Low New Vinyl Thursday

It’s Low New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:

311- Mardi Gras 2020

Aesop Rock- Appleseed

Weekly Review:

Aesop Rock’s first album Appleseed was released in 1999, at a time when mystique could thrive on the internet. Photographic evidence was still not always easy to upload, so we didn’t even know what some often-discussed albums looked like until much later. Times and technology have indeed changed, and now we finally have a reissue of Appleseed. (On vinyl for the first time!) 

Aesop Rock opens the record with “I recall the first time I bumped head with my head,” and it becomes clear that he’s a different kind of lyricist. He’s playful with language but seems serious, maybe like MF Doom minus all the characters? From a kid’s perspective in the midwest, Appleseed seemed like part of a new (cerebral?) hip-hop movement in New York City that included groups like Cannibal Ox, Company Flow, and maybe even Antipop Consortium.

Appleseed was primarily self-produced, with tracks that both swing and disorient. Throwing samples of everything in the mix, from Ornette Coleman to moody synthesizer loops and Bollywood soundtracks, the tracks mirror Aesop Rock’s everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach to lyricism that gained him notoriety a couple of years ago as having the most extensive vocabulary in hip-hop. 

Appleseed gave listeners a pretty good indication of what was to come. The mini-album predicts so much in Aesop Rock’s sound and is difficult to listen to without thinking about the cadences and production he and his producer develop. Sure, he would build upon some of these cadences and rhyme schemes on the albums that would follow, but this album is a good listen in its own right. And a vinyl reissue gives new listeners an excellent starting point: the beginning.- Jonathon Smith

Amy Grant- Heart In Motion

Weekly Review:

Has it really been 30 years ago? Not just since this album was released, but also when the vinyl format was dying and CDs were promulgating their future reign. 1991 saw a shift in music formats, as well as Amy Grant’s career. “Heart In Motion”, originally released March 5th, 1991, was Amy’s 9th studio album release, and was made available mainly via CD & sparsely on vinyl LP. It yielded 5 Top 20 singles, 2 No. 1 hits, and went on to sell 5 million copies in the U.S. alone. All of this culminated in an “Album Of The Year” nomination at the Grammy’s, a number 10 peak-spot on the U.S. Billboard 200, and number 1 on the Christian Album Chart for 32 weeks.
This album was HUGE! It was a cross-over sensation. And I’m willing to bet not even Ms. Grant was prepared for the stardom she achieved with this personal and uncharacteristic foray in “secular” music.
So here we are, 30 years later, celebrating a very well deserved gem of a Pop album, delivered in a 2LP vinyl format allowing for more dynamic range and fidelity.
Track 2 and lead-off single, “Baby, Baby”, still holds up with an infectious hook & groove. Amy’s ode to her then newborn daughter bare’s the album’s title, “Heart In Motion” and captures the overall spirit of the album’s content. However, there are some other, more darker life issues confronted by songs “Ask Me” and “How Can We See That Far”. Yet, for the most part, other songs entitled “Every Heartbeat”, “That’s What Love Is For”, and “I Will Remember You”, as well as the rest of the album comprise a feel-good celebration of what IS good, and Amy Grant certainly delivers the message with sincerity and devotion.
It’s an honest album. One shouldn’t feel any shame in adding this 30th Anniversary edition to their vinyl collection. If it’s “Good For Me”, it’s good for you. ~ David Lombardo

Amyl and The Sniffers- Amyl and the Sniffers

Bill Evans- Bill Evans – Trio ’64 (Verve Acoustic Sounds Series)

Bob Dylan- Greatest Hits

Booker T & Mg’s- The Complete Stax Singles Vol. 1 (1962-1967)

Booker T & Mg’s- The Complete Stax Singles Vol. 2 (1968-1974)

Cee Lo Green- The Lady Killer

Weekly Review:

After a decade in the underground with the Atlanta rap group Goodie Mob, scores of guest features and two enjoyable solo albums that flew under the radar, singer and rapper Cee Lo Green finally received the big hit and accompanying mainstream media attention he craved as a solo artist. 

