New Music for Old People: ZZ Hill, Rev. Gary Davis, Curtis Stigers, Andy Stochansky and More

By , Columnist

Nick Lowe

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.

Oct172014 by Willow on Grooveshark

1. "Don'cha" — Tori Alamaze (3:36)

Most dance mixes are to the point but every now and then the song suits the groove perfectly. Such is the case here. One can easily dance to this and also have a few laughs as the lyric is humorous and “real life” as they describe TV shows nowadaze. I have found myself distractedly singing this to myself when I (and others around me) least expected it.

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"Okay! I don't really need the limo in the contract, but a taxi would be better than THIS..."

2. "Goodbye for Now" — P.O.D. (3:06)

As with the above, there are unexpecteds here. The intro starts like a rock guitar track and then the singer raps for eight lines before an actual melody starts. The rapping is unusual as it is a white person not trying to imitate something else. When he starts singing it is also totally natural and voila! — you have a rock record influenced by hip hop construction. And in the end, the majority of the record is original rock music married to a bit of hip hop. Sweet!

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"Hey, Al? Ya got a hip hop problem, old man?"

3. "The Last Time I Said Goodbye" — Curtis Stigers (3:08)

This is a well-recorded ballad with a perfect arrangement. I have heard other tracks by Curtis that maintain this level, but this was the closing track on his first album from 1991. He made Nick Lowe a rich man by chirping “What’s So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, etc” in the soundtrack of The Bodyguard which sold a mere 17 million albums! Curtis has over ten albums out and continues today, leaning more towards the jazz level. He is also an accomplished saxophonist. That’s him singing the opening of Sons Of Anarchy on the tube each week.

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"I'll have a martini, and a club soda for my tenor sax, please."

4. "When I Die I'll Live Again" — Rev. Gary Davis (2:51)

In the mid-'60s my hang was the Village in New York City. It seemed that the Reverend was backstage everywhere and popped up in many people’s apartments, teaching and singing to all of us. The fact that he was blind didn’t prohibit him — he always had someone who made sure he got where he wanted to go. That most important “Someone” took him to Heaven on May 5, 1972 from Hammonton, New Jersey, where he lived at the time. He was born in South Carolina in 1898! To this day his unique guitar fingerpicking is appropriated by many who never got to see him in person. I realize now how lucky I was. Here is a pretty good of example of what he did.

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5. "When Can We Do This Again" — ZZ Hill (3:33)

ZZ Hill was one of my heroes while he was still alive. I bought his album (vinyl) in 1982, The Rhythm and The Blues, and went nuts over a track called "Somebody Else Is Steppin’ In." This cut here is a track I never heard before I found it on iTunes recently and snapped it up. Born in Naples, Texas in 1935 as Arzell Hill, he changed his name when he went pro in emulation of BB King. He made 15 albums in his lifetime for various labels like Kent, Excello, United Artists, and Columbia (!) and finally settled at Malaco in 1981 and made his best batch for them. He died in 1984 at age 48 from a heart attack which was spurred on by a car accident he had a year earlier. Maybe ZZ Top got their name from HIM.

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6. "Be Who You Want to Be" — Max Frost (2:07)

This is Max’s second column appearance and he is one of the few artists who wrote in our Comments section. This is kinda ZZ Hill-ish but with a much friskier tempo. I can tell that Max is a fellow R&B fan and this is a reverential recreation that holds up in my book.

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"Excuse me, there doesn't seem to be a urinal in this rest room..."

7. "When to Quit" — Ari Heist (3:41)

I’ve downloaded a handful of Ari’s output in the last few years, but this one gets the most plays at home. I think it’s inappropriately titled and should have been called “I Don’t Wanna Break Your Heart” cause that's how each chorus starts and one first sings along with that line.

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"Uhh, Max? I think I found that commode you're looking for..."

8. "I'm a Mess" — Nick Lowe (2:58)

I’m a big Nick fan and this is one of my faves, lyrically. Nick is a big fan of one of my songs, “I Can’t Quit Her,” and threatens to record it every few years when I bump into him. Still no luck. I forgive him because he writes such great songs and I never release any (I’ve recorded a few and they will be on my box set Unreleased which includes only unreleased tracks from throughout my entire career).

9. "Work" — Jimmy Eat World (3:23)

This is from their 2004 album Futures. These lads have been around for ages and still make fresh music each go-round. This could have just come out and yet it’s ten years old. The band formed in Mesa, Arizona in 1993. There are eight albums so far and only one lineup change in 30 years! Who do they think they are — Huey Lewis and the News? Keep on rockin, guys!

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10. "Talk Show" — Andy Stochansky (3:31)

I saved this for last because it overpowered me completely. I have a few other tracks by Andy and they’re all pretty darned original sounding which is no mean feat. I think I like this one the best. What about you?

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