Husband and wife duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist took as their name the section of Cincinnati they came from: Over-The-Rhine, “where the river bends.” This Rust Belt elegy can evoke in all of us the lost worlds where we grew up.
For this beautiful, emotionally-charged ballad, drummer/singer/songwriter Malick Koly enlisted renowned bassist Ron Carter and Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid. This is one of those songs you find yourself listening to over and over again…
When did it become permissible to talk about having sex, in a song? I’m not talking about outliers like The Fugs, but in a song that could be played on the radio? Up until the 70s, writers had to use suggestion or metaphor to get the message across. Some Rhythm & Blues tracks crossed the line (“Sixty Minute Man” or “Work With Me Annie”) and got banned.
Then there are songs that took a more nudge nudge wink wink approach, like this Gershwin number. I love Peggy Lee’s 1940s work with her husband, guitarist Dave Barbour, and her voice and attitude are perfect for this. You can just see her sly grin, singing the title line.
The star of this 1966 Cameo-Parkway record — kind of a cross between doo-wop and early Philadelphia soul — is the incredible voice of Eddie Holman. The guy in the song can’t believe his lucky stars — pinch me, I’m dreaming — and the voice, intoxicated by love, breaks free of reality and soars above — way, way above.
Was Free the greatest British blues band? Might seem an odd question, since after their first album they didn’t cover blues standards or even adhere much to regular blues forms. But a deep blues spirit pervades their music, especially in Paul Rodgers’ vocals and Paul Kossoff’s guitar. Call it Blues for Moderns. Kossoff’s slithering, fuzzed-out, behind-the-beat guitar playing in this song sounds (and feels) like he tore out his heart and gave it to you.
My friend Larry Haley is running a music sharing project he calls “a virtual record haven” – The Bop Shop.
Every day Larry or another contributor posts a link to a favorite song, along with a short appreciation.
Here’s one I contributed:
Taking Larry’s cue re: musical married couples — Judy Henske needs no introduction; husband Jerry Yester (they were married in 1963) is probably best-known for replacing Zal Yanovsky in the Lovin’ Spoonful after the infamous drug (pot) bust.
Their 1969 album Farewell Aldebaran includes some of Judy’s finest vocal performances… but the lead singer on the title track is Jerry (boy, he can really hit those high notes). I think this is one of the earliest throughly “electronic” pop songs — others had used the Moog synth for ornamentation, but here it’s the backbone of the song, and even the vocals are processed throughout (to an extreme in the closing chorus, with its heavy robot-like ring modulation).
Wikipedia says: “The album was based on Henske’s lyrics, many of which were verses written when she had a high fever.” Seems like that might be the case for this song, a strange trip through the cosmos….
By the late 90s the days of mega-hits like “It’s a Heartache” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” were in the past for Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, but she continued (and continues) to release some fine music. I especially like her 1998 album, “All In One Voice”, which features this heart-wrenching version of “I Put a Spell on You” (recorded earlier that year for Mike Batt’s “Philharmania”). Pretty sure it’s Chris Spedding on guitar.
She’s not trying to out-scream Jay Hawkins (who could?); rather she uses her signature rasp to keep things just below the boiling point. Whereas Jay Hawkins’ “spell” sounds like a threat, Bonnie Tyler’s feels like it comes from a place of despair.
The under-appreciated Timi Yuro could do a heart-wrenching Johnny Ray-style ballad (“Hurt”), a soulful standard (“Smile”), or a blue-eyed soul rocker (“What’s a Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You)”) with equal authority. To me one of her greatest strengths was that she knew exactly how to use her voice to convey deep emotion — as in this theme for the 1968 British film, Interlude. She actually recorded the song twice: the film soundtrack version is more emotionally restrained than this version from Ms. Yuro’s 1968 album, “Something Bad On My Mind”. A meditation not only on love, but on time itself.
I was hipped to this (and so many other great jazz songs) by the late great Eric Jackson on his ‘GBH evening show. It’s a beautiful ode to Doug and Jean Carn’s daughter — lyrics by Doug, set to Wayne Shorter’s music in 1971. It has that magic early 70s black jazz-soul vibe that never gets old.
RIP, Wayne Shorter
New York City-based Leni Stern — singer/songwriter/guitarist (both she and her husband Mike Stern studied the instrument at Berklee) — collaborated with Larry John McNally (you’ll know his “The Motown Song”, a big hit for Rod Stewart) on this song of resignation and defiance. It’s based on the Roma (Gypsy) proverb of Manush Romanov: “Bury me standing. I’ve been on my knees all my life.”
Very nice Hammond B-3 work by George Whitty!