033: Radka Toneff, ‘The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress’ (Jimmy Webb)

You’ve never heard of the Norwegian singer Radka Toneff. Trust me, it’s your loss.
Listen to her sing Jim Webb’s ‘The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress’. Tell me you weren’t moved.

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119: Tom Harrell, ‘Train Shuffle’

Loath as I am to resort to gimmickry, it’s hard to ignore the back-story of trumpeter Tom Harrell’s paranoid schizophrenia. He hears voices, maintains ‘a tenuous contact with reality’, is heavily medicated, and speaks like a zombie who’s just seen a ghost. Until he puts his horn to his lips, when he’s instantly and magically possessed by an utterly coherent aesthetic expressiveness.

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289: Simon & Garfunkel, ‘Old Friends/Bookends’

In 1967, Paul Simon said I resembled Art Garfunkel.
He was wrong.

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160: Smokey Robinson & Aretha Franklin, ‘Ooh Baby, Baby’ (Live)

Two remarkable voices from the same ‘hood, Smokey and Aretha, velvet and steel, a magical meeting in a magical song. It’s not chemistry, it’s alchemy. Watch it and say a little prayer of thanks for being present at the creation.

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120: Sam Cooke, ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’

I can see your reaction – “Ho hum, another old singer from the early 1960s doing another version of that hackneyed antique.”
Okay, I’ll stake my reputation on this one. You listen to this cut and tell me you weren’t shaking your shaker, bopping your boppers, grinning from ear to ear. I dare you! It’s sparkling, ebullient, irresistible. It’ll make you shake, rattle and roll.

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287: Moses Sumney, ‘Incantation’

Moses Sumney is the best vocalist I’ve ever heard.
And you know I NEVER exaggerate.

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121: George Harrison, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ (Acoustic Demo)

Everyone knows George’s masterpiece, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (actually it’s Eric Clapton’s guitar doing the weeping.) But there’s a remarkable earlier version of the song you might not have heard – a wholly different song, just George playing a melancholy, reflective acoustic guitar. It’s candid, unadulterated, exposed, utterly captivating.

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110: Mongolian Throat Singing (The Occidental Tourist)

In which Jeff brings you a taste of Mongolian throat singing as a flimsy excuse to tell a true story about yak molar dice games and that inimitable Mongolian penchant for practical jokes.

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