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. "Number 1" — Mystery Skulls (2:52)
Conceived by Luis Dubuc, out of Dallas, Texas in 2011, these puppies now live in LA and have Nile Rodgers and Brandy sitting in on this Studio 54 of old-sounding dance track that will put a smile on your face and a slide in your step. Their album is called Forever and they are signed to Warner Bros. I see they just played live in LA last week so they might be on tour or just flexin’ at home.
2. "I Don't Have a Gun" — Hard Working Americans (3:40)
This is a jam band concept with a repertoire of other peoples' tunes done up in jam band fashion, as opposed to original tunes trying to make the singles charts. It’s a good cast and features songwriter Todd Snider, Dave Schools from Widespread Panic, Neil Casal, Chad Staehly and Duane Trucks, brother of the other Trucks on drums. This is from their latest album called The First Waltz, which is their first live album and is the soundtrack to a documentary about the band’s formation and their first gig. So this doesn’t sound far off the principles of The Last Waltz. Let’s go see ‘em live — I think that's the best way to judge this jam band, ma’am.
"Hi, we're a jam band and we don't dress alike and we live in this house called Big Brown. The other two guys'll grow beards when they're old enough!"
3. "Don't You Worry, Love" — Oh Honey (2:27)
This is a bouncy, folk pop group featuring singer-songwriter Mitchy Collins and Danielle Bouchard on vocals and acoustic guitar. They got together in 2013 and signed to Atlantic. There are FOUR EPs out there and a debut album coming in early 2015. Their big song "Be Okay" has been on TV shows and in commercials. I like this one better.
"The record company wanted to call us Bitchy & Mitchy! Oh, Honey — no freakin' way!"
4. "I Won't Give Up" — Peter Hollens (3:02)
Peter is originally from Oregon and graduated from the University of said city with degrees in vocal music. He is a champion of a cappella music and is involved in recording, arranging and producing said genre. He had a group participating on NBC’s The Sing-Off called On The Rocks and they lasted four shows. He signed with SONY in 2013 and has a new album out now on Masterworks. This is an original composition with all vocals recorded by Peter. It is a wonderful listen, especially with headphones. If you like this, you might go back to the album A Cappella by Todd Rundgren. That’s one of my faves from the past. Peter is just pushin’ the envelope a wee bit. Not that Todd wasn't...
5. "Follow Me Down" — Guy Davis (3:32)
Born in 1952, he was a blessed child. The son of the late acting couple Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, he has worked his whole life documenting the history of the blues. He started recording on Folkways Records with his debut album in 1978. Since then he has popped out fourteen (!) more over the years, mostly on the Red House label. This is from his 2009 album Sweetheart Like You and is a lovely version of Leadbelly’s song sometimes called "Fannin Street." His harmonica playing is excellent and fits the arrangement well.
6. "Days Go On" — Greg Laswell (2:43)
Greg is a San Diego kinda guy primarily. He started out in bands and then went solo in 2003 and has stayed that way. This is from his 2008 album on Vanguard and could go two ways. If it's a breakup song, I’ve kinda heard it before lyrically, BUT if someone passed away, it puts a wee lump in one’s throat. I like to think it was the second eventuality that inspired it. Good work all around on this track. Very listenable.
Lovely settee and good balancing, but wrong finger, dude.
7. "God Only Knows" — Bryan Adams (3:14)
Not an easy song to cover. Those Pet Sounds ones are pretty tricky musically, but I like Bryan’s approach. AND... he’s got that voice that makes you clear your throat every few minutes as you think you’re acquiring that rasp he has. Well, his voice sounds better than ever and this is new, but fer sure Ole Scratchy Throat prevails. Nicely done, Bryan, and of course, nicely done, Brian!
8. "House of Hope" — Toni Childs (3:14)Toni ... WHERE ARE YOU? You have that amazing voice and you have virtually disappeared from our ears for a long, long time. I myself really miss your voice, and I was hoping it would accompany the rest of my life but you stopped. If I can help in any way, I am all yours — just write some new songs and sing ‘em. I’ll take care of the rest. TONI! WHERE ARE YOU??
9. "Undeniable You" — Jukebox the Ghost (3:15)
Good song, great backup vocals and lovely production. This is a new band that musically got me to download three songs off their debut album and that is rare for me. This is their second appearance in the column.
Hey, guys! That's not what the blues guys meant by "jukin"! And lose the tie!
10. "My Famed Disappearing Act" — Thank You Scientist (3:56)
Also a new band’s debut and this time I had to download the ENTIRE album. This is whack! I was thinking this track sounds like second-period Chicago (the band) with bassist Peter Cetera singing lead. Only here, when guitarist Terry Kath passed away, it sounds like they replaced him with Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai! There are other names to be dropped like Zappa and Steely Dan, but on this track I like my fairytale best. This is incredible music and totally unexpected. It deserves to be in the coveted final track position in this column. WOW!! AND they are from Montclair, New Jersey! Who knew? Tom Monda is the guitarist you just heard, by the way, and I hope you will be hearing mention of his name in guitar mags quite a bit in the future. Shreddin’ my head in, dudes!
"This is Apple's new iPod. It's entirely wooden! We're endorsing it — wooden you?"
You can sign up for Al Kooper's mailing list right here.