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LANCE FERGUSON INTERVIEWED (2016): Bringing back an exotic personal and popular past

8 Feb 2016

Lance Ferguson is among New Zealand's most successful, hardest working but perhaps the least known of our musical exports. The grandson of Tongan-born, New Zealand lap steel legend Bill Wolfgramm (who enjoyed a friendly rivalry with the more successful Bill Sevesi from the Forties onward, and who died in 2003), Lance Ferguson left New Zealand 20 years ago. In Melbourne he founded... > Read more

The Kava Diary

SHOEGAZE CONSIDERED (2016): Trippin' back in time and feelin' fine

5 Feb 2016

It was a British music writer, of course, who first coined the term “shoegaze”. Writing a mid-'91 review in Sounds of the band Moose, Andy Hurt encapsulated the look – if, unhelpfully, not the sound – of many bands which, heads bowed, explored a kind of widescreen pop irradiated by wide swathes of guitar noise, sometimes droning vocals and dreamy psychedelia.... > Read more

Godlike, by the Dylans

THE AUCKLAND LANEWAY FESTIVAL (2016): Shall we talk about the weather . . .

2 Feb 2016

At some level, the weather for an Auckland Laneway Festival is as much discussed as the music. Since the festival moved from the inadequate make-do sites behind Britomart and then Aotea Square to the flatland of Silo Park – little shade, the main stages on an asphalt carpark – the heat has often been the memory many take away. So it was almost like good news that this... > Read more

Cheap Beer (by Fidlar)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . EVIE SANDS: Ever the bridesmaid

1 Feb 2016

When the pub quiz question comes up, be prepared: The guy who wrote Wild Thing, Chip Taylor, is the brother of actor Jon Voight and therefore the uncle of Angelina Jolie. For bonus points, he also wrote the country song Angel of the Morning which was a big hit for Merrilee Rush and further popularised by Olivia Newton-John and Juice Newton. Unfortunately it wasn't a hit for the first... > Read more

Women in Prison

THIS HEAT REISSUED (2016): An uncommon collusion

28 Jan 2016

It has long been accepted that much of the music which came out of the British punk explosion in the mid-late Seventies was the least of. Alongside songs and albums which were often inchoate noise and anger broadcasting a narrow political or social agenda were the more important aspects of punk: the DIY ethic which gave the marginalised and disenfranchised a game-plan to get their... > Read more

Makeshift Swahili

LINK WRAY REISSUED (2016): Ragged but right country

25 Jan 2016    2

Mention the name “Link Wray” these days and most people will draw a blank. A few might confidently say, “Rumble” – the gang-fight title of his raw, distorted guitar instrument from '58 – but after that things might get murky. Link Wray – born Fred Lincoln Wray -- died in late 2005 age 76, and is frequently confused with other guitar twangers of... > Read more

La De Da

GILLIAN WELCH INTERVIEWED (2016): Taking sad songs to make it better

18 Jan 2016

It has been almost five years since Gillian Welch's Grammy-nominated album The Harrow and the Harvest, and over a decade since she and longtime partner Dave Rawlings appeared in New Zealand. They will correct the latter oversight when they play the Civic in Auckland on January 28, but in conversation Welch says there's no new album forthcoming under her own name. No matter,... > Read more


DAVID BOWIE REMEMBERED (2016): The man, now in the rearview mirror

17 Jan 2016

David Bowie frequently changed his musical colours, but to call him a chameleon — as many have done since his unexpected death just days after the release of his stunning new album blackstar — is wrong. A chameleon blends into the colours of the background, Bowie took the colours and used them to stand out. In the early Seventies he leapt past Marc Bolan of T. Rex to... > Read more

PHIL COLLINS REVISITED (2016): Don't take him at face value

15 Jan 2016

When looking for a short-cut into buying Phil Collins many might say, “Just don't”. And maybe it's true, because there's not a lot to recommend his MOR soul covers or the annoying Sussudio. But there are depths in his catalogue, especially when he was going through fairly regular separations. So – accepting the Eighties production values – let's reconsider... > Read more

DAVID BOWIE REINVENTED, AGAIN (2016): Out of the blue and into the blackstar

11 Jan 2016    3

Although we shouldn't presume the “I” in any song belongs to the singer, it was widely taken that David Bowie was referring to himself in 1980 when he sang, “I've never done good things, I've never done bad things, I've never done anything out of the blue”. The song was Ashes to Ashes, his self-referential hit off the Scary Monsters album (“We know Major... > Read more


FLEETWOOD MAC, TUSK AGAIN (2106): Walk a tightrope line

11 Jan 2016

When we take the long view on various artists' careers we can see the pattern. After the enormously successful album many artists consolidate to hold their ground – Michael Jackson's Dangerous after Bad, most things by Foo Fighters – or they can be courageous and put a stake in the ground and just say, “No”. As Bruce Springsteen did with Nebraska after The... > Read more

Tusk outtake

SEQUEL SONGS (2016): And you'll never guess what happened next . . .

