Thursday, December 30, 2021

On The Right Side of 2021

     Though it was certainly a lot better than 2020, I don't think 2021 is going to down in the global history books as a great year.   But, as always, there was a lot of great music.  I'd especially recommend all of the following artists' 2021 releases: Strand of Oaks' In Heaven, Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird's These 13, David Sanford's A Prayer for Lester Bowie, First Aid Kit's Live Tribute to Leonard Cohen, Rodrigo Amarante's Drama, A Sweet Relief Tribute to Joey Spampinato, Lord Huron's Long Lost, Charley Crockett's: 10 for Slim: Charley Crockett Sings James Hand, and Sons of Kemet's Black to the Future

      As usual, I've only included artists who weren't on the two previous years compilations with the exception of Angel Olsen and Sharon Van Etten.  (They sound so good together and the song just really captured 2021 for me, so there you go.) I've also re-upped all my previous "best of" yearly compilations (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020).

Disc 1
She Walks in Beauty (with Warren Ellis):  Marianne Faithfull
Could It Be:  Dominique Fils-Aimé
Candles in the Sun:  Miguel
Mellow Peaches:  The Black Keys
Heartbeat Of America:  Billy Strings
I'm Still Here:  Travis Linville
Blue Mesas:  Leon Bridges
If You Have Ghosts:  Chelsea Wolfe
I Will Be Your Shield:  Billy Bragg
Here's The Thing:  Courtney Barnett
Stones of Silence:  Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth
Dizzy Atmosphere:  David Sanford Big Band
Galacticana:  Strand of Oaks
The Starchaser:  Menahan Street Band
3:00 AM:    HAIM
Just Because You Can:  Speed the Plough
Red Velvet Rope:  Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird
Disc 2
Who by Fire / As the Mist Leaves No Scar:  First Aid Kit
Blue Raspberry:  Tobacco City
The Globe:  Son Volt
That I Get Back Home:  Deer Tick
Hot & Heavy:  Lucy Dacus
Marathon of Anger:  Parquet Courts
Cosmosis [feat. Ben Okri & Skepta]:  Tony Allen
Movement 5:  Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, & The London Symphony Orchestra
Caroline:  Arlo Parks
Tanto:  Rodrigo Amarante
The World Is A Ghetto:  Los Lobos
Love Me Like You Used To:  Lord Huron
Mighty Lonesome Man:  Charley Crockett
Makin Memories:  Melissa Carper
Relative Fiction:  Julien Baker
Call Me A Fool:  Valerie June (w/Carla Thomas)
Put On A Smile:  Silk Sonic
But Beautiful:  Mandy Barnett
Disc 3
Drinking in America:  Chris Eckman
I’m Waiting For The Man:  Matt Berninger
Screaming:  Jake Bugg
Chismiten:  Mdou Moctar
Pick Up Your Burning Cross:     Sons Of Kemet [feat. Moor Mother & Angel Bat Dawid]
The Same Tree:  CTMF
Fox On The Run:  Daniel Donato
Long Time Gone:  The Flatlanders
Pretty Good:  Nathaniel Rateliff
Rare to Wake:  Shannon Lay
Phase One Million:  Vanishing Twin
Point and Kill:  Little Simz feat. Obongjayar
Give Me Fifteen:  Aimee Mann
Virginia Beach:  Hamilton Leithauser & Kevin Morby
One of These Things First:  Susanna Hoffs
Little Green Apples:  Real Estate
I Never Could Get Enough:  My Morning Jacket
Like I Used To:  Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen

Sunday, November 28, 2021

On the Right Side of Christmas 2021

As usual, I'm struggling to think of anything
meaningful to say about Christmas (or
Christmas music). Though, also as usual, I'm always a little surprised by how many artists have put out some sort of holiday themed songs - I had no idea that Nina Simone recorded Children Go Where I Send Thee until a couple of months ago.  It also seems that a lot fewer folks have a dismissive attitude towards Christmas music.  Or maybe I just talk to even fewer people than I used to about their musical tastes. :) I've also re-upped all the previous Christmas compilations.   

