St. Vincent New Vinyl Thursday

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

Adele- 25

Amy Winehouse- At the BBC

Weekly Review:

It is difficult to fathom this summer will mark a decade since Amy Winehouse’s premature passing. That her recordings continue to resonate speak to her artistry. Winehouse left such a small catalog any additions are welcome. A three-album collection, At the BBC captures her in her prime and element.

The first record contains material curated by British keyboard legend Jools Holland that Winehouse performed on his show. For the majority of these songs, Winehouse is backed by a jazz combo, which gives the familiar songs a unique feel. In these hands, the reggae standard “Monkey Man” swings like a Duke Ellington tune. One of the best moments is a brief, impromptu version of “Tenderly,” where Winehouse is accompanied only by Holland’s (overly busy) piano.

The second volume is a best-of other BBC appearances. Several of the performances are from outdoor festival appearances, but the real gems are the studio jazz numbers. Winehouse turns her own “Love is a Losing Game” into a torch song and shines singing “I Should Care” and “Lullaby of Birdland” with a big band. 

Disc three contains an entire Winehouse theater concert broadcast by the BBC. While there is some duplication – ““Rehab,” “Love is a Losing Game” and “Tears Dry On Their Own” all appear on each platter – the delivery is strong and nuanced enough that it never feels like overkill. Let’s face it, if you’re bothered by three versions of “Rehab,” this set probably isn’t for you.

At the BBC is an outstanding live compliment to Winehouse’s studio legacy and a fine capsule of her artistry on its own.- Joel Francis

Andrew Hill- Passing Ships

Weekly Review:

Blue Note Records observed its 80th birthday back in 2019, but the celebration continues with more titles included in the excellent Tone Poets reissue series. This month’s additions are Dexter Gordon’s 1964 release One Flight Up and Andrew Hill’s Passing Ships, recorded in 1969.

Pianist Hill made his name working with small combos, but in the late ‘60s, he was feeling restless and wanted to stretch out. Earlier in 1969, he recorded Lift Every Voice, an album where the vocalists outnumbered the instrumentalists. 

For Passing Ships, Hill wrote for an expanded lineup that included tuba, French horn and trombone. The music is ambitious, but rewarding. Hill uses the extra horns to blur the line between harmony and dissonance. Hill wouldn’t lead an ensemble this large again until 2003, when, coincidentally, Passing Ships also finally saw release.

In the mid-1960s, Gordon left America and its culture of racism for Europe. One Flight Up is Gordon’s second album recorded in Paris, and you feel his newfound sense of freedom Gordon’s lengthy solos on the easy-traveling “Tanya.” The second song, pianist Kenny Drew’s “Coppin’ the Haven” also became a bop staple. A relatively short reading of the ballad “Darn that Dream” completes this stellar set.

As with previous Tone Poets releases, both the music and packaging has been remastered. The album photos pop off the page with startling clarity, while the music is of audiophile quality at reasonable pricing. Whether you have a state-of-the-art setup or a more modest system, dropping the needle on a Tone Poet album will take you straight to Birdland.- Joel Francis

Annette Peacock- The Perfect Release (Colored Vinyl, Red)

Annette Peacock- X-dreams (Colored Vinyl, Red)

Arctic Monkeys- Am

Babymetal- 10 Babymetal Years [Limited Crystal Clear Vinyl]

Bill Evans- Sunday at Village Vanguard

Blurt- Live in Berlin

Bob Marley- Best of Bob Marley

Bob Mould- Distortion

Weekly Review:

The final installment of Bob Mould’s career-spanning box sets, Distortion: 2008-2016 finds the former Husker Du legend returning to his roots, reflecting and settling in with a steady rhythm section.

This seven-LP collection opens with District Line. After working in electronic music for nearly a decade, 2008’s District Line sees Mould relying more on guitars, although several electronic elements remain. Mould picks up drummer John Wurster on 2009’s Life and Times and begins writing in a more reflective manner, letting the past inform the present – while still rocking mightily.

Wurster remains a crucial part of the Mould trio today. Bass player Jason Narducy, the final member of Mould’s current trio, joined on 2012’s Sliver Age. That album started a trio of releases informed by the release of Mould’s autobiography (well worth reading) and the deaths of his parents. 2019’s Sunshine Rock dropped near the doorstep of Mould’s 60th birthday and as the title implies finds him wearing a smile on his face and his heart on his sleeve.

Distortion: 2008-2019 is a compelling portrait of Mould aging gracelessly. While Mould’s roar is now more likely to come from his guitar than his throat, his music remains both vital and accessible.- Joel Francis

The Black Keys- Delta Kream (Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)

The Black Keys- Rubber Factory

Busta Rhymes- Extinction Level Event 2: The Wrath of God (Split Black & White Vinyl)

Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Deja Vu – 50th Anniversary (Boxed Set, Deluxe Edition)

Chris Stapleton- Traveller

Danny Elfman- Edward Scissorhands (30th Anniversary Deluxe) (Original Soundtrack) (Blue)

David Bowie- Labyrinth

Dinosaur Jr.- Sweep It into Space

Weekly Review:

Sometimes it’s fun when bands change their sound and work with new producers from one album to another. But then again, it’s also encouraging to find a band that just sticks to what it does well. Dinosaur Jr. is one such band that’s reliable, like an old friend.

