It's a special Monday edition of The Well-Played List, the listening series spotlighting the most listened-to, jammed-out songs, albums and artists of the week as submitted by the CL Music Team along with a rotating crew of tastemakers — local music promoters, record store and venue owners, music fans and scenesters, DJs, musicians, and a radio personality or two; check the past several week’s worth here. Audio and video included, along with any applicable show information. And on that note, what are you jamming this week? Tell us in the comments…
Shuggie Otis - Never really dove into his catalog too much until I had a hankering to hear "Strawberry Letter 23." I left the Spotify rolling through his most popular tracks and my Shuggie odyssey began. The dirty, deliberate funk n' sway of "Sweet Thang" with its Led Zeppelin-esque slide/warped guitar outro and the snotty organ groove and wah-wah guitars of "Ice Cold Daydream" drew me in. Now I keep returning to 1971's Freedom Flight and picking songs at random to see what other nuggets I find.
Irma Thomas, "(You Ain't) Hittin' on Nothing." This track by the Soul Queen of New Orleans hit me just the right way when I heard it on WMNF's Saturday Soulful Soiree, and I've been addicted ever since. And I'm not referencing Irma's original sassy-innocent 1963 R&B version as covered by The Detroit Cobras (which is also pretty good), but the one off 1991's Live ! Simply the Best; it has a slower, swankier groove with far more swagger, and when Irma belts, "You ain't hittin' on nothin' unless you goooot something for me," you can tell she gets it, maybe now she's lived it, though the song's a request and at the end she admits with a laugh, "We invented that one on stage 'cause we really forgot the tune. But that happens, and it turned out really nice." Thomas closes the Tampa Bay Blues Festival this Sun., April 13.
Bob Schneider, “Digging for Icicles” (2013) Another recent find that 'MNF can get behind, Bob Schneider, who's been pretty much off my radar until I heard this track off his 2013 latest, Burden of Proof. The gorgeously rendered, rather forlorn ode has measured pacing driven by austere piano, fleshed out with restrained swells of strings, bell-like chimes and subtle backing coos, and his own lead intones dip to low, husky, mesmerizingly pretty meditations and ascending to higher-toned entreaties. Heart = won. Check out the haunting animated video by Gary Dorsey after the jump along with the rest of this week's picks. WMNF welcomes Schneider for a solo gig at Skipper's Smokehouse on Tues., April 15.
I stumbled on Melaena Cadiz's music early this week. While Paste premiered "Needles River," a song from her upcoming album Deep Below Heaven, I've had her first album, 2011's Rattle the Windows, on repeat. Cadiz reminds me mostly of a more subdued Alela Diane (not that Diane is a wild fury herself), but other people suggest she has a touch of Joanna Newsom and Marissa Nadler in her, too. She plays soft, haunting folk songs on guitar and banjo. Though she lives in Brooklyn, I can hear Appalachia in her songs. Video for "Sleeping" below.
Beck, Morning Phase (2014)
The War on Drugs, Lost in the Dreams (2014)
Tony Allen, Home Cooking (2003)
Title track below.
This week, I’m digging in the vault and blowing the dust off of some lesser-known soul classics. What these albums lack in sales figures, accolades and familiarity is no indication of the quality locked within the tasty grooves.
Bobby Womack, The Poet (1981) Stellar early '80s album from this genius soul crooner, songwriter, producer and all-around amazing musician. Womack’s deep, emotive growl is one of the absolute best (albeit underrated) voices in soul music history. Best known for containing the smash R&B single “If You Think You’re Lonely Now,” The Poet helped to reestablish Womack’s presence on urban radio in the 1980’s and was successful enough to warrant a follow up, 1984’s Poet II. Touching on several different styles, Womack eases his way through heartfelt ballads, breezy jazz and the unabashed, all-out funk of “Stand Up,” one of the strongest cuts on this fantastic album. Easily one of Bobby’s best, The Poet still sounds great today and is bona fide proof of Womack’s many talents and gifts.
Ann Peebles, Tellin’ It (1975) One of many superb offerings from this sexy, seductive St. Louis native’s catalog. Speaking of underrated, Ann Peebles doesn’t usually garner the same type of praise and notoriety as some of her better-known contemporaries but she’s certainly deserving of a firm place among the soul music elite. Her voice is deep, husky, smoky and unlike any other female R&B vocalist. Tellin’ It may very well be her very best and most consistent full length, and there are plenty of them to choose from. The infectious, chugging groove of opening cut “Come To Mama” is enough to reel you into this outstanding album and it only gets better from there. Best known for her earlier hit “I Can’t Stand The Rain,” Tellin’ It followed up the success of that 1973 breakout single and further proved Peebles’s power and prowess.
JERRY DUFRAIN | DJ Lazy, Orpheum co-owner
Mike Will Made-It (ft. Miley Cyrus, Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa), "23" (2013) - Sorry I'm not sorry.
Mothership, Mothership (2012) Dallas, Texas BEARD ROCK! Seriously loving this band right now. That fuzzed out '70s rock vibe with just a touch of psychedelics for flavor. These guys are part of a newly emerging movement of bands that worship at the feet of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Thin Lizzy. Think Sleep, Fu Manchu & Monster Magnet for this generation. They are gonna be at The Orpheum with Bearded Brothers KADAVAR this Tues., April 8 (tomorrow). "City Nights" video below.
KEITH ULREY | owner, Microgroove, New Granada Records
I just finished the Graham Nash autobiography, Wild Tales (a Christmas gift from the wife, who knows I love all things CSN and sometimes Y). So, for the last couple weeks, for me, it's been Graham Nash's criminally underlooked debut solo album Songs For Beginners (released in 1971). A masterpiece on the woes of heartbreak. You want to hear Graham's side of his relationship with Joni? This is it. Brutal. "I Used To Be A King" below.
SARAH GECAN | Daddy Kool Records and No Clubs Entertainment
Chuck Ragan, Til Midnight (2014) What am I listening to? What am I constantly singing? What is the only song I want to hear? Turn the record player on, and drop the needle, sure the first two cuts are great, but hurry up and get to track three, please, "Non Typical" featuring Jenny O. Because "I, I need you like I need all my blood and my breath." I love Chuck, I always have. Hot Water Music is easily one of my favorite bands ever, but this is something different, something stripped down. He is an honest man who travels the world just to get back to his wife. It is a complete love story made by a man with a heart, with bravado, with a killer backing band. It's an album made by your friend down the street who done good, and Chuck, you have done so, so good.