Absolute Elsewhere

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STEVE EARLE PROFILED (2013): Only the strong survive

15 Apr 2013  |  2 min read  |  1

Few musicians have gone as far and as wide in their career as Steve Earle. These days we know him as an actor (notably in the tele-series The Wire and Treme), playwright, novelist, short story writer and a political activist. Not to mention being married seven times (twice to Lou-Anne Gill, he's now with songwriter Allison Moorer) and doing record production. He's just signed a book... > Read more

Calico County

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . YOKO ONO (2013): The noises from within

11 Apr 2013  |  6 min read  |  1

Yoko is a concept by which we measure our pain -- New York graffiti, 1970. A voice that comes once in a lifetime; unfortunately it came in ours -- Critic Jim Mullen, 1992 Yoko Ono was always an easy target. Conceptual artists who mount exhibitions of chess sets where all the pieces are white, or write books which consist of ambiguously and unintentionally... > Read more

BONNIE RAITT INTERVIEWED (2013): To everything, there is a season

29 Mar 2013  |  8 min read  |  1

When Bonnie Raitt's most recent album Slip Stream – her first in seven years – picked up a 2013 Grammy for best Americana album, it was yet another rung on her increasingly high ladder. Her 10th Grammy in fact. At the previous year's awards she had paid tribute to the late Etta James performing with Alisha Keys, and her signature song I Can't Make You Love Me has most... > Read more

Marriage Made in Hollywood

THE HENDRIX PERPLEX (2013): How to buy Jimi

29 Mar 2013  |  3 min read  |  3

In a recent conversation about the “new” Hendrix album People, Hell and Angels with Eddie Kramer (see here) -- Jimi's longtime engineer and behind a number of posthumous Hendrix releases since the guitarist's death more than 40 years ago – I asked the obvious: What next? Kramer said People, Hell and Angels – which followed South Saturn Delta and Valleys of... > Read more

Drifter's Escape

PAUL SIMON; GRACELAND, AGAIN (2012): We can all be received . . .

22 Mar 2013  |  4 min read  |  1

Hard to believe from this distance of some 25 years, but Paul Simon's award-winning and much loved Graceland album of 1986 – which went on to sell around 15 million copies – was once a flashpoint for protest and rage. Strange, when you listen to magical songs like the buoyant title track which shimmers over mercury smooth guitars and echoes between Christianity and the... > Read more

Under African Skies

JIM OF SEATTLE INTERVIEWED (2103): Famous, but just a little bit

20 Mar 2013  |  10 min read

The artist's name on the album is Jim of Seattle. Because he is Jim. And he is of Seattle. And although Jim of Seattle has been making music for more than 30 years, this is his debut album. It is entitled We Are All Famous. Jim of Seattle is not famous. Not even in Seattle where he is of. And although, as he says, there has been high approval from those who have heard We Are All... > Read more

OK

STEVE MILLER INTERVIEWED (2013): Band still on the money and run

11 Mar 2013  |  12 min read  |  2

Steve Miller is a man who takes his time and gets things right: he is perhaps one of the most savvy musicians on the block (he held all his own publishing at a time when others were giving theirs away for a small bag of cash) and was within a whisker of finishing a university degree when he decided in the early Sixties to be a full time musician. Did well at it too. His Greatest Hits... > Read more

Take the Money and Run

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LEON THEREMIN (2013): The sound of sci-fi and nightmares

11 Mar 2013  |  3 min read  |  1

You gotta hand it to inventor Leon Theremin, no one else had thought of a stringless cello. And if that sounds a bit Dada or like an installation at a Yoko Ono art exhibition, be assured. It was the real thing. Theremin invented an electronic stringless cello for the British conductor Leopold Stokowski. He also developed an early form of television which his homeland, Russia,... > Read more

The Swan

EMMYLOU HARRIS INTERVIEWED (2013): Old friends and times long gone

8 Mar 2013  |  6 min read

That Emmylou Harris has known singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell since 1974 but has only now got round to recording a duet album with him makes her seem a little tardy. If not downright remiss. But at last here is Old Yellow Moon, a dozen songs with Crowell and typically superb musicianship from members of her touring band, Bill Payne from Little Feat and Vince Gill. But Jeez... > Read more

Back When We Were Beautiful

CARLOS SANTANA, THE CRUCIAL ALBUMS (2013): White light, with a Latin beat

7 Mar 2013  |  2 min read

One of the dumbest questions you can ask a musician in an interview – and it was asked a lot by people writing for teen-pop magazines in the 60s – is this conversation-stopper: What's your favourite colour? I've asked it a few times, but only when I knew the artist would get the joke. Because Carlos Santana was such an enjoyably strange character when I spoke with him a... > Read more

