It’s Arctic Monkeys New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Arctic Monkeys – Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Clear Vinyl, Indie Exclusive, Digital Download Card)
Art Blakey – New Jazz Men: Live In Paris 65
Beths – Jump Rope Gazers
Bob Dylan – Blood On The Tracks [150 gram Vinyl]
Chris Cornell – Patience (RSD Black Friday 2020)
Chris Stapleton – Starting Over
On the recent streaming event celebrating what would have been Tom Petty’s 70 th birthday, Chris
Stapleton named Petty as his biggest influence. On Starting Over, Stapleton’s fourth album, he backs
that up, enlisting former Heartbreaker Benmont Tench to play on more than half the album and writing
two songs Petty’s main foil, guitarist Mike Campbell. In fact, the opening title song echoes the same
lilting feel as Petty’s song “Wildflowers.”
But Starting Over is neither a tribute nor a reboot. Acoustic ballads “Maggie’s Song” and “Nashville, TN”
continue Stapleton’s streak of strong, intimate songwriting. “Devil Always Made Me Think Twice” and
“Arkansas” are study rockers sound like John Fogerty by way of Bob Seger (as if to drive the point home,
Stapleton also covers a non-Creedence Fogerty tune). A pair of Guy Clark covers also number among the
album’s best moments.
“Watch You Burn,” written with Campbell, is an angry, cathartic song about the mass shooter at the
2017 Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest music festival. As the killer is sent to hell in the song an odd choral
arrangement swoops in, coming very, very close to putting the whole thing over the top.
The Stapleton faithful will find plenty to like here. Starting Over should also win over some new fans,
too. -Joel Francis
The Curtis Counce Quintet – Exploring the Future
Drive-By Truckers – A Blessing And A Curse (Limited Edition, Gatefold LP Jacket, 180 Gram Vinyl, Clear Purple Vinyl)
Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (Gatefold LP Jacket, Limited Edition, 180 Gram Vinyl, Clear Black Vinyl)
Drive-by Truckers – The Fine Print (Gatefold LP Jacket, Limited Edition, 180 Gram Vinyl, Clear Green Vinyl)
Durand Jones & The Indications – American Love Call
Daniel Lanois – For the Beauty of Wynona
In 1993, Canadian musician and songwriter had an established reputation as the producer behind Peter
Gabriel’s So and Up albums, Bob Dylan’s Oh Mercy, Robbie Robertson’s solo debut and (with Brian Eno)
U2’s The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. For his second solo album, Lanois eschewed all the high-profile
guest spots that dotted his debut and turned in a striking, low-key album that rewards repeated
The 13 songs on Wynona are steeped in Lanois’ signature humid, measured, guitar-laden atmosphere.
The loops, layers and textures are often so exquisite that it takes several plays before Lanois’ stories and
After owning this album on compact disc for so long, I was immediately taken by how much richer and
lusher it sounds on vinyl. Whether on headphones or in a nice sounding room, For the Beauty of
Wynona is the ideal place to get lost for an hour. -Joel Francis
Elvin Jones – Midnight Walk (180 Gram Vinyl)
Funkadelic – Free Your Mindand Your Ass Will Follow
The Herbie Hancock Trio – The Herbie Hancock Trio (Black Friday RSD)
Jewel – Pieces of You
Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold As Love (180 Gram Vinyl)
Jason Isbell – The Nashville Sound
Kelsey Waldon – White Noise / White Lines
Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City
Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
In 1998, Lucinda Williams had been a recording artist for 20 years. She had a Grammy and a critically
acclaimed album that few heard and little else. For her fifth album, Williams went all-in, delivering a
masterpiece that blends country, blues and rock and top-shelf songwriting.
Many of the songs on Car Wheels remain the high points of Williams’ concerts today. “Joy” is a cleansing
kiss-off to a romance (chorus: “You took my joy and I want it back”). “2 Kool to be 4-gotten” uses a
rhythm and guitar part that burrows into your subconscious to weave a spell of independence via
Robert Johnson at the crossroads, the Lake Charles bridge and Pentecostal graffiti.
