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Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

From the Vaults

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A collection of one-off songs or interesting pieces of music which have an important, unusual or curious back-story. Some by famous artists, others by those you may never have heard of. And might wish never to hear of again.

Enjoy or endure. 

Gregory Porter: 1960 What? (Opolopo remix, 2012)

Gregory Porter: 1960 What? (Opolopo remix, 2012)

When singer Gregory Porter won best jazz album at the Grammys in January 2014 for his Blue Note abum Liquid Spirit, it threw attention back onto his two previous albums. Far from being a straight jazz vocal album, Liquid Spirit touched on gospel, soul, blues and pop as much as jazz, and Porter has always brought that diversity into the mix. This song from his 2010 album Water -- here... more >>

Polyrock: Your Dragging Feet (1980)

Polyrock: Your Dragging Feet (1980)

While it's always been fashionable and hip for rock musicians -- especially those in what we might call avant-rock -- to namedrop jazz or contemporary classical composers in interviews, but when you listen to their music there is usually scant evidence of an influence. However Polyrock from New York -- who mostly came off as more jittery post-Talking Heads/Feelies on their self-titled debut... more >>

Bob Dylan and Van Morrison: Knocking on Heaven's Door (live 1998)

Bob Dylan and Van Morrison: Knocking on Heaven's Door (live 1998)

Previously Elsewhere had lifted an obscure Dylan song (John Brown) from this concert in Birmingham, but of course this -- with Morrison -- was the popular showstopper. From the way the audience responds we might guess that just after Dylan starts the song, Morrison comes on stage. It's also a pretty good and enjoyably ragged treatment of a song which has had some ropey version by... more >>

FR David: Words (1982)

FR David: Words (1982)

Some simple pop songs -- often by one-hit wonders -- have as much impact as the most crafted and considered serious work of superior writers. So it is with FR David and this hit. David was actually Tunisian-born Elli Robert Fitoussi who lived in France and during the late Sixties and Seventies he was trying hard to get a break in various bands and a stint with Vangelis. But it was... more >>

Nat King Cole: D-Day (1944)

Nat King Cole: D-Day (1944)

Previously at From the Vaults we've featured songs from the Vietnam war era (from all sides of the political fence, start here), but here we turn the clock back further to this finger-popping little number by the great Nat King Cole. I can't source this song exactly -- it came from a German compilation American War Songs 1933-47; Hitler and Hell -- but it might have been recorded for the... more >>

Ken Nordine: Now Nordine (extract only, 1975?)

Ken Nordine: Now Nordine (extract only, 1975?)

In the mid Seventies a friend of mine living in West Virginia started sending me cassettes of a programme that beamed out late at night on Public Radio. It was called Now Nordine and all I knew at the time was that it was "made possible by a grant from . . . anonymous". They were weird half-trips into strange references (snippets from Leonard da Vinci's journals about dissecting... more >>

Wilko's Solid Senders: Highway 61 (1978)

Wilko's Solid Senders: Highway 61 (1978)

The soon-to-be-deceased Wilko Johnson -- diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 15 months ago -- is not only going out with dignity but a bit of style. He has been saying the great thing about knowing you are going to die is simply stop worrying about the small stuff (like bills) and actually just get on with the business of living. And working. He has recorded an album Going Back Home with the... more >>

Ann-Margret: It's a Nice World to Visit But Not to Live In (1969)

Ann-Margret: It's a Nice World to Visit But Not to Live In (1969)

The actress Ann-Margret wasn't much such great shakes as a singer, but she had other . . . attributes? She certanly had a decent movie career for a while (she even wasn't bad in one of Elvis' better films Viva Las Vegas) although it does seem odd that she would win a Grammy for best new artist back in '62. Her gospel album of 2000 God is Love was one of her best moments, but otherwise there... more >>

Marc Ribot: The Wind Cries Mary (1990)

Marc Ribot: The Wind Cries Mary (1990)

Marc Ribot has long been the guitarist of choice for Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and others, but he was also in a couple of interesting if not influential bands of his own. Before being one of the Lounge Lizards (alongside John Lurie), the New Jersey-born Ribot played in bands behind touring soul acts (Wilson Pickett etc) but it was his work with Waits from the mid Eighties which brought hm to... more >>

Frank Maya: Polaroid Children (1988)

Frank Maya: Polaroid Children (1988)

Stupid song from the late Eighties, but just kinda one-time fun too. Drum and synth programmer, and vocalist of course, Frank Maya was part of the New York Downtown scene at the time in that post-Talking Heads world. He was poet, performer, musician and openly gay when the latter wasn't quite as easy as you might think. He had a band (the Decals) but his career didn't move too far... more >>

Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: Thriller (1987)

Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy: Thriller (1987)

The late Lester Bowie (who died in '99 age 58) was very serious about some things -- he was part of the politically and socially active AACM, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians -- but also had a sense of humour. In a profile/obituary at Elsewhere -- under a title borrowed from Frank Zappa, "Does humour belong in music" -- we noted one of his pieces (designed... more >>

Kronos Quartet: Sorrow Tears and Blood (2013)

Kronos Quartet: Sorrow Tears and Blood (2013)

For many decades the Kronos Quartet has been commissioning, performing and recording material by contemporary composers, but also adapting rock classics (JImi Hendrix's Purple Haze) and world music to their will. We're not going very far back into the Vaults for this one, their version of Fela Anikulapo Kuti's classic Afrobeat song Sorrow Tears and blood about opression in NIgeria during the... more >>

Bob Dylan: John Brown/Mama You've Been on My Mind (live 1998)

Bob Dylan: John Brown/Mama You've Been on My Mind (live 1998)

At a concert in Birmingham in June '98 Bob Dylan went way back into his scrapbook of obscurities and pulled out this anti-war song which he had written in 1962. There was a demo version of it done for the music publishers Witmark and Sons which appeared on the Bootleg Series Vol 9 album in 2010, and he did in fact record it (under the pseudonym Blind Boy Grunt) for a hard-to-find folk... more >>

Pat McMinn: Geddes Dental Renovations advertisement (1949)

Pat McMinn: Geddes Dental Renovations advertisement (1949)

It's an odd but understandable thing that advertising jingles can often make as much, if not more, impact on our consciousness than serious music. The reason is perhaps simple: they are short, catchy and you hear them a lot. Few if any advertising jingles in New Zealand were heard more than this one by Pat McMinn whose other claim to fame was the song Opo The Crazy Dolphin which was... more >>

Buckner and Garcia: Pac-Man Fever (1982)

Buckner and Garcia: Pac-Man Fever (1982)

Few things guarantee a short career more than a gimmick song cashing in on some pop culture trend. There were dozens of songs about hula hoops in the late Fifties (one even by the great Teresa Brewer, see clip), Beatlemania (one by the young Cher under another name) and Rubik's Cubes. Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, two songwriters from Akron, Ohio, had previously breached the lower... more >>

James Ray: Got My Mind Set on You (1962)

James Ray: Got My Mind Set on You (1962)

Pub quiz question. Who was the first Beatle to set foot in the United States? If you are thinking back to those famous images of them coming off that PanAm Clipper in February 1964 in New York you are actually on the wrong track. The first Beatle to step out in America was George Harrison, and he went there in 1963 when he and his brother Peter went to see their sister Louise who was... more >>

George Harrison: Dream Scene (1968)

George Harrison: Dream Scene (1968)

This appropriately entitled piece is serious headphone listening for the wee small hours and is perhaps among the most strange things George Harrison's name was ever attached to. It appeared on the soundtrack to the Joe Massot film Wonderwall (Massot is interviewed here) and as you may hear involves Indian musicians, washes of sound, strange voices, some electric guitar and just generally... more >>

Double J and Twice the T: Mod Rap (1989)

Double J and Twice the T: Mod Rap (1989)

While going through a pile of old New Zealand singles I chanced on this. They may not have been gangstas or even remotely hard, but if you check the clip below their hearts were in the right place. But for this they pulled together Ray Columbus and the Invader's She's a Mod hit from '65 with rap and beatbox, and it wasn't as bad as some at the time said. The haters (did we have them then?)... more >>

Moby Grape: Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot (1968)

Moby Grape: Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot (1968)

Varying the speed of tapes in the studio is not uncommon, but asking that your listener get up and change the speed of their record player on an album is another thing entirely. Certainly there have been singles which play one side at 45 and the other at 33 (often 12" singles or EPs from the Eighties) -- but in '68 the increasingly drug-addled Skip Spence of San Francisco psychedelic... more >>

George Harrison: Danny Boy/Bridge Over Troubled Waters and studio noodling (c1970)

George Harrison: Danny Boy/Bridge Over Troubled Waters and studio noodling (c1970)

One of the great things about being filthy rich (like George Harrison was post-Beatles), at last having time on your hands and your own studio in your mansion (although admittedly he did have to do a lot of work on the place which was in derelict condition) is you get to fool around. And clearly from the evidence of this five minutes of playing around with vocal effects, slide guitar and so... more >>