It’s Let It Be New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Amy Winehouse- Back To Black
Arrested Development- 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days In The Life Of
Bad Brains- Bad Brains
Billie Eilish- Happier Than Ever
Black Sabbath- Vol 4
Blue Stingrays- Surf-N-Burn
Bob Dylan- Springtime In New York: The Bootleg Series Vol. 16 (1980-1985)
The 1980s are generally regarded as a fallow period for Bob Dylan. Knowing this, it is perfectly reasonable to wonder that if the material Dylan released during that time wasn’t very good, why would anyone want to hear what didn’t make the cut.
Listening to Springtime in New York, a new Dylan anthology that covers the first half of the ‘80s, it becomes immediately clear that just because a song was shelved doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. The majority of the 11 cuts on this two-LP set are alternate takes and just about all of them are superior to their official, more familiar counterparts.
Take “Jokerman,” the song that opens both this set and Dylan’s 1983 album Infidels (one of his best of the decade). The alternate version has more buoyancy and the piano and organ play subtle, gospel chords, sneaking a little more energy into the performance. “Blind Willie McTell” was the greatest gem unearthed on the first Bootleg Series release, way back in 1991. The alternate version presented here is a less mysterious, but makes up for it with Mark Knopfler’s bluesy slide electric guitar.
“Brownsville Girl” is by far Dylan’s best song of the ‘80s. An early version, titled “New Danville Girl” may be even better. The production on “Danville” is cleaner and the horns are gone, resulting in a cleaner, more spacious recording. Similarly, an alternate take of “Seeing the Real You at Last” removes the dross from the original’s very dated, very ‘80s production.
At 16 volumes across 30 years, Dylan’s bootleg series has run longer than most careers. Springtime in New York, doesn’t provide any revelations on the scale of Blonde on Blonde or Highway 61, but illuminates an under-appreciated period of the legend’s artistry.- Joel Francis
Brandi Carlile- In These Silent Days
Buena Vista Social Club- Buena Vista Social Club
Charles Mingus- Mingus Ah Um Redux
Charley Crockett- Lil G.l.’s Blue Bonanza
Charley Crockett- Lonesome As A Shadow
Charley Crockett- Welcome To Hard Times
Cigarettes After Sex- Cigarettes After Sex
Coldplay- Music Of The Spheres
Corinne Bailey Rae- Corinne Bailey Rae
David Bowie- The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Donald Fagen- Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly Live
Duke Pearson- Merry Ole Soul
Fleetwood Mac- Greatest Hits
All of Fleetwood Mac’s greatest hits compiled into one album? This is one I’ll take up!
By the time this was released, they’d already been around and well known for 22 years.
The record starts with one of my favorites by them, “Rhiannon.” This song resonates with me because sometimes I feel like the girl in the song, and it’s eye opening to kind of hear about myself (or someone like me) from another’s perspective.
Another one of my favorites by them is, “Gypsy,” track #6 off their greatest hits. I think many would agree with me that this is one of their best songs. It’s such a feel good, uplifting track from beginning to end. With cheery piano chords and melodies, layered with a soft guitar and beautiful, whimsical vocals, it makes for an almost euphoric listen.
All of their best tracks compiled into one album, makes for a very special listen. From beginning to end it brought me nostalgia, emotions needed to be felt, and tracks to bop my head along with. I think Fleetwood Mac executes everything they try to do immaculately. I even once heard that Stevie Nicks does her parts in just one take- and I would be surprised if that weren’t true. I’d recommend this album to just about anyone. It’s inclusive of many genres, explores a wide range of topics and honestly, if it weren’t for FM, I feel as though half the bands/artists around now wouldn’t be here. They accomplished so much for their time and really made a huge impact not only in their time, but for generations to come. -Nova Stebbin.
Flying Lotus- Yasuke
Flying Lotus albums have been a master class in blurring lines between genres and highlighting guest artists in surprising new contexts. On his seventh album, the Los Angeles-born producer, DJ and rapper settles more into one context, but that doesn’t mean the less restless or adventurous.
