williams may have written immortal songs like the Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun,” “I Won’t Last a Day Without You,” and “Rainy Days and Mondays” (amongst others) as well as hits by Three Dog Night, Barbra Streisand, Anne Murray, and Helen Reddy, but his own versions have never made a dent in the public consciousness. Even his take on “Rainbow Connection” is overshadowed by the one sung by Kermit the Frog.

Fairly or not, Williams’ failure to make a name for himself singing his own songs has much to do with the fact that he’s one of the most unprepossessing singers to ever take the stage. One is tempted to use the word gnome, but while he’s short (five feet, two inches) he isn’t ugly—just odd looking. If anything, he’s cuddly. You want to pick him up and squeeze him. It hardly matters he can sing and has great material—he simply doesn’t belong beneath stage lights. Williams is the Anti-Kris. He can sing but looks a lot like a Hobbit–Kristofferson looks like a rock star but can hardly hold a tune.

William’s presence in the public eye was limited largely to his many TV appearances—a joke appearance on The Tonight Show here, parts on The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Hollywood Squares and The Muppet Show there. For most he wasn’t a pop songwriter of genius—he was the Muppets guy.

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TVD Radar: Chris Hillman, Time Between audiobook with 21 song excerpts in stores 10/19

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Chris Hillman’s new audiobook, Time Between: My Life as a Byrd, Burrito Brother, and Beyond (Random House Audio; on sale October 19, 2021), features newly recorded excerpts of 21 songs that have been part of the artist’s musical legacy. Hillman is a three-time ACM award winner and inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member of The Byrds.

“Recording my narration for the book was far more challenging than I could have ever imagined. For me it was completely different from going into a studio and recording music, and vocals, which I’ve been doing for nearly six decades,” Hillman says of the experience. “We tossed around the idea of adding a bit of music to embellish the title of each chapter. Each chapter was named after a song I had written, and or had recorded. This began to take on a whole new dimension in the presentation.”

As a co-founder of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers, Chris Hillman is arguably the primary architect of what’s come to be known as country rock. He went on to record and perform in various configurations, including as a member of Stephen Stills’ Manassas and as a co-founder of the Souther-Hillman-Furay Band. In the 1980s he formed the Desert Rose Band, scoring eight Top 10 Billboard country hits. He’s released a number of solo efforts, including 2017’s highly acclaimed Bidin’ My Time — the final album produced by the late Tom Petty.

In Time Between, Hillman shares his quintessentially Southern Californian experience, from an idyllic, rural 1950s childhood to achieving worldwide fame with hits such as “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” and “Eight Miles High.”

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TVD Radar: Harari, Genesis vinyl reissues
in stores 11/19

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Harari was formed in the late sixties and originally known as The Beaters, the South African group consisting of guitarists Selby Ntuli and Monty “Saitana” Ndimande, bassist Alec Khaoli, and drummer Sipho Mabuse decided to change their name to Harari during a tour through Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1976. The name is taken from a township outside Salisbury (which is now the capital, Harare). With their afro-rock/ funk/ fusion style they achieved huge successes back home and in the neighbouring states, and they were the first local black pop/ rock band to appear on South African TV.

The Beaters/ Harari had been disciples of “Soweto Soul”—an explosion of township bands drawing on American soul and inspired by the assertive image of Stax and Motown’s Black artists. They supported Percy Sledge on his 1970 South African tour (and later Timmy Thomas, Brook Benton, and Wilson Pickett). But their watershed moment was a three-month tour of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) where they were inspired by the strengthening independence struggle and musicians such as Thomas Mapfumo who were turning to African influences. On their return, the neat Nehru jackets that had been the band’s earliest stage wear were replaced by dashikis and Afros. In the process, they created a sound that was labelled all too simply as “Afro-rock” but was really a fusion of funk- and rock-inspired rhythms with African roots.

In 1976 Harari were also voted South Africa’s top instrumental group and were in high demand at concert venues across the country (they were the first Black band to headline their own show at Johannesburg’s Colosseum Theatre). Harari released several albums and their South African based label (Gallo), even got them a two-album deal with the US major label A&M. Their single, “Party”, entered the American Disco Hot 100 in 1982. After the untimely death of Selby Ntuli in 1978 they would go on to record more albums with a new line-up but it was never the same again. By 1984 the group disbanded, and Harari’s members launched successful solo careers.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Who,
The Who Sell Out Super Deluxe Box Set, 2LP Stereo Version

The third album from The Who (Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon), The Who Sell Out, released in December of 1967, has continued to grow in stature as the years go by. While the group’s sprawling concept albums Tommy and Quadrophenia are regarded as masterpieces, their Who’s Next was lauded as their best single album and Live at Leeds was considered maybe one of the greatest, if not the greatest, live album in rock history, The Who Sell Out, while often acclaimed, didn’t reach the lofty heights of the aforementioned.

