Absolute Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

GERRY ROSLIE OF THE SONICS INTERVIEWED (2012): The noise of the Pacific Northwest

22 Mar 2012

In Seattle's Experience Music Project – a music and sci-fi museum funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen who is a massive Hendrix fan – there is, aside from a breathtaking Hendrix display of course, a large section devoted to the music which roared out of the Pacific Northwest region from the late Fifties and early Sixties. Bands like the Kingsmen (with Louie Louie), the... > Read more

The Witch

JAY FARRAR INTERVIEWED (2012): Raising the spirit of Guthrie again

19 Mar 2012    2

You could almost make the case that the music and life of Woody Guthrie had become better known in the past two decades than it was at the time of his death in 1967. Certainly in the very early Sixties when Bob Dylan was borrowing heavily from Guthrie's speak-sing folk style, his name was out there, and folkies in particular have always held him in particular reverence. But put aside... > Read more

VD City

PULP REISSUED (2012): Portrait of the Jarvis as a young knobhead

16 Mar 2012

When the Sheffield band Pulp gate-crashed the relentlessly jingoistic and self-aggrandising Britpop party in '95 with their single Common People, they were hardly a new band. The Different Class album which that cynical, emotionally detached and pointed single anticipated was their fifth, and in some form or other – always around singer-songwriter Jarvis Cocker – they had... > Read more

Death Goes to the Disco

BOB SEGER RECONSIDERED (2012): Rock and roll should never forget him

12 Mar 2012    2

If he hadn't had a fear of flying -- and Bruce Springsteen hadn't come on so strong in the Seventies -- Bob Seger out of the Detroit area would have been the great working class rock'n'roll hero. He came from that world: After his dad left when he was 11, Bob -- with his mum and brother -- found himself in a single bedroom flat; later he worked three jobs, started playing in bands for... > Read more

Hollywood Nights (live)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ROKY ERICKSON (2012): Calling occupants of interplanetary craft

5 Mar 2012    1

Compared to Roky Erickson, Syd Barrett – who checked out of Pink Floyd and reality in the late Sixties -- had it easy. Where Barrett took enormous amounts of LSD, spun out and stayed in the house for most of the following four decades, Erickson did the hard time. After enjoying the first wave of success with 13th Floor Elevators when their classic garageband single You're Gonna... > Read more

Reverbaration

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . SKIP SPENCE (2012): Oar in dark water

5 Mar 2012    2

Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd and Roky Erickson of Thirteenth Floor Elevators don't own the category of "mad Sixties acid casualty" exclusively. Alexander Spence -- aka Skip Spence -- deserves to be entered among the "tuned in, turned on and dropped so far out he couldn't come back". In the years before he died in '99 at age 52, he had become an itinerant,... > Read more

Little Hands

DIANA ROSS, COMING OUT IN '80: From soul-pop princess to Chic dancefloor diva

2 Mar 2012    3

By the late Seventies, Diana Ross had put almost two decades of Motown soul-pop and various dress-up personae behind her. She'd been the pop princess decked out in eye-liner and increasingly chic'n'slender dresses in the Supremes hit machine, had pushed her name out front so they became "Diana Ross and the Supremes" and then, with the help of her lover and Motown boss, Berry Gordy... > Read more

Upside Down (Chic original mix)

DOUG JEREBINE INTERVIEWED (2012): The distant light that shines again

27 Feb 2012    3

Doug Jerebine sounds both amused and detached about the fact that two days in a London recording studio some 42 years ago have now thrown him into the spotlight. At 67, and with almost four decades in the Krsna movement as a teacher and respected translator between those two days and now, he hardy sounds like the long-haired young man on the cover of the newly released album... > Read more

Midnight Sun

NEW ORDER REISSUED AND RECONSIDERED (2012): Dreams never end . . .

24 Feb 2012    1

Few bands can survive loss of a lead singer who has been the focal point. Even fewer can reinvent themselves. Genesis did when Peter Gabriel quit after The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Phil Collins stepped out from behind the drum kit, and Pink Floyd morphed into another form after Syd Barrett checked out of reality . . . and again when Roger Waters went into a solo career. To his... > Read more

Ceremony

ROD STEWART, STORYTELLER: The easy case for the defense

22 Feb 2012    3

It was always easy for me to forgive Rod Stewart his excesses and mistakes. His graduation from soulful r’n’b singer through frontman impersonations with the boys-night-out Faces band and into a solo career was a pleasure to watch. When he wasn’t being entertaining, he was tearing your heart out with his singularly sandpapery voice. And when he took his... > Read more

