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. "Your Love Made a U-Turn" — Tift Merritt (2:33)
Gnashville gal gets around writing in many genres. Here she takes on '60s soul and hits it right on the head. Without blinking, she can also sing a country ballad or a top ten pop hit. No shrift for Tift!
2. "We Were Only Making Love" — Jules Shear (4:15)
I’ve been following Jules for years; I love much of his songwriting. I think this is my favorite one lyrically. I've played it a few times every year since its inception in the ‘90s. After singing the title he continues: “I thought that we were really doin’ somethin’ but we were only making love.” Damn.... wish I’d thought of that.
3. "I Don't Know Why (I Love You)" — Stevie Wonder (2:45)
Comparatively obscure, this late '60s standout was commonly heard by musicians and hipsters who follow this sort of night on the Motown. The thing that makes this a standout, besides the lyric, is Stevie’s vocal performance. The recording engineer compressed his voice to the max, so that every sound that came out of his mouth was equal in volume. Listen one time to just the vocal and all the breaths and grunts that rhythmically propel him through his journey, especially in the fade. It was covered by a lot of the musicians who originally heard it, but nobody can compete with those grunts and groans (well, maybe in the bedroom, but not while singing). Rare, soulful, and amazing.
4. "Put Out the Light" — Buckwheat (2:38)
Debbie Campbell stuck out in Michael Smotherman’s early '70s band attempt. She was on a par with Delaney’s Bonnie, but it seems she couldn’t find her way to the right place at the right time. Singing-wise, I think this will do. Where is she now and can she still sing this well? Ah, she probably owns controlling interest in Campbell’s Soups and will never see this. But YOU can have a wee tablespoon of Creme a la Crème de Soul soup right here, right now...
5. "My World Fell Down" — Sagittarius (2:52)
Surf music producers Gary Usher and Curt Boetcher collaborated on this timeless track that made Brian Wilson’s face turn white after his initial listen. Gary Usher was trying to find a hot single for Chad & Jeremy when this UK-composed goodie came his way. C&J hated it, so Gary went into the studio and cut it with all studio personnel because he could. His boss, Clive Davis, went berserk over it and an album was soon made, fronted by Curt Boetcher. They never topped the initial single and here is an amazing stereo mix of it.
6. "The River Bayou" — The Beckies (2:50)
Michael Brown was the writing, arranging, and keyboard brains behind The Left Banke ("Walk Away Renee," "Pretty Ballerina"), Stories ("Brother Louie"), and The Beckies, who had three pretty great tracks on their only album on Sire Records in 1976. Here’s one. The lead vocal is very Left Bankey as is the song. Michael Brown was/is a genius at this kind of music. It just rolls right off his mind.
7. "Non Photo Blue" — Pinback (3:12)
Founded in 1998 by Zach Smith and Rob Crow, Pinback have created a very recognizable signature sound. They remind me in some ways of a modern-day Kinks. But they annoy the piss outta me by constantly making their lead vocals barely discernible in all their self-mixes. Plus they are quietly influential enough so that others now do the same thing. GRRRRRRR!!! Rob, please read this and try making the vocals louder. The tracks deserve it. I did my best here to make the vocals louder, but I suspect to no avail. Okay. I’m off the soapbox now. Enjoy this, folks, it rocks!
8. "I Only Want to Be With You" — Shelby Lynne (2:35)
A few years ago, Shelby released an album of Dusty Springfield covers. I was shocked! I thought this was something that Britgal Duffy or Kristina Train shoulda done as their voices are more reminiscent of Ms. Dusty than Shelby’s. I bought the album and I quickly "got it." It was the material she was focusing on and making her own - it was a Shelby Lynne album, but with songs provided by the late Springfield’s various albums. She also stayed as far as she could get from the originals and damned if she didn’t make most of these songs her own. ESPECIALLY this one. This was Dusty’s first solo pop hit and it was VERY poppy and fast and bouncy. Shelby threw all that out and showed me there was a great song hiding in Dusty’s rendition. Ms. Lynne’s version makes you realize just what a great song it really was hiding in all that poppy bouncy-bounce all those years ago. And God bless singers who CAN do that. Amen, Shelby...
9. "The Farmer Feeds Us All" — Ry Cooder (3:52)
Ry Cooder has spent his entire career making music like this. But how come, to the best of my knowledge (and TV coverage), nobody has sung this at Farm Aid, where it should be the national anthem and everyone should stand up when it’s performed?
10. "Unemployed Boyfriend" — Everclear (4:14)
This is like a white Insane Clown Posse term paper. It’s like a Kurt & Courtney reality radio show. From the spoken intro, which is very clever, through songwriting, arranging, and production, this is a perfect track. It’s also extremely humorous. Kudos to these guys (and gals). They should have won some kinda award for this. I’ll just make one and pin it on ‘em next time I see ‘em. Well done, lads and lassies! If anything was ever clear, it’s that this is a great band!
More great music next week.