The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Happy Sunday and welcome to another mini-excursion into the great world of music, six tunes at a time. Most of the U.S. including my neck of the woods fell back to standard time overnight. If this affects you as well, don’t forget to adjust your watch – if you didn’t and believe you must head out for an activity that starts at a specific time, relax, you have an additional hour! This means you may have time to join me on today’s music trip! Even if you turned back your clocks by an hour, hop on anyway!

Ornette Coleman/Lonely Woman

Let’s start today’s journey in November 1969 with American jazz great Ornette Coleman. The saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer is known as a principal founder of the free jazz genre, a term derived from his 1961 album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. Coleman who hailed from Fort Worth, Texas, began playing R&B and bebop in the late ’40s before joining Silas Green from New Orleans, a traveling show that was part revue, part musicomedy, part minstrel show. Later on, he became part of the band of R&B, blues guitarist and vocalist Pee Wee Crayton. He ended up in California, assembled his own band and recorded his debut album Something Else!!!! By the time his sophomore release Tomorrow Is the Question! had come out, Coleman had shaken up the jazz world with his “alien” music. Apparently, some jazz musicians went as far as calling him a fraud. None other than conductor Leonard Bernstein disagreed, praising him. Lonely Woman, composed by Coleman, is a track from his third album confidently titled The Shape of Jazz to Come, which was released in November 1959. Coleman (alto saxophone) is backed by Don Cherry (cornet), Charlie Haden (double bass) and Billy Higgins (drums).

Steve Earle/You’re Still Standin’ There

Our next stop takes us to March 1996 and a tune by roots-oriented singer-songwriter Steve Earle, which was love at first listen: You’re Still Standin’ There, off his six studio album I Feel Alright. And that is safe to assume he did after he had overcome his drug addiction to cocaine and heroin in the fall of 1994. Like all other tracks on the album, You’re Still Standin’ There was penned by Earle. Lucinda Williams, another artist I’ve come to dig, joined him on vocals for this great Dylan-esque tune. I can also hear some Springsteen in here! After playing music for nearly 55 years and a recording career of more than 35 years, Earle is still going strong. His most recent album with his longtime backing band The Dukes, Jerry Jeff, came out on May 27 this year.

Cream/Politician

Time to hop to the ’60s, coz why not! Politician is one of my absolute favorites by British power trio Cream. I love that super cool guitar riff. With important midterm elections coming up in America, which could significantly impact the direction of the county, I also have to admit the song choice isn’t entirely coincidental. To the extent possible, I’d like to keep this blog uplifting and free of politics, which has become so toxic. All I will say is this: Never take anything for granted. The right to vote is a privilege. If you have it, exercise it! Politician, co-written by Cream bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce and English poet, lyricist, and singer Pete Brown, appears on Cream’s third album Wheels of Fire, a part studio, part live double LP that first came out in the U.S. in June 1968, followed by the UK in August of the same year.

Dire Straits/Tunnel of Love

Fellow blogger Bruce from Vinyl Connection had a great post earlier this week about Love Over Gold, the excellent fourth studio album by Dire Straits, for which I’ve gained new appreciation. That’s why I’m featuring a song from the British rock band’s predecessor Making Movies, which came out in October 1980! 🙂 Joking aside, both of these albums rank among my top three Dire Straits releases, together with their eponymous debut that features this great signature Fender Stratocaster sound by Mark Knopfler. While that album and the similar-sounding sophomore CommuniquĂ© were great, Making Movies represented a leap in Knopfler’s songwriting. Here’s the excellent opener Tunnel of Love.

The Rolling Stones/Dead Flowers

Recently, I participated in another round of Turntable Talk, a fun recurring feature by Dave from A Sound Day, for which he invites fellow bloggers to provide their thoughts on a topic he suggests. This time, he asked contributors to write about their favorite year in music. The submissions were amazing (not talking about mine, though “my” year obviously was the best! 🙂 ). One key takeaway from this latest installment is how much great music appeared, especially in the 1965-1975 timeframe. A close second to my choice, 1969, was 1971, though frankly, I pretty much could have picked any other year during the above period. Longwinded way of bringing me to Sticky Fingers, my favorite album by The Rolling Stones released in April 1971 and a tune I absolutely love: Dead Flowers. Credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the country-oriented song was influenced by Richards’ friendship with Gram Parsons. I just don’t get tired of the great honky tonk guitar fill-ins by Richards and the amazing Mick Taylor. Did somebody say they don’t like country?

