Absolute Elsewhere

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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . Z'EV: He bangs the drum, and then some

11 May 2015

When a couple of writers from the then-recently launched Re/Search tabloid went to visit the experimental percussionist known as Z'EV in 1981, the conversation was esoteric and philosophical. The fact Z'EV banged on odd objects to make a noise hardly entered the discussion. Re/Search – which was founded by V. Vale in San Francisco after his influential punk rock mag Search and... > Read more

Piece H, from My Favourite Things

PRINCESS CHELSEA INTERVIEWED (2015): She are very happy-ish

7 May 2015

Chelsea Nikkel – aka Princess Chelsea – sits at the table in her flat-cum-studio space (the latter rightly referred to as "the Ghetto") with a second-pour coffee and admits she's tired. She looks it. And during the course of our digressive, always interesting and sometimes extremely candid hour-long conversation -- which traverses her excellent second album The... > Read more

All the Stars

BRITPOP IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR (2015): From Blur to beyond

4 May 2015    1

When Britpop was going off in the Nineties, we had some cynical distance from the hype. Life had taught us the British press would build 'em up and knock 'em down. And this time round with different clothes (shell suits?), a bit of anti-American jingoism added (Who needs Nirvana when you've got Menswear, right?) as well referencing the great heroes of the Sixties, Britpop looked as... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . STRINGBEAN: Long lean banjo picker

20 Apr 2015

If Truman Capote hadn't already written his brilliant “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood (about the collision of two murderers and their victims in rural Kansas in '59), and he was still sober enough to focus, he might have found a great story in the 1973 murder of country music star Stringbean, David Akerman to his parents. Stringbean was one of those idiosyncratic stars... > Read more

Stringbean and His Banjo

RINGO STARR REFLECTING (2015): He ain't going nowhere, man

20 Apr 2015

Ringo Starr's few -- actually only two -- contributions to the Beatles' vast catalogue of original songs hardly set the world alight or gave any indication of great promise, unlike late bloomer George Harrison. Neither Octopus' Garden nor Don't Pass Me By (which tok him six years to finish and get on a Beatles album) suggested any great writing talent, but as a drummer his gifts lay... > Read more

Rory and the Hurricanes

NOOKY STOTT INTERVIEWED (2015): Bringing on the Rebel beat

15 Apr 2015

The guy who had the best seat in the house to watch the rise of the Auckland rock band Larry's Rebels in the Sixties was Nooky Stott. He was the group's drummer and a child of Fifties rock'n'roll. “I lived in Ponsonby and our local picture theatre was the Britannia. I think I saw Rock Around the Clock and Don't Knock the Rock at least 10 times,” he says. Stott –... > Read more

Let's Think of Something (NZ version)

HERBS; WHATS' BE HAPPEN? (2015): The hard truths from the street

14 Apr 2015    1

History, according to Napoleon (among others), is written by the winners. True in one sense. But if the losers are still out there they are often so forgetful of their history as to be worthless and absent witnesses. Many buy into the narrative of the winners, whom you might have thought would be their adversary. Take the New Zealand reggae band Herbs for example: Their Very Best Of... > Read more

Whats' Be Happen?

MEL PARSONS INTERVIEWED (2015): And the road goes on forever

13 Apr 2015

On a wet Monday morning in Wellington, Mel Parsons takes a break from rehearsals in the Surgery studio with her band and, cheerful as ever, talks about her new album Drylands which she is taking to the country with starting on Wednesday in Auckland (see dates below). “It's exciting actually, just nice to have a new body of work to be touring with and be... > Read more

Get Out Alive

DON McGLASHAN INTERVIEWED (2015): This time it's personal

13 Apr 2015    1

In late January I was approached to write a brief biography for Don McGlashan to accompany the release of his new album Lucky Stars album. At the time I wasn't available but was sent an advance download of the 10 songs . . . and because the album release was some way off and many of the songs sounded so self-revelatory I made the time in early February to interview Don – whom I... > Read more

The Waves Would Roll On

JIMMIE DALE GILMORE INTERVIEWED (2015): A mind with a mind of its own

8 Apr 2015    1

Jimmie Dale Gilmore – speaking from his country home 45 miles outside of Austin, Texas – takes a stab at what his most popular song on Spotify might be. “Now let's think. I would suspect it might be Dallas, that's the best known one,” he says referring to his bitter-sweet paean to that Texas city which includes the lines “Dallas is a jewel, Dallas is a... > Read more

