It’s Billy Strings New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
311 – Evolver (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
Amy Winehouse – Back to Black
Andrew Hill – Point Of Departure
Animals – Retrospective
Bad Religion – How Could Hell Be Any Worse? (Colored Vinyl, Clear Vinyl, Black, Anniversary Edition)
Billy Strings – Me/and/Dad (Indie Exclusive, Limited Edition, Colored Vinyl, Black, Smoke & Yellow Versions)
Blink 182 – Enema Of The State
Bruce Springsteen – Only The Strong Survive (Indie Exclusive, Orange Colored Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket, Poster)
It’s a trend that’s almost become a trope: When a musician reaches a certain age, he or she can’t help
but draw on the songs that got them excited about music in the first place. Bob Dylan (among others)
did it with his albums of the American songbook. Paul McCartney has made multiple albums of his
favorite slabs of 1950s rock and roll. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffa even made a series out of their
covers albums. Now it’s Bruce Springsteen’s turn.
Only the Strong Survive, the Boss’ 21st album, delivers 15 soul songs drawing from the formidable
songwriting of Gamble and Huff, Holland, Dozier and Holland and Whitfield and Strong. These songs
aren’t as sonically startling as Dylan’s songbook exercises because soul music has always been a
prominent part of Springsteen’s sound. It’s front and center on classics “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” and
“Mary’s Place.” Guest vocalist Sam Moore, of Sam and Dave fame, isn’t new, either – he appeared
prominently on Springsteen’s Human Touch album 30 years ago.
While Only the Strong Survive isn’t a surprise, it is a lot of fun. Springsteen’s voice is in fine form tackling
the delicate “I Forgot to be Your Lover” and gritty “Do I Love You (Indeed I Do).” He also knows the
genre well enough to pluck forgotten ‘80s gems such as “Nightshift” and “When She Was My Girl.”
Producer Ron Aniello does a lot of the heavy lifting, playing almost every instrument that isn’t part of a
horn or string section. His chameleon-like playing is able to effortlessly reproduce the sound of Philly
soul, Stax and Motown. Having Aniello wear so many musical hats removes some of the in-the-room
energy that came from Springsteen’s previous E Street album, captured live in one room. Strangely, this
is most obvious on the backing vocal arrangements, which feel antiseptic, like they were flown in from
In a way, Only the Strong Survive also works as a tribute to the late Clarence Clemons, the Big Man
whose E Street saxophone channeled King Curtis and brought so much R&B energy to the stage every
night. As they’ve shown from the now legendary request section of their concerts, the E Street are
experts at capturing the moods Springsteen aims for on Only the Strong Survive. It’s a bit puzzling why
Springsteen didn’t put his band in the room and cut these songs live. Regardless, Only the Strong Survive
may not knock The River off the shelf, but will light up the room every time it’s played. -Joel Francis
The Beatles – 1
The Beatles – Revolver Special Edition (With Bonus 7″, Boxed Set, 180 Gram Vinyl, With Book)
The Current – Yesterday’s Tomorrow Is Not Today (Colored Vinyl, Gold, 3 Pack)
Cage the Elephant – Cage the Elephant
Cimafunk – El Alimento
Deftones – Deftones
E-40 – My Ghetto Report Card
Elvin Jones – Revival: Live At Pookie’s Pub
Freedy Johnston – Back on the Road to You (Yellow Indie Exclusive, Colored Vinyl)
Funkadelic – Maggot Brain
The Flaming Lips – The Soft Bulletin
Ghost – Prequelle
Gil Scott-Heron – Free Will
Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of a Man
Grachan Moncur III – Evolution
Green Day – American Idiot (180 Gram Vinyl, Poster)
Harry Styles – Harry Styles (180 Gram Vinyl, Booklet, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Harry Styles – Harry’s House (180 Gram Vinyl, Booklet, Gatefold LP Jacket, Postcard)
Harry Styles – Fine Line (180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket, Poster)
Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast / Beast Over Hammersmith (40th Anniversary, Limited Edition, Deluxe Edition, 180 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
James Brown – Christmas Time – Red (Red Colored Vinyl)
Jimi Hendrix – Los Angeles Forum – April 26, 1969 (Gatefold LP Jacket)
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros – Joe Strummer 002: The Mescaleros Years (Boxed Set)
Kanye West – Donda (Boxed Set, Deluxe Edition)
Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts
Kiss – Creatures Of The Night (40th Anniversary)(180 Gram Vinyl, Anniversary Edition, Remastered, Half-Speed Mastering)
Kiss – Rock and Roll Over (Limited Edition, Remastered)
Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble – Drum Dance to the Motherland
Listening to Kahn Jamal’s lost/underground album Drum Dance to the Motherland is like eavesdropping
on conversation between cavemen and space travelers.
