The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Hope everybody is enjoying their Sunday. I find it hard to believe we’ve already come to the end of January. Once again it’s time to embark on another mini-excursion to explore music of the past and present, six tunes at a time. Fasten your seatbelt and off we go!

Jimmy Smith/The Organ Grinder’s Swing

Our first stop on today’s time travel is groovy jazz by organist Jimmy Smith who helped popularize the magnificent Hammond B-3. Smith was already on stage in clubs as a 6-year-old when he joined his father for a song-and-dance routine. After Smith had taught himself how to play the piano, he won a Philadelphia radio talent contest as a boogie-woogie pianist when he was nine years old. Following service in the U.S. Army, Smith attended Royal Hamilton College of Music in Hamilton, Ontario in 1948, followed by Leo Ornstein School of Music in Philadelphia a year later. He began exploring the Hammond organ in 1951, and played piano and organ in various Philadelphia R&B bands before switching to organ permanently in 1954. When Alfred Lion, co-founder of jazz label Blue Note Records, heard Smith perform in a local club, he signed him right away. Already his sophomore release The Champ from 1956 established Smith as a new jazz star. Between 1956 and 2005, he released an enormous amount of albums both as a leader and as a sideman playing with other prominent jazz musicians. The Organ Grinder’s Swing, a composition by Will Hudson, Irving Mills and Mitchell Parish, is from a 1965 album titled Organ Grinder Swing. It features Kenny Burrell on guitar and Grady Tate on drums. Take it away, boys!

Santana/Anywhere You Want to Go

After this groovy start, let’s jump to April 2016 and keep groovin’ while adding some Latin flavor. If you are a more frequent visitor of the blog, chances are you have seen me write that I dig Carlos Santana, particularly his first three albums with the classic Santana band, which appeared between 1969 and 1971. As such, I was quite excited when I learned in 2016 that Carlos had reunited most of the band’s surviving members for a new album aptly called Santana IV. It was released in April that year, and Santana also toured with the band. I caught one of the fantastic shows in Allentown, Pa. You can see the setlist here. And here’s a tune from Santana IV, Anywhere You Want to Go. Keyboarder Gregg Rolie wrote that song, which they also played during the above-mentioned show. Other original members from the classic Santana band playing on the album and during the tour included Neal Schon (guitar, vocals), Michael Shrieve (drums) and Michael Carabello (congas, percussion, backing vocals).

Bonnie Raitt/All At Once

For my next pick, I’m slowing things down with a beautiful tune by Bonnie Raitt, another artist I’ve loved for many years. Not only is Raitt an outstanding slide guitarist, but she’s also a no BS artist: What you get is what you see! All At Once, penned by her, is from Luck of the Draw, Raitt’s 11th studio album. It appeared in June 1993 and became her second hugely successful record following Nick of Time from March 1989, her commercial breakthrough that had come after years of personal and professional struggles. While unlike Nick of Time it didn’t top the U.S. charts (but reached a close no. 2), Luck of the Draw sold even more copies than its predecessor. Raitt dedicated the album to Stevie Ray Vaughan who had died in a helicopter crash in 1990 and had encouraged her to stop drinking. Apparently, Vaughan’s encouragement had a huge impact on Raitt’s becoming sober.

Badfinger/No Matter What

I would now like to turn to Badfinger, a band I’ve come to appreciate largely thanks to fellow blogger Max, aka badfinger20 from PowerPop. The Welsh rock band, widely recognized for their influence on ’70s power pop, evolved from The Iveys, a group formed in 1961. In 1968, they became the first band that was signed by The Beatles’ Apple label. Following the release of their debut album Maybe Tomorrow in July 1969, the group changed their name to Badfinger. From 1970 until 2000, nine albums appeared under that name. While Badfinger had four consecutive hits between 1970 and 1972, things tragically unraveled after Apple folded in 1973, and they struggled with a host of legal, managerial and financial problems. It drove two of the band’s members to commit suicide, Pete Ham in 1975 and Tom Evans in 1983 – one of the saddest stories in pop rock history! Here’s No Matter What, Badfinger’s second hit released in the U.S. and UK in October and November 1970, respectively. Written by Ham, the beautiful power pop tune was also included on the group’s third studio album No Dice, released in November of the same year.

You’re Among Friends/Don’t Borrow Trouble

The next stop on this musical journey is the present. Shout-out to fellow blogger Eclectic Music Lover who does a great job in highlighting contemporary artists and bands who oftentimes aren’t widely known. One great example is You’re Among Friends, an indie rock band from Cleveland, Ohio. According to their blog/website, they were formed in 2007 by Anthony Doran (lead vocals and guitars) and Kevin Trask (bass, keyboards and backing vocals), together with Chris Tarka (drums). Their current drummer Mike Janowitz has been with the group since 2019. Their website notes, Tagged as “casual rock” by Powerpopaholic, their music has been described as having “rollicking blues at its core with a sugary coating of power pop” by Cleveland Scene and as “a laid-back style of funky, blues-infused folk rock” by Eclectic Music Lover. To date, You’re Among Friends have released four full-length albums, as well as a couple of EPs and singles. Don’t Borrow Trouble is the catchy opener of the band’s fourth and latest album Good Enough Sometimes, released on January 10 this year.