There are no bad moments on Car Wheels, but other stand-out moments include “Greenville,” with
Emmylou Harris on backing vocals, the buoyant opener “Right in Time,” the poppy “Still I Long for Your
Kiss” and the tribute to an underground Austin, Texas, songwriter “Drunken Angel.”
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is not only the best album in Williams’ considerable catalog, but an
excellent gateway into the world of Americana or underground country. If you want a little twang
without the hackneyed cliches of the modern country scene or appreciate Southern songwriting, Car
Wheels is a must-have. -Joel Francis
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV [Remastered, 180 gram Vinyl]
Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder (180 Gram Vinyl)
Max Roach Trio – Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan (180 Gram Vinyl)
McCoy Tyner – The Real Mccoy (180 Gram Vinyl)
Metallica – Kill Em All [180 gram Vinyl]
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace
Nirvana – Unplugged in N.Y.
Paladin – Paladin (Limited Edition, 180 Gram Vinyl, Silver Colored Vinyl)
Pink Floyd – Piper at the Gates of Dawn; A Saucerful of Secrets; More; Ummagumma; Atom Heart
Mother; Meddle; Obscured by Clouds
The four albums Pink Floyd recorded starting with 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon and concluding
with 1979’s The Wall remain the bedrock of classic rock radio playlists and the coveted cornerstones of
any rock album collection. The seven albums Pink Floyd recorded in the six years leading up to their
pinnacle may not carry the same lofty reputations, but are still worth investigating.
The Pink Floyd dropped their debut album Piper at the Gates of Dawn just two months after the Beatles
released Sgt. Pepper. The only Floyd release with founding member Syd Barrett at the helm, the songs
on Piper are mostly short, psychedelic slices of Carnaby Street pop. The nine-minute “Interstellar
Overdrive” hints at the band’s longer, experimental side. While the playful lyrics and melodies may seem
lightweight at first to fans that grew up on The Wall, Piper is an essential, underrated album in the Floyd
A Saucerful of Secrets saw the exit of Barrett and introduction of guitarist David Gilmour. The album
builds on “Interstellar Overdrive,” with several tracks that explore the darker layers and texturing that
would later become the band’s calling card. Songs like Roger Waters’ “Corporal Clegg” and “Jugband
Blues” Barrett’s lone contribution retain a playful, kaleidoscopic feel.
For the 1969 soundtrack to the French film More, Floyd took the dark, trippy layering to another level.
The whimsy is mostly gone, replaced with gentle pastoral songs such as “Green is the Colour,” the
ominous “Cirrus Minor” (complete with nature sounds) and the heavy “Nile Song.” Not everything on
More works by itself, but the album works well as a whole. The pieces are starting to come together.
It would take a moment before the band graduated to the next level. The double-album Ummagumma,
also released in 1969, is mostly a placeholder. The first record is a strong live summation of the space
rock moments from the first two albums. All of the songs are significantly longer, showcasing the band’s
ability to play off each other and jam. Unfortunately, the second record is a collection of solo
contributions from each band member, including a Water’s nature field recording, lengthy drum solo
and intriguing organ piece that goes on too long.
1970’s Atom Heart Mother is another side-step. The side-long orchestral title track has several moments
where you can almost see what the band was going for, but ultimately loses focus and falls short. The
three shorter songs on side two are more accessible, but the 13-minute “Alan’s Psychedelic Breakfast”
quickly consumes their momentum. The band’s fourth studio release is definitely an acquired taste. (The
tracks Pink Floyd contributed to the Zabriskie Point soundtrack that same year are also take some
Released in late 1971, Meddle sets the table for the glory years. Opening track “One of These Days” is a
heavy jam that remained a concert staple through the final tour. The side-long “Echoes” finally makes
good on the band’s attempt to articulate a lengthy conceptual piece. Sonically, “Fearless” and “A Pillow
of Winds” point directly to what was to come on Dark Side and Wish You Were Here. Despite the dog-
howl blues “Seamus,” Meddle is an essential stepping stone and another must-have Floyd album.
Before everything took off, however, the Floyd had one more album in them. Obscured by Clouds is
another soundtrack to a film no one saw but doesn’t hold together as a whole as well as More.
