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.
1. "Ain't Nothing Wrong with That" — Robert Randolph (2:22)
From a total gospel upbringing in which he assimilated pedal steel guitar skills, RR started listening to secular music once he moved out of his parents' house and became a buzz on the blues/soul/rock scene. I kinda like this track for the groove. In just over ten years, Robert has become a unique fixture on the scene.
2. "A Woman" — JJ Grey & Mofro (2:57)
The Alabama Shakes have potential but I think their first album was cut a bit prematurely before they had reached their deserved place on "the list." That is NOT the case here. This band from just outside Jacksonville, Florida is all set for your eyes and ears. They studied the history of soul music admirably. This ballad is pure Memphis Stax/Volt and is about as authentic as can be for people who were just born when this music was in its heyday. If it was up to me, this band would already be huge and getting the attention The Shakes are getting. A GREAT southern band!
3. "Till My Back Ain't Got No Bone" — Eddie Floyd (3:14)
Eddie "Knock on Wood" Floyd was one of the cornerstones of Stax/Volt, as a writer AND as an artist. He wrote this tune with label head Al Bell and it still sounds great decades later with Booker T & The MGs providing perfect backup. This is not one of his most well-known tracks, but it shoulda been.
4. "I Believe in Action" — Here We Go Magic (3:28)
Roll out the guitar loop pedals and ring in electronica. These guys are mixing a heady stew here. The guitar loops are the core of this track. The vocals and composition are strange in a good way — perhaps sort of a modern-day Yes influence from the ‘70s, but certainly more modern than faithful. I like this but it was the guitar loops that sucked me in at first. Whoa! The picture says there’s a GAL in this band. Sorry I called ‘em guys... now I hope that is a GAL! Must be the bass player...
5. "Strange" — Lizz Wright (2:33)
Lizz gets better and better with each album. This Patsy Cline cover gets transferred to K.D. Lang-land during the verses, but they stick to the original chords of the middle section and lose the ’strangeness’ they acquired in the verses. Still, the mood is amazing considering the original track. Lizz has done a great job with covers on her past albums, i.e. going into no-woman’s-land with arrangements and concepts. I have admiration for artists who go that way and they make each song their own in that respect. She’s one of the best of the new crop at this sort of thing. I think she’ll be around for the long run.
6. "Squeeze Me In" — Delbert McClinton (2:42)
Speaking of being around for the long run, anybody named Delbert who can do such a thing wins an award in my academy. Talent just oozes out of Mr. McClinton and he has influenced people in both the country and soul factions. It’s all natural to him as displayed on this comparatively recent track and I always listen to his latest releases knowing he couldn’t possibly let me down. Why don’t you take his advice and squeeze this into your listening schedule — a humorous lyric and a great delivery by all involved.
7. "Just Because You Want It" — Hot (2:25)
You wouldn’t think they had this sophisticated an intro up their sleeves back at Muscle Shoals Studios in the day, but I guess they did. This was a group of gals from all around the country who somehow ended up in the hands of Clayton Ivey, keyboardist, songwriter and producer in rural Alabama, and a couple of darn good albums were made. There was a minor hit, "The Angel in Your Arms" ( I always liked the lyric "the angel in your arms this morning is gonna be the devil in someone else's arms tonight"). This has some pretty darn good words as well. Please forgive the clicks and pops from my old vinyl that brings this to you.
8. "My Baby's Gone" — Joan Armatrading (3:16)
After a long career as a pop folkie, Joan grabbed the bull by the horns and recorded the album Into the Blues in 2007. Wow! I REALLY wasn’t expecting this sort of force from her but was pleasantly surprised. It was so far afield of what came before, I’d call it a risk well taken. I think this is the best track on said album and I’m still listening to it whenever the mood strikes me. Go get struck!
9. "Woman on Fire" — Bugs Henderson (3:32)
A serious bluesman well known mostly in the Texas area, Bugs Henderson passed away in March of this year at the age of 68. I met him in the early '70s and was quite impressed with both the person AND the talent. He was in a band called Nitzinger at the time and they made a coupla pretty good albums. He started in Mouse & The Traps, which had the hit single “Public Execution” in the late '60s. But when Bugs chucked all that and came face to face with the blues, he knew that’s where he REALLY belonged. And so he stayed. This isn’t really representative, but I love it. In the guitar solo he goes right into basic Chuck Berry and stays there. Couldn’t have been more appropriate. To see what he really does, just go to YouTube and watch him play a few tunes live. That’ll do better than anything else I could write. I leave ya with a quote from Bugs: “I couldn't have the life I have now and be a major star. Couldn't go to my kids' ball games. I wouldn't give that up for anything."
10. "Words Unspoken" — Tracy Nelson (3:44)
It’s gotten to the point each week where I really dig for the closing track, to make it special and meaningful. This one is monstrously so. Self-written and piano-played and sung by Ms. Nelson, this is a serious lyric for anyone to have written. Combine that with the amazing voice God gave her, and then be sure to stash a handkerchief before playing this. That way you won’t have to get up and look around before pressing the repeat button. Reese Wynan’s organ solo ain’t too bad either. I have more words, but they’re best left unwritten. See ya next week...