It’s Sun Ra New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
ABBA – Gold: Greatest Hits
Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (Black, Magenta, Pink Colored Vinyl)
All Time Low – Nothing Personal (Neon Purple Vinyl)
Aretha Franklin – Her Ultimate Collection (180 Gram Vinyl, Red Colored Vinyl)
Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers- The Big Beat
Bo Burnham – Inside (The Songs) (Gatefold LP Jacket)
Beyoncé – Homecoming: The Live Album (140 Gram Vinyl, With Booklet)
Curtis Harding – If Words Were Flowers (Red Vinyl)
pandemic hit in 2020. Observing what was happening around him, Harding dumped some songs,
reworked others and came up with some new songs that reflected the new paradigm.
If Words Were Flowers blends soul, garage rock, hip hop and psychedelia into powerful statements of
unguarded emotion. Across its 11 songs and 40 minutes, Flowers pays homage to old school R&B while
simultaneously pushing the boundaries forward.
The album’s theme comes through in its succinct song titles: “Hopeful,” “Explore,” “It’s a Wonder,” “I
Won’t Let You Down.” One the love song “The One,” Harding sings “I know loneliness but I’m going to
try my best/to be all that you need and a good friend.”
This sentiment could easily get syrupy if the production wasn’t so varied and engaging. Single “Where is
the Love” imagines Gil Scott-Heron’s career on the Daptone label, while “So Low” envisions Funkadelic
as a jazz combo.
Harding’s adventurous music doesn’t fit into any radio formats, which means he will likely be overlooked
by the masses. That’s too bad, because If Flowers Were Words offers comfort to listener’s hearts while
challenging their ears. -Joel Francis
Bad Brains- Bad Brains
Bush – Razorblade Suitcase (in Addition) (Colored Vinyl, Pink)
Less than a year after the death of Kurt Cobain, British rock quartet Bush rode in the wake of grunge
with a debut album that sold six million albums and spawned two massive singles. Two years later, they
were obliged to do it all over again and asked Nirvana’s recording engineer (don’t call him a producer)
The resulting album, Razorblade Suitcase, was even bigger than the band’s debut, containing three top-
five hits on the modern rock charts, and planting the band atop festival lineups around the world.
Razorblade Suitcase got Bush pegged as Nirvana knockoffs, which isn’t high praise but hardly the sin
some made it out to be at the time since, you know, Nirvana wasn’t going to be making any new
material. The band did a good job picking the singles – “Swallowed” and “Mouth” are two of the best
songs on Razorblade Suitcase. The smoldering “Cold Contagious” is another stand-out track.
In recognition of Razorblade Suitcase’s 25 th anniversary, the album is being reissued with four bonus
tracks. Four of these songs were b-sides, but “Sleeper” was pulled from the vaults. These songs fit well
with the tone and spirit of the main album and add an extra 20 minutes to the listening experience. -Joel Francis
Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?
Thankfully, Idol retained his trademarked spike hair, but the former punk rocker is more Elvis Presley
than Johnny Rotten across these 16 songs. Unfortunately, when Idol swapped his black leather vest and
pants for a suit and tie, he also left any trace of the personality that made him a MTV staple in the
It’s hard to know what is more predictable – the song selection or the arrangements. These songs were
designed to slip inoffensively into 24/7 Christmas radio stations and box store playlists. Reading the song
titles on the back of the sleeve – “Silver Bells,” “Let it Snow,” “Silent Night” – you already know exactly
what they will sound like.
Idol comes in two flavors here, easy listening crooner or milquetoast rockabilly ruffian. As a crooner, Idol
falls far short of the mark established by the Rat Pack. As a rockabilly singer, Idol reminds listeners why
Brian Setzer has been so successful with his series of holiday albums.
There are two new songs on Happy Holidays, but neither of them are as good as “Yellin’ at the Christmas
Tree,” a rocking holiday number from Idol’s previous album. “On Christmas Day” is a weak attempt at
Neil Diamond and the title song sounds like a rejected number from the all-cast singalong at the end of a
To make matters worse, Idol didn’t even have the courage to recast “White Christmas” in the mode of
“White Wedding.” Shoppers who spy Happy Holidays on the shelves should give it a rebel yell and cry no
more, more, more. -Joel Francis
Calvin Keys – Proceed With Caution (Orange, Black Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Corinne Bailey Rae – Corinne Bailey Rae
Curtis Mayfield – Roots (Orange Colored Vinyl)
DaBaby- Blame It On Baby
Doors – L.A. Woman (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, With LP, Anniversary Edition)
1971’s L.A. Woman was not only the last album of music released in Jim Morrison’s lifetime, but the
Doors sixth studio release in just five years.
