New Music for Old People: Little Milton, Little Feat, Jill Sobule, XTC and More

By , Columnist

Jill Sobule

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.

TMR0104 by Lisa on Grooveshark

1. "Where Would I Be Without You?" — Edgar Winter (3:17)

Most of the musicians I know were heavily influenced by Ray Charles, myself included. On occasion we will unabashedly let those influences be plainly seen for various reasons. Edgar does so in this instance and he’s just so damn good at it (including a great alto sax solo) that it begs to be appreciated. This is from 1971 but still sounds mighty fine today.

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2. "Still Love You" — Tom McRae (2:03)

Tom is an English singer-songwriter born in 1969. His first album came out in 2001. This is from his 2010 album Alphabet of Hurricanes and mostly features Tom singing and strumming a uke on a pleasant love song. I like the mood and simplicity of this track — I think he does just what needs to be done to put this over with a restraint rarely employed nowadays.

3. "Lines Around Your Eyes" — Lucinda Williams (3:10)

As Lucinda and I get older, I enjoy her vocals even more. This is a great song and she delivers it perfectly. The accordion and guitar solos are just right as well. What can I say? She will be with us for quite a while longer while she keeps recording top-notch tunes like this. Love the lyrics.

4. "Come On In This Kitchen" — Cassandra Wilson (2:56)

In the past, many have shouldered the task of covering this Robert Johnson gem. This version REALLY sticks out because of the vocal, the arrangement and the simpatico of her backing musicians, especially drummer Lance Carter. The time is divided and subdivided here spontaneously and the band is fearless. Cassandra’s vocal ranges from blues derivative to high-class jazz at her whim. It is recorded and mixed beautifully in the Blue Note tradition by Danny Kopelson. I think this was her first album and was released in 1993 under the title Blue Light Til Dawn. Timeless.

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5. "Heroes" — Jill Sobule (2:18)

For a late night hang, Jill is one of my favorite companions. Her sense of humor is hilarious, and her insights are unique. Actually, this song is a pretty good example of that as she pokes holes into the histories of those that have inspired many of us. She is a special songwriter in that respect; she is able to express thoughts that many people think but that rarely make the journey from the brain to the mouth. Great playing by the band as well.

6. "Darling, Take Me Back" — New York City (4:06)

Thank God there was a Thom Bell in the '60s and '70s. He wrote, arranged and produced myriad soul sensations including the Spinners, the Stylistics, the Delfonics and this great group that unfortunately got lost but certainly not for any reason I can ascertain. I have peppered my columns with ‘missing’ tracks by them, but now there’s only one left after this one, so I will choose my next inclusion carefully. Meanwhile, I know you’ll enjoy this.

7. "Livin' Off the Love You Give Me" — Little Milton (2:26)

A comparatively rare moment in his massive discography where he recorded for the Stax organization in Memphis. That's probably the MG’s behind him, although all the lead guitar work is obviously Milton. This is very Motown Temptations-influenced, but Milton gets all HIS trademarks in it within its short two and a half minute length. His Chess catalog is peerless and should be heard by anyone serious about '60s R&B. He has influenced many, including this humble follower.

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8. "Parole" — Todd Rundgren (3:20)

An early solo track, maybe even from his first or second solo album. Lyrically he speaks for many when he says, "It ain’t easy bein’ on parole with you, baby..." I have lived that scenario myself a few times in my long life. Great guitar playing and singing, but clearly not up to his soon-to-be stellar production and engineering standards. Nonetheless, it's a great track that paved the way to a great, memorable career.

9. "Kiss It Off" — Little Feat (2:37)

Although right off the bat they were filled with originality in all areas, this third album, Dixie Chicken, released in January of 1973, put the personnel in order for a string of recordings that changed the world of music. Comparatively buried in that perfect album is a track that shone the light for future electronica, which had never been heard before. They don’t get credit for it either. Bill Payne’s keyboard work on this was way ahead of everyone else and Lowell George gave him all the room he needed to shape this track in a way that had never been heard previously. It's hard not to recall Lowell singing, "A milquetoast Hitler ain’t no velvet glove..." either. A beacon in the past to the electronica of today, early genius unfurled.

10. "Playground" — XTC (3:31)

I’ve always thought that if The Beatles had gotten over their musical differences that they might have sounded similar to this band, which stepped in to continue what the Fab Four started. The most exemplary track is “Towers Of London,” certainly a synonym for The Beatles from the Revolver-like Black Sea album. This track also shows that inclination, but with more XTC-ness than Beatality (if I may invent a word for this purpose). They started out in Lennon-Land, but soon found themselves thick in the clutches of co-bandleader Andy Partridge, who surely knew where to go here. This is from late-period XTC but reminds us how much The Beatles were a part of that band. Thanks for listening/reading and welcome to 2013!

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