The shadow of “F-k You,” known in censored circles as “Forget You,” looms large over The Lady Killer, Green’s third solo album and his first since pairing with DJ Danger Mouse in Gnarls Barkley. After a spoken word intro morphs into a supercharged James Bond theme. This, in turn, leads into the infectious dance track “Bright Lights, Bigger City.” The sweeping string section, pulsating synthesizers and Green’s larger-than-life vocals make experiencing the song akin to watching a big-budget action movie. 

After the big single, The Lady Killer rolls through another 10 songs that rarely flag in energy or performance. It’s obvious Green obsessed over a pile of Earth, Wind and Fire albums growing up, so it is fitting that EWF frontman Phillip Bailey guest on “Fool for You.” Lauren Bennett does her best Shirley Bassey impression on the duet “Love Gun.” Other songs echo the influence of Motown, funk and gospel. Whatever Green’s approach, it all adds up to one underlying constant on The Lady Killer: fun.- Joel Francis

Cheap Trick- In Another World

Chrissie Hynde- Standing In The Doorway: Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan

Cigarettes After Sex- Cigarettes After Sex

Digital Underground- This is an E.P. Release

Duke Jordan- Flight to Denmark

Electric Chairs- The Electric Chairs

Embryo- Opal

Evans- Symbiosis

Funkadelic- Tales of Kidd Funkadelic

Gil Scott-Heron- Pieces of a Man

Gorillaz- Song Machine, Season One

Halsey- If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power

Heartless Bastards- A Beautiful Life

Holly Golightly- Medicine County

Horace Silver- Horace Silver Quintet

Iron Maiden- Senjutsu

James McMurtry- The Horses and the Hounds

Jimmy Smith- Groovin’ At Smalls Paradise

John Mayer- Sob Rock

John Prine- Storm Windows

Kacey Musgraves – Star-Crossed (Surprise Color Vinyl)

Kenny Garrett- Sounds From The Ancestors

King’s X- Out of the Silent Planet

Laura Jane Grace- Stay Alive

Laura Nyro- American Dreamer


Madlib- Sound Ancestors

Weekly Review:

The umpteenth album from the prolific, California-based producer, DJ and rapper Madlib is a collaboration with Kieran Hebden. Better known as Four Tet, Hebden’s glitchy, electronic fingerprints are all over these 16 tracks.  

The single “Hopprock” is demonstrative of both Madlib and Four Tet’s strengths. A soothing cello plays under the sound of running water as random voicemail messages gradually overwhelms the track before giving way to a basic percussion pattern accented with muted guitar and apparitional voices. The result is something that could easy accommodate an MC’s flow or serve as a stand-alone sound collage.

Compiled and arranged by Hebden from tracks Madlib passed along over the past two years, Sound Ancestors moves from primitive African instruments to psychedelic rock and snippets of Snoop Dogg to field recordings of children singing. Hebden’s deft hand makes these desperate sources crackle with vibrancy as one coherent statement. The result is an album that sounds like a homage to what’s been created while pointing the way forward.- Joel Francis

