Music you might have missed

Category: Music

I've been wanting to do this for awhile now. Everyone has in their music collection some real sonic gems that for whatever reason have remained relatively unknown. I've got several in my collection most people have never heard of and thought I'd share a few here. Hopefully others will let us in on some of their own little-known jewels as well. In no particular order...

Joanne Shenandoah--Matriarch
Overheard this gem in an audio store where a guy was auditioning some Wilson speakers. Joanne has taken Native American songs and polished them up for us. Fairly simple, straightforward and maybe a bit repetitive at times, but Joanne's lilting siren voice is wonderful. Check this one out.

Loreena McKennitt--The Book of Secrets
Ok, maybe this one is well known. But if you haven't heard it, you're missing out. In the same genus as Enya but is its own species (and probably better). Just discovered this one and have really enjoyed it.

Fred Benedetti and Peter Pupping--Here Comes the Sun
These two guitarists have put together all-guitar arrangements of popular songs from the 60's and 70's (Beatles, Cat Stevens, Simon & Garfunkel and more). They have a couple different CD's out. This just happens to be one. Great guitar work and well recorded. And the songs are played straight up; they don't try to mess with a good thing.

John Denver--The Wildlife Concert
We've all heard Denver before, but this dual CD is something special. I wasn't a fan of his at all until I heard it. The backup musicians are all top drawer and these renditions of almost all his hits surpass the original versions in every way. This is also available on DVD. I've got both and have really enjoyed them.

Crash Test Dummies--God Shuffled His Feet
Don't let the quirky name fool you. This is good stuff. The lyrics are bizarre but lead singer Brad Robert has a rich baritone voice that makes it all work. I turned my fifty-something-year-old mother into a convert.

Mecano--entre el cielo y el suello
Mecano hail from Spain, and they're virtually unheard of in America unless you happen to speak Spanish. If you don't, you'll miss out on some very unique and poetic lyrics. But the music alone might make it worth it for you. Hard to nail them down, but in general they're sort of a sophisticated Pop sound. Mecano is one of my all time favorite bands.

Soundtrack to The Power of One
If you like Hans Zimmer's The Lion King, you'll enjoy his earlier work here. The Lion King was good, but this is considerably better. It's African choir music with a western touch. Very nice.

Of course, music is a very individual thing, so your mileage may vary. I recommend you log on to a site like or and listen to snippets of these CDs before you lay down the long green. But I've enjoyed each of these quite a bit. Hopefully, some of you will find these right up your alley. I'd love to hear recommendations from others. Enjoy!
Madeleine Peyroux--Dreamland
Few weeks ago, during auditioning of two transports, I found out that I have two of this CD. Put them in, pushed play, and.... forgot about the transports and the A/B - just sat there listening. It is beautiful.
Billy Vera & The Beaters - "By Request" recorded live in a small club, perhaps you remember "At This Moment" made known to the public by the TV show Family Ties.

Luther Kent & Trick Bag "Live" - recorded live at a club in New Orleans. Blues of a type. Lots of brass!

Chicago "Night & Day" - 12 Big Band songs done with a touch of Chicago style.

"Abraxas Pool" - the unmistakable blend of Latin percussion, soaring guitar, hard driving keyboards and powerful vocals. Very well put together,reuniting the original members of the SANTANA band. You must hear to comprehend. I'm a percussionist, I know!

Feel free to email with any questions.
Hello Lak. Just got off the phone with you, and saw this post. Billy Vera was the house band, for years, at a small club in Chapaqua N.Y. (in the news as the home of Bill and Hillary), called "The Siding". My wife and I were regulars there. What a treat to see him in such a small, informal setting. He was the reason we went back time and time again.
Great fun. Any chance "By Request" was recorded there? His other "hit" was "Storybook Children".
Rickie Lee Jones -- "Traffic from Paradise"
In my opinion, her best album musically, plus the recording detail and imaging are excellent. Tight, rich percussion. I use it as a "reference" CD.
Hi Blbloom, these were recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound and live at the Roxy.
Two wonderful Springsteen albums I have just discovered:

1. Badlands, a tribute to Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska. I like this album as much as the original (can't say anything more positive than that!). This album makes you realize how influential the album is. Features Deanna Carter, Son Vot, Ben Harper, Los Lobos, Ani Defranco, and Johnny Cash.

