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The Sounds of Rhode Island

Reviewed by: 
Lou
The Cowsills

Let's celebrate a diverse and delightful array of music made by Ocean Staters through the last six decades. Rhody represent! (And we haven't forgotten/ignored Billy Gilman, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, and Throwing Muses – these links are culled from the Hoopla catalog, which doesn't offer albums by those notable homegrown acts.)

 

The Cowsills: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collectioon: Best of The Cowsills. The singing siblings (and their mother Barbara) from Newport hit No. 2 in 1967 with “The Rain, the Park & Other Things” (with the then-timely refrain “I love the flower girl”) and No. 10 with “Indian Lake” and in 1968 again came this close to the top of the chart with the title song from Hair. The group was the inspiration for The Partridge Family, which ran for four seasons in the early '70s.

 

Deer Tick: Divine Providence. An alt-rock/roots band from Providence led by John McCauley (who married singer Vanessa Carlton in 2013). This 2011 release was described by Paste magazine as a “double-shot, rough-and-tumble rock 'n' roll record.”


Jeffrey Osborne: Ultimate Collection. The R&B/soul singer was born in Providence and first achieved success in the late '70s with L.T.D. before going solo and launching a string of hits, including “On the Wings of Love,” “Stay With Me Tonight,” and “You Should Be Mine (The Woo Woo Song).”

 

The Low Anthem: Oh My God Charlie Darwin. This alt-folk collective formed in Providence in 2006 and earned international acclaim (they also revived the Columbus Theatre). Charlie Darwin was their second album and breakout release; it was recorded in the winter of 2008 in the basement of a cabin on Block Island.

 

Paul Geremia: I Really Don't Mind Livin' / My Kinda Place. The blues guitarist and Providence native debuted in 1968 on Folkways Records and carried the torch for rural and traditional styles. This link features a pair of seminal discs from 1982 and 1986 on Flying Fish Records.

 

Plan 9: Keep Your Cool and Read the Rules. The psychedelic band from Shannock (a village in Richmond) formed in 1979 and blazed and engaging and experimental trail for decades. Keep Your Cool is from 1985, when the collective – which included more than 15 members during its run – was at its peak.

 

Roomful of Blues: Live at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel. Rhode Island's little big band formed in Westerly in 1967 (!) and is still raising the roof. The R&B stalwarts have performed worldwide and boast more than 50 alums. We had to pick this 1987 disc, recorded at one of the state's landmark clubs.

 

Scott Hamilton: After Hours. The tenor saxophonist has helmed more than 60 albums as a leader and also worked extensively with vocalist Rosemary Clooney. This is a 1997 session by the Providence native.

 

Six Finger Satellite: Severe Exposure. The alt-rock/electric band formed in Providence in 1990 and signed with the major indie label Sub Pop Records. This 1995 disc was described by Treblezine as “visceral and abrasive” and “as much fun as mutant sci-fi noise rock gets.”

 

Talking Heads: The art-rockers launched their career in New York in 1975, but RISD students Chris Frantz, and Tina Weymouth and RISD dropout David Byrne first performed together as the Artistics in 1973. Their breakout song, “Psycho Killer,” was written at the school's Carr House and appears on their debut album, Talking Heads '77.

 

Velvet Crush: Pre-Teenage Symphonies. This superb power-pop trio formed in Providence in the early '90s. This 2016 collection features eight demos of songs from their 1994 power-pop classic, Teenage Symphonies To God, and eight live tracks recorded that year in Chicago.

 

Listen on Hoopla.

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