Musically, the album continues the deep blues vibe established on the band’s previous album, Morrison
Hotel, released just 14 months prior. The quartet goes deep into the blues on a cover of John Lee
Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake,” and the originals “Been Down So Long” and “Cars Hiss by My Window.”
L.A. Woman opens with the bluesy “The Changeling,” which is dominated by Ray Manzarek’s funky
Hammond organ and John Densmore’s insistent drumming. “Love Her Madly,” one of the band’s biggest
and most infectious singles is up next. Side one ends with the title track, a contender for the band’s
best-ever song. The second side ends with another of the Doors’ quintessential tracks, “Riders on the
This 50 th anniversary edition has a new mix by original producer Bruce Botnick and features two CDs of
previously unreleased outtakes. This well has been tapped on previous anniversary editions and the
material here suggests the bottom of the barrel is if not at hand, very nearby. A nearly 27-minute
version of “The Changeling” kicks off the first bonus disc. It’s joined by performances of “Love Her
Madly” and “Riders on the Storm” that hover around the 20-minute mark. Unfortunately, the
performances don’t have the focus or energy to justify their length. Many of the songs on the second
disc are more concise, but it quickly becomes evident that all the magic lies in the original album. -Joel Francis
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio – I Told You So
Eminem – The Slim Shady (Expanded Edition)
Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse
Frank Zappa – 200 Motels (Original Soundtrack) (Anniversary Edition)
The Fuzz – Levitation Sessions (Green, Purple Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Fela Kuti – Box Set 5
Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti was not only incredibly prolific during his lifetime, but his songs were very
lengthy, frequently consuming an entire side of an album. This makes creating an introductory
anthology challenging, so about a dozen years ago a new method took off: let a well-known musician
curate a vinyl box set of his or her favorite Kuti albums. Previous volumes have been helmed by Ahmir
“Questlove” Thompson, drummer for the Roots, Ginger Baker, Brian Eno and Erykah Badu. Now
Coldplay’s Chris Martin gets a turn for the fifth box set.
While Martin may not seem like and obvious choice, he gets an assist from co-curator Femi Kuti, Fela
Kuti’s son, who has kept his father’s legacy and music alive with a strong career of his own. Because the
previous four box sets have encompassed more than two dozen Kuti albums, this collection shines a
light on seven lesser-known albums.
Four of the albums here were released in 1975 and 1976 and showcase Kuti’s massive band in long
instrumental passages that feature exchanges between horns, drums and keyboards. Kuti’s political
lyrics were starting to make significant waves in the Nigerian government. The album Why Black Man
Dey Suffer was Kuti’s third platter. First released in 1971, Kuti’s is backed by just two horns and
legendary drummers Tony Allen, a longtime Kuti ally, and guest Ginger Baker.
The last two albums hail from the 1980s. Original Suffer Head is one of two albums Kuti released in 1981
and is a searing response to the Nigerian government’s latest attack on Kuti’s life and home. Overtake
Don Overtake Overtake dropped in 1989 and features two half-hour pieces that blur the lines between
funk, soul and jazz. It’s easy to get lost in these long grooves.
In the past, individual volumes from the box sets were released on their own. If this trend continues,
budget-minded fans should definitely snap up Overtake Don and Why Black Man. Fans with means
should go ahead and grab the entire seven-album set. -Joel Francis
Gregory Porter – Still Rising
Greta Van Fleet- The Battle At Garden’s Gate (White Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Jimi Hendrix- Are You Experienced
Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold As Love (180 Gram Vinyl)
J. Cole – The Off-Season]
James Brown – Soulful Christmas
Janis Joplin – Pearl (180g Box Set)
Joe Bonamassa – Time Clocks (Gatefold LP Jacket)
Jimmy Smith – Home Cookin’
Jazz organist Jimmy Smith was so talented and prolific that it is easy for his releases to blend together.
Smith had recorded extensively with guitarist Kenny Burrell and drummer Donald Bailey prior to this
1959 date (which was held in the vaults until 1961), but the trio elevates its game on Home Cookin’.
The slow blues of “See See Rider” kicks off the first side. Bailey locks the tempo in at a snail’s pace while
Smith starts exploring the lower register with his left hand. After almost a minute and half, Burrell enters
and tickles the fretboard at a leisurely pace. When Percy France’s tenor saxophone enters, the
transformation of your listening room to a smokey nightclub is complete.
Smith and Burrell’s mastery of the blues is so complete that there are many moments on Home Cookin’
that feel like they’d equally at home on the Alligator record label or Blue Note. For most of the album,
Smith and Burrell are more than happy to percolate at mid-tempo. France’s sax adds a different texture
on the three songs he appears on and varies the mood a bit.
