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. "Mellow Down Easy" — Little Feat (2:43)
This starts with a drum intro that says, "We have the drum seat filled and we are ready to rock once again." And rock they do. I love that they covered Little Walter’s Chess catalog and that they did it their way. To my mind there are two bands that truly understand the backbone of American music: this one and NRBQ. I will always keep listening.
2. "Shake It, Baby" — Maceo Parker (1:35)
The various remnants of the JBs, James Brown’s revolutionary authors of the Funk Bible, have kept the tradition alive. The horn parts on this are STAGGERING! Maceo was JB’s emcee and tenor sax soloist. His whole demeanor is ageless and this short piece of pocket power surely leaves you thinking “MORE! MORE!” Good God, y’all.
3. "When Did You Stop Loving Me" — Jeb Loy Nichols (3:22)
If you’re an avid reader of this column, you know I’m an avid listener of this artist. I LOVE the sound of his voice and the cleverness of his songwriting. I don’t, however, have ANY idea of his fan base. So I’ll keep including my Jeb Joys and hope other folks learn to enjoy him as much as I do. I think of his voice as a young George Jones, but he is more versatile in terms of genres — soul, country, blues, folk, jazz. George could’ve done that but chose to stay in the country. First thing Jeb did was move outta the country — he’s resided in the UK for many years. Track his tracks down and listen up. He's the modern-day James Taylor. S’matter of fact, James should cover this.
4. "Italian Shoes" — Mink DeVille (3:06)
From a 1985 Dutch/German release on Polydor called Sportin’ Life, I don’t think this swam the Atlantic to get released in the USA. This track is brilliant on every level. Willy had an innate sense of crossover R&B — and he consistently pulled it off, from his debut album til his last. Peter Wolf, Duke Levine and I found ourselves together at his last Boston show a few years ago and as we stared in wonder at him in his tiny dressing room, we were all pleased he was still touring albeit solo. And he did NOT disappoint, even if his girlfriend/road manager had to borrow a few guitar picks from Duke and me. This is a great track for all time and a composition I wish I had written.
5. "Something You Got" — Jerry Douglas feat. Eric Clapton (4:21)
Speaking of Peter Wolf, I hope he agrees that the original recording of this song was by Chris Kenner on the Instant label in 1961. It was Crescent City soul all the way and in Jerry’s arrangement he even dared to slow the tempo down from Kenner’s original. Clapton is the vocalist and does an excellent job singing this masterpiece. Jerry Douglas, for those who DON’T know, is a Gnashville session guitarist of high note mostly known for his dobro and general slide playing. He’s played on EVERYBODY’s records (even MINE) and Paul Simon, Allison Kraus, Clapton, Mumford & Son are thrilled to return favors and grace his current solo album. Just to titillate you, there is a great remake of “The Boxer” on here with Paul Simon in attendance. But this track was my favorite, mostly for the perfection of the tempo choice. Clapton follows Douglas’s dobro solo with his usual Strat solo which was totally unnecessary and kinda outta place on another guitar master’s album. The vocal said it all anyway. This album is worth buying in its entirety. It’s called Traveler and it came out in late June.
6. "Sweet Resistance" — Civil Twilight (3:17)
Making their second appearance in this column, these lads do a fine job on this original composition, adding bits of electrinica to keep the arrangement interesting. I like this band. I will keep my eye and ears on them in the future and so should you.
7. "It's Getting Late" — The Beach Boys feat. Carl Wilson (3:08)
In 1985, the strangest BB album escaped (as opposed to being released). Somehow, the producer of the latest hit and bizarre frontman group, Culture Club, was given the reins of a BB album. Steve Levine took control of one of the most inexplicable BB albums in a catalog that included only one or two other headscratchers. This body of work was saved in some ways for me by Carl Wilson's autobiographical track (and I don't mean it's a car song). From the moment it starts with lush Wilson-esque harmonies, you KNOW you're in Carl's able hands and throat. Would've been better placed on one of his two solo albums, but beggars can't be choosers and I will take it wherever I can get it. This is a great one and I will never tire of that VOICE or down to earth personality and friendliness. It's a shame he's not standing up there with his brother(s) this summer in the 50th year celebration. BB fans miss Dennis as well. Gotta go now — it's getting late. Amen, y'all.
8. "Bastard" — Babybird (3:08)
This band, from the UK, started in 1995 and had an uncharacteristic hit single that caused them to begin a floundering process that went on for nearly ten years. Finally, in 2010, they made a creditable album called Ex-Maniac. Stephen Jones is the singer-writer here and this track conjures up an image of John Lydon singing this song; although it sounds nothing like him, he could have written the lyrics. Here he tells a girl off, suggesting she may like the really bad parts of his personality. Catchy, catchy — after repeated listens, I played it ... AGAIN and now here it is. It kinda sets up the next track.
9. "I Can Hear Your Macaroni" — Sheba Potts-Wright (2:52)
Now here's a title I would never have thought of. It’s a certain woman’s perspective of not wanting to have ANYTHING to do with a guy who has a good rap but ultimately, no money... "I can hear your macaroni, boy, but I don’t see no cheese!" This caught on with me and now it’s a fave I love playing for other people. And so here we are. Wonder who shelled out for the leather outfit below — surely NOT Sheba!
10. "Rock Island Line" — Little Richard (2:30)
Finally... the coveted last position. I thought I would turn Richard Penniman loose here. Most people don’t know his last name. Richard Penniman here to see you, sir. I don’t know a Mr. Penniman. Ah, but EVERYBODY knows Little Richard, don’t they? Reminds me of seeing Bo Diddley trying to check into a hotel a while ago. I heard this smattering of conversation come screaming out of his mouth: “McDaniels! McDaniels, goddammit! You think anybody would name their baby Bo Diddley?” So here is Little Richard Penniman singing a Woody Guthrie song as part of the ‘80s album A Vision Shared, where folks like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan sang Woody Guthrie covers in celebration of the revelatory singer-songwriter. He was backed by the LA soul band Fishbone featuring Fish on drums, Rusty Anderson on guitar, Jimmy Stewart on piano and organ, and Charles Glenn on bass. Ramblin’ Richard be singing his posterior off with production by the esteemed David Kahane. A great arrangement with masterful playing and the unique Mr. Penniman singing as good as the '50s in the '80s. See ya next week.