New Music for Old People: Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Rita Coolidge, Scanners and More

By , Columnist

Ray Charles

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.

TMR0511 by Lisa on Grooveshark

1. "Good Vibrations" (a cappella) — Wilson Phillips (3:43)

An ambitious a capella undertaking by ANYONE, but this by Brian Wilson/John Phillips daughters makes it a blood effort and the results are surprisingly rewarding. The production is extremely skilled and that helps get the point across. A great listen and a great opener for this week. This is a month old, release-wise.

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2. "Tried to Please Her" — Reckless Sleepers (3:21)

This was an all star group headed up by Jules Shear (Jules & The Polar Bears, Funky Kings) and my good friend Jimmy Vivino (guitarist/bandleader on the Conan O’Brien show, Fab Faux, Rekooperators). They lasted for one album in 1988, Big Boss Sounds on IRS Records. I’ve always liked this track from it featuring (as usual) a great guitar solo by Vivino that reminds me of George Harrison. Jules has done many solo albums over the years showcasing his unique songwriting abilities.

3. "Right Down the Line" — Bonnie Raitt (3:58)

Bonnie’s back again happily and this Gerry Rafferty cover is well chosen for her voice and guitar skills. This is from her new album, Slipstream, released in April, 2012. Bonnie continues to grow as an artist and her voice and guitar playing have matured magnificently. She sounds better every album — and that is no mean feat!

4. "The Lady's Not for Sale" — Rita Coolidge (4:10)

Back when my dear friend David Anderle was producing Rita, I happened to drop into this session to visit. As there was an organist and pianist already in place, sitting in was difficult BUT I grabbed a guitar from the trunk of my car (hey, that rhymes!) and forewent an amplifier, plugging right into the recording console. The engineer added a touch of reverb and I played a laid back lead part that did its best to stay out of everyone’s way. I’ve always loved this track and I don’t think it’s well known. I believe it was from the mid-'70s, but I could be wrong. Rita sang backup on many of my albums and I have always been a huge fan of her rich voice.

5. "If You Ever Get Your Hands on Love" — Gladys Knight (2:40)

This is from Gladys’s glorious Motown tenure. This is extremely obscure but woulda shoulda been a top tenner if they only had played it on the radio. AND it’s in scintillating stereo here!

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6. "Hold On" — The Radiants (2:54)

While the machinery in Detroit was cranking out very listenable hits, producer/arranger Charles Stepney was having his way with the R&B faction at Chess Records in Chicago. A lot of his work got lost but not by me; I followed everything he did and had a great appreciation for his work. This was a minor hit back in the day but ALWAYS sounds great. Unfortunately, they don’t make records like this anymore. Hip hop/rap sounded the death knell for vintage '70s R&B, unfortunately.

7. "Bring Me Along" — Pepper (2:53)

A Hawaiian trio that worships reggae? They've got quite a geographical journey to get to Kingston, lemme tell ya! They’ve been around since the ‘90s and this is from the No Shame album of 2006. They excel at feel-good music and this is some of that.

8. "Good Thing" — The Raiders (3:03)

So it’s 1966 and The Blues Project is on the road in three cars driving all night long to get somewhere and perform the next day. I admit there’s a bit of opium in the car and we’re feelin’ no pain and yakkin’ it up when this music comes on the radio. I turn it up and make everyone shut up and hear two thirds of this record. It sounds like the Stones made a record produced by Brian Wilson! It’s killin’ me and I have to listen to two pieces of crap to get the back-announcement that it’s freakin’ Paul Revere and The Raiders! I bought this 45 single as soon as I could and it’s in my top ten as one of the best records ever. It's produced by Terry Melcher (Doris Day’s son!) who also produced all the early Byrds records. Lead singer Mark Lindsay’s (at left in photo) take on Mick Jagger is the best one I’ve ever heard. Also this version has no fade. This is a perfect record for all time.

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9. "Salvation" — Scanners (2:08)

A London-based band formed in 2004 featuring Matthew Mole and Sarah Daly. This is from their 2010 album Submarine, which is quite good and laden with tasty hooks. A bit of electronica rings through and they have paid their dues, playing alongside bigger bands and slowly making their mark. I like the construction of this track and this radio edit moves right along. Lyrically, it sets up the next track quite well.

scanners.jpg

10. "Angelina" (Live) — Ray Charles (3:45)

If it’s a sad song and Ray sings it, have some tissues nearby. Ray died in 2004; this was posthumously released in 2010 and a studio version of the song was originally on a 2005 album of previously unreleased material. So it’s late in Ray’s life, but you could never tell. That VOICE can still easily convey the various pains surrounding us; here it’s the death of a treasured woman and you gotta be pretty tough to keep a dry eye. Ray, you also left me no choice but to close with you because who in this column could really follow what you did here? We miss ya, Ray, but you left us with an abundance of memories that still cover the Earth, permeating our hearts and souls daily. Amen, y’all...

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Legendary musician (Bob Dylan, Blues Project, Super Session, Blood Sweat & Tears), producer (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nils Lofgren, The Tubes) and author (Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards), Al is happy to join the staff of The Morton Report in an effort to help his fellow listeners stay in tune!

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