New Music for Old People: P. Hux, Julia Fordham, Tommy Castro, and More

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Ruthie Foster

Like the title says, this column's 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. The reason I am writing this column is to make sure others don't miss this. These are not top ten items; but they SHOULD be!

1. "Red Eyeliner" - P. Hux (3:34)

Rick Miller was born in Louisiana, but slipped off to North Carolina to attend UNC. Joined a band there and so it all started. A whirlwind music career began, including a name change to Parthenon Huxley(!), a stint with Electric Light Orchestra, and a name-shortening to P. Hux. This is from an album mourning the untimely demise of his wife from cancer. It owes a great deal to the Beatles musically, but the lyrics will surely engender sympathetic tears.

2. "Sugar" (studio version) - Julia Fordham (4:35)

A fine vocalist from the UK has spent the last 20 years trying to stay on a label while the music business swirled all around her, thwarting her every effort. There are more than a few of us who can relate! Pity, as she's quite good as evidenced by the vocal and strong groove on this track. I'm pullin' for ya, Julia!

3. "No One Left To Lie To" - Tommy Castro (3:50)

A traditional blues setting with tasty horn parts wraps its arms around this veteran blue-eyed bluesman and leaves a memorable result. As always, his guitar playing and singing make you take notice, but the arrangement and sympathetic backup and production really make Tommy shine on this track. Great feel-sorry-for-yourself background music!

4. "I'm Just Crazy About You" - Geraint Watkins (2:21)

Keyboardist and singer Watkins, best known as Nick Lowe's bandleader, goes solo here and succeeds quite well. Going for a basic New Orleans blues feel, his piano and organ parts dance mightily around each other and his vocal hearkens to a long-gone era not commonly trotted out nowadays. For an Englishman, I would say he passed the American blues exam without exuding a single drop of sweat.

5. "Keep Hope Alive" - Pee Wee Callins (3:20)

If anybody needs an anthem for these troubled times, slip THIS in your stereo/computer. Callins, a gospel singer, proudly unveils his R&B roots and combines both genres powerfully. As time goes by, I play this more and more in an attempt to relive the title. It should work for you as well.

6. "Don't Trip On Your Way Out" - Shimmer (3:59)

Northwestern band, inspired by Rod & The Faces gets down hard for four minutes. Nice loose playing is refreshing after much of today's carefully manicured studio precision. This track gets down like they did in the old days. Thank you, lads, for listening to the right vinyl when it counted.

7. "Scream Team" - Deerhoof (2:40)

Now this band is serious neo-avant garde rock with a female Asian singer in front. They are amazing in person and I think this track is a good introduction. Deep down I feel they are essentially beholden to The Who, but are not afraid to go elsewhere within the same track. A bit of Pete Townshend with some Nine Inch Nails hammered in later. Some blistering guitar sounds 3/4 of the way through. Weird? Yes. Rockin'? Absolutely!

8. "Watching The Sun Go Down" - Kevin Gordon (3:59)

Another Keith Richard admirer holds forth. I like this because the second obvious move is the Mick clone which is refreshingly missing. So it's like the Expensive Winos with a slightly better singer - far from Jaggerland. Masterful guitar-slinging, Kevin, and great harmonies with the vocal.

9. "In My Head" - Queens of the Stone Age (4:01)

When this band came out I avoided them as I hated the name. Then I heard this track and thought: a little Led Zep with a dollop of Oasis. Not bad at all; kinda takes you back and that's what this column is all about. So I'll live with the name, enjoy the music, and try not to snob in the future.

10. "Death Came A-Knockin'" - Ruthie Foster (3:22)

Unfortunately I don't know in advance what :30 sample you're gonna hear when ya press the button, but there are moments of exquisite singing on this and if they're not in the sample, take my word for it. On the sidelines I sit and watch this woman get more and more listeners each year. She truly deserves them. This is timeless blues music done masterfully. You know, girl !

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Legendary musician (Bob Dylan, Blues Project, Super Session, Blood Sweat & Tears), producer (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nils Lofgren, The Tubes) and author (Backstage Passes & Backstabbing Bastards), Al is happy to join the staff of The Morton Report in an effort to help his fellow listeners stay in tune!

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