The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Dr. John, Gris Gris

Remembering Dr. John on the eve of his birthday tomorrow.Ed.

I am happy to report there is one town in this God-obsessed land that remains under the sway of the Devil. I am talking, of course, about N’Orleans, that spirit-haunted hotbed of hedonism and home to the legendary likes of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, the prostitute Lulu White, and the never-captured Axeman of New Orleans. God has sent flood upon flood to destroy America’s most depraved and flat-out weird city—where else are you going to find public ordinances banning gargling in public and tying an alligator to a fire hydrant?—but in vain. Either God’s floods ain’t what they used to be, or sin has rendered the birthplace of Jazz, where Lucifer owns a winter home, indestructible.

The Big Easy is renowned for two things: music and voodoo. And no human being has ever combined the two with such funky finesse as Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John Creaux the Night Tripper. Like most people, the only tune I knew by the good doctor was 1973’s funky “Right Place Wrong Time.” Then Kid Congo Powers—who honed his own voodoo chops with the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s Gun Club—suggested I check out the Night Tripper’s 1968 debut LP Gris Gris, and I promptly fell under its spooky Creole spell.

Its trance-inducing, doom-heavy grooves instantaneously transported me to a shadowy Louisiana swamp swarming with snakes and alligators, voodoo drums sounding in the distance, the Axeman of New Orleans hard on my heels. Then to an incense-choked, unpainted wooden shack on stilts situated deep in the bayou’s perpetual gloom, where I found myself shuffling and shaking to the sound of congas and the Night Tripper’s Muzippi-muddy growl. Suffice it to say Gris Gris is one the most haunting slices of hoodoo you’ll ever hear, and one of the most addictive.

A child model (his face appeared on Ivory Soap boxes) turned strip club musician and illegal teen sessions player for such legendary figures as Professor Longhair, Joe Tex, and Frankie Ford, Rebennack turned from the guitar to the piano following an altercation with a pistol-packing club owner that resulted in the near severing of his left index finger. Forced to relocate to LA in the mid-sixties due to the legal consequences of an ongoing heroin addiction, it was there Rebennack adopted his colorful voodoo-headdress-wearing Dr. John Creaux persona and stepped into the limelight with Gris Gris, that incantatory and utterly unique melange of Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Cuban, and Mardi Gras Indian-flavored R&B and psychedelia.

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TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 53: Colin Blunstone

It’s hard to look back at the British Invasion and not be amazed at the level of skill and talent that came across the pond to impact and influence the revolutionary pop music that was being made worldwide at the time.

One of the major bands to break out of the UK was The Zombies who hit it big in 1964 with, “She’s Not There” and continued to have hits throughout the 1960s. The wonderfully romantic and singular voice of the band was that of Colin Blunstone who is my guest this week.

The career of the Zombies took a curious turn at the end of the decade, the band broke up soon after releasing their final album, Odessey and Oracle, but fate had other plans for the group. Their song, “Time of the Season” became a hit of epic proportions and Odessey and Oracle slowly grew into what is now seen as one of the cornerstone achievements in rock and roll history.

Following the break-up of the group, Blunstone set out to discover what the next move for his career was and began to release solo albums beginning with 1971’s, One Year which celebrates its 50th anniversary and is being re-released this year featuring 14 previously unreleased recordings and nine unrecorded compositions with never-before-seen photos and new liner notes penned by Blunstone. Of course, the project will include a new vinyl pressing mastered by Joe Lizzi and cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio.

Blunstone continues to record and tour with the Zombies, but this anniversary is an important opportunity to take a peek into his solo career and pay special attention to his luxuriously exquisite vocals and unique artistic directions. Keep an eye out for Blunstone to visit the states soon and perform his inaugural solo album. During this interview, Colin’s computer—and my own—were both running low on battery power. Do we make it through the whole chat? You’ll have to listen to find out, but just remember, even rock stars need to charge their devices.

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector, and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Evan Toth Show and TVD Radar on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Pablo Cruise,
Lifeline

Are there any Pablo Cruise fans out there? Hello? A single one? Or have they all disappeared like the canaries from the Canary Islands? I was never a fan—in fact I regularly planted claymores in their front yards—but I needn’t have bothered; history has more or less erased them from the modern consciousness. All that’s left is the cover of 1976’s Lifeline, on which they show more flesh even than Orleans on 1976’s Waking and Dreaming—which should have been entitled Waking and Screaming—and a pair of desultory hits, which you can still hear on easy listening stations.

