Kool and the Gang, Heaven at Once

This massive hit album had a number of big singles, including Funky Stuff and Hollywood Swinging, and an epic jazz jam, Wild and Peaceful, that gave it its name. It also had this song, which should have been corny or terribly MOR but instead, to my ears, is bravely earnest and sweet and delightful. Scientists of sound, indeed.

Art Neville has Died.

I saw the Neville Brothers play a few years ago. Okay, maybe in 2008. They were great, but what impressed me was that they said this was their 30th year. I saw them in 1978 at the Bottom Line in New York, opening for the Wild Tchoupitoulas. At the time the Nevilles seemed timeless, and the Tchoupitoulas even more so. But while Art was a seasoned veteran with the Meters and countless sessions, the Brothers had only stepped out on their own that year, backing up Big Chief Landry. It was a great show, maybe the best live show I’ve ever seen, in part because it was impossible not to dance and while the Bottom Line crew tried to enforce the city’s no-dancing rule, everyone knew that was hopeless on this night. The Nevilles and the Meters before them played with everyone. Part of the magic of New Orleans is how this music helped create ska and reggae, and how the jazz of Louie Armstrong and the amazing Professor Longhair led to a culture of breadth and rhythm. So, choosing a song is impossible, but rest in peace Art. I saw you plenty, felt I knew you, but that was an illusion.

The Young Rascals, Come On Up

My second influential elpee was the Rascals Time Peace, which was a greatest hits collection that went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. For me it was a chance to play this great band’s great songs all the time. It was also an introduction to Wilson Pickett and the Atlantic R+B style, which has been a treat ever since. In any case, Come on Up was a single off their second album, Collections, and was not a huge hit. But it sure is a cool song.

Cream, Strange Brew

Gene named me in the 10 most influential elpees in 10 days challenge on Facebook. My Day 1 choice was Cream’s Disraeli Gears, which was in no way obscure but did feel like my music, rather than pop music everyone liked that I liked too, like the Beatles, Stones and the Who. I thought I’d post a song from each of my albums over here, just for fun. This one was a Clapton song rewritten by producer Felix Pappalardi and his wife Gail. It’s the lead song on Disraeli Gears and seems like the epitome of the band’s psychedelic blues.

Darlingside, Hold Your Head Up High

I wrote about these guys a few years ago, posting one of their new wavey songs with an excellent video. That was then. After they made that good song their drummer left, and rather than replace him they remade themselves as a bizarrely earnest harmony band. They stand on the stage, no matter how big, closely together so they can hear their partners and make incredibly lovely harmonies. They played tonight in the park by our house, and we were jazzed. This is music that is far from rock, but also music that has no genre. I think sometimes they sound like Mumford and Sons, revivalists with big ideas, but they resist that. They aren’t old style. They’re still new-wavey, only they eschew the drum kit (they have a kick drum) and they love their voices, which they surely should. Moyer will roll over tonight. Good for him.
So, YouTube fed me this one I didn’t know. I like this band.