That’s why fans took note when the band announced that it would be working with Kurt Vile for its new record. Not that Vile is a trendy producer who’d steer the ship in some commercial direction, it’s just that *any* change to Dinosaur Jr.’s formula is newsworthy. As it turns out, Vile’s influence on Sweep It into Space may have been chiefly to bring (just a little) clarity and a few dueling riffs.

Recorded just before and during the pandemic, it’s not surprising there seems to be a theme of isolation, hiding, and losing yourself in some of the songs. The sound of the record is pretty typical of the band; they’re all grungy pop songs for the most part. As with most other Dinosaur Jr. records, it’s easy to hear the band’s influence on Kurt Cobain and 90s alternative rock, in general.

The consistency in sound on the record makes flourishes more prominent, like the acoustic rhythm guitar in “And Me” that recalls The Smiths’ “Bigmouth Strikes Again” and the piano in the poppy “Take It Back.” The vocals also sit very high in the mix on Sweep It into Space, so not just mixed as just another instrument. And Lou Barlow’s two songs, “Garden” and “You Wonder,” are softer (maybe pensive?) numbers that serve as a bit of a contrast to J. Mascis’ more straight-ahead rock songs. It’s been 15 years since the band reunited for its excellent comeback album, Beyond. Since then, these original bandmembers have stuck together five times longer than their initial run. There’s a joke here about Dinosaur Jr. not simply being just another dinosaur act, but that joke can write itself as the band keeps making consistently good albums.- Jonathon Smith

Deftones- White Pony

Elliott Smith- Either/Or

Eminem- Music To Be Murdered By – Side B (Deluxe Edition, Colored Vinyl, Gray)

Etta James- Collected [180-Gram Black Vinyl] [Import]

First Aid Kit- The Big Black and the Blue

Weekly Review:

It is not uncommon to hear a music fan say he or she prefers an artist’s early work better. While there is often an allure to a more raw and allegedly honest approach found in the first few releases, the importance of growing as a songwriter and musician should not be overlooked. 

Take, for example, the first two releases from Swedish female folk duo First Aid Kit. The pair’s debut EP The Drunken Trees and initial LP The Big Black and the Blue are getting long-awaited vinyl reissues. The Soderberg sisters were still teenagers when these recordings came out, and you can tell. The Drunken Trees is especially rough going. The harmonies sound like they were pulled from a middle school choir and the songwriting is rudimentary.

Release two years later, The Big Black and Blue is a considerable step forward. The two voices blend effortlessly, the songwriting is sturdier and arrangements more sophisticated. There are still some lyrical kinks – the chorus of “Hard Believer” espouses “life is rough/time is tough” – but over all the album is a fine, if unremarkable, statement.

Normally the kind of peeks behind the curtain these reissues contain are released long after an artist is established. Finding one’s way is an important part of growing as a young artist, but The Drunken Trees and The Big Black and Blue work best as historical documents. Newcomers are advised to start with Stay Gold and Ruins, where the performances are more confident and mastery more pronounced.- Brad Simmons

Fleetwood Mac- Rumours

Foo Fighters- Medicine At Midnight

Frankie and the Witch Fingers- Monsters Eating People Eating Monsters

Gil Evans Orchestra- Out Of The Cool

Green Day- Insomniac (25th Anniversary)

Greta Van Fleet – The Battle at Garden’s Gate

Tucked near the end of the second verse in Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” are references to The Lord of the Rings. Robert Plant’s love of mythology has now become an open secret. Since they’ve never been able to resist a Zeppelin trope they couldn’t dial up to 11 and blast to Valhalla, Greta Van Fleet have run with this idea on their second album.

On the closing track “The Weight of Dreams,” a cautionary tale about wealth and materialism, Josh Siska intones “Gold mines melting men in the sunshine/ Spoiled wine tastes so sweet, we have gone blind.” On “Light My Love” he extols “Your mind is a stream of colors/Extending beyond our sky.” Granted, neither of these lyrics extend to the realm of J.R.R. Tolkien, but it is interesting to see the band doubling down on what was perceived to be their biggest weakness, both sonically and lyrically.

Wish “Stairway to Heaven” had a sequel? Go straight to track three, “Broken Bells.” Need more “Black Dog”? Stick around for track four, “Built by Nations.” 

