From the Vaults

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Peter Cape: She'll Be Right (1959)

26 Mar 2013  |  <1 min read  |  1

Peter Cape was New Zealand's unofficial poet laureate in the days before television, when men were "jokers" and women were "sheilas" . . . and when you could afford to assume that "she'll be right". (ie no matter what happens, it'll be okay.) Cape wrote and sang of awkward young men and women at a rural dance (Down the Hall on Saturday Night), of train stops on... > Read more

Brute Force: The King of Fuh (1969)

25 Mar 2013  |  1 min read

The two hour-plus DVD doco Strange Fruit shone a spotlight on a fascinating period in the Beatles' career, that of their own production/recording and publishing company Apple whch McCartney described as "Western communism". The ethos of the label was to give artists freedom to record and as such the label openly touted for talent. Ironically not one of those who many hundreds who... > Read more

Lee Clayton: Industry (live, 1989)

15 Mar 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

Rocking country singer Lee Clayton out of Alabama and Tennessee almost made the big time at the end of the Seventies with two exceptional albums, Border Affair and Naked Child. In some ways he was ahead of his time and if they had arrrived around the same time as James McMurtry, Chris Whitley and a few others a decade later he might have been seen as a part of a tough-minded and poetic... > Read more

Elaine Brown: Seize the Time (1969)

14 Mar 2013  |  1 min read

In that period when rock joined hands with the revolutionaries (the late Sixties into the early Seventies) few could claim to so confidently occupy both sides: Brown was one of them. Born in Philadelphia, she moved to California in the mid-Sixties to wait tables, became a member of the Black Congress community orgainsation, wrote freedom poetry and songs, performed in various places and... > Read more

The Waikikis: Nowhere Man (1968)

13 Mar 2013  |  1 min read

It is a well known fact that Honolulu and Liverpool have much in common. Both are port cities and . . . Err. Maybe not. But the emotional and physical difference didn't stop the Waikikis from adapting a bunch of Beatles songs into their distinctive Hawaiian style. Not that there was anything unusual in a band adapting the Lennon-McCartney songbook into their own voice, there are... > Read more

The Vapours: Turning Japanese (1980)

12 Mar 2013  |  1 min read

Ever wondered why the English New Wave band The Vapours were just a one-hit wonder with Turning Japanese? They don't. They know exactly why. A little background though: they were from Guildford and the mainman was singer/songwriter Dave Fenton who had a day job as a solicitor. Playing as the Vapours, the four-piece were spotted by Bruce Foxton of the Jam who was impressed. The Vapours... > Read more

Rod Stewart: Don't Come Around Here (2001)

4 Mar 2013  |  1 min read

In his candid autobiography, Rod Stewart humorously dismisses or is highly critical of some of his albums. In 2000 after a skirmish with cancer, he returned with the album Human, which included Charlie Parker Loves Me and this song with Helicopter Girl. But as he writes, "[Human] sold poorly. Alarmingly poorly. It seemed to go down about as well as a verucca plaster in a swimming... > Read more

Memphis Jug Band: Cocaine Habit Blues (1930)

1 Mar 2013  |  <1 min read

The curious thing about cocaine in popular culture is the vast majority of users (as with most drugs) had a great time, but when it comes to writing songs about it those who came out the other side are pretty down on it. There's something honest about those who say, "Yeah I did this and it was terrific" -- but of course in the interests of minors we should naturally adopt the... > Read more

Big Daddy: A Day in the Life (1992)

28 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

Although it's not hard to find truly awful versions of Beatles' songs -- many are collected by Jim Phelan for his Exotic Beatles series of albums -- and a decent number of rather excellent treatments, there aren't that many which are just plain fun. Big Daddy are a retro group which made a reputation by taking contempoary songs and recasting them as doo-wop, Fifties rock'n'roll and so on.... > Read more

Mae West: A Guy What Takes His Time (1933)

27 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

Hard to believe from this distance, but Mae West -- who was born in 1893 and lived long enough to be in a movie with Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and Alice Cooper (the forgettable Sextette in '78, released two years before her death) -- was once a young woman. Those who came to her career late just knew her as that blonde bombshell old lady who had been famous for her one liners. Among them:... > Read more

Del Shannon: Keep Searchin' (1964)

26 Feb 2013  |  1 min read  |  