New Music for Old People: Rick Nelson, Victoria Williams, Frankie Miller and More

By , Columnist

Frankie Miller

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. "Well Well" — Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart (2:46)

Hey, it's 11/11/11!!! The thing that caught my ear was how these two had conjured up a beautiful replica of Delaney and Bonnie sans horn section, and probably involuntarily. This is very well sung, featuring a great guitar solo with a fab tone by Joe. Worth hearing from their new album. Great opener for this week.

2. "This Love of Mine" — Frankie Miller (3:26)

Certainly not well known enough, and "the only white person I ever heard who can sing notes in the Otis Redding range," a quote from Otis's widow, lets you know what you're up against here. Put into a hospitalized 15-month coma in 1994 by a debilitating brain hemorrhage, Frankie slowly fought back with the assistance of his wife Annette. He hasn't performed since then but he did leave a legacy of many great albums with great musicians and producers. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Miller, listen, be amazed and overwhelmed — then start downloading his wonderful voluminous catalogue. One of my favorite singers of all time. I believe he may sing again someday. He gets a little bit better every day. God bless him.

3. "Isabel" — Bigbang (3:29)

I got scared when I did research on this band. Everything pointed to a Korean boy band evidently with the same name. Finally, I found the perpetrators of this great track. They are Norwegian, but I believe have relocated to Los Angeles. A sort of power trio, they can write a great song and come up with original sounding arrangements. I really like this.


4. "You Are Loved" — Victoria Williams (3:13)

Always a strange (in a good way) gal — unique voice, obtuse lyrics, interesting in a room, etc. This is my favorite track by her. I like the horns and the rest of the band; nicely done, Ms. Williams.

5. "Think It Over" — Allison Moorer (3:44)

Surrounded by talent (married to Steve Earle, sister to Shelby Lynne), it really didn’t have to rub off. This is especially well done. A perfectly produced track in my estimation, reminiscent of the early '60s Jackie De Shannon 45s circa “When You Walk In The Room.”

6. "Chump Change Romeo" — Rick Nelson (3:12)

In 1977 I produced a Rick Nelson album. I modeled it after a Linda Ronstadt album of that time period in terms of content. We spent a bit of time on it and he sang songs the likes of which he had never sung before. I thought it was an experiment that worked quite well. The record company refused to release it even after he passed away! The German label Bear Family licensed and released it last year as part of a five-CD set that chronicled the last phase of his career. Here’s a track from it. It’s a Danny Kortchmar song I always liked and so did Rick. I think it’s some fine singing for him. We did ZZ Top, Dylan, and Little Feat songs as well. I’ll include one every now and then.

al-and-rick.jpg Rick and Al 1977

7. "New Walkin' Blues" — Paul Butterfield’s Better Days (3:58)

An all-star aggregation was assembled in 1973 to tour and record an album. The track starts off with Paul on electric piano (and later, vocals and harmonica, of course) and then features Geoff Muldaur on slide guitar, Amos Garret on lead guitar, and Ronnie Barron on organ. It’s one of my favorite versions of this Robert Johnson chestnut. An appropriate crowd for Paul to harp on.

8. "Many Rivers to Cross (Live)" — Jimmy Cliff (4:16)

This is a rare version of this oft-recorded Cliff composition featuring an amazing guitar solo by reggae great Ernest Ranglin. It was originally brought to my attention by its producer, a man known in my house as Andrew Lou Goldman (nee Loog Oldham), former Stones producer and manager. I am a HUGE Jimmy Cliff fan as well! Originally released in 1976.


9. "Oh How Happy" — Edwin Starr and Blinky (2:05)

Edwin wrote this original top tenner for The Shades Of Blue in the early '60s so he certainly has a right to cover it. With the Motown machine in place, it takes on a more multi-dimensional sheen than the original, including a duet with Blinky, a Tammi Terrell-like protege standing in the wings at the time. It’s from a reliable album from the early '70s called Just We Two, thankfully re-released by Hip-O Select in 2004 on CD.

10. "Arianne" — Aaron Neville (2:49)

It’s pretty amazing everyone doesn’t walk around singing this quintessential song written by unknowns back in the day. Christian Roudey and Frank Marchlin wrote this timeless tune that was snapped up by The Neville Brothers in the early ‘70s. Even Johnny Mathis (!) took a shot at it after Aaron. This is class A songwriting only overshadowed by one of the best vocals Aaron Neville ever recorded. How the song and the singer came together is unknown to me but I am sure there is a God. If you’ve never heard this before, in two minutes and 49 seconds your life will change musically in a meaningful way. Until next week... Arianne!


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