The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Ozzy Osbourne,
Diary of a Madman

Celebrating Ozzy Osbourne in advance of his 74th birthday tomorrow.Ed.

Ozzy Osbourne almost bit my earlobe off during an interview once. One minute we were talking about Master of Reality and the next he was lunging across the table to take my left ear—an easy target seeing as how I suffer from Meniere’s Disease, which causes radical enlargement of the earlobes—and shaking it, while growling like an angry Rottweiler. It was like a scene straight out of Dostoevsky, to be precise the moment in The Devils when Nikolai Stavrogin bites the governor’s ear. Anyway, I cried “Mercy!” as he literally lifted me out of my chair and led me around the room, my earlobe clenched in his slavering mouth. He finally let go and apologized afterwards, but offered no explanations. Then again, what can you expect from the guy who once said, “Off all the things I lost I miss my mind the most.” I consider it an honor.

Okay, so the above never happened. (I feel obligated to say this because in another article I swore my adolescent skull secreted sperm, that’s how horny I was, and a few folks actually wrote to tell me this was impossible. Duh.) But the Ozzy earlobe biting could have occurred. He once ate the heads off two live doves, and famously bit the head off a dead bat on stage, an act that led him to quip, “I got rabies shots for biting the head off a bat but that’s OK—the bat had to get Ozzy shots.” And then there’s the time he thought it would be a good idea to snort fire ants. In short, in Ozzy World, biting off a journalist’s earlobe would be child’s play.

I love Ozzy’s work with Black Sabbath, but have always avoided his solo stuff, although I love “Crazy Train.” Why? Because after being fired by Black Sabbath in 1979, one would have expected Ozzy to continue in the grand Sabbath tradition of releasing records filled with songs so monolithically slow and heavy they sounded like mammoth King Tiger tanks grinding up unlucky Poles. But Ozzy took a radically different path. His solo albums were lighter, in fact almost dainty; compared to the relentless eardrum-pummeling crunge of Black Sabbath they sounded spritely, bouncy even. In short, he gave up mastodon metal for regular old metal, which in that time and place was as much about hair spray as it was gargantuan guitar wank. If Sabbath’s albums are pig iron, Osbourne’s solo LPs are aluminum, and I for one wasn’t crazy about Ozzy’s transformation from Iron Man to Tin Man.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 91: Marlon Rabenreither from Gold Star

Change isn’t easy for anyone; it’s a risk. When something works, even if it doesn’t work perfectly, the simplest approach is to stay the course, to avoid rocking the boat. However, for an artist, change is often necessary, but—again—doing so can be a frightening prospect both for the artist and for their audience.

Marlon Rabenreither has fronted the group Gold Star for over a decade now. While his previous approach was somewhat more folk and acoustic guitar oriented, the pandemic nudged Marlon to try something new; distorted vocals, aggressive guitars, spacey synths, and propulsive drumming. Produced mostly on computers with his bandmates, Rabenreither created two EPs which are now available as a full-length album, Headlights USA, Parts 1 and 2.

As an artist, Rabenreither knows that in order to grow and create, one must evolve. We also discuss his creation of the album’s cover art, producing the album during the thick of the pandemic, the retro influences on his modern sound, and where his life’s headlights will lead him next.

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:
Van Morrison, Moondance

Four years before Ronnie Van Zant uttered the immortal words “Turn it up” to open “Sweet Home Alabama,” Van Morrison was uttering the same injunction—but in his case he was talking about your radio, not the world’s greatest Southern Rock band. The Gaelic soul singer with the mystical streak turned the phrase into a mantra on “Caravan” from 1970’s Moondance, and by so doing transformed your cheap hand-held FM transistor radio into a means of tuning into the cosmos. That little radio is, quite literally, our ticket to Heaven.

From “Gloria” and “Here Comes the Night” with his days with Belfast, Ireland’s Them to the brilliant string of solo efforts that extended from 1968’s Astral Weeks, 1970’s Moondance and that same year’s His Band and the Street Choir, 1971’s Tupelo Honey to 1972’s St. Dominic’s Preview, Morrison veered from the simple romantic lyricism of songs like “Tupelo Honey” and “Moondance” to deeply spiritual and more ambitious songs like “Listen to the Lion,” “Cypress Avenue,” and “Madame George.” Call them his Songs of Innocence and Experience.