Continuing to bolster the claim about what an important album it is, there are several recent reissues of the album put out by Universal Music, including a 2CD deluxe edition, a 2LP colored vinyl edition in mono (only available on the group’s web site), and the two we will cover here: the 2LP black vinyl version in stereo and the Super Deluxe Box Set. The Super Deluxe Box Set features 5 CDs, 2 7-inch 45 RPM vinyl singles, an 80-page hardcover book and nine posters and inserts, all housed in a slip-case box.

The Who Sell Out was in some ways a concept album—an approach to long playing records that had become in vogue after The Beatles did Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in June of 1967, followed in 1968 by such albums from other British groups as Odyssey and Oracle and from The Zombies, S.F. Sorrow from The Pretty Things, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks, and Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake from The Small Faces, which all came out after The Who Sell Out was released in December of 1967.

The Who Sell Out also showed the group continuing to work in a pop framework musically, but also borrowing from the pop art world in appropriating images from popular culture in the same way people like Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg were doing it in the visual art world. The Who very specifically targeted the world of advertising as an influence for some of the songs on the album that Pete Townshend wrote, but the group also formatted the album to give the impression that one was listening to a radio station with station IDs and jingles.

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TVD Radar: OMD, 40th anniversary 12″ singles in stores 10/15

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) have announced that they will release “Souvenir,” “Joan Of Arc,” and “Maid Of Orleans,” the international hit singles from their 1981 album, Architecture and Morality, on 12″ vinyl on October 15th on UMe. The announcement follows their incredible “You Me & OMD” Livestream at London’s Indigo at The O2.

Released in 1981, Architecture & Morality was OMD’s third genre-defying studio album. Its iconic use of the Mellotron and choral samples resulted in international critical acclaim and has sold over four million copies worldwide. The three singles from the album, “Souvenir,” “Joan Of Arc,” and “Maid Of Orleans,” all reached the top 5 in the UK singles chart and sold a total of eight million copies combined. It was an album that further solidified OMD as the Kings of the synth-pop world.

“The success of Architecture and Morality took us all by surprise,” Andy McCluskey commented. “Once again, we had followed our raison d’être of changing musical style, but we seemed to have really hit upon a sound that resonated with a wide audience. The three singles ‘Souvenir’, ‘Joan of Arc,’ and ‘Maid of Orleans’ all went top five in the UK. To this day, they remain the ‘Holy Trinity’ in the middle of our live stage performances, and the audience reaction is always rapturous.”

Now, for the first time, the band will release the hits as three 12″ singles on 45 rpm colored vinyl. The vinyl contains a triple gatefold sleeve, silver-board & emboss detail, and a download card and is available to pre-order now from HERE.

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Graded on a Curve:
Otis Redding,
Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding

Celebrating Mr. Otis Redding, born on September 9, 1941.Ed.

As one of the undisputed titans in the annals of Soul Music, Otis Redding seemingly needs no introduction. Any serious discussion of the genre he so thrillingly mastered will reflect upon the rewards to be found in his work, and that it’s never fallen out of favor is tribute to his talents. But in truth, scads of younger listeners do require some enlightenment regarding the massive achievements of the man. Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding will serve as an exemplary primer for the uninitiated, and the thoughtful focus on the artist’s aching love balladry might just lead many longtime fans to hear Mr. Pitiful with fresh ears.

With Sam and James and Wilson and Al and Marvin all making such singular contributions to the style, there will never be an undisputed King of Soul. But upon reflection, Otis Redding can perhaps be accurately described as the form’s Total Package, for the fabric of his music contains so many substantial fibers; a Southern “country” grit combining with the newfound sophistication of R&B, the powerhouse qualities of a consummate front-man coexisting with a distinctive desire to interact with his backing band, and the ability to knock ‘em stone cold dead on stage thriving alongside an uncommon level of success in the studio setting.

Furthermore, Redding’s considerable talents as a songwriter coincided with his equally impressive skills at interpreting other’s material, a substantial crossover into the pop market sacrificed none of his creative verve, and Stax’s significant spirit of racial harmony served as a beautiful example of brotherhood in an era that very much needed it. So Otis clearly lacked nothing in his ascension to the very top ranks of Soul expression.

Add to the above Redding’s knack for both raising the roof through raucous uptempo material and delving into the deep emotional weeds via exquisitely rendered slow burners. This dual proficiency is surely a given with the great soulsters, and it seems fairly obvious that a huge component in Redding’s lasting rep is how he could turn it way up and then bring it all back down without a hitch, frequently hitting upon spectacular mid-tempo grooves along the way.

