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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Yoko Ono: Plastic Ono Band (1971)

21 Nov 2016  |  6 min read

Elsewhere has been of the unwavering opinion, ever since this album was released, that is one of the great avant-garde rock'n'roll albums. That's not an opinion widely shared and indeed from the time of its release most others have roundly damned it as being unlistenable. Well, they said that about a lot of great albums so . . . Released as a companion to John Lennon's... > Read more

Why?

Vanessa Daou: Zipless (1994)

18 Jul 2016  |  2 min read  |  2

There is sexy music and there is sex music. And there can be quite a difference between the two in execution. Prince made a lot of sex music but slightly less sexy music; Donna Summer and Jane Birkin brought orgasms to music -- and so did Yoko Ono who screamed it to the ceiling and beyond. Ono was sex, the other two sexy. Sometimes Grace Jones could be both. Sexy music -- the... > Read more

The Long Tunnel of Wanting You

Ennio Morricone: Crime and Dissonance (2005)

11 Jul 2016  |  3 min read

The great Italian composer, arranger and conductor Ennio Morricone will be 88 later this year, but he is still as productive as ever. And in February he conducted a concert of his music at London's O2 for which he had on stage the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the Csokonai National Choir, soprano Susanna Rigacci and the Kodaly Choir. Oh, and a rock band. Right there you get... > Read more

Spiriti

John Mayall with Eric Clapton; Blues Breakers (1966)

20 Jun 2016  |  3 min read

For an album which is a cornerstone in any serious consideration of the British blues boom of the Sixties, the Blues Breakers record -- John Mayall with Eric Clapton -- of July '66 hardly had an auspicious gestation. In March '65 Mayall and the Blues Breakers had been dropped by their label Decca after just one album (a live outing, John Mayall Plays John Mayall) and across on the other... > Read more

All Your Love

Split Enz: Mental Notes (1975)

6 Jun 2016  |  3 min read  |  1

In 2000, when Rip It Up magazine (now in the responsible hands of Simon Grigg of audioculture.co.nz) collated votes to determine the top 100 New Zealand albums in the most recent-whenever, it was inevitable Split Enz' dramatic 1975 debut Mental Notes would come out at the top. Such lists are often compiled with little sense of history beyond last year's last-thought . . . but Rip It Up's... > Read more

Stranger Than Fiction

Miklos Rozsa: The Lost Weekend (1945, soundtrack)

19 May 2016  |  2 min read

The Hungarian-born composer Miklos Rozsa -- who died in '95 -- has a rare accolade in his long career as a composer of film soundtracks: when his music for the Hitchcock film Spellbound won an Oscar, he beat out two other scores, both of which he had also written. Those two were the music for A Song to Remember (about Chopin) and The Lost Weekend (about an alcoholic). For both... > Read more

Bottle is Discovered

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