On 1970’s Moondance—which is horn-heavy and replete with female backing vocalists—Morrison works the innocence vein, while imbuing many of its songs with a deep strain of Irish mysticism that charges even the simplest of subjects with a sense of awe. On “And It Stoned Me” he gets drunk on a jar of water from a mountain stream. On “Into the Mystic” he takes us spiritually seaward—just as he does on “Tupelo Honey” and “Listen to the Lion.” He implores us to let our spirits fly; tells us he wants to rock our gypsy souls, and lets us know “it’s too late to stop now.”

And speaking of gypsies, it’s their caravan that moves triumphantly our way in the song of the same name. Talk about communion; his friends are there, and his love too—he commands her to turn on that electric light, so “we can get down to what’s wrong and what’s right.” Never have a string of “la la la la, la la las” been imbued with such spiritual depth.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 12/2/22

Cleveland Heights, OH | The music stops — oldest record store in Ohio is closing at the end of the year: The oldest record store in Northeast Ohio is closing its doors after more than 50 years of business. Records Revolution has been selling records for 55 years along with posters, shirts and so much more. It’s a classic in Cleveland Heights and one of the country’s longest-running independent record stores. All in the heart of the Coventry neighborhood. “Coventry, historically, it was kind of the ground zero for the counterculture,” said John Neely, manager of the Grog Shop. “This is a place where people can be themselves,” said Rob Love, the general manager at Record Revolution. Of those 50-plus years, Rob Love has been at the record store for 35 of them. “Music to me is everything right? It’s my art form. It’s my religion. It’s the soundtrack to my life,” said Love.

Montreal, CA | Montreal’s BANQ Has A New Music Pavilion With Free Instruments & 10,000+​ Vinyl Records: It’s also a unique and relaxing study space. Montreal’s largest library has a pavilion dedicated entirely to music lovers. Musicians who visit the top floor of the BANQ can play instruments provided by the space, while audiophiles can peruse the library’s 10,000+ vinyl record collection and listen to their picks at a private station. The BANQ is a notoriously delightful study space, and its music pavilion is no exception. You can set up at a desk surrounded by musical inspiration, including old music player installations and colourful displays of special records, including a release by Montreal-based Polaris winner Pierre Kwenders. The revamped space, once occupied by the National Music Collection, now also lets visitors digitize audio cassettes and other analog audio formats.

Chicago, IL | Katalyst for Change: Talking vinyl, coffee and connection with Katalyst’s Kevin Beauchamp. Kevin Beauchamp, the owner of Katalyst Coffee Lounge and Music Gallery, is an avid music fan and record collector. “It might be the old-school nature I come from,” he says. “I’m used to pressing up some CDs and hustling to sell ‘em … something about that, physically holding the music, it connects with the experience.” He’s a veteran of Chicago’s house music scene, having spent countless hours DJing around the city during high school. This experience inspired Beauchamp to pursue his love of music, and led to a career working for record companies on the West Coast. Eventually, Beauchamp left PolyGram to start his own label, Katalyst Entertainment, which has published releases by Chicago icons like Kahil El’Zabar, Phil Cohran, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Today, Beauchamp runs his café and record store in Hegewisch on the Southeast Side. Now in his early fifties, Mr. Beauchamp wants to share his records and stories with the world through his store.​

Bob Marley’s ‘Rastaman Vibration’ Enters Billboard Reggae Chart For First Time Thanks To Vinyl Reissue: Bob Marley and The Wailers’ 1976 classic album Rastaman Vibration has made its way onto the Billboard Reggae Albums chart for the first time ever, thanks to a special vinyl reissue of the record as a collector’s item. On November 18, 2022, Tuff Gong International teamed up with Analogue Productions/Acoustic Sounds to release a remastered and repackaged version of the 1976 album in Ultra High Quality Record (UHQR) vinyl format. The release was priced at $125 USD but was limited to a run of 3,500 units. It sold out almost instantly, according to the Acoustic Sounds website. US-based consumers and audiophiles snatched up the majority of the limited run, with Billboard’s sales tracker Luminate reporting to DancehallMag that Rastaman Vibration sold 2,000 units in the United States last week, placing it at No. 4 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart, dated December 3.

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TVD San Francisco

TVD Live Shots: AFI and Drab Majesty at the Fox Theater, 11/23

While the streets of Oakland were quiet on this particular Thanksgiving eve, the 1800 block of Telegraph Avenue was abuzz as AFI brought their “Bodies” tour to the Fox Theater in support of their 2021 release. Hailing from Ukiah California but having cut their teeth in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Petaluma, the Bay Area is close enough to consider this a hometown show for the boys, and the fans turned up in force in spite of the holiday, selling the venue out.

