Welcome to Needle Therapy!

We, the needle therapists, are a group of guys (all male as of now) that recently started a vinyl record club. Demographically, we are 100% middle-aged, white dudes. We are using this site to post our thoughts, praises, criticisms, musings and general reviews relating to said records as we share. While it’s safe to say that we are mere amateurs with respect to the pen, I proclaim with confidence that we are giants among men when it comes to all things music. Mark it, read on, enjoy and share your thoughts with us.

 

MTV Unplugged in New York – Nirvanna

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Four hours deep in a pathetic display of self-indulgent pity. You know those days when you wake up pissed at someone, only to find out a few hours later that you’re the jackass responsible for all the dismay? Anyway, I was staring out the window, when out of nowhere FedEx suddenly appears at my door. Two things are important: 1. it’s only about 11am at this point and FedEx routinely comes to my house after 2pm, and 2. I opened the box and low-and-behold, Nirvana is here to save the day.

When has Nirvana ever saved my day? The answer is never. In my early teens, I was a punk. Not the cool CBGB kind, in case you were dumb enough to think I had any level of swagger or cynical understanding of modern influence. No, I was punk, like many you all knew, who grew up in a society that spoiled anyone capable of dribbling a basketball; who could recite Israel’s pledge of allegiance by heart; and who enjoyed nothing more than hunting out my dad’s weed stash (he eventually stopped moving it around after he realized my unfathomed determination to impress, and get stoned). Nirvana wasn’t a band I played because I wanted to get in touch with my feelings, not even close. Shit. Smells Like Teen Spirit is what you played to justify and obnoxiously provoke your in-pubescent certitudes. Nirvana was going through puberty, just like me, that was all it was; it was our bond, and it seemed to be working just fine.

But Unplugged shifted all of that for me, even into my twenties and thirties. And here it is, the full circle, glowing under MTV’s perfectly designed lights. This recording is where this rock band’s emotion is realized, respected and reflected. Again, this is my take on it. And I knew on this day, Nirvana was going to make me feel something different. I cancelled my afternoon.

This album played perfectly. I felt it in my bones and it shifted my perspective on life, in that window anyway, and cleansed my soul. I sang one song out loud, the last track on side B: Where Did You Sleep Last Night. The emotion in Kurt’s voice was perfect the entire album. He pours his life into that microphone. My living room filled with talent, with off-the-charts soundstage, with purity, with complication, and with a shitload of heart. Thank you record submitter. I’ve played this album a dozen times since receiving it last month, seeking out that memorized emotion. And when I have a guest over, I tend to end our jam session with this record, intently staring at  my guest to see if they get even a dose of what I felt on this day. The time  I’ll aptly title “the day Nirvana saved me.”

 

Radiohead – OK Computer

By: Kevin Feagin

This is Radiohead’s third record.  I consider the first record “Pablo Honey” to be relatively mediocre and the second record “The Bends” to be very good.  “The Bends” is the first record that pairs the band with Nigel Godrich.  This partnership took things to the next level and the trend continues on “OK Computer”.
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I’ve heard “OK Computer” many times before, but never on vinyl.  I hurriedly peel off the shrink wrap and toss it on the turntable.  The opening notes of “Airbag” sound amazing; the heavily gated and sometimes flanged out drums; the late entry of that awesome bass line.  Things are going great as I listen intently through the first three tracks.  Paranoid Android: “From a great height!”.  Subterranean Homesick Alien: “They’d think that I’d finally lost it completely!”.  I flip the record.  This record, like many from this time period, is not a double album, but still takes 2 records.  While I’m sure they labored over the order of the tracks on the CD, I think I’m safe to assume that very little (if any) thought was put in to record flips.  That said, I am now perfectly greeted with the quiet opening of Exit Music (For a Film): “We hope your rules and wisdom choke you!”.  “Let Down”.  “Karma Police” closes out the side.  This was originally my favorite song on the record.  I saw Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl once upon a time.  At the risk of sounding like a ridiculous pun, I quite literally lost myself at the end of the song.  It was just the right time, the right song….   I swap records and things continued on in this fashion.  “Fitter Happier”; More productive.  “Electioneering”,  “Climbing Up The Walls”.  Really, really great.  The side closes out with “No Surprises”.  I remember reading somewhere that this track was recorded in a single take.  I flip the record one last time and it closes with “Lucky” and “The Tourist”.  “Hey man, slow down. Slow down, idiot”.  For real.  It dawns on me that it has been some time since I have listened to the entire record in a single sitting.  I kind of feel dizzy.  I turn it up a bit and do it all again.

we hope that you choke

Delaney & Bonnie and Friends – Motel Shot (1971)

By: Matt Wilson

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My first spin of this record was somewhat of an introduction for me. While I was superficially familiar with the earlier works of Delaney & Bonnie – this recording represents a clear and intentional departure from the group’s southern-soul, swampified-Stax movements that seemed to dominate the duo’s earlier records. Motel Shot is a return to something more terrestrial and wholesome. The album is almost exclusively acoustic and mostly devoid of the big horn arrangements and gospel revival feel that I always associated with the D&B sound. This was, indeed, a pleasant surprise.

