Him: Meg, you gotta get dressed! The photographer will be here in five minutes!
Her: (quietly strikes a pose as is)
Him: NO!! And fix your eye makeup! The only one who'll use a photo like that is Al Kooper...
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. "Your Love Is So Doggone Good" — 'Little' Esther Phillips (3:02)
Discovered by Johnny Otis at age 14, she began her career as a blues gal in 1950 using the moniker "Little Esther." That soon lengthened when she added her surname, and shortened again in the late ‘60s when the "Little" got lost. After heroin problems in 1960, she left Otis and was re-discovered by Kenny Rogers, who signed her to his brother's R&B label, Lenox. She led off with maybe her biggest hit, a cover of the country staple "Release Me" which she R&B'ed to the top of those charts. She played the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1972 backed by Johnny Otis’s band. She had a huge hit in 1972 on Kudu Records with Allen Toussaint’s tune, “From a Whisper to a Scream” and was nominated for a Grammy, which Aretha won, but ultimately gave to Esther saying she should have won it instead. This track is from that album. Esther succumbed to alcohol and heroin finally and passed away in 1984, a mere 48 years old. What a GREAT singer and what a troubled life.
2. "Permanently Lonely" — Timi Yuro (3:11)
One of my favorite singers in the ‘60s, she had an amazing singular sound that emphasized her lower range. Her hits were "Hurt," "Make the World Go Away," "What's a Matter Baby," and "The Love of a Boy." She did two amazing versions (one live) of Ray Charles' "The Night Time Is the Right Time" that were equal vocally to Ray’s version. No one could believe she was white and Italian when they finally saw her. In the early ‘60s when I was a full-time songwriter, she came to the publisher I worked for with her A&R man Ed Silvers, and we played songs we wrote for her. She liked one and asked if she could try it out while I played piano — one of the thrills of my life. She never recorded it, but having that voice sing my song was unforgettable. This track here was a single from '63-'64 written by Willie Nelson. In 1964 she recorded an entire album of Nelson songs. This version is not great fidelity unfortunately, but she certainly gets the point across, but mostly singing her way through to the end. I will say, they left PLENTY of vocal in the mix (poor unheard drummer!).
3. "First Train Home" — Imogen Heap (3:34)
An early Queen of Electronica, she seems to have been sidestepped in the barrage of younger, less experienced bands that soon permeated her market. Let’s not forget she’s playing and singing all the parts — here’s a little something that shows just how great she really is.
4. "Standin'" (Live) — Patty Griffin (3:58)
Now this is TENSE ... minimalism at its finest. This is a great live performance captured for all time. More people need to get Griffin.
5. "Rip Off" — Laura Lee (2:57)
Between Millie Jackson and Laura, no man could get away with a damn thing while the two of them wrote songs and recorded them! “I’m settin’ him up for the rip-off,” Laura intones, and shows she ain’t the fool he thinks he’s got in the palm of his hand. A well-written lyric with great singing and production, circa the '70s.
6. "What Dying Feels Like" — Rebecca Lynn Howard (2:41)
I had never heard of her before, but I fell for this and here it is. My research now tells me she’s a country artist, more successful so far as a writer. This is a pretty great song with a great country title, but I had NO IDEA it was country til I read up on her. This is closer to the Adele side than the Gnashville direction, in my opinion. Maybe she should do the opposite of what Sheryl Crow is undertaking now and make a pop record even though she’s associated with country. Sheryl just made a country album. I couldn’t begin to calculate the thinking process in that career move, but hey, she made all the money — I just write about it. If Sheryl becomes a country star, I will officially apologize. Meanwhile, Rebecca, go to Muscle Shoals and make a pop album.
7. "Prehfrakna Pritchna" — Bulgarian Women’s Ensemble (2:06)
I have been playing and enjoying this music since Jac Holtzman at Nonesuch Records released it in the '60s. Richard Thompson and I were considering a trip to Bulgaria to hear them live in the ’80s, as they had never performed in America. And then BAM! — they played their first USA tour soon after. I saw two shows on that tour and seeing this live is amazing. I could go on prosleytizing for hours because the visual is uncanny — most of these women all have white hair, but it sure don’t sound that way. The most interesting part is that they use chord changes that are Western and are therefore more easily UN-foreign to our ears. And that’s how they seduce you. Never got any comments last time I ran one of their tracks, but I don’t mind listening alone if I must.
8. "You Will Find Me There" — Tracy Nelson (4:10)
If Tracy’s singing, you will find ME there. Like Timi Yuro, she was blessed with an amazing voice but, unlike Yuro, has written more than a handful of great songs. This is from the latter part of her career and she has aged like fine wine — she still has that amazing bouquet that draws the ear to the heart of her soul. When I lived in Gnashville, I got to play on a few of her albums and back her up live. That was a good enough reason to move there as far as I was concerned, but generally speaking I had a great all-around time in the South. Up here in Boston, I miss jamming with her.
9. "Desire" — Meg Myers (3:45)
NEW GIRL ALERT! She’s got one album out and she has great promise. I like a few tracks so perhaps there’ll be more. This has a very explicit line in it that I removed because it might have gotten ALL the attention and homey didn’t want that. But if you buy it you get to hear her say the F-word more better than Miley. This track is just as good without it. Keep your ears on Meg. I KNOW where your eyes are! She's hopefully friggin’ going places.
10. "Too Hot to Last" — Snarky Puppy feat. Lucy Woodward (4:07)
You know how I like to save the last spot for sneaky finales? Here’s a good one. I listened to this at first because of the band’s name. Wow! Guest vocalists, including Lalah Hathaway (Donny’s daughter), strut their avant-garde stuff magnificently. Their bio from JamBase tells a better story than I have the space for. But Lucy Woodward, you now have my complete attention. Incidentally, this is a live performance. This is from Snarky Puppy's just-released album, Family Dinner Volume One.10-4, as they say, and thanks again to our all-female amazing lineup.
Lucy: “This’ll be a good bookend for Meg Myers' opening photo, but I have to be sitting EXACTLY between the two sinks when I get this shoelace tied — you know how particular Al Kooper is!...”