Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday Random 10: Several Shades of Blue

H ere's a Friday Random 10 that touches on several shades of blue. (Wow, that's not much of an introduction, is it?)

"Hole in the Wall"/Gary Burton/For Hamp, Bags, Red, and Cal. There's a thin line sometimes between cool and uncool. For example, there's the vibraphone, which is the very epitome of cool. And then there's the xylophone, which looks a lot the same and is played the same way, but can easily produce what sounds like music for a clown show at the circus. On this track, Burton does the best he can on the xylophone, but it's not enough.

"Until You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)"/Aretha Franklin/30 Greatest Hits. Soulful and swinging and yet another Aretha tune upon which it would be impossible to improve. (And co-written by Stevie Wonder, too.)

"Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes"/Edison Lighthouse/Super Hits of the 70s: Have a Nice Day, Volume 2.
Boy, do I love this record. It's bubblegum, but with a killer backbeat, and the louder you crank it, the better it sounds.

"Hey Bartender"/Floyd Dixon and "I Ain't Got You"/Sugar Blue/Alligator Records 25th Anniversary Collection. More electric Chicago crunch; the former was made famous by the Blues Brothers on their debut album.

"America the Beautiful"/Ray Charles/Ultimate Hits. I don't remember how this got into my laptop music stash to begin with, but it's welcome. Patriotic music is usually the opposite of soulful, but not in the hands of Brother Ray. In fact, this is the single most glorious version of an American patriotic song. Any song. Any performer.

"Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday"/Mighty Blue Kings/The Christmas Album.
The Kings, a Chicago-based jump blues and jazz outfit, split up a couple of years ago, and I'm still trying to get over it. Strange as it seems, their Christmas album is probably their definitive record--and this is the definitive track.

"Blues Before Sunrise"/Eric Clapton/From the Cradle.
The commitment with which Clapton performs on From the Cradle makes me think sometimes that he would be happy playing blues clubs in obscurity, and superstardom be damned.

"Get Closer"/Seals and Crofts/Singers and Songwriters: 1976-1977. As I wrote last summer, I cannot explain this record's power to bring back the summer of 1976, when it was a Top-10 hit. I'm always glad to hear it, though.

"Every Kinda Man"/Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters/The Color of Love. Featuring a guest vocal by Gregg Allman, who sounds quite at home with this terrific blues band.


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