Pops Staples and the Staple Singers
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. "Upside Down" — Borne (3:14)
This alt-rock band is from Melbourne, Australia. They got together in 2003 but didn't come to worldwide attention until 2007 when their song "The Guide" was a single of the week on the iTunes store. This track is from their first full-length studio album, Loss of Signal. The band essentially broke up after founder and lead singer Cameron Tapp suffered a serious accident. He recovered and is currently enjoying a career performing live across Australia.
2. "Tell Everybody" — Honeycut (3:34)
Three lads joined up in the Bay Area in 2003. R.V. Salters, Paris-born, moved to Berkeley, California in 1999 and was involved in electronic music experimental bands. Bart Davenport, born and raised in Berkeley, fronted The Loved Ones and The Kinetics in the ‘90s. Known for his blues and R&B singing, he fit right in as a frontman. Tony Sevener is in charge of beats, drums, and the MPC drum machine. Their first album was released in 2006. This track is from their second, Comedians, which was released in 2012.
3. "California Dreaming" — Diana Krall (3:15)
This is from her new album, Wallflower, which puts her voice plus orchestrations up front, and her piano playing in the middle. Her voice is recorded beautifully and with Karen Carpenter as sort of an inspirational deity (in my opinion) she shines on this record. I like this track very much for a plethora of reasons. It was wise to take the tempo down from the original. The orchestrations are appropriate and beautiful and it’s the calmest cover of this composition I’ve ever heard. I'd love to see this live with an orchestra behind her.
4. "Funky to the Bone" — Freddi-Henchi and The Soulsetters (2:22)
These guys started out in the mid-'60s in Phoenix, Arizona as a covers band led by front men Freddie and Henchi. They established a cult following on the southwestern live circuit and eventually relocated to Boulder, Colorado in 1970. Years of hard living, substance abuse, and serious trouble with the law took their toll and the group disbanded for a while. The band, with some old and some new members, reunited as the Freddi Henchi Band in the mid-'90s, older and wiser, and they still occasionally perform live.
5. "Gotta Serve Somebody" (Live) — Pops Staples (3:12)
Pops was a big influence on my guitar playing. I still play live one of two Fender Jazzmasters I bought after seeing what he did with that guitar. The live version of “I Can’t Keep From Crying” from the Soul of a Man album is me doing my best Staples guitar imitation. This record was assembled by Jeff Tweedy from Wilco after daughter Mavis asked him to help assemble it after Pops passed away. I love when he covers Dylan and Bob probably does as well. Pops did omit the line “you can call me Zimmy” from his version, fortunately and wisely. I used to play this on piano with Bob every night on the Shot of Love tour back in the ‘80s. One of the thrills of my life was when the Staple Singers featuring Mavis and Pops recorded my song "Brand New Day" for Hal Ashby’s first film, The Landlord.
6. "A Mess Like This" — The Dø (3:03)
I did go nuts over their last album and its related videos, but this is more subdued. I’m still on their team, mind you, but this has more restraint than necessary.
7. "Cecilia and the Satellite" — Andrew McMahon (2:35)
This is a strange one but it’s grown on me over the last few months. I have a couple of lyric problems but the overall arrangement and production are quite nice. And so now it’s yours.
8. "Cry Me a River" — Tony Mottola (2:32)
Remember those black and white Command album covers from the mid-'60s? Persuasive Percussion, etc.? This was from that era and I hadn’t listened in a long time and I have to say this is ... perfect. Early stereo and flawless guitar playing.
9. "Send Me an Angel" — Lewis Taylor (2:50)
Here's a multi-talented singer obsessed with The Beach Boys AND soul music. So you get one or the other when a track of his appears; today we’re in Hawthorne, California, which is NOT the capital of soul music. His influences are probably the exact same as those of Brian Wilson (i.e. The Four Freshmen, The Hi-Lo’s, etc) but it’s obvious he is doing all those voices and vocal arrangements and they are spot on. Brian and Carl would approve. I sure do.
10. "Make It Rain" — Foy Vance (7:16)
Born in the Northern Ireland town of Bangor ( I guess Maine “borrowed” that name), in his younger years his preacher father moved the family to Oklahoma from whence they roamed the South, preachin’ and singing. Foy soaked up all that Southern soul and kept it stored until he moved back to Ireland some years later. He began writing songs and going out on the road, opening for Bonnie Raitt, Ed Sheeran, Snow Patrol, and others. Somehow, I MISSED all this until a few days ago when I cracked this song open on iTunes and was immediately FLOORED by what I heard. It sounds like just a trio accompanying him and his electric guitar. They play like one person and the dynamics are superb and then there's that VOICE! Maybe it’s my old age, maybe it’s just pure jealousy, but at its conclusion the second time, I was in tears. I can only hope it affects you similarly. His NEW album comes out shortly on the Glassnote label, home of Mumford and Sons and Phoenix — two rather talented label-mates. Let’s cross our fingers and buy that album based purely on this performance and composition. You go, Foy... Foy, oh Foy... oh, Foy... Foys will be Foys...
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