Essential Elsewhere

A selection of cornerstone albums to help you build an interesting collection of diverse Elsewhere  music. These essays will introduce albums which can lead you into whole threads of music -- be they power-pop, world music, European jazz, hip-hop, reggae, alt.country or just plain rock'n'roll. Areas you might not have otherwise considered or enjoyed.

Explore . . . and don't be afraid of going Elsewhere.

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Prince: Around the World in a Day (1985)

26 Apr 2016  |  6 min read

Even before he was cremated a few days after his death, the world was abuzz with how much previously unreleased music Prince Rogers Nelson – aka Prince – had left behind. Those who had seen it spoke of a massive vault of recordings and, tantalisingly, among them were probably the sessions he did with Miles Davis. That said, the reason they remained in Prince's vault... > Read more

Tambourine

The Dwight Twilley Band; Twilley Don't Mind (1975)

21 Mar 2016  |  2 min read  |  1

The wonderful, and possibly apocryphal, story about this band is that Dwight Twilley and Phil Seymour went to see the Beatles' film A Hard Day's Night together in 1967 -- a bit late when you think it was released three years previous -- and immediately decided to form a band. It would be equally wonderful to report they were an overnight success, but in fact  -- aside from the '75... > Read more

Dwight Twiller Band: Sleeping

Frank Sinatra: Frank Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely (1958)

2 Mar 2016  |  5 min read

Although neither his best known long playing record from the era (the LP format was just kicking off) nor his biggest seller of the late Fifties, Frank Sinatra's Only the Lonely is an outstanding collection of themed songs. His best known albums from this period are In the Wee Small Hours from '55 (long an Essential Elsewhere album), Songs for Swinging Lovers! and Come Fly With Me... > Read more

It's a Lonesome Old Town

Keith Jarrett Trio, My Foolish Heart (2007)

1 Mar 2016  |  4 min read

Most people who know his music don't come to albums by jazz and Elsewhere pianist Keith Jarrett expecting to snap their fingers, smile at the swinging grooves and generally enjoy the good humour on display. Jarrett is usually a furrowed-brow listen, or in an instructively meditative mood. His emotionally dense, improvised solo piano work in the Seventies redefined the jazz idiom and... > Read more

Keith Jarrett Trio: Oleo

Reem Kelani: Sprinting Gazelle (2006)

27 Jan 2016  |  1 min read

Subtitled "Palestinian Songs from the Motherland and the Diaspora", this sometimes astonishing debut album remains breathtaking in its scope -- from a lullaby to a moving song of mourning, to tracks with jazzy saxophone or melancholy piano, and lengthy explorations of melody and emotions. And singer Kelani announced herself as possessing a keening, hypnotic voice as she wove... > Read more

Yearning

Mavis Staples; We'll Never Turn Back (2007)

25 Jan 2016  |  1 min read

The great gospel-soul singer Mavis Staples -- 76 at the time of this writing -- was a member of the legendary Staples Singers founded by her father Pops Staples, a close personal friend of Dr Martin Luther King. During the Civil Rights period music was on the frontline so to speak. Much of the Staples' music was political or inspirational and gave comfort to those struggling for rights and... > Read more

Down In Mississippi

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone: Etiquette (2006)

7 Dec 2015  |  2 min read

If nothing else, you had to raise a smile at the nom-de-disque which American singer-songwriter Owen Ashworth adopted. It announces its lo-fi quality, and identifies its audience at the same time. Clever and funny. But also ineffably sad. And the songs on this quite remarkable album -- like short stories rendered as poetry and set to simple music -- managed to be all of that. But... > Read more

I Love Creedence

JPS Experience: Bleeding Star (1993)

11 May 2015  |  3 min read  |  3

Because – as Elsewhere's favourite philosopher Ken Nordine put it -- “We all see the world from our own disadvantage point”, – we understand there are those who don't see the world from our perspective. So we can happily accept that in Grant Smithies' excellent book Soundtrack: 118 Great New Zealand Albums – to which Elsewhere contributed some pieces... > Read more

Spaceman

Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra, Hariprasad Chaurasia: Call of the Valley (1967)

2 Feb 2015  |  1 min read  |  2

When this beautiful, elegant tone poem of Indian classical music was reissued in 1995 on the EMI Hemisphere label (with three extra tracks), people like me with a long affection for Indian music could hardly believe our luck. It was one of those long-hard-to-find albums -- although it had been kept in print in India, where I'd bought a bad copy on cassette in then-Calcutta -- Call of the... > Read more

Rag Pahadi

Last Exit: Iron Path (1988)