Giovannie and the Hired Guns/Can’t Answer Why

For the final tune of this installment of The Sunday Six, we’re going all the way to the present with a great tune by Giovannie and the Hired Guns, a rock band from Texas I recently featured as part of my Best of What’s New music revue series. The group from Stephenville around frontman Giovannie Yanez, which also includes guitarists Carlos Villa and Jerrod Flusche, bassist Alex Trejo and Milton Toles on drums, taps into a variety of genres, such as Southern rock, country, stoner metal, musica norteña and even Latin hip-hop. Here’s Can’t Answer Why, credited to Yanez and the band, off their third and latest full-length album Tejano Punk Boyz. Great melodic rock!

‘So where’s the Spotify playlist featuring the above tunes’, you might wonder. Ask you shall receive. As always, thanks for reading and listening, and hope there’s something you dig!

Sources: Wikipedia; YouTube; Spotify

Best of What’s New

A selection of newly released music that caught my attention

Welcome to my last new music revue of October 2022. This installment includes progressive bluegrass (yet another genre I had not heard of before, or is it simply what I would have called folk?), country, pop and rock. All tunes appear on albums that were released yesterday (October 28).

Trampled By Turtles/The Party’s Over

My first new music pick for this week comes from Trampled By Turtles. And, nope, it’s not death metal or punk, which was my first thought. According to their AllMusic bio, Progressive bluegrass band Trampled by Turtles are from Duluth, Minnesota, where frontman Dave Simonett initially formed the group as a side project in 2003. At the time, Simonett had lost most of his music gear, thanks to a group of enterprising car thieves who’d ransacked his vehicle while he played a show with his previous band. Left with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, he began piecing together a new band, this time taking inspiration from bluegrass, folk, and other genres that didn’t rely on amplification. Simonett hadn’t played any bluegrass music before, and he filled his lineup with other newcomers to the genre, including fiddler Ryan Young (who’d previously played drums in a speed metal act) and jam band bassist Tim Saxhaug. Along with mandolinist Erik Berry and banjo player Dave Carroll, the group began carving out a fast, frenetic sound that owed as much to rock & roll as bluegrass. Since their 2004 debut Songs from a Ghost Town, Trampled By Turtles have released nine additional albums including their latest Alpenglow. Here’s the closer The Party’s Over, credited to all members of the current lineup, which in addition to the above includes cellist Eamonn McLain. I like the warm and mellow sound, which is pretty representative of the overall album.

Lainey Wilson/Hillbilly Hippie

Lainey Wilson is a country singer-songwriter who hails from Baskin, La. and is now based in Nashville, Tenn. From her website: Six-time CMA Award nominee and ACM New Female of the Year 2022 winner, Lainey Wilson has earned the enthusiasm of the industry, having been named to nearly every “Artist to Watch” list, being crowned Billboard’s “Top New Country Artist of 2021,” and earning CMT’s “Breakout Artist of the Year” award for 2022, the Louisiana native is one of Nashville’s hottest and most buzzed-about new artists. Landing her first No. 1 with her PLATINUM Certified ACM Song of the Year “Things A Man Oughta Know,” nearly 10 years to the day after leaving her small farming community in a camper trailer to chase her dreams, she has won over legions of fans with her signature Bell Bottom Country sound and aesthetic, which blends traditional Country with a modern yet retro flare. A prolific and sought-after songwriter (having co-writer credits on songs by artists including Luke Combs, Flatland Calvary and more), Lainey is a fresh, fierce voice in Nashville, delivering CMA nominated album of the year with her label debut, Sayin’ What I’m Thinkin’. Wilson is now out with her fourth album and second major label release Bell Bottom Country. Here’s the opener Hillbilly Hippie, which Wilson co-wrote with Jeremy Bussey and Terri Jo Box. It may be hillbilly, but it’s a nice country rocker! The album also includes a cool cover of 4 Non Blondes’ What’s Up?, which I included in the Spotify playlist at the end of the post.