Otis Jackson Jr. professionally known as Madlib, describes himself as “DJ first, producer second, and MC last.” Four Tet is the stage name for English musician and EDM producer Kieran Hebden.
Madlib’s latest release Sound Ancestors is a stunning instrumental  album displaying his unique style of beat making and producing.  Rumor has it that the album’s sixteen tracks were arranged, edited and masterd by Hebden after receiving hundreds of recordings by Madlib over the course of two years.
The standard Madlib signposts of Jazz, weed, and humor are all there but it feels like there’s something slightly more profound going on with Sound Ancestors.  With the death of legendary  friend and collaborator MF DOOM in 2020, as well as 2021 being the ten year anniversary of the passing of perhaps his most comparable cohort  in the field, hip-hop producer J DILLA, it has been suggested that there is a eulogistic tone running throughout this record.
Just past the halfway point the track “Two For 2 – For Dilla” is a fitting tribute to late master of crate digging loops, who helped to elevate sampling to the true art form that it is today.  Much in the style of J. Dilla, “Two For 2” creates new meanings out slightly imperfect loops that cut out at odd places. Suddenly a voice chimes in “We’ve got get it together…” then another voice chimes in “No!” then the original loop finishes “… before it’s too late” and then the second loop finishes “…what are we waiting for?” To the listener it all sounds like one thing but as an amateur produce myself the effect is not small feat. It’s a nice tribute.
The term journey is often over-used to describe albums but it happens to be very appropriate for this record.  Madlib’s willingness to draw upon such diverse sources from the British indie band Young Marble Giants to Snoop Dog to the odd field recording and make them all work so seamlessly is truly impressive.  Though the arc of this album could be attributed to Hebden, when I step back and view it as a whole it takes on a characteristics that I find in some of my favorite atmospheric Kraut Rock and soundtrack albums.
Many producers are known for how well they mask their samples, part of the genius of Madlib is how he seems to keep a lot of them true to their original sonic qualities. The loops are often enhanced by live instruments but it’s often seamless with the original recording. Even with abrupt mood shifts or cuts there is still a sense of natural organic flow to this record as a whole. It’s a strange phenomenon that is not as easy to achieve as one might think.
Once you start dissecting a Madlib track you start to realized the subtle layers that you’re actually listening to. His respect for the integrity of the material he’s working with, whether it’s taken from a piece of classical music or a YouTube video about how to through smoke a bong puta him in a special class.
– Major Matt

Metallica- Metallica

Modest Mouse- The Golden Casket

My Chemical Romance- Life On The Murder Scene

Nirvana- Bleach

O.V. Wright- A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades

Weekly Review:

Overshadowed in his hometown of Memphis by Otis Redding and label-mate Al Green, and outshined on the charts by Levi Stubbs and a host of other Southern soul shouters, O.V. Wright is the greatest soul singer you’ve never heard.

Released in 1971, A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades is Wright’s fourth album and the first of three stone classic albums he released consecutively in the 1970s. Wright is joined on the album by the Hi Rhythm Section and the Memphis Horns, the same musicians who backed Green on most of his best material.

While Green’s voice is smooth, sensual and laid back, Wright’s is more bluesy, earthy and intense. Wright is desperate and pleading on opening cut “Don’t Let My Baby Ride” before shifting to gospel on “Born All Over.” “Ace of Spades,” the third track, shows yet another side of Wright’s abilities as he issues a stern warning to his lover against a hard-charging funk arrangement.

The cover of A Nickel and a Nail and Ace of Spades makes the album look like a low-budget bootleg, but don’t be fooled. This is high quality Southern soul and belongs in any collection alongside Daptone and Colemine revival efforts.- Joel Francis

O.V. Wright is a name that has slipped through the cracks, somewhat, when it comes to the history of American Soul music. But his rich and longing voice would meld gospel with the blues to help form the quintessential Southern Soul sound of the 1960’s and 70’s.
Born in Lenow, Tenn. in 1939 Overton Vertis “O. V.” Wright started singing in church at a young age and while still in high school started  touring as a lead singer with a gospel group called The Sunset Travelers and later The Harmony Echos.
I first became aware of Wright through his singles on the label Back Beat. Notorious label owner Don Robey acquired Wright’s contract due to his gospel group having recorded for Peacock Records, which was also owned by Roby.
Nickel and a Nail And Ace of Spades, was released in 1970. It was recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, and produced by studio co-owner Willie Mitchell. Royal Studios was considered by many to be the birthplace of Southern Soul. Mitchell, a trumpet player and a well regarded musician in his own right, was responsible for the superb horn arrangements throughout the record.
There’s a real down to earth, conversational tone to Wright’s voice.  With talent that easily contends with legendary souls singers like Otis Redding or Solomon Burke the fact that Wright never recorded for Stax Records, which was the label most associated with Southern Soul, was partially responsible for his relative obscurity.
Another reason was Wright’s long battle with drug abuse. He was imprisoned just a few years after the release of Nickel and a Nail, and even though he would go on to release a series of albums for the legendary Hi Records, he never broke through to a larger commercial audience. Sadly his struggles with drugs would plague him up to his death of heart failure at the age of 41.
Luckily, over fifty years later we have this beautiful reissue to appreciate one of my personal favorite soul singers of all time. This reissued is a chance to experience a forgotten legend who, criminally IMHO, has yet to be inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
– Major Matt