Silent Night

Sharon Van Etten

Blood Oranges In The Snow

Over the Rhine

Jingle Bells

Chet Atkins

Christmas Train

Sofia Talvik

Santa's Midnight Run

The Untamed Youth

X'mas Time (It Sure Doesn't Feel Like It)


Party for Santa Claus

Lord Nelson

Merry Christmas


Be-Bop Santa Claus

Babs Gonzales

How I Hate to See Christmas Come Around

Jimmy Witherspoon

Christmas For Cowboys

Samantha Crain

Thank God It's Christmas

Ella Vos

It's Christmas Time

Yo La Tengo

Ding Dong Dandy Christmas

The Three Suns

Children Go Where I Send You

Nina Simone

Holiday Pickin

The Nashville Bluegrass Band

Love the Holidays

Old 97's

Rock 'n' Roll Santa

Little Joey Farr

Plump Righteous

The King Khan & BBQ Show

Christmas Joy

Don Cornel & The Eternals

(Dance To A New Kind Of) Christmas

Big Society

One Christmas for Your Thoughts

Durutti Column

Merry Christmas from Mars

Michael Hall

Auld Lang Syne

The Hotel Cafe Medley

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Out of This World: A Freakwater Compilation

As I get older (and older), I've become increasingly impressed by artists that manage to put out albums that rival, or even surpass, their earlier work.  In the case of Freakwater, I still give a slight edge to
Feels  Like the Third Time over their 2016 release Scheherazade, but man, the latter, is a really good album and probably a more consistent effort.   And I'm still kicking myself for not going to see them on their tour for the album (I think I had a fairly legitimate reason, but still....)  Anyway, hope folks enjoy this compilation.

Jesus Year
Annabelle Lee
No Phone In Heaven
Walkin' Cane
Come All Ye Rolling Minstrels
The Asp and the Albatross
Family Tradition
Broken Hearted Lover
Lover's Return
Little Red Riding Hood
Lonesome Sound
Right Brothers
Queen Bee
Sleeping On Hold
When I Stop Dreaming
Out of this World

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Just an Itching in My Heart: Selections from the Holland-Dozier-Holland Songbook

   I can't remember what exactly prompted me to make a tribute to Holland-Dozier-Holland.  It may have been the hagiographic, but still compelling recent Motown documentary, but I think it was a song or even an article.  In the process of putting it together, I also discovered that they wrote a lot of  late 60's and early 70's hits under the pseudonym Edythe Wayne - because of a contract dispute with Motown, they were unable to use their own names for several years after leaving the label.  Anyway, hope folks enjoy the compilation - there aren't that many unconventional covers or obscurities, but hopefully, it still serves as a fitting tribute to a legendary trio.


Volume One

You Keep Me Hangin' On

Aretha Franklin

Crumbs Off The Table

The Glass House

Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)

The Isley Brothers

You Brought the Joy

Freda Payne

Free Your Mind

The Politicians

Love Is Like An Itching In My Heart

The Supremes

I Gotta Dance To Keep From Crying

Smokey Robinson

Where Did Our Love Go

Donnie Elbert

A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knocking Everyday)

Martha Reeves & The Vandellas

Mind, Body, and Soul

Flaming Ember

Remove This Doubt

Elvis Costello

Little Girl Blue (Single Version)

The Marvelettes

The Day I Found Myself

Honey Cone

Band of Gold

Marcia Griffiths

You're Gonna Need Me

Dionne Warwick

Volume Two

My World Is Empty Without You

Lee Fields & The Expressions

Whisper You Love Me Boy

Chris Clark

Can't Satisfy

Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions

Give Me Just A Little More Time

Chairmen of the Board



Don't Leave Me Starving For Your Love

Laura Lee

Too Many Cooks (Spoil the Soup)

