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Let It Be New Vinyl Thursday

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)

Weekly Review:

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

Bummer – Deadhorse
Weekly Review:
Following a long line of dark, abrasive, indie-noise guitar music from bands like Cherubs, Unsane, and Fudge Tunnel (I’m sure there’s a ton of more recent examples but I’m an old man), BUMMER are Kanas City’s very own sludge-core kings and they’ve just released a gargantuas sounding record called Deadhorse on the Chicago based label Thrill Jockey Records.
I’ll give it to you straight, clocking in at just under thirty minutes, the majority of the eleven tracks that make up Deadhorse resemble the sound of something exploding in your face.
Like comparing grades of sandpaper Singer/ guitarist Matt Perrin’s blood curdling screams can only be discerned through subtle, distorted, shades of rhythm that punctuate the relentless grinding gears of Mike Gustafson’s bass guitar and the dinosaur slaying weight of Sam Hutchinson’s drumming.
The frustration of growing up and living in a part of the country considered by many as “Flyover Country” has a lot to do with the visceral energy behind Deadhorse:  “These songs are influenced by how empty and minuscule life in Kansas can be and the stories that come from it,”  claims Perrin.
Songs like JFK Speedwagon and Barn Burner (You Boys Quit Whippin’ Those Whips) inflict an onslaught of punishing beats and jackhammer riffs over Perrins relentless wail.
The track “I Want To Punch Bruce Springsteen In the Dick” has the band shifting to a slightly lower gear.  The title showcases the lighter side of Bummer, as well as their penchant for whitty song titles (see Kid Spock and Quadruple ZZ Top).
I like to call his style of music “chili cheese dog rock,” claims bassist and song title creator, Gustafson, about the The Boss tittle reference.
Perhaps, the only moment of levity on Deadhorse, sonically speaking, is at the top of “Magic Cruel Bus” where, for approx ten seconds, Perrin strums an acoustic guitar while singing:
“Guess what? I’m not having no fun
Trucking through the same old mud.”
Then back into the mud they go!
It kind of goes without saying that the music that Bummer produces is most effective when consumed at loud volumes,  in small doses, with a healthy side of anger and frustration. At just  28 min and 50 sec Deadhorse is an album that understands the value of its limitations. Though the production value has definitely clicked up a notch! The record was recorded and produced by local KC producer Justin Mantooth at Westside Recording.
If you’ve  grown tired of screaming into your pillow at night or your yoga class isn’t cutting it, try listening to Deadhorse at full volume on limited edition blue-gray vinyl.  It’s certainly cheaper than a gym membership.
-Major Matt

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

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

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

Metallica- Metallica

Mono- Beyond The Past- Live in London with the Platinum Anniv. Orchestra

My Chemical Romance- Black Parade

Weekly Review:

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

OutKast- Aquemini

Ozzy Osbourne- Blizzard Of Ozz

Ozzy Osbourne- No More Tears

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

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

P.O.D.- Satellite

Pink Floyd- Animals

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut

Weekly Review:

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.”

This review is the first in an occasional series I’m calling “Under-appreciated.”
To call any album by Pink Floyd under-appreciated may be a stretch but at the time of its release, The Final Cut was the lowest selling Pink Floyd album since 1971’s Meddle.
The album was plagued by conflict from the start and was what many claim to be Roger Waters’ (bass player and primary songwriter at the time) reason for quitting the band, soon after its release.
Guitarist David Gilmour would argue many of the songs were not worthy of a new album while Waters would criticize Gilmour for not contributing more of his own material to the project.
With news of England’s envolvement in Falkland Wars at the time of the album’s inception, coupled with Waters’ own personal demons over his father’s death while serving in World War II, The Final Cut evolves into an epitaph for Britain’s  “Post War Dream” era in the form of a memorial to it’s fallen soldiers, including Waters’ father.  The result is an often subtle and heartbreaking commentary on the long term effects of war and populism in late modern British culture. And it still manages to rock now and then!
Cliche as it may be, I discovered The Final Cut in collage at a party where it was being played in a room full of people with the lights turned off, who may or may not have ingested something to alter their consciousness.
I recall the impression that the song “Paranoid Eyes” made on me. The mixed in sound effects and the sad melancholic quality of Waters’ voice touched me deeply.
I felt like this music was trying to tell me something. I was on the precipice of adulthood. The music was confirming to me that life would  not be getting any less complicated and that I should probably try to enjoy as much of my youth as I could….
“You believed in their stories of fame, fortune and glory
Now you’re lost in a haze of alcohol soft middle age
The pie in the sky turned out to be miles too high
And you hide, hide, hide
(Time gentleman!)
Behind brown and mild eyes”
Waters has always allowed his political beliefs to drive his art.  He then uses the creative process as medicine for healing. In “The Fletcher Memorial Home” he paints a picture of all the current politicians of the time (Thatcher, Reagan,  Brezhnev, etc.) gathered together at a single old folks home. He fantasizes about inflicting the  final solution on all of them. The title of the home is taken from Waters’ own deceased father’s middle name: Eric Fletcher Waters.
Much like it’s predecessor, The Wall, but perhaps even more cohesively, the Final Cut feels more like an audio film than a rock album. The release was accompanied by an actual short film that centered around a WW II veteran who had appeared in the feature length movie for The Wall as the teacher.
Pink Floyd will always be best known for their most popular albums like Darkside of the Moon and The Wall. There will always be squabbles about pre Syd Barrett and post Roger Waters periods.
If you absolutely detest Roger Waters, the handful of David Gilmour guitar solos on The Final Cut might not be enough to sustain you. But if you are a fan of some of their most important work this album is like a lost present that you find under the Christmas tree when you go to throw it out in February.
– Major Matt

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

Slowdive- Souvlaki

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

Jazz Is Dead is an on going collaborative musical series between  Adrian Younge/ Ali Shaheed Muhammad and artists who have inspired them throughout their lives, specifically, but not exclusively as source material for sampling in various hip hop projects.
Jazz Is Dead is a conversation with the past and the present in an attempt to create something new. It features guest appearances by legendary artists including: Roy Ayers, Gary Bartz, Marcos Valle, Azymuth, Doug Carn, Joao Donato, and Brian Jackson.
Each of these artists collaborated with Younge and Muhammad for seven separate, full length album, installments to create the series. The final installment is a compilation of instrumentals and the first is another compilation of choice tracks from each of the other albums in the series.
I’m happy to say that No 1 in the series has recently been reissued after going out of print soon after its inception. This comp is an excellent introduction to the series and great way to get a flavor for each of these legendary guest artists.
The first track Hey Lover w/ the great jazz xylophone player/ producer Roy Ayers sets a perfect floor plan for the sounds to come: a deep bass groove and atmospheric flourishes of sound that embrace a soulful vocal line proclaiming:
“A vision of you is all that I need
A perfect imperfection
More than the eyes can see
Oh, lover
Heaven sent your smile
We can explore our love
If only for a while”
Rumor has it the series has ended with the 9th installment. I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to listen to these collaborations.
If you’re already a jazz fan, especially leaning towards soul, funk and bossanova these records are right up your alley. But if you’re a hip-hop fan and you’ve been looking for a way into the jazz world I couldn’t think of a better place to start.
Major Matt

Various Artists- Punk Rock Christmas

Various Artists- Punk Rock Christmas 2

Weekly Review:

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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