Song: The A Team
Artist: Ed Sheeran, England
Album: Plus, 2011
Notes: Exceptional tale about the sad plight of a young street girl addicted to hard drugs, a superb paean to the wasteland of street drug culture from top-notch 20-year old newcomer tunesmith. Briefly moved to LA last year with no money where he played at open-mic nights around town - spotted by none other than actor Jamie Foxx who invited him to stay and record some songs at his house.
Song: Baby Tomorrow
Artist: Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, Nashville
Album: Chasing Someday, 2011
Notes: So bloody good, lots of mellifluous banjos and guitars, huge melodies and harmonies, great execution. Drew is helping to reinvent the sound of Music City along with the likes of Mat Kearney, Jack White and Kings of Leon. His wife Ellie is in his backing band.
Song: Tell Me Why
Artist: Karla Bonoff, Santa Monica, CA
Album: New Word, 1988
Notes: Original version by its writer of a big country hit for Wynonna Judd way back when. Bonoff made her living mostly from writing hits for others including Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt. She cut four amazing albums from 1977 to 1988, all of them worth picking up.
Song: Lippy Kids
Artist: Elbow, England
Album: Build A Rocket Boys!, 2011
Notes: An uncompromisingly original sound, hallmarked by the distinctive lead vocal of Guy Harvey. Album, which also features a 55-strong youth choir, just nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in the UK.
Artist: Citizen Cope, Memphis, TN
Album: Every Waking Moment, 2006
Notes: Talented and utterly unique-sounding talent, real names Clarence Greenwood. His highly creative craft has been used by probably more television shows and film soundtracks than any other artist over the past ten years.
Song: #9 Dream
Artist: John Lennon, England
Album: Shaved Fish, 1975
Notes: Should have been knight along with Sir Paul, an evergreen classic from 1974. One of the few solo songs Sir John recorded featuring his short-term girlfriend May Pang on backing vocals, rather than Yoko (who was otherwise ubiquitous on most solo recordings by John).
Song: Do What You Gotta Do
Artist: Meg Baird, Philadelphia
Album: Dear Companion, 2007
Notes: Underrated folk performer, formerly leading light of folk-rockers, the Espers. Delightful, stripped down treatment of a classic 1968 composition by the great Jimmy Webb, the current President of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Song: Travelin’ Light
Artist: J.J. Cale, Oklahoma City
Album: Troubadour, 1976
Notes: From arguably his definitive album, yet another lost gem from the now 72-year old troubadour and innovator behind the Tulsa Sound. His unique guitar style has been much copied by several artists including Chris Rea and Mark Knopfler.
Song: Flaming Sword
Artist: Care, England
Album: Diamonds and Emeralds, 2010
Notes: Care was the group formed by pop/electronica whiz, Ian Broudie before he established the Lightning Seeds. Long overlooked synth-pop-rock gem now finally available on a Care retrospective.
Song: I Don’t Know
Artist: Andy Stochansky, Canada
Notes: Sensational, simple ballad, exclusive to L&F, unreleased singer-songwriter/piano-led ballad from one of the most ridiculously overlooked artists around. If you don't like this song, please step away from this web page.
Artist: Joan Armatrading, St. Kitts, West Indies
Album: Show Some Emotion, 1977
Notes: Such a sweet song, such an amazing talent. Exquisite and deeply moving 'best friend' pearl from songstress veteran who has now recorded more than 20 albums, all worthwhile.
Artist: Brandon Flowers, Henderson, NV
Album: Flamingo, 2010
Notes: Best known as the lead singer for the Killers, this modern rock cut got a bit of airplay last year, not quite enough. Intriguing slow motion video clip with a cameo by Charleze Theron also worth a look.
Song: I’m Free
Artist: Soup Dragons, Scotland
Album: Lovegod, 1989
Notes: A liberating modern rock bubbler from way back when, a trippy dance-rock corker by the Scottish combo and their update of the Rolling Stones original. Features a fun reggae rap interlude by Junior Reed.