2. Misunderstood by Bruce Springsteen. This is an italian pressing. I have not seen it available online. It is a set of recordings from Bruce's 1996 acoustic 'Ghost of Tom Joad' tour. I saw the Denver concert. Smaller 2000 person venue featuring Bruce and a twelve string. I never realized what a great guitar player he is.
Lak & BlBloom: I just picked up the Beaters Request CD a few weeks ago. Used to see them quite a lot in LA when I first moved out here. Now I am looking for "Jack Mack and the Heart Attack's" CD's.
Variety folks, it's all about variety : )

Skyclad: Irrational Anthems

Even though they are one of my favorite bands with about 10 - 12 albums out, they are virtually unknown over here and their discs are VERY hard to get in America. Kind of a cross between traditional Celtic music mixed with hard rock / metal. Heavy commentary on politics, religion, society, etc.... i.e. "angry lyrics" with an upbeat tempo. Has some cool "fiddle playin'" (courtesy of a girl named "George") along with the standard guitars, drums, etc... Not necessarily a "great recording", just a good time with a lot of "flavour".

Loreena McKennitt: The Mask and Mirror

While the whole disc is excellent, the first tune is quite possibly the most "engulfing", "deep" and "airy" tune that i have ever heard. If you have a good system, the sound literally floats around you. Hearing this on a pair of well set up E-stats, Planars or omnidirectional speakers will make you want to throw your "boxes" out... I would love to hear this on Albert's SoundLab's : ) Macm is right though. Loreena's discs (this disc / performance in specific) makes any Enya disc sound "lo-fi".

David Johansen and the Harry Smiths

Didn't know what to expect from this one other than a "great recording" courtesy of Chesky. Didn't get it in my opinion. Some of the songs have a completely different feel than others i.e. a throw back to "old timey" blues recordings. Also has a somewhat strange selection of songs in my opinion. Nonetheless, a disc that kind of snuck up on me. David's voice is still as identifiable as ever and plenty strong. I just never pictured him "singing the blues". Then again, i never pictured him as "Buster Poindexter" either : )

Pink Floyd: The Division Bell

I like this album. A LOT. Too bad i never see it mentioned by "fans of Floyd". Even though it lacks a lot of the "flash" and "effects" that made Waters and Gilmour famous, there is something about this disc that i find lacking from other Floyd efforts.

Antony Michaelson: Mozart Clarinet Concerto K622 in A Major

Courtesy of Audio Advisor, the President of Musical Fidelity "cranks out" some nice "tunes". A VERY short but VERY listenable disc. Good enough that i'd like to hear more from him on a regular basis.

Wire: Pink Flag / Chairs Missing / 154

Their first three albums. You can't have one without the other two. Best to listen to them in the order that they were released so that you can follow the progression / transition a little easier. While they wanted to hang out with the Sex Pistols initially, it's pretty obvious that these guys also listened to Floyd and Hawkwind. While the first album (Pink Flag ) is much faster / rawer / harder / shorter (even though it had 21 songs on it) than any of their others, you still get a glimpse of the "damaged art" that was soon to follow. Some critics even referred to them as "the Pink Floyd of Punk Rock", as they slowed down quite a bit and ventured into various "imagery". I might even venture to say that they "inspired" some of the very early and original "industrial" bands. Not only did Steve Simels' love them, Wire was the band that inspired Michael Stipe (REM) to want to be in a band ( his own words ). Colin Newman (lead singer) later went on to record a couple of discs supported by a small orchestra that are also worth checking out.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed thus far. The little bios really help, too. I'll be looking into each of your recommendations.

