Mixtape Monday: Charlemagne and the Silver Bells of Harlem

Listen in this order

You Got the Silver- Susan Tedeschi

A voice of pain that soothes, a song that is one of the sweetest odes to a lover, written by Keith Richards no less.

Guitar- Cake

An upbeat song about destroying a guitar/relationship, pulled off in Cake’s typical catchy style.

Seven Years- The Impressions

The song, the harmonies, the lyrics, are so uplifting and inspiring, this was Curtis Mayfield’s gift and its over far too soon.

Peace Like A River (Paul Simon Cover)- Spoon

The original was perfect, and yet Spoon still breathes new life into it, the bass plays the melody now, the guitar and piano the rhythm, and Britt Daniel brings along his cynical touch to the lyrics.

Jesus, Etc.- Wilco

Jesus, don’t cry
You can rely on me, honey
You can combine anything you want
I’ll be around
You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun

Tall buildings shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs
tuned to chords
Strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around

The lyrics say it better than I ever could

How Long Do I Have To Wait For You- Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

The lyrics cry longing, the instruments dance and the band grooves pay attention to that little guitar lick (you’ll see what I mean) Sharon Jones’s performance, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call her the female James Brown, and sax solo is worth the download alone.

When I Get Home- The Beatles

Ah, The Beatles in their youth, a whole different polished animals, the guitars and drums burst with energy, the harmonies are tight and John Lennon proves himself as one of rocks greatest vocalists.

Tired of My Tears- Susan Tedeschi

Take Sharon Jones earlier song, dip into a Southern Gospel groove and this is what will come out, Susan Tedeschi’s vocals blur the color line on this one and the guitar work is flawless.

Bells of Harlem- Dave Rawlings Machine

From the soft pitter patter of the snare drum to the golden acoustic guitar and the warm vocal harmonies this song just breathes beauty at its most effortless.

Multiply (In A Minor Key)- Jamie Lidell

That squeak at the beginning is the opening of a door into a club where both the voice and piano shine and dance, and all anybody else can do is watch.

Breaking All The Ground- Joe Firstman

she’s swinging from my heartstrings
singing that she’s climbing up.
she drinks bourbon from her daddy’s favorite coffee cup.
and she’s flying down the highway
crying that she won’t confess.
she’ll walk to charlotte like a princess
in her mama’s wedding dress.
and i watch her break away
more and more every day.

thats just the opening verse, some people have a way with words, and heck he’s gotta thing for melody and arranging too.

Where Did Our Love Go (Live) (Supremes Cover)- J. Geils Band

J. Geils was the ultimate bar band, they had fun, they didn’t get bogged down by ambition, they rocked a dirty gritty sound anchored by Peter Wolf’s gruff vocals, you can tell they’re just having fun here, and the slide solo in the middle is absolutely euphoric.

Ragoo- Kings of Leon

The dynamics are fantastic on this, with a Police styled arrangement but more nitty gritty earth bound vocals.

Book of Moses- Beck’s Record Club

If for just one reason, get the song for its beat, because shit it is heavy.  Another? Beck is a hell of a producer and arranger, this one plays out like an updated Bill Withers song, funky, soulful and full of power.

Remember- Jimi Hendrix

Everything about this song is wonderful, youthful yet reminiscent.

Minding My Own Business- Coconut Records

Its hard to figure this guy was an actor before a musician, add the fact he plays all the instruments as well, the natural feel of the song goes even more to prove his talent, great songwriting.

Lenin- Arcade Fire

A song off of Dark Was the Night, by Arcade Fire, like you need any other reason to download it.

Gold Mine- The Union Line

I wish this band existed on iTunes because this song actually makes me want to buy more of their stuff, and buy isn’t a word i like to throw around alot.

Charlemagne in Sweatpants- The Hold Steady

From the organ to the guitars to the vocals and lyrics, The Hold Steady just grip you from the get-go.

Real Love

The Beatles- Real Love

When The Beatles came together for the Anthology series it was easy to assume it was just another cash in (after all the band had been gone 25 years and Apple was still making money off their one band, and they still are).  Real Love was the second Lennon demo that they had been given access to master and do what they please.  But it comes off great, George’s guitar work is fantastic, John sounds fresh and alive, a quality sorely lacking in Free as A Bird, and the harmonies are there along with Ringo’s steady backbeat.

G. Love and Special Sauce- Crumble

G. Love has been around an awful long time with his hip-hop/blues genre, and while that is no longer novel, G. Love has a knack for production that is the show piece of this song.  Starting with beautifully played piano interwoven with upright bass, it blossoms into nice syncopated drum and acoustic guitar work, the melody is shimmering and the music surrounds you, its not so much his words that have the flow on this song, its the music, though the words are good too.

Slow Club- It Doesn’t Have to be Beautiful

Slow Club is an English folksy rock duo in the She and Him style, except they’re much more bright in their melody and harmony, this song chugs along at a frenetic pace and the singing is wonderful and catchy too.

The Love Language- Lalita

This song bursts out of the gate with a Motown drum roll but keeps itself low-fi, the melody is insanely catchy and the whole thing sounds like it was recorded on one take, full of life and energy, you can just hear the fun the band is having playing this song.

Q-Tip- Believe

Q-Tip defied common belief when he continued to have a quality career after the fallout from A Tribe Called Quest’s breakup.  This song has swagger but in ways that Jay-Z wished he had, the back track is funky and D’Angelo’s backing vocals are beautifully arranged, try and hate this song, go ahead I dare you.

Pete and J- Young Love

Boasting a Simon & Garfunkelesque harmony as well as a feel for Elliot Smith melody, Pete and J (now known as Harper Blynn) are a great up and coming group fashioned in the old style melodies and classic rock production.

Hall and Oates- You Make My Dreams

Sure its old, sure its cheesy, but can anybody hate this song? Its just so damn happy and the harmonies are great

Prince- Raspberry Beret

Prince is never conventional, and the cello violin arrangement thrown into this song is a perfect example of his eccentric genius, and no song about this subject matter should be this catchy and the bridge is fantastic. Favorite line thunder chimes out when the lightning sees her kinda makes you feel like a movie star.  Wonderfully done all around song.

Sammy Davis Jr- These Foolish Things

Some songs just put you in a mood, overcome with love and memory, this is one of them, the arrangement is sparse and the lyrics are beautifully poetic, and Sammy Davis Jr.’s performance here is fantastic.

Soul Coughing- Soft Serve

Beat poetry meets funk, in the best of marriages, the bass line is fantastic, the arrangement creative, a very underrated song.

Port O’Brien- Love Me Through

Another great new band to watch out for with the members hailing from Alaska and California, the guitar work on here is great and a very beatle-esque melody.  Great rainy day song

The Beatles- Every Little Thing

People love to look back at the early years of The Beatles and criticize their simplicity, but sometimes simple is perfect (Lou Reed made a career out of it).  This song is very beautiful in its understatement, the harmonies are great the melody is sweet and you can just hear their youth, and the feeling is universal.

Jimi Hendrix- May This Be Love

As great as he was a guitarist, Jimi Hendrix was an equally excellent arranger and lyricist.  His flashy guitar work takes a backseat on this one and even without it, I rate this as one of his best songs.

Kings of Leon- True Love Way

At the time they hadn’t blown up yet, Use Somebody and Sex on Fire hadn’t been overplayed by every single radio station yet, the bravado hadn’t come yet, but the presence was there, great arrangement and vocal performance on this one, I’d argue this song is more powerful then Use Somebody and Sex on Fire put together.

She’s the One- Bruce Springsteen

No longer was he under the shadows of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison comparisons, he was on his own, and he exploded on to the scene with this album.  She’s the One doesn’t do alot to avoid his former comparisons though, it even adds a few new ones, his lyrics are as poetic as Dylans and his vocal performance is reminiscent of Morrison and Orbison and the guitar work, Bo Diddley.  But that great melody, and those hooks, and the heart, thats all his.

Robert Palmer- Fine Time

Robert Palmer wasn’t always the suave power rock guy his 80’s hits made him out to be, sure he always loved the suits, but in the 70’s he was funky and he had great taste.  Fine Time boasts the immortal James Jamerson on bass as well as a combined backing band of Little Feat and The Meters who were both great bands on their own.  The highlight of the track though is the intensity he puts into the vocal performance, he really feels the music and he drives the band in return with his powerful presence.

Keb’ Mo’- Love Blues

Keb’ Mo’s first record soungs so organic, if you closed your eyes you’d feel like he was just in front of you playing his acoustic guitar, he’s got a great voice to boot, an underrated essential to being a bluesman, and nice harmonica work as well.  A real sunny Sunday afternoon kind of song.

G. Love and Special Sauce-Ride

I don’t know any other artist who can emulate summer as well as G. Love can, and the arrangement and production values are great on this song as well.

Bob Dylan- Love Minus Zero/ No Limit

Bob has a lot of well written songs, and this is among his best

The Explorers Club- Last Kiss

Imagine that the Beach Boys came out in the last couple years, they would be this band, the similarities are unnerving.

John Lennon- Real Love

The original demo before The Beatles put their production hands on it, the piano work is beautiful as well as his vocals, its almost as if you’ve got him playing the piano just for you and its really endearing.