Olivia Rodrigo- Sour

Paul Bley- Live Again

Pharoah Sanders- Rejoice

Place to Bury Strangers- Hologram

Portishead- Dummy

Prince- Welcome 2 America

Queen Latifah- All Hail the Queen

Weekly Review:

Before she was known as an Oscar-nominated actress or talk show host, Queen Latifah was a rapper, and a darn good one at that. On her 1989 debut album, All Hail the Queen, Latifah aligned herself with the positive-minded, Afrocentric nature of the Native Tongues movement through collaborations with De La Soul and KRS-One.

Lead single and first cut “Dance For Me” sets the stage but the follow-up single “Ladies First” is where the album really took off. A duet with Monie Love, “Ladies First” is a feminist anthem that easily stands alongside other hard-hitting tracks of the era from Public Enemy and Eric B. and Rakim.

Other stand-out songs include “Wrath of My Madness” (later remixed by DJ Premier) and “Queen of Royal Badness.” Production from Prince Paul, Mark the 45 and Daddy-O ensure the music is just as on-point as Latifah’s rhymes.

From Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott to Nicki Minaj and Noname, the lineage of strong female rappers can be traced straight back to Latifah and All Hail the Queen. More than 30 years after its release, All Hail the Queen remains an essential addition for any hip-hop heads.- Joel Francis

Queen- Greatest Hits I

Richard Thompson- Mirror Blue

Weekly Review:

Guitar god and songwriting legend Richard Thompson’s seventh album was not well-received when it finally came out after a year-long delay in early 1994. Nearly 30 years later, the very element that made the album so disappointing at the time – the production – is why Mirror Blue is so intriguing today.

Buoyed by his Grammy-winning success with producer Mitchell Froom on his previous album, and inspired by Froom’s distinctive work with Susanne Vega and Los Lobos, Thompson employed even more experimental production on Mirror Blue. The most galling (or appealing) aspect lies in Pete Thomas’ drums. Thomas, a member of Elvis Costello’s Attractions, fluctuates in the mix. Sometimes his drums are dense, while in other places they are pushed so far into the background to be almost non-existent. A sudden – and very flat – splash of Thomas’ cymbal reminds you he’s there. Rather than using Thomas as a mere timekeeper, Froom and Thompson regard him as another texture to be applied to the songs.

The production never overshadows Thompson’s always stellar songwriting. “MGB-GT” is a fiddle-driven paean to a sports car. On “Mingus Eyes,” Thompson namechecks James Dean and Stanislavsky. Any hint of pretension, however, is wiped out by the tongue-in-cheek “Fast Food.” The heartbreaking “Taking My Business Elsewhere,” a portrait of a man who waits for a woman who never shows up, is one of Thompson’s most evocative songs. The best of the bunch is “Beeswing,” a beautiful folk ballad that also earned the name of Thompson’s recent memoir.- Joel Francis

Ron Henderson- Hooked On Your Love: Rare Tracks

Shinedown- Leave a Whisper

Sierra Ferrell- Long Time Coming

Skid Row- Skid Row

Weekly Review:

Skid Row debuted at the tail end of the golden age of hair metal and typified the sound of the times with songs aggressive enough to appeal to the boys, but with sweeping pop hooks that drew the ladies.

Released January, 1989, Skid Row featured three singles that received a lot of airplay – on both radio and MTV – at the time and have stuck around in pop culture as nostalgic favorites as well. Those three songs, “Youth Gone Wild,” “18 and Life” and “I Remember You,” will be a big reason why people pick up this new reissue, but there are some solid album tracks that complement the singles well.

