Random Jam of the Week 019

This weekend, the Slackers will be headed to New York City’s Webster Hall to check out Lee Fields & The Expressions and Nick Waterhouse in what promises to be a refreshing and thoroughly entertaining throwback R&B and soul show. In honor of the concert and our growing excitement, we offer you a special double feature in this week’s RJOTW.

First up is Friday’s opener, L.A.-based twenty-something Nick Waterhouse, who joins forces with Daryl Hall (of Hall & Oates — no big deal) and his boys for an awesome live rendition of Waterhouse’s own “(If) You Want Trouble.” Like all of Waterhouse’s work, the track legitimately sounds like it’s from a bygone era. One listen — or one look at the album art for his debut Time’s All Gone — and you’ll think you’re hearing something from the 1960s. Even more impressive is the fact that Waterhouse recorded all of his studio material on vintage equipment. If you love blue-eyed soul, old-school R&B, or anything related to Stax Records, you should absolutely check out Time’s All Gone.

As for this version of “(If) You Want Trouble” in particular, it has to be noted that 1) that guitar riff is wonderful; 2) the song sounds better live than it does in the studio (aka I’m crazy excited to see it performed this weekend); and 3) everyone is CLEARLY having oodles of fun playing it. Finally, some love must be shown to Daryl Hall, who 1) still has some pipes; 2) sure has some talented musician friends; and 3) has a web series (Live From Daryl’s House, the source of this clip) that is just a gift from the music gods. Basically, Hall & Oates were and are the best. And if you don’t believe me, please refer to the incredible “Personal life” section of Hall’s Wikipedia page, which — aside from profiling his adorable love for restoring historic homes — kind-of-way-too-casually mentions that Hall’s only (biological) child comes from a one-night stand with a fan.

People growing up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s got to experience soul music in its heyday. Us kids of the 90s/00s sadly missed out (and also NOT so sadly missed out on some of the other stuff they experienced in the “good ol’ days”). Lucky for us, some artists aren’t trying to top charts and are perfectly content making music like they used to. These days, Lee Fields & The Expressions might be as close as we can get to seeing James Brown live at The Apollo. Fields, who started touring more than forty years ago, is riding (and driving) the wave of this millennium’s soul revival. But I have the feeling he’d be kicking out these jams even if old-school R&B wasn’t hip again.

This performance of “Faithful Man” comes to us courtesy of Yours Truly, an extremely pretentious (Seriously, what the hell are they talking about? Yeah, the “permanence of ink” looks real intimate on this virtual page.) music blog that apparently hosts great live sessions. “Faithful Man” is classic soul, with its muted guitar riff and passionate and pained lyrics addressing one of the quintessential themes of the genre. While the album version features a full studio band which includes drums, violins, bass, and backup singers, Lee Fields & The Expressions use a simpler setup for Yours Truly. The muted guitar plays rhythm as the trumpet and saxophone play harmony behind Fields’s powerful, gritty vocals. Fields has real stage presence — understated until he lets loose the emotion building inside with a soul-shaking cry (at 4:05). Like he says in the intro, “Let it go. Don’t hold it down.”

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