New Music for Old People: David Bowie, Blonde Redhead, Griffin House, Boy and More

By , Columnist

Blonde Redhead

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. One 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 a Mac.

TMR0329 by Lisa on Grooveshark

1. "This Is the Beginning" — Boy (2:06)

I love when the titles on the openers and closers are like this one. Boy are two girls who met at music school in Hamburg, Germany — singer Valeska Steiner (from Switzerland) and musician Sonja Glass; they write and sing all the songs on the album. They got together in 2007 and by 2011 had their first album, Mutual Friends, climbing the German charts. Now the Nettwerk label bought the American rights to that album (which this is from), and we'll see what happens here. I never care where music comes from if I like it.

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2. "The Man Who Never Was" — Rick Springfield (2:59)

Dave Grohl has won me over little by little, culminating in this amazing track from his documentary about famed Southern California recording studio Sound City. I think it was genius to resurrect Rick Springfield, who peaked with "Jesse's Girl" centuries ago and showed no signs of ever returning. And he sounds perfect on this song that sounds Grohl-composed. It's a perfect track and I'm walkin' around singing it all the time. How 'bout choo?

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Dave Grohl (blue guitar); Rick Springfield (sleeveless)

3. "You're on Fire" — They Might Be Giants (2:22)

Lyrically, they might be Talking Heads on this track — VERY David Byrne-influenced lyrically, but the music still sounds like classic TMBG. This is produced well and the guitar arrangement in the verses is quite tasty and well-recorded. All in all, one of their best tracks career-wise, and pretty humorous as well. Combustible heads, unite!

4. "Dirty Boys" — David Bowie (2:52)

This was totally unexpected for me. An excellent arrangement just skirting the avant garde, but the entire concept is just Bowie moving along, improvising along the way. I have been in his presence when he has played sax and suspect that might be him blowing away at the end. I still hate that iTunes doesn't ever attempt to have any credits on their tracks. And nobody up there particularly cares. Their "new" upgrade has infuriated many of us and we'll see how long we can last with the old format. Sorry, David, I lost control for a sec — LOVELY TRACK!

5. "Don't Blame the Man" — Roy C. (2:20)

A Georgia lad, Roy C. Hammond was born in Newington (wherever THAT is) in 1939. He had fringe hits here and there (the UK) throughout his long career, including a stint in The Genies from Long Island who had a hit called "Who's That Knockin'" in 1958 when I was just starting out. But this is the song he is truly known for as Roy C. It's on the verge of reggae but stops just short. Someone should do this reggae, it's a natural. They probably did and I missed it. Lemme know if you know. This was out in 1971 and I still love to drag it out every now and then. Hope you like it.

6. "You Got Me Crying" — Boz Scaggs (4:08)

The Boz is back! His album is called Memphis but this track is a blatant emulation of Chicago's Jimmy Reed. Jimmy had a unique guitar and harmonica sound that plastered many hits on the R&B charts and influenced many blues acts. I'm sure Dylan appropriated the harmonica rack around Reed's neck so he could play guitar and harp at the same time as well. So I was surprised that the harmonica solo deviated sharply from the patented Jimmy Reed sound since Boz followed the blues-print up to that point. Guess that's why production retirement is my next selected future plan.

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Boz be breakin' bad

7. "Whatever Turns You On" — Daniel Norgren (1:58)

You can't tell on this track, but this singer is a Swedish lad with a taste for the blues. Born in 1983, he prefers the one-man band sound and usually performs in this mode. Unless he has four hands and feet, there are other musicians on this track, or he might have played all the parts by overdubbing. He has a great feel and strong respect for the past and it serves his purpose well. His last album was released in 2011. I hope he comes over here to play, as I am a fan just from this short track. Sometimes feel is everything.

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8. "Equus" — Blonde Redhead (3:13)

There are at least three bands that subscribe to this genre which I call neo-avante garde and I consider Captain Beefheart to be the founder. Deerhoof and Don Caballero are the other two and I enjoy the envelope-pushing of all three. Deerhoof and Blonde Redhead are REALLY similar because they are both fronted by a female singer. This is a good choice for you to see what BR is all about — a great deal of guitar exploration and lead vocals that tend toward a feline sound. This is NOT for everyone, but maybe there's a few of you out there.

9. "Under the Weather" — The Rescues (2:57)

Conceptually only, this reminds me of Fleetwood Mac — two women, three men writing and blending together in a team effort. These are former Berklee students who headed for the palm trees of Hollywood and clicked pretty quickly once they transplanted. One of the women was in my class when I taught at Berklee, and I thought she had promise. If the radio was what it used to be, this might've been all over it at this time. I'm gonna keep my eye and ear on them out of curiosity.

10. "The Woman With the Beautiful Hair" — Griffin House (3:50)

There were two or three earlier tunes from this artist that caught my ear, but now it seems his talent is growing even stronger. This is a wonderful lyric — almost out of the Warren Zevon book. The delivery, arrangement and production stay way clear of crowding the song itself, and that's an even better set-up. Now if Griffin can get some listeners, I think it's time he deserves a little more respect. I love this lyric and, for that matter, everything about this. Wouldn't mind hearing Lou Reed take a stab at this, but I doubt Lou is waiting on this man. Too bad...

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