Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Eternally Youthful New York Rock R&B Icon, Garland Jeffreys Releases Early Demo Tracks for 80th Birthday


Garland Jeffreys is eternally youthful, and today he celebrates his 80th birthday. Unbelievable!

Garland is a New York R&B rock icon, famed around the world and one of Bruce Springsteen’s favorite performers. His lifelong friend was Lou Reed — they went to Syracuse University together.

To celebrate his birthday, Garland has dropped a collection of rare, unreleased demos on Spotify. Its called “American Boy and Girl Unplugged,” and I haven’t stopped playing it all morning. He gave us a gift!

Garland’s devoted wife and manager Claire tells me: “We found these demo reels under the bed and had them digitized and then mastered by the great Greg Calbi of Sterling Sound. It’s just Garland on rhythm guitar and vocals and Alan Freedman on electric/acoustic guitar. No tracks added! Some of these songs were recorded on the American Boy & Girl album. They are labeled (acoustic). The rest were never released. It’s all about the innocence and freedom in G’s singing. Really charming.”

All of Garland’s big albums are on Spotify, and on Amazon, and on his website. I discovered him in 1977 when his landmark album, “Ghost Writer,” was released with his signature single, “Wild in the Streets.” The album sounds as fresh as ever, as do all his famous releases on A&M and Epic Records. His voice is a lilting miracle mix of Brooklyn, Puerto Rican and African American roots. His music combines the best of REAL R&B, reggae, and rock. Every song, no matter the subject, is incredibly catchy. Jeffreys specializes in gorgeous melodies, often peppered with lyrics that run from poppy to serious stuff about race. His work deserves a Pulitzer Prize for its innovation, courage, and enjoyment.

Happy birthday, Garland!

Listen to this amazing album:

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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