It’s Tesla New Vinyl Thursday at The Vinyl Underground at 7th Heaven. Check out this week’s list of new vinyl arrivals:
Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers – First Flight To Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings
Aretha Franklin – Her Ultimate Collection
This year’s been a big one for the Queen of Soul. Aretha Franklin received the biopic treatment in
Respect and a new box set tied to the film’s release. At first blush, Her Ultimate Collection appears to be
an ideal single-LP consolidation of the box set, but a closer look is warranted.
Far from ultimate, this compilation focuses on the back portion of Franklin’s career, spanning the 1980s
all the way up to her final album in 2014. By rounding up a baker’s dozen of her best cuts – many of
which happen to be duets – this set winds up showcasing Franklin’s skills as a vocal partner as well.
Franklin’s performance with Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart on “Sisters are Doin’ It For Themselves” is a
classic slice of ‘80s girl power. The New Jack Swing production on “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never
Gonna Be” can’t disguise the generic song underneath, but it’s still thrilling to hear Franklin trade lines
with Whitney Houston. “Love All the Hurt Away” with George Benson winds up being more adult
contemporary than quiet storm, but Keith Richards brings out Franklin’s best on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.”
Solo hits “Freeway of Love” and “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” rode synthesizers and splashy production into
the Top 10. “A Deeper Love” is an early ‘90s dance floor classic and “A Rose is Still a Rose” pairs Franklin
with Lauryn Hill’s songwriting and production.
There are a couple missteps in this set. A very, very 1980s remake of “Think” never should have
happened, let alone appear here. For some reason, Franklin (or her producers) decided to pair Adelle’s
“Rolling in the Deep” with “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” confusing the song’s message and spoiling
an otherwise stellar performance.
Her Ultimate Collection winds up being a good overview of this commercially successful but artistically
suspect period of Franklin’s career. Because the production is very much of the era, this set displays how
the Queen of Soul could still sound at home and remain powerful despite changing trends. The final
chapters in Franklin’s career are ripe for cherry-picking and this collection winds up being a nice
companion to her more celebrated Atlantic era. -Joel Francis
Billie Eilish – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (Colored Vinyl)
Billie Eilish- Happier Than Ever
Bob Dylan – The Essential Bob Dylan
Booker Ervin – Book Cooks
Cairo Free Jazz Ensemble – Music For Angela Davis
Chvrches- Screen Violence
Curtis Harding – If Words Were Flowers
Childish Gambino – Awaken My Love
Childish Gambino – Because the Internet
Curtis Mayfield – Roots
Sandwiched between Curtis Mayfield’s confident solo debut and his blockbuster Super Fly soundtrack,
Roots is an overlooked gem in the soul legend’s catalog.
With the exception of funky opener “Get Down,” none of the remaining six songs jump out and grab the
listener, but there is an understated power and beauty to this material. “Keep On Keeping On” feels like
the spiritual successor to Mayfield’s earlier “Keep on Pushing” with the Impressions. Mayfield’s faith in a
better future is reinforced in the gentle, yet firm, prayer “We Got to Have Peace.”
The soaring “Beautiful Brother of Mine” celebrates the strength and resilience of the Black community.
The album closes on “Love to Keep You in my Mind,” a celebration of romantic love and of a creator who
provides the beautiful support and partnership so vitally needed.
Roots isn’t as celebrated as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot
Going On or Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions, but Mayfield’s second album deserves a space in every
socially conscious soul collection. -Joel Francis
Charley Crockett – Welcome To Hard Times
The Cure – Head on the Door
The Cure – Seventeen Seconds (180 Gram Vinyl)
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio – I Told You So
Doris Duke – Legend in Her Own Time
Eric Dolphy & The Latin Jazz Quintet – Caribé
Eminem – The Slim Shady LP (Expanded Edition)
More than two decades after Marshall Mathers shocked and thrilled audiences with The Slim Shady LP,
Eminem’s major-label debut is back as an expanded reissue.
Part of The Slim Shady LP’s brilliance lies in how Em could play both sides of the coin. Em didn’t invent
pop rap or shock rap, but no one put both camps in one place before him – or done both as well since.
The Slim Shady LP uses the pop material to buoy the darker songs. A song like “’97 Bonnie and Clyde,”
where Em fantasizes about killing his wife and taking their daughter along to dispose of the body is only
palatable because of the sarcastic “My Name Is.” The hit “Guilty Conscious” contains both aspects of the
Shady persona in one song: a pop hit wrapped around a morality play with Em playing the devil and
mentor/album producer Dr. Dre as the angel.