Tom Odell/Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About

Tom Odell is a British singer-songwriter, who according to Apple Music has “a penchant for emotive pop songs and a deep love of the piano.” Here’s more from his profile: After seeing Odell perform, singer Lily Allen signed him to her In the Name Of label, which released his 2012 debut EP, Songs From Another Love. His Platinum-selling full-length debut, Long Way Down, hit no. 1 on the UK album charts in 2013. Fueled by its use in a 2014 holiday ad, his cover of The Beatles’ “Real Love” became a viral sensation and later appeared on his Spending All My Christmas with You EP. He earned Songwriter of the Year at the 2014 Ivor Novello Awards and also received nominations for British Male Solo Artist and British Breakthrough Act at that year’s BRIT Awards. While Odell’s cover of Real Love is nice and he surely has enjoyed impressive success to date, I still hadn’t heard of him before – well, better late than never! Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About is from Odell’s fifth and new album Best Day of My Life. “I think there’s a great tradition in the UK of people – particularly men – not sharing any emotion with each other and hiding stuff away,” he commented to Apple Music. “I’ve begun to learn that the things that you don’t discuss are the ones that become most destructive to any friendship or relationship.” Like all other tracks on the album, the tune only features Odell on vocals and piano. It’s pretty bare-bones, but I like it!

Giovannie and the Hired Guns/Something In The Way

I really felt I needed to close out this post with some rock. Texas band Giovannie and the Hired Guns, another group that’s entirely new to me, came to the rescue with their new album Tejano Punk Boyz. From their website: In the last few years alone, Giovannie & The Hired Guns have grown from a massively beloved local live act to an undeniable new force on the national rock scene. Formed back when frontman Giovannie Yanez was working the counter at a pawnshop, the Stephenville, Texas-based band has amassed millions of streams almost entirely through word-of-mouth, thanks in no small part to their unforgettable live showGiovannie & The Hired Guns draw much of their power from the eclectic sensibilities at the heart of the band: drummer Milton Toles, for instance, brings a soulful intensity deeply informed by playing music in church as a kid, while guitarist Jerrod Flusche’s background includes session work with such prominent country acts as Dolly Shine and Sam Riggs & the Night People. With their lineup rounded out by guitarist Carlos Villa and bassist Alex Trejo, the band also taps into elements of everything from Southern rock and stoner metal to la musica norteña and Latin hip-hop. That’s quite a stew. Let’s check out Can’t Answer Why, a track off the group’s above-mentioned new album, which is their third full-length release.

Last but not least, following is the aforementioned Spotify playlist with the above and a few additional tracks by the four featured artists and bands.

Sources: Wikipedia; AllMusic; Lainey Wilson website; Apple Music; Giovannie and the Hired Guns website; YouTube; Spotify

The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random tracks at a time

Another Sunday morning is upon us, at least in my neck of the woods (Central New Jersey, USA). Of course, this means it’s time to embark on another journey to celebrate music of the past six decades, six tunes at a time.

Julius Rodriguez/Gift of the Moon

This trip starts in the present. The immediate present. Julius Rodriguez, aka Orange Julius, is an American pianist, drummer and composer, whose music combines elements of jazz, avant-garde, R&B, hip-hop and pop. He started studying classical piano at a young age, or I should say at an even younger age – he’s only 23 years old! His father, a jazz connoisseur, introduced him to artists like Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and John Coltrane. Rodriguez has been an active touring member of New York jazz combo Onyx Collective, and has worked as a sideman with numerous other artists like Macy Gray, Wynton Marsalis and Nick Hakim. And, yes, in addition to all of that, Rodriguez has been releasing music under his own name and the Orange Julius moniker since 2015. Here’s Gift of the Moon, off his new album Let Sound Tell All, which appeared on June 10.

