Morning Music: a Week of Jules Shear?

Funky Kings - Jules ShearI thought I might do a week of Jules Shear. He is one of my favorite artists of all time — I feel like I grew up with him. He got his start in a kind of super band, Funky Kings. They only put out one album, Funky Kings, in 1976. Even at the age of 24, Shear totally dominates that album. And that is with some pretty amazing people in the band: Jack Tempchin and Richard Stekol. It’s really amazing to me, because what talent ever showed up in my life came about some time last week. Anyway, overall the album is good. I bought it many years ago when it was almost impossible to find. I don’t think it has been released on CD — in the US anyway. And you would think an early album featuring three musicians who would go on to write big hits would at least deserve a CD.

Jules Shear’s work on Funky Kings leads very clearly to his next band, Jules and the Polar Bears. But in that band, he goes insane. And their first album continues to be one I listen to often. It is an unquestionably great album. But overall, I listen more to his later work. What can I say? We’ve aged together and we are both more mellow now. But we’ll get to that over time.

Today, let’s listen to Jules Shear’s most mellow track of the album, “So Easy to Begin.” The other two tunes sound too much like what he did with the Polar Bears. But this song shows why the album wasn’t successful: it’s too diverse. The album also includes the original country-tinged Slow Dancing, which was a monster hit for Johnny Rivers just a year later.

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