It’s Otis Redding New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Aretha Franklin – Sparkle (Clear Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
By the mid-1970s, soul legend Curtis Mayfield’s solo albums saw a dip in quality, but his pen remained
hot for other artists. In 1975, he gave the Staple Singers a No. 1 hit with “Let’s Do It Again,” the title song
to an underrated comedy film with Sidney Poitier (RIP) and Bill Cosby. The following year, Mayfield
helped give Aretha Franklin a much-needed shot in the arm with the Sparkle soundtrack.
As a film, Sparkle had little luster with critics or at the box office – the soundtrack is where it really
shines. Mayfield’s fingerprints are all over this album. It’s not hard to imagine him singing most of these
songs. The Queen of Soul adds power and, well, soul to Mayfield’s numbers.
It is evident from the first song, the title cut, that Sparkle is a special type of Franklin album. Her singing
is powerful and completely invested. Franklin’s albums since her masterpiece live gospel album Amazing
Grace had some good performances, but the singer didn’t always sound fully committed.
The sensuous ballad “Something He Can Feel” has become a staple of Franklin best-of collections, and
for good reason. While Franklin gets funky on “Jump,” for most of Sparkle she is head-over-heels in love
and only too proud to pour out her heart in mid-tempo love songs.
After Sparkle, Franklin moved in a disco direction before signing with Arista Records. She returned to the
charts several times, but the production on those records is very dated. Depending on your feelings of
Franklin’s ‘80s output (and beyond), Sparkle might be the last essential album in Franklin’s catalog.
Either way, it is worth owning. -Joel Francis
The Bad Plus – Activate Infinity
The Black Angels – Live At Levitation (Colored Vinyl, Limited Edition)
Buffalo Nichols – Buffalo Nichols
Busta Rhymes – When Disaster Strikes
Bob Marley- Best of Bob Marley
Bonobo – Fragments (Limited Edition, Colored Vinyl, 140 Gram Vinyl, Indie Exclusive, Digital Download Card)
Billie Eilish- Happier Than Ever Happier Than Ever (Brown Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs) (Gatefold LP Jacket
Beyoncé – B’day
Bad Brains – Bad Brains
The debut album from the Washington, D.C. punk quartet Bad Brains hits like a jackhammer to the head.
The rhythms are rapid and relentless and singer H.R.’s delivers lyrics somewhere between Joe Strummer
on “White Riot” and Twista on “Slow Jamz.”
Bad Brains first five songs blur past in under 10 minutes, all of them classics. “Banned in D.C.,” the
album’s fifth and greatest track, details how the band was blacklisted from so many clubs in the district.
After proving their punk credentials, Bad Brains shift course on “Jah Calling,” a dub reggae number.
Reggae had long been part of the punk repertoire, but few handled it better than Bad Brains. In fact, the
three reggae songs here comprise one-third of the album’s runtime.
The Bad Brains debut album not only jumpstarted the hardcore punk scene, but blazed a trail that’s
been followed – and feted – by everyone from the Beastie Boys, Nirvana and the Red Hot Chili Peppers
to Sublime, 311 and No Doubt. That’s an impressively wide path, and it should lead straight to your
turntable. -Joel Francis
Cat Power – Covers (Gold, 180 Gram Vinyl, Indie Exclusive, Digital Download Card)
Chicano Batman – Freedom Is Free (Pink, Blue Colored Vinyl)
Cowboy Junkies – Black Eyed Man
Cowboy Junkies – Caution Horses
Cowboy Junkies – Pale Sun Crescent Moon
Curtis Mayfield- There’s No Place Like America
Curtis Mayfield – Roots (Orange Vinyl)
Curtis Harding – If Words Were Flowers (Red Vinyl)
Calvin Arsenia – La Sessions
Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
Diana Krall – Live In Paris (180 Gram Vinyl)
Donald Byrd & Pepper Adams – Motor City Scene
David Bowie – Hunky Dory (2015 Remaster, Picture Disc Vinyl)
Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Boy Named If
Gang of Four – Entertainment
Ghost Bath – Moonlover (Black, Red, Colored Vinyl, Limited Edition)
Gorillaz – D-Sides
At the time of D-Sides’ original release, back in 2007, Gorillaz had as many collections of non-album and
remixed tracks as it did albums: two. Your milage on these collections depends on how much you buy
into former Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s rock/comic book/pop mash-up vision for the band.
A successor to 2002’s G-Sides, D-Sides draws from singles and ephemera surrounding Demon Days,
Gorillaz’ second album. Encompassing three platters, G-Sides is split equally, with three side each for b-
sides (and demos) and remixes.