Pablo Cruise were so middle of the road they caused numerous highway fatalities, with tractor-trailers jack-knifing to avoid them only to run into decrepit Ford Pintos, which promptly exploded in balls of fire. This was the only exciting thing about Pablo Cruise, because their AOR approach to rock wasn’t in the least incendiary.

The band—which for some reason I always thought hailed from Australia—was formed in San Francisco in 1973, and didn’t really break through until 1977’s A Place in the Sun and 1978’s Worlds Away. So why am I reviewing their sophomore LP, which wasn’t nearly so successful? God only knows, although I have to admit I was swayed by Robert Christgau’s cryptic review of the album, which went simply, “You can take the Doobie Brothers out of the country, but you can’t turn them into Three Dog Night.” I don’t know what it means, but it always makes me laugh.

The most exciting track on the LP, “The Good Ship Pablo Cruise,” invites you to climb aboard. It has an Island beat, the chorus actually works, and it’s all performed in a high humor, with one player calling out, “Yeah, that’s nice.” That said, I have no intention whatsoever of boarding the good ship Pablo Cruise, because, well, the ship’s band is Pablo Cruise.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 11/19/21

Toronto, CA | Not just Adele: Surging vinyl sales amid supply squeeze derail some artists’ plans: Everybody seems to be blaming massive orders of Adele’s new album for a historic backlog at vinyl manufacturers, but Nashville singer Lindsay Ell says people should go easy on the pop superstar. Last year, as the Calgary-born country artist planned the release of her own album “Heart Theory,” she learned of supply chain delays that would make it impossible to premiere the vinyl version on the same day as digital platforms. “In the middle of COVID, a lot of the factories making vinyl weren’t even in full operation,” Ell said. But she didn’t want to leave fans who pre-ordered vinyl packages hanging, so she turned to modern technology for a lifeline. “What I had to do was throw in a digital copy and say, ”We’ll send your vinyl when it’s finished,’“ Ell said. By all accounts, the vinyl pressures have only intensified in 2021 – and there is little relief in sight.

Charlotte, NC | In a world of streaming music, Charlotte’s Lunchbox Records keeps on spinning: Just in time for holiday shopping and the Black Friday edition of Record Store Day, we venture to Lunchbox Records, one of the most recognizable record stores in the Charlotte area, not only because it’s aquamarine blue exterior, but also because of its impact in the music community. It’s known for hosting in-store performances for all ages, stocking records from local acts and receiving signed music memorabilia from Grammy-winning fans (hello, Taylor Swift!). In the age of music streaming, Lunchbox Records owner (and Late Bloomer vocalist) Scott Wishart shows that we’re actually in a record renaissance. “…One of the things that helped bring vinyl back to the spotlight was “Record Store Day.” People love to hate it, but they’ve done something that no one else was able to do: they turned around an industry. Lunchbox Records has done it every year they’ve had it.”

Southampton, UK | Vinilo in Southampton will stock Adele’s 30 album: It is one of the biggest albums in history – but also one of the most controversial. A whopping 500,000 copies of Adele’s 30 are being pressed during a ‘global vinyl shortage’, and dozens of shops are boycotting it. But Southampton’s biggest independent record store Vinilo will stock the product. The album has pushed back releases by other artists by months, which is the driving force behind the boycott. A spokesperson for Vinilo explained why it will sell 30 from November 19. “Adele’s album has a vast amount of pre orders for it and lots of interest for the limited clear vinyl,” they said. “We support new releases and new music every week, and Adele is looking like one of the key releases this year. Also let’s not forget this is her first album since Adele 25.

San Antonio, TX | Tejano institution Janie’s Record Shop unveils new renovations with Grammy-winning musicians: Janie’s Record Shop is hosting a “Grand Re-opening” party after months-long improvements to the shop and the passing of beloved founder, Janie Esparza. New renovations include an expanded inventory, new seating, and a coffee station. A small platform stage for in-house open mics and music community events will also make an official debut. From noon to 4p.m. on Saturday, November 20, the shop will host meet and greets with five-time Grammy winner “Little Joe” Hernandez and two-time Grammy winner “El Mero Gato Negro” Ruben Ramos. Throughout the day, DJ Chuco will be spinning all your favorite hits. Individually packaged snacks and refreshments will also available. “We’re looking forward to it, unfortunately our Mama wasn’t able to see it, but she had given us her blessing,” says Robert Esparza, Janie’s son and successor. “So we’re excited to do it.”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: The Magnetic Fields, The House of Tomorrow 30th anniversary reissue in stores 1/28

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On January 28, 2022, Merge will reissue The House of Tomorrow, one of the earliest releases from The Magnetic Fields. Never before released as a 12-inch, this 30th anniversary remastered edition of The House of Tomorrow is available on opaque spring green vinyl (as well as basic black). But don’t press bandleader Stephin Merritt to discuss the color’s charms, please. “My favorite shade of green is brown.”