I have to list two more that I forgot to mention:

Mark Knopfler--Sailing to Philadelphia
Mark's the former lead singer for Dire Straits. If that doesn't excite you, no worries. I wasn't really a Straits fan either. Mark has definitely mellowed in the years since. This is just a great album. Kind of folkish with a little blues thrown in. Lots of good cuts on this one, not the least of which is the title track which he sings with James Taylor. This one is highly recommended.

David Gray--White Ladder
Bares some definite similarities to Bob Dylan, but Gray has a better voice (not surprising). "Babylon" is the best song, although certainly not the only thing to recommend the entire CD.

Susan Tedeschi, her first album, ok believe it or not, sometimes she's got the presence and power of Janis Joplin. And she plays a great blues guitar.

Dan Bern, self titled album. Give it a chance and he will make you smile. He's an underground artist, friend of Ani Difranco. She produces some of his music. If you ever get a chance to see his live shows, don't pass it up.

Clarence Gatemouth Brown. The album with "Don't get Around Much Anymore". Great blues guitar and big band sound. This album makes people want to jump up and dance.

Patty Larkin, Tango. She is simply a great guitarist.

Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder. Two great guitarists playing African Blues "world music".
Couple of Canuck bands you really ought to check out. Blue Rodeo is a crossover country/pop band. Well written lyics, laid back and enjoyable music, mostly acoustic sounds. Try to pick up "5 Days in May". The Tragically Hip. Jeez I love the Hip, they are a huge hit in their home country (Canada) but virtually unknown elsewhere. The Hip release a new record, it's automatic 1 million sold in Canada. Straight ahead rock, eclectic lyrics. Pick up "Day for Night", you'll end up buying the entire catalog. If any of you try this stuff out, please let me know your thoughts once you've spent some time listening. Jeff
I forgot to mention The Phil Collins Big Band- “A Hot Night In Paris” Phil’s music played by his big band, style and sound. Loaded with brass and percussion.
At the Drive-In's 'Relationship of Command' is sort of like Rage Against the Machine's albums, except that it is good. Then there is Curve. Curve is a band that rules (icy female vocals with semi/experimental guitar and cool bass lines). Butch Vig riped off thier sound for his band Garbage, so it may sound it bit like that to someone, but I think there are some large differences, the biggest being talent. Curve's first three albums: Pubic Fruit, Doppelganger and Cuckoo are my three favorite albums. You should buy them.
Jeff - I agree with you on The Tragically Hip, except I usually recommend Fully, Completely as the CD that'll spur somebody to buy the whole collection.

Jeff Saphin - This

The only CD he's put out, it's a rock album that reminds me of Bowie in a lot of places - a bit spacey, lots of different sounds. Definitely more of a fun album than a work of art, but I find it very enjoyable.

Nevermore - Dreaming Neon Black

Hard Rock, probably some would consider it metal but I don't think of it that way. Very atmospheric, a pretty good recording for a rock CD. Closer to Tool than Metallica.

The Rainmakers - Skin

Actually, they remind me a lot of The Tragically Hip. Guitar and vocals, rock. A lot of fun live, they've never been big stateside but apparently are big in Europe. You can't get many of their CDs here without special ordering.

Several Titles - Mapleshade records

Mostly jazz and blues titles, with some small scale classical. Most are excellent recordings and very reasonably priced compared to most audiophile recordings - about $10 if you buy 4 or more. (No, I don't work for them - I just like their music and it's price!)

Galactic - Crazyhorse Mongoose

Sort of jazz funk, straight from New Orleans I believe. They have three studio albums out and just released a live album (which I haven't heard yet), but I like this one the best of the three.

The Meters - The Meters Anthology

You probably haven't missed this one, but on the chance you haven't listened to The Meters and their rhythmic New Orleans' style playing, this is a great anthology (2CD).