Recorded live in a basement coffee house in late 1972, Drum Dance to the Motherland opens,
appropriately enough, with a long percussion piece. Jamal’s vibraphone and marimba commune with
Dwight James’ drums and glockenspiel and Alex Ellison’s African percussion. The entire performance is
bathed in reverb, which adds to the other-worldly experience.
The five-minute “Cosmic Echoes” leads directly into the nearly 14-minute title track. As a clarinet
wheezes across a vigorous drum set, one of the band members starts clapping. Briefly, a few others join
in. This is free jazz, yes – the clarinet doing an impression of Yoko Ono’s singing is impossible to ignore –
but it is also joyful.
“Inner Peace” kicks off side two, emerging gradually before settling into a bluesy funk courtesy of
Monnette Sudler’s guitar and Billy Mills’ haunting bassline. Again, the clarinet swoops and dives over the
proceedings like a gull trying to snag a meal from the water. “Breath of Life” completes the album with a
dreamy, ambient collage.
Drum Dance to the Motherland built a reputation as an extemporaneous, soulful adventure during the
more than 30 years it was out of print. Now finally back in print and affordable, intrepid fans of free jazz
can examine this work in full glory from the comfort of home. -Joel Francis
Lauryn Hill – Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Leon Bridges – Coming Home (180 Gram Vinyl, Download Insert)
Low – HEY WHAT
MF Doom – Operation: Doomsday
Michael Jackson – Bad (Picture Disc Vinyl)
Michael Jackson – Invincible (Picture Disc Vinyl)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Mobile Fidelity, 180 Gram Vinyl)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Picture Disc)
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
Miles Davis – Steamin (180 Gram Vinyl, Limited Edition)
Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
My Chemical Romance – Black Parade
My Chemical Romance – Life On The Murder Scene
Mychael Danna – Where The Crawdads Sing (Original Soundtrack)
Madonna – Erotica
Madonna’s fifth album dropped the day before her coffee table book, Sex. There isn’t a lot of subtext in
either project. In fact, revisiting these endeavors 30 years later, through the prism of “W.A.P.” and adult
web sites, Madge’s overt overtures to shock seem downright quaint.
Behind explicit songs about sex in various forms (and roles) are numbers about AIDS (“In This Life”), the
bitter end of a relationship (“Bye Baby Bye”), self-medication and depression (“Bad Girl”) and coming
out of the closet (“Deeper and Deeper”). Even the most intimate lyrics are delivered with a clinical
detachment, leaving no doubt who is in complete control throughout the experience. The pop ballad
“Rain,” a Top 20 hit, is one of the few times Madonna seems vulnerable.
While Erotica’s subject matters originated in the bedroom, the album is built for the dancefloor.
Producers Andre Betts and Shep Pettibone effortlessly slide from house, techno and disco, incorporating
new jack swing, reggae, jazz, trip hop and even Flamenco.
