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. "For You" — Prince (1:08)
I believe this is the first track on Prince’s first album; sort of an a cappella intro to the origins of Princedom — all vocals by the man himself, of course. BUT it works as an intro to this week's column as well!
2. "Can't You Hear Me Now" — The Styletones (3:00)
Assembled from various local bands in San Diego, CA in 2009, this sounds like it will stick to the wall. Claiming their genre is RAW SOUL, this track does nothing to betray that claim. I can hear vestiges of James Brown, Sly Stone, and Tower of Power and these are pretty damn good building blocks. This track is the best one from the limited amount of recordings available from them so far. Think of them as the west coast edition of The Dap-Kings.
3. "Foolin' With My Respect" — Francine Reed (3:20)
Fans of Lyle Lovett’s Large Band know Francine as an integal part of the live show, a female singer foil to Lovett. My old friend Brian Cole, the drummer from Mose Jones, was producing Francine almost 20 years ago and I happened to be visiting Atlanta and played organ and lead guitar on this track. It’s always been a favorite of mine — great song, great vocal, and a decent opening guitar solo from a guy who wasn’t even 50 years old yet. I have always been a large Francine fan, but I’m workin’ on getting my weight down.
4. "From a Whisper to a Scream" — Allen Toussaint (3:27)
I suspect more people have heard the Robert Palmer version of this song but there is an up-close personal feeling to this original version that is a strong page in the Toussaint songbook. I love the song itself and the horn and guitar parts. The lyrics are fabulous: “I took kindness for granted as if it came with the wallpaper...” If you never heard it before, you’ll surely be back for more. I know, I know... stop calling you Shirley.
5. "The Money's Clean" — Acetate (2:42)
This band is a side project for three musicians from Athens, GA. Dave Schools is usually the bassist for Widespread Panic. Ben Mize was the drummer in Counting Crows for almost a decade. Kevin Sweeney is the wild guitarist from Hayride. Jamming in their various basements they seemed to click immediately and in no time at all had 12 original tunes ready to rock. Here’s one that has a really catchy-nasty guitar figure sure to reel you in. I got fished outta the water on my first listen.
6. "I Fought the Law" — Sonny Curtis (2:22)
Sonny was an off-again/on-again Crickets member and wrote many hit songs including this one, popularized in the '60s by the late Bobby Fuller, whose murder still remains unsolved. Sonny decided to record his take on his song and it’s decidedly more country than the Fuller version. Others in Sonny’s catalog: “More Than I Can Say,” “Rock Around with Ollie Vee,” “Walk Right Back,” and “Love Is All Around,” which was the theme from TV’s Mary Tyler Moore Show. This is a RARE listen.
7. "Heartbreak Yellow" — Andy Davis (2:59)
Andy Davis is a favorite of mine. He is very inventive and takes chances musically more often than not. He was in my Top 25 column of 2011 and this is a track from his brand new album. See what’cha think...
8. "Three Hearts" — Five Horse Johnson (2:39)
Best name for a white blues band in business for the last 15 years, fer cryin’ out loud. These Detroit natives are heading back into the studio this month to follow up their last effort, Mystery Spot, which came out in 2006 and includes this tremblin’ track. They know how to deliver the payoff solos, authentic vocals, and great guitar riffs. Can’t wait for the new album!
9. "Down in Memphis" — Booker T Jones (3:20)
Who better to sing the praises of his hometown than the inventor of R&B organ playing who had his first self-written hit at age 15 with “Green Onions” (unfortunately a Depends commercial on TV nowadays, but fortunately not The MG's version)? Booker could always sing but made his fame playing the Hammond organ alongside Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and the late Al Jackson, Jr. — one of the first mixed-race bands that cranked out hit after hit and backed EVERYONE on the Stax/Volt label. This is a great groove with top organ fills throughout, although he is NOT backed by the MG’s here. No matter. He and they have transcended their original permutation. Sit back and see how funky he can still be in his 60s. Actually funky enough to cop the Grammy last week for best R&B instrumental album and this ain't even an instrumental!
10. "I Found Out" — Nathaniel Mayer (3:38)
I saved this for last — it is a crime that this John Lennon cover was recorded and released after Lennon’s demise as I am 100% positive it would have put a broad smile on his face. Hell, he’s probably up in heaven still enjoying this track. This is what he attempted with his original recording but Mayer brings his own version to true fruition with the benefit of his many years toiling in the R&B field playing his signature hit “Village Of Love.” Retro Memphis label Fat Possum wisely signed him in 2004 and this tribute to Lennon graced his first album for them. Back again on the chitlin' circuit he poured out his amazing vocals and stage dancing, but alas by 2008, ill health forced him into a nursing home where he passed away from a stroke that same year. God bless 'em and you know Nathaniel and John Lennon are sure as hell doin’ the heavy Heaven hang.