Absolute Elsewhere

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JOHN MARTYN'S 1980 ALBUM GRACE AND DANGER: How can you mend a broken heart?

14 Nov 2012

Like his peer Richard Thompson, with whom he sometimes recorded, Scottish singer-songwriter and guitarist Martyn came from a folk background in the mid 60s then incorporate rock gestures into his playing. Unlike Thompson however he also explored jazz deeply and so his guitar playing has a kind of free-ranging, adventurous sound that is rare. Again like Thompson though he worked with... > Read more

Some People Are Crazy, first version, from the bonus disc (1980)

JOHN CALE ON GETTING NOOKIE (2012): Music for another new society

12 Nov 2012

In the current issue of Britain's Mojo magazine there is an interview with John Cale, artist-without-portfolio and one of the most interesting musicians of the past half century, and more. In his capacity for reinvention and shapeshifting, Cale is on an equal footing with Bowie and Madonna . . . so it was understandable the Mojo interviewer might sidestep the customary career... > Read more

Vampire Cafe

VELVET UNDERGROUND REPACKAGED (2012): Some velvet morning when I'm rich

10 Nov 2012    2

So how long was that debut album by Velvet Underground, the one with Nico and in Andy Warhol's banana cover? Two sides of vinyl so about, what, 35 minutes? Sounds right. Well it has just been reissued in a collector's edition 45th anniversary box set and it is six – yep, count 'em -- six CDs. Okay they've cheated by adding in Nico's first solo album Chelsea Girls (good... > Read more

John Cale and Lou Reed

JEFF LYNNE AND ELO (2012): The re-electrification programme

6 Nov 2012    1

When identifying a cheap Suzanne Vega double disc as a Bargain Buy recently, it was noted what she has been up to in recent years since her profile dropped below the low water mark. In effect she has been re-recording her fairly extensive catalogue and presented themed albums. Interesting. And the recent double CD of material by Roy Wood -- once of the Move, Electric Light Orchestra... > Read more

Smile

JACQUES BREL PROFILED: Seasons in, and out of, the sun

2 Nov 2012

Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in ... Well, back in his hometown of Brussels, funnily enough. This is odd because Brel (1929-78) was ambivalent about Brussels. "Everyone has to come from somewhere," he would sardonically remark. And Brussels has often seemed a bit iffy about him. The great singer-songwriter, who made his home in Paris, called one of his daughters... > Read more

L'amour est morte

OTIS BLACKWELL REMEMBERED (2012): Mr Otis, no regrets

28 Oct 2012

When Otis Blackwell died in May 2002 in his adopted hometown of Nashville -- the songwriter's city -- the tributes followed, and rightly so. He might not have been inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame until 2010, but Blackwell's songs have been part of the DNA of rock music since the mid Fifties when he -- a black kid from New York who loved cowboy songs and was encouraged to write by... > Read more

One Broken Heart For Sale

THE BEE GEE STILL STANDING (2012): Hits and Mythology

26 Oct 2012    2

Few people who know anything about the Bee Gees can't help be struck by the sad irony that Barry Gibb -- now 66 -- is the last man standing. He's suffered crippling and painful arthritis for many years -- he was visibly stiff at a Western Springs concert in 2000, over a decade ago -- but most recently he has buried his younger twin brothers Maurice and Robin, and back in '88 his youngest... > Read more

Spirits Having Flown

MATTHEW SWEET RECALLED (2012): The power and sour of Sweet

22 Oct 2012    1

In the past few years when the American singer, songwriter and stunning guitarist Matthew Sweet received a bit of publicity, his longtime fans -- oddly enough -- were disappointed. Not that Sweet's fans – unlike indie.cult people and DJs with rare grooves – want to keep the good news to ourselves. But Sweet was getting attention for albums with former Bangle Susannah... > Read more

Someone to Pull the Trigger

BOOTLEG BEATLE INTERVIEWED (2012): By Andre, it's George!

18 Oct 2012    1

It must have been unnerving for Andre Barreau when, at a party in 1996, he came face-to-face with the man he had been impersonating for a decade and half. He'd earned money off the man's music and image . . . and he is still doing it today. For the past 32 years Andre Barreau -- now 52 -- has traveled the world playing the part of another man, and for more than 11 years that man has been... > Read more

R.E.M. DOCUMENT REISSUED (2012): The times they were a-changin'

17 Oct 2012

On paper, Scott Litt seemed an unlikely choice as co-producer of REM's 1987 album Document. The band were poised to make the great leap forward after the success of Lifes Rich Pageant of the previous year and Litt's credentials, while more than decent, weren't massively impressive. He had produced the dB's Repercussion (which hardly anyone heard) and worked with Sylvain... > Read more

Disturbance at the Heron House

THE FACES ANTHOLOGY (2012): A Rod's as Good as a Drink

12 Oct 2012

Making records wasn't the point of the Faces – aka just “Faces” – although they delivered four albums in the five years to 1975. Certainly Rolling Stone critic Jon Landau thought so when, in '72, he dismissed their A Nod is As Good As A Wink saying that on his parallel solo albums singer Rod Stewart pulled everyone up to his level, but with the Faces he brought... > Read more

As Long As You Tell Him

VANGUARD RECORDS IN THE SIXTIES (2012): The label out in front

10 Oct 2012

In the mid Sixties and beyond, the World Record Club in New Zealand -- which distributed albums for major labels and posted them to you -- had a smart sales technique which hooked in many, myself included. Without going into exact details it went something like this. For a nominal fee (about the equivalent of $5 today) you joined the club and got three albums of your choice from their... > Read more

Ball and Chain

THE SEX PISTOLS, AND BEYOND (2012): No future but plenty of past

8 Oct 2012    1

Given the Sex Pistol's flashpoint album Never Mind the Bollocks came to define punk for many, it's interesting it actually came late in the day. By the time of its release in October 77, the Ramones – an inspiration for various young Pistols, Clash, Damned, Chrissie Hynde and others when they played in London in July 76 -- had already released two albums and even the Damned, Jam... > Read more

Bodies (live)

TOY LOVE REVISITED, AGAIN (2012): World famous in New Zealand

4 Oct 2012

Few short-lived bands in New Zealand, indeed anywhere, have inspired such fierce loyalty and undiminished devotion as Toy Love. Their career lasted little more than 18 months from the close of the Seventies – and a large measure of that was worked out in Australia – but in that brief, incendiary time they seared themselves into the consciousness of anyone who saw them.... > Read more

Squeeze

THE BEAT, REISSUED (2012): Essential albums to Beat yourself up with

29 Sep 2012    1

Recently a friend showed me the tracklisting for an album with a title something like The Defintive Sound of UK Ska or The Essential UK Ska Collection. Something like that anyway. A bold claim, whatever it was. "So, who's missing?" he said. It took about two seconds and we started laughing. How could you have British ska collection without the Beat? They were one of the... > Read more

Sole Salvation

LORETTA LYNN PROFILED: Of queen and country

26 Sep 2012

The ugliest baby I ever saw -- a pug-faced killer-midget with malevolent eyes -- was at Loretta Lynn’s place. Then again, there was plenty of ugly, kitschy, evil and just plain tacky stuff at the home of this country music legend. But I’ll be forgiving, and say that maybe the baby just looked bad in comparison with the delightful setting of Hurricane Mills, the... > Read more

Loretta Lynn: The Other Woman (1963)

RUFUS WAINWRIGHT CONSIDERED (2012): Back in the game

17 Sep 2012

In 2006, Rufus Wainwright presented two concerts at Carnegie Hall in which he recreated the legendary Judy Garland 1961 show in the same venue. The subsequent album was hailed by many critics -- as were the concerts -- but you had to think in many instances it was by people who'd never heard the Garland recording. There was perhaps an erring towards a favourable opinion because, after... > Read more

Respectable Dive

WHEN COUNTRY MEETS SOUL, AND BACK AGAIN: Black white and blue

12 Sep 2012

It must be hard for anyone under the age of 30 to understand that at one time countries like South Africa and that great First World economy, the United States, made such an arbitrary division between races. Different schools and bathrooms, drinking fountains and entrances to hotels? How strange it all seems. If it hadn't been so brutalising, murderous and cruel it could almost be a quaint... > Read more

Wings Upon Your Horns

BOB DYLAN, FOR ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS (2012): The long look back

10 Sep 2012

With the release of Bob Dylan's 35th studio album Tempest, half a century after his self-titled debut, it's fair to observe there is an awful lot of Bob Dylan music (and some would fairly observe a lot of awful Bob Dylan music) washing around in the world. For the curious starting out on a journey through these vast lands then, here is an album and film overview: six of the best, six of the... > Read more

I Want You

JERRY LEE LEWIS, THE LEAN YEARS 1965-69; The singer not the song

7 Sep 2012

Given the amount of death and damnation which has attended Jerry Lee Lewis' life, it seems remarkable that in 2012 -- at age 76 -- he is still with us. He has seen off wives, children, cousins, friends, the FBI, prison sentences, more liquor and amphetamines than we can imagine, honkytonk nights, rivals like Elvis . . . And he's still here. At one time Jerry Lee could have been the... > Read more

What a Heck of a Mess