When Susan Anway, who sang on early albums Distant Plastic Trees and The Wayward Bus, left the group, Stephin stepped up to the microphone. “This was my first time singing on record,” he recalls. He sought to sound simple, subtle, and unobtrusive, à la the Japanese concept of shibusa. “But now, listening back, I hear a little too much vocal influence from the Jesus and Mary Chain. (I really should move to Scotland. I belong there.)”

A departure from the largely electronic setup of the first two albums, the arrangements and production of The House of Tomorrow show an increase in Merritt recording using live instruments played by himself and his band members. Despite this, Stephin resisted the typical “rock and roll” sound: “I wanted to have rock instrumentation, plus cello (so ELO without keyboards), but everyone was tracked separately so there was no question of sounding like we were playing together,” explains Stephin. Instead, he chose to highlight the artifice. Voilà! “The drums are like Tusk only more so, the cello sounds like a synth, and the guitars might as well be programmed.”

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TVD Radar: Deep Blues, digitally restored 4K Blu-ray/DVD in stores 11/23

VIA PRESS RELEASE | “A movie no blues lover, no popular music aficionado, and no devotee of American culture and folkways should miss… a peek into our national soul.”
Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times

In 1990, commissioned by award-winning musician, songwriter, producer, innovator and Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart, veteran music film director Robert Mugge and renowned music scholar Robert Palmer ventured deep into the heart of the North Mississippi Hill Country and Mississippi Delta to seek out the best rural blues acts currently working for Deep Blues.

Starting on Beale Street in Memphis, they headed south to the juke joints, lounges, front porches, and parlors of Holly Springs, Greenville, Clarksdale, Bentonia, and Lexington. Along the way, they visited celebrated landmarks and documented talented artists cut off from the mainstream of the recording industry. The resulting film expresses reverence for the rich musical history of the region, spotlighting local performers, soon to be world-renowned, thanks in large part to the film, and demonstrating how the blues continues to thrive in new generations of gifted musicians.

Dave Stewart commented, “Ever since hearing my first blues albums at 14 years old I was transfixed, hypnotized by the sound and pure honesty coming off that old recording and I stared at the vinyl slowly turning, dreaming I could be there in that room witnessing the pure magic coming from these Blues artists. Well, sometimes dreams do come true and I was lucky enough to be in that room with Jessie Mae Hemphill, Junior Kimbrough and sit on the front porch being taught “jumper on the line” by R.L. Burnside deep in the Mississippi Delta.”

Featuring performances by Booker T. Laury, R.L. Burnside, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Junior Kimbrough, Roosevelt “Booba” Barnes and the Playboys, Big Jack Johnson, Jack Owens with Bud Spires, and Lonnie Pitchford.

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Graded on a Curve: Graham Parker
& the Rumour,
Three Chords Good

Celebrating Graham Parker on his 71st birthday.Ed.

While he experienced much success in the ‘80s and beyond, these days Graham Parker’s best work is widely considered to be the fine run of albums he recorded in the mid/late-‘70s with The Rumour, a group of pub rock vets that helped propel the singer-songwriter into the company of Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, and the young Joe Jackson as a direct, classicist (and UK-based) breath of fresh musical air. They’re back together again after a 30-plus year break with Three Chords Good. It’s a solid if modest success, mainly because its attitudes regarding the past and the present are kept in proper balance.

Graham Parker was a smart lyricist, a strong vocalist, a generous bandleader, and his influences were generally impeccable; as a result he became a critic’s fave in an era that frequently jettisoned such artists to the cut-out bins, though happily the man accumulated a large enough following to avoid being labeled as a commercial casualty.

