New Music for Old People: Donna Summer, Civil Twilight, Ernie Halter, Aretha Franklin and More

By , Columnist

The Bulgarian State Television Female Choir

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.

TMR0615 by Lisa on Grooveshark

1. "Moma Houbava" — Bulgarian State Television Female Choir (2:11)

Somehow, I feel that most of you may have missed hearing this amazing amalgam of vocal prowess in your listening life. This is folk music from Bulgaria. In 1965, in Cambridge, MA, Geoff and Maria Muldaur played an LP for me called Music of Bulgaria on the Nonesuch label. It is STILL available albeit on CD. Trust me — a purchase will make your life better in more than a few ways. There is nothing quite like this. In the '80s they began playing concert tours in America. That’s five times as good as buying the CD. For many years, this was the only world music I avidly listened to. In my old age I’m more open in my choices.

2. "Slide Over Backwards" — Donna Summer (2:15)

Born Donna Gaines on New Year's Eve, 1948 in Boston (!), she changed the world in her life, and her track “Love to Love You, Baby” is probably responsible for much of the second baby boom. This is an unusual track for her vocally as she crosses over into hardcore Tina Turner territory. And it’s post-millennial as well. She acquits herself admirably in this genre and I kinda wanted more of this, but sadly, never got it. I’m currently still trying to figure out the exact choreography of the title!


3. "For What It's Worth" — Jeffrey Osborne (3:07)

The best cover, hands down, of the Buffalo Springfield version, off an amazing 2005 album called From the Soul that's worth purchasing in its entirety. Jeff remains a world-class soul singer.

4. "Milwaukee Protocol" — Bright Moments (3:04)

A Hammond organ would have been much more listenable/appropriate than the included accordion (!), but once you’re past the first verse, the arrangement pretty much swallows it up, thankfully. I have no idea what the title means vis a vis the lyric I can hear, but it is an enjoyable listen. In the '60s I did have a bumper sticker that said “Play an accordion - GO TO JAIL!” This is a good track nonetheless, and I'm awaiting other bright moments.

5. "River" — Civil Twilight (2:35)

This is from their 2012 album Holy Weather, which is pretty darn good. I think I downloaded five songs from this and that’s a large rarity for me nowadaze. This is a trio featuring two brothers from Cape Town, South Africa who relocated to Los Angeles in 2005, and then, more recently, to Gnashville. They are pretty far from a country band. This is a representative track of what they do. If you like it, take a walk in some holy weather this summer. It’s good for your ears.


6. "Different Lives" — Ernie Halter (3:42)

This is from 2008 on an album called Starting Over. It’s the Ernie album that got across to me and also to his majority of female admirers. I can hear/see why — it’s basic and straight to the heart. A good example of that was Are You Experienced, Jimi Hendrix’s first album before he became comparatively inundated with production, guitar tricks, and far more psychedelic lyrics. So think of this song/album as you do Jimi’s first; I can see some young woman starting over by taking off her top and putting on ernie halter she desires from her collection.


7. "California" — Delta Spirit (2:24)

Another dip into the electronica pouch here. The stuff I’m drawn to in this genre are songs that lean more towards pop but have an electronic orchestration. Here’s one now. The lyric is actually similar to Ernie Halter's simplicity above this. The guy in this band is not taking any chances with his break-up — he wants his former to not only get outta the house but move outta STATE as well. He says it’s okay for her to hook up once she gets there as well. Not a good sign.

8. "What I Don't Know Won't Hurt Me" — Paul Thompson (2:36)

What I don’t know about this artist and track does hurt me. It has an origin date of 1970. It sounds like a Joe Tex record of that time period which is why I like it. Anybody out there know about this track or singer? I know it’s only R&B but I like it, like it, yes I do. How ‘bout ‘choo?

9. "That's What Love Will Make U Do" — Janiva Magness (2:40)

This one track has now made me interested in this woman’s future work. A Detroit gal, she certainly had access to good music growing up. Her guitarist Zach Zunis nearly steals the show with his guitar work on this track. He reminds me of the late NY session guitarist Jimmy Spruill who played the solos on '60s hit records like "Tossing and Turning," "The Happy Organ," and "Kansas City." Thanks to Janiva and Zach, this is a rocking track with no outside help — it’s all her road band. Go catch her live. I will too!


10. "All the King's Horses" — Aretha Franklin (3:25)

Well, NOBODY follows THIS — a lesser-known 1972 triumph by The Queen that I still can never get enough of. Self-written from personal experience, she says, and covered much later at a faster tempo by Joss Stone. Nobody dares cover it slower.


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