Several of the b-sides feel like they could have fit on Demon Days. The upbeat “People” and “Highway
Under Construction)” – which finds Albarn experimenting with doo wop – could have worked well on
Demon Days, if they were given a little more work in the studio. Opening instrumental “68 State” places
Albarn’s sharp guitar skills against a drum machine and moody synthesizers. This hour of music doesn’t
quite feel like a lost Gorillaz album, but it’s fun finding the path Albarn ultimately followed through
these discarded scraps.
The remixes fare less well, if only because “D.A.R.E.” and “Kids with Guns” are each presented in three
versions. The remaining three songs in the set are given to “Feel Good, Inc.,” “El Manana” and “Dirty
Harry.” Albarn draws the A-listers for these remixes, with Hot Chip, Jamie T and James Murphy’s DFA.
Not all of these are essential, but they make for a good dance party and cast well-worn numbers in a
new light. -Joel Francis
Gorillaz – Song Machine, Season One (Deluxe Edition)
Great White – Great Zeppelin – Tribute to Led Zeppelin
The idea of Great White, a Top 40 hard rock band best known for a cover of Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten,
Twice Shy,” seems like a bit of an overreach. And while yes, Great White aren’t a band on par with Led
Zeppelin, Great Zeppelin is a surprisingly enjoyable listen.
Great White frontman Jack Russell’s have always carried more than a passing resemblance to Robert
Plant’s and Russell uses that to his advantage here. Great White deserve a lot of credit for their song
selection, too. This nine-song collection opens with “Living Loving Maid” and includes deep cuts such as
“Tangerine” and “When the Levee Breaks.”
The band does best on the delicate, acoustic numbers at the end of side one. Russell’s voice does most
of the heavy lifting here, making it easy to get lost in the songs’ intrinsic beauty. The quintet run into
some troubles on the more muscular numbers. The joyful bounce of John Bonham’s drums are sorely
missed on “D’yer Maker” and lead guitarist Mark Kendall stumbles in Jimmy Page’s shadow on “Since
I’ve Been Loving You.” A tromp through “Immigrant Song” sounds leaden, pardon the pun.
Recorded live at a small, southern California night club in 1996, witnessing Great Zeppelin in person
sounds like a wonderful evening. How often one will want to revisit these songs 25 years later depends
on how worn out the grooves are in the listener’s personal Zeppelin and Greta Van Fleet albums. -Joel Francis
Halford – Resurrection (Red Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Harmonia – Deluxe
Johnny Hammond – Gears
Jamire Williams – But Only After You Have Suffered
Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation 1814
Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (180 Gram Vinyl, Deluxe Edition, Digital Download Card)
Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold As Love (180 Gram Vinyl)
Jimi Hendrix – Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix [150 gram Vinyl]
John Coltrane – Lush Life
John Coltrane – “Live” At The Village Vanguard (Verve Acoustic Sounds Series)
John Coltrane – Crescent (Verve Acoustic Sounds Series)
Joy Division – Still
Like Nirvana, Joy Division enjoy an outsized reputation and legacy despite a slim catalog. Still is the first
Joy Division album released after frontman Ian Curtis’ suicide and rounds up 20 studio outtakes and live
The most interesting – and morbid – material here is the material recorded live at High Hall at the
University of Birmingham on May 2, 1980. This was Joy Division’s final concert. Just 16 days later, Curtis
Songs from the Birmingham show fill all of Still’s second LP and while they are certainly of great
historical note, the sound quality is a little rough. The balance and mix are uneven. Curtis’ vocals are off
mic during the first half of an otherwise gripping performance of “Ceremony” – the song that would
become New Order’s first single.