Strangely, Obscured features more singular moments than More, such as the dark “Childhood’s End,”
which foreshadows many of Dark Side’s themes, the poppy “Free Four” and the heavy blues “The Gold
It’s in the ….” While half of Obscured is very good, the other half aren’t strong enough for it to be
necessary. Fortunately, it was the last “bad” album Pink Floyd would release for more than a decade.
The first six years of Pink Floyd’s existence saw not only unparalleled levels of productivity, but the level
of creativity and experimentation across the albums released in that time make several of them
indispensable. If your Floyd collection only contains the albums that gave them radio hits, it is worth
going back and getting the crucial early chapters of Piper, Meddle and A Saucerful of Secrets. -Joel Francis
Pop Smoke – Meet The Woo 2
Pixies – Wave of Mutilation: The Best of Pixies
Prince – Purple Rain
Pink – Beautiful Trauma (150 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket, Download Insert)
Panic at the Disco – Pretty Odd
Pylon – Gyrate; Chomp
As anyone who has made a decent Southern road trip mixtape can tell you, Athens, Ga. Is the home of
the Georgia Bulldogs, B-52s and R.E.M. A pair of reissues aims to add the band Pylon to that list. Both
1980’s Gyrate and 1983’s Chomp have been remastered and are back in print for the first time in more
than a generation.
Gyrate is a no-frills production that captures a post-punk sound somewhere between Gang of Four and
Talking Heads. It’s not hard to imagine a room full of art students eagerly pogoing to these songs. The
quartet announced their intention on the first track, “Volume.” “Turn up the volume,” Vanessa Briscoe
Hay sings. “You can even dance.”
Chomp boasts a fuller production, with vocal harmonies and more textures. The music is still wiry,
danceable and restless. “Crazy” somehow manages to be both paranoid and funky, like the B-52s doing
early Cure. Other stand-out songs include “Beep” and “Gyrate,” proving the band was economic in
naming their songs as they were in playing them.
Pylon broke up at the end of 1983, reuniting for sporadic concerts and one more album in 1990. R.E.M.’s
cover of “Crazy” helped the sustain the band’s cult status. After a while, their albums fell out of print
and Pylon became a band one heard about more often than actually hearing them. Fans of 1980s college
and underground rock can now easily correct this situation – and slide a couple tunes into their next
road mix. -Joel Francis
Rage Against The Machine – Evil Empire [180 gram Vinyl]
Shabaka & The Ancestors – Wisdom Of Elders (Gatefold LP Jacket)
Shy Boys – Bell House
Sturgill Simpson – Sound & Fury
Sturgill Simpson – Sailor’s Guide to Earth (Bonus CD, 180 Gram Vinyl)
Taste – Tickle Your Fancy
Three 6 Mafia – End (Orange Colored Vinyl, Remastered)
Various Artists – Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix
In the early 1990s, the Jimi Hendrix Experience studio albums were remastered and reissued. Stone Free
attempted to build on that legacy by showcasing Hendrix’ enduring impact across a wide range of
artists. Unlike many slavish tribute albums, the participants here were encouraged to put their own
stamp on the material.
Predictably, Buddy Guy’s Chicago blues version of “Red House” is stellar. Jeff Beck and Seal turn in a
great version of “Manic Depression,” even if they accidentally prove it takes two people to do what
Hendrix did by himself. On the (then) modern rock front, Belly and M.A.C.C. (essentially a Temple of the
Dog reunion) are also standouts.
Enjoyment of the sample- and loop-heavy versions by P.M. Dawn and The Cure will depend on personal
taste. Similarly, Nigel Kennedy’s violin arrangement of “Fire” and Pat Metheny’s jazz guitar reading of
“Third Stone from the Sun” are intriguing, but don’t quite work for me.
The remaining songs are too slavish and fall short. Eric Clapton’s “Stone Free” is stiff. I’m sure even the
band members’ mothers would rather hear Hendrix than Body Count and the Spin Doctors.
Ultimately, chalk up a third of Stone Free to triumphs, a third to disasters and leave the rest somewhere
in between. -Joel Francis
Yung Lean – Starz (Green, Black, Gatefold LP Jacket)
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