Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Three For Tuesday

The David Bowie camp continues to raid the vaults, this time it is for an upcoming digital E.P., "Is It Any Wonder" and a Record Store Day release "ChangesNowBowie." They have been teasing one stream and video at a time for a few weeks now, and the third in the series is by far, my favorite. It is an updated version of the "Station To Station" classic, "Stay." Recorded in 1997 with the "Earthling" band, "Stay" has been given an "Earthling" feel, as were other songs in Bowie's oeuvre for that tour, so that the live set would sound unform. Check it out. This was new to my ears and I think it is filthy good.

Also out last week is a new track from Neal Francis. I don't know much about Francis, but this track was sent to me by a friend, with a note that said, "Check it out. He's from NOLA." As it turns out, he is from Chicago, but from the badass groove of the song, he could have easily been from the Crescent City.  I think this is funky good.

Searching for a video of the recent SOTD, EC & The Roots covering Squeeze, I found this.

Why didn't I get the memo?

Monday, January 27, 2020

"Where You Been, Girl?": A Girl Called Eddy Finally Shows Up

One way to avoid a sophomore slump is to take sixteen years in between your debut record and its follow-up. Erin Moran, aka A Girl Called Eddy did just that, and to say I have been wanting this new record for some time is an understatement. I loved that 2004 self-titled debut but the just released "Been Around" is even better.

From the title track which opens Side One, a Bacharach-David meets "Eddy In Memphis" beauty, to the more than just a nod to Chrissie Hynde & James Honeyman-Scott on "Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart," to what is now and could end up being my favorite song of the year, "Charity Shop Window," a stunningly gorgeous heartbreaker evoking Rickie Lee Jones, Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks, "Been Around" is everything I could have hoped for and more.

"She saw his coat in the charity shop window/where the past lives on at a bargain price/long ago dreams find another chance to live again/memories are cheap in the charity shop window/She can almost hear if she really tries/their first hello, their last goodbyes."

The melodies throughout this record are to die for, each song strong enough to grab hold and never let go. Listen to "Two Hearts" below, my second favorite track, and count the hooks.

Sixteen years is a long time, with the only bit of relief coming from Moran's 2018 collaboration with Mehdi Zannad on the pleasant enough "The Last Detail." People have waited less time for a kidney. But, I am happy to say, "Been Around" was worth waiting the 5,800 days. Richard Hawley's production on Eddy's debut was lush and fit Moran's voice perfectly. But Daniel Tashian's work on "Been Around" gives Moran more room to breathe, and that is why I think this collection sounds so vibrant and fresh.
"Been Around" is a big time winner.

Welcome back!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Songs Of The Week, 2020: 1/18-1/24

Two Winters Long- Irma Thomas
Someone Else's Heart- Elvis Costello & the Roots
What's A Matter Baby- Timi Yuro
Candy's Room- Bruce Springsteen
Flames- Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera
I Haven't Got The Nerve- The Left Banke
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress- Linda Ronstadt


Two Winters Long- Irma Thomas
I'm starting to get New Orleans fever. The lineup for the 2020 Jazz & Hertiage Festival was unveiled and as a bonus, one of my favorite drummers John Vidacovich posted a photo on Instagram of a studio set up where a new Irma Thomas record is being created. Oh happy day! Had to listen to Miss Irma to celebrate both events.

Someone Else's Heart- Elvis Costello & The Roots
So apparently there is a 20 track tribute to Squeeze that has been finished for some time now. YepRoc has been releasing singles for Record Store Day as a teaser. So far there we've heard Difford & Tilbrook themselves covering "Take Me I'm Yours" with The Roots. Erykah Badu covering "Tempted." Todd Rundgren covering "Bang Bang." And this, Elvis & the Roots covering a song originally produced by E.C., "Someone Else's Heart." Still no word on the release of the full length.

What's A Matter Baby- Timi Yuro
My bud and band mate Sal Maida played this classic on his Spin Cycle radio show last week. It reminded me of just how good it is.  Timi Yuro, "The Little Girl With The Big Voice!" Ellen Foley does a killer version of it, as well.

Candy's Room- Bruce Springsteen
Always a good time to hear "Candy's Room."

Flames- Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera
Here's All Music: "Although labeled a psychedelic band in their day, the Opera never sat comfortably in that strawberry field, partially because of the diversity of their sound, but also due to the simple fact they were just too far ahead of their time even for the psyched-out crowd. Their myriad musical meanderings took them down wayward byways that later became stylistic highways -- at least in their native U.K.. So it's no surprise then, that this band would have slotted perfectly into the Britpop scene, or going back further in time, into the R&B-drenched mod scene."

