Absolute Elsewhere

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FRED FRITH CONSIDERED (2015): The prince of plinkety-plunk

13 Feb 2015    1

The term “prepared piano” – where the musician places objects onto the strings to get odd and often random sounds – is well known in the classical world. But few people know Johnny Cash got into “prepared guitar” when he recorded I Walk the Line back in '56. To get that clacking rhythm he placed a dollar bill under the guitar strings and got a sound... > Read more

Heat c/w Moment

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING INTERVIEWED (2014): Space is the place

9 Feb 2015    2

I know this is very wrong, but while talking to J. Willgoose – not his real name – who is the taller half of Britain's Public Service Broadcasting, I am picturing him as like the actor/writer Stephen Merchant. He has the same dry humour and delivery. And he's tall, with glasses. Willgoose and Wrigglesworth as PSB have created some of the most interesting music-cum-film... > Read more

Fire in the Cockpit

KIM RICHEY INTERVIEWED (2015): The writer on the road, again

9 Feb 2015

Kim Richey pulls the car off into a gas station somewhere in Alabama to take the call from Elsewhere. She's halfway between Birmingham and her home in Nashville and is delighted to say before she comes to New Zealand she is going to spend time seeing the country. “I can't imagine coming all the way to New Zealand and not seeing it,” she says after telling how she put a... > Read more

Breakaway Speed

CHRIS ELDRIDGE of PUNCH BROTHERS INTERVIEWED (2015): The Radiohead of bluegrass

4 Feb 2015

Towards the end of a digressive and interesting conversation with Chris Eldridge, guitarist for Punch Brothers, I ask if the description “bluegrass” -- which has most commonly been applied to their music -- has any relevance anymore. After all, they have edged their music towards art rock with classical references, have thrown in covers of songs by Beyonce and the Cars... > Read more

Julep

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . KORLA PANDIT: The Man from the Mystic East

2 Feb 2015    1

The exotic looking Korla Pandit – who died in 1998 aged about 77 – had a fascinating background: He was born in India to a traveling French opera singer and a Brahmin priest and eventually ended up in Los Angeles in the mid Forties after spending time in Europe and Britain. His music was just as interesting as his somewhat mysterious life. He played the organ but... > Read more

Procession of the Grand Moghul

LISA MARIE PRESLEY REMEMBERED (2015): A child of her time

2 Feb 2015    1

Mercer Ellington did it, so did two of Sinatra's kids Frank Jnr and Nancy. Two Lennon's and George Harrison's son Dhani did it too (in fact every Beatle has a kid who's done it). So did a few Marleys, Judy Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli and Steve Earle's boy Justin Townes. They all went into the family business. If we suspend our scepticism about this we'd have to concede it's... > Read more

Soften the Blows

AUCKLAND'S LANEWAY FESTIVAL CONSIDERED (2015): Out of a clear blue sky . . .

27 Jan 2015    3

Auckland has had a patchy track record with outdoor festivals. At the lower end of the scale you could go back to the embarrassment of the day put on for the young Princess Anne and Prince Charles in the Sixties (Bunny Walters' zipper coming down), the Robin Gibb concert in '70 where someone threw a tomato at him, the disastrous Neon Picnic and the second Sweetwaters . . .... > Read more

SHAKEY GRAVES INTERVIEWED (2015): Taking it to the top

26 Jan 2015

In a little over three years, Alejandro Rose-Garcia – better known as Shakey Graves – has carved out the almost perfect and throughly contemporary career arc. Setting aside his occasional acting jobs where his boyish good looks got him small parts on the big screen, and a four-week role as the life-guard/love interest in the television series Friday Night Lights, the... > Read more

Dearly Departed (w Esme Patterson)

ELVIS COSTELLO + WENDY JAMES (2015): That year's model

26 Jan 2015

Transvision Vamp were one of those British bands who got through the door in the post-punk/New Wave era, but didn't quite know what to do on the other side. After some mostly unsuccessful singles they hit paydirt with their '88 album Pop Art and then Velveteen nine months later took them to top of the UK charts. Although neither album appeared on the US charts (in fact only Australians and... > Read more

Puppet Girl

THERE'S GOOD ROCKIN' TONIGHT (2014): The music that reshaped the world

19 Jan 2015

Because Fifties rock'n'roll music is rarely heard these days -- and on the rare occasions it is, the music is utterly decontextualised – it's hard to imagine what a revolution it was for people at the time. Here was a popular music which was aimed directly at teenagers (the first musical movement to do so) and addressed their concerns in terms of parties, dating, rebelliousness... > Read more

Red River Rock

THE AUCKLAND LANEWAY FESTIVAL (2015): In high anticipation for . . .

7 Jan 2015    1

This year's St Jerome's Laneway Festival at Auckland's Silo Park (Monday January 26, Auckland's anniversary weekend) looks to have the most consistently strong line-up of any so far. Especially if you look back at the albums and artists many critics and civilians chose as their “best of 2014”. A considerable number of the Laneway acts – international and... > Read more

IAN ANDERSON INTERVIEWED (2014): The view from the top

16 Dec 2014    2

It was over 20 years ago that I spoke to Ian Anderson, the founder of Jethro Tull and the sole constant in that remarkably durable prog-rock band, and I have never forgotten the experience. That man could talk and talk and talk . . . Without a word of lie I can say this, as he went on and on about how fans demanded all the reissues and whatever, I got up... > Read more

Doggerland

STONEY AND THE JAGGED EDGE, UNEARTHED (2014): The Sixties sound of psychedelic garageband Detroit

9 Dec 2014

Just when you think the library of the past has been fully illuminated, someone comes along and points to a low door in the wall which opens into a secret, dark room. And in there your torch picks out . . . Stoney and the Jagged Edge. Not to be confused with other bands called Jagged Edge, this group from Detroit in late Sixties had a strong local following, opened for the Doors... > Read more

The Dues Song

SYLVIE SIMMONS INTERVIEWED (2014): Leonard Cohen, music journalism, a debut album at 60 and the ukulele

8 Dec 2014    1

When Sylvie Simmons speaks it is in a quiet, bemused and droll English accent, full of whimsical asides. You'd be forgiven if you thought she was a slightly mischievous author of children's books. But Simmons is one of the great music writers of our time who grew up “Beatle-damaged” in London of the Sixties, moved to America in the late Seventies where she wrote on metal... > Read more

My Lips Still Taste of You

WILCO AT 20, CONSIDERED (2014): Roger Wilco Over . . . and onward

8 Dec 2014

The story of Wilco is full of ironies, wrong turns and barely credible shifts of direction and personnel. The band that formed out of Uncle Tupelo which was in the vanguard of alt.country in the early 90s made intricate and experimental indie.pop-rock on Summerteeth 99, then slewed further left with their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in 2002 . . . which their record company refused to... > Read more

NICK CAVE ENCOUNTERED (2014): The man, the myth and the movie

7 Dec 2014    1

The backstage room at Auckland's SkyTower Theatre where Nick Cave waits is tiny, but doubtless he's seen much worse. He's arrived with no fanfare, greets my wife Megan and me warmly in the nearby green room . . . and in 15 minutes will walk out onto the nearby stage and field questions about the sort-of-documentary film 20,000 Days on Earth which is just coming to an end before a... > Read more

NATHAN HAINES INTERVIEWED (2014): A son for the return home

17 Nov 2014    1

Nathan Haines sits on the deck at the back of The Long Room on Auckland's Ponsonby Rd and seems very relaxed over a beer. These are good days for multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer Haines. He's back in New Zealand from London for a few months over summer, he has an excellent new album 5 A Day to talk about, he's getting plenty of work in London where he lives with his DJ wife... > Read more

PAUL McCARTNEY, THE TRIBUTE ALBUM: Pop's greatest craftsman gets Big Name thumbs aloft

17 Nov 2014

It's probably possible to count the number of songs Paul McCartney has written -- you can bet his publishing people and royalty-collecting accountants have -- but here's a guess: do the maths on all the solo albums and Beatle-era stuff, plus soundtrack work right back to The Family Way in '67 when he was still in the Beatles, songs he gifted to others, stuff like The Fireman which many don't... > Read more

Things We Said Today

PAUL McCARTNEY WINGING IT IN THE SEVENTIES (2014): Venus and Mars, At The Speed Of Sound revisited

17 Nov 2014

If you're going to celebrate the end of a recording session why not have the party aboard the Queen Mary which is permanently docked at Long Beach, California?And why not invite a couple of hundred pals like Bob Dylan, the Jackson Five, various Led Zeppers, a couple of Monkees, Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, the Faces, an Everly Brother (Phil), George Harrison, Dean Martin, Cher . . .... > Read more

Junior's Farm

PAUL McCARTNEY SOLO CAREER; PART 1, 1970-80: Success in the Seventies

15 Nov 2014    1

Paul McCartney once commented that his solo career since the Beatles -- now stretching to more than four decades -- was largely undiscovered territory. That’s true. But can anyone name anything from his ‘79 album Back to the Egg? And more to the point, why would they want to? But this is also the man -- once known as Mr Thumbs Aloft -- who hardly ever explored or... > Read more

Waterfalls