This column is like the title says - its intention is to fill the gap for those of us who were satiated musically in the '60s and then searched desperately as we aged for music we could relate to and get the same buzz from nowadaze. iTunes was the answer for me in 2003 and I have been following the new releases every Tuesday ever since I realized there was an endless stream of music I could enjoy there.
I also include older items that I felt were obscure originally and might not have been heard back then. The reason I am writing this column is to make sure others don't miss this wonderful music. These are not top ten items; but they SHOULD'VE been!
Below is a jukebox containing all the songs I picked this week. After you read about them below, go back and listen to whatever you like by just clicking on that title in the jukebox, or stream the whole playlist by clicking on the "play" icon at the top. It's free and it's the entire song. We're not selling anything. We're just in the business of hopefully making your days better by listening to great music.
We apologize to our readers/listeners who are trying to enjoy the playlists via mobile devices like iPhones/iPads and are finding that they can't; these are, unfortunately, circumstances beyond our control. At present, Grooveshark is not compatible with those operating systems, and in order to stream the playlist, you will need to use a PC or Mac.
These are semi-humorous warnings about what you'll be listening to this week.
1. "Frame by Frame" — King Crimson (3:01)
This was the most adventurous cast of KC, i.e. Adrian Belew singing his unique compositions and wielding his always-corrupted guitar into Robert Fripp’s amazing six-string technique. This is one of my favorites from this period. I was amazed to find that their catalog is NOT available on iTunes or Amazon MP3s.
2. "Cracker Soul" — Cracker (2:54)
Stalwarts David Lowery and Johnny Hickman formed this band out of the ashes of Lowery’s lamented Camper Van Beethoven. Their first Cracker album featured this track and caught my ear immediately in 1992. I always give a listen to what they’re up to, but there’s something about this track’s musicality (guitar, background vocals, bass, and drums) that always brings me back for an encore listen.
3. "Jealous Guy" — Frankie Miller (3:48)
This leaves me speechless so there’s not much I can say, is there? Words fail me so just listen and hopefully you’ll appreciate what I do about this classic, unfortunately not well known, track.
Irish Folk Singer Tackles LL Cool J Composition Alert: If you’re a total hip hop/rap person what in hell’s name are you doing HERE? Everyone else should grab a listen to the original version to understand the understated cover that Bloom thought up.
4. "I Need Love" — Luka Bloom ()
A great idea pulled off with great aplomb by Luka. Cracks me up every time to hear him essay this lyric. Good to listen to after an episode of NCIS: Los Angeles.
East Coast White People Tackling Percy Mayfield Song Alert: Admittedly I have at least one quarter involvement here alongside Jimmy, Anton Fig, and Harvey Brooks. But we are all big Vivino fans so we couldn’t resist back in 1996.
5. "Strange Things Happenin'" — Jimmy Vivino & The Rekooperators (3:04)
This band played out a while and got quite comfortable together. I view Jimmy as the foremost exponent of the late Mike Bloomfield’s guitar playing, although this track is not the best example of that — but it ain't bad either.
6. "Call Off the Dogs (Day 2 Day)" — Jeffrey Foucault (3:18)
Since the true perpetrators are not exactly rushing to get back together, I give Jeff some slack and also credit his obsessive musical research. Jumpin’ Jeff Flash!
7. "My Brother Jake" — Free (2:37)
Now this is my favorite band of all time, so I can’t really take them to task as I am quite fond of this track. Great piano, bass line, and the guitar fills are amazing in the choruses. I am told it is Andy Fraser, the bassist, who plays the piano on this. Obviously inspired by The Band, but in the late '60s/early '70s, who wasn't?
8. "Shovel" — Lisbeth Scott (2:52)
Not an area I often dwell in. I had never heard of this artist so I pushed the button and heard the Celtic intro and instinctively began to roll my eyes, but when she started singing, I got pulled in and remained unscathed until the last note. This is good work and stands up alongside Emmylou Harris, Rickie Lee Jones, and others of THAT particular genre. So congrats to Lis and I admit to downloading other works of hers after this initial ‘mistake.’ She is usually the composer as well. Since this photo was taken, I hope she's gotten a bigger bedroom and moved the hot-air balloon to the backyard.
9. "Man's Temptation" — The Impressions (4:35)
I was so bowled over by the songwriting alone, I foolishly covered this on the Super Session album, and have regretted it every time I hear this original version. That’s a painful admission, but one gets more honest in his old age. This is one of those hidden masterpieces; a mere album track (covered as a single by Gene ‘Duke of Earl’ Chandler, but even he must feel similar to me when he hears this version), it fastened me to my chair and left me with tears in my eyes four minutes and 35 seconds later. If you’ve never heard this, I hope you have the same reaction. The ingredients for most Impressions tracks were formidable: Curtis Mayfield's unique songwriting and singular guitar playing, the passing around of the lead vocal to each Impression, sometimes just for one line, and the sympathetic original arrangements by Johnny Pate, played to perfection by Chicago’s finest musicians spearheaded by drummer Morris Jennings. An all-time catalog I never tire of.
10. "Presto" (Live in Miskolc) — Epica (2:54)
First off, Miskolc is in Hungary, where this band roolz. What I did not know was they have a female lead singer as my maiden voyage was this live instrumental, where she was probably backstage touching up her lipstick. It gets even weirder as the core rhythm section infuses serious heavy metal mayhem equally with classical music moments. Whereas ELO primarily respected the pop song and The Beatles, Epica instead tips their hat to DEEP PURPLE rather than the Fab Four. Mark Jansen is the Jeff Lynne replacement here as the bandleader, composer and rhythm guitarist. He was born in The Netherlands in 1978 when Jeff Lynne had the world by the concert halls. Simone Simons, who looks like she stepped out of the cast of True Blood, is also a Netherlander and was born in1985 (!) when Mark was seven. She currently lives in Germany. There are four more of these dedicated long-haired Lotharios, but they rarely perform as just a sextet. There are usually orchestras and choirs behind them onstage embellishing their metal mettle. My research shows them touring the US in October/November 2012 and I will go out of my way to get an extra backstage pass for an interpreter. By the way, they sing mostly in English! Check it out if you like this track.