Yasuke is the soundtrack to an anime series, which explains why the album is more centered than other Lotus releases. But FlyLo will always be a nomad with a penchant for surprise. Those revelations are still present on Yasuke, only in more subtle ways. The Wu-Tang Clan’s Shaolin style is an obvious touchpoint for a project like this, but here FlyLo chooses to circle around hip hop, rather than draw from it directly. The two big exceptions are “Survivors,” built around classic boom-bap drum beat and “African Samurai,” which features a verse from Denzel Curry.
Many of Yasuke’s 26 tracks are informed by synthesizers. The gurgling “War Lords” sounds like an update of Pink Floyd’s “On the Run,” while “Your Screams” echoes Tangerine Dream. Elsewhere, homages to the work of Wendy Carlos, Vangelis and John Carpenter can be heard.
Fans expecting high-profile guests and jaw-dropping left turns may be disappointed by Yasuke at first, but repeated listens will reveal new treasures. Those interested in soundtrack or instrumental music, will find much in which to bask. No matter how you get there, Yasuke is a trip worth taking.- Joel Francis
George Harrison- All Things Must Pass
Iggy Pop- Lust For Life
Jamiroquai- Return Of The Space Cowboy
Jimmie Vaughan- Baby Please Come Home
Jungle- Loving In Stereo
Kanye West- College Dropout
Kendrick Lamar- Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Kevin Morby- A Night at The Little Los Angeles
After his grandiose fourth album, 2019’s Oh My God, Kansas City, Mo.-raised singer/songwriter Kevin Morby decided to pare everything back and began recording demos in a backyard shed. Formally recorded versions of these songs – with dressed-up arrangements – were released as last year’s excellent Sundowner. Now, almost a year to the day later, Morby gifts fans with the original four-track demos as A Night at the Little Los Angeles.
On Sundowner, Morby celebrated the big skies and open roads of the Midwest. Technological limitations mean four-track recordings from Little Los Angeles aren’t quite as widescreen as their Sundowner counterparts, but these limitations quickly become part of their charm. On the song “Campfire,” Morby incorporated the sounds of an actual campfire for the version on Sundowner. The four-track version, however, sounds like it really was recorded at a campsite, with hazy drums beating in the distance. Morby’s “woo!” a two-thirds of the way through the demo version of “Campfire” recalls Bruce Springsteen’s yelps on “State Trooper.”
Primitive recording equipment isn’t all that Little Los Angeles has in common with Springsteen’s Nebraska. Unlike the Boss, however, Morby was able to transfer his four-track dreams into fully realized recordings. Little Los Angeles won’t supplant Sundowner, but provides a fascinating look at the album’s roots for the curious fan.-Joel Francis
Lee Fields & Expressions- It Rains Love
Lou Reed- New York
The Big Apple defines Lou Reed’s work much in the same way it informs the films of Woody Allen and Spike Lee. By the time Reed announced the city that never sleeps would be the focus of his 15th solo album, the only surprise was that he hadn’t already done it.
Perhaps Reed was feeling extra motivation from the subject matter, because New York is his finest solo album. His lyrics are succinct – if verbose – and the music not only supports all those words while remaining accessible, but flat-out rocks in several places.
The 14 songs on New York are equal parts protest song and autobiography. On “Halloween Parade,” Reed celebrates the gay community’s festivities in Greenwich Village and mourns the lives lost to AIDS and his own departed friends. The single “Dirty Blvd.” name-checks NYC landmarks while decrying the racists and xenophobes who profit off poor immigrants and laugh at the feet of the Statue of Bigotry. It also rocks. While Reed’s worldview is often bleak, he provides hope in the song “Busload of Faith.”
