Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Turntable Tuesday

It’s Tuesday, and I, like you, should be telling it to Janet. Today she wants to know: What are the best albums you know of that no one has heard?

I’ve got a few.

1. Graham Parker: Struck By Lightning. From “She Wants So Many Things,”the epic opening song about the most demanding girlfriend ever, all the way through to the cautiously hopeful “The Sun Is Gonna Shine Again,” Graham Parker puts it all together in this album I’ve bought from the discount racks at least twice. It’s one of my desert island discs. It’s got everything I want on an album – cynicism, black wit, and yet a really open heart in places (“Wrapping Paper”, “Strong Winds”). From “And It Shook Me”:

Well we hold on and hope our grip don't fail
Sometimes lovers hammer in their own coffin nails
I just read how universes start, but generally they blow apart
And it shook me
and I'm still shaking now.

2. Van Morrison: Veedon Fleece. Yeah, everybody knows Moondance. And they should—it’s a hell of an album. But Veedon Fleece is a sweet little secret among Morrison fans. You don’t know any of the songs – although “Bulbs” is up there with his ebullient best – but the desolate “Streets of Arklow” is incredible, and its follow-up, “You Don’t Pull No Punches, But You Don’t Push the River,” has that incredible stream-of-consciousness power that you just can’t capture in lyrics. The album is a coherent whole, with threads (and Poe and Blake references) running from song to song. And then there’s “Comfort You,” a song that’s so sweet, and so simple, that it makes my heart leap out of my chest whenever I hear it:

I wanna comfort you
I wanna comfort you
I wanna comfort you
Just let your tears run wild
Like when you were a child

I'll do what I can do
I wanna comfort you
You put the weight on me
You put the weight on me
You put the weight on me

And finally, an album people may have listened to way back when, but was new to me a couple of years ago:

3. Al Jarreau: We Got By. I saw a rerun of SNL a while back where Jarreau sang the title song to this album, and I thought: “THIS is Al Jarreau? The Moonlighting guy?” His performance absolutely floored me, and the album captures it. It’s funky, soulful, inventive and sexy (I loved sweet potato pie before I ever heard him sing about it, but I love it more now). I’ll wrap up with these lyrics from the title track:

Winter wishes wait till June
We brightened July with that hot dog fun
Tell your mama you're with Sue
You bring the beans and I'll find the wine
Them neon lights were bright till two
And sneaking back home with this girl named Jo
I hurried down to say “I do"
And stared my first man-child in the eye

So much of this song is in the delivery – and the last verse is this surprising torrent of words Jarreau sings with such commitment that I really can’t reproduce it here. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard.



Natsthename said...

Graham Parker! EXCELLENt choice! I still dig listening to "Squeezing Out Sparks!"

Natsthename said...

By the way, let me know what you think of the songs you downloaded at my blog. I'm especially interested in what you think of Kimberley Rew!

Janet said...

There was a song Graham Parker did on I think it was on the Fast Times soundtrack that I used to really like. Of course I cant recall it this time, so you'll just have to trust me.:)

Rob S. said...

Trust? What is this "trust"?

I just looked it up, and didn't find anything -- could you be thinking of "Love is the Reason" by Graham Nash? That's on there.

Sharon GR said...

I should find me that Al Jereau album. He's always one of my favorites when he's (oh so rarely) on the radio.

Rob S. said...

It's 10 bucks on amazon. You won't regret it, I'll tellya that.