Knowing this, I suppose it’s not a coincidence that the record includes an impressive guest roster: Leon Russell, Duane Allman, Dave Mason, John Hartford, Clarence White and Gram Parsons, among others. And much like the album’s guests, Motel Shot is an overlooked, yet most-deserving, masterpiece that certainly appeared before it’s time. Debuting just as the alt-country, roots-rock wave was beginning to garner critical attention and acceptance, this Americanized stew was probably not quite ready for prime time. From where I sit, however, the record capably set the table for all that will follow. Capturing a wonderful amalgamation of gospel, blues, country-rock, roots and folk music – Motel Shot deserves recognition among the era’s absolute best – from Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs to American Beauty to Sweetheart of the Radio. To me, this record reflects the unadulterated soul of an accomplished duo, seeking purity and simplicity in a time of want, with a timeless honesty and sincerity that remains apparent with each listen.

I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You), Aretha Franklin

By Adam Blank:
There are artists and songs that you’ve heard so many times they are a part of you to the point you can’t describe life without them. Safe bet we all grew up hearing the same bands, courtesy of 60-something-year-old parents: the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan and the list grows in more or less the same direction. Then there’s the segment of soul; the R&B oldies, as you will. In my case, this is where my dad’s influence comes to play. I have cherished memories of riding around in his ’71 MGB listening to the oldies station. He knew every word, to every song, and we sang the shit out of ’em. Sometimes he’d share a story or memory. But I digress. Let’s talk about May’s album: Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You. 
Released in 1967, this is Ms. Franklin’s eleventh album release. When it was recorded, FAME studios was just developing its groove. Muscle Shoals, everybody. (disclaimer: this album was part produced at FAME part Atlantic’s studios in NYC). The arrangements are hard to dismiss as anything short of superstar. But the approach to producing was simple: Ms. Franklin sat at her piano, and rhythm patterns were built on this base, and the horns and vocals answers filled in later.
First thought that comes to mind after hearing the record in its entirety: immediately smitten. You know the place she’s going to take you before the onset. But you also know it’s going to exceed that exact expectation and so the excitement consummately transcends you into that special space. You’re in your chair before the first note.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T
A hit beyond explanation. And I really should save myself any embarrassment and out of respect, move along to the next track.
DROWN IN MY OWN TEARS
You sneak back to your amp, and turn the volume up, a bit more, and back to your chair with a certain degree of charisma and satisfaction rarely obtained in your living room while the family sleeps soundly. How can someone’s tears sound so beautiful? Again, I’m not special by any degree nor will I begin to ponder or declare the origin of Aretha’s soulful capabilities. But I sure as shit feel good listening to her belt her heart out.
I NEVER LOVED A MAN (THE WAY I LOVE YOU)
Self titled track. Organs. And Aretha. And then you get some horns. Your stereo is in perfect harmony. Oh snap, that guitar (Muscle Shoals doesn’t just have singers). I could hear this song on repeat, without dinner, for a week straight.
SOUL SERENDE
The soundstage on this track is off the charts. I dazingly (this has to be a real word?) stare at my needle. I watch the record groove. And before I know it we’re on the to the next track. And it’s time for another drink.
DON”T LET ME LOSE THIS DREAM
Not every track has to be perfect. I’m taking my time pouring that drink.
BABY, BABY, BABY
Classic sounding in every sense. You follow the words as your memory searches for the pictures. If you ever need a song to find the courage for an overdue apology, put this on.
DR FEELGOOD
If you can remember, you’re back at your amp, volume up. Drink in hand, patiently waiting to sing along.
GOOD TIMES
I got up, moved around, and this is a good time to get a standup break. The song is awesome, the guitar is back, and I’m more or less floating in front of my speakers, enjoying that embodied richness.
DO RIGHT WOMAN-DO RIGHT MAN
You either have it or you don’t. If this song doesn’t make you float into 1960, into the body of one of Ms. Franklin’s backup singers, you don’t know. And I feel sorry for you. Maybe next life.
SAVE ME
Rhythm guitars. And a steady drum. This is soulful rock ‘n roll. The riffs are simple, and Ms. Franklin isn’t toppling over anyone. The horns are balanced and fit perfect. It’s a short melody and easy to listen to. The horns and bass line will be mimicked for decades to come.
A CHANGE IS GONNA COME
We’ve come to an end, and Ms. Franklin takes us to church. In her attempt to lift us emotionally, her producer puts the perfect touches, leaving a rich hum not so much in your face but into the depths of your soul. Perhaps this last track sums the record up perfectly: rejoice rejoice rejoice ya’ll Ms. Franklin just laid a perfect record. 
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So in conclusion: If you don’t own this album. It isn’t going anywhere, you don’t need to beat the crowd. But your home isn’t quite complete without it, so there’s that. Disclaimer:
I know who sent me this album. This is one of this person’s “essential albums.” And I’d trust him with my last dollar if he told me how to spend it.

