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. "Happy Jack" — Southern Culture On The Skids (2:22)
Well, let’s start the New Year with something totally bizarre. How about a bluegrass-oriented cover of a Who song? Okay, then... who better than SCONTS? In comparison to the original, it reminds me of the cover of "My Little Red Book" originally recorded by Manfred Mann. The original was a deceptively complex ditty written and produced by Burt Bacharach. The cover was by Love, and whatever Bacharach complexities were too deep for them they reduced to simplicities. This is sorta like that, but not as basic as the Love version. And most of all, it’s happily jackily humorous.
2. "Bluebird" — Randall Goodgame (3:00)
This is just one that crawled under my skin and stayed there. At the weirdest times, I find myself walking around singing the chorus. It’s a well made track but one thing sticks in my craw. It’s the lyric...”sometimes it takes a bluebird to write a song.” Not in my neighborhood. Nonetheless, overall I celebrate this track and Randall’s hopefully unchanged last name. But Jeez, Randall... get a washcloth, scrub your piano, and tuck your shirt in!
3. "I Will" — Judie Tzuke (3:53)
Judie was discovered by Elton John in the '70s and recorded for his label, Rocket Records. She had a lotta publicity behind her that kept sending out these mahvelous photos of this striking blonde. So people just put up her photos and hired her on her looks and nobody REALLY listened to the music. So now she returns, but in a completely different environment. Nobody even knows she returned. And more's the pity, because this is a great song and and a great production and Judie is singing her older ass off. I hope you enjoy it and support her in the November of her years. She truly deserves it now.
4. "Airstream" — Fastball (3:12)
I like this band. They make good records. Never seen ‘em live. This is their second appearance in my column. This is a paean to those great trailers from the '40s and '50s that pop up every now and then in the used car market and get snapped up for big bucks. This song tells why.
5. "Simple Things" — Elisabeth Withers (3:18)
A Berklee grad with an additional master's degree, this gal ain’t foolin’ around. She graced the B’way stage in The Color Purple with assistance from the late, great Nick Ashford. This track is well-written and well-sung by this obvious ball of talent. Keeping track of her albums is a good idea if you like this.
6. "Sunshine" — Rhonda Smith (3:11)
Originally from Nova Scotia and a family of musicians, Rhonda parlayed all her skills and became Prince’s bassist for a decade, touring and recording with him all the way. From there she bounced right into Jeff Beck’s band where, I believe, she still resides. This is from one of her solo albums and it benefits from her Prince-time. Her ad lib vocals are pretty terrifying as well. I think the triad of amazing female bassists has her surrounded by Esperanza Spalding and Tai Wilkenfeld. I can’t find anyone emphasizing the downbeats on this track...but I’m from Queens and I’m white.
7. "Get Your Things" — Brandi Shearer (2:21)
Her experience was all around the world in various genres which helped build her strength in all facets, i.e. songwriting, singing, live performance, and recording. This track is a great example.
8. "Do I?" — Alice Smith (3:40)
This is one of the freshest sounding tracks in a long time. I love the song and I love the way she sings it. I couldn’t find anything I liked better on her one solo album, but this really got to me. Well done. She could be huge with a little luck...
9. "Get It While You Can" (Duet Version) — Howard Tate/Jerry Ragovoy (3:48)
Ironically, we lost this duo in 2011. This was Howard’s signature song and the writer/producer, Jerry Ragovoy, recut it in 2009 with just the two of them — Jerry, the songwriter and pianist accompanying Howard live in the studio. This is about as intimate as two can get musically and thankfully it was captured for all time.
10. "Give It Everything You Got" — Edgar Winter’s White Trash (4:08)
The engineer of this album, CBS staffer-at-the-time Pete Weiss, would sneak me listens as he closed in on finishing this masterpiece in 1971. I was awestruck. Encapsulating convincingly Sly Stone and bassist Larry Graham’s spin-off group Graham Central Station, this white trash don’t sound very white at all. This is about as soulful as white people can be. This stands up quite well today as nobody with blue eyes can really do THIS today. Edgar Winter can still do it and has ALWAYS had the goods. I just like this album better than all his others and here is why. Besides, how would I follow this? This has GOTTA be the closer... happy New Year.