Drag Majesty kicked things off with a lengthy 45+ minute set of synth pop and clearly had some fans in the room, but most of the crowd was getting antsy in anticipation of AFI’s set. And when the band finally took the stage, the room was more than happy to assist front man Davey Havok with the lyrics to “Strength Through Wounding.” There’s something about the mind-meld of “through our bleeding, we are one,” that sets the perfect tone—this night was no exception.

AFI has been doing a pretty good job of keeping their fans guessing by mixing up the setlist for each night of the tour. With “Girl’s Not Grey” and “Love Like Winter” up next, they moved into unexpected territory. The old school fans were treated to “Perfect Fit” off of their 1996 release Very Proud of Ya during which Havok hopped onto the barricade for an audience sing-along that found a crowd surfer perfectly timing his arrival at the mic for the song’s refrain.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: Second Layer, Courts Or Wars red vinyl in stores 1/20

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Adrian Borland and Graham Bailey might be better known as members of legendary post-punk group The Sound, but the two were childhood friends and had been playing together even earlier in The Outsiders, and continued their deep musical rapport as a duo, creating these intense and engaging songs as Second Layer at the same time as their higher profile band output.

Restoring the original tapes and combining their early recordings, including the tracks from the 1979 “Flesh As Property” EP and 1980 “State Of Emergency” EP, Courts Or Wars takes its title from the first song that served as the pair’s introduction to listeners. Right from the beginning you are enveloped in what The Quietus described as, “a monochrome worldview morbidly obsessed with the dehumanizing effect of war, nuclear weapon annihilation, and the fracturing and negation of the self within an increasingly distorted and technologically mediated society.” Where The Sound fit snugly next to Echo And The Bunnymen, Second Layer had far more in common with the pulsing menace of Suicide.

Borland’s familiar vocals and sense of melody hold a connection to his other songwriting, but within these songs he takes far more risks in his guitar work to suit the subject matter. What really drives everything is Bailey’s propulsive bedrock, formed by his homemade pre-drum machine rhythm generators, creating an innovative mechanical approach that somehow inserts a jittery neurotic touch that merges perfectly with his electronic layers driven by the wasp synth, various unique effects boxes or tape loops. Adding Bailey’s own distinctive bass playing, the results feel personal and experimental, pointed and harsh, while also bracingly accessible and covered in dark manic energy.

Over forty years later, these recordings feel shockingly appropriate. In painting a bleak reality and frightening future, there is real desperate beauty here.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Thee Headcoats, Elementary Headcoats: The Singles 1990–1999

Celebrating Billy Childish on his 63rd birthday.Ed.

Wild Billy Childish has played in many bands, with Thee Headcoats arguably the biggest. Flaunting ’60s beat rock swagger, ‘70s punk energy, and a prole-art thrust of unquestionably British persuasion, for roughly a decade the trio of Childish (guitar and vocals), Johnny Johnson (bass), and Bruce Brand (drums) produced an unrelenting stream of material. Keeping up with it all could be a daunting task, but Elementary Headcoats: The Singles 1990-1999 admirably sequences 50 tracks across two compact discs or three vinyl records; first issued in 2000, and back in print through Damaged Goods.

Author, poet, painter, photographer, filmmaker, publisher, and of course musician: Chatham, Kent, UK’s Billy Childish remains a crucial figure in various movements, and foremost amongst them is punk rock. By the formation of Thee Headcoats in 1989 he was already a veteran of a half-dozen outfits, the most well-known being the Pop Rivets, The Milkshakes, and Thee Mighty Caesars.

In sonic terms Childish is oft and fairly categorized as an indefatigable extender of the garage impulse, but just as importantly he can be assessed as an exponent of Brit DIY, a phenomenon linked to the rallying cry from the b-side of the Desperate Bicycles’ ’77 single- “it was easy, it was cheap—go and do it!” Scores took the advice either directly from the Bikes or through inspired peers, and subsequently Wild Billy’s activities gushed more abundantly than any industry would deem appropriate; in 1984 The Milkshakes released four albums…on the same day.

Childish’s longevity is largely defined by a constant tinkering with inspired simplicity. Proving impervious to fashion, he’s influenced numerous trendsetters along the way, and folks considering punk as an era or phase rather than an undefeatable style are likely to rank him as a curiosity or a fly-in-the-ointment. His racket is well summed-up by a verse from Alternative TV’s “Action Time Vision,” a tune tackled by Thee Headcoats in ’93 and one of this set’s highpoints: “Quarter notes don’t mean a thing/Listen to the rhythm, listen to us sing.”