With more than 80 albums to his name, Smith’s catalog can be intimidating. Home Cookin’ is a great
place to start. -Joel Francis
John Prine – Fair & Square (Green Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Kid Cudi – Man On The Moon III: The Chosen
Kendrick Lamar- Good Kid, M.A.A.D City
Kenny Cox – Introducing Kenny Cox and The Contemporary Jazz Quintet
Pianist Kenny Cox isn’t a well-known name in jazz circles, but a reissue of Cox’s debut album on Blue
Note records aims to boost his profile.
Backed by the Contemporary Jazz Quintet, Cox delivers a half dozen ensemble originals. Sonically, the
group resembles Miles Davis’ great 1960s quintet, but where Davis drove headlong into hard rock and
psychedelia, Cox took a detour through Memphis and the Stax sound. His playing frequently echoes
gospel chords. Drummer Danny Spencer rides the hi-hat on “Trance Dance” like the intro to “Shaft.”
There isn’t a bad track on the album, but a couple rise above the others. The gingerly avant-garde
“Number Four,” ironically the album’s fifth track, allows the ensemble to stretch out over nearly 11
minutes. Working in a completely different vein, “You” is a gentle ballad.
Introducing Kenny Cox was supposed to be the pianist’s coming out party, but it nearly wound up being
his swan song. Cox released just one more album on Blue Note, before returning to a role as a
supporting player in the 1970s and ‘80s. He later served as an adjunct music professor. -Joel Francis
Leon Bridges- Gold-Diggers Sound
LIL BABY / LIL DURK – The Voice Of The Heroes
Lonnie Smith – Breathe
Michael Jackson – Dangerous (180 Gram Vinyl)
Neutral Milk Hotel- In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Nirvana- In Utero
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Barn (Indie Exclusive, Special Edition, Photo Book)
Naughty By Nature – Naughty By Nature (30th Anniversary)
In the 30 years since Naughty by Nature unleashed their army with harmony, the New Jersey-based hip
hop trio has been reduced to a pair of novelty hits. This reductive history is unfair to these talented MCs,
as a quick survey of their self-titled debut quickly proves.
Naughty by Nature opens with the threatening, minimalist jam “Yoke the Joker.” The next song is a 180-
degree turn. “Wickedist Man Alive” bounces on a reggae beat and features Queen Latifah on the chorus.
This is the blueprint the Fugees rode to great success just a few years later.
After the spectacular “O.P.P.,” comes “Ghetto Bastard,” a song about kids growing up without fathers in
the inner city that rides a Bob Marley sample. If KRS-One was interested in making dance music, it would
sound a lot like this.
The jazz sample on “Everyday All Day” hints at an alternate career on the Native Tongues circuit. The
album closes with “Uptown Nature,” a song from the Juice soundtrack, which also featured Naughty MC
Treach in an acting role.
“O.P.P.” is such a strong song one could almost be justified for buying this album just for that song.
Fortunately, most of the other dozen songs are good enough to support the big hit. -Joel Francis
Olivia Rodrigo- Sour
Pink Floyd- Animals
Rush – 2112
Rival Sons – Pressure & Time (Pink Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Sun Ra – Omniverse
Sarah McLachlan – Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
Slowdive – Souvlaki [180 gram vinyl]
Tangerine Dream – Probe 6-8 (140gm Vinyl)
Tesla – Mechanical Resonance (Blue Colored Vinyl)
Tre Burt – You Yeah You (Red Colored Vinyl)
Taylor Swift- Red (Taylor’s Version)
Tom Petty – Wildflowers & All The Rest (Remastered)
Velvet Underground & Nico- The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Velvet Underground – Collected
The Velvet Underground – White Light / White Heat (Half-Speed Mastering)
Various Artists- Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix 1 (Original Soundtrack)
William Hooker – Big Moon
Ween – At The Cat’s Cradle, 1992 (Clear Vinyl)
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Which records, tapes, and CDs are your favorite local artists buying? On this episode of Record Shopping with Shuttlecock, we head to The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven (7621 Troost Ave., Kansas City, Missouri) with Kansas City-via-Chicago singer-songwriter Liam Kazar to do some digging. Tune in to find out what he copped. Liam Kazar’s debut album, Due North, is out now via Mare/Woodsist and is available at record stores and on all digital streaming platforms. Follow @ShuttlecockMag on social media and visit www.ShuttlecockMusic.com. Grab a t-shirt, button, or magazine from www.ShuttlecockMag.BigCartel.com to support the channel. Make sure to like, subscribe, and share.
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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