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118: Brian Wilson, ‘Surf’s Up’ (“SMiLE”)

The Beach Boy’s unreleased 1966 “SMiLE” was rumored to be Brian Wilson’s unfinished masterpiece. Its legend grew larger than the Loch Ness monster, more beautiful than Shangri-La, more elusive than the Yeti, richer than El Dorado, more profound than the Shroud of Turin, more holy than the Grail. Now it’s been reassembled and issued, 37 years later. Was it worth the wait?

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117: Carole King, ‘It Might as Well Rain Until September’

The 1950s didn’t end on December 31st, 1959. On AM radio they continued for years. Here’s a quiz about 3 very minor hits from 1961-2, a whole bunch of Jews and a few Blacks, and the frustrated egos of several trillionaires.

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111: The Byrds (David Crosby), ‘Everybody’s Been Burned’

David Crosby’s best songs with The Byrds employed a psychedelic sensibility – floating, meandering, precious, delicate, shimmering, as unfettered and fragile as a soap bubble wafting in a marijuana cloud above a Tribal Gathering. ‘Everybody’s Been Burned’ is one of his finest. It has the weight of melody and lyric content and meaning and emotion and passion, and yet it still floats.

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108: Michael McDonald/Luciana Souza, ‘I Can Let Go Now’

Here’s another pair of sublime/shlock treatments of a heartwrenching/heartburning ballad. I’m far too snobbish to admit that I swoon over both –’I Can Let Go Now’ by both its writer, light-heavyweight Michael McDonald, and by the regal Luciana Souza.

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101: Kurt Elling, “Li’l Darlin'”

I think 43-year old Kurt Elling is the finest male jazz singer ever. So you can imagine my pleasure at having the opportunity recently to take him and his band up to Jerusalem to visit some incredible sites in the Old City. Along the way we had an in-depth discussion about jazz singing and jazz singers, then in the evening I saw a bang-up show. Here’s a long article describing that exceptional day.
https://www.jmeshel.com//?p=2169
In Song of The Week, I compare Kurt’s version of Count Basie’s “Li’l Darlin'” with that of his musical mentor Mark Murphy, explaining why I think this young man is the best. Ever.

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Going Up to Jerusalem with Kurt Elling

June 5, 2011 The Fantasy Perhaps a person can be defined by his fantasies. There was a time when my wildest dream would have been Petula Clark asking me to come up to see her etchings. And there was a time when it was Phil Jackson asking me for advice on defensive strategy. And for […]

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100: Luciana Souza, ‘Chorinho Pra Ele’ (“Brazilian Duos”)

Luciana Souza recorded two albums of traditional Brazilian popular music accompanied by a single guitar. She’s consummate artist, relying neither on gimmicks nor on sex appeal, but on a refined, passionate, soulful aesthetic. Listen to her singing ‘Chorinho Pra Ele’. If you aren’t charmed out of your chair, you’re either dead or shouldn’t be listening to music.

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088: Lizz Wright, ‘Old Man’

Here’s a gift — Lizz Wright’s cover of a typically shallow and affected and annoying Neil Young junker. Her treatment reeks of rural Georgia blues gone west via Memphis to be reborn in an LA studio. It displays a harmonic and hormonic candor that’s charged with enough electricity to frizzle your synapses, guys.

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