Absolute Elsewhere

Music interviews, overviews, critical essays and reviews. Big names, cult acts and interviews exclusive to Elsewhere. Straight and bizarre, oddball and ordinary music and musicians.

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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

THE BEATLES 1 AND 1+ : The look and sound of a culture-changing band

6 Nov 2015

Oddly enough, Elvis Presley's gold Cadillac was, if you will follow this thread, responsible for the rise of video clips. In 1966 when the Beatles -- weary of touring and battered by the deafening screams of Beatlemania – decided to pull back from live appearances, they found a way of having a presence for fans while they recorded and enjoyed some rare downtime. “We'd... > Read more

VAN MORRISON REISSUED (2015): A soul poet as his peak

4 Nov 2015

By recent accounts Van Morrison isn't quite as grumpy as he once was. It's relative of course; when sent to interview him in the late Eighties, Spike Milligan surprised Morrison by wearing a large pink penis nose and managed to get a laugh. But the subsequent interview was a monosyllabic affair for the most part with Milligan trying his best to draw out the notoriously grumpy Irishman.... > Read more

Slim Slow Slider take 4

ANTON NEWCOMBE INTERVIEWED (2015): Communication breakdown.

27 Oct 2015

Okay, the heading there is utterly misleading because, only briefly, was Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre interviewed. Some things are just not meant to be. The first call to him at his home in Berlin – to discuss his interesting recent albums and the new mini-album Thingy Wingy released in advance of his New Zealand tour (dates below) – begins well and... > Read more

Leave It Alone

FLEETWOOD MAC, A USER'S GUIDE (2015): Long distance players

27 Oct 2015

With the old gang back on the block and touring, maybe it's time to look at the vast back-catalogue of Fleetwood Mac. But given the big Mac family tree has many branches and short blooming buds (the Bob Welch years) it's hard to whittle their vast catalogue down to essentials. But here goes. Then Play On (1969) The third album as a British blues band and the last with... > Read more

JOHN LENNON REISSUED ON RECORD (2015): Going solo in the Seventies

9 Oct 2015    2

Had he lived, John Lennon would turn 75 on October 9. Which means – because he had 17 years on the world stage before his murder in 80 – that he's been dead twice as long as he was alive and famous. Recently Paul McCartney noted that Lennon's death turned him into a martyr, and its also true that – perhaps largely through Lennon and Yoko Ono's self-mythologising... > Read more

Old Dirt Road

QUEEN REVISITED, AGAIN (2015): It's yesterday once more

5 Oct 2015

Some years ago a friend of mine worked for a major international record company. At the time we had lunch in an early November, with the downturn in CD sales and the constantly shifting ground of the internet, things were getting tougher. So as the second bottle arrived only just in time we were talking about this situation in somewhat glum terms. But, I said cheerily, at least they... > Read more

I Want It All

LUKE BUDA INTERVIEWED (2015): Phoenix changes the Foundations

22 Sep 2015

The phone call catches Luke Buda of the Phoenix Foundation at halftime in the All Blacks' unconvincing opening match of their Rugby World Cup campaign. I've seen the game against Argentina play out on an earlier broadcast so we agree he needs to watch the second half. I call back later and naturally the conversation turns to rugby and we agree the team needed this shake-up in their... > Read more

Playing Dead

SIMON THACKER INTERVIEWED (2015): The intercultural explorer on six strings

4 Sep 2015

When Simon Thacker was growing up outside a small village some distance from Edinburgh in Scotland, the rest of the world seemed a very long way away. But as an aspiring guitarist he connected to it through music by exploring the blues, classical music, folk and more. He found his way to Indian and Spanish music and so these days the world doesn't so much come to him but –... > Read more

Nada-Anada: Joy. Simon Thacker and the Nava Rasa Ensemble

NWA; BACK OUTTA COMPTON (2015): The return of the original gangstas

31 Aug 2015

When Ice-T boldly announced that gangsta rap was the CNN of the ghetto suburbs, one wit hit back saying — given the cliched posing with guns and chains and the sneering attitude — that it was actually more like the Cartoon Network. Of course things change fast in popular culture and before long the writer Ned Sublett in his excellent book about New Orleans and the hip-hop... > Read more

Deep Water (Kendrick Lamar, Justus, Anderson.Paak)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HAYSEED DIXIE: The wacky world of hillbilly humour

24 Aug 2015

The remote community of Deer Lick Holler in the Appalachians isn't on the way to anywhere, so there aren't many outside influences. It's where musicologists go to study authentic hillbilly music -- and be fearful of the sound of Duelling Banjos. So it was a significant day when a stranger drove into the valley on crisp autumn afternoon two or more decades ago -- and promptly crashed into... > Read more

Hayseed Dixie: Strawberry Fields Forever

KARIN KROG CONSIDERED (2015): A rare voice from the north

17 Aug 2015

Because no sensible soul would come to a website called Elsewhere to hear just the familiar, we can confidently speak about the extraordinary, often uncategorisable Norwegian jazz singer Karin Krog who is now in her late 70s and has been around since the Sixties when she emerged a jazz-pop singer. She first came onto the Elsewhere radar a few decades ago when she recorded with John Surman... > Read more

Maiden Voyage

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JACO PASTORIUS: High times and low notes

3 Aug 2015    2

For a jazz musician, Jaco Pastorius died in pretty creditable rock n’ roll style: drug, delusions, alcohol and itinerancy. And beaten to a pulp by a nightclub manager who didn’t recognise the persistent drunk battering on his door at 4am as a former genius on electric bass. Pastorius’ remarkable but brief life is inscribed in an almost too convenient arc. He was left for... > Read more

PETE TOWNSHEND REPEATED (2015): Who loves who the most?

20 Jul 2015

A few years ago before Christmas I bought two rock autobiographies to read over the break. One was Rod Stewart's Rod which was howling funny and charted the life of a man for whom booze, blondes and a bloody good time were written into the contract of being a rock star. So he obliged. The other could not have been more different, it was Pete Townshend's earnest Who I Am which read... > Read more

My Baby Gives It Away by Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WENDY O. WILLIAMS: Baby you can trash my car

13 Jul 2015

The spirit and essence of rock'n'roll is impossible to define. For some it was encapsulated by Little Richards' visceral scream and shout of “Awoobopaloobop Alopbamboom”. For others it might be more like, “Make a fucking racket, show us your tits and blow up a car”. If you are of the latter persuasion then New York's Plasmatics – fronted by Wendy... > Read more

Dream Lover

JOY DIVISION REISSUED (2015): The art at the heart of darkness

13 Jul 2015

Many decades ago on his Graceland album, Paul Simon sang, “Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts”. New Zealand threw one of the most unexpected up its singles chart: At the dawn of the 80s Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart went to number one. Some might think that confirms the country as emotionally bleak, a place where novels and films almost invariably... > Read more

The Sound of Music

JON SPENCER INTERVIEWED (2105): Another rock-blues implosion from New York

6 Jul 2015

Jon Spencer is just back in his adopted home-city of New York after an American tour then a few festival dates in Europe with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the band he formed 24 years ago. He's only got a little downtime however before coming to Australia and New Zealand for shows and then a punishing schedule through until the end of the year. He's going to be 50 this year and... > Read more