Sebastian Bach’s theatric vocals are a big reason why Skid Row works so well, but the wailing guitars of Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill and songwriting and arrangements from bassist Rachel Bolan give Bach plenty of tough backing to work from.

This self-titled debut is very much of it’s time and likely won’t win many new fans 30 years later, but it holds up well and will conjure fond memories for those who wore out their hair metal cassettes back in the day.- Joel Francis

Snoop Dogg- The Last Meal

Son Volt- Straightaways

Weekly Review:

Frontman, guitarist and songwriter Jay Farrar walked away from beloved alt-country pioneers Uncle Tupelo and delivered the best album of his career with Son Volt’s debut, Trace. Straightaways had the difficult task of following that masterpiece and couldn’t help but look slight in comparison. 

In fact, the elements of Straightaways that were labeled as shortcomings when the album was released, nearly 25 years ago now contribute to its charm. Straightaways doesn’t mine any new sounds or bring anything fresh to Farrar’s songwriting. None of the songs reach out and grab the listener they way so many classics did on Trace. 

Because the songs on Straightaways are less immediate, they are more likely to marinate on the soul and seep in slower, yes, but also deeper. And by continuing the same approach to his material, Farar reveals in his craft the way he can project similar topics from different angles and approaches.

Aside from Farrar’s distinctive delivery, the real hero that makes Straightaways shine is Dave Boquist. From lap steel and fiddle to banjo and guitars, Boquist provides the shading, atmosphere and nuance to Farrar’s songs that invites repeated listening and allows the songs to creep in.

Measuring any of Son Volt’s albums against Trace is a fool’s errand and misses the point. Straightaways is an enjoyable album for anyone who appreciates the No Depression movement from one of its strongest leaders.- Joel Francis

Steve  Reid and The Legendary Master Brotherhood – Nova
Steve Reid was one of the of baddest Jazz drummers to ever ticke the skins. His list of credentials run longer than both my arms including, Dionne Warwick, Horace Silver, Charles Tyler, Quincy Jones, and Freddie Hubbard, in addition to Broadway stage work.
Born in the South Bronx and raised in Queens, NY. In the 1960’s, Ried got his start in the house band of the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, NYC where he accompanied everyone from James Brown to the Sun Ra Arkestra.  Ried has rubbed elbows with the likes of John Coltrane and Ornete Coleman and even worked as session drummer for Motown where he appeared on the legendary track Heatwave by Martha and the Vandellas.
Reid’s drumming career took a turn in the late 60’s when he was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison for being a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War.
After his release from prison in 1974 he formed a new band called the Legendary Master  Brotherhood. He also started his own record label called Musteic Sound and in 1976 released his debut album Nova.
Sounds of Soul have recently reissued a new edition of this Nova available as a 1000 copies edition only on new premium RED vinyl!
A nova is a transient astronomical event that causes the sudden appearance of a bright, apparently “new” star, that slowly fades over several weeks or many months.
The title track comes on like carnival caravan coming over the hill. A cacophony of horns held down by a loosely played Afro-Cuban style piano.
Track 2 Lions of Cuba is a searing funk jazz inspired track with a stabbing organ part and pulsating bass that conjures up visions of The Streets of San Francisco soundtrack on acid.
Track 3 Free Spirits brings the mood back down but then slowly builds into another explosive journey. Reid is rillt pushing the boundaries of jazz drumming with a relentless four on the floor kick pattern that launches their song into another world.
The final track, Sixth House,  is an eight minute freak out that would not be out of place on a Sun Ra album.
During the final chapters of his life Ried would go on the collaborate with Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) on a number of albums until passing if throat cancer in 2010.
This record is a great opportunity to hear a real star of modern jazz in his own early “Nova” state.
– Major Matt

Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain

The Black Keys- Delta Kream

The Brian Jonestown Massacre- Take It from the Man

The Rolling Stones- Goats Head Soup

The Verve- Urban Hymns

The Weeknd- After Hours

Thelonious Monk- Alone In San Francisco + Bonus Tracks

Thelonious Monk- Genius of Modern Music 2

Tom Petty- Wildflowers & All The Rest

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