New Music for Old People: King's X, Todd Rundgren, The Tubes and More

By , Columnist

King's X

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. The reason I am writing this column is to make sure others don't miss this. These are not top ten items; but they SHOULD be!

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.

WARNING: The Todd Rundgren track, "Flaw," contains EXPLICIT LYRICS.

1. "It's Love" - King's X (4:36)

This was the first track I heard from this ambitious band. Imagine if the Beatles had stayed together and kept recording. This track will assist your imagination as the singer in the chorus has amazing Lennon-esque moments. And the lyric is "All You Need Is Love" sideways anyway. An amazing guitar solo ends this track that made me an all-time King's X fan.

2. "Letter to an Angel" - Jeb Loy Nichols (2:29)

Born in Wyoming, raised in Missouri, currently residing in Wales (??) - there is nothing wrong with this picture. Truly a recording artist - he got a scholarship to the Parsons School of Design for his painting skills - Jeb has one of those instantly recognizable voices and usually underplays the production on his albums. Over the years I have become a huge fan, but this was the first track that got me. One of my favorite lyricists as well.

3. "My Love is Real" - Terry Radigan (3:54)

A Greg Garing song done quite well by Ms. Radigan, produced by RS Field maybe 15 years ago. You can’t tell. A great track is timeless - Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and The Beatles taught us that. So sit back and enjoy some great record-making here.

4. "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" - Lakeside (4:36)

Someone once actually wrote a book saying that The Beatles' music was “white” and that true “black” artists couldn’t/wouldn’t relate to it. That made me chuckle. They obviously never heard “Yesterday” by Marvin Gaye or “Good Day Sunshine” by Roy Redmond. Or this arrangement/vocal masterpiece by Lakeside. I apologize for the clicks and pops, but I never found a CD or download that had this particular 45 vinyl mix/non-edit included.

5. "Flaw" - Todd Rundgren (4:56 Warning X-RATED)

One of his best tracks/compositions ever, this was released in the last five or six years; ergo, you might have missed it. Maybe not. I think I played this for AT LEAST a million people. Join the thong...errrr… throng.

6. "Fighting with Fire" - Sam Phillips (3:01)

Firstly, kudos to mix engineer Tchad Blake for using tremendous self-control and not adding a drop of echo or reverb to this track. I could NEVER have done that myself. It causes a sound of its own by that subtraction - a sound that suits Sam’s attack on moneyed males who are not exactly the best mates for true-hearted women. “Money Is the only thing he has....” sings Phillips. Would have been a great Father’s Day gift for Arnold or that Twittering Weiner guy!

7. "Museum of Idiots" - They Might be Giants (3:03)

I admit this got me because of the brass arrangement at first but then I realized that I really liked all of it - the chord changes, the keyboard, the bass, and the composition itself. An unusual turn for this band but well done, lads!

8. "The Best of Me" - Phil Perry (4:50)

There was a VHS for sale with a mind-blowing live version of this on it. I saw that first, then sought the album. The singing is waaaay more adventurous on the live video (haven’t seen it on DVD yet) but the song truly perseveres. I wish I had written this great song. The producer Jeremy Lubbock plus Richard Marx and the ubiquitous David Foster did. I like it so much I had it played at my wedding ceremony after we said “I do” for thankfully the last time ten years ago. That song and that marriage still be goin’ on.

9. "Spain" - Jake Shimabukuro (2:54)

To really appreciate this, you should hear the original version of Chick Corea’s standard on the first Return to Forever album. It could easily be one of my weekly top tenners on its own, but it makes this version all the more breathtaking. We are lucky to be living at the same time as the all-time virtuoso of the ukulele. I know that doesn’t sound like much to you, but one listen will completely proselytize you. This is a very difficult composition to play on any instrument, but Jake takes it on with no accompaniment, solo - and if you are not blown away by the time of the finale of this short track, immediately schedule a hearing test.

10. "Pimp" - The Tubes (4:15)

I’m thankful that even though I produced their debut album, my top three Tubes faves are on other albums. This is from their second album and there are many things I love about this track. The subject matter is dealt with quite well lyrically in the first person by writer/vocalist Bill Spooner. The musical composition is typically complex for this band, but the arrangement, production, and mix really shine. It’s daring and lasting. That’s why I left it for last.

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