Velvet Underground fans or those wondering where to go next in Reed’s catalog after “Transformer” are advised to seek out New York. While New York doesn’t sound like those other albums, it showcases Reed at his absolute best.-Joel Francis
Mac Miller- Faces
Mono- Beyond The Past- Live in London with the Platinum Anniv. Orchestra
My Chemical Romance- Black Parade
My Chemical Romance released “Black Parade,” in 2006, making their junior album the pinnacle of their career. Their other albums, such as “Danger Days,” or “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge,” have some of their most popular work included in it, but “Black Parade,” is by far their best work in my opinion.
Any fan of MCR could identify track #5, “Welcome to the Black Parade,” from the first note struck on the piano. Throughout the album there’s a recurring character, “the patient,” who dies from cancer at a young age. This track explores a wide range of emotions, building with the song as it increases in speed, and grit. Though MCR has mentioned death, demons, and the dark side of the mind in their previous work, I feel as though they did it more artistically, poetically, and maturely with this album.
Another one of their most popular songs off their discography comes too from this album, being “Teenagers.” It discusses being an outcast teenager, seeing through the lies and nonsense of growing up under strict rule and judgement:
“They’re gonna clean up your looks
With all the lies in the books
To make a citizen out of you
Because they sleep with a gun
And keep an eye on you, son
So they can watch all the things you do”
This is one of my favorites as well, because as a teenager myself, it almost feels empowering knowing I’m not the only one who feels they’re under pressure and able to see through the bull.
Another track that really resonates with me off this album is, “Cancer.” It’s a really emotional song about a sick patient who’s having to accept their departure from the world and their loved ones. Cancer is a really sensitive topic that not many artists talk about, led alone from the perspective of the patient. It gives insight, evokes lots of emotion and executes the subject amazingly.
Aside from the plot of the story and how they talked about it so beautifully, the instrumentals are another thing I really like about this album. Genres seen in this album vary from soft rock, to grunge, to punk, and post punk. They include piano, strange backing vocals, gritty guitar riffs, and a variation of experimental noises based on what the conveying message of the track is. They keep a steady flow throughout the album, while also using different elements from track to track to keep it interesting.
Not only is this personally my favorite album by MCR, but I think it’s their best work to date. This album is easily a 10/10. -Nova Stebbin.
Nirvana- In Utero
Olivia Rodrigo- Sour
Ozzy Osbourne- Blizzard Of Ozz
Ozzy Osbourne- No More Tears
By the end of the 1980s, Ozzy Osbourne had managed to eclipse his former bandmates from Black Sabbath and avoid the flotsam of hair metal. Released in 1991, No More Tears not only opens Ozzy’s second decade as a solo artist, but is his strongest album without guitarist Randy Rhodes.
Sonically, No More Tears is a surprisingly broad canvas, ranging from the metal of “S.I.N.” and “Mr. Tinkertrain” to the ballads (and radio hits) “Mama I’m Coming Home,” “Time After Time” and “Road to Nowhere.”
Part of the success of No More Tears is due to collaborators Zakk Wylde and Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister. Wylde made his debut on Ozzy’s previous album, but steps his guitar game up here. Lemmy co-wrote four songs with Ozzy and Wylde. These songs make up the heart of the album’s first half.
The record’s pièce de resistance is the title track – seven and a half minutes of hard rock heaven built around a hypnotic bassline. Wylde’s guitar swoops and dives and responds to Ozzy’s vocals like a boot to the head. Halfway through, the song flips into a quiet interlude, building tension – and anticipation – for Wylde’s manic guitar solo. He doesn’t disappoint.
Released just one month apart, Metallica’s black album and No More Tears have become the defining metal albums for not just the ‘90s but of their generation. If you love it loud, this is a must-own.-Joel Francis
Patsy Cline- Walkin’ After Midnight- The Essentials
Patsy Cline was an iconic artist for her generation. She began her career with her debut album, “Patsy Cline,” in 1957, breaking charts and bringing with it a name for herself. I had never known about her until about 2 years ago, when my mom found a cassette of hers at a Goodwill. My mom had been a long time fan so of course, she bought it. At first I was hesitant and didn’t know what to think, but when “Walkin’ After Midnight,” came on, I was reeled in. Listening to it on a cassette or a vinyl brings a totally different listening experience. It’s more true to Patsy’s sound and gives you a taste of what it would’ve sounded like around her time.
