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Screen grab from video for "Oh Susanna" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Screen grab from video for "Oh Susanna" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse

Music: Essential tracks

Five songs you need to hear Add to ...

This week: Patti Smith, Japandroids, Booker T. & the MGs, R. Kelly and Neil Young.


April Fool

Patti Smith, from the forthcoming Banga (Columbia/Sony); downloadable here

We’ll have to wait until June 5 for Patti Smith’s new album – a disc that includes a birthday song written for her pal Johnny Depp, who just has to be older than he looks. In the meantime, we haven’t tired of her bouncy, cool-headed single April Fool, about riding rusted bicycles care-free and breaking all the rules.


The House That Heaven Built

Japandroids, from the forthcoming Celebration Rock (Polyvinyl); streaming here

By the sounds of it, the Vancouver duo believes the Hold Steady, Joel Plaskett, the Constantines and the Ramones belong together on one big, churning, fist-pumping, beer-spilling, “oh-oh-oh-OH oh oh-oh oh” chanting summer-rock anthem. The musical equivalent of a brewski drank shotgun-style.


Time is Tight (live, 1970)

Booker T. & the MGs; streaming here

“Dume, dume, dume, dume – dume-dume-dume-DUME-dume-dume” Who played that memorable deep-bottom bass line on the Memphis soul-groove classic instrumental? Of course it was Donald (Duck) Dunn, who died in his sleep, at age 70, on Sunday.


Share My Love

R. Kelly, from the forthcoming Write Me Back (RCA/Sony); streaming here

Barry White sang that he couldn’t get enough of “your love, babe.” Now, R. Kelly, he not only believes we can’t get enough of R. Kelly’s love, but that world is better for his progeny. On a string-laden, disco-dreaming panty-remover, the clap-along primal message is clear: “Now that we’re in this room, let's do what we were born to do – populate!”

Essential video: ROCK

Oh Susanna

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, from the forthcoming Americana (Reprise/Warner); streaming here

Traditional folk music evolves and mutates, as evidenced by this melodically reworked and grunge-rocked take on a Stephen Foster ditty. The vintage footage, from an unknown source, is of a banjoing mountain family with the darndest little fellow for its entertainment. After kick-dancing up a storm, the whippersnapper is rewarded with a home-rolled cigarette (we think).

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