26 Jan 2015  |  4 min read  |  1

When this album was recorded in the late Eighties, free jazz had been largely consigned to the "blind alley" by jazz writers. By then mainstream American jazz critics had been foolishly distracted and seduced into exercising themselves into the whole neo-con debate which Wynton Marsalis and his acolytes (remember them?) had wrought upon jazz. At the time there was one of those... > Read more

Devil's Rain

Jeff Beck: Blow by Blow (1975)

19 Jan 2015  |  1 min read

Even the guitarist's biggest fans concede Jeff Beck rarely makes a truly satisfying album, but this -- the seventh under his own name -- was the exception. In 1968 after his stint in the Yardbirds came to a natural end, he formed what in retrospect was a supergroup. It included singer Rod Stewart, bassist Ronnie Wood, and journeyman drummer Mick Waller, plus guests Jimmy Page and John... > Read more

Cause We've Ended as Lovers

Ray Charles: In Person (1959)

12 Jan 2015  |  5 min read

The legendary song-plugger, record exec, talent scout and record producer Jerry Wexler (who coined the phrase "rhythm and blues"  in '49 for Billboard magazine's black music charts in place of "Race Records") said in his 1993 autobiography Rhythm and the Blues; A Life in American Music -- co-written with David Ritz -- that Ray Charles was the first and only one of three... > Read more

Drown in My Own Tears

Judy Garland: Judy at Carnegie Hall (1961)

15 Sep 2014  |  3 min read  |  1

Many people who saw Judy Garland in the final weeks of her life described her in similar terms, that she looked like a sick bird, broken and unable to fly. She was battling a lifetime of debts, betrayals, pills, booze, chronic unhappiness, self-doubt . . . In one of her last interviews she said, “I've worked very hard, you know, and I've planted some of – I've been... > Read more

Stormy Weather

The Mothers of Invention: Uncle Meat (1969)

9 Aug 2014  |  5 min read  |  1

While it is entirely possible to live a happy and fulfilled life without hearing any music by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, there really is no need to be so deprived given the extensive re-issue programme that was undertaken after his death in 1993. And, Lord protect us, it arrived all over again in 2012.  All the Zappa/Mothers albums are out there already on... > Read more

The Uncle Meat Variations

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Indian Classical Music (2014)

14 Jul 2014  |  1 min read

Elsewhere makes judiciously considered entries under its Essential Elsewhere albums, and we avoid the obvious (no compilations, greatest hits and so on). Those are easy options and anyone with a laptop could pull together a serviceable, if only ordinary, "essential" collection. You could probably even do that for fairly obscure artists like Popul Vuh and Solomon King. But our... > Read more

Devgiri Balawarl Dhun

The Ornette Coleman Trio: At the Golden Circle, Stockholm. Vol 1 (1965)

12 May 2014  |  2 min read

As far as I can see by looking back, Ornette Coleman is the first artist to have two entries at Essential Elsewhere, he has appeared previously with The Shape of Jazz to Come. Although, to be honest, he should also be here for Virgin Beauty (1988) but the damn thing is out of print. However this classic Coleman album recorded in Sweden is not just essential, but is now readily available... > Read more

Dawn

Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch (1964)

17 Apr 2014  |  3 min read

The sudden and unexpected death of saxophonist/flute player and clarinettist Eric Dolphy just months after these exceptional studio sessions for the Blue Note label robbed jazz of one of its most distinctive voices, and left many questions hanging about where the 36-year old might have taken his music. Already he had worked with Charles Mingus, Max Roach, George Russell and John... > Read more

Something Sweet, Something Tender

Peter Case: Peter Case (1986)

5 Sep 2013  |  2 min read  |  3

For six months after its release, at least three times a week, I would play this album. Night after night. I had been given a cassette tape which I had in the kitchen and while making dinner for my kids, only stopping to hear Alistair Cooke's Letter From America on the radio, Peter Case would be on permanant repeat. One night one of my boys came in and stood listening, for what would... > Read more

Walk in the Woods

Tom Waits: Orphans (Shock)

23 Jun 2013  |  2 min read  |  1

The American journalist Robert Wilonsky once observed of Tom Waits' music, either you like the sound of a barking dog, or you buy yourself a cat. Those of us who love and admire Waits' work live with the sound of the barking dog. Waits may have often made a beautiful noise, but it was a noise nonetheless. From a bohemian barfly poet with an affection for the Beat Generation, Frank... > Read more

Tom Waits: Road to Peace (from Brawlers)

Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (1988)

3 Apr 2013  |  3 min read

Of all the artists to emerge in the past two and a half decades, you can effortlessly make the case that Steve Earle has moved the most. With confidence, and often great success, he has worked within genres we might define as country, folk-blues, alt.rock, bluegrass, country-rock . . . Earle has been a provocative political voice (pro-Kerry, anti-Bush and the wars in Iraq and... > Read more

Steve Earle: Back to the Wall