This compilation album starts off with, of course, “Walkin’ After Midnight,” one of her most famous tracks. This is one of my favorite tracks, not only because it’s the one that got me into her, but it’s a very bouncy, feel good track. She’s longing for her love, searching desperately like a hopeless romantic, but it’s not constructed in a melancholic way, rather quite cheery. Maybe that’s why I like it so much, because it’s relatable and you could *almost* cry to it, but it’s just too cheery to do so.
To say she was a hopeless romantic would be saying the least. Throughout the compilation, she discusses what it’s like to be hopelessly in love, heart broken, and loved through exhaust. Similar to the first track, they’re all in the category of swing music, so despite exploration of a sad timeline of lost love, they’re all whimsical, fun tracks built to dance to. I will say though, some tracks can go both ways. For instance, track #7, “I’ve Loved and Lost Again,” can definitely cause a tear to be shed. Though including the same elements, it’s taken down a notch and the vocals really speak to the heart.
I highly recommend purchasing this album on vinyl, as it invites a unique listening experience and gives you the “old time-y” feeling.- Nova Stebbin
Pink Floyd- Animals
Pink Floyd – The Final Cut
The Final Cut was the twelfth studio album by the rock band Pink Floyd. It was released in 1983 and comprised of mostly unused material from their 1979 masterpiece The Wall. But as the the saying goes; “One persons leftovers is another’ one’s gourmet meal.”
Pokey LaFarge- In The Blossom Of Their Shade
Queen- A Day At The Races
Ryo Fukui- A Letter From Slowboat
Ryo Fukui- My Favorite Tune
Ryo Fukui- Ryo Fukui In New York
Ryo Fukui- Scenery
Sam Cooke- The Best Of
Steely Dan- Northeast Corridor: Steely Dan Live!
Sturgill Simpson- Sound & Fury
The Beatles- Let It Be Special Edition [Super Deluxe 4 LP + 12″ EP Box Set]
The Church- Starfish (Expanded Edition)
The Clash- Combat Rock
The Joy Formidable- Into The Blue
Thelonious Monk- Palo Alto
The Ramones- Ramones
The Rolling Stones- Let It Bleed (50th Anniversary Edition)
The Zombies- Odessey & Oracle
Tom Petty- Greatest Hits
Various Artists- Jazz is Dead
Various Artists- Punk Rock Christmas
Various Artists- Punk Rock Christmas 2
Cleopatra Records, a Los Angeles-based label who champion underground music, unfurl two Christmas collections that combine tradition with irreverence.
First released in 2015, Punk Rock Christmas features 15 songs from Iggy Pop, the Vibrators, Reel Big Fish, Smash Mouth and others tackling familiar tunes such as “O Holy Night,” “Let It Snow” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” The arrangements stay true to the originals, for the most part, only delivered at four times the speed, with loud guitars, big drums and plenty of sneers in the vocals.
Punk Rock Christmas 2 initially dropped in 2017 and contains 16 less familiar songs by less familiar artists. It’s hard to imagine “Santa Had to Go into Rehab” or “When Johnny Saved Christmas” entering the Yuletide canon, but the performances are so fun and infectious it doesn’t really matter. The Rumjacks pack a fiddle, bagpipes and flutes into “Christmas in Killarney,” while Johnny Thunders performs a bluesy live version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
Neither volume of Punk Rock Christmas offers many surprises, but they are loaded with plenty of mirth and merriment and may be just the thing to get us through another holiday season.-Joel Francis
Various Artists- Rockin’ Legends Pay Tribute To Jack White
Violent Femmes- Why Do Birds Sing?
Weezer- Weezer (Blue Album)
Yola- Stand For Myself
Yola- Walk Through Fire
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