11 Jan 2016

In the late Fifties and early Sixties the idea of answer songs (Dodie Stevens' Yes I'm Lonesome Tonight for example) was pretty common, as were sequel songs. The most obvious sequel song was Peggy Sue Got Married by Buddy Holly and most in the genre were cash-ins, replication songs (Wanda Jackson's follow-up to Let's Have a Party was the photocopied Man We Had a Party) and pretty gimmicky.... > Read more

Man We Had a Party

ELTON JOHN REVISITED (2016): Once was a well-known gun

4 Jan 2016

Elton John's new album Wonderful Crazy Night is his 32nd studio release . . . so speculating just for a moment that there are people out there who might say, "Yeah, heard of him but . . ." Let's help them out just a little by offering a few starting points into his vast and diverse catalogue. A kind of "how to buy Elton" as it were . . . or at least how to listen to... > Read more

THE BEATLES BEYOND 1 AND 1+: All you need is these

28 Dec 2015

It's a safe bet a number of people knew what they wanted so bought their own Christmas present this past year. And that a whole bunch of others — maybe people getting it from parents or grandparents — got the same welcome gift: A copy of the Beatles' 1 CD and DVD collection. Very lucky people got the expanded 1+ edition which came with two DVDs of film clips.... > Read more


16 Dec 2015

In 2003 when an all-star panel of musicians and critics got together to pick Bruce Springsteen's 40 greatest classics, four of the songs from his 1980 album The River – Independence Day, Hungry Heart, Stolen Car and the title track in at number three – were listed. That's 10 percent of the list and one in five of the River songs which were spread across the double album .... > Read more

Party Lights

FRANCOISE HARDY RECALLED (2015): Les chansons pour les jeunesse

7 Dec 2015    1

Sometimes music just comes into your life and you can never remember exactly how or why it arrived. So it is with the debut album by French singer Francoise Hardy which came out in her motherland in late '62, a copy of which came into my possession somehow shortly thereafter. I seem to recall it being around at the same time as I was pinning up Beatles posters and images of... > Read more

Les temps de l'amour

BOB DYLAN, ON THE CUTTING EDGE (2015): Mixing up the medicine

30 Nov 2015

There's a widely held belief that most creative people do their best work in the matter of furious years of activity some time either side of their 20th birthday. The evidence for this can be compelling in pop and rock culture, although equally so we can cite many musicians – Nick Cave, Kate Bush, Leonard Cohen and others – who have continued to explore and present work which... > Read more

Highway 61 Revisited (alternate take)

GOLDBERG DISCOVERED (2015): Never mind the spelling . . .

30 Nov 2015

The cobwebs are brushed back to reveal a door with a rusty lock. It gives way to a shove and the light from the flaming torch illuminates rows of dusty boxes and there in one way at the back – far behind records by Wendy Rene and Lewis and the Emersons – is an album in, appropriately, a sepia-toned cover. It shows a man standing on a wooden bridge in what looks like morning... > Read more

City Rain

THE KITCHEN CINQ REDISCOVERED (2015): Amarillo, California in the Sixties, y'all

27 Nov 2015

In their photos, the Kitchen Cinq out of Texas in the mid Sixties don't look entirely promising, like buttoned-down high school seniors who have been given the afternoon off from library duties. And yet . . . The first thing to pique interest in the 28 song compilation When the Rainbow Disappears; A Drama Worthy of The Kitchen Cinq is that this band from Amarillo were on Lee... > Read more

Please Come Back

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . Lizzy Mercier Descloux

23 Nov 2015    2

So who was it rocked into downtown New York in the mid Seventies with her head full of Rimbaud? Who fell in with the CBGB crowd, had Richard Hell as a partner who saw her as his muse, and whose aesthetic ran from poetry and music to art and film? And who wasn't Patti Smith. Lizzy Mercier Descloux from Paris arrived in New York when the city was – unbeknownst to itself at... > Read more

Tso Xin Yu Xin