From the Vaults

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Aretha Franklin: This Bitter Earth (1964)

23 Jan 2015

It is standard received opinion that it wasn't until the great Aretha Franklin left Columbia Records for Atlantic (and sessions in Muscle Shoals with Jerry Wexler), that her career got serious traction. The phrase that is most heard is "Columbia didn't know what to do with her". And while that is true -- her first songs were bluesy and then they shifted her over to their pop... > Read more

Mark Dinning: Top Forty, News, Weather and Sports (1961)

22 Jan 2015

The rather sad Mark Dinning has appeared at From the Vaults previously because he was the voice on the great death ballad Teen Angel of '59 which had been written by his sister Jean. That's a classic, but this isn't because it was recorded when his career was on the skids after that initial flush of success and the alcoholism which it allowed him. If there's anything interesting about... > Read more

Dinah Washington: Embraceable You (1946)

21 Jan 2015

The Gershwin brothers' Embraceable You, written in 1928, became a jazz standard and down the decades has been covered by an extraordinarily diverse range of artists from Nat King Cole, Doris Day and Judy Garland to Ornette Coleman, Charlie Parker and Art Tatum. Oh, and Liberace, Frank Sinatra and more recently Rod Stewart on his Great American Songbook Vol 3 album in 2004 . .  which... > Read more

Shawn Phillips: Landscape (1972)

20 Jan 2015    1

Back in the late Sixties/early Seventies, the American folk-rocker Phillips was known for two things: the astonishing length of his hair, and a soaring falsetto. And although he was moderately successful at the time -- bigger than a cult, not a chart topper -- he barely gets a mention in rock or folk encyclopedias today. That's surprising given he performed at the Isle of Wight... > Read more

Susanna and the Magical Orchestra: Love Will Tear Us Apart (2006)

19 Jan 2015

The Susanna here is Norway's Susanna Wallumrod and the Magical Orchestra is keyboard player Morten Qvenild . . . and this Joy Division classic is right in their frame of reference because her vocals often work this ethereal and moody area, usually on originals. She is quite some esthete also -- her siblings are renown musicians also -- and among her recent collaborators have been jazz... > Read more

Faster Pussycat: You're So Vain (1990)

16 Jan 2015    1

Jac Holzman's Elektra was one of the most diverse record labels in the last half of the 20th century. He started it in 1950 and the first recording pressed (just a couple of hundred copies) was of a modern classical lieder by composer John Gruen and sung by Georgiana Bannister which Holzman -- a student at St John's College in Annapolis, Maryland -- recorded on a portable tape recorder and had... > Read more

Mose Allison: Parchman Farm (1957)

15 Jan 2015

Mose Allison is a jazz and blues singer whose songs have been covered by a surprising number of rock artists . . .  surprising because when you hear Allison's originals -- as in this case, typically swinging, groove-driven by drummer Nick Stabalus and bassist Addison Farner -- it sounds a very long way from how they turned out in the hands of people like Blue Cheer or the Who in the... > Read more

Pat Boone: No More Mr Nice Guy (1997)

14 Jan 2015

When the cleanest white-bread rock'n'roll singer of the late Fifties sings "no more Mr Nice Guy, no more Mr Clean" you know he's well in on the joke -- and that if you bought the album this came from (In a Metal Mood) then the joke was on you. First, they might have been hard rock songs he was covering (Smoke on the Water with Richie Blackmore on guitar, It's a Long Way to the... > Read more

Septimus; Here I Go Again (1987)

13 Jan 2015

Sounding a decade too late for the disco era, Septimus were a black outfit from Seattle built around singer/guitarist and producer Herman Brown who originally recorded a version of this song in '83 with his band Ozone. Just five years too late. Seattle-born Brown had been a successful studio musician in LA until he moved back home in the early Eighties and started Ozone as an outlet for... > Read more

Sly Stone: Just Like a Baby (1970)

12 Jan 2015

If we think of the great Sly Stone at all these days it's the celebratory guy leading the Family Stone at Woodstock and then great albums like Stand and There's A Riot Goin' On. But flick back to his life before the public profile and in the early Sixties he was a respected producer in San Francisco, and mostly doing white artists like Bobby Freeman (C'mon and Swim), the Beau Brummels, The... > Read more