John & Yoko & Plastic Ono Band/New York City

Now let’s kick it up with some great rock & roll. One artist I’ve always loved in this context is John Lennon. I recall reading somewhere that John said the rock & roll covers The Beatles played at the Star-Club in Hamburg and the Cavern in Liverpool before they were famous were the best music they ever performed. Of course, John said many things about The Beatles after they had broken up, which seemed to dismiss their original music. While I don’t agree with some of his remarks, I think he’s right The Beatles were a great rock & roll band. John was a great rock & roll singer, which he not only demonstrated on his 1975 covers album Rock ‘n’ Roll but also on this tune: New York City, a track that appeared in June 1972 on a double LP titled Some Time in New York City, released as John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with Elephant’s Memory – rolls right of your tongue! Go, Johnny, go – que pasa New York!

Creedence Clearwater Revival/Born On the Bayou

I don’t know about you, I’m in the mood for more rock. Let’s go to 1969 and the swamp. I trust Creedence Clearwater Revival, aka CCR, don’t need an introduction. If you’d like a crash course, check this AllMusic bio. Like most CCR tunes, Born On the Bayou was penned by the group’s leader John Fogerty. Yes, the man had pretty strong opinions, which he oftentimes imposed on his bandmates. And, yes, I feel sometimes they don’t get the credit they deserve. But there’s no doubt John knew what he was doing. Born On the Bayou is the lead track of CCR’s sophomore album Bayou Country, which appeared in January 1969. It also was released separately as the B-side to the record’s single Proud Mary. In my humble opinion, Born On the Bayou should have been a separate single, and it should have been an A-side – man, I love this tune!

Asia/Heat of the Moment

And next, we find ourselves back in ’82. When I caught Heat of the Moment by Asia on the radio the other day, it reminded me of what a catchy tune it is. Growing up in the ’80s back in Germany, I loved much of the music that came out during that decade. I suppose you could say, well, it was in the heat of the moment! While I can’t deny a certain remaining weak spot, nowadays I’m no longer as fond of ’80s music. That being said, some songs are holding up pretty well to me. One is Asia’s debut single, co-written by the band’s John Wetton (lead vocals, bass) and Geoff Downes (keyboards, vocals), which appeared on their eponymous debut album, released in March 1982. After they broke up in 1986, Asia reunited in 1989 and remain active to this day, with Downes as the only original member.

The Wallflowers/Shy of the Moon

Undoubtedly, being a music artist and offspring of Bob Dylan poses challenges. But I feel Jakob Dylan, a son of Bob and his first wife Sara Dylan (born Shirley Marlin Noznisky), has done pretty well. While Jakob played guitar in various high school bands and was featured as a guitar player on his friends’ group’s eponymous 1987 album, Trash Matinee, he didn’t start focusing on a professional music career until 1989. Together with his childhood friend Tobi Miller (lead guitar) he began forming a band called The Apples. After Barrie Maguire (bass), Peter Yanowitz (drums) and Rami Yafee (keyboards) had joined the group, they changed their name to The Wallflowers and released their eponymous debut album in August 1992. The Wallflowers are still around, though it’s now a music project by Dylan with a revolving cast of touring musicians. Here’s Shy of the Moon, the great openers of The Wallflowers’ above-noted eponymous debut album. Like all except one of the remaining tracks on the album, the tune was penned by Dylan.

Southern Avenue/Keep On

And once again another music trip has arrived at its final stop. If you’re a more frequent visitor of the blog, you probably recall Southern Avenue are one of my favorite contemporary bands. They are also among the nicest, down-to-earth professional musicians I’ve met. The group from Memphis, Tenn., which has been around since 2015, blends blues and soul with flavors of contemporary R&B. I also love the racial diversity they represent. Southern Avenue are Israeli blues guitarist Ori Naftaly; two amazing African American ladies, lead vocalist Tierinii Jackson and her sister Tikyra Jackson who plays the drums and sings backing vocals; white bassist Evan Sarver; and African American keyboarder Jeremy Powell. Tellingly, in 2016 they became the first new act signed to Stax Records in many years. Here’s the great title track of their sophomore album Keep On, released in May 2019.

This post wouldn’t be complete without a Spotify playlist of the above tunes. Hope there’s something you enjoy!

Sources: Wikipedia; AllMusic; YouTube, Spotify