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Radar: The Rolling Stones, GRRR Live! 3LP variants in stores 2/10

VIA PRESS RELEASE | The Rolling Stones have today announced the release of GRRR Live!, THE definitive live hits album from the band’s career. Released on February 10 via Mercury Studios, the album will be available in various formats; 3LP black, 3LP coloured white (Indies exclusive), 3LP red (d2c exclusive), 2CD, DVD + 2CD, BluRay+ 2CD. The Blu-ray and digital versions will include Dolby Atmos.

The best live band in the world deserve the ultimate live greatest hits album and GRRR Live! is it, The Stones at their best! The album is available to pre-order here and features some of the greatest songs of all time including “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll (But I Like It),” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Start Me Up,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Sympathy For The Devil,” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

The Rolling Stones celebrated their golden anniversary in 2012 and 2013 by embarking on the 50 & Counting Tour, a 30-show itinerary for North America and Europe. On December 15, 2012, the band took the stage at Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Center for the final of four shows in the New York area.

Featuring guest appearances by The Black Keys (“Who Do You Love?”), Gary Clark Jr. and John Mayer (“Going Down”), Lady Gaga (“Gimme Shelter”), Mick Taylor (“Midnight Rambler”), and hometown hero Bruce Springsteen (“Tumbling Dice”), the concert proved to be one of the most memorable shows in the band’s history.

Since its original airing on pay-per-view in 2012, this show has not been available to fans until now. The concert has been re-edited and the audio has been remixed. Three songs from the December 13 show (also in Newark) will be available as bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray: “Respectable” (with John Mayer), “Around And Around,” and “Gimme Shelter.”

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Owen Broder,
Johnny Hodges: Front and Center, Vol. 1

It’s likely that most folks familiar with Johnny Hodges know him for his crucial role as alto saxophonist in the orchestra of Duke Ellington. There’s not a thing wrong with the parameters of that knowledge, but in fact Hodges’ career encompassed more. Those looking for a welcoming contemporary entry point into Hodges’ artistry should check out saxophonist-bandleader Owen Broder’s new album Hodges: Front and Center, Vol. 1, which is out now on vinyl and digital via Outside in Music. Covering both long-celebrated and lesser-known works, it features exemplary playing by a top-flight band embodying the warmth and vigor that endures at the heart of Hodges’ music.

Based in New York City, Owen Broder is an instrumentalist specializing in four saxophones (soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone), clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute. Along with leading the American Roots Project and his quintet Cowboys and Frenchman, Broder has played in numerous collaborative bands, has worked in theater pits on and off Broadway, and is an award winning composer and arranger.

For Hodges: Front and Center, Vol. 1, Broder is joined by trumpeter Riley Mulherkar, pianist Carmen Staaf, bassist Barry Stephenson, and drummer Bryan Carter. Collectively, they pull off a difficult task, remaining true to the stylistic essence of the sources while avoiding coming off like a second-rate imitation or a fragile relic.

It helps that the compositions chosen are varied and even surprising and yet don’t sideline the importance of Ellington in Hodges’ creative trajectory. For instance, opener “Royal Garden Blues,” a Clarence Williams-Spencer Williams composition from 1919, is connected to Duke through the song’s inclusion on the 1959 small-group album for Verve, Back to Back: Duke Ellington and Johnny Hodges Play the Blues.

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A morning mix of news for the vinyl inclined

In rotation: 12/1/22

Kansas City, MO | Kansas City’s Revolution Records Serves Up Community Interaction & All Things Music: Revolution Records finds itself at the crossroads of community and passion. The Kansas City record shop is proudly curated for curious nerds and avid music fans who crave that classic record shop experience. The shop is curated for discovery, their shelves are lined with new/used LPs just waiting to be picked up, played, and loved, they also carry a treasure trove of other memorabilia like books and stereo equipment that are all curated with the music nerd in mind. Revolution Records have built a strong community around its shop by interacting with other locally-owned businesses to put together fundraising events to support a wide array of causes. Their unbridled passion for music and community makes Revolution Records a one-of-a-kind record shop that puts an emphasis on curiosity with a welcoming smile.