Gram Parsons and the Fallen Angels: Live 1973

By: Shonxi
First I must explain my total undying love of Gram Parsons and even moreso Emmylou Harris.  To explain my credentials for Gram I own not one but two homemade fake Gram Nudie Suits.
As to the combination here is a picture in my music listening room.
Now my love for emmylou goes a little deeper.  Years ago a stupid sitcom or movie, I can’t remember exactly, had a couple who each had one person they were allowed to cheat on their spouse with.  Well when Sam and I got married 10 years ago I got one free pass and that person was the 60 year old Emmylou Harris. Her voice sounding to me like the great Music of the Ainur. We will not get into specifics of my plans just know that I am a total wimp because I sat next to her once following that and Sam just laughed and laughed that I couldnt even muster the ability to say a single word to her.  Just the feeling of her near me made my knees buckle and my face turn red.  (Imagine the feeling of a high school freshman sitting next to the prom queen)
On to Gram Parsons and The Grevious Angels: Live 1973
How does an album so amazing slip through my knowledge?   I chalk it up to the spectacular wormhole that is music fandom and its infinite possibilities. Upon first opening I got the feeling of I don’t believe this is real but here it is in my hands so it probably is.
The record is a recording of the touring version of the Fallen Angels on tour after the release of GP but before the release of Grevious Angel taped live in a radio studio on Long Island.   It is some of the earliest recordings of a featured Emmylou Harris and her first live recording.  As you would hope for from an “official” bootleg made in a studio the sonics are great.  There is also interview/banter, but unfortunately no Cook’s Pest Control commercials included.
Gram qualude-ily announces emmylou harris 2 minutes into the first song, We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning, as if to say hold on to your oh shit handles because this woman is going to blow your mind for the next 40+ years.
Country Baptizing, the second track makes me think that was what is was like when Cris Hillman discovered emmylou in Baltimore.  Also contains my kind of bass solo.
The whole album seems so fresh to me because though I knew many of the songs, the band is not the one that plays on Gram’s two solo albums.  So songs like drug store truck driving man have a whole new feel.  And as most live shows this is much more upbeat than Grams albums.
Oh, the banter from Gram, especially after New Soft Shoe.  “is it true you are a Harvard university scholar” “no, I am a Harvard drop out”
The Love Hurts on this album must be the one that floats around the radio and maxell XL-II mixtapes because it is so familiar to me.  Clearly the definitive version of one of the great covers of all time.  PS any covers mixes on spotify that do not contain this specific version of this song are not to be trusted.  CW
It’s so clear by the tempo, song choices and timing that Gram Parsons just had the most perfect taste.  Must be the orange juice.  Never more perfectly proven than the closing medley.
A big thank you to the person who sent me this album.  It was like a fortune cookie saying sometimes the most amazing things are hiding right in front of you.  So less research and spend more time opening your eyes.

Talk Talk, Laughing Stock 5\3\16

By: Will Sims

Let me start by saying that prior to this record showing up at my door, I didn’t know Talk Talk existed. I refrained from looking them up before listening and with zero expectations, I dropped the needle.

The album took me by surprise as I was expecting something at least slightly heavier. Instead I was taken on a dark melodic journey. On the first listen I heard various influences from an array of genres but didn’t quite feel like I got it. I pulled up the lyrics on my second listen and feel like I got a slightly clearer picture into the world of Talk Talk. Between reading lyrics and doing a little research on the album it began to come together for me.