Dallas

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . TEX WITHERS: Country'n'Western from the East End

6 Apr 2015

The more you try to find out about Tex Withers, the more confusing it can become. One thing everyone agrees on however is that this country music singer in London – who insisted he had been born in the States – was a very recognisable character: He was a hunchback who stood no higher than 4'6” (137cm) and always wore classic Western attire. In later life he... > Read more

Crazy Arms

THE GRATEFUL DEAD CONSIDERED (2015): If you can remember the Sixties . . . they were there

6 Apr 2015    2

The word is oxymoron: it means when words putting together seem to contradict each other. Like “honest politician” or “skinny bass player”. Or “The Best of the Grateful Dead”, the title of a new double CD. Most people would say there can't be a “best of” a band which started its career half a century ago and has divided rock people... > Read more

Ripple

LED ZEPPELIN REVISITED, PART THREE (2015): More graffiti scribbles

1 Apr 2015

As we have now learned to our (literal) cost, the Jimmy Page remastering of Led Zeppelin albums plus a "bonus disc" of uneccesary "mixes" is little more than a PR job to flog more product. The previous reissues and remasters of the actual albums are excellent, but this nonsense about rough mixes or a different mix from a different studio elevates discarded versions.... > Read more

Sick Again (early version)

POKEY LaFARGE INTERVIEWED (2015): The past is alive and well and living in the present

26 Mar 2015    2

In a stylish blue shirt buttoned to the neck and topped by a red neckerchief, blue dungaree jeans with turned up cuffs above his sturdy and well polished lace-up boots, Pokey LaFarge cuts a very interesting figure in this downtown Auckland hotel room. He may look like someone from the better-scrubbed end of the Thirties – and his music certainly steeped in traditional jazz,... > Read more

Underground

MIKE SCOTT OF THE WATERBOYS INTERVIEWED (2014): The nearest thing to hip . . .

26 Mar 2015

About 15 months ago Mike Scott of the Waterboys released a whopping seven CD set of the sessions which lead to the band's two-years-in-the-making breakthrough album Fisherman's Blues. The band had enjoyed success prior to this particular channeling of Celtic music, rock'n'roll and American gospel – notably with the singles the Big Music and Bang on the Ear – but... > Read more

I Can See Elvis

BETH HART INTERVIEWED (2015): Coming home to herself at last

24 Mar 2015

After repeated efforts – I have been the wrong international codes – I finally get through to Beth Hart who it turns out is in Pattaya, Thailand. “It's rock'n'roll and we're supposed to be late,” she laughs when I explain my delayed phoner. No, we are supposed to be punctual because we are older and know better, I say.... > Read more

Tell Her You Belong To Me

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . SPADE COOLEY: Shame on him

16 Mar 2015

When country singer Spade Cooley went face down after a heart attack in November 1969 there were doubtless a few would have said he deserved to die, and that it should have happened sooner. The were ironies aplenty also: Cooley – born Donnell Clyde Cooley in Oklahoma in 1910 – was attending a benefit concert for sheriff's deputies where he played, having been released on... > Read more

You'll Rue The Day

TYSON KELLY INTERVIEWED (2015): He is the walrus

11 Mar 2015

If we were in England – and believe me, he does an excellent Liverpudlian accent – then we might say, in the phrase much favoured by British bobbies, that Tyson Kelly has some “prior form”. Kelly from LA, who plays John Lennon in the acclaimed stage production Let It Be which opens in Auckland soon (see dates below), has been playing Lennon for years in various... > Read more

THE EASYBEATS REMEMBERED (2015): I got hit songs on my mind . . .

9 Mar 2015    1

The edges of the vision are blurry but at the centre of the frame things are clear. I am a teenager, my friend Barry and I and perhaps a couple of others are stumbling down a dark road near what is now the Whangaparaoa shopping centre. We had just been at a movie – may have been kicked out – and are drunk on Blackberry Nip or McWilliam's Sweet Sherry. As we pass by the old... > Read more

She's So Fine

ADESOLA OSAKALUMI INTERVIEWED (2015): The fellah who is Fela

9 Mar 2015

When the Nigerian military raided the compound of the outspoken activist and musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti in 1977, they beat him senseless, destroyed his famous nightclub The Shrine and threw his 82-year old mother to her death from an upstairs window. Yet Kuti – who died of Aids-related illnesses in 97 – just kept coming back, presenting and recording his incendiary music... > Read more