Monday, October 3, 2016

Sound & Groove, Episode 68: "Left Out Of The Essentials" Part 1

By 1973, there was no bigger soul star than Al Green. Just when the Memphis-based soul scene looked played out and all but spent as a commercial force as the 70s dawned, Green emerged from a little known record label called Hi Records to revive the sound. With Willie Mitchell as a writing and production guide, a string of smash hit singles and LPs resulted over the next 7 years- though the hot streak wavered by the end with the advent of disco. What set Green apart from others to emerge in R&B/soul at the time was that he could churn out 2 albums a year and still pack great music onto it all with very little filler- a rarity for a soul artist historically. So in other words, while he didn't use the LP as a concept tool like a Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye, he didn't skimp on giving essential offerings away from the A and B side of his 45s. Using a less impassioned, savagely excitable approach than the 60s soul greats, Green sang silky, smooth and spiritual, managing to become both a sex symbol and a darling of the music critics in the process. He was praised not only for his versatile voice but for the quality of the songwriting, choice of covers and knack for reinventing the originals as well as how exquisitely arranged the tracks could be- often coming off as romantic yet raw at the same time. The whirlwind life of fame eventually led Green back to his Christian roots and to become an ordained minister, which also led to a decade and a half period (1980-94) where he recorded nothing but gospel and essentially turned his back on stardom. One of his lesser known but nonetheless powerful cuts- taken off 1973's Living For You- can be heard in this S&G episode.

This here is the 4th episode of 2016 for the Sound & Groove Podcast and on this one, we explore songs that are usually left out of the lists of essential listening (say that three times fast) for major pop/rock artists. So I'm talking great compositions that only the hardcore fans of these names would rank up there, but ones that the officially record company releases and radio playlists tend to forget about or infrequently use. This will be the 1st of 2 episodes on this theme, as I collect for you my favourite nuggets or overlooked gems from some big names in contemporary music history over the past half century. 

And if you haven't been keeping up with S&G on Music of Evan's Mind and/or it newest home at, here's the breakdown: Every month there will be a theme that the selection of music is centred around. It will be jam packed with my analysis, synopsis, anecdotes and other witticisms you might enjoy while I play edited versions of each tune (to make room for talk and for a good 7-10 songs per 45+ minute episode). And not to worry, each month will contain a different theme than the last. Got it? Get it? Good. Happy listening to you all!

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Track Listing:
1. It Won't Be Wrong- The Byrds (1965)
2. Washington Bullets- The Clash (1980)
3. Free At Last- Al Green (1973)
4. The Little Things (My Baby Does)- Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (1978, released 2010)
5. And Your Bird Can Sing- The Beatles (1966)
6. Blue Days, Black Nights- Buddy Holly (1956)
7. If You See Her, Say Hello- Bob Dylan (1975) 
8. You Still Believe In Me- The Beach Boys (1966)
9. The Rain Song- Led Zeppelin (1973) 

Info of note:
Intro- "Off The Wall" by Michael Jackson (1979)
Outro- "Working Day And Night" by Michael Jackson (1979)
All comments, questions and feedback are greatly welcomed and appreciated! I encourage participation. Even though I drain an hour off your life by listening to the podcast then checking through the links, at least you don't have to fork over your money to me... though if you feel like, you know... But in all seriousness, let me now what you'd like to hear or see and I'll consider it. Popular approval doesn't always sway me but having fans or listeners get their input would be just grand!

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