Aged in Soul

Can I Get A Witness

Marvin Gaye

Baby, Don't You Do It

The Poets

(I'm A) Road Runner

Jr. Walker And The All Stars

Come See About Me

Nella Dodds

When The Lovelight Starts Shining Thru His Eyes

Dusty Springfield


Kim Weston

There's a Ghost in My House

The Fall

Reach Out I'll Be There

Four Tops

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Remembering James Hand and Tom T. Hall

     It's been a pretty dismal 18 months now and a lot of music greats have died.  In just the last two weeks, Tom T. Hall, Don Everly, Lee "Scratch" Perry, and Charlie Watts have left us.   Another loss that I was not aware of until a couple of months ago was James Hand, the great country singer from Texas who died in June 2020.  I probably would still not have known about this were it not for Charley Crockett releasing an entire album of James Hand covers earlier this year that I highly recommend.  As a further homage to James Hand, I'm posting his out of print debut album, Shadows Where the Magic Was, a true honky-tonk masterpiece from 1997.   He's also one the first Texas Legends compilation (with Don Walser and Justin Trevino)  Since much of Tom T. Hall's output is still available for streaming and/or purchase, I'm posting the out of print 1998 tribute album: Real: A Tom T. Hall project.  As with all tribute albums, there are a few misses, but this one has a really high batting average. 

Shadows Where the Magic Was

Over There That's Frank
Baby Baby Don't Tell Me That
I Heard Mama Callin
Heart Of Mine
I Can't Afford To Go
The Banks Of The Brazos
If You Can't Tell The Difference
Little Bitty Slip
Shadows Where The Magic Was
Lord Above Can You Hear Me
Not Worth The Trouble Anymore
Merry Christmas Darlin'
Everybody Got It But Me
My Hearts' Been Cheatin' On Me

I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew     Johnny Cash
That's How I Got to Memphis                 Kelly Willis
When Love Is Gone                             Richard Buckner
Don't Forget the Coffee, Billy Joe             R.B. Morris
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee                             Freedy Johnston
Old Enough to Want to (Fool Enough to Try)  Jonny Polonsky
Ships Go Out                                             Ron Sexsmith
I Miss a lot of Trains                             Iris Dement
Tulsa Telephone Book                             Calexico
Harper Valley P.T.A.                             Syd Straw & The Skeletons
Spokane Motel Blues                             Joel R.L. Phelps
Homecoming                                             Joe Henry
The Water Lily                               Ralph Stanley featuring Ralph Stanley II
I'm Not Ready Yet                                     The Mary Janes
Candy in the Window                             Mary Cutrufello
I Hope it Rains at my Funeral        Whiskeytown
It Sure Can Get Cold in Des Moines    Mark Olson With Victoria Williams

Sunday, August 1, 2021

A Gaggle of Gilberto Gil

     As a kid, I was always impressed by baseball players who were able to play in four different decades - even if only meant playing in the last year of a decade and then, 21 years later, in the first year of a decade.  Now that I'm in my mid-fifties, I'm also impressed by musicians with longevity, especially those with recording careers of seven decades or more.  While Gilberto Gil may not ultimately be able to match Willie Nelson's eight decades (and I can't imagine there are too many others who can match Willie), he's had a really impressive and long career.  He's also one of those artists that I became familiar with after he stopped touring regularly, so I'm disappointed that I'll probably never get to see him live; if his many live albums are any indication, he truly shines (though I'm glad I did get to see Caetano Veloso twice).  Hope everyone enjoys the two volumes and if you want to dig deeper into his music, I'd start with Gilberto Gil (1971), Expresso 2222 from 1972, and, of course a 1987 live album, Em Concerto.