If Parker had the songs and the attitude, The Rumour’s pub rock pedigree proved key in bringing it all to fruition. Guitarist Brinsley Schwarz and keyboardist Bob Andrews had previously been members (along with Nick Lowe) of the band Brinsley Schwarz, a terrific outfit if one cursed by record label hype, sort of the UK equivalent to San Francisco’s Moby Grape. Brinsley Schwarz was the forerunner of such pub rock staples as Dr. Feelgood and Ducks Deluxe, a group that included Rumour guitarist Martin Belmont.

Additionally, drummer Steve Goulding and bassist Andrew Bodnar had worked in the band Bontemps Roulez, and the Rumour Horns rounded out what was much more than just a backing band. For The Rumour released three pretty swell if not earth shattering albums of their own, starting with ‘77’s Max for Phonogram and followed by a pair for Stiff, ‘79’s Frog Sprouts Clogs and Krauts and ‘80’s covers heavy Purity of Essence.

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TVD Radar: Yukihiro Takahashi, Neuromantic reissue in stores 11/24

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Yukihiro Takahashi has been at the forefront of the Japanese music scene as a drummer, singer, composer, and producer since he first joined the Sadistic Mika Band in 1972. He established his identity as a solo artist in the early ’80s following the unprecedented success of the phenomenon that was Yellow Magic Orchestra.

Neuromantic is Takahashi’s first solo release for ALFA and his third solo album overall. In addition to Japanese musicians Haruomi Hosono, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Kenji Omura, the album also features Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay (Roxy Music), and Tony Mansfield whom he recorded with during a long stay in London. This record builds on the techno sound of YMO’s BGM (released the same year), infusing Takahashi’s unique romantic aesthetic and is considered one of his masterpieces. The sixth track, “Drip Dry Eyes” is a self-cover of a song that he wrote for ALFA artist artist Sandii.

Yukihiro Takahashi explains, “The early ’80s was one of the busiest periods of my music life… When I think back now, I think that my recording style and production process that I continue to this day may have been solidified then, during the early ’80s.”

The new reissue of Neuromatic is part of ALFA’s ongoing reissue series featuring many of Yukihiro’s early ’80s solo albums from his first hit record Murdered by Music (1980) to his last record from his ALFA era Poisson D’Avril (1985 soundtrack to the film of the same name).

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The TVD Record Store Club

Graded on a Curve: New in Stores for November 2021, Part Two

Part two of the TVD Record Store Club’s look at the new and reissued releases presently in stores for November 2021. Part one is here.

NEW RELEASE PICKS: Henry H. Owings, Plus 1 Athens: Show Flyers From a Legendary Scene 1967-2002 (Chunklet Industries) Unless I’m misremembering, Athens, GA was the first city that entered my consciousness specifically as a locale of a music scene. This was no small thing. Although I preferred the sounds of other regions, Athens heavily impacted my consciousness as a place of possibilities achieved, and in my imagination, against substantial odds, at least until I learned that dozens of college towns across the country had scenes. But it’s not like that realization burst my bubble. Offering over 150 flyers (and one guest list) chronicling a city’s musical development, Owings book effectively captures the non-glamor of the Athens experience (this attribute shared with other college rock-indie rock scenes) while documenting a range of styles considerably wider than Southern new wave and jangle.

Owings allows bands no more than three appearances, so instead of 52 flyers of R.E.M., the pages present a narrative of substantial depth as distinct pockets of the scene get illuminated, including the welcome appearance of a few leftfield outfits like Boat Of and the Opal Foxx Quartet, plus a fair amount of out-of-towners, ranging from the Art Ensemble of Chicago to Fugazi to Hasil Adkins and Southern Culture on the Skids. Together with Owings’ thoughtfully personal introduction, there is a forward by Dave Schools of Widespread Panic, an afterword by Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers, and essays from Michael Lachowski and Vanessa Hay of Pylon and Arthur Johnson of the Bar-B-Q Killers. Anybody who fond memories of a wall in their humble college-era dwelling decorated with tacked up show flyers understands the appeal of such supposed ephemera (spawned from necessity). There’s an abundance of it in this book, with its first hand numbered edition limited to 500 copies. A

