New Music for Old People: Ed Sheeran, John Hiatt, Sam Smith Plus a Tribute to Bobby Womack

By , Columnist

Bobby Womack

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.

July112014 by Willow on Grooveshark

1. "Bloodstream" — Ed Sheeran (3:50)

I think with two or three top-flight albums, Ed has conquered the musical world. With a dazzling array of pedals at his feet, he can program his guitar and vocals into all kinds of off-kilter loops that he is able to make swing with his original stage act. This is my fave track from his brand new, chart-topping album X.

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"Can't seem to match the tattoos to my hair color..."

2. "Stronger Than That" — Bahamas (2:35)

Bahamas is the solo presentation of sideman Afie Jervanen, a guitarist from Toronto. Prior to going solo, he had backed up Feist and Howie Beck. He’s a great writer and arranger and completely got me on my first listen. His first album, Pink Strat, was released in 2009 and immediately nominated for a Juno award, Canada's Grammy. His second album, Barchords, came out in 2012 and the current one, Bahamas is Afie, comes out August 18. This track is from that album. He now headlines tours, ergo old guys like me know about him and enjoy all three albums.

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3. "Rude" — MAGIC! (3:38)

Here we go again. Is Toronto the new Seattle? This band, fronted by record producer Nasri Atweh (!), are all Toronto folks although their music is “reggae fusion.” This track was their breakthrough single that charted top ten all over the world. In their attempt to be a “modern-day Police,” they’re off to a great start. Their debut album Don’t Kill the Magic was just released last week. This is good stuff — although lyrically for the younger set, they are well-constructed songs.

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4. "Terms of My Surrender" — John Hiatt (3:06)

I feel like I can always depend on John. He has a facile hand at all he pursues. Sometimes he's better than other times, but his general level is quite high. This is a preview single from an upcoming album and it’s my favorite kinda Hiatt riot — a ballad, with a well-written, clever lyric, and perfectly laid back production. His voice is getting better with age. If the rest of the album is this good he’s in deep trouble, because where will people hear it? Remember, here is where the hear is...

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"NO! Absolutely NOT! Al Kooper is NOT permitted inside my trailer without a tie on!"

5. "Stay With Me" — Sam Smith (2:46)

Well, it won’t take much for you to remember his name. This comparatively new artist is ready to battle Robin Thicke for the white guy R&B title minus the personal Paula-type thrust, if you will. He’s younger, his hair is weirder, and his records are for everyone without the inside soap opera handle. I liked this right away — it’s to the point and done well on all levels. Big promo push by the label as well.

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6. "It's All Over Now" — The Valentinos (2:52)

I never got to meet Bobby Womack, but I was an ardent fan from the very beginning. Discovered by Sam Cooke, he began in this band which was filled with other family Womacks — a name that still endures with other talented relatives.The early Rolling Stones snatched this one up but their primeval recording does not hold a candle to this original, which never crossed the color barrier back in the early '60s. Musically knowledgeable fans were quickly mesmerized by his original singing AND tricky guitar playing. Forgive me while I play four more timeless tracks as I am deeply saddened by our mutual loss.

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7. "Lookin' for a Love" — Bobby Womack (2:34)

This is a later remake of another Valentinos single that made initial R&B noise back in the day, but by this time Womack was a successful solo artist and had his patented sound totally under control.

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8. "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" — Bobby Womack (2:06)

This goes under the heading of "he could record the phonebook and it would still be funky and masterful." This is from an early solo album where he covered unlikely songs and made them his. I HOPE Tony Bennett has heard this.

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9. "What Is This" — Bobby Womack (2:26)

This was a deep guitar-lesson-in-a-song from the same time frame as the above track. I played this over and over until I could duplicate the guitar playing (well...sort of ). His vocals were getting better and better. This seems to be inspired structurally by the Four Tops' “Reach Out” (even the bass playing!).

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10. "That's the Way I Feel About You" — Bobby Womack (4:13)

This has always been the top of Womack Mountain for me. This is a perfect record for all time. There's not a flaw in any department — I especially enjoy the lyric myself, but then there’s the guitar theme motif and one of his best vocals. This in in my top ten of classic R&B. I will always have his catalog within easy reach. Sad to see you leave the earth, Bobby, but an occasional glance toward the sky will just have to suffice for the time I have left down here. Miss ya, Bobby...

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