Posts Tagged ‘Joss Stone’

Typically, ‘round here, this time of year becomes a bacchanal of music and memories I’ve come to dub “Remember December.” There’s rhyme, reason, Christmas music and good cheer, plus best-of lists, recaps, frankincense and myrrh, not to mention a countdown of my most popular posts of the past 12 months. I jumpstarted the best-of fun in late November, of course, so there’ll be a little less of that – and no Concerts of the Year countdown – but there are plenty of other knick-knacks to stuff in the stocking. That fun begins next week. Today, however, it’s my stream-of-conscious musings about matters large and small, while tomorrow I plan to share my thoughts on the Neil Young Archives website and Neil’s mammoth Archives II set.

Anyway, this morning – as most Saturdays – I found myself in a line of cars waiting for curbside pickup at a grocery store while soaking my soul in the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. No, not his Letter to You album, though it could well have been, but an archival delight I downloaded from his Live Downloads store last year: Their 1988 concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden. I began listening to it again a few weeks back – and, wow. Just wow. It’s an excellent show that features many songs from the Tunnel of Love LP, though only a handful of pre-River classics. There’s no “Badlands,” no “Promised Land,” no “Thunder Road.” “Backstreets” is present. “Born to Run” is, too, though in a slowed-down acoustic arrangement. There’s also this:

Depending upon one’s age and musical inclinations, you may or may not enjoy it. Me? I can’t get enough. Which leads to this: When the history of these times are written, what will be said? That I momentarily unfollowed someone on Twitter because she described Springsteen’s songs as “either boring or bellowing” and followed that with “I don’t care for his music”? Of course not. But, no doubt, scholars will note an uptick in such petty reactions (as mine was) to what, pre-pandemic, were minor annoyances generally ignored. Daily stresses cause that.

Joss Stone’s new single, “Walk With Me,” is a good way to relieve that tension. It’s quickly become one of my favorite songs of the year.

Of course, one reason for the overreaction to little things is that the big things, by and large, are beyond our control – the pandemic and politics. On the latter front, despite his Supreme Court loss, the tinpot despot’s nefarious plot to upend the U.S. election isn’t over yet. Now he’ll be pushing a slew of congressional prostitutes to screw the U.S. Constitution on January 6th, when Congress is scheduled to accept the Electoral College results. Their fealty to democracy is less than their fealty to cash – or, in this case, most likely the promise of cash from his new Save America PAC. (FYI: As the contractors who helped build his Atlantic City casinos discovered, he rarely pays out.)

Breath deep. Exhale. That’s what I tell myself, at any rate. And lose yourself in such cool performances as this one from Jillette Johnson. It builds and builds, but never explodes – a Mazzy Star-like rendition, if that makes sense. It’s hypnotic.

The past week has found me excavating the Ruins of First Aid Kit. In addition to their U.S. tour, which just kicked off, they’ve been out in force promoting the release, appearing on CBS This Morning and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, among other TV venues, and stopping by the always cool KCRW “Morning Becomes Eclectic” radio show in L.A. on January 23rd. The latter, which I watched this morning, is an informative and fun session that finds the Sisters Söderberg performing an eight-song set and fielding some good questions –

If you don’t have 45 minutes to spare, however, fast forward to the 32-minute mark and enjoy their rollicking take of Heart’s classic “Crazy on You”…or watch this clip, from the next night in Oakland:

Hopefully they keep it in the set.

Of course, one cool cover leads to another…in this case, a taste of a much-anticipated (by me) LP: Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John. I’m sure some folks will scratch their heads over the project, which is slated for release on April 13th, but I’m thrilled that JH is letting her geek flag fly. (Of note, the video is shot in Bensonhurst, the Brooklyn neighborhood home to Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever.)

(Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John, I should mention, is available for preorder over at the American Laundromat one-stop web shop.)

Here’s an oddity that I stumbled over the other night: Bob Dylan with Clydie King, from 1980, covering the Dick Holler-penned Dion hit, “Abraham, Martin & John.”

Speaking of Dylan, here’s Paul Weller’s take on “All Along the Watchtower” (from 2004):

With Weller, there’s a whole host of covers to be had via the YouTube rabbit hole. Here’s one of my favorites: performing CSNY’s classic “Ohio” at Glastonbury 1994. (For what it’s worth, he also released a live version of it on the 1993 The Weaver EP.)

And two bonuses…

One of my favorite covers of all time is the Jam’s take on the Chi-Lites’ “Stoned Out of My Mind.” I featured it recently, however, so here’s another take on the classic tune…by  Joss Stone (from 2012). It’s great.

And since every time I listen to Joss, I wind up listening to her a lot – here’s her take on the Impressions’ 1965 hit “People Get Ready” at the Melbourne Festival in 2011:

Great albums transcend time. Such is the case with The Soul Sessions, the debut album of Joss Stone. Released in the U.K. on September 16, 2003, and in the U.S. a few weeks later, it contains stirring renditions of nine classic songs of the 1960s and ‘70s as well as the White Stripes’ “Fell in Love With a Girl” (reworked as “Fell in Love With a Boy”). At times, she sounds a bit like Dusty Springfield on steroids, her voice buoyed with passion, grit, weariness and a dreamy lilt, and sometimes all of that at once.

Did I mention that she was a mere 15 years of age at the time of its release? You’d never guess it from hearing her sing. (To borrow a line from Buffalo Springfield’s “Bluebird,” “she got soul.”) As many a critic has noted, she sounds like someone who’s experienced the ups and downs of life for decades, if not longer.

Wikipedia has an in-depth overview of the album. The upshot: It peaked at No. 4 on the British charts and No. 39 on the U.S. charts; accrued much acclaim; and remains, at least to my ears, a wonder. The songs may be covers, but Joss makes them her own. Here she is, for example, singing “The Chokin’ Kind,” which was written by legendary songsmith Harlan Howard and first recorded by Waylon Jennings in 1967. R&B singer Joe Simon had a No. 1 R&B hit with it two years later. She nails it.

Other highlights from the album include:

The songs:

  1. The Chokin’ Kind
  2. Super Duper Love
  3. Fell in Love With a Boy
  4. Victim of a Foolish Heart
  5. Dirty Man
  6. Some Kind of Wonderful
  7. I’ve Fallen in Love With You
  8. I Had a Dream
  9. All the King’s Horses
  10. For the Love of You