Los Angeles, CA | 3 Best Vinyl Stores in Los Angeles, California: Between the 1960s and 70s, vinyl record sales were at their peak. As technology progressed, our society saw a decline in vinyl sales and an incline in cassette tapes, 8-tracks, CDs, and MP3s. With the uptake of streaming platforms these days, most of those technologies used in the past have become obsolete for the masses. However, vinyl records have been making a swift comeback in younger generations. Audiophiles have been collecting and playing vinyls for years now, but as mentioned before record culture has infiltrated the younger generations, making it one of the most popular ways to listen to music besides streaming. With vinyls, you get to experience music in a whole new way. The act of sliding a record out from its sleeve, placing it on the turntable, setting the needle, and hearing your favorite artists play can be euphoric for some people.

10 Gift Ideas For The Discerning Vinyl Enthusiast: Every holiday season, I always think about a time in middle school one of the local metal girls told me she used a switchblade to discreetly unwrap what looked like records underneath the Christmas tree. (It was 1987 in upstate New York so Santa’s sleigh was heavy with copies of Girls Girls Girls and Look What The Cat Dragged In.) As we approach this year’s festivities, SPIN has whittled down 10 outstanding new vinyl records for the music junkie in your life (and if the said fan is a metalhead, be wary of the switchblade trick.) The following is an eclectic collection of modern classics from a wide swathe of genres and styles, from the cooler-than-cool to the sentimental old fool.

Vinyl Pursuit: A Journey Towards Providing the Best Music Experience: Tammy Brown, the principal owner of Vinyl Pursuit wanted to turn one of her hobbies of collecting Vinyl records into a profession. That’s when she conceptualized Vinyl Pursuit – a one-stop website for vinyl record lovers that sold records and accessories associated with it. Tim from Vinyl Pursuit said, “Tammy was looking to do something next. One of her hobbies is Vinyl records. She owns a sophisticated audio record-playing amplifier speaker system personally. Plus she’s got many contacts and people she knows in the music business. So the suggestion was raised that maybe she should or could start up a website that sold vinyl records.” While this generation of millennials seems to embrace digital streaming, Vinyl Pursuit chose to bring back vinyl records for music purists. Most of its customers trust Vinyl Pursuit’s ways to acquire the records before making them available to its customers.

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TVD Chicago

TVD Live Shots: Baby Gravy at the Aragon Ballroom, 11/22

On Tuesday, November 22nd, Baby Gravy headlined the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Baby Gravy consists of frequent collaborators Yung Gravy and bbno$ (baby no money). The duo have released an EP and an album together, titled “Baby Gravy EP” and Baby Gravy 2, as well as multiple singles on each other’s solo projects, so it was only fitting that they share the stage for a tour.

Rather than performing a full set each, Yung Gravy and bbno$ structured their co-headlining set so that they would perform a handful of songs together and then an individual set of a few songs each, repeating this set up before ending the show together. The animated videos they played before each mini set helped guide the tone, showing the duo in comedic situations that the crowd went wild for.

It’s no secret that the rappers are popular, dominating Tik Tok and making award show appearances, so it was no surprise that they would draw a rowdy crowd. Lining up for hours before the doors opened and then smashing into the venue like sardines, bbno$ had to stop mid song to point out an attendee that needed medical attention. It was endearing to see how much both of the rappers cared about their fans, making it a point throughout the night to pass out multiple cases of water to the crowd so they could stay hydrated and enjoy the show.

Another endearing moment is when Yung Gravy called for the crowd to throw as many bras as they possibly could on stage, explaining that they donate all of the bras they collect to different charities in every city. Once he shared this information, a sea of bras littered the stage.

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The TVD Storefront

TVD Live Shots: Turnstile at the Roadrunner, 11/19

BOSTON, MA | Baltimore’s innovative hardcore force Turnstile tore up Boston for the first of two weekend shows at Roadrunner on November 19th. The intensity of their show propelled this sold out crowd into a frenzy in what felt like a purge of emotion for all involved. Each song was a favorite battle cry for fans as they let off a controlled chaotic energy filled with joy and gratitude. Turnstile offers a unique show that needs to be seen and felt to be truly appreciated.

As the band prepared to take the stage, Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” hyped the crowd up with positivity to set the tone of the night. Turnstile exploded onto the floor, fittingly opening their set with “HOLIDAY” as the night felt very much like one.

Singer Brendan Yates shared the mic with the crowd during emphatic parts of songs, locking in the connection between the band and crowd, making the two feel entwined. Bassist “Freaky” Franz was constantly interacting with fans and headbanging along to the music.

Guitarists Pat McCrory and Greg Cerwonka kept the energy high with tight rhythms and a showcased blend of heavy and ethereal riffs. Drummer Daniel Fang served as the heartbeat by combining punk, latin, and go-go grooves seamlessly. Justin Andrade of Warwick, RI said, “They’re a band that blends a lot of heavier influences with a more alternative / pop flair. Their live shows are where they really shine though—bring your dancing shoes!”