Daxma, Unmarked Boxes (Blues Funeral Recordings / Majestic Mountain Records) To begin, the name is pronounced DOCK-ma and it’s a term for a Zoroastrian funerary temple. The band, comprised of Isaac R. (guitar-vocals-bass), Jessica T. (violin, vocals, guitar, piano), Forrest H. (guitar, bass), and Thomas I. (drums), is from Oakland, CA, with Unmarked Boxes their second full-length alongside two EPs since 2016. Described as a post-doom combo, Daxma’s ambitiousness is on full display here, with the record drawing inspiration from a poem by the 13th century Persian poet Rumi  (his line “Don’t grieve, anything you lose comes back in another form” titles the last two tracks). The sound is heavy but also atmospheric. Notably, the band employs “post-metal” as a descriptor, which strikes me as a genre extension of post-rock. I bring this up because the atmospheric qualities occasionally brought Godspeed You! Black Emperor to my mind. I’m not the first to mention this similarity; while it’s not overdone, the relationship is certainly there. And that’s swell. So are the vocals. Eminently relistenable. A-

REISSUE/ARCHIVAL PICK: Leo Nocentelli, Another Side (Light in the Attic) Nocentelli is best known as the guitar player and songwriter in The Meters, the decidedly funky New Orleans institution. This recently-unearthed solo album (the story features “Money Mike” Nishita and a Southern California swap meet), recorded between 1970-’72 with assistance from pianist Allen Toussaint, drummer James Black, and fellow Meters, bassist George Porter Jr. and drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, is largely acoustic and therefore not inaccurately described as folky, but it’s still a pretty funky affair, which is cool. It can be hard not to think of Bill Withers as the songs unwind, but that’s just fine, as thoughts of Bill Withers have never been a problem for me. But along with a few instances that inch toward swamp pop (“Riverfront” reminds me a bit of Tony Joe White with a hint of Shuggie Otis), everybody’s playing is sharp, and Nocentelli’s singing is consistently likeable, especially on “Getting Nowhere” and an album-closing version of Elton John’s “Your Song.” Another sweet surprise from a reissue label full of them. A-

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 11/18/21

Liverpool, UK | Record store with a bar and live music opening in Liverpool: The venue is on Seel Street. Phase One in Liverpool officially opens its door next month following an 8-week refurbishment. The venue on 40 Seel Street is home to Jacaranda Records and as well as selling records it’ll have a bar with a “more mature” drinking environment. The idea originally started as a pop up in 2018 to expand the record shop above the city’s iconic music venue, The Jacaranda. The venue has now been transformed into a “shinier” and “grown-up” space with the record store making a permanent return under the new leadership of local DJ, Namina Koroma. The record store will greet you from the street and is chart registered, so every purchase of a new release counts towards its chart placing.

Salem, OH | Salem record store continues to grow: Music lovers looking for their favorite tunes on vinyl, wanting to find a classic record in any genre or even talk about music can visit State Street Records in historic downtown Salem. The old-fashioned record store is located upstairs at 417 E. State St. and not only sells records, cassettes, CDs, T-shirts and music memorabilia, but also buys records and more. Hours are posted on Facebook/ Instagram pages for statestreetrecords or call 330-942-0509. The business can also be reached via email. For owner Joshua Buck, it’s all about the music and providing a place where young and old alike can find that special record that makes them happy or evokes treasured memories or special feelings. “People are excited to have somewhere to go,” he said.

Nashville, TN | An East Nashville record shop is the latest example of a small business trying to gain ownership in a rapidly growing city: The Groove is a small record shop nestled into a modest house near Five Points. It’s got a reputation for being a community space, hosting live music and showing scary movies on a projector in the backyard. But their landlord is selling, and The Groove is at risk of becoming one of the latest victims of the city’s sky-high real estate prices. Part of their lease agreement gives The Groove an opportunity to buy the building before it hits the competitive real-estate market. Unfortunately, the price tag is about half a million dollars, say Jesse Cartwright and Michael Combs, who run the business. They need to raise the money by the end of January. “When you think about East Nashville, you think about the location, everyone says, ‘Well, that’s not bad for Nashville,’” Cartwright says. “And it, I guess, isn’t. But for a small business it’s just unimaginable, honestly. It’s just not something that is doable.”

Where Is America’s Oldest Record Store? Depending on who you ask, one’s in Pennsylvania, the other’s in New Jersey. Both places matter. In many ways, the folks who own and work in record stores are some of the most important keepers of recorded music history. Digital music helped wipe out the big chains. Thankfully we still have mom and pop indie shops. They’ve kept the torches burning for genres that predate streaming, for artists that never had mainstream success — or ones whose work was never reissued — for sourcing rarities from unexpected places, and for rolling with the times, while still holding reverence for what came before. About 90 minutes east of Pittsburgh is George’s Song Shop, in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. It is believed to be the oldest record store in America. First opened nearly nine decades ago in 1932 by brothers Eugene and Bernie George, the store’s current owner John George (no relation) has been behind the counter for six of them.

