New Music For Old People: Passenger, NRBQ, Bleachers

Al Kooper

Al Kooper

This column is like the title says — its intention is to fill the gap for those of us who were satiated musically in the ’60s and then searched desperately as we aged for music we could relate to and get the same buzz from nowadaze. iTunes was the answer for me in 2003 and I have been following the new releases every Tuesday ever since I realized there was an endless stream of music I could enjoy there.

I also include older items that I felt were obscure originally and might not have been heard back then. The reason I am writing this column is to make sure others don’t miss this wonderful music. These are not top ten items; but they SHOULD’VE been!

1. Passenger – “Whispers”

Now this is a complicated story, so pay attention. Michael David Rosenberg was born in the UK in 1984 to an American dad from New Jersey and an English mom. He took up classical guitar quite young and started writing songs at about 14. He left school at 16 to pursue a musical career. When he was 19 he co-founded the band Passenger with Andrew Phillips. They had one album in 2007 and broke up in 2009. When they split, he decided, as the group’s lead singer, to keep the name Passenger for his solo career. Early friends with Ed Sheeran, they toured together a great deal recently. This is the title song from his fifth solo album and I really like everything about it.

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2. NRBQ – “Love This Love We Got”

So much to say, so little space. They have released approximately FORTY albums in a lifetime that began in 1967. Many have passed through the ranks of band members. The only original member is iconic keyboardist/singer/writer Terry Adams. The line-up is now Adams, Scott Ligon on guitar, Casey McDonough on bass, and Conrad Choucroun on the drums. This track, written by all except Conrad, is very Terry. The only unusual thing I noticed was that mistakes were left in — they’ve done that on live albums, but I can’t recall that on a studio album. I consider it a statement. My favorite remembrance is a conversation I had once with the late blues pianist Johnny Johnson, where I asked him what he was doing lately. He said, “I just finished a big tour with that band (my spelling for Johnny’s pronounciation) En-ARE-ba-cue.” Took me a minute, but I NEVER forgot it.

3. Bleachers – “Shadow”

I get it now. After exhaustive research for the names of band members, I realized there is NO official band. This is merely the brainchild of ex-Steel Train member and current Fun member, Jack Antonoff. This track is a guilty pleasure for me. I don’t usually like music like this, but Jack’s Nile Rogers-like guitar figure is great and in a Daft Punk delivery. I don’t think that eventuality would be fun for Fun, so meanwhile we’ll sit back and watch and listen.

This column originally appeared on The Morton Report. Click for more great selections from Al Kooper! As always, show some love to the Morton Report!

Photo Credit: Joe Mabel [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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11 comments to “New Music For Old People: Passenger, NRBQ, Bleachers”
  1. Thanks for the NRBQ cut. I remember hearing them on SF Bay area FM doing “Get That Gasoline” then they disappeared. Found out later they po’d Bill Graham. Must have stayed on the East coast for a long time before touring northern CA again.

    Thank you for all you have done over the years in this thing we call music.

  2. Gotta love Al Kooper. I’ve been working live music venues back stage since the 70s. And to all those who have ever been in this crazy Rock and roll biz need to read Als booK; Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastardsk A must. Lol

  3. As usual Al, great music all. There is so much great music out there you provide a great place to discover some of the best.

  4. I’m enjoying Passenger now, thanks for the tip! Such a distinctive voice and lovely, thoughtful songs. (Already a longtime NRBQ fanatic.)

  5. I’ll check you out Al. We met in London backstage at BB Kings gig at Royal Albert Hall in what 1996? The last day you wrote about in yer book? You’d just played with Dylan I think…I called the Blues Project “the Kosher Yardbirds” ha ha…just heard Skynrd on a juke box…God what a sound! Keep doing it my friend!

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