Saturday Single No. 176

In the absence of more compelling things to write about and in the presence of a chores list that’s getting longer by the hour, I’m not going to sit here at the computer and dither about how to select a single for this morning.

Instead, I’m going to return to one of my favorite methods of finding a song and take a thirteen–step random walk through the files. That should work fine, as it did last week. Well, as long as I don’t turn Booker T. Jones into Booker T. Washington again. Here are this week’s parameters: I’ll use the time frame of 1950-2009 and I will skip over anything planned for the Ultimate Jukebox.

Speaking of the Ultimate Jukebox, long-time readers might want to make sure they stop by Monday. There’s good news for a friend of Echoes In The Wind whose music has been featured here in the past, and I’m going to tie that news in with the next installment of the UJ. Now, on with the random ramble:

First up is “Every Day (Oh Lord)” from Steve Winwood’s 1990 album, Refugees of the Heart. It’s a pretty good song from an album that I think disappointed a lot of people. It’s a record I’m ambivalent about. I don’t go looking for it when I’m pulling stuff out of the CD rack, but when something from Refugees pops up in the player, it usually sounds pretty good.

Next comes the British duo of Trish Keenan and James Cargill recording as Broadcast and the tune “Tears In The Typing Pool” from their 2005 album Tender Buttons. I know very little about these folks, but I ran across the album and liked the tone of the music. All-Music Guide says: “Tender Buttons has a uniquely fresh, modern feel. Sparingly applied beats, intricate but subtle guitars, and hazy synths dominate the album, providing a restrained backdrop for Keenan’s quietly commanding voice and crossword-puzzle lyrics.”

When I noted last summer that I’d never sat down and listened straight through to the Cars’ 1984 album Heartbeat City, several friends urged me to do so. Well, I have, and yes, it’s a good album, but no, it’s not going to move anything out of my Top 30 list. With the exception of the shimmering “Drive,” I find the album just too, well, self-conscious. That holds true for the next-to-last track on the album, our third stop of the morning, “I Refuse.”

Sandy Denny and the Strawbs did some recording during the summer of 1968, and the results have been released as All Our Own Work. But the album released in 1968 under Sandy Denny’s name from those sessions is a little different from the one released under that title by the Strawbs in 1973. Some track are new, and those that are common are presented in different orders (and that’s not taking into account the alternate tracks added in the CD version of Denny’s album). The 1983 edition of the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll has both albums listed under the years cited above. Without digging into things a bit more, it still sounds odd to me. Anyway, our fourth stop of the morning is “All I Need Is You” a nice bit of Britfolk from the Sandy Denny album that was written by Strawbs’ leader Dave Cousins.

Another performer whose work I haven’t quite absorbed is Nick Drake, the Brit who released three well-regarded folkish albums in the 1970s before dying in 1974, possibly at his own hand. I’ve got all three albums in various formats, and dip into them on occasion. Of the three, I prefer the middle child, Bryter Later, and that’s where we find our next tune, “Hazey Jane II,” a song that seems more muscular than most of Drake’s work, probably because of the horn chart.

And our sixth tune of the morning is one of the classics of soul: Ray Charles doing “Unchain My Heart,” a 1961 release. All I can do is tap my feet and wonder how I missed this one while I was putting together the list for the Ultimate Jukebox.

Sometime back – two sites ago, I think – I offered up Can’t Stop The Madness, the 1973 album by the all-female group Birtha. It was one of the more popular albums I posted, probably due to its rarity as well as the quality of the performance. Anyway, “Rock Me” pops up this morning, and for a few moments the study sounds like 1973, which isn’t an awful year in which to spend a few moments.

I had no idea who Carolyn Lavelle was when I saw a copy of her first CD at a thrift store years ago, but the cover intrigued me, and it was cheap. AMG says: “Caroline LaVelle’s 1995 debut Spirit elicited instant comparisons to Enya for its combination of breathy vocals, pop song structures, and glistening, new age, electronic-tinged arrangements. That comparison, unfortunately, may scare off some listeners who would like LaVelle. Her music is far more somber, and less inclined to fairytale, mythic ambience. Her voice, too, is far deeper and more reserved, eschewing the pristine preciousness of Enya that some find too cloying.” Having listened a fair amount to that first CD, I tend to agree. Our eighth stop of the day is “Turning Ground” from Spirit.

I’ve written occasionally about Cris Williamson, the singer/songwriter who was one of the first women performers in the 1970s to openly acknowledge that she was a lesbian. As I wrote once, had she come along two decades later, her career would likely have been far different and her fame wider. But based on what little I know of Williamson – from a bit of reading and a good deal of listening – she’s not all that interested in playing the game of “might have been.” This morning, the player settles on “Song of the Soul” from The Changer and the Changed, a 1975 release generally regarded as Williamson’s best work.

The immense number of soundtracks that Randy Newman has composed boggles the mind. This morning, the randomizer drops onto a brief segment – “Sarah’s Responsibility” – from Newman’s score for the 1981 film Ragtime. And that’s ten so far.

Before he hit it big (in Denmark, at least), my favorite Danish artist Sebastian released a 1970 album of folk-rock in English titled The Goddess. The seeming centerpiece of the album is a tune called “Babe, I Can Carry Your Tombstone,” which sounds more like Bob Dylan than anything else the young Dane recorded at the time. It’s an interesting period piece for me or anyone else interested in Nordic folk rock.

During the summer of 1974, as disco was beginning to develop its dancing legs, George McCrae had a No. 1 hit with “Rock Your Baby,” and as that catchy tune shimmies to its ending, it brings us to our destination for this morning: our thirteenth selection.

The credits for Leon Russell’s self-titled debut album from 1970 are – from the distance of forty years – astounding: Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, Eric Clapton, Merry Clayton, Joe Cocker, Jim Gordon, George Harrison, Jim Horn, Mick Jagger, Clydie King, Chris Stainton, Ringo Starr, Klaus Voormann, Charlie Watts, B.J. Wilson, Steve Winwood and Bill Wyman. (Wilson’s is certainly the least-known name there; he was the drummer for Procol Harum.) And there’s really not much more to say. Here’s today’s Saturday Single:

“Roll Away The Stone” by Leon Russell from Leon Russell [1970]

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 176”

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