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
The Kinks,
Muswell Hillbillies / Everybody’s in Show-Biz Everybody’s A Star

Ever since the 50th anniversary reissue of The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (2018), considered the first concept album from The Kinks, the group has been rolling out some box sets befitting its exalted place in the pantheon of rock and pop music history.

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society was followed by Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) in 2019 (the group’s last ’60s concept album) and Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One, in 2020, its first concept album in the ’70s. Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One was a biting critique of the music industry and cast a jaundiced eye on the pitfalls of musical stardom, or obscurity, clearly from first-hand experience. It would be the group’s last album released by Reprise in America, surprisingly a very artist-friendly record label at that time.

While Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One is certainly a bitter album from a veteran pop music insider, it isn’t heavy. Davies conceives these albums as conceptually thematic, but unlike some others who created concept albums in this period, he avoids the weighty pretentiousness and grandiose egotistical bombast that often mars otherwise ambitious and worthy works. Also, Davies does not write about working-class people from the lofty perch of a rich and famous pop star, or simply paint the rich and famous as bad either, but instead brings empathy to the writing of both kinds of characters.

Between Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One and Muswell Hillbillies (1971), its RCA debut, the group was involved in the soundtrack for the film Percy, released in 1971. It was directed by Ralph Thomas and was based on the novel by Raymond Hitchcock, and the screenplay was co-written by Michael Palin.

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New Release Section

New Release Section:
Gaz Coombes, “Long Live The Strange”

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Ahead of the release of his forthcoming solo album Turn The Car Around, due January 13th 2023 via Hot Fruit Recordings / Virgin Music, Gaz Coombes has released his latest new single “Long Live The Strange” and accompanying music video.

Recently Gaz announced a UK/EU headline tour for 2023 and also debuted music from the new album to a packed audience at London’s intimate Lafayette, a first taste of the masterfully written and recorded songs contained within, and a timely reminder of why Coombes remains one of the UK’s most enduring and gifted songwriters.

Gaz explains “This song was written as a celebration of the weird and wonderful and as a reminder to embrace that at all times.” The single stands as an ode to how music has the power to bring people together. He wrote it after taking his daughter Tiger to see Cavetown in Oxford in 2020. “The show had a big impact on me,” he recalls.

“It was what live performance is all about, connecting with an audience that consists of anybody and everybody who wants to be part of it, it’s fully inclusive and I found that quite powerful.” It was heartening to Coombes to discover, 30 years after he listened to Inspiral Carpets and Pixies and The Wedding Present and felt like he was part of a gang, there was still a place where the strange ones go. “It’s obviously strange in the nicest sense of the word,” he adds.

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The TVD Storefront

Graded on a Curve:
Mike Baggetta, Jim Keltner, Mike Watt, Everywhen We Go

Everywhen We Go is the second album by the unimpeachable trio of Mike Baggetta on acoustic and electric guitars, Jim Keltner on drums and percussion, and Mike Watt on bass. Cohesively structured with an air of spontaneity, the ten-track LP is a non-vocal affair with expert interplay that’s spacious yet disciplined as it thrives on the deepened familiarity of the participants. The record is out now on vinyl and digital through BIG EGO Records, the label of the album’s producer Chris Schlarb.

The story is that Wall of Flowers, the 2019 debut by Baggetta, Keltner and Watt was the byproduct of a cold call by the guitarist, who admired and had been influenced by the other two points in this creative triangle. The results are impressively together given the specifics of its creation, though I don’t want to suggest they just arrived at Chris Schlarb’s BIG EGO studio and proceeded to wing it.

Wall of Flowers is a potent dose of expansionist instrumental rock, at times atmospheric and with an edgy post-fusion jazz tinge, which is unsurprising given that Baggetta has cut four albums for the Fresh Sound label, three with his quartet (Small Spaces, 2008, Source Material, 2010 and Thieves and Secrets, 2013) and one with his trio (Spectre, 2016).

After Wall of Flowers release, Baggetta and Watt took it out on the road with Stephen Hodges stepping in for Keltner (who doesn’t tour) under the name mssv. They also cut two records, Live Flowers (2019) and the studio follow-up Main Steam Stop Valve (2020), the title referencing Robert Wise’s 1966 film adaptation of Richard McKenna’s novel The Sand Pebbles (the album’s title also directly inspired the initials of the trio’s moniker).

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