New Music for Old People: Prince, Ryan Adams, Merle Travis, The Orange Peels and More / R.I.P. Jack Bruce

By , Columnist

Dionne Warwick

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.

Oct312014 by Willow on Grooveshark

1. "I Don't Wanna Shine" — The Orange Peels (2:46)

If ya wanna take a Byrd-bath, then this is your tub! This Bay Area band was originally formed in 1994 by leader Allen Clapp. However, they have a built-in band member turnstile that prevents you from knowing who is in the band at any given moment. But they ALWAYS have “the Clapp." He is the principal singer and songwriter. This track is from their third album Circling the Sun from 2005 and sounds totally authentically '60s, with all musical and lyrical details intact. That’s a compliment, by the way.

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Looks like the current staff at my dentist's office...

2. "Gimme Somethin' Good" — Ryan Adams (3:36)

Short of an early death and a coalition with Keith Richards, it would seem that Ryan did his best to live life like one of his heroes, Gram Parsons. While he is 30 years younger than me, he has released almost three times as much product as I ever put out by age 70. I wavered on his material — I liked some things and passed over others. His self-titled brand new solo album, released in early September, is his best yet. Here’s my current favorite...

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3. "Breakfast Can Wait" — Prince (2:29)

Not that he really went far away (other than musically), but now he’s back AGAIN! FINALLY, I like THIS track quite a bit, except for the undecipherable sped-up lead vocal at the end. I give him credit for following his convictions his entire career, but it did cost him record sales and credibility over a ten-year stretch. Now he returns with two albums simultaneously released a few weeks ago, a solo album (Art Official Age) and a duet album (Plectrumelectrum) with one of his typically disposable female protégées (where are the previous others NOW?). This track from the solo album sticks out as being closest to the Prince we loved. I went to his solo concert about three years ago and saw a two-hour-plus show that did not disappoint. So it’s all still there — I just wish he would consult with an outside source he trusted. Now THAT'S the hard part.

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4. "Crush" — Danielle Evin (2:56)

Danielle is a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who grew up between Los Angeles and New York City, the child of parents in the arts. This track is from her 2006 self-titled debut album. When not making music, she co-authored a blog called "Dog Ears Music" at Huffington Post with the late legendary producer Phil Ramone. She currently fronts a band called Devon Avenue which released an album in 2012 on Vapor Records.

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5. "Merle's Boogie Woogie" — Merle Travis (2:37)

Merle is a legend in the country, blues, and folk idioms and a style of finger-picking the guitar called Travis-picking is still widely used in those three genres. Merle appeared in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity singing and playing "Reenlistment Blues." In 1955, Merle’s song "Sixteen Tons" was covered by Tennessee Ernie Ford and clung to the the number one position for many weeks. Most people today have never heard him, but rather those influenced by him like Chet Atkins or Les Paul. The latter used to slow down the recording tape to “imitate” what Travis could do at regular speed and then put the tape back to regular speed to compete with Travis' facility. This track is a great example of Merle’s abilities and is still jaw-dropping in 2014.

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Wish I had THIS guitar in my collection now!

6. "So Way" — Rob Crow (2:21)

As the leader and singer/songwriter in the group Pinback, Rob has been influencing many with his songwriting and weird guitar-tunings for almost three decades now. I just met him and had dinner with him last week when Pinback played in Boston and I was pleased to note what a great guy he is. This is from his most recent solo album, He Thinks He's People. I always thought Pinback was a quartet, but what sounds like two guitars are a combination of Rob’s tunings and the bassist playing multi-string chords as well as bass parts. Rob's a unique band leader who's inspired many others over the years.

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"WAIT! I'm not finished installing the top of my head!!"

7. "Wonder What You're Doin'" — Train (2:58)

For me, this band either gets it very right or goes too far for MY ears. When they’re good, they’re very good, otherwise I don’t get it. Here, they are very good. However, I feel they were very influenced by an older record and almost crossed the copyright line. So what I did was include the original record next. Sometimes these things are done innocently as in "My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine." I suspect that was the case here and it’s not as exact as the Harrison record, so I don’t think it’s actionable. I think it was just a subliminal borrow. But it was from a previous GREAT track; here we go...

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We've come a long way from the British invasion — now there's usually a guy with a shaved head in EVERY band and he's usually the drummer. If I had a band called Train it would be spelled 'Trane...

8. "Gimme Little Sign" — Brenton Wood (2:15)

This was the second of three singles in the year 1967 that made Billboard’s Top 40. It went to #9 on the Hot 100 and #19 on the R&B chart. It was the follow-up to "The Oogum Boogum Song" that was #34 in the Hot 100 and also #19 on the R&B chart. Jimmy Vivino and I used to respectfully cover this track in the late '90s live. I never get tired of hearing this and just love the sound of the organ solo. Brenton was born Alfred Smith in Louisiana in 1941 and still walks the Earth at the time of this writing.

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If Brenton looked like this now, he'd be co-starring in at least one CSI show on TV that had a theme song by The Who.

9. "One World" — The Feelers (2:52)

This is a great pop record that slipped through the cracks in the US. This New Zealand band broke sales records there from 1998-2008 and I’m sure attendance records at shows as well. Lead singer James Reid sounds like a cross of a few earlier lead singers in similar bands. His performance on this track is perfect. This was from their fourth album in 2006. Their first four albums all went to number one at home the day of release! I just heard this track in my searches and downloaded it and not 'til now did I find out their "story." I will go back and see if there’s more we can enjoy.

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10. "In the Land of Make Believe" — Dionne Warwick (3:03)

This is among my top three Bacharach songs, productions, and arrangements. I love everything about this. I also think some of the chord changes influenced Donald Fagen as well. Basically unknown, it was originally cut in 1964 by The Drifters, produced by Leiber and Stoller and arranged by Gary Sherman. This was the first version on the market. Hal David and Burt wrote it. The next version was this track on Dionne’s fourth album. They never made it a single so it wasn’t as well known as her chartbusters. Then it was covered on Dusty In Memphis, produced by Jerry Wexler. There are so many great things about Dionne’s version, especially the vocal, but for me the piano part is tied with the vocal. The other versions omitted it, but to ME it’s as much a part of the song as the lyric and melody. I learned a new chord I never heard before from this track (so did Donald Fagen) and I know I wrote at least four songs that used that chord, none of which sound like this song. Once I was a guest at a Carl Wilson solo album session and on a break he sat down at the piano and played and sang this just for his pleasure, to relax himself. The producer ignored it. I would’ve stopped the session and recorded HIM singing and playing it. It was an amazing version and I’m sorry Carl left us before he had a chance to record it. I am, however, glad I am still here to tell all of you about it.

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