The real treat for longtime fans arrives on the third LP of this expanded edition, which is filled with a
capella versions, instrumentals, the freestyle “Get You Mad” and a song from The Wild Wild West
What made The Slim Shady LP even more engaging/threatening at the time was that it was hard to tell
what was the joke and what was reality. More than 20 years on, we know much more of the Mathers
biography and his more recent material has been all the poorer for it. Listening to The Slim Shady LP is
like walking into a time capsule, riding the emotions of the time through the filter of knowledge and
experience gained in the years since. -Joel Francis
The Fuzz – Levitation Sessions (Green, Purple, Colored Vinyl, Indie Exclusive)
Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones (Yellow Clear Vinyl, 180 Gram Vinyl, Indie Exclusive, Anniversary Edition)
Guru Guru – UFO (Colored Vinyl, Deluxe Edition)
Greta Van Fleet- The Battle At Garden’s Gate
Jonny Greenwood – There Will Be Blood (Original Motion Picture Score)
John Prine – Fair & Square
In 2005, singer/songwriter John Prine ended his decade-long drought of original material with the
dozen-song album Fair and Square. A new vinyl reissue adds six bonus cuts from those same sessions,
without sacrificing any of the original release’s quality.
Like many Prine albums, Fair and Square contains subtle brilliance. It is a pleasing upon first listen, but
certain parts grab hold and gnaw at the subconscious. Subsequent listens gradually reveal more
cleverness and the album becomes more delightful with each spin.
“Takin’ a Walk” is a good example of Fair and Square’s unassuming charm. At first blush, it appears to be
a charming, low-key song, but then verses like this settle in and warm the heart:
I wish you could have been there
When she opened up the door
And looked me in the face
Like she never did before
I felt about as welcome
As a Wal-Mart Superstore
The subject of “Crazy as a Loon” crosses the continent looking for a place to fit in, only to finally discover
peace fishing under a Canadian moon. It’s the kind of song that Woody Guthrie would appreciate. The
titular “Safety Joe” could have been in another Guthrie song: a cautious man who “wore a seatbelt
around his heart” where Prine manages to rhyme chewy with St. Louie.
Fair and Square is not only a welcome return from the pen of one of music’s great songwriters, but it is a
consistent, reliable source of joy each time it is played. -Joel Francis
Jimi Hendrix- Are You Experienced
Jimi Hendrix – Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix [150 gram Vinyl]
James Brown – A Soulful Christmas
With three Christmas albums in his catalog and poorly timed demise on Christmas Day, 2006, it could be
argued that the Hardest Working Man in Show Biz gave Santa Claus a run for his money.
A Soulful Christmas is just as much a James Brown album as it is a holiday release. Brown likely drew
upon his memories of Christmas Days with no presents as he pleaded “Santa Claus Go Straight to the
Ghetto” on the opening cut.
Nearly all of these 11 originals fuse a holiday message with Brown’s signature funk. “Soulful Christmas”
could have been named “Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag” if Gary Walker hadn’t beat Brown to the title
(and arrangment) two years earlier. Even the Pentecostal “Believers Shall Enjoy (Non Believers Shall
Suffer)” is an instrumental medley of Christmas melodies. The blue shuffle “Santa Claus, Santa Claus”
throws back to Brown’s time with the Famous Flames.
The one exception to the yuletide theme is the album’s best track. The civil rights anthem “Say It Loud
(I’m Black and I’m Proud) (parts 1 and 2)” has nothing to do with any holiday, but makes a powerful
statement regardless of the day of the year.
A Soulful Christmas has more than enough groove to make even the biggest Scrooge shuffle his or her
feet and is guaranteed to get the holiday party going. -Joel Francis
James Brown – Get On The Good Foot
Kendrick Lamar- Damn.
Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon, Vol. 3: The Chosen
East Coast rapper Kid Cudi built his 2009 debut album Man on the Moon: End of the Day upon the
sparse production and emotional vulnerability he helped craft on Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreaks
the year before. Just a year later, Cudi delivered Man on the Moon, Vol. 2: The Legend of Mr. Rager.
After dropping four LPs in as many years and an EP with Kayne West, the third installment of Man on the
Moon arrived. Cudi has been busy in the decade separating Vol. 2 and Vol. 3, but not all of it has been
for the best. Cudi’s production has been hit or miss and his attempts at trying new styles and
approaches have been equally mixed.
Fortunately, Cudi is back on his A game for Man on the Moon Vol. 3: The Chosen. After the first Man on
the Moon introduced listeners to protagonist Mr. Solo Dolo and his mental turmoil and Vol. 2 showed
the distance Dolo would go to run from his demons. The Chosen is split into four acts and shows Dolo
trying to conquer his inner struggles.
The sound of Man on the Moon, Vol. 3 is rooted in trap, but also contains elements of indie rock and
synth pop. Put another way, this is the kind of album that features both Phoebe Bridgers and Pop Smoke
and sounds equally comfortable with both.