George Harrison: Ding Dong Ding Dong (1974)

31 Dec 2014

When George Harrison released this well produced but lightweight song in December '74 on his album Dark Horse, he held great hopes that it would become a New Year's Eve anthem. He'd actually recorded it around the time of his previous album Living in the Material World and sent an early mix to David Geffen with a note which read, "It's one of them repetitious numbers which is gonna... > Read more

Peter Blakeley: Quicksand (1990)

15 Dec 2014    1

When I was in Newcastle, New South Wales recently -- a city I'd never been to previously and knew damn-all about -- I was walking along the boardwalk in the afternoon and looked over to see an old friend on Wharf Road. It was Harry's Cafe de Wheels, a famous Australian institution which has provided pie'n'peas, hot chips, burgers and the like for hungry folks -- often those 4am-to-dawn... > Read more

Leonard Cohen: Avalanche (1971)

7 Dec 2014

In the course of sometimes interesting, occasionally haywire Q&A session after the screening of the film 20,000 Days on Earth in Auckland, Nick Cave was asked if he'd ever met Leonard Cohen and what his favourite Cohen song was. He said he hadn't . . . but then offered an insightful response to the second part of the question.  “When I was growing up in Wangaratta in... > Read more

Paul McCartney: Ode to a Koala Bear (1983)

17 Nov 2014

Okay, at a time when Paul McCartney's whole recording career has been given serious consideration at Elsewhere, this seems frivolous and cruel. But fun. This odd song appeared on B-side of the single of Say Say Say -- McCartney with Michael Jackson -- and again on the 12" remixes of SSSay by Jellybean. And perhaps that's all that needs to be said about it . . . Except that... > Read more

Screaming Dizbusters: This Ain't the Summer of Love (1986)

11 Nov 2014

Elsewhere's been down this side alley before with songs from a terrific double CD compilation A Real Cool Time Revisited; Swedish Punk, Pop and Garage Rock 1982-1989. The album is only available at the Abba/Swedish Music Hall of Fame Museum in Stockholm . . . a place realy worth more time than you might thing, Aba is only half of it if you take the time to explore the fine print in the rest... > Read more

The Beatles: Love You To (1966)

29 Oct 2014

After having listened through to all George Harrison's solo albums and writing about them, one conclusion is paramount. That for all that his lyrics could sometimes be sermonising, trite, worthy or schoolteacherish, Harrison also wrote some very beautiful melodies. This was an especially interesting development in his solo career because his earliest songs in the Beatles -- Don't Bother Me,... > Read more

Jack Nitzsche with Merry Clayton: Poor White Hound Dog (1970)

13 Oct 2014

There's quite an implosion of Stones' references which come with this track by the great producer, arranger, composer and Phil Spector protege Jack Nitzsche. He was commissioned to write the music for the film Performance which starred Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' girlfriend Anita Pallenberg. Nitzsche knew the Stones from when they visited the States in '64 and he was also music director... > Read more

Lou Christie: If My Car Could Only Talk (1966)

3 Oct 2014

Elsewhere has previously essayed the delights and confusion that Lou Christie's career threw up: the darkly romantic older woman in his life (who was allegedly some gypsy mystic), the soaring falsetto, the camp melodrama, the windshield wipers beating out their sexual rhythm on Rhapsody in the Rain . . . Producer Jack Nitsche who was on hand for this slice of  . . . . whatever the... > Read more

CC Adcock: Castin' My Spell (1999)

30 Sep 2014

One of the greatest producers, arrangers and composers was the late Jack Nitzsche who was -- among many other things -- Phil Spector's offsider and orchestrated River Deep Mountain High. You might also know him for the soundtrack to One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, for having writen Needles and Pins with Sonny Bono for the great Jackie DeShannon, playing keyboards on some of the early... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Who Killed Davey Moore? (1963)

17 Sep 2014

Bob Dylan's Hurricane in '75 is one of the best known songs about a boxer -- but very early in his career Dylan also sang another about a boxer, the fighter Davey Moore who was knocked out by Mexico-based Sugar Ramos from Cuba during a bout in March 1963, spoke to the media afterwards (the illustration is taken from a famous post-fight photo) but then complained of headaches, slipped into a... > Read more