Things are kickin’ on the music front this week. Plenty of musicians have released songs into the atmosphere in advance of albums to be released in the next 45 days or so, there are a lot of pandemic-centric tunes hitting the streets, and old favorites are reminding us why they are great.
Sir Elton continues to dribble songs we have not previously heard, this time with “Here’s to the Next Time” a song that was originally written with Bernie Taupin in 1967 from his recently released Jewels E.P.
Lana Del Rey takes things low and mostly slow with her ode to lovemaking with “Love Me Like A Woman.”
And, Rock is the New Roll favorite Dave Alvin is back, front and center with a scorching version of Highway 61 Revisited in his own unique Roots Rock fashion.
Here are five really cool records our ears are getting jiggy with this week.
The Struts – Strange Days
Ears, down our favorite real and true Rock and Roll band in the last five years, Luke Spiller along with his band The Struts are back and as Glam-fastic as ever. Wearing the Queen, Def Leppard, and AC/DC crown with honor, this new record dials down the showmanship and dials up the guitar riffs most noticeably on “Cool” and “Wild Child,” a song that features Tom Morello. This is a band that is maturing before our very ears, heck they even throw in an “Angie” style ballad that is part Rolling Stones and part Black Crowes. Strap your ears on and enjoy. Just start on song number two and skip the title track that features Robbie Williams. But the literal call-in from Def Leppard’s Joe Eliot on “I Hate How Much I Want You” on the chorus is wicked fun.
Low Cut Connie – Private Lives
One of our favorite bands of recent vintage has released one of our favorite records of the year. Becoming known as one of the bands on President Obama’s personal playlist as well as for their incendiary live shows and over the top quarantine sessions, Andrew Weiner and his bandmates are delivering piano rock to the masses the likes of which we haven’t seen since the early Leon Russell days. Favorites are sprinkled all over this thing with standouts that include the title track, the slow burn of “Help Me,” a song we all need to help us hang in there during troubled times, and the almost Dawes evoking “Take A Little Ride Downtown.” This is a terrific set of tunes that deserve to have more ears sent their way.
Herbie Mann: It’s A Funky Thing: The Very Best of Herbie Mann
Taking a walk on the Jazzy side of the fence, the great Flautist Herbie Mann is out with the greatest hits package that is perfect for the Jazz aficionado, lovers of the mojo vibe of the ’60s, or just folks that like great music in general. Spit polished with enhanced quality versions of the classics, every song on this one is a classic must-hear magic carpet ride. Not quite like the originals in some cases, there are several versions and renditions on this that feature vocalists including Tamiko Jones on “A Man and a Woman,” Carmen McRae on “Live For Life,” and Cissy Houston on Cajun Moon. The song “Push Push Pt. 1” presented here is worth the price of admission alone and “Respect Yourself” is perfectly sublime.
Seaway – Big Vibe
With more hooks than an episode of Dangerous Catch Canadian Pop-Funk outfit Seaway offers up an anthemic brand of Festival Rock that is as exuberant as it is hooky. The ’80’s Power Pop influences are floating around this one for sure, but ’90’s Indie-Punk in the Green Day mold may be a better touchpoint.” Still Blue” is a festival-ready, if festivals ever become a thing again, romper, “Sweet Sugar” takes things a bit slower and even has a scent of The Cars, and “Peach” could easily have been an ’80s Cheap Trick tune. This one is the ’80’s Teen movie soundtrack from a film that was never made.
Joey Molland – Be True To Yourself
As the sole remaining member of Badfinger and 1 of only 2 members of the band that did not commit suicide, Pete Ham died in 1975 and Tom Evans passed away in 1983, Joey Molland is keeping the spirit of one of the best Power Pop Bands ever to strum a chord very much alive in 2020. Lush and Beatlesque to the core, just like Badfinger, this record is a bit of a throw-back with a lot of present-day spit and polish thrown in for good measure. Produced by Mark Hudson, of the Hudson Brothers’ fame along with serving as part of The Boneyard Boys a group of songwriters that wrote a bunch of the latter-day Aerosmith hits, Hudson produced records for Neil Diamond and Ringo Starr among others. An extremely likable listen, there are elements of Ringo and George Harrison solo efforts here as well as a whiff of Jeff Lynn and Electric Light Orchestra thrown in for good measure. “Better Tomorrow” is a G. Harrison inspired highlight as is the E.L.O. measured tones of “All I Want To Do.”
We certainly can’t have Badfinger Back, but mad props to an artist that had gone through hell and back again for the sake of his art.