We lost Joe just as we were going to press. I was just getting around to the comparatively modern Joe recordings and REALLY enjoying his vocal maturity. I am glad he got there and that he was properly produced and recorded. There's actually another great track in a couple of weeks. R.I.P. to the Singin' Shepherd of Sheffield…
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.
1. "Stay With Me" — Romain Virgo (3:00)
Jeez, I wish MY name was Romain Virgo and that I could sing like this. But he grew up in Jamaica around Kingston. I grew up in Jamiaca, too — Jamaica, Queens, however. So that similarity yields nothing for me. Back to Romain. At 17 he won the Digital Rising Stars competition with a million dollar prize and a recording contract. His first album was released in 2010 and now his cover of the Sam Smith #1 hit challenges even top priority Sam but I don’t think enough people have heard it. Now you will...
2. "I'll Be There" — I Nine (2:28)
This band had a great deal of momentum but hit a brick wall when the female lead singer bailed just as they were at full ascension so she could “go to college.” She’s a great singer and I hope she can quickly do both.
3. "I Need My Girl" — The National (3:04)
They’ve been in here before. This is a tasty track that is carefully controlled musically not to break out into anything and stays mostly static throughout. It works somehow, mostly because of the tension and the vocal. Nice work, lads!
4. "Perish" — Brooke Waggoner (2:39)
It seems my friend Art Fein is the only person I can comfortably discuss Brooke with. Art is a step ahead of me as he has seen her perform live and I have not. I guess she gets to LA more often than Somerville, MA. I am still a big fan. This is from her most recent album Originator and does not betray her past original work in ANY way. She is unique as she writes the arrangements as well. Not many of those females were EVER around...
5. "I Put a Spell on You" — Joe Cocker (3:00)
One thing it is NOT is Screamin’ Joe Hawkins. Over time, Joe has comparatively calmed down from, fer instance, the famous Woodstock appearance. This is a different approach, including a hefty string section. It does pay tribute to the original version, but it is NOT the copy it could have been and that’s why it is here.
6. "Tired of Giving Up" — Ryan Adams (2:43)
This is probably the third enclosure from Ryan’s new album. I really like this collection and I think his whole approach is on an upswing. I also think he is in a class by himself at this point as a singer/songwriter/performer. I hope other people are aware of this CD and are enjoying it as much as I am. In this time of hip-hop, electronica, and whatever, it is refreshing to hear an approach that started in the '60s and can still hold firm footing today. I give him this year's Roger McGuinn/Jackson Browne award.
7. "Careful" — The Thompson Family (2:51)
It’s hard to tell who’s who other than the comparatively familiar sounds of the patriarch and matriarch. I assume the oldest lad is Teddy and then I am lost. This track features Kami, who is also in the band The Rails. She was born in 1983 to Richard and Linda. This is a very Richard track — it sounds like a Richard Thompson song, the guitar licks are obviously Richard (and purr-fect) and Kami sings it well and maybe could have written it.
8. "Come From the Heart" — Hard Working Americans (3:17)
For now, they are operating in the shadow of The Band. It will be interesting to see what boots they don when they are through with their baby shoes. Rosanne Cash joins in on the choruses and this would have been more striking if the load hadn’t already been taken off Fanny.
9. "Keep Right On" — Lewis Taylor (3:19)
Lewis is a great singer from the UK. So far, he has either dwelled in Brian Wilson land or white soul territory, from whence this track emanates. I wouldn’t call this lyric anything special but his voice always gets me. I’d personally like to see him step OUT of both those above categories and try original shaky ground. It worked for the late Robert Palmer.
10. "I Don't Want to Change You" — Damien Rice (3:52)
Now here’s a man who dwells in his own land, win or lose. His debut album was pretty amazing and his second was not as compositionally strong as the first and a little confusing in subject matter. This is from what should be considered his third album (after releasing a live album and a B sides collection), My Favorite Faded Fantasy, and after eleven years from the first that’s about right. This track caught me immediately and shows his spark is still intact and he stands in his own spot. This is a great song, a great arrangement and a great vocal. Humbly, I ask for no more of any artist.
For the next two weeks we will include columns from our first year which I suspect many of you might have missed as we did not have the mailing list of thousands we happily have now. I will be on the road and it beats having no columns as we did twice recently because of turkey day and Santa clauses. New music returns at the start of February, but I suggest you try the replacement older columns as they may be new columns to you. I will be on a rare west coast jaunt to perform and also do filming for various documentary-type projects. Hoping to survive the various airports In these troubled times.
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