The Isley Brothers - It's Your Thing Anthology (3CD)

I'm sure the Isley's haven't slipped by anyone, but this is the best 3CD compilation of any group I've come across. There's little to no filler here, and you're content to listen straight through.
If you ever liked Emerson, Lake and Palmer you may just like Synergy aka Larry Fast. Starting in 1975 with "Electronic Realizations for a Rock Orchestra" he created a series of solo moog/syn albums. The CD's were resently re-engineered and remastered by Mr. Fast. Check out his web page
Sean,The Division Bell by Pink Floyd is a real sleeper! This album IMO is one of their best! It sounds very,very good also.I picked up a still sealed copy on eBay that is blue,transparent vinyl a while back for $ gets lots of spin time!
SKYCLAD; IRRATIONAL ANTHEMS No singing, no dancing, no music would be the best summation of this CD. Every song is the same flat pounding drums and gruff yelling and roaring guitars with no musical line. Good heavy metal music like Metallica or Dream Theatre has a uulation and not just unending pounding. If there is anything folklike within this unending noise it escaped me and wouldn't have made much difference anyway. Now if you want angry unending pounding with at least some musical line you could listen to Toxic which also stinks but at least they are louderfasterangrier than Skyclad and I guess this is what it is about. You know an althletic event instead of a musical one. If you are looking for hard rocking music that is fun try Hedningarna "Hippyoke"(sp) a Swedish band that blends folk music in a rock beat format. I wonder if the reason that audiophiles don"t read/write a lot about software (music) is that there is a big risk of being misled by someone elses opinion. If music is just my opinion/your opinion then why would I be interested in your opinion or you in mine. If a review is well written you may be able to detect someones preferences and viewpoint and therby gain more useful information. Also reading multiple reviews from non professionals (or maybe even professionals) can help triangulate a better impression. While amateur reviewers may be overly enthusiastic, professional reviewers tend to be jaded or rather conventional and awed by a performers sales/popularity. Therefore I have found it difficult to get a real good impression from these reviewers even though the reviews are better written and the reviewer has more and broader experience with music. Thanks for your ear for MHO.
A contribution from over the pond and forgive me if "Blue Nile" are familiar to you. A band discovered, used for Linn's early recordings. They only made 3 recordings and all are sublime, atmospheric, melancholic productions with great musicianship.
A Walk Across the Rooftops
Peace at Last
Here in the Washington, Dc area, Eva Cassiday is well known, but she may not be elsewhere. Her live CD, "At Blues Alley" is easily the best female vocal recording I've got, even though it does not have the "Over the rainbow" cut that got played on BBC. This became a hit in England, 6 years after her death, and sparked a revival of interest in her music.
Highly recommended.
Saphin released a new CD Called: "Saphin is Tim Essquare starring in
'Time of the Signs"". I found it here:
Bruce Cockburn: Dancing in the Dragon's Jaws (NOT the Remaster)

Mark Isham: Blue Sun

Modeski Martin and Wood: It's a Jungle In Here

Carman McRae: Sings Monk

And Finally

Kip Hanrahan: Tenderness (German Release):

This is by Far my best sounding CD and the music is very unique. If you can find it get it! Outdistances many acclaimed discs such as the FIM release of Patricia Barber's Cafe Blue, BTW if the copy you get is only Medocre your likely listening to the domestic release.
This is a tough disc to find but worth the search.
If you can get into single instrument recordings, try the Quin zither. It is a magical Chinese instrument, and a good recording of it is an incredible experience that will affect you no matter your mood.
Also try the Shakuhichi flute, an instrument that can express extreme tenderness.
There was a singer/songriter called Laura Nyro, who wrote most of the songs that made a group called The Fifth Dimension famous. Her recording New York Tendaberry is a wild ride in dynamics and emotion. Her passing is a great loss to music. Thank you.
John Hiatt's latest vinyl is pretty amazing material from him, anything by The Rosebuds, ditto - Andrew Bird, Rocco Deluca and the Burden, Gregory Alan Isakov.