I have always been a fan of Jason Lee and his work. Memphis Beat came out last summer and it looks like there is to be another season. Lee plays a cop/elvis impersonator, it’s not as funny as it sounds, but in a good way. I’m not a big fan of the arm waving a la Elvis as he sings at the end of each episode, but I do enjoy his song selections and the songs themselves sung by Lee. The choice of songs on the show is always fun and Keb Mo is in fact the Music Supervisor for the show, an artist who I’ve often enjoyed in the past on his own. There are quite a few great old blues tunes and early R & B tracks that I’ve enjoyed listening to as I’ve compiled the soundtrack on my own (a post for another day.) One of my favorite songs that Lee did was with a church choir that really got going in that great Praise Choir fashion – much the way Elvis did it back in the day. I also really enjoy a couple other version of this song, though they are quite different. The Cash take on the tune is entitled God’s Gonna Cut You Down, but it’s still the same tune, but only as the Man in Black can do it. Moby also mixes up the tune in fine form from the album Play back in 1999, which incorporated sampled vocals by Bill Landford & The Landfordaires. The great folk singer Odetta sings it A Capella to great effect and the Blind Boys of Alabama did a great job with it as well. Whatever title it goes by, I really enjoy this song.
This fall I’ve had great pleasure in the new albums that have been streaming forth. One of the groups that I consistently have in high rotation on my iPod is Guster. I was first introduced to this trio by the (*gasp* *cough*) radio, with the tune Fa-Fa and I was immediately snagged by their pop hooks and their catchy harmonies. I would listen to the radio (no promises) if pop music had harmonies like this. Their two albums Lost and Gone Forever (1999) & Keep It Together (2003) are two of my all-time favorites that are just great from start to finish, and I jumped right in with both feet and loved them from the first listen and was surprised that though I still enjoyed Fa Fa, it wasn’t even close to the top of my favorites list by the band. It took me a few more listens with their 2006 album Ganging Up On The Sun, but there are a few songs there that now mean more to me than the other two albums combined. This new album, Easy Wonderful released one week ago, was a keeper from the first listen and I’m glad they are back in fine form. I’m glad as a group that they are growing and stretching their musical wings and trying new things, but I’m glad they have their catchy hooks that get stuck in my head and those harmonies that I love singing along to in the car as loud as possible. If you see me driving by singing along a bit too much, I’ve probably got the Guster going.
Fa Fa (1999)|Guster
Hang On (2006)|Guster
Do You Love Me? (2010)|Guster
I know, I know, trite apology for the lack of blogging here, I am really out of the habit. I do occasionally mull around the idea of sharing some new song/artist with the Universe by way of the inter-webs, but rarely does the idea linger past the light-bulb stage. I went to the Band of Horses show this week in Salt Lake City on my birthday. It was sort of my present to myself and I have to say that I am often told that I can pick the right present for a person, and I’m no exception to that guideline (if I do say so myself.) I’ve blogged before about how much I enjoy this band and seeing them live was just great. The group sauntered onto the stage to the classic Joe Walsh tune that was played at my High School quite often. The story goes that when they were attempting to name said school that it was considered calling it ‘Rocky Mountain High,” which is both awesome and horrible all at the same time, but while they didn’t end up naming it after the great John Denver, “Rocky Mountain Way” by Joe Walsh became a bit of an unofficial theme to play at pep rally’s when it was first built, and still was when I was there (along with Thunderstruck by AC/DC, back in my day, as we were the Thunderbirds.)
The band started out the night with the Great Salt Lake and it really got the crowd going singing along in the city that bears the name of the lake, especially when frontman Ben Bridwell paused before singing (along with the crowd) “the Great Salt Lake” and ensuring that the entire audience should sing said something along the lines of “this is the only time we get to play the song tonight.” The set list was really a wise choice from beginning to end, including a cover of J.J. Cale’s Thirteen Days after which Bridwell told the crowd to go listen to more of Cale’s music. I do have to say that the strange song selections began at the encore, I really wouldn’t have guessed that those were the songs they would have played during the show at all, let alone as the encore (apart from Our Swords,) and I would have walked away thinking they had played every great song of theirs I had expected and even wished they’d play – except for the fact that at some point during the encore some guy behind me mentioned the need to hear Detlef Schrempf and only then did I realize what I was missing. Overall it was a great concert and it reminded me how much fun it is to share the experience of great music with others. I was also reminded how old I’m getting and how not fun it is to stand up through two opening acts and then the headliner, I have to remember that the cool kids show up late not just for appearances.
Audra Mae is a fantastic singer-songwriter from Oklahoma, with a fabulous voice and some tunes that are well put together and take you to another time and place that you wish you could stay and soak in the sepia toned rays of the setting sun as they filter through the trees. It so happens that this lovely singer also has a famous maternal great aunt in that of one Judy Garland. She penned the one new tune on the Susan Boyle album that was released not long ago, and she’s had a tune featured on the great soundtrack to the cable channel FX show Sons of Anarchy. I haven’t caught the show, but the soundtracks that have come from it have been fun. Most of the tracks on the soundtrack are covers of great old songs and the one that Miss Mae sings is that of one Mr. Bob Dylan.
I’ve written about Band of Horses before and I’ll probably write about them again. I was made aware recently of a cover version of the tune “the Funeral” on some new secretly scripted “unscripted” fake reality show on MTV (I don’t think that channel has played a video since the mid 90’s, but I really wouldn’t know as I haven’t tuned in since the early 90’s). The cover by the titular chick Liz, “My Life As Liz” – is not bad and I’ve posted the version from the show, though there is some annoying talking during one bit. You can view the episode over HERE. This song was covered by Serena Ryder a Juno Award Winning Singer/Songwriter and currently is winning in a “Spinner” battle between her cover and the original – you can click over HERE and vote for yourself which you think wins that battle. And I’ve just learned that Cee-Lo Green (half of the group Gnarls Barkley) has covered another track by the Horse-filled Band as well, or should I say also, because it’s really not done well – but you make the call, which cover do you prefer?
There’s always a flip-side to every coin and as others are covering tunes by Band of Horses, the band themselves are covering tracks by other artists.
If you want to listen/see a great cover of the classic Journey tune about being on the road in a rock band, yet in love with a girl back home, then you should watch as Clem Snide at the A.V. Club sings some classic Journey. Clem Snide (band name, not singers name; Singer is Eef Barzelay) kicks out some fine tunes and their covers are a particular brand of awesome. I’ve posted about the fine covers found over at the A.V. Club before and you should also check out the recent updated Ben Folds cover of “Say Yes,” which he used to cover in live shows back in the day.
Say Yes (Elliott Smith)|Ben Folds
I was just shown this video of the band Dead Man’s Bones (half of which is actor Ryan Gosling). I really enjoy the vibe of the video and the song is amazing complete with haunting vocals. The band put out an album last year featuring the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir which was started by Flea (Bass player for the Red Hot Chili Peppers). It’s sort of a children’s eerie Halloween for a flavor, but it really works and is surprisingly good.