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Willie Nile,
The TVD Interview

Longtime rocker and esteemed songwriter Willie Nile is back on the road, and releasing his 14th studio album this week on River House Records, recorded with his mask-wearing band earlier this year under unusual conditions.

He spoke to us from his pad in Soho about the album, The Day the Earth Stood Still, his series of streamed shows during the lockdown, and the first 45 purchase he ever made.

I understand the title of the new album had to do with the lockdown.

Absolutely. It’s a direct result of the pandemic. It’s about the pandemic. There’s a few songs on there that are pandemic-related. A lot of the events of the past year and a half, 17 months influenced it big time. I live in New York and if you told me two years ago that New York was going to become a ghost town, I would have thought you were nuts. There was no way. But it happened. It’s fascinating. I live in the village and in April, May, you step outside and there’s hardly any people. Just this eerie [scene], haunted buildings, looking down empty streets, a handful of people and very few cars. I found it really interesting and fascinating.

I have a storage space a block from the Holland Tunnel which heads towards Jersey and points South and West. A block away and every rush hour it’s brutal. It can take 45 minutes to go three blocks. And on a Friday night—we’ve done it with the band—we have to leave extra early. So end of last May I coming out of my storage space. Get to the corner of Varick and Spring and there was not a car in sight, literally. I would look uptown and could see a long distance, not one car, not one person. It’s a Friday at six o’clock. You look south, the tunnel and beyond, I took photographs. I stood in the middle of the street, I thought wow. I could have played down in the street and sung Rolling Stones songs.It was really remarkable.

And then walking home through this ghost-like zombie apocalypse. I dug it. It was fascinating. Obviously, scary nightmary stuff. But I thought immediately of The Day the Earth Stood Still, that old sci-fi film from 1951. And a couple weeks later, I was coming down Fifth Avenue in a cab, and seeing places boarded up and no people—all the way down Fifth Avenue. It was fascinating. I wrote the song then. So it’s directly inspired, the title is. And a number of the songs are inspired by the pandemic.

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Graded on a Curve:
Laura Nyro,
Go Find the Moon: The Audition Tape and Trees of the Ages; Laura Nyro Live in Japan

On September 10, Omnivore Recordings unveils a fascinating artifact detailing the strength of singer-songwriter Laura Nyro’s skills from the earliest vantage point yet: 1966, at 18 years of age. Go Find the Moon: The Audition Tape is raw documentation of Nyro playing songs for Milt Okun and her future manager Artie Mogull, the tape contrasting wonderfully with Trees of the Ages; Laura Nyro Live in Japan, which came out in July, offering robust performances from 1994 that reveal her artistry as undiminished. Trees of the Ages is available on CD and digital, while Go Find the Moon is out on CD, digital, and 45rpm vinyl (with a bundle option offering a limited-edition lithograph print of the cover).

Although still too few listeners are hip to it, the late singer-songwriter and pianist Laura Nyro was a tremendous talent, in some ways comparable to Carole King but notably preceding her as a recording artist; her first LP, More Than a New Discovery, was issued by Verve Forecast in 1967 (reissued in stereo with a different track order as The First Songs by Columbia in ’69). But unlike King, who was responsible for one of the smash albums of the 1970s, Nyro’s sales were considerably more modest (if never a commercial disaster).

Some have categorized Nyro as a cult musician, but that kinda insinuates that she had an artistic trait (or a few) that limited her appeal. To my ear, her stuff is so straightforwardly (but intelligently) pop that when playing her great records there is regularly a sense of the bygone listening public being stricken with collective knuckleheadedness in regard to picking up what Nyro was laying down.

In his liner essay for Go Find the Moon, Jim Farber observes that Nyro was an artist who required the listener to accept her music on her terms (finding and going to her rather than the other way around). To elaborate, Nyro, who is a resolutely accessible singer-songwriter, simply refused to engage in the subtle maneuvers that would’ve made her music truly mainstream, for good or ill. This is a big part of what differentiates her own versions of songs from those by others that became hits.

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Demand it on Vinyl:
The Jazz Butcher, Dr Cholmondley Repents:
A-Sides, B-Sides and Seasides
4CD bookback in stores 11/12

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “I got a strange view of the world from ‘60s kids TV because anarchists and drug addicts ran it,” says Pat Fish AKA The Jazz Butcher as explanation for his slew of albums, singles and EPs that emerged between 1983 and 1995, a mere 12 years of madcap creativity part of an ongoing foray into the business of show.

Thankfully, the weirdest moments are placed next to the most commercially-accessible tunes—end to end—on Dr Cholmondley Repents, a new collection named after an imaginary Butcher album hallucinated by Melody Maker’s Mick Mercer back in the day.