This album is a cool journey into a dark, semi religious, improvisational mind fuck. I completely understand why this album has been so influential in the indie world. I’m listening to side one for the 4thtime as I type this and I’m hearing more each time. I personally love albums that I continue to get more from each time I sit down with it and Laughing Stock absolutely falls into this category. For me, the album requires focus and is definitely one of those albums you need to be in the mood for.

Overall, I love it and when that mood hits, it’s on my radar for sure. I totally get why this album has such a cult following and I can see myself getting closer to that bandwagon with every listen. I will definitely delve further into the world of Talk Talk. I have no doubt that it will take me to places I haven’t been before.

Thanks to whoever sent the album. It has definitely opened a door into a world I had yet to enter.

Greg Brown – “The Iowa Waltz”

By: Adam Blank

I received my April record today. I haven’t heard of this artist nor this album: Greg Brown, The Iowa Waltz. Although recorded in 1981, the opening track aptly titled The Iowa Waltz, delivers a sultry,  well-balanced Americana melody, with a studied and patient arrangement. Jumping across the album, each song has its own personality, but stays within that same classic singer-song writer mold. The second track, Mississippi Serenade, is a familiar tune, but after researching, and much to my surprise, it hasn’t been recorded by anyone else; it is a Greg Brown original.

And so my opinion of this record: soul-satisfying and above-average soundstage, even though it sounds like it was produced on a $300 budget in 1960.

I’m honestly not sure how the sender learned about this guy, but I’m glad I own this record. I’ll likely purchase another one of his records, especially now that I’ve read he produced an album titled Freak Flag, where the title-song ponders modern American values and when faced with inevitable doubts, Brown proclaims “let your freak flag fly.” Real shit.

Deer Tick – Born on Flag Day

By. Kevin Feagin

I first saw Deer Tick open for Deerhunter (no shit) at the Drunken Unicorn.  I thought they were fine, but not a band I would ever listen to again.  Over the next couple of years, they were brought up again and again by people I trust.  I was told this was a band I would be in to.  After hearing John McCauley on an awesome John Prine tribute record, I ended up giving both this record and “War Elephant” another try.  After a few listens, I loved both of them.  While I already have this in iTunes, I was super excited to open my package and find out that I’m now the proud owner of the vinyl.

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I would definitely recommend this record to anyone who hasn’t heard it.  I suspect they are considered “Americana”, but they have more edge and grit than most of what’s out there.  The other big takeaway is that there really isn’t a bad song on the entire record.  That’s a rarity these days.  Check it out.

Lou Reed – Transformer (1972)

By: Matt Wilson

Transformer, produced by the power duo of David Bowie and Mick Ronson, is Lou Reed’s seminal post VU release . This record gave the world its first real glimpse of Lou turning full throttle toward his Bowie-glitz-glam-ambitions. From the first note, it’s clear that Reed was able to capture and project what Mick Jagger could not (which, I believe, is rooted in his hard-edged, gritty, NYC pedigree set ablaze by the white lights that cooked his adolescent brain). Where Jagger just wanted so badly to spend the night together to assuage his narcissistic-self-indulgence, Lou actually lived the “Satellite Love” life – in the gutter and the stratosphere. With Harry, Mark and John. Lou was a transformer. Too his core. I believe him.

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Side A

Vicious calls to mind the driving, heroin-laced, rhythms of the Nico era, with a sightly odd, Neil Young meets Jim Carrol metered vox track.

Andy’s Chest. Bass lines. Storylines.

Perfect Day is one of those tunes that seemed destined to be the title track to a motion picture. Still, like most Lou tunes, I always look for the cynicism and darkness that lay in wait. I guess that I know that this a positive song, but I can’t help but look for the hidden evil.

Hanging Round is a classic rock ditty with slight rockabilly hints. A space filler if there is one on side A.

Walk on the Wild Side. No description needed. The colored girls go.

Side B

Make Up could have easily been penned by Syd Barrett from the inner sanctum of some from rubber room in Oxford. Tuba lines dancing around circus-themed melodies. “We’re coming out of our closets.” Indeed.

Satellite Love. The opus.

Wagon Wheel. A little bit mama’s got a squeeze box, a little bit Chuck Berry. Throw in some Beach Boy melodies and we have the album’s outlier, and yet a perfect late album track.

New York Telephone Conversation. Broadway show tunes fit for Tim Curry.

I’m so Free bleeds Mick Ronson guitar riffs sheltered and tamed within a feel-good Stoneramic shuffle. The track aptly leads us off the cliff as we close with the record’s final track.

Goodnight Ladies. More tuba coupled with a curious r-rated “Goodnight Irene” vibe.

Thanks team. See you next month.