Volume 1
Filhos de Ghandi
Ensaio Geral
Cada Macaco No Seu Galho (Cho Chuá)
Minha Princesa Cordel
Quatro Pedacinhos
A Paz
Um Dia de Garoa
Eu Vim Da Bahia (Live)
Aquele Abraco
Assim Sim
Chiclete Com Banana

Volume 2
Esotérico (Ao Vivo)
Bat Macumba
Diga a Ela (Versão Editada)
Só Quero Um Xodó
O Pato
Preciso Aprender a Só Ser
Abra o Olho (Ao Vivo)
Um Abraço no João
One O'clock Last Morning 20th April 1970

Thursday, July 1, 2021

The Texas Legends Series - Volume Five: Guy Clark, Blaze Foley, and Kimmie Rhodes

 It's time for another Texas Legends series compilation, though this one's a bit more downbeat than the other ones (check them out here).  If you're looking to do a deeper dive, I would start with Blaze Foley's Live at the Austin Outhouse, Guy Clark's Dublin Blues, and Kimmie Rhodes' West Texas Heaven.   You can also check out Blaze and Kimmie cuts on my 90's Texas alternative country compilation.  Lastly, I also recommend the Blaze Foley biopic Blaze, which is currently available on Netflix. In addition to Ben Dickey and Alia Shawkat as Blaze and his girlfriend Sybil, I really liked Charlie Sexton's portrayal of Townes Van Zandt.


Dublin Blues

Guy Clark

Brother Flower

Kimmie Rhodes, Townes Van Zandt


Blaze Foley

I Should Have Been Home

Blaze Foley

Honky Tonk Song

Guy Clark

Just To Be Near You

Kimmie Rhodes

L.A. Freeway

Guy Clark

Let Me Ride in Your Big Cadillac

Blaze Foley

Rhinestone Highway

Kimmie Rhodes and Willie Nelson

Sittin' by the Road

Blaze Foley

Uncertain Texas

Guy Clark

Take Me Down

Kimmie Rhodes

Angels Get The Blues

Kimmie Rhodes

Oval Room

Blaze Foley

The South Coast of Texas

Guy Clark

I Just Drove By

Kimmie Rhodes

Better Days

Guy Clark

If I Could Only Fly

Blaze Foley

Sunday, May 30, 2021

It's So Primitive: Jonathan Richman, Ben Vaughn, and Sonny Smith

     It's been a long time since I had a car, but there is a great deal to be said for driving around on languid summer afternoons and evenings listening to "primitive" rock and roll such as Jonathan Richman, Ben Vaughn, and Sonny Smith.  For readers wanting to dig deeper into their catalogs, I'd recommend Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers "The Modern Lovers", "It's Time For", Ben Vaughn's "Mood Swings" (and the out of print "Mono"), and Sonny & the Sunset's, "Hit After Hit".


Side A

Roadrunner                                                         The Modern Lovers
Jukebox Babe                                                         Ben Vaughn
Chapters                                                                 Sonny & The Sunsets
Death Cream part 2 "Watch Out for the Cream" Sonny & The Sunsets
The Baltimores                                                 Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
Paradise                                                                 Ben Vaughn
Alice Leaves for the Mountains                         Sonny & The Sunsets
The Girl Stands Up To Me Now                         Jonathan Richman
Cashier Girl                                                         Ben Vaughn
Our Favorite Martian                                         Ben Vaughn
Year of the Cock (Jackie Feathers)                     Sonny Smith
Nineteen In Naples                                                 Jonathan Richman
Rhinestone Sunset                                                 Sonny & The Sunsets
Since She Started To Ride                                 Jonathan Richman
Out Of Control                                                 Ben Vaughn
Side B
Primitive                                                                 Sonny & The Sunsets
When Harpo Played His Harp                                Jonathan Richman
I'm Just Beginning To Live                                 Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
7 Days Without Love                                         Ben Vaughn
Drug Lake                                                         Sonny & The Sunsets
Goin' Down That Road                                         Ben Vaughn
Grunion Run                                                         Jonathan Richman
Cathedral in the Desert                                         Sonny Smith
My Mind Ain't Right                                              Ben Vaughn
Beautiful Thing                                                 Ben Vaughn
Teen Age Thugs                                                 Sonny & The Sunsets
(She's Gonna) Respect Me                                 Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers
Rod for Your Love                                                 Sonny Smith
Pipe Bomb                                                         Ben Vaughn
Corner Store                                                         Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers