Absolute Elsewhere

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R.E.M. LIFES RICH PAGEANT REISSUED (2011): The turning point

25 Jul 2011

When R.E.M. re-signed to Warners for a reported US$80 million in 1996, it was hard to know whether to stifle the gasp or the guffaw. Although that figure bandied about was doubtless inflated and involved complex deals regarding recording, promotion and royalties, it wasn't the number that was so significant. It was what Warners thought they might be getting. After all, the band were... > Read more

Fall On Me (Athens demo)

THE GREATEST LOST ALBUM IN ROCK? (2011): The remarkable story of The Voyage of the Corvus Corrone

18 Jul 2011    5

In late 1976 keyboard player Rick Wakeman of the progressive rock band Yes – riding a string of solo successes with his prog-rock concept albums The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Citizen Kane – gave a revealing interview to the British magazine New Music Maker in which he described his forthcoming project, a concept album based on Sir James... > Read more

The Edges of the Map

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB (2011): The Dylan tribute albums

18 Jul 2011

Bob Dylan's 70th birthday in June 2011 hardly went unobserved in the world – you couldn't turn around without bumping into profiles, reconsiderations, essays and the like – and nor was it coincidence that many artists lined up for tribute albums. Some got in early – like Ben Sidran whose Dylan Different arrived before Bob's 69th birthday – and others had... > Read more

Tomorrow is a Long Time

PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2004): Lights, camera, action

16 Jul 2011

Fortunately, Paddy Free and Mike Hodgson, who are Pitch Black, get the joke behind the question: why is it so many electronica artists like themselves live in the bush or by the ocean, and are inspired by all that nature out there? Whatever happened to nightclubbing and staying up until dawn? Free, who lives at Piha and calls Karekare his spiritual home, says these days he couldn't... > Read more

SUEDE REISSUED AND RECONSIDERED (2011): England made me

4 Jul 2011    3

At the going down of the sun we will remember them, those great Britpop bands who were The Next Big Thing – like Longpigs, the Seahorses, Mansun, the Supernaturals . . . All household names, right? Yes, it was – and still is -- easy to be cynical about Nineties Britpop, especially from this distance when Oasis and Blur were being set off against each other, and British... > Read more

The Asphalt World

TEX PERKINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Cash money and black is back

2 Jul 2011

The hotel's drawn blinds shut out the mid-morning Auckland sun, pills are scattered on a table, the remains of takeaway food are on another and there's a pervasive air of “the morning-after”. “Yeah, very Johnny Cash,” says Tex Perkins, the room's slightly disheveled occupant, in a husky and weary voice. The Australian singer-songwriter – in such... > Read more

What Do You Want Now?

ACID DAZE PART THREE: A Day in My Mind's Mind Vol 3; 28 Kiwi Psychedelic Trips 1967-72

25 Jun 2011

As with the second volume in this excellent on-going and budget-priced series, I wrote the liner notes to this album and -- with the invaluable research and help of Grant Gillanders who once again chose the tracks and must be on the shortlist of an honour's list for services to Kiwi music -- I also wrote the profiles on the bands who feature.Again rather than me itemise the trippy music and... > Read more

The Smoke: Never Trust A Woman

ACID DAZE PART TWO: A Day in My Mind's Mind Vol 2; Fantasies, Polka Dots and Flowers

25 Jun 2011

Rather than essay this second collection of Kiwi psychedelic songs from '67-'72 -- subtitled "Fantasies, Polka Dots and Flowers" -- why don't I just reproduce below the liner notes I wrote for it?.................. The exciting thing about this on-going series of psychedelic music from New Zealand in the late 60s and early 70s is not just that it brings back some great songs and... > Read more

The Music Convention: Bellyboard Beat

PAUL McCARTNEY 1970 AND 1980 (2011): Lowkey at each end of his first post-Beatles decade

20 Jun 2011

In a few months Sir James Paul McCartney, age 68, will premier his new work, a major orchestral piece for the New York City Ballet entitled Oceans Kingdom, written in conjunction with American composer John Wilson. This ambitious career move in the classical world follows his Liverpool Oratorio, Standing Stone and Working Classical with the London Symphony Orchestra in the Eighties,... > Read more

Paul McCartney: Coming Up (live, 1979)

TOWNES VAN ZANDT INTERVIEWED (1988): Say hello and wave goodbye

16 Jun 2011

You hate to say lt, but Townes Van Zandt had probably already written his own obituary - many times. Try this as a sample of his cut-to-the-bone, white knuckle lyrics: “There ain’t much I haven’t tried -- fast llvin’, slow suicide, I try to tell myself I’m fine but it just aln’t so.” Van Zandt has always lived on that knife edge of self-doubt, a man... > Read more

Townes Van Zandt: You Are Not Needed Now (live, 1985)

NICK CAVE, FROM OUTSIDER TO AUTEUR IN THE NINETIES: Let Love In to No More Shall We Part

2 Jun 2011

From the early Nineties, Nick Cave -- ever so slowly -- ceased to be a preoccupation of those who immersed themselves in the gloom of his raw and dirty blues-based music and became a respected, almost mainstream figure. You could mention him in most conversations and people would know who you meant. Songs like Straight To You, Christina the Astonishing, Papa Won't Leave You Henry... > Read more

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Stagger Lee (from Murder Ballads)

STEVE IGNORANT OF CRASS INTERVIEWED (2011): A working classy act

1 Jun 2011

In Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip's pointed but very funny rap on Thou Shalt Kill four years back, Scroobius rolled out a catalogue of groups noting after each one they were were “just band”. And so it goes: “The Sex Pistols, just a band; the Clash, just a band; Crass, just a band; Minor Threat, just a band . . .” Hold up. What's the punk-era Crass doing in such... > Read more

TINY RUINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Some were meant for greatness

31 May 2011

Hollie Fullbrook – who performs as Tiny Ruins – laughs with slight embarrassment, tells of how she came to her stage name and asks I not mention it because it sounds pretentious. It doesn't actually – unless you think mentioning Jean Paul Sartre's Nausea and the forties singer/band leader Tiny Bradshaw in the same anecdote qualifies as pretension. But that is... > Read more

Tiny Ruins: Adelphi Apartments

HOWE GELB INTERVIEWED (2011): The price and pay-off of the path less traveled

20 May 2011    1

Howe Gelb of Tucson, Arizona is one of the long distance runners. He's been in for the long haul with his band Giant Sand (two dozen albums since the mid Eighties) and diverse solo projects under his own name (around 18 which range from gospel in Canada to flamenco desert-rock in Cordoba, Spain on his new release Alegrias). And there are other albums as OP8, the Band of Blacky... > Read more

Howe Gelb and A Band of Gypsies: Cowboy Boots on Cobble Stone (from the album Alegrias)

STEVE WINWOOD PROFILED (2011): From teen-soul boy to mainstream man

19 May 2011

When the salty bluesman Howlin' Wolf growled “the men don't know, but the little girls understand” on the 1961 Willie Dixon-penned Back Door Man we know he was talking about something more earthy and sexual than pop singers like Justin Bieber. But when Bieberfever arrived to what appeared to be the surprise of anyone over 16, there were many music writers bewailing his... > Read more

BEN WATERS INTERVIEWED (2011): One more time for the boogie woogie man Ian Stewart

11 May 2011

When he was just nine – 26 years ago – Ben Waters briefly saw something in a pub which changed his life. He was at his auntie and uncle's 25th wedding anniversary in the Wynyard Gap in Somerset, just across the border from his home county of Dorset, and the great pianist Ian Stewart was a family friend who sat down and played some boogie-woogie. “It was the first live... > Read more

Ben Waters with PJ Harvey: Lonely Avenue

RUTHIE FOSTER (2011): A Southern soul sister rises

3 May 2011

When the once-great B.B. King recently played in Auckland it was my unhappy task to write the review of his sad, disappointing and uncomfortable performance. The man is clearly past it -- the singing but a spark of its old self, his guitar work now woeful, the "performance" mostly rambling and often distracted talk -- and you had to wonder why he was still doing this. I suggested... > Read more

Ruthie Foster: Fruits of My Labor (from The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster)

RAY CHARLES 1954-1960: A soul brother movin' on

2 May 2011

The word "genius" was used so often about Ray Charles that people probably ceased to believe it in this age where a minor sports figure is referred to as "an icon" and "awesome" has long since lost any meaning at all. But Charles was a genius -- "The only genius in our business," said Frank Sinatra -- because in the mid Fifties he started to reshape... > Read more

Ray Charles: I Want a Little Girl (1958)

ROY ORBISON 1960-65: The years of monumental pop

26 Apr 2011    1

Looked at one way, the great Roy Orbison (who died in late '88) had five separate careers, but he only ever changed musical direction once. "The Big O" -- or "the Caruso of Rock" -- as he was known, had long periods away from the spotlight and it would be fair to observe his defining work was done in an exceptional period of creativity which lasted just four years.... > Read more

Roy Orbison: In Dreams

JAYREM RECORDS (1975-2011): The independence movement

21 Apr 2011    1

Despite the decline in music sales, anyone starting a record company today has it relatively easy when considering what James Moss was up against when he launched his label in early 1975. CD technology -- cheaper to produce than vinyl -- was still more than five years in the future, labels were reliant on snail-mail postage, telephones were used rather than e-mails and all the possibilities... > Read more

Ngahiwi Apanui: He Whakapapa