29 January 2013

Sister Monica Parker, "Never Say Never" (2012)

This is one of those tracks that, the first time I heard it, I fell in love with it. Sista Monica can wrap her soulful voice around a song like nobody I've heard since Sam Cooke -- comin' from me that high praise.

From her Soul, Blues and Ballads album, here's a taste of Sista Monica Parker:

11 January 2013

Rickie Lee Jones: "Flying Cowboys", Redux

Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker only did one really important thing musically while he and Donald Fagen an Becker were taking their long hiatus (1981-1993). Guitarist / Producer-for-this superb album, released in 1989. Becker creates an ideal sonic format for Jones' neo-beat poetry/lyrics: smooth, almost-jazz arrangements that stay in Rickie Lee's trademark groove. There's even a soulful lesson delivered in a cover of Gerry and the Pacemakers' Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'.

I try to avoid quoting Rolling Stone magazine here, but this time they nailed it:
While it explores a wealth of themes and musical styles, the album unfolds with the ongoing grace of one long song. What provides unity to the album's varied elements is its seductive rhythmic flow, the down-home surrealism of Jones's lyrics, the clarity and intelligence of Walter Becker's production and, of course, the sensual elasticity of Jones's extraordinary singing (Rolling Stone, Nov.2, 1989, Reviews ).
This is by far my favorite Rickie Lee Jones record, though I can't pretend to have heard them all. Let's just say that the "rhythmic flow" of this album will draw you in and never let you go. To wit:

10 January 2013

Emmylou Harris - "Plaisir d'Amour" from "Stumble into Grace " (2003)

Emmylou Harris - Plaisir d'Amour 
(traditional; The McGarrigle Sisters, harmony vocals)

This traditional French song turns up twice in classic cinema of the late '40s and '50s -- once "performed by" Montgomery Clift and once by Deborah Kerr, brilliantly in Tea and Sympathy. Emmylou's is by far the definitive interpretation.

07 January 2013

Two Divas for the Ages: Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox

Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox

Here, from The Rock 'a' Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Show, we find a very special collaboration. The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, joins with British '80s rocker Annie Lennox to perform one of Aretha's timeless hits, Chain of Fools (original, 1967). To my mind, Annie's on of the few artists alive who can hold her own on stage with living legend Aretha Franklin.

The more I thought about this live performance, adding Aretha's original became imperative.