Song: Living In Another World
Artist: Talk Talk, England
Album: The Colour of Spring, 1986
Notes: A complete aural masterclass from Mark Hollis' band - swirling Hammond Organ, driving rhythm track, urgent melodies, pleading lyrics and a spiffing harmonica solo thrown in for good measure. How was this not a hit?
Song: Don’t Look Down
Artist: David Ryan Harris, Los Angeles
Album: Soulstice, 2004
Notes: Delightful, smooth Sunday strummer from LA-based tunesmith who formerly fronted the Atlanta-based rock combo, Follow For Now. Harris can sometimes be found performing on those sea-faring Rock Boat cruise-ship festivals.
Artist: Bastille, England
Album: Overjoyed EP, 2012
Notes: Promising new band with a fresh rock-tronica number. A quartet from South London in England, firmly fronted by songwriter and lead singer, Dan Smith, recently signed to Virgin Records.
Artist: Paper Kites, Australia
Album: Woodland EP, 2011
Notes: Breezy, intricate, organic folk pop from down under. Quartet is based in Melbourne, fronted by Samuel Bentley and Christina Lacy. Check out the sweet video accompanying video clip.
Song: It’s Been Done
Artist: Angela McCluskey, Scotland
Album: The Things We Do, 2004
Notes: Delicious, inventive soundscapes underwriting the smokey vocal class of the hugely under-appreciated McCluskey. She has a parallel career as the lead singer of the LA-based folk rockers, the Wild Colonials - though she's originally from Scotland.
Song: May You Never
Artist: Snow Patrol, N. Ireland
Notes: Empathetic rendering of a classic composition by the sorely missed British folk troubadour, John Martyn by Gary Lightbody and chums from a terrific tribute album to the late Martyn.
Artist: Talain Rayne, Phoenixville, PA
Album: Attic Lights, 2010
Notes: Featuring guest vocals by his girlfriend, Meg Lynch, a delightful peppy, ukulele-driven nugget. He got the music bug after his high-school teacher helped him buy a keyboard. Full name is Talain Rayne Blanchon.
Artist: Eilen Jewell, Los Angeles
Album: Queen of the Minor Key, 2011
Notes: Short, jazz/blues-flavored acoustic nugget from another hard-working, quality songstress trying to get heard above the noise in the City of Angels. More on Eilen at eilenjewell.com.
Artist: Eric Hutchinson, Los Angeles
Album: Moving Up, Moving Down
Notes: Shades of an old Lenny Kravitz number here, but just one of several worthwhile winners on one of the best new intelligent pop-rock CDs of the year thus far.
Song: Woman In The Waves
Artist: Michael Franks, La Jolla, CA
Album: Blue Pacific, 1990
Notes: Usually only heard on smooth jazz radio formats, Franks recorded a remarkably accessible catalog of work which deserves wider attention. Often constructs seemingly awkward, off-melody verses only to reveal complete harmonic bliss in the chorus.
Artist: Del Amitri, Scotland
Album: Twisted, 1995
Notes: Killer acoustic strummed ballad, so much more to Del Amitri's catalog than the frequently spun 'Roll To Me' which was included on the same CD.
Song: Fooling Myself
Artist: Leddra Chapman, England
Album: Telling Tales, 2009
Notes: Nu-folk songstress with a beautifully constructed gem. Still only 21, she's already worked with top tunesmith and L&F veteran, Ed Sheeran.
Song: Keeping The Dream Alive
Artist: Freiheit, Germany
Album: Fantasy, 1988
Notes: ELO-esque, highly melodic, melodramatic lost gem by German popsters, aka Munchener Freiheit, which has shifted more than five million album sales across Europe over the years.
Song: I Am
Artist: Guru Singh with Seal & Friends, Houston, TX
Notes: Spiritually uplifting number from actor/singer now based in Los Angeles, with fine guest vocals from Seal. Featured on a couple of soothing Yoga compilations.
Artist: Roxy Music, England
Album: Avalon, 1982
Notes: Smooth musical cocktail by Mr. Style, the ever-dapper Bryan Ferry with his Roxy cohorts from the latter end of their career , the title track from the wonderful 'Avalon' album. Thorough new Roxy boxed set anthology just released, 'Roxy Music: The Complete Studio Recordings 1972 - 1982'.
Song: Without A Word
Artist: Birdy, England
Album: Birdy, 2011
Notes: Raw and imperfectly formed, but so promising. The only self-penned track on the exceptional maiden album by 15-year old Birdy (Jasmine van den Bogaerde).
Artist: Tears For Fears, England
Album: The Hurting, 1983
Notes: Before they changed the world in 1985 with their first US chart-topper, Tears For Fears released a brace of top-notch singles which flew under the radar including this one, all of which can be found on their largely overlooked freshman album.
Song: The Glow of Love
Artist: Change, New York
Album: The Glow of Love, 1980
Notes: L&F goes disco with a Chic-inspired diamond featuring an unmistakable vocal masterclass by soul legend Luther Vandross. Change was the vision of French Italian entrepreneur, Jacques Fred Petrus and Italian songwriter and producer, Maura Malavasi.
