Here Come the Mummies
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. "First Sight" — PJ Morton (2:17)
This is PJ's second appearance in this column. I liked his first album and I like this one (New Orleans) too. He’s a Prince/Sly student with enough of his own originality to take flight.
2. "I Want You Back" — Straight No Chaser feat. Sara Bareilles (2:31)
I have also played Straight No Chaser before as I enjoy a cappella music and they are the Kings at the moment. I was unprepared for the great job Sara Bareilles does on this, however. Wow! Why don’t you write some songs with an R&B slant that challenge your voice like this does, girl? Think about it ... email me if you need help.
3. "99" — Toto (3:55)
This is my fave Toto track and I celebrate the opening of their 35th anniversary tour this week. I checked with Steve Lukather and he says the song is NOT about Barbara Feldon, Maxwell Smart’s girlfriend. It was more a reaction to the first Coppola film where the populace’s names were numbers. I will NEVER tire of this track (funny wordplay #816).
4. "I Wanna Stay Home" — Jellyfish (3:15)
When I was compiling a CD of other people doing Nilsson songs, I asked Harry who I should call. The only act he suggested was Jellyfish. They were in their infancy at the time, but they had already gotten to Harry. This is from their second album Bellybutton. It’s a title I should have written since I hardly leave the house, but they beat me to it.
5. "In Germany Before the War" — Marianne Faithfull (3:39)
The combo of this Randy Newman composition and the mature Marianne’s voice is perfection. The arrangement by Steve Weisberg is very Kurt Weill, and if ever Hal Wilner more perfectly produced anything else, lemme know. The track is culled from Easy Come Easy Go, an MF album from 2009 that I shall listen to more carefully after this discovery.
6. "Hot Talk" — Chuck Prophet (3:29)
I met Chuck when I produced the duo Green on Red, of which he was half, in 1990. For replicating Bob Dylan, I would say the verses in this track are as close as one could get — and maybe he purposely just let that go in the choruses. However, if you’re a Dylan fan, you’ll smile during the verses.
7. "Irene" — Trixie Whitley (2:59)
When Daniel Lanois chose Trixie for the lead vocalist in his latest band, did he know just how influential he would be on her first solo album? Singer Chris Whitley's daughter shows what she’s made of on this column’s second track from her debut album, Fourth Corner — and some of it is very Lanois-wah, especially on this song.
8. "Never Grow Old" — Here Come the Mummies (3:03)
From Gnashville comes a band of well-known and semi-famous pickers and singers who prefer retro-soul music to the usual Nashvillian fare. But they are just famous enough that they cannot identify themselves for fear of breaking contracts. So they dress as mummies onstage and in publicity shots and use pseudo-monikers as well. This track particularly harkens to early period Tower of Power — not usually essayed in music from this city. But Oakland is not a jokeland here; their influences are lovingly portrayed. On further investigation I think the allegations that there are masked superstars in this band are a clever publicist's idea as opposed to the cold hard truth. What’s the diff? The music’s good and superstars play out every night — but not fully dressed Mummies!
9. "I'm A-Leavin' You" — Paul Rodgers (2:57)
My favorite band of all time is Free and I don’t mean “All Right Now.” Their catalog is more amazing. So I listen to various spin-offs, hoping for something. I bought a CD which I now can’t find but it was European and this song was on it. I have a copy of just this song from it on iTunes. I think it was the only one that got me on that album. I can’t find any trace of it online so I guess it’s rare. I still like it and if you’re a true Free fan, chances are you’ll like it too... however, I’m not too keen on his new look (see below photo).
Paul Rodgers is no longer in Queen, Bad Company, or Free. But now, Paul Rodgers IS Bob Dylan!
10. "No Use Cryin'" — Ray Charles (3:13)
This is one of my favorite Ray tracks with what sounds like Ray on piano and Billy Preston on organ. I play this live every now and then but the real deal still rules. One of my favorite things are the scarce, tasty Raelettes parts. This is a great closer for this week.