Artist: Chantal Kreviazuk, Canada
Notes: Such a gifted melodian and lyricist, also a classically trained pianist and multi-instrumentalist. Another really worthwhile but rather obscure, stripped-down version of the beautiful Chantal performing this diamond on 'Songwriters Circle', which you can find on YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GfPpIg29ZU
Song: I’ll Take Care of You
Artist: J.D. Souther, Detroit
Album: Home By Dawn, 1984
Notes: Simple, quiet, sparse, short, another lost corker from sometime Eagles cohort. Originally only digitally available on a pricey Japanese import CD, now an easy download from his terrific career retrospective, '20 Songs'.
Song: Ugly Little Dreams
Artist: Everything But The Girl, England
Album: Love Not Money, 1985
Notes: Intriguing, lyrically profound lost diamond from the shy, modest duo of Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn. So much more to EBTG than their huge 1995 dance remix smash, 'Missing'.
Artist: Muse, England
Album: The Resistance, 2009
Notes: Anthemic, career-defining alternative rock belter which arguably borrows all sorts of stuff from Blondie's 'Call Me' to other songs by Gary Glitter, Simple Minds, Black Sabbath - even the theme music to the tv series Dr. Who'. A highly derivative but winning cut from otherwise over-hyped British bunch.
Artist: Al Green, Forrest City, AR
Album: Belle, 2007
Notes: Superb soul sapphire from one of the very best in the genre. Nearly of Al's early albums were helmed by the great Willie Mitchell, but this was the first recording Green made which he self-produced. Still the pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Memphis.
Song: You Told A Lie
Artist: Camera Obscura, Scotland
Album: My Maudlin Career, 2009
Notes: Lovely strings arrangement (by Bjorn of Peter, Bjorn & John), first class Indie pop-rock from Glasgow. Band's sound always lifted by the enchanting, crystal clear sound of lead vocalist, Tracyanne Campbell.
Artist: Patrick Wolf, England
Album: Lupercalia, 2011
Notes: Eccentric baroque pop/indietronica, spanking new music from Wolf's fifth album. 28-year old multi-instrumentalist plays the piano, viola and ukulele, his real name is Patrick Apps.
Song: Only Love Would Know
Artist: Gordon Lightfoot, Canada
Album: Waiting For You, 1993
Notes: Moving and understated genius from one of the originals and one of the true singer-songwriting greats: few of the current crop of over-hyped tunesmiths can hold a candle to this precious, 72-year old Canadian national treasure.
Song: Heal The Pain
Artist: George Michael, England
Notes: Lest we forget, a great album title. George has got a bad rap in recent years having been through a few rock star crises (even landed in jail last year), but many forget just what a multi-talented musician he is.
Song: Down With You
Artist: Ellie Lawson, England
Album: The Philosophy Tree, 2009
Notes: Perky track by much overlooked British folk-popster, previously championed by Ellen DeGeneres. Lawson definitely understands the spirit of this show: her new long-player (actually a reissue from 2009) is called 'Lost Songs'.
Song: Say Something
Artist: James, England
Album: Laid, 1993
Notes: Featuring trademark Manchester guitar sound so prevalent among the city's modern rockers in the late '80s and early '90s. Cracking single released in the US in 1994, but somehow didn't even make the Hot 100.
Song: The Day Before You Came
Artist: Abba, Sweden
Notes: Yes indeed not a misprint, Abba on L&F! No rules on this show, they saved the best for last: the very last recording ever made by the Swedish confectionists. Highly inventive record, superb melody, great idea, curious well-written lyrics from a 'diary' documenting the habitual life of a single woman, the day before finding the man of her dreams.
Artist: Ray Lamontagne & the Pariah Dogs, Nashua, NH
Notes: Title cut from his career-defining album (to date) from the softly spoken musical poet. Check out his surprising and superb appearance on VH1's 'Storytellers' series (the only worthwhile show left on that sad excuse for a cable channel).