Erotica doesn’t appear that boundary-breaking on its 30 th birthday, but that’s in large part because the
boundaries it helped erode have been gone for so long it can be hard to remember they were ever
there. It’s not a long drive from Madonna’s ode to oral sex on “Where Life Begins” to Lil Kim and Foxy
Brown before winding up at Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. In fact, Erotica was released before Cardi
and Megan were born. That Madonna is still producing provocative music is the difference between
Madge and everyone else she leaves in her wake. -Joel Francis
OutKast – Speakerboxxx: The Love Below
Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard Of Ozz (Picture Disc Vinyl, Remastered)
Paramore – Paramore
Pink Floyd – Endless River
Prince – Dirty Mind (150 Gram Vinyl)
Prince – Purple Rain (Picture Disc Vinyl)
Ron Carter – Finding The Right Notes
Seth Avett – Seth Avett Sings Greg Brown
Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks Heres The Sex Pistols (Colored Vinyl, 140 Gram Vinyl, Brick &Mortar Exclusive)
Side Pony – Lucky Break
Sonic Flower – Me & My Bellbottom Blues
Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights
The Strokes – The New Abnormal (180 Gram Vinyl, Poster, Download Insert)
Sturgill Simpson – High Top Mountain
Say She She – Prism
Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileo Cunningham are the three front women for an exciting new 7 piece group from Brooklyn, NY called: Say She She. Their name is a punny nod to Nile Rogers and the band Chic’s classic r&b album “C’est Chic”
Like many of their label-mates (Their debut album Prism is on neo-soul label Colemine Records subsidiary Karma Chef) Say She She has an uncanny ability for bridging the past with the present when it comes to classic R&B and more contemporary pop influences.
It turns out while all three women share a love for singing, each brings their own unique history to the bands sound.
This description taken from a recent piece in NYS Music explains: “Malik, a former backing singer for Chicano Batman, is partisan to Turkish funk and Hindi riffs. Brown’s concentration was in R&B, and she was trained in classical and jazz vocals from childhood. Cunningham is partial to 80s eclectic progressive groups like Rotary Connection and Tom Tom Club.”
The title track on Prism is a chill-wave romp that rolls in like a space -age Supremes song complete with Echoplex laden vocals and modular synth accents. The songs esoteric lyrics appear to be about the joy that can arise from just letting go of our own minds now and then.
Track two, “Don’t Wait,” is a nice display of the the subtle three part harmonies this group is capable of while seamlessly tag-teaming the lead vocal spot.
I think this is the secret sauce of Say She She. In a world of Diana Ross’, Beyoncé’s, and Taylor Swifts, at least for now, even when they are singing solo, no single member of the band seems to stick out or overshadow the others. It makes for very transcendent listening experience as the band seems to take on a voice greater than the sum of its parts.
“Pink Roses,” with its groovy bass lines and thwacking surf guitar is reminiscent of the sophisticated funk influences of early new wave groups like the before mentioned Tom Tom Club as well other acts like Bananarama, and Haircut 100.
Say She She seems to be taking a page from other neo souls acts such at Leon Bridges and Durand Jones by naturally evolving their late 60’s and 7O’s influences into the early 80’s of disco and new wave.
One of my favorites on Prism is the more traditional R& B track “Fortune Teller.” As we enter the colder season here in the Midwest, the light breezy quality of this song has me reminiscing about warm summer breezes and nighttime walks with friends.
In just 8 songs and 29 minutes the debut records of Say She She manages to establish a distinct and cohesive style that works to relax and inspire. It’s one of those unique records that work equally for an after work wind-down or getting your groove on before a night on the town. -Major Matt
Tame Impala – Currents
Taylor Swift – Folklore (Colored Vinyl, Beige, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Taylor Swift – Midnights (Moonstone Blue Edition)
Taylor Swift – Midnights (Jade Green Edition)
Tegan & Sara – The Con (Bonus CD)
Television – Marquee Moon (Clear Vinyl, 140 Gram Vinyl, Brick & Mortar Exclusive)
Thick – Happy Now
Tyler Childers – Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven
Tyler Childers – Live On Red Barn Radio I & Ii
Tyler The Creator – Flower Boy (150 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Tyler The Creator – Igor (150 Gram Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow
Whitesnake – Slide It In (2019 Remaster)
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2022 Remaster)(White Colored Vinyl, Remastered)
XTC – Big Express – 200gm Vinyl (200 Gram Vinyl)
Yaeji – Ep 1+2 (Indie Exclusive, Jade Colored Vinyl)
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Enjoy the music and we will see you soon. Your loving Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven staff:
Sherman, Gordon, Cat, Matt, Dylan, Doyle, Heather, Gregg, Dave, Kimmie and Lain.