New Music For Old People: Captain Beefheart, Marc Cohn, Brandtson

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. “Circumstances” — Captain Beefheart

The album this came from, Clear Spot, was a life-changer for me in the early ‘70s. The combo of Don Van Vliet and producer Ted Templeman was perfect. Ted deciphered Beefheart and added some normalcy to the inherent madness that balanced immaculately like no album before or after it. This is a good example of what they did together. Timeless, and there will more of this here before too long.

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2. “29 Ways” — Marc Cohn

As a songwriter, bassist Willie Dixon was a veritable Shakespeare of the blues, lyrically AND musically. Marc appropriated one of his gems and took a well-executed left turn with the arrangement, turning it into a doo-wop Latino groove with backup vocals instead of horns or harmonica. Not a hair outta place here — as well done as it could possibly be. Second best cover of this tune was by solo Jimmy Hall, post-Wet Willie.

3. “Drawing a Line In the Sand” — Brandtson

This would have done better if it was titled what is repeated endlessly in each chorus: “Don’t Come Crying Back to Me.” The current title is obviously a message the songwriter is sending to an ex-girlfriend subliminally that never appears in the lyric. In the ’60s the record company would’ve changed the title in a New York minute. The message comes across either way quite nicely with a tasteful performance by artist, producer and engineer. This is from the 2004 album Send Us a Signal which, as far as I’m concerned, they did. Too bad they drew a line in the sand, however.

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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