The studio material on the first LP is sonically better but less cohesive. Songs that appeared as b-sides or
on label samplers appear next to works-in-progress. Because Joy Division only released two studio
albums and fistful of singles, any official additions to the category are worth exploring. However,
newcomers are better off starting with Unknown Pleasures and Closer and before winding up at Still. -Joel Francis
Kurt Vile and Steve Gunn – Gunn Vile (Purple Colored Vinyl, Digital Download Card)
Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp a Butterfly
The Lumineers – Brightside (Oceania Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Lonnie Smith – Breathe
Lady Wray – Queen Alone
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin I (180 Gram Vinyl, Remastered)
Mitski – Puberty 2
Miles Davis and Michel Legrand – Dingo: Selections From The Motion Picture Soundtrack (180 Gram Vinyl, Red Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
The Monkees – Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn And Jones Ltd. (Indie Exclusive)
My Morning Jacket – Z (Purple Colored Vinyl, Limited Edition, 180 Gram Vinyl, Reissue)
Mr. Bungle – California
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Picture Disc)
Olivia Rodrigo- Sour
Otis Redding – Best Of Otis Redding (Indie Exclusive)
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon
Pink Floyd- A Momentary Lapse Of Reason (180 Gram Vinyl, With Booklet, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Prince – Purple Rain (Picture Disc Vinyl LP)
Robert Plant- Raise The Roof (Gatefold LP Jacket, 180 Gram Vinyl)
Richard Hell & The Voidoids – Blank Generation (Indie Exclusive)
Sun Ra – Monorails & Satelites: Works for Solo Piano Vol. 1 2 3
Smoke Dza & Curren$Y – Prestige Worldwide (Colored Vinyl, Limited Edition, 150 Gram Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Sam Cooke – Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964
Taylor Swift – Folklore (Beige Colored Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Twenty One Pilots – Vessel (FBR 25th Anniversary Edition, Silver Colored Vinyl)
Twisted Sister – Greatest Hits -Tear It Loose (Atlantic Years) (Red Clear Vinyl, Limited Edition)
Thelonious Monk – Misterioso
Thelonious Monk – Monks Dream
the movie’s themes of loneliness and alienation.
This 15-song collection is anchored by four pieces My Bloody Valentine guitarist Kevin Shields wrote for
the film. Many of the selections are more mood pieces than formally structured songs, but woven
together they make for a rich and rewarding listen.
Some of the stand-out moments include the layered, washed-out guitars on Death in Vegas’ “Girls.” This
is the dreamy shoegaze everyone wanted Shields to make at the time. My Bloody Valentine’s
“Sometimes” and the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey” were recorded more than a decade
before Coppola started rolling film, but enhance the film’s aesthetic.
Several delicate, intimate numbers complement the shoegaze. Air’s “Alone in Kyoto,” Shields’ “Ikebana”
and Sebastien Tellier’s “Fantino” blend acoustic guitars and organs to create statements that are
somehow warm and isolating at the same time. The Japanese song “Kaze Wo Atsumete” by Happy End
sounds like a curio rescued from a Wes Anderson project. The straight-up pop Phoenix’ “Too Young”
doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the pieces, but does a good job of breaking up and shifting the mood.
Lost in Translation works both as a film and a soundtrack because it connects with that inner core of our
being, either because it is a place one explores often or it is the last frontier, confronted when we’ve run
out of options and there’s no one else around. Even in a city of 14 million people, like Tokyo. -Joel Francis
Various – Juno soundtrack
The 2007 film Juno was the indie-est of indie comedies, so it follows that the soundtrack is loaded with
Pitchfork-approved favorites, such as Kimya Dawson, Belle and Sebastian, Cat Power and Sonic Youth.
Dawson is the collection’s lynchpin, both on her own and in her groups The Moldy Peaches and Antsy
Pants. Dawson is on eight (nine, counting a cover) of the soundtrack’s 19 selections, so your enjoyment
here is mostly dependent on your Dawson appreciation quotient.
Dawson’s lo-fi, childlike approach to songwriting and performing complements the titular character, a
pregnant teenager suddenly grappling with very adult pressures and decisions. The rest of the
soundtrack is split between classic rock numbers from the Kinks, Buddy Holly and Mott the Hoople and
indie rock gems. The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Sticking with You” manages to land firmly in both
While the jumps from Dawson to Sonic Youth and back, or from Belle and Sebastian to “All the Young
Dudes” may not entirely stick the landing, the Juno soundtrack winds up being quirky, awkward and
ultimately endearing – just like the film itself. -Joel Francis
Weekly Review #2:
band – and auteur Rob Zombie – a household name. While they certainly weren’t the first band to
combine b-grade horror films and metal, no one else in this vein sounded like they were having more
From the go-go dancers in short shorts in the “Thunderkiss ‘65” music video to song titles like “Welcome
to Planet M.F.” and “Grindhouse (A Go-Go),” it was always unclear whether White Zombie wanted to
mutilate or play with their victims. Ultimately, it was probably a lot of both.
Sonically, La Sexorcisto draws heavily from Danzig and Ministry. The live guitars and drums pack plenty
of wallop, but electronic, danceable elements are present as well. White Zombie are basically a one-trick
pony, with Zombie’s spoken/sung lyrics over gloomy guitars and infectious choruses that shake off
(most) of the darkness. Fortunately, White Zombie do this trick very, very well. If this sounds like fun to
you, La Sexorcisto: Devil Music, Vol. 1 offers it up 11 times (plus three spoken interludes). -Joel Francis
The White Stripes – Elephant
The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan (180-gram)
The White Stripes – Icky Thump
The Wombats – Fix Yourself Not The World
Weldon Irvine – The Sisters
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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, Dave and Lain