Men At Work/Down Under

And, once again, this brings me to the sixth and final pick. This one’s by a band that came from a land down under: Men at Work. The group was formed in Melbourne in 1979 by Colin Hay (lead vocals, guitar), Ron Strykert (bass) and Jerry Speiser (drums), who were subsequently joined by Greg Ham (flute, sax, keyboards). By the time Men at Work recorded their debut album Business as Usual in 1981, they had added John Rees on bass and Strykert had switched to guitar. Down Under, co-written by Hay and Strykert, became the record’s second single in November that year and Men at Work’s biggest hit, topping the charts in Australia, the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, the UK and various other European countries. The tune introduced most of the world to the Vegemite sandwich, an Australian snack, as well as Australian slang terms, such as “fried-out” (overheated) and “a head full of zombie” (a marijuana reference). Late last year, Australian producer Christian “Luude” Benson remixed Down Under featuring Hay on vocals, which in January charted in the UK and Australia at no. 32 and no. 48, respectively – not my cup of tea, though I really like the original.

As usual, here’s a playlist with all of the above tunes. Hope there’s something for you.

Sources: Wikipedia; You’re Among Friends website; YouTube; Spotify

16 thoughts on “The Sunday Six”

  1. You’re Among Friends…I heard this band at Jeff’s site…this one has a bit of Steely Dan in it. I like it. Thanks for the link Christian… I can always listen to Badfinger.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, not exactly a shocker regarding Badfinger, Max, or should I say badfinger20? 🙂

      And, yep, it was Jeff who had brought You’re Among Friends on my radar screen. I think he perfectly characterized their sound as “laid back.” This particular tune I also find quite catchy. There’s definitely a bit of early Steely Dan in their music, as well as Grateful Dead.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I never heard of Jimmy Smith before but that song is so cool. I love organ and I love instrumentals, especially from that time. I didn’t even know there was jazz organ. I don’t know why they stopped using the organ, cuz they used to use it a lot back in the 60s and 70s. There were all these cool instrumental hits with organ and they were so great. And a lot of rock bands had an organ player. I don’t know why they just stopped using it. They should bring it back. lol.
    But Badfinger I know and love. No Matter What isn’t my favorite Badfinger song, but my third favorite, right behind Day After Day and Baby Blue. And Come and Get It.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I never get tired of the good ole Hammond and agree it’s a pity it’s no longer used as widely as it once was.

      I also like these other Badfinger tunes you called out. In fact, I would agree “Day After Day” and “Baby Blue” are my favorites.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think what happened was that the organ and some other keyboard instruments that were big in the ’60s and ’70s , like electric piano and clavinet and even piano itself , were replaced by synthesizer in a lot of music. Where they used to use regular keyboards they just started using synthesizers instead. Or else that’s just what people wanted to hear. I’m an electronic music lover now, but it really wasn’t necessary to start using electronic keyboards in place of the old ones. They do different things . One isn’t really a substitute for the other. They belong to different types of music. I can’t even think of the last time I heard an organ in any new music. And even when they try to make music the way it was in the past, it really isn’t very good anyway. Like when they try to re-create classic rock . It’s usually not any good

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agree, though with synthesizers nowadays you can pretty much replicate any sound via sampling, including a Hammond B-3, and it’s indistinguishable from the real thing, at least to the regular listener. That being said, I’m pretty sure there are small “irregularities” and other quirks you have with a real Hammond that cannot be fully replicated with a synthesizer. But you probably have to be a Hammond player to know and recognize.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jimmy Smith tune was way too short. Excellent jamming! Santana, Bonnie Raitt, and Badfinger are all favorites of mine also. You’re Among Friends is new to me. I hear a distinct Grateful Dead flavor in there. Men At Work is a great way to close your playlist.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Lisa, glad you liked my picks!😀

      Until I read Jeff’s (Eclectic Music Lover) review the other day, I hadn’t heard of You’re Among Friends either. Jeff does a great job covering new artists or others who have been around but kind of been under the radar screen.

      You’re Among Friends are right up my alley!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I know, tell me about it! Usually, it’s hard enough to carve out time to write your own stuff.

        Over the past year or so, I’ve increasingly scheduled my posts, so I can write most of the content over the weekend. During the week, I oftentimes work long hours and typically don’t have the brains to write thereafter.

        That being said, reading other bloggers’ posts is an important fun part of the blogging experience I wouldn’t want to miss. Plus, it has definitely helped me get ideas for new posts.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Jeff, you’re very welcome. And thanks for your commitment to frequently highlight new artists and/or acts who have been around but have remained under the radar screen.

      You’re Among Friends with their warm and laid back sound definitely struck a chord with me, and I look forward to hearing more music from this band.

      Liked by 2 people

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