Dig These Discs :: Phil Harding, Graffiti6, Trailer Trash Tracys, The Little Willies
From dance music to dreamy soundscapes, 2012 is proving to be a very hot winter. Norah Jones puts the jazz on the shelf and takes her country twang out for a stroll in The Little Willies new CD, "For the Good Times." Phil Harding drops a two-disc set of remixes from the ’80s. Music bigwigs Jamie Scott and TommyD team up as Graffiti6, the band destined to lend their tracks to every new program on the current TV lineup. And newcomers The Trailer Trash Tracys set out to blow minds with their dreamy, ethereal soundscapes.
"For the Good Times" (The Little Willies)
Honey-voiced jazz chanteuse Norah Jones teams up with the boys -- Lee Alexander, Jim Campilongo, Richard Julian, and Dan Rieser -- as The Little Willies to release "For the Good Times," the follow-up for their eponymous 2006 debut that took Starbucks coffee shops by storm. The band that started up as an excuse for five friends to play a gig at New York club The Living Room has become known for its authentic American country sound. And although Jones is known for jazz, she admits, "I love playing country music. More than any other genre, it makes me feel at home." While their first album was a bit of a hodge-podge, "For the Good Times" seems to have a more deliberate set-list, including covers of songs from Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Lefty Frizell, and Dolly Parton. Jones starts the album of with Ralph Stanley’s "I Worship You," a sad chrooner. Cal Martin’s "Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves" has a frenetic pace that seems destined to end up in a Quentin Tarantino film. A sweet twang envelopes Cliff Friend and Irving Mills’ "Lovesick Blues," and Jones dominates Loretta Lynn’s tough-talking "Fist City." Another highlight is The Little Willies’ cover of Johnny Cash’s "Wide Open Road", which possesses all the charm (minus that trademark Cash deep drag) of the original. Their cover of the title track, Kris Kristofferson’s "For the Good Times," seems like a truck driver’s dream, and Lefty Frizzell and Jim Beck’s "If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time" is a honky-tonk celebration filled with grit and pep. Jones caps off the discs’ dozen songs with a slow, spare cover of Dolly Parton’s "Jolene" that has twice the pleading lament and only half the frenetic urgency of the original. "I sure love to sing ’Jolene,’ and people enjoy it when we do it. It’s OK that it’s familiar -- this is an album of covers and it’s nice to have a few that people really know and love. It doesn’t bother me as long as it’s natural," said Jones. It is easily the best of the bunch, an homage to the Queen of Nashville if ever one was heard. (EMI Music)
"Club Mixes of the ’80s" (Phil Harding)
Where’s the beef? It’s in this collection of 25 dance-club remixes from the ’80s, the decade of big hair and even bigger shoulder pads. Phil Harding crams this two-disc set full of a plentiful bounty of well-known hits and obscure picks that will rock the dance floor down. Some winners include Dead or Alive’s "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)," Michael Jackson/ The Jackson 5 in "I Want You Back," Diana Ross’ "Love Hangover," and ABC’s "When Smokey Sings." The CDs contain haunting versions of The Four Tops "Reach Out I’ll Be There" and Basia with Aretha Franklin’s "Until You Come Back to Me" that will thrill the old-school crowd. The lineup also includes a number of hits by the deep-voiced Rick Astley, among them "She Wants to Dance With Me," "Til the Day That I Die," "Stay With Me Tonight," and "Never Gonna Give You Up," years before Rickrolling was ever a thing. There’s even Five Star in "Rain or Shine." But some of the "hits" dig deep into the bin, like "Fe Fi Fo Fum’s "Beat Your Body," a hit that I’ll assume is popular with the boys. Other head-scratchers include Godley & Crème in "Snack Attack," Holly Johnson’s "Americanos," and Pepsi & Shirlie in "Heartache." There are also several cuts by Jimmy Ruffin, including an inexplicably long extended remix of his "Easy Just to Say (I Love You)." Despite some odd inclusions, overall, "Club Mixes of the ’80s" is a winner, a welcome addition to any club rat’s playlist.
(Cherry Pop Records)