Here's Me: Their rhythm section ended up in Strawbs, while this single sounds a little bit and nothing like all mentioned. This is a great lost record. Vinyl fetches a few bills. I highly recommend YouTubing or Spotifying the whole shebang. It's quite a ride!

I Haven't Got The Nerve- The Left Banke
Lead singer Steve Martin Caro passed away last week, so of course I had to listen to The Left Banke, which really wasn't so much of an effort since the "Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina" album is one of my 20...maybe even 10 faves of all time.

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress- Linda Ronstadt
The Linda documentary is still fresh in my mind and I have been going back to many of her records over the last few weeks. This is from "Get Closer," an uneven record with a stellar Side One.  I think Linda delivers a defining version of this Jimmy Webb track.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Two For Thursday

I decided to give this another go. I know many, like myself, love Spotify. But, there are also those who not only refuse to embrace it, but flat out despise the practice, specifically the artists who receive a check for $1.66 after their song achieves 11 billion streams. I'd like to think that there are more people like myself who use Spotify for the convenience, but will also drop some coin on an album they truly love.

That's my Spotify speech.

I've been creating playlists since I first joined up. Some were made for others by request. Others, for my own listening pleasure. It is a lot easier than burning a disc, uploading and retagging, then uploading again onto the site that hosts all the files, only to find very few downloading, either because they have or know most of the songs in the playlists, or because they live through their iPhones and have no hard drive space. Well, here are two recent playlists you might enjoy. The first is the third volume of "Playing Hooky" and the second is an epic, that could just as well have been three separate mixes called "Now You Has Jazz."

You can follow me on Spotify and listen to everything I've put together. There are playlists devoted to one artist like Pete Townshend or Matthew Sweet, Nine Inch Nails or The Darkness. There are playlists that offer deeper cuts of bands like Queen ("Animal Crackers",) or Hall & Oates ("Say No Hits.") One playlist called "Singles"where I've tried to create better single LPs from classic doubles. Themed playlists and more. Or, just keep your eyes peeled here, and I will post new playlists and old favorites from time to time.

Let's see how this goes over.

Enjoy the music.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

This Week In Jazz: The New Standard

I'm no purist. Even if I occasionally shows signs of it, I'm really not. But if you told me that a collection of jazz takes on Peter Gabriel, Prince, Nirvana, Sade, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles and Don Henley among others, would become one of my favorite jazz records of all time, I'd politely ask you to leave.

I have loved Herbie Hancock's 1996 release "The New Standard" since its initial release. There was something truly special going on during these sessions, which feature Dave Holland, John Scofield, Michael Brecker, Don Alias and Jack DeJohnette, and include arrangements by my old pal, the late great Bob Belden. It's not just the appeal and familiarity of the pop melodies. Or the "what the hell" factor of the song choices. It's that "The New Standard" manages to create a truly remarkable collection of music that is accessible enough to catch the ears of those who might be on the fence about jazz without compromising the chops for the purists. That is the miracle performed by Mr. Hancock and his stellar cast of musicians. This record works because it has exactly what you need in any genre of music, great songs and great playing.

I have been jonesing for a vinyl release of "The New Standard" for years. It has only seen a vinyl release twice, once in South Korea (!) in 2012. Those copies fetch a couple of bills. And just last month, a new, gorgeous pressing and package was reissued in...you guessed it...SOUTH KOREA! (What's up with that, UMG?)

You can listen for free on YouTube, and all of your favorite streaming services and if you dig the tunes I've posted here, there's more to be had on "The New Standard."

Monday, January 20, 2020

The New Adventures Of P.P. Arnold

Somewhere in your record collection, you will find P.P. Arnold among the credits. She has been singing with the best of them since the 60's. From the Rolling Stones and the Small Faces, to Ike & Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Georgie Fame, Keith Emerson, Eric Clapton and the Bee Gees. She's toured with Roger Waters. She is on the original cast recording of "Jesus Christ Superstar," as well as records by Dr. John, Freddie King and even Nektar, for Pete's sake!

But she has only four records under her own name since 1967. The most recent, "The New Adventures Of..." was released last August and if my pal and bandmate Sal Maida hadn't played the opening cut "Baby Blue" on his "Spin Cycle" radio show yesterday, I would not be writing about it today.

This record is all you could want from a singer who is soon to be 75 years old. Produced by Steve Cradock of Ocean Colour Scene with songs new and old by Paul Weller, Mike Nesmith, Sandy Denny, Bob Dylan and Arnold herself, "New Adventures" feels like a lost record from the heyday of Arnold's career. Her voice is a touch more fragile than the powerhouse it once was on her hit "The First Cut Is The Deepest," but it is perfect for the selection of songs within.

Give these a spin. "Baby Blue," the lead track, is sublime.