New Music For Old People: NRBQ, Big Wreck, Eels

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. NRBQ – “Getting to Know You”

What a perfect opening song for this column — and what’s great about any version of NRBQ is they can usually tackle any genre of music and make it their own. The latest version of the band—with the only original member, pianist-singer-character Terry Adams—decided to tackle a Rodgers and Hammerstein chestnut from The King and I from back in 1951. And if you have an open mind (or a hole in your head) you’ll be unconsciously singing this while you’re in the shower within two days of hearing it here. I’d bet on it…

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2. Big Wreck – “Come What May”

This was a band that was formed at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1994 by Canadian singer Ian Thornley and guitarist Brian Doherty. They got a record deal in 1997 and put out their first album. It scored better in Canada because of Ian and a second album in 2001 did not increase their popularity so they broke up and Ian went solo. In 2011 Ian and Brian got back together and restarted Big Wreck. An album resulted that same year and Canada paid attention. Now here is their fourth album, Ghosts, which came out last month, and Al really likes it. It reminds me musically a bit of KingsX, a big Kooper favorite. This is my favorite track and I’m hoping YOU will like it.

3. Eels – “Agatha Chang”

Mark Oliver Everett (nicknamed “E”) is the boss here. Since 1996, band members have come and gone, but E rules. His ballads are Randy Newman-esque because of vocal similarities and a disdain for common musicalities. I have always considered him a very underrated songwriter and feel he is right up there with Newman. This is from his album The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett. It’s a double album and a great place to start if you’ve never had the pleasure. This track jumped into my Eels top ten as soon as I heard it. This is an example of GREAT songwriting — lyrically and musically, it is quite original in its quiet way. Wish I’d written it…

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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