Santana

EDDIE KRAMER INTERVIEWED (2013): Wingman for the genius of Jimi

6 Mar 2013  |  10 min read

Some people get to sit at the right hand of genius. Eddie Kramer is one of those. As a producer/engineer he has worked with a glittering galaxy of rock's stardom: Led Zeppelin, the Stones, the Beatles briefly, Bowie, Santana . . . The list goes on. But one name, perhaps even more so now, will alwys be associated with him: Jimi Hendrix. Kramer was working in Olympic Studios in London... > Read more

Earth Blues

DAVID BOWIE IN THE SEVENTIES (2013): Ch-ch-changes

6 Mar 2013  |  3 min read

That one of the most identifiable and famous men on the planet, David Bowie, managed – in this age of tweeting and endless internet gossip -- to spend the past two years recording his new album The Next Day without anyone knowing (or at least saying they knew) is surprising. Then again, Bowie always had the capacity to surprise. In fact, for a decade from the mid 60s he was... > Read more

Art Decade

HAL WILLNER INTERVIEWED (2013): More rum, sodomy and the lash

4 Mar 2013  |  11 min read  |  2

So how do we describe Hal Willner? He's a musician and producer, of course. And while he's a music supervisor for Saturday Night Live (a role had throughout the Eighties) he also stages concerts based around concepts which interest him, like the songbook of Doc Pomus or civil rights songs. He's also a man with a very fat contact book because on tribute albums to Italian composer Nino... > Read more

Off to Sea Once More

RICHARD THOMPSON INTERVIEWED (2013): Audiences and the art of the song

27 Feb 2013  |  9 min read

Richard Thompson should need no introduction. He has been an acclaimed songwriter/guitarist for over 40 years dating back to his innovative work with the pioneering English folk-rock group Fairport Convention. There were albums with his wife (the ex) Linda – some of which appear in many critics favourite-ever lists -- then a solo career stretching to well over 20 albums under... > Read more

Another Small Thing in Her Favour

MAREE SHEEHAN INTERVIEWED (2013): The beginning of the second act

18 Feb 2013  |  8 min read  |  2

After a fine start with a series of singles in the mid Nineties (Make You My Own, Fatally Cool which used taonga puoro), awards, her debut album Drawn in Deep, and the song Kia Tu Mahea on the soundtrack to Once Were Warriors, Maree Sheehan seemed to suddenly fade and disappear. By the turn of the century this talented woman – part of wave of smart young Maori women... > Read more

In the Light

THE STEVE MILLER BAND (2013): From blues to smooth, and back

18 Feb 2013  |  2 min read  |  2

Hearing Steve Miller play his fine-tuned and smoothly upholstered hits like Abracadabra, The Joker, Fly Like an Eagle and Jet Airliner – as he will do when he tours with Santana in March – it might be hard to reconcile them as coming from the same guy who earned his chops playing rhythm guitar in Buddy Guy's band in Chicago's toughest blues clubs, and then was one of the more... > Read more

LOU REED, SOLO INTO THE SEVENTIES (2013): Walk and Talk It

18 Feb 2013  |  4 min read

Pity anyone coming new to Lou Reed these days and wondering where to start: there is that Velvet Underground catalogue (brilliant start, diminishing returns), a couple of dozen albums under his own name, almost a dozen live albums (Rock'n'Roll Animal essential, Take No Prisoners hilarious as Lou becomes beligerent stand-up) and a bunch of other odds'n'ends. A greatest hits (of a man who had... > Read more

Kicks

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WILD MAN FISCHER (2013): Psycho street singer and shouter

11 Feb 2013  |  2 min read  |  2

Given Frank Zappa's proclivity towards oddball performers and different musicians -- Captain Beefheart, the GTOs, the Shaggs -- it's hardly surprising he should be the one who brought Wild Man Fischer into the vocabulary of outsider musicians. And Fischer was very outside. in '68 Zappa recorded a double album of Fischer's singing and rants as An Evening with Wild Man Fischer, the title... > Read more

Monkeys Vs Donkeys

FLEETWOOD MAC; RUMOURS (2013): Decades of discussion and dissection

1 Feb 2013  |  3 min read  |  1

Popular culture is certainly taken -- and takes itself -- very seriously these days. There are university courses on everyone from Elvis to Gaga and the bookshelves sag with biographies and autobiographies of people like Cher, Justin Bieber, that guitarist in Kiss, U2 . . . There seems no part of Bob Dylan and John Lennon's lives which have gone unexamined, and the Beatles' recording career... > Read more

For Duster (studio jam)

THE STONE ROSES (2013): Here, for the first time, the second coming

28 Jan 2013  |  3 min read  |  1

Some concerts have a disproportionately greater effect than what might have seemed at the time. The Sex Pistols gig in Manchester in June '76 was attended by only a couple of dozen but many there – notably organisers Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley of the Buzzcocks, Devoto later founding Magazine – went on to form bands. The punk spark had been lit outside of London. At... > Read more

Ten Storey Love Song