In these regards, The Battle at Garden’s Gate is a lot like the fifth Twilight book. It can be easily dismissed by the haters and rabidly devoured by the believers. Where do you come down?- Joel Franics

Guided by Voices-Earth Man Blues

The Grateful Dead- Anthem Of The Sun

Guns N Roses- Greatest Hits

Ian Noe- Between The Country

Imagine Dragons- Evolve

Immanuel Wilkins- Omega

Jlin- Black Origami

Joe Harriott- Southern Horizons

Juliana Hatfield- Blood (Black, Sticker)

Kanye West- College Dropout

Kendrick Lamar- Damn

Kendrick Lamar- Good Kid, M.A.A.D City

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Demos Vol 1 & 2 [Limited Orange Marble Colored Vinyl]

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Teenage Gizzard (Pink & Yellow Color Vinyl)

Lauryn Hill- Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

The Lillingtons- Can Anybody Hear Me (A Tribute To Enemy You)

Led Zeppelin- Led Zeppelin 1 (Remastered)

London Grammar- Californian Soil

Macy Gray- Stripped

Menahan Street Band- Make The Road By Walking

Mick Fleetwood- Celebrate the Music of Peter Green and the Early Years of Fleetwood Mac

Barely two weeks before the world shut down last year, Mick Fleetwood brought an A-list of guitarists onstage to celebrate the music and legacy of Peter Green and the founding era of Fleetwood Mac.

Some of the guests and songs are expected – ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Steven Tyler doing “Rattlesnake Shake” is right out of central casting. But the majority of the songs desperately need this exposure to keep them from being forgotten. And Fleetwood consistently finds the right people to deliver them, even if the connection isn’t obvious. 

Noel Gallagher delivers a pair of laid-black blues songs and Pete Townshend demonstrates the connection between “Station Man” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Metallica’s Kirk Hammett plays his Les Paul guitar formerly owned by Green on “The Green Machine.” David Gilmour from Pink Floyd steps in for the second half of “Oh Well” and, later, “Albatross.”

While the celebration has plenty of star-power, it wouldn’t matter if the songs weren’t up to snuff. Fortunately, the two-hour, four-album collection is packed to the brim with great material, making it a worthwhile addition for any blues or British rock fan. -Joel Francis

Miles Davis- Kind Of Blue

Mother Mother- Eureka (10 Year Anniversary) (Translucent Green Vinyl)

Nick Drake- Bryter Layter

Nina Simone- Sings the Blues

Nirvana- Bleach

Norma Tanega- Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog (Limited Edition)

The Offspring- Conspiracy Of One

Paul McCartney & Linda- Ram (50th Anniversary Half-speed Master Edition) (Indie Exclusive)

Pink Floyd- Dark Side of the Moon

The Pogues- If I Should Fall from Grace with God

Post Malone- Beerbongs & Bentleys

Prep – Prep

The British pop quartet Prep dropped a silky, smooth debut last album that is now seeing vinyl release. The ten songs on the self-titled album are driven by keyboards, synthesizers and a very 1980s production aesthetic.

When Prep get things right – and they frequently do – their songs recall the carefree moments from the band fun.’s album Some Nights or Hall and Oates videos shot at the local mall. Funky guitar lines snake behind fat synths and treble-heavy drums. “Carrie” rides a peppy piano rhythm to a chorus that could be a sitcom theme song. Standout cut “Years Don’t Lie” has a groove that sprays sunshine and feels like the climax of a John Hughes film.

Electronic sounds straight out of Stevie Wonder’s playbook pop up in “Rain” and “Pictures of You.” The introduction to “Danny Came Up” could have been lifted from a Peter Gabriel b-side and the electric piano solo that appears later on the track could have been sampled from a Bob James album.

If Prep has a downside, it is that sometimes the songs are so light and airy the album threatens to float away. Adding some heavier textures or shade to the arrangements would add much-needed weight to the project. Nevertheless, Prep’s debut will appeal to fans of ‘80s pop who either caught it the first time around or enjoyed its many revivals.- Joel Francis

Prince- Purple Rain

Queens of the Stone Age- Like Clockwork

R+R=now- R+R=Now Live

Rage Against the Machine- The Battle Of Los Angeles

Ray Charles- Genius + Soul = Jazz

Roky Erickson- The Evil One (Purple Haze Vinyl)

Ron Miles- Rainbow Sun

Royal Blood- Typhoons

Ryan Adams- Wednesdays (With Bonus 7″)

Sade- The Best of Sade

Saint Etienne- Continental

Sam Jones- Visitation

Sarah Jarosz- Build Me Up From Bones

Seatbelts-Cowboy Bebop (Red and Purple “Swordfish/ Red Tail” variant)

Seiche- Demo Press (Black, Poster)

Selena- Ones

Sons of Kemet- Black To The Future

St. Vincent- Daddy’s Home (Smoke Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive, )

Sturgill Simpson- Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

Sublime- Sublime

Tyler, The Creator- Flower Boy

Tyler, The Creator- Igor

Various Artists – Impulse Records: Music, Message And The Moment (Boxed Set)

Waxahatchee- Saint Cloud

Weeknd- Starboy

Weezer- Ok Human

Weezer- Van Weezer


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Sherman, Gordon, Cat, Matt, Dylan, Doyle, Heather, Dave and Max

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