Absolute Elsewhere

Keep up to date with RSS Feed iconRss or subscribe to my weekly newsletter.

SUEDE REISSUED AND RECONSIDERED (2011): England made me

SUEDE REISSUED AND RECONSIDERED (2011): England made me

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

4 Jul 2011    3

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

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

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?

2 Jul 2011

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

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

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

25 Jun 2011

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

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

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

25 Jun 2011

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

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

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)

20 Jun 2011

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

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

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)

16 Jun 2011

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

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

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)

2 Jun 2011

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

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

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

1 Jun 2011

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

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

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

31 May 2011

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

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

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)

20 May 2011    1

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

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

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

19 May 2011

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

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

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

11 May 2011

RUTHIE FOSTER (2011): A Southern soul sister rises

RUTHIE FOSTER (2011): A Southern soul sister rises

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)

3 May 2011

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

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

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)

2 May 2011

ROY ORBISON 1960-65: The years of monumental pop

ROY ORBISON 1960-65: The years of monumental pop

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

26 Apr 2011    1

JAYREM RECORDS (1975-2011): The independence movement

JAYREM RECORDS (1975-2011): The independence movement

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

21 Apr 2011    1

BOB DYLAN OFF THE BARRICADES (2011): The China syndrome

BOB DYLAN OFF THE BARRICADES (2011): The China syndrome

In 1971 -- at the height of the war in Vietnam, the rise of Black Panther activity and the revolutionary spirit sweeping across the US and Europe -- Joan Baez stepped onto a stage in New York and sang a new song. It put her old lover Bob Dylan right in the cross-hairs for him abandoning the peace movement and any political activity. The song was To Bobby (just in case you didn't get it) and... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Neighborhood Bully (from Infidels)

18 Apr 2011

JIMI HENDRIX; SOUTH SATURN DELTA (2011): The sun rises again

JIMI HENDRIX; SOUTH SATURN DELTA (2011): The sun rises again

As with Bob Marley's "catalogue", it seems only right that Jimi Hendrix's messy existence -- he seemed to a sign a contract at the drop of an offer, and would record with whomever when the mood took him -- should be reined in and given some coherence. So when the Hendrix family finally wrestled a measure of control after years of litigation we started to see "new"... > Read more

Jimi Hendrix: Midnight Lightning

18 Apr 2011

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

In his recent collection of essays Listen to This, the New Yorker music critic Alex Ross has an interesting and provocative piece on Bob Dylan. It opens, “America is no country for old men. Pop culture is a pedophile's delight” then he ask what – in this world of manufactured teen pop – we are to do with “a well-worn, middle-aged songwriter who gravitates... > Read more

18 Apr 2011

DROPKICK MURPHYS INTERVIEWED (2011): Putting the bagpipes into punk

DROPKICK MURPHYS INTERVIEWED (2011): Putting the bagpipes into punk

From the first enjoyably rowdy bars of the new Dropkick Murphys album Going Out in Style you can sense that here is a band whose time has come. With the rollicking outlaw roar of Hang 'Em High then the title track – an old Irishman considering a boozy wake and who he should invite – the sound of the band's Celtic-punk is roof-rattling and energetic. For the band –... > Read more

Dropkick Murphys: Hang 'Em High

13 Apr 2011