Dr Cholmondley Repents gathers single A-sides; the contenders, the would-be radio sweethearts and indie chart toppers; along with witty and whimsical B-sides, tangential 12-inch strums (the C-sides) and an excellent session for celebrated Los Angeles radio station KCRW from 1989 (Seasides – geddit?).

The collection is littered with many a pop culture-assaulting observation; the cast includes Dracula, Gaddafi, drunks, tigers, Herbert Lom movies, various book titles transformed into a chorus, Arding And Hobbs’ department store, doctor crocodile, the prime minister, the Moors murderers, and many more.

No subject matter is refused, it’s played out by four generations of Butchers that included a couple of Bauhaus escapees and some Woodentops among others. “Pat is positively Wildean!” attested part-time Butcher David J.

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Graded on a Curve:
The Pretenders,
Learning to Crawl

Celebrating Chrissie Hynde on her 70th.Ed.

A couple of days ago, I found myself doing something I haven’t done (no exaggeration) in years: dancing. I dervished about the apartment all by myself, like a lunatic, with the cat looking on from the safety of the bed, wide-eyed with eminent peril. I could tell the poor puss was thinking, “What the devil is he doing?” So I cried, “Listening to The Pretenders, you hairy little fool! And dancing!”

I would not call The Pretenders a great band, per se. A very, very good band, sure. Chrissie Hynde is an excellent songwriter, and has one of the most distinctive voices in rock. Unfortunately, like Badfinger, The Pretenders are just as famous for their tragically high mortality rate as they are for their music. During the 2-year hiatus between 1981’s Pretenders II and 1983’s Learning to Crawl, Hynde saw two band mates, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and bassist Pete Farndon, die drug-related deaths. Technically Farndon was no longer a Pretender—Hynde fired him shortly before he died—but still. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde on the subject of orphans, to lose one band member is bad luck—to lose two, sheer carelessness.

Hynde, an Akron, Ohio native, formed The Pretenders in 1978 in London, England, where she was working as a journo for NME and at SEX, the legendary fashion boutique of Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood. She received a record contract on the strength of a demo recorded with a three-piece band including Phil Taylor of Motörhead, then hired a permanent group including Honeyman-Scott, Farndon, and drummer Martin Chambers.

The Pretenders’ first two albums included several hits; unfortunately, while the band was making its bones musically, it members were dropping like flies. By 1983’s Learning to Crawl 50 percent of the original group was dead, leaving just Hynde (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, and harmonica) and Chambers. But rather than throwing in the towel, Hynde hired Robbie McIntosh on lead guitar and backing vocals and Malcolm Foster on bass and backing vocals.

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Graded on a Curve:
Sloks,
A knife in your hand

Based in Turin, Italy, the trio Sloks specialize in garage punk, raw and aggressive, with their second full-length A knife in your hand dishing out a formidable stream of primo bash and squall. Ivy Claudy handles the vocals and the pummeling of a floor tom, Tony Machete pounds on a larger drum set, and Billy Fuzz rakes the guitar strings. Although a wide-ranging style doesn’t seem to be high on their list of priorities, the record’s 11 tracks offer enough twists to keep matters fresh for the duration, and while they’re consistently focused on dark themes, it’s an angle that avoids faltering into schtick. The album is out now on black or red vinyl, CD and digital through Voodoo Rhythm Records.  

Sloks debuted with a 4-song 7-inch in 2017 and followed it up the next year with the full-length Holy Motor. Those releases effectively established an approach that hasn’t wavered. Upon cueing up A knife in your hand, the unkempt griminess of their sound becomes apparent in mere seconds. If surely connected to the more destructive regions of the garage impulse, Sloks are just as tethered to what’s been called weird punk. Bluntly, the band’s sound is damaged in the best way possible.

Think Flipper, think Chrome, think Tales of Terror, and think of the dozens of bands that fall into the Killed by Death subcategory of late ’70s-early ’80s punk rock (like “UFO Dictator” by fellow Italians Tampax and “Cola Freaks” by the Danish band Lost Kids. But Sloks’ twistedness is distinguished by a trashy-pulpy aura that’s intensified with a borderline transgressive edge, perhaps reminiscent of the rawest low-budget drive-in flicks of the ’70s and the video nasties of the decade following.

Indeed, a few of the tracks register like soundtracks to montages of cinematic mass slaughter (chainsaw massacres and toolbox murders), and it’s directly due to the voice of Claudy, who is credited not with vocals but screams. But the album’s opener “Dillinger” is more of a scuzzy distorto-pulser with the vocals a distant croak.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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