New Music for Old People: Peter Wolf, DeBarge, The Feeling, and More

By , Columnist

Kate Earl

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. "Get Back" — Willie Clarke (2:37)

Some guy wrote a book a few years ago lambasting The Beatles for having no African-American influences in their music. I made a list of amazing versions of Beatles songs by African-Americans, and told him he was an idiot. This track, by a Florida soul singer/songwriter, was in my top ten in that list. I always try to include tracks from that list in various columns. This is the third inclusion.

2. "Cry Sometimes" — Kate Earl (2:36)

Sure, she owes a little something to Rickie Lee Jones, but I think there’s something really unique and special here. I really enjoy uncomplicated tracks that show off the bare bones of a great song. Here is a perfect example. The backing musicians are tasteful and flawless and so is her vocal. Thankfully, not one bit over-produced. Out for only a few years, this is a keeper for me and I will keep my eyes and ears on this Duchess of Earl.

3. "I Can't Stand Your Mother" — Lucy Pearl (3:21)

This is one of those where I heard it once and ran out to buy it. It’s just over a decade old but WHAT a sentiment. For me, this was the only good track from an R&B supergroup made up of Raphael Saadiq, Dawn Robinson (En Vogue), and Ali Shaheed Muhamed (A Tribe Called Quest). D’Angelo was involved at first but left quickly due to scheduling conflicts. This track is hilarious and I still love it. Ernie Kovacs would have championed it as well. Beware it’s addicting!

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4. "Everything Good Is Bad" — Renee Geyer (3:02)

Now this is a journeyman woman. Born in Australia and in the Music Hall Of Fame there, she has lived in the US at least twice but was not able to muster the recognition that she surely deserves here. She has described herself as "a white Hungarian Jew from Australia sounding like a 65-year-old black man from Alabama" in her fascinating autobiography, A Difficult Woman. I’ve always been a big fan and here is one of my faves from the ‘80s, a discarded Motown cover done to perfection by a difficult woman with an amazing voice.

5. "Happy to Have a Job" — Seasick Steve (2:40)

Who woulda thought a 70-year-old ex American hobo would conquer the UK in popularity in the millennium? Gene Wold, a world-weary guitar picker, is now known as Seasick Steve and tops the charts regularly since 2008 in the UK. This is the second track I’ve posted of his, and the more I hear, the more I like. He reminds me of Keb Mo in his playing authenticity and one of my hopes is that we get to jam in the near future; there is no far future for people our age.

6. "On the Mend" — Eye To Eye (3:34)

After Steely Dan had ascended to the musical hierarchy, the men behind their records, Gary Katz (producer) and Roger Nichols (engineer), signed this duo to Warner Brothers and with help from many of Steely Dan’s studio backup musicians, made two amazing albums that virtually nobody heard. A few years ago, reissue label Wounded Bird put out the two albums on one CD and I snapped that puppy up. It has detailed information and on this track you’re hearing Jim Keltner, Chuck Rainey, Rick Derringer, and the two Eyes - Deborah Berg on vocals and Julian Marshall on keyboards. Their two albums were originally released in 1980 and 1981. If you like this, there’s plenty more.

7. "Never Be Lonely" — The Feeling (3:11)

An English band that claims their influences are the late Andrew Gold, ELO, 10cc, and Supertramp, who especially come to mind while listening to this track. This is classic pop music very deftly written and performed with no fears of straying every now and then. This took me back to the ‘70s in a very pleasant way.

8. "Growin' Pain" — Peter Wolf (2:58)

1227_peter-wolf2-500x334.jpgWolfie and I are pals we both live in Boston. I actually think of him as the unofficial mayor of said city. This is back two solo albums and I asked Peter to sit in with my band and me when we played a Boston show for my 65th birthday three years ago. He let me pick the songs and this was one of them, as I got the chance to play the mandolin part, which is my hobby instrument. This track has really lasted with me and I hope for you too eventually.

9. "Love Me In a Special Way" — DeBarge (3:14)

A Motown family band from the '80s that had a lead singer who could stand up there with Jacko. His name is El DeBarge and this is a good example of his amazing voice. Stevie Wonder thought so too and joined in with a rousing chromatic harmonica solo midway through. I think of this as a masterpiece on every level: great song, singing, arrangement, and great production. This is high on my list of all-time favorites.

10. "When Will We Be Paid?" — Staple Singers feat. Mavis (2:37)

From their Stax Records residency which produced many hits for them, this is from the album We’ll Get Over which was my favorite from that time period and Steve Cropper’s guitar is quite prominent. This is a chilling lyric - I haven’t seen the new film The Help yet, but if they didn’t use this in the soundtrack, somebody screwed up big time. Maybe they should include this if they play The Kennedy Center soon.

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