Heritage Blues Orchestra
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. "The Healer" — Todd Rundgren (3:15)
This is one of my favorite Rundgren tracks. The time signature divisions are amazing and it’s a great composition musically and lyrically. Yeah — so what’s new with Todd? 1981 and there is a spellbinding performance on SNL that year, but I couldn’t find it on YouTube. This will just have to do if you’ve never heard it before or not in a long while...
2. "Smokestack Woman" — Black Country Communion (3:38)
I didn’t know anything about this before listening. It just grabbed me by the throat and I felt zapped by The Zep. Now as I’m doing research on it, I see Jason Bonham (right) is on drums, and Glenn Hughes (left) is on bass and Plantable vocals and Joe Bonamassa (second from left) is on Paged guitar. There’s a keyboard player as well, but I can barely hear him in this mix. If you like Led Zeppelin, you’ll be glad to know there are three albums out by these lads. This is the latest studio one from this year. There’s a debut from 2010 and a live (!) album from 2011, all produced by Kevin Shirley, I believe. This is rockin’ good fun, especially for Zepheads.
3. "More Than a Woman" — Angie Stone feat. Calvin (3:14)
This is a throwback to more traditional R&B and that’s a rare blessing nowadays. I like the fact that each verse is a totally different arrangement — peoples was workin’ here! Great lead and background singing and it took me back to the good ol' days. And who is Calvin? He does most of the singing and does he have a last name?
4. "I Like It" — DeBarge (3:55)
Now this IS the good ol' days — '70s serendipity, with the amazing lead vocals of Eldra DeBarge, a man who can easily sing higher than a woman whenever he gets ready. This is the real deal by a lamented group that broke up waaaay too soon.
5. "Do You Ever Dream About Me" — Joe Moralez (3:36)
When I see an act I never heard of on iTunes and the record company is listed as the artist's name, it is rarely listenable. There ARE exceptions, but very few. This is the BEST track I have ever heard from this particular scenario. Somebody snap this guy up quick — he is a multi-talented mutha. Resides in Nashville and tours as a keyboard player for Brandon Heath. Love this track! Brandon, let him sing this in your set!
6. "A Nervous Tic Motion" — Andrew Bird (3:24)
Andrew was one of the first acts that jumped out at me when I began my iTunes journey in the early millennium. This was the first song that got me curious enough to always pay attention to a new Andrew release. His work always brims over with originality and he has become a famous fiddler at summer music festivals all over the world.
8. "Whiskey Train" — Procol Harum (4:15)
Of all people, you wouldn’t think PH could ever do something like this. But they did, on their second album, way back when and many people missed it. If you did, you’re gonna love this Robin Trower showpiece. I will even trot this out onstage myself every now and then.
7. "Get Right Church" — Heritage Blues Orchestra (3:12)
If you are a rabid blues fan and your ears are coated with years of tones produced by The Allmans, Joe Bonamassa, The Black Keys, etc., it's time to set aside some time and listen to this album and watch the video because they are infused with two sadly missing ingredients that few harbor today: joy and dignity. I have watched many African American blues legends be held down by sidemen sorely bereft of these qualities. God bless this band; they are truly needed in this world and I am glad they are finally here. Buy this album—trust me—but more importantly, go see them live. They will put those tears back in your eyes. P.S. Having an amazing horn section is not wasted on me either.
9. "Would You Lie to Me" — Tony Rich (2:35)
So far he’s been a one-hit wonder, but this is a pleasant track on the ears and I have enjoyed hearing it more than once. It is newer than older but has the spirit of classic R&B.
10. "I Need Some Sleep" — The Eels (2:12)
When I heard the Eels track (band name for this solo guy) “Things The Grandchildren Should Know,” I could not believe I didn’t write that lyric. There is some tie between me and this guy. Then when I saw THIS title, I thought, "A fellow insomniac, I must meet him someday." But after two listens, this is more suicidal than insomnia-fused and now I REALLY hope I meet him SOON. This is a fine example of when lo-fi works well with the subject matter. I hate to leave you on this note, but this was the only place to put this track this week. Just don’t listen to the words; some of you do that, doncha?