Tesla New Vinyl Thursday

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

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

The music industry is going through a bit of a soul explosion at the moment.  For the past several years artists  like The Black Pumas, Yolo, Ari Lennox, Durand Jones and the Indications, and Leon Bridges have drawn upon elements of past soul, funk, r&b, disco, hip hop, rock, and even country to push the  genre into all kinds of new and wondrous territories.
Perhaps no artist is more on the precipice of this new neo-soul sound than Curtis Harding. His latest album, “If Words Were Flowers” is one of those unique examples of a record that defies time by appearing to have equally strong footing in the past, present and future.  Harding has even penned the name, “Slop n’ Soul,” for his own unique form of the genre:
“The ‘slop’ part is basically just that I tend to use what other artists don’t use [like] what the farmers would not eat at the table and feed it to the pigs.” says Harding in a interview for WTOP.com “… Sometimes it’s funky and sometimes it’s sloppy. It flows and it runs. … Then, of course, the soul is the foundation. You gotta have soul.”
Born in Saginaw, MI to a family of five siblings and raised on the road until he was fifteen, Harding would sometimes join his gospel singing, mennonite, mother on stage as she traveled from town to town in van.
The family would finally settle in Atlanta, GA where in his mid twenties become a music promoter for LeFace Records, which was formed in 1989 as a joint venture between the producing duo Antonio “L.A.” Reid & Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, and Arista Records. It was through LeFace that Harding became a back up singer for CeeLo Green. Touring with Green was the foot in the door Harding needed to start thinking his own sound.
After a short collaborative stint with Black Lips guitarist Cole Alexander in the R&B/ garage rock influenced band Night Sun, Harding started to write some songs on his own. The results were two critically acclaimed albums of his unique grab bag of influences.
Ranging from Mahalia Jackson, to the Everly Brothers, Hardings third studio album is a tribute to what perhaps is his deepest  influences of all, his mother.
The title of Hardings third studio album, “If Words Were Flowers” was taken from a line he recalls his
Mother saying, “Give me flowers while I’m still here.” It’s a beautiful and wise motif that runs throughout the album displayed perfectly with a choir driven opener that sets the album off like to score to an epic film.
Track two “Hopeful” whisks us off on a magic carpet of soulful strings, nothing short of an Isaac Hayes production, with Harding rapping about the transitory nature of dark clouds, amongst other things.
Its on the mid tempo funk track three, “Can’t Hide It,” that Harding finally let’s some of the sadness out, revealing one the successful secrets to great soul music: balancing the slow longing song with lyrics of hope and contrast the up beat songs with more sad, confessional, lyrics.
By the time we’ve reached track five “Explore” we’re starting to feel the “slop” part of the “soul” enter the picture with ambient cricket sounds, accompanied by a sax part that sounds like it’s been played at the bottom of a swimming pool, intermingles  with strange and wonderful Mort Garsonesque Moog sounds.
While “So Low” has Harding dipping his larynx into the realm of the Autotunedness and a trippy flute part that sounds like it was regurgitated through a computer, “Forever More” is an honest guitar plucked love song about keeping it together in the presence of one’s object of desire.
Even though it may be a cliche to say so, what Harding has produced with “If Words We’re Flowers” is nothing short of an instant classic.  Even though the future of 2022 is shaping up to be a little more uncertain than we had hoped, one thing is for sure, you’re going to be hearing a lot more about Curtis Harding in it. And that’s good news fo sho!  – Major Matt

Childish Gambino – Awaken My Love

Childish Gambino – Because the Internet

Curtis Mayfield – Roots

Weekly Review:

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)

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

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

Weekly Review:

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
alien/Egyptologist/bandleader/pianist’s catalog.
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)

Ween – At Cat’s Cradle 1992
Weekly Review:
When I was exposed to Ween’s first three albums it felt like I had discovered a key to some kind of insane hidden world inside myself.
I grew up experimenting with music in the basement with my friends. We barely knew how to play but we would try to emulate the music we grew up with. I recall contentedly playing the opening riff to The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” for what felt like hours.
Inevitably, someone would come up with a funny lyric and everyone would play along for a while for a moment of levity. Ween feels like an entire band that was created out of those moments, but they could really play.
Ween’s particular brand of biting humor mixed with an uncanny knack for distilling the essence of a multitude of popular artists and genres into twisted little soundscapes was the perfect fuel for rebelling Gen Xers raised on American Top 40 and MTV.
It just so happens I had the benefit of catching them on the tour this recording is taken from. It was just twelve days after the Cat’s Cradle show, on a bitter cold November in Columbia, MO. My friend Tom drove us and we had no idea what to expect.
Shrouded in mystery the band never put pictures on their album covers. There was no Internet and no press about the band. We had no idea how old they were or if they were crazed drug addicts. What we did know was that there was Gene and there was Dean and they did some  fucked up shit on tape.
They left strange messages in the liner notes of their albums like: “When Ween comes to your town you are to bring us food.” They claimed to have recorded the their entire second album “The Pod” under the influence of Scotch Guard.
As it would turn out the live version of Ween was just a strange and enigmatic as the recorded version.
I recall the venue being far from full. As these two scruffy dudes in T-shirt’s and jeans shuffled onto the stage with no visible backing band my first thought was,  “Is that it?”
I was somewhat familiar with what was required to make Ween’s recordings. There were drums and bass and all kind of strange studio effects, none of which I was able to locate amongst the two dudes with bed head on stage.
For what seemed like ten minutes they just repeatedly mumbled about how happy they were to be there as they chuckled under their breath like breaking character in a Saturday Night Live sketch.
I kept thinking; “What is going on? Is there a technical problem? Are they too high to play?” Suddenly, almost like magic, the band launched into a jam packed set of all of my favorites from Captain Fantasy to El Camino to Fat Lenny, pausing between each song to mumble something about how much opium they smoked or how long they’ve been in tour.
The songs sounded remarkably full and accurate. I would later learn that they played to DAT synchronized backing tracks. I recall being impressed at how big the sound was and how accurately the performances were to the recordings. It was such a strange juxtaposition to these sort of mild mannered  guys on stage.
It’s hard to understate the impact of a band like Ween had in me growing up. They showed me that alternative music didn’t have to be so serious but it could also remain edgy and intense.  They opened my ears to all kinds of sounds and styles. Best of all they showed me that there are no rules to this stuff. Two dedicated guys with amazing chemistry can be just as compelling as huge professional production team, maybe even better.
Ween would go on the make music and tour with much larger ensembles but this album is a great way to experience where it all started with just two guys playing their hearts out and enjoying themselves as they do it.  – Major Matt

Yusef Lateef – Live Lila Eule Bremen Germany October 20, 1971


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