Song: Running Down The Aisle
Artist: Morning Parade, England
Album: Morning Parade, 2012
Notes: First class alternative rock from promising new band from London. Formed in 2009 and fronted by lead singer and guitarist, Steve Sparrow. Album will be available in the US in June.
Song: Take A Giant Step
Artist: Taj Mahal, Harlem, NY
Album: Giant Step, 1969
Notes: One of the most enduring cuts by one of the great American bluesmen of the past 50 years. Mahal has a unique finger-picking guitar style mostly using his thumb and middle finger - still going strong today and will turn 70 this year.
Song: Feel So High
Artist: Des'ree, England
Album: Mind Adventures, 1992
Notes: Smooth, easy flowing, soulful grooves of Desiree Annette Weeks from the same album which spawned the global smash, 'You Gotta Be'. No new material by her in a decade.
Song: Hangin’ On By A Thread
Artist: Kim Carnes, Hollywood, CA
Notes: Haunting end-of-relationship-themed, old-school ballad with a lovely strings arrangement by 'the female Rod Stewart' whose signature hit was 'Bette Davis Eyes'.
Song: Love and Happiness
Artist: Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris, England/Nashville
Album: All The Roadrunning, 2006
Notes: Less is often best - so simple, pure and melodic, two evergreen musicians at the top of their harmonic game. From a collaborative album seven years in the making.
Song: Scatterlings of Africa
Artist: Johnny Clegg & Savuka, South Africa
Album: Third World Child, 1987
Notes: World Music nugget originally recorded by Clegg's first band Juluka in 1982, but updated on this version by his subsequent combo, Savuka. One of the few white musicians inside South Africa who openly performed and protested against apartheid.
Artist: Mozella, Detroit
Album: Not available, 2012
Notes: Delightful, contemporary update by the ever-surprising Mozella on her treatment of the standard originally made famous by the great Louis Armstrong in 1951. Mozella can tackle any genre with class.
Song: You’re The Kind of Girl
Artist: Lee Fields, Brooklyn, NY
Album: Faithful Man, 2012
Notes: Sensational throwback rhythm and blues by vocal veteran, the sorely underrated soul belter, Lee Fields. Hard to believe this is from a brand new album, utterly authentic and winning old school soul underpinned by his ace backing band, the Expressions. Entire album is superb.
Song: Weather With You
Artist: Crowded House, Australia
Album: Woodface, 1991
Notes: Strong shades of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young one of so many overlooked pearls from New Zealand tunesmith, Neil Finn and his lauded Aussie combo.
Song: Long World
Artist: Christopher Cross, San Antonio, TX
Album: Another Page, 1983
Notes: One of the artists who came to define Adult Contemporary radio back in the early '80s, five-time Grammy Award winner Christopher Charles Geppert with a gorgeous overlooked ballad.
Song: Heavy Home
Artist: Spring Standards, New York
Album: Yellow/Gold EP, 2012
Notes: Tuneful trio of James Cleare, Heather Robb and James Smith, originally from Pennsylvania and Delaware, but now based in the Big Apple. More at www.springstandards.com.
Song: Love’s Crashing Waves
Artist: Difford & Tilbrook, England
Album: Difford & Tilbrook, 1982
Notes: The only 'solo' outing by the heart and soul, and main songwriters, for all things Squeeze, the pair recorded one album during a temporary split in the British group in 1982.
Song: Keep Warm
Artist: Ingrid Michaelson, Staten Island, NY
Album: Human Again, 2012
Notes: Tender and warm musical magic from what is already one of the best albums of the year.
Song: Lose Again
Artist: Karla Bonoff, Santa Monica, CA
Album: Karla Bonoff, 1977
Notes: Too sad for words, the internal struggle of someone trying to get out of a bad relationship, but somehow hanging on. Karla's "All My Life" retrospective is essential listening.
Song: Silver Thunderbird
Artist: Marc Cohn, Cleveland, OH
Album: Marc Cohn, 1991
Notes: "If there's God in heaven, he drives a silver Thunderbird." Terrific make/model-obsessed lost diamond on Cohn's signature freshman set.
Song: Haitian Divorce
Artist: Steely Dan, New York
Album: The Royal Scam, 1976
Notes: Why wasn't this a hit? Fabulous talk-box guitar work throughout by session great, Dean Parks, a brilliant reggae-laced evergreen outing from perfectionists, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker.
Song: We Go On
Artist: Shelly Fraley, Nashville
Album: Hush, 2012
Notes: Fast becoming a L&F preferred vendor, another mournful pearl tucked away on her already overlooked but fab new CD. A promising newcomer among the non-country Nashville musical community, more at www.shellyfraley.com.
Artist: Energy Orchard, N. Ireland
Album: Energy Orchard, 1990
Notes: A+ rock from Belfast by subsequent top solo tunesmith Bap Kennedy and his band from yesteryear. Signed to MCA Records on the recommendation of Steve Earle.
Song: What Can I Do?
Artist: Corrs, Ireland
Album: Talk On Corners, 1997
Notes: Typically engaging, harmonious outing from the charming sibling Irish group of three highly telegenic sisters, Andrea, Caroline and Sharon and their brother, Jim, one of the biggest-selling groups worldwide in the late '90s.