After 18 songs and nearly an hour of music, a child’s voice whispers “to be continued.” Hopefully we
won’t have to wait nine years for the next installment of Man on the Moon. Fortunately, Cudi always
rises to the occasion for these releases. If you got burned out and hopped off the Cudi bandwagon over
the years, The Chosen is the perfect place to get back on board. -Joel Francis
Lindsey Buckingham – Lindsey Buckingham
Memphis Slim – Blues Essentials (Magenta Colored Vinyl, Gatefold LP Jacket)
Mighty Baby – Mighty Baby
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (Bonus Tracks)
My Morning Jacket – Z (Purple Colored Vinyl, Limited Edition, 180 Gram Vinyl, Reissue)
Miles Davis- Bitches Brew
The Meters – Rejuvenation (180 Gram Vinyl, Bonus Tracks)
Michael Jackson – Thriller (Picture Disc)
Michael Jackson – Dangerous (180 Gram Vinyl)
Mac Miller – Swimming In Circles (Deluxe Box Set)
Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Barn
Neil Young’s catalog can roughly be divided into two camps. The jagged, thunderous noise he makes
with Crazy Horse and more intricate, intimate recordings away from the Horse. Young’s 41st album –
and 14th with Crazy Horse – splits this difference; it can be both delicate and bash.
“Heading West,” “Canerican” and “Human Race” may not blaze with the fury of “Hey Hey, My My (Into
the Black),” but they still pack hold plenty of muscle. On the other hand, “Song of the Seasons,”
“Tumblin’ Thru the Years” and “Don’t Forget Love” sound like they could have appeared on Harvest
Moon or Prairie Wind.
A big reason for the Horse’s newfound versatility lies in the reunion with guitarist Nils Lofgren. As a
teenager, Lofgren played on After the Gold Rush and Tonight’s the Night and Crazy Horse’s self-titled
debut album. When longtime Crazy Horse guitarist Poncho Sampedro retired, Lofgren rejoined the fold.
A longtime member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Lofgren is a sympathetic musician, enhancing
what’s already there without drawing any attention.
Barn isn’t a perfect album – the meandering “They Might Be Lost” feels like a story from an old man who
won’t take any polite hints and let you get back to your table of friends – but it is a Young’s most
consistent and enjoyable albums in a while. In a long career filled with abrupt, head-scratching turns,
these moments from Young should be celebrated when they arrive. -Joel Francis
Pearl Jam – Vs. (180 Gram Vinyl)
Pharoah Sanders – Moon Child (Purple Colored Vinyl, Limited Edition)
Pink Floyd- The Dark Side Of The Moon
Prince – Purple Rain (Picture Disc Vinyl LP)
The Rugged Nuggets- Odds & Ends
Rush – 2112
Ryo Fukui- Scenery
Sturgill Simpson- Sound & Fury
Sturgill Simpson- High Top Mountain
Sun Ra – Omniverse
With scores of albums to his name, free jazz pioneer Sun Ra’s discography can be as imposing as it is
obtuse. Ra’s 1979 excursion Omniverse is a rare accessible entry point into the space
Recorded in New York City, Omniverse opens with “Place of Five Points,” a laid-back number with Ra on
piano and drums, Hayes Burnett on bass and drummer Eric Walker. Tenor saxophonist John Gilmore
joins the trio on “West End of Magic City.” Side one concludes with “Dark Lights in a White Forest,” a
nearly 11-minute excursion that adds Michael Ray on trumpet and Charles Davis on baritone sax.
Omniverse stands out for the lack of aggression and violent interplay that characterizes many of Ra’s
albums. “Place of Five Points” and “West End of Magic City,” the first two songs, and side two opener
“Omniverse” would have fit on any number of Blue Note’s post-bop albums of the late 1950s and 1960s.
“Dark Lights” and “Visitatant of the Ninth Ultimate,” the album’s final track, would be at home on many
of the more avant garde titles Impulse! championed in the 1960s.
Surprisingly, Ra only performed the first two songs on Omniverse in concert, and even then, only
sparingly. It is unknown why Ra stayed away from these songs in concert, but the album was deemed
important enough in Ra’s oeuvre to become the title of a highly lauded (and sought-after) biography and
history in the 1990s.
Jazz fans curious about sampling Ra’s work or fans of adventurous post-bop that doesn’t get too
experimental or abstract will welcome Omniverse with open arms. -Joel Francis
Sly & the Family Stone – There’s A Riot Goin’ On (Gatefold LP Jacket, Colored Vinyl, Red, 150 Gram Vinyl, Anniversary Edition)
Tesla – Mechanical Resonance (Blue Colored Vinyl)
Taylor Swift – Fearless (Taylor’s Version) (Gold Colored Vinyl)
Yusef Lateef – Live Lila Eule Bremen Germany October 20, 1971
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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 with recently reunited alt-rockers Frogpond to do some digging. Tune in to find out what they copped. 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