Back in late June, after being on MySpace for just under a month, I picked my initial 8 top friends, and told anyone who was reading my blogs at that time a bit about them. That blog was called “Introducing My Top 8”, and you can still find it here. Some of the specific comments I made, regarding songs on their profile pages for example, may be a bit out of date, but the general notes are still on target. If you haven’t already checked these guys and gals out, I’d heartily recommend you do.
Well, a lot of time has passed since then, and my list of MySpace friends has grown. I’ve been thinking for awhile now about adding some top friends, and I’ve finally done it. Just four more for now, and (drum roll) here they are:
One Foot In – These guys are a local (Orange County, California) acoustic group that fits somewhere in the general bailiwick of Americana. On the musical side, if you think, “a more acoustic version of the Band,” you’d probably be somewhere in the general ballpark of their sound. What makes them unique, though, is Michael Gardner’s songwriting, especially his intelligent lyrics, which often tend toward the dark side, frequently laced with an ironic sense of humor. To give you an idea of what I mean, one of my favorites is “I Never Liked a Train”. After telling us reasons he doesn’t like trains in general, he leads up to, “no, I never liked a train, until I saw the one that came to carry you away.” A bit of a different kind of breakup song, don’t you think? Check it out on their MySpace profile page or their new CD, Songbook.
Earl Okin – I think I must have known Earl, to the extent one “knows” someone via Internet discussion groups anyway, for close to a decade now. We’ve had our share of interesting discussions on music, cultural differences between Europe and the USA (Earl’s from England), and a whole lot more. We’d even traded demos at one point, and I’ve read with interest various travel diaries Earl has posted from his performance tours to places all over the world. It wasn’t until very recently, though, after seeing videos Earl posted on MySpace, that I really came to appreciate Earl, the entertainer. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and, in this case, I think the same could be said about a video versus an audio recording. If you’re up for being entertained, and don’t mind a bit of risqué humor, my suggestion is to visit Earl’s video page, and have a look at “Mango” or “Bessie” as a starter. I predict you won’t want to stop there.
Raspberries – I’ve listed Eric Carmen of the Raspberries as being one of my major musical influences. That is equally for his work with the Raspberries and, later, as a solo artist and songwriter for other artists. A few weeks ago, I came across a letter Eric wrote to a fairly well known music industry blogger, and that got me wondering if he might be on MySpace. Well, he wasn’t on his own, but the Raspberries were, and I gather they’ve reunited for some recording and touring. I guess to be “cool”, I’d have to list the Raspberries as a guilty pleasure. After all, we’re talking great pop songs, mostly about teenage love and lust, and I’m 46 years old now, for Pete’s sake! But I’ve never been worried about being cool, and there was never any guilt in my love for their music, nor even for the stuff Eric wrote later that got recorded by people like Shaun Cassidy. (In fact, I still love singing “Hey, Deanie” and “That’s Rock and Roll”, though my version of the former is based on Eric’s version rather than the Shaun Cassidy hit version.) Nope, we’re talking great melodies, lyrics that suit the song, and just plain good stuff that’s stood the test of time!
Birtles Shorrock Goble – If the three names in BSG don’t sound familiar to you, you’re either too young or never got into reading the songwriting credits on the songs that were big hits back in the late 70s and early 80s. We’re talking three of the main singers and songwriters from, and the founders of, the original Little River Band. (Like many “oldies” acts of today, most of the members of the group that own and perform under the LRB name have little to do with the actual group of people that made that name recognizable in the first place.) These guys are working together again, and the harmonies still sound as awesome as ever. I’m a big fan of harmonies, and these guys are masters at that. The songwriting’s pretty darn good, too. So, if you feel like spending a little time “Reminiscing”, do check them out.