Heather McEntire of Mount Moriah
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. "Out In the Country" — Bobby Taylor (3:12)
What does this sad song have to do with comedy? Bobby Taylor’s former backup group, The Vancouvers (famous for their R&B hit “Does Your Mama Know About Me”), contained one Tommy Chong of Cheech and fame; he previously played guitar in the group and sang backup. This track occured after that hit, when Taylor went solo, but is nonetheless vintage Motown and is surprisingly obscure. Taylor was a great singer who was worthy of Motown.
2. "Heaven" — Longhouse (3:12)
This doesn’t appear to have been a group, but rather a vehicle for singer/songwrIter Lisa Herman on Warner Brothers circa 1989. This is a rare a cappella track quite deftly arranged, recorded, and sung. I’ve always loved this and am glad I still have the rare CD. Maybe one other track jumped out as well, but I still feel it’s worth it just for “Heaven.” That’s where I go whenever I give it a spin. Hope you’re doin’ okay, Lisa, and you’re NOT in Heaven yet...
3. "In the Land of Make Believe" — Dionne Warwick (3:01)
I think this is my fave Bachrach/David/Warwick song of them all. The melody and chord changes are still fascinating to me over 40 years later. I was once at a Carl Wilson solo album session and on a break Carl sat down at the piano and played and sang it solo. THAT was the second best version I ever heard. He never actually recorded it, unfortunately, or Dionne would have had some serious competition in my house.
A few years ago, folkster Damien Rice burst on the scene and had a great run with an album and single. Seen live he was aided and abetted by a mysterious young woman who filled in all the gaps in his bare-boned backup band. This is her — cellist, guitarist, singer/songwriter Lisa Hannigan. This is a wonderful lyric; it really stands out to me as someone who understands and is skilled in the ways of wordcraft. A few more like this and she will rise to the top of the acoustic/folk genre. Try it, it’ll make you smile.
5. "I Can Make It Through the Days" — Ray Charles (3:52)
If it must be a waltz, Lord, let Ray Charles sing it. This is an amazing, obscure B side that only Ray fanatics know and I thought I would share it with all of you this week. My favorite part is just before the last verse when he ad libs “Ya know sometimes I even talk to myself and I say” ... I sure do miss him but be advised there is a five(!) volume box set of all his singles and B sides from the ABC-Paramount catalogue due out any day now on Concord. This will be included on it, hopefully in stereo.
6. "My Boat" — Brad Love (3:27)
Time was not on the side of Brad Love. This LP came out in 1982 just before widespread CD manufacturing. It would have been a marvelous CD sound-wise. If you like early Bee Gees give this a listen. I admit it’s not for everyone, but it caught my ear in ’82 and became part of the Al collection albeit on vinyl. Excellent production by session guitarist John Hug at Record Plant Hollywood.
7. "Electric Night" — Unicorn (3:13)
A folky band produced by a guy from Pink Floyd? The folk rock won in this battle and I must say David Gilmour did a great job with this UK band fronted by Ken Baker who wrote most of the songs. I know of two albums that came out on EMI in the US. This track is pretty timeless and has some great guitar sounds on it. A solid band plays a solid song circa 1974, but as I said, coulda been released last week.
8. "Big Mamou" — Fiddlin’ Frenchie Burke (2:32)
This is primarily for guitar lovers, and a little Cajun every now and then ain’t gonna hurt anyone. This is some fiery pedal steel and electric guitar playing. That's what drew me to it. But a Cajun yodel every now and then can’t hurt you either. Pretty rockin’ stuff...
9. "I'm Done" — Mark Ballas (3:34)
This is brand new. The only guy I can find with this name danced on that show I couldn’t possibly watch with people competing in ballroom dancing. This song ain't bad and he can sing at least and play decent guitar. I guess a lotta people got to see him on national TV but do they know he can do this? Part of me wants to take this down but I did like it before I found out about his other life. So he stays...
10. "Lament" — Mount Moriah (2:08)
This is pretty new and this Durham, NC group is doin’ somethin’ here. This is comparatively raw but it is surely from the heart and that always gets a lotta points. The singer Heather McEntire deserves to be a big star. Keep tuned in to this band. Here they are LIVE. And as Heather says here: “If this will be anything, then let it be over.” See ya next week!