Rod Stewart: The Killing of Georgie

BADFINGER (1968-73): The shop-soiled Apple band

20 Feb 2012

There are two stories every young musician should read, the first is obvious. The Beatles story is full of magic and coincidence; McCartney's meeting with a drunk Lennon, Harrison getting in by playing Raunchy to them while on a bus, the Hamburg days and the death of Stu Sutcliffe, the firing of Pete Best and Ringo entering just before they went into the studio, the touring and madness,... > Read more

Badfinger: Day After Day

THE LOUVIN BROTHERS, SATAN IS REAL, 1959: A slow waltz with the devil

13 Feb 2012

It's not strictly true that “You can't judge a book by its cover”. If the title is Sex, Strippers and Sleaze and the photo is of naked people cavorting in a dungeon then you can probably guess it isn't essays on the life of St Francis. Okay, that's not exactly judging, but you get the point. Similarly with album covers. Gothic lettering, umlauts and a devil's head tend... > Read more

Dying From Home and Lost

ALABAMA 3 INTERVIEWED (2012): Pills'n'Thrills and country heartaches

13 Feb 2012

On paper, it doesn't work no matter which way you look at it. A sound which brings together techno-dance beats with American country music and upbeat hand-clap gospel? If you tried to sell it as a concept you'd be turned down at every corner, as Alabama 3 out of Brixton in London were by big American record companies like Sony and Geffen. “Someone told me, 'You cannot mention... > Read more

Fix It (featuring Shane McGowan)

THE SHARP SARACENO AND THE MYSTERIOUS MARKETTS: Tales from the farce side

3 Feb 2012

After the accountants took over what used to be called the entertainment business, there was less room for "real characters". Perhaps it was a good thing to get the Mafia out of the music business (for that story you should read Tommy James' autobiography Me, the Mob and the Music), but those larger than life people -- cigar chomping, money juggling and often opportunists at the... > Read more

Out of Limits

THE DOORS; LA WOMAN, 1971: Four decades gone, the big beat goes on

27 Jan 2012

On record at least, the Doors career began and ended well. Their self-titled debut album of early '67 arrived in the same year as any number of striking first outings (Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, Country Joe and the Fish, Moby Grape etc) and classic albums (Cream's Disraeli Gears, the Beatles Sgt Peppers). And in this company, the Doors' dark and poetic music stood apart as owing... > Read more

Riders on the Storm (rehearsal)

JOHN DENSMORE INTERVIEWED (2012): Re-opening the Doors four decades on

23 Jan 2012    2

When it came to watching the rapid decline of Jim Morrison – and the Doors' once promising career being relentlessly dragged down with him -- John Densmore had the best seat in the house. From his drum stool he saw it all – from the thrilled and awe-struck audiences as the handsome and sexually electric Morrison in leathers delivering his rock poetics through to the... > Read more

The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)

STEPHEN STILLS INTERVIEWED (2012): He's a real everywhere man

23 Jan 2012    2

Few musicians can claim to have played at the three defining musical festivals of the Sixties. But a few, very few, were on stage at all of them. One of them was in Buffalo Springfield at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 which launched the peace'n'love era, and with Crosby, Stills and Nash at Woodstock in mid 69 which was the zenith of the era (CS&N's second concert). And he was... > Read more

My Love is a Gentle Thing (demo)

THE STORY OF SOUTHERN SOUL 1961-1977: We go down to the river

16 Jan 2012    1

In early 2009 at the Mojo Honours List celebrations, Yoko Ono and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top flashed peace signs together, White Lies were acclaimed as the breakthrough act of the moment and the very late Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy was the recipient of the Icon Award. There was also an award for the best compilation of the previous year. Among the contenders were Dark Was the Night, a... > Read more

Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone

BILLY EBELING PROFILED (2012): Troubadour for our time

10 Jan 2012    3

The way I remember it goes something like this. It was the early Nineties and on Auckland's Queen St there were very few buskers. And they were uniformly awful. A man playing a guitar who can't play guitar was funny once . . . but after that it was just sad. And it did no credit to the student radio station that they adopted him for a little while. So any busker who could stop... > Read more

I Want You To Want Me

CHARLIE RICH (1932-1995): The Smash hits that never were

9 Jan 2012

When the Beatles visited Elvis Presley for the first and only time in August 1965, it wasn't quite the great meeting of minds or collision of musical genius as might have been expected. The Beatles were, by their own account, so into marijuana at the time they forgot where it was they were going until the limo pulled up outside Elvis place in Los Angeles' Benedict Canyon. When they got... > Read more

Dance of Love