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. "Circumstances" — Captain Beefheart (3:04)
The album this came from, Clear Spot, was a life-changer for me in the early ‘70s. The combo of Don Van Vliet and producer Ted Templeman was perfect. Ted deciphered Beefheart and added some normalcy to the inherent madness that balanced immaculately like no album before or after it. This is a good example of what they did together. Timeless, and there will more of this here before too long.
2. "29 Ways" — Marc Cohn (2:17)
As a songwriter, bassist Willie Dixon was a veritable Shakespeare of the blues, lyrically AND musically. Marc appropriated one of his gems and took a well-executed left turn with the arrangement, turning it into a doo-wop Latino groove with backup vocals instead of horns or harmonica. Not a hair outta place here — as well done as it could possibly be. Second best cover of this tune was by solo Jimmy Hall, post-Wet Willie.
3. "Drawing a Line In the Sand" — Brandtson (2:15)
This would have done better if it was titled what is repeated endlessly in each chorus: “Don’t Come Crying Back to Me.” The current title is obviously a message the songwriter is sending to an ex-girlfriend subliminally that never appears in the lyric. In the '60s the record company would’ve changed the title in a New York minute. The message comes across either way quite nicely with a tasteful performance by artist, producer and engineer. This is from the 2004 album Send Us a Signal which, as far as I’m concerned, they did. Too bad they drew a line in the sand, however.
4. "Windfall" — Son Volt (2:31)
The first time I heard Jay Farrar's voice I was in awe. A great combo of country music and rock, its inherent honesty pulls you right in every time. This was one of the first ones I heard and it has stayed with me ever since. I met him backstage once and we had zero simpatico. Too bad — I still remain a big fan.
5. "Great Round Burn" — Kaki King (2:36)
When this veteran subway performer was finally discovered, people were in disbelief at her technical abilities. On this track from her latest album, she forgoes the usual high-flying for something deeper compositionally. It follows the Son Volt track quite well and lets me know assuredly that King is still queen of the acoustic guitar.
6. "Save Part of Yourself" — Brandi Carlile (2:53)
Born in 1981, and finally delivered to your ears properly 23 years later, Brandi continues to impress with each successive album. Rick Rubin was involved in her guidance and this is from her brand new album, Bear Creek. This is the final track in the three-way folk-country mini-set that started with Son Volt.
7. "The Fall" — Tim Myers (2:39)
In the same age category as Brandi is Tim Myers, who unflaggingly has composed and sung dozens of tunes for television and film. If you’re not a watcher, here’s a chance to hear what everyone else is snapping up. Originally a refugee from the superband One Republic, Tim decided he preferred the home screens to concert halls and set off on that track. Now with his great success in those areas, he may be hitting the road for a change.
8. "My Sweet Lorraine" — Bunny Sigler (3:08)
Bunny was a big fave of mine for his decade of work on Philadelphia-International Records, some of which has graced these very pages. I noticed he had some recent work out there and this is a taste of that. I miss the MFSB studio stalwarts behind him, but this is a pretty close second. True soul remains your entire life and in some cases after you’ve gone.
9. "You" — Marvin Gaye (2:21)
This was an album track from mid-'60s Motown, with flashes of the Four Tops' “Reach Out for Me” in certain sections. I can’t tell you in words how much I miss Marvin, but his work consistently sings out from the speakers in my Man Cave. Few and far between is talent like this.
10. "Never Say Naw" — Percy Mayfield (2:46)
There was a moment in time, after Percy’s initial success on Specialty Records, when two giants came together in the recording studio. Ray Charles, who recorded many of Percy’s compositions, finally sat in the producer’s chair and arranged and played organ with the entire RC band on this way-down blues ballad that Percy sings perfectly. Eventually all the fruits of their labors were released on one CD by Warner Bros. using Ray’s Tangerine label imprint in 2003. This is a MUST-OWN if you can still get it — 28 tracks on one CD! Mind-boggling!
Just a reminder that I am taking a two-week break for the holidays and there will be no columns on November 30 and December 7. We shall return on December 14 with a column of listenable obscure Christmas songs to get you through the jolly season. Hope you all had an inspiring Thanksgiving.