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.
1. "S.O.T. (Same Ole Thang)" — Danny Barnes (2:58)
Most notoriously a bluegrass banjo man, he is not averse to picking up an electric guitar and playing searing, screaming blues like these so that he doesn’t always do the S.O.T. But even with banjo in hand, there are pedals, loops, and more modern accoutrements to liven up his muse and make him the unique, inspiring musician he is. His canine companion is pretty cute as well.
2. "Little Bit of Love" — Free (2:32)
Those who know me well understand that this is my favorite band of all time. I think it is because no one is better than the other in this band; you might say they are equi-talented. That is extremely rare in rock and that’s why they stick out to me. They're mostly known for "All Right Now" and that is probably in the low part of the top ten of their best work. This is a little higher up. I’m sure I’ll play you more as time flits by.
3. "I'm Callin'" — B.J. Thomas (3:06)
When producer Steve Tyrell got a hold of BJ in the '70s, he took him a few places he hadn’t been before. This is one of them. Written by talented sideman Randall Bramblett (Steve Winwood, Sea Level), this is a great track. With Randall on electric piano and studio guitarist Bob Mann on electric guitar, a compendium of trade-offs go on between each line BJ sings. It is masterful playing by both. Top that with an original string arrangement by famed Brit Paul Buckmaster (Elton John) and you’ve got some of the most artistic moments in BJ’s illustrious career. Too bad not many have heard them — but now there’s you added to that number. I learned a great deal from listening to this track over the years.
4. "One of These Days" — The Beckies (2:48)
If you’re a Left Banke fan, you’ll wanna check this out. The brains behind that band is here albeit in 1976, weaving his songwriting, piano playing, and production talents all over the place. Three memorable tracks on this album, but that did not save it from obscurity and the confinement of Michael Brown into retirement so far.
5. "Clara" — Punch Brothers (3:08)
When the modern bluegrass band Nickel Creek dismantled, mandolinist, songwriter, and vocalist Chris Thile quickly resurfaced in his next venture, Punch Brothers. Surrounding his highish voice with bluegrass instruments again, he picked up the slack beautifully. Here is an example from their latest album Who's Feeling Young Now? both audio-wise and visually. Send all razors to Chris directly, please.
6. "That's How Long I'll Be Loving You" — Bunny Sigler (2:47)
If you were lucky enough to be overcome with the Philadelphia Sound courtesy of Philadelphia International Records in the ‘70s, you STILL might have missed this one. Bunny Sigler was/is an amazing singer/songwriter and I remain a fan and still follow his career. This was the second track I ever heard of his back in 1974. With the sweeping Richard Rome arrangement, it still gets to me. But the wonderful thing is that Bunny wrote it AND sang it. And how many guys are nicknamed Bunny ... and why? Think about it.
7. "Be Good to Yourself" — Frankie Miller (2:46)
As I have opined before in this space, Frankie Miller, despite being white and Scottish, could have stood up and sang alongside the late Otis Redding. His ballad deliveries are breathtaking but here is a comparatively uptempo tune that Frankie and his band handle quite well in the Stax/Volt vein. I also thought Bob Seger was pretty influenced by young Frankie at the time of their similar outputs. Whereas Seger was legendary, Frankie is legendary everywhere BUT the USA. Every day, in some simple way, I try to correct that. See what YOU can do about this, that is, if you agree with me.
8. "Back Screen Door" — Pat McLaughlin (3:01)
Another of my favorite white men, Pat first got to me when I lived in Nashville in the '90s. Someone took me to a live performance and I was hooked for life. In an article in a local paper back then I dubbed him “the Van Morrison of Nashville” and so he remains. There are many to play you, but I’ll start with the gentle simplicity of this one.
9. "Learnalil Givininlovin" — Gotye (2:17)
This is Gotye’s second appearance here in as many months and that’s rare. So is he. Rapidly becoming a legend in Europe and Scandinavia (see YouTube) he fuses electronica with blue-eyed soul, screws with the King's English, and this is what comes out. I’m now a fan. By the way, he’s pronounced "Go-tee-yay."
10. "Gimme That Beat, Pt. 1" — Junior Walker & The All Stars (2:49)
I have searched for years and still can’t find Part 2. If anyone wants to assist I’m more than happy to acknowledge. I don’t know how many have grooved to this REALLY obscure dance floor messiah, but it is truly difficult to sit still when this puppy is playing. With his powerful singing voice and stinging tenor sax, Junior Walker rarely disappoints. How many can just sit there for "Shotgun" or "Road Runner"? Add THIS one to YOUR list and keep dancing til next week's column!
My friend Stuart Ezrin sent me this from YouTube. It is Jeff Beck live, backed up by Brian Wilson’s current band (minus Brian) doing Beck’s interpretation of Brian’s “Surfs Up” and “Surfin USA.” The former track is breathtaking and I just wanted to share it with you. Jeff Beck definitely fills the void left by Les Paul’s passing.