Song: Both Sides Are Even
Artist: Boxer Rebellion, England
Album: Cold Still, 2011
Notes: A bloke from Tennessee, two guys from England and an Australian provide the truly international alternative rock lineup. Overseen by Ethan Johns (who produces Ray Lamontagne among others). Recorded at Peter Gabriel's ace Real World Studios.
Song: Winding Road
Artist: Bonnie Somerville, New York
Notes: The final track on one of the best film soundtrack collection by the actress/singer. Bonnie can also be heard singing on L&F preferred vendor, Joshua Radin's outstanding freshman album, 'We Were Here'.
Song: Say You Don’t Mind
Artist: Colin Blunstone, England
Album: One Year, 1971
Notes: A tad histrionic at the song's climax, the first solo outing from way back when from former lead singer of legendry '60s rock band, the Zombies. Over 50 years in music, went on to provide lead vocals for highly unfashionable (but rather good) Alan Parsons Project. Song written by Denny Laine.
Song: Over You
Artist: Graffiti 6, England
Album: Colours, 2010
Notes: Delicious, almost gospel-inflected, bitter-sweet break-up song from a band making more of a name for itself as a top-drawer pumping electronica pop-rock outfit. Album still only available as an import.
Artist: Grandaddy, Modesto, CA
Album: The Sophtware Slump, 2000
Notes: 'I'll sleep there so soundly, Until I'm finally allowed, To wake and be happy again' - too sad for words. Chilled out, rather haunting and utterly morose lost gem from the much underrated group which was around from 1992 until 2006, led by top skateboarder and singer/keyboardist, Jason Lytle.
Song: Gimme Sympathy
Artist: Metric, Canada
Album: Fantasies, 2009
Notes: 'Who would you rather be, The Beatles or the Rolling Stones'? - fun lyric, great question. Band just keeps making sterling, hook-driven, indie rock corkers. Parent set hailed Best Alternative Album of the Year at the Juno Awards.
Song: California Blue
Artist: Roy Orbison, Vernon, TX
Album: Mystery Girl, 1989
Notes: So sweet, co-written by the legendary singer with (producer) Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty. He never (never) hit a bum note in concert, maybe the best male vocalist of the rock era. Just 52 when he passed away on December 6th 1988 having just had dinner with his mum in Tennessee.
Song: Sweetest Smile
Artist: Black, England
Album: Wonderful Life, 1987
Notes: Sorely overlooked but rather original synth-driven, pop-soul gem by a project called Black (actually just the performing name used by a talented singer-songwriter called Colin Vearncombe). Still around, been running his own record label called Nero Schwarz.
Artist: Erin McCarley, Garland, TX
Album: Love, Save The Empty, 2008
Notes: An L&F preferred vendor, top songstress and another non-country musician rebuilding the musical soundscape of Nashville. Her very first single, featured on her utterly superb maiden album.
Song: Arizona Sky
Artist: China Crisis, England
Album: What Price Paradise, 1986
Notes: One of many China Crisis gems to fly under the radar. Band emerged from Liverpool as part of the synth-pop rock movement which grew in the early 80s, but somewhat in the shadow of acts like OMD and the Human League.
Song: Spanish Sahara
Artist: Foals, England
Album: Total Life Forever, 2010
Notes: Named one of the Top 50 songs of 2010 by influential British music magazine, the NME - and also used in a promo for the HBO TV series, 'Entourage'. British modern rock combo signed in the US to the always hip Sub Pop label.
Song: Stop This Train
Artist: John Mayer, Bridgeport, CT
Album: Continuum, 2006
Notes: So many good songs on his 'Continuum' album other than the obvious big hit singles, including this cool, lilting gem. Currently polishing off his fifth studio album, working title, 'Born and Raised' which should be here in time for Santa.
Song: In My Life
Artist: Sean Connery/Beatles, Scotland
Notes: James Bond's deep spoken-word treatment of the Beatles classic, produced by the Fab Four's original producer, George Martin, segued nicely into the classic 1965 ballad by John, Paul, George and Richard.