New Music for Old People: Rotary Connection, Paul Thorn, Booker T, The Shins and More

By , Columnist

Jump, Little Children

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.

TMR0504 by Lisa on Grooveshark

1. "The Weight" — Rotary Connection (3:10)

An amazing concept put together by wunderkind producer/arranger Charles Stepney for Chess Records in the late '60s. In my opinion, the best RC album was called Songs and had many familiar cover tunes; but all were almost unrecognizable because of Stepney’s audio vision. This band was the debut of psychedelic soprano Minnie Ripperton and she wasted no time exploring the higher reaches of that amazing voice. Sidney Barnes handled the male vocals in good stead and Stepney’s studio pals Phil Upchurch on lead guitar and Morris Jennings on drums kept the band first rate. Sadly missed...

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2. "The Best of You" — Booker T. (3:56)

This was one of those ones I had on a cassette with no artist listed. It took some weird app to disclose this was an old favorite on a rare (at the time) solo outing. Nice lyric well sung with cool guitars going on. Doesn’t sound like anyone else from the MGs on this from the mid-'70s ‘just skirting’ the disco boom. A good find. Was probably on A&M back in those days.

3. "Spanish Surf" — Curtis (1:41)

From Playa Del Rey, CA came three playas fronted by Curtis Formadley on guitar in 1998. Their last known album was in 2007 and they had a west coast buzz goin’ on. And rightfully so - they sound like a modern version of The Ventures! This track surfed its way into my heart and I’m happy to share it with you. Unpretentious great playing and a composition that’s fun and tasty to digest.

4. "Stones Throw" — Little Barrie (2:17)

From this UK trio's debut disc in 2005, a lot of promise is shown. Produced by musician Edwyn Collins in the UK, it woke the folks up to this Traffic/Cream hybrid and the final addition was added when Steve Howe’s (Yes) son joined on drums in 2008. There’ll be more in the future, but thought you’d like this. Barrie Cadogan on guitar and vocals for this track — and not so little artistically.

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5. "Perfect" — Novatone (3:59)

From Seattle, this is a track off their 2005 debut album Time Can’t Wait. It is not as perfect as its title, but it shows a great deal of promise and I CAN go for that. Grows on ya...perfectly.

6. "Out of Time" (Live) — Elvis Costello (4:38)

On his Spinning Wheel tour/live album, Elvis must play the young Mick and Keith’s Stones chestnut. But I wonder if he is aiming towards The Glimmer Twins or the big hit UK cover at the time by Chris Farlowe? No matter — the end result is great!

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7. "Daylight" — Jump, Little Children (4:11)

Good thing they put the comma in their name, that’s the first thing I gotta say. Secondly, this is a very musical combo with roots in the Carolinas and a brief stay in Boston. This is from their 2004 album Between the Dim and the Dark, and melodically it owes a nod to the Brothers Gibb (Bee Gees) but that’s actually refreshing at this point. You’re obviously dealing with great singers, songwriters and musicians here and that’s what brings Al to the party.

8. "It's About Time" — The Beach Boys (2:55)

From the newly remastered Sunflower album. I’ve always enjoyed this, especially Carl singing, “I used to blow my mind sky high searching for the lost elation,” and the drum fills are pretty great, too.

9. "Fall of '82" — The Shins (2:38)

James Mercer started his band in Albuquerque, NM in 1996 and they now reside in Portland, OR. Eight members have bit the dust in the meantime and over half joined in 2011. So we got our new Shins on here. This is from their latest album, Port of Morrow, released in late March this year. It’d be good if old Shin fans liked this. I’m only a newish fan, but a fan nonetheless. Hopefully, The Shins have hit the fans harder this time!

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10. "What the Hell is Goin' On" — Paul Thorn (3:30)

He’s back! Wackily with an album of other people’s material, since he’s one of the best songwriters out there at the moment. BUT, he’s also a great singer, guitarist, mandolinist, and hilarious comedian onstage, so why not show off all the other stuff this time, including his great backup band of many tours and albums? This title track was written by Elvin Bishop and features his guitar solo, but Paul might as well have written it cause he’s fer sure made it his own. I had to close with this track — wouldn’t you have? I mean, what the hell IS goin’ on? This’ll be out any minute...

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