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TVD Radar: Aerosmith, 1971: The Road Starts Hear in stores 11/26

VIA PRESS RELEASE | On November 26, 2021, the four-time GRAMMY® winning and Diamond-certified rock legends Aerosmith will release Aerosmith—1971: The Road Starts Hear (UMe), a rare and previously unheard rehearsal from 1971 as part of Record Store Day 2021.

Recently discovered in the Aerosmith vaults, the original tape had not been touched in decades. This historic recording features seven extraordinary tracks showcasing the early, unbridled talent of the future Hall of Fame members including a nascent version of “Dream On,” which they would later record and release on their 1973 eponymous major label debut. Aerosmith is one of the few bands to chart with the same song 5 decades later, the song was a hit in 1973 reaching No. 59 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and re-entered the charts in 2020 at No. 4 on the Hard Rock Streaming Songs chart.

The Road Starts Hear, produced by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Steve Berkowitz, available on both vinyl and as a limited edition cassette for Record Store Day, features previously unseen archived photos, images of the original tape box, and liner notes written by Rolling Stone’s David Fricke with new interviews and comments from the band about this long forgotten recording.

The landmark early recording was made with Joe Perry’s Wollensak reel-to-reel tape machine in 1971 by Mark Lehman who owned the infamous van and became Aerosmith’s one man road crew, either in the band’s Boston rehearsal room in front of a few select friends, or at a rehearsal the band did during a soundcheck for an early show. All that is certain is that the tape captures a young, hungry rock band one year before being discovered and signing with Columbia Records and two years before their self-titled major label debut was released that helped catapult the band to one of the biggest rock acts of all time.

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TVD Radar: The Sound of Us, award-winning music doc screening now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | This November, festival attendees across the US will have another opportunity to see the documentary Harper’s Bazaar is calling “masterful…a rousing ode to the healing power of music”: The Sound of Us.

Captured amidst a deeply divided and uncertain moment in time, the film chronicles a series of wide-ranging, diverse stories that exemplify music’s universal ability to unite and inspire. Over the coming weeks, The Sound of Us will screen at Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Weyauwega International Film Festival, Louisville’s International Festival of Film, Fayetteville Film Fest, River’s Edge International Film Festival and Maui Film Festival.

The stacked slate of November screenings follows an already busy season for The Sound of Us, and its 12x Emmy-Winning, Grammy-nominated director, producer and composer Chris Gero. After winning the Movie That Matters Award during Cannes, and earning the Accolade Global Film Competition’s Best of Show, the urgent new documentary has continued to garner acclaim.

In October, it made its West Coast Premiere at Newport Beach Film Fest, in addition to appearing at Indianapolis’ Heartland Film Festival, the Gary International Black Film Festival, and Peachtree Village International Film Festival, as well as the BZN International Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, Breckenridge and Vail Film Festivals, and more in September. The film also took home Best Feature Documentary and Best Director awards at the Albuquerque Film & Music Experience.

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Graded on a Curve: Jethro Tull,
Stand Up

Celebrating Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre on his 74th birthday.
Ed.

Sometimes you amaze yourself. Or perhaps I should say stupefy, dumbfound, perplex, befuddle, mystify, outrage, and downright disgust yourself. Such was the case when I recently ran over a “little person” in an abortive attempt to pass the D.C. driver’s test. I never saw him; in my defense, he was a very little little person. More like a half-little person. And such was also the case when I decided to review Jethro Tull’s Stand Up, solely as a joke and a chance to pan defenseless Englishman Ian Anderson, who for some inexplicable reason stands poised on one leg while playing the flute, like a hippie flamingo.

Only to discover, horror of horrors, I actually like the damn thing. Who was it that said, “He came to mock but remained to pray”? Because I’ve always considered Jethro Tull, despite a handful of songs I truly like, ridiculous, due largely to Anderson’s flute, an instrument (in my humble opinion) suitable only for tossing out the window. What’s more, Jethtro Tull always struck me as fairly dim. I clearly remember thinking, when they put out 1972’s Thick as a Brick, that it wasn’t the brightest move, touting one’s low IQ on one’s own album cover.

I picked 1969’s Stand Up for the historically important reason that it has a song called “Fat Man” on it. A Facebook friend gave me the idea, and I fully intend to unfriend her. A short history: Jethro Tull (they filched their name from a pioneer of the English Agricultural Revolution) was formed in 1967 as a blues-rock outfit in Luton, Bedfordshire, a town once famed for hat-making. The concrete hat was invented there, and the resulting epidemic of neck injuries very quickly put an end to hat-making in Luton.

Tull’s debut This Was—which includes jazz flute horror “Serenade to a Cuckoo”—came out in 1968, at which point original guitarist Mick Abrahams split to form Blodwyn Pig, balking at Anderson’s decision to expand the band’s sound to incorporate Celtic, folk, and classical influences. (Fun fact: Black Sabb’s Tommy Iommi briefly replaced Abrahams, until Anderson settled on the courtly Martin Lancelot Barre. Fun fact #2: Yes’ Steve Howe flunked the audition!)

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TVD Radar: MPS Records six catalog vinyl reissues in stores now

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Jazz lovers and record collectors have a lot to be thankful for as MPS Records is reissuing eleven albums on vinyl and CD from their historic catalogue this month. Germany’s first jazz label dropped six titles on Friday in North America via Edel Germany in partnership with Bob Frank Entertainment, including albums by Albert Mangelsdorff, Art Van Damme, Clark Terry, Joe Pass, John Taylor Trio, and the Michael Naura Quartet.

Founded in 1968 by Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer, MPS was the recording home for legendary artists including Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, The Count Basie Orchestra and George Duke. Last summer, MPS reissued 31 albums on vinyl and CD, the success of which created the demand to reissue additional titles.

Mangelsdorff was a revolutionary experimentalist who developed the art of jazz polyphonics, an avant-garde technique in which he simultaneously blew and sang into his trombone. The German keeps fine company on “Albert Mangelsdorff and His Friends,” a stellar duets collection recorded over an 18-month span on which he is paired up with Don Cherry, Elvin Jones, Lee Konitz, Attila Zoller, Karl Berger and Wolfgang Dauner.

Van Damme was another innovator who changed the image of the accordion, proving that the instrument synonymous with polka could be cool when placed in a jazz setting alongside guitar and vibes. The trio of instruments formed Van Damme’s swinging signature sound as captured on “Ecstasy,” which was recorded in 1967-68 utilizing MPS’s house rhythm section comprised of German bassist Peter White and Swiss drummer Charly Antolini.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Bush Tetras,
Rhythm and Paranoia: The Best of Bush Tetras

Bush Tetras are an essential New York City band, with their early recordings a vital chapter in the story of no wave and their impact on the early ’00s dance punk uprising undeniable. But that’s only part of their history, a reality driven home by Rhythm and Paranoia: The Best of Bush Tetras, which offers three 180-gram LPs and a 46-page LP-sized perfect bound book with an exclusive essay by Marc Masters, plus appreciative writings by Thurston Moore, Nona Hendryx, Topper Headon and more, all snugged into an attractive box with an always helpful lift ribbon. A two CD set in a four-panel digipak is also available, as is the digital option, natch. It’s all out now via Wharf Cat Records.

Bush Tetras formed in 1979 and stabilized with the lineup of vocalist Cynthia Sley, guitarist Pat Place, bassist Laura Kennedy, and drummer Dee Pop (who sadly passed in his sleep on October 9, RIP to a great one). Place’s prior experience in the Contortions (the band of vocalist-saxophonist James Chance, don’tcha know) solidifies the connection to no-wave; additionally, Adele Bertei, also a Contortion, was the Bush Tetras’ singer for their first show.

The quick departure of Bertei and original guitarist Jimmy Joe Uliana ushered in Sley and Place, with the four-piece debuting via a three-song 45 on the legendary 99 Records in 1980. That the A-side “Too Many Creeps” has persevered as Bush Tetras’ signature song should in no way imply that they peaked early. They just burst out hard and made an immediate (and lasting) impression.

“Snakes Crawl” and “You Taste Like the Tropics” comprise the other side of that first 45 and cement that Bush Tetras weren’t a one-song wonder. Unsurprisingly, the tracks from their debut release open Rhythm and Paranoia followed by ten more from the band’s storied first phase, which culminated in 1984 before they could cut a proper full-length.

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