New Music for Old People: Leslie West, Kings of Leon, Charles Brown, Ketty Lester and More

By , Columnist

Leslie West

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.

TMR1108 by Lisa on Grooveshark

1. "Put Your Arms Around Me" — The Hawk in Paris (3:26)

An off-shoot from the band Jars of Clay, this is fer sure NOT the same sound as JOC. This track has roots in Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound at its peak and that's what grabbed me initially. This is a very well produced track although I cannot find any credits for that online. This is from their initial album Freaks, just out a few days ago. I think big things are in store for them if they can somehow get this sound out to waiting ears. Your help is required if you enjoy this.

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2. "Work on Me" — Kings of Leon (2:57)

They are back after considerable time off laboring in the studio. I think they’ve stepped up a notch with their new album, Mechanical Bull. This is my fave track from it and I think a good job was done by all. Initial sales look good.

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3. "Love Letters" — Ketty Lester (2:39)

Born in 1934, she's close to 80 now, but has triumphed over time by diversifying. Old people will surely recall her amazing top ten single of 1961 dusted off here today. She had one small follow-up but could not connect with any other top ten placement. Didn’t matter. Years later, David Lynch used this track to great effect in his landmark film Blue Velvet. By that time, Ketty had changed her profession to actress and appeared in a handful of blaxploitation films such as Up Tight (1968), Blacula (1972), Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and the more legitimate Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975). She spent two years in the TV soap opera Days of Our Lives as Helen Grant and FIVE years on the classic TV series Little House on the Prairie. She is still with us and has left a memorable musical trail with this still great-sounding track featuring Lincoln Mayorga on piano.

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A rare shot of Ketty on "Soul Train" singing that old Hollies hit. Just kidding ... nice dress, though.

4. "The Wind's Gonna Blow You Away" — Joe Ely (4:02)

I met Joe when I lived in Austin, Texas in 1980-81, and produced an EP of his called Live Shots. He’s an amazing live performer and I always thought of him as the rockabilly Springsteen. Here he is nowadays accompanied tastefully by accordionist Joel Guzman coupled with Joe’s rhythmic acoustic guitar. He doesn’t sound a day older and that's no mean feat. I’m surprised they didn’t play this on the Weather Channel this week.

5. "For the Rest of My Life" — Robin Thicke (3:33)

Riding the waves of a 2013 Marvin Gaye-influenced top-five smash, this is from the accompanying album, Blurred Lines. I find the lyric a bit strange for Robin as he claims to be a teenager a few times within and he’s got at LEAST a decade’s distance from that age group, but I like the way the rest of the track/song is put together. I support people who emulate old soul records rather than the neo-soul offshoots of hip hop/and rap.

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Not many guys can get themselves into this position pelvically, ya know...

6. "Drew" — Goldfrapp (3:37)

This is a potentially good song and very subtle arrangement that could have been magnificent but is amazingly marred by the over-compressed vocal and equalization that causes most of the lyric to be highly unintelligible. I have liked various tracks by her in the past, but the mix/recording engineer did her in on this promising goodie. If they did that on purpose, then we’re too old to follow her anymore.

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Goldfrapp models her Madonna Halloween costume from Wal-Mart.

7. "Up Around the Bend" — Social Distortion (3:16)

Times have changed. When the punk/slash ripped guitars of 1983 evolve into a John Fogerty track from a cartoon movie, you’re either brave (which I think they are) or confused (which I think they are not). As they enter their fourth decade of popularity and sold-out shows, I say do what you wanna do. As a matter of fact, this is a credible Creedence Clearwater cover and shows just how diversified they can be. The movie’s a bomb, but what do you expect from a 2013 item titled Free Birds?

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8. "Night Time Is the Right Time" — Timi Yuro (2:17)

Timi covered this Ray Charles chestnut just about the time the Rolling Stones were making their first album. And her voice is waaay closer to the Genius than Jagger's was when his merry band covered this about two tours ago. This is a great example of the diversity of the late Ms. Yuro, who set an early example of what dedicated, talented white people can do with an ethnic music that was originally not their own. Since then Mike Bloomfield, Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse have followed in her footsteps. But for a tiny gal, I think her shoes were bigger.

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9. "Joyce's Boogie" — Charles Brown (1:53)

This live track is a little shaky, but its roots hold it in place despite the occasional catch-up time. Brown is a great pianist, singer and dresser from my past who has always been a wonderful influence especially in stage clothes selection. This sticks out in a good way, nonetheless.

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This where Al learned to dress onstage and mike his shoulder correctly.

10. "Dyin' Since the Day I Was Born" — Leslie West (3:57)

I have been a fan for many decades and we are two Jews from Long Guy-land as well. Jimmy Vivino and I once played on a bill with him and, of course, he was the closer. He came out onstage and started playing "The Star-Spangled Banner." After a few bars, he stopped and SCREAMED at the audience, "STAND UP! THIS IS THE GODDAMNED NATIONAL ANTHEM!" And they did. All of ‘em. In 2011, he had his lower right leg amputated due to diabetes complications. Based on his new album Still Climbing, I think his playing and singing are at their career best and I couldn’t find a bad track on the whole album. I like this one the best, though — great title and wonderful guitar solos. He is the king of tone and I hope he keeps recording for the rest of his amazing life... amen.

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