Saturday, January 30, 2010

Now Hear This! - Vol. 4

It's been a few months since I've compiled a list of earworms for you, but let's get to it! As always, these are not exactly chart-toppers, and as always, I'll choose at least three newer ones and just as many older ones. These tracks can all be downloaded legally -- or at least streamed on an authorized website.


"Tell Me What I Have To Do," The Bacon Brothers (available on New Year's Day)

Remember how I reviewed The Bacon Brothers' XPN festival performance last year and how I included an entire TV program of same in my 2009 Video Time Capsule, yet I never once spotlighted any of their songs in particular? bad. For my Philly peeps, the title track to the Bacons' latest album is a wonderful celebration of a local tradition, but the rest of y'all out there probably have no clue what a Mummer is, so I'm choosing a more universal song that I also can't get out of my head. "Tell Me What I Have To Do" is an aggressive-yet-gentle folk-rocker in which Michael Bacon mumbles his way through some off-the-wall musings about unrequited love. Great harmonies and tasty harmonica round out the package.

"Balboa," Downtown Harvest (available on Discovering Dinosaurs)

Taking care of more unfinished business from 2009, you might recall a few news updates about DTH's new album. Oddly, a PR rep for the band told me that Valentine's Day is its official release date, but check your favorite digital music store and you'll probably find it now. There are a few "earworms" on this one, including the album's opener, "Balboa." Adroit vocal trade-offs, a funky jazz-rock sound, and lyrics that are either sexy or criminal (perhaps both) make this track a must-hear.

"Don't Let Me Forget," Charlotte O'Connor (availability details below)

My friend Katie recently spotlighted this artist on her blog and even picked this song as a winner, so I had to hear what all the fuss was about. This young British singer/songwriter has a major label deal and is working on her first album, but she has already built up quite a following and played many shows. And yes, Katie is right: "Don't Let Me Forget" is a gem. Breezy mainstream pop, yes, but good breezy mainstream pop with heartfelt lyrics and some nice vocal moments. It just works, but you can't get a copy of it yet: you'll have to listen on Charlotte's MySpace. Incidentally, if you go to her website and register, you get a free download; hoping to get "Don't Let Me Forget," I was offered "Move On" instead. Not a bad song, but "Forget" is gold.


"Stranger With A Black Dove," Peter and Gordon (available on Peter and Gordon [1966])

More unfinished business from 2009! Remember how, when Gordon Waller passed away, I named this "sublimely abstract" song as a prime example of Peter and Gordon's songwriting talent? Well, it's not my fault that it took so long to get onto iTunes! It was actually intended as the A-side of the single, but got flipped over with "There's No Living Without Your Loving" taking top honors. Pity, because "Black Dove" is one of those 1960s folk-pop songs with strangely mystical lyrics that make you remember just why the '60s were such a special decade for popular music. On a personal note, I'm thrilled that I no longer have to listen to my scratchy vinyl copy -- or anyone else's!

"Help Me Find A Way (To Say I Love You)," Little Anthony & The Imperials (available on The Best of Little Anthony & The Imperials [Capitol Records - not the Rhino label comp])

I've spent half my life as a fan of Little Anthony & The Imperials -- an unusual thing for a 28-year-old to say, but it's true! However, I only recently discovered this minor hit from 1970 which hasn't always made it onto the group's greatest hits compilations. Here in Philly, Thom Bell worked soul magic with vocal bands that weren't necessarily heavy on talent, but Little Anthony & The Imperials sure could sing. And they were veterans by this time, having been on the charts every now and then since 1958. The assured professionalism of the group, combined with the elegant touch of Thom Bell, made for a great overlooked Philly soul record. Anthony really hammed it up with his lead vocal, but in so doing he brought a lot of depth out of a song that was pretty simple on its surface.

"The Dedication Song," Freddy Cannon (available on Boom Boom Rock 'n' Roll - The Best of Freddy Cannon)

They should prescribe Freddy Cannon's records as antidepressants! His specialty was and still is loud and proud all-American rock 'n' roll, and he had his biggest hits at times when America sure needed them: the period of 1959-1963, when rock 'n' roll had been beaten into submission thanks to the payola scandals and other unfortunate developments; and 1964-65, when the British Invasion was knocking many American artists off the charts. But by 1966, the Boom Boom Man was falling out of fashion as well, and the rowdy "Dedication Song" stalled just outside of the Billboard Top 40. It was Freddy's last Hot 100 hit until 1981, but what a way to go out: a crazed, hyperactive arrangement and ol' Freddy's typically raw vocals delivering a tune that paid homage to the rock 'n' roll deejays who made dedications for their teen listeners. This Russ Regan composition is a timely song now that radio deejays just ain't what they used to be.....

Freddy Cannon fans, check out this recent, extraordinary retrospective and interview with Ronnie Allen:

Text copyright © 2010 S.J. Dibai. All rights reserved.


  1. So far, I've gotten no feedback on the Lala widgets. The most I got was when I asked on MySpace whether I should use them at all and one of my frequent readers replied, "What's a Lala widget?" Trying them out has only proven my theory that they'll take forever to load and thus slow down the page load time for One Note Ahead - I've noticed they have the same effect on other blogs that use them. Oh, well. Guess I won't keep using them.

  2. Actually, the Lala widgets apparently don't work anymore - just checked and Lala's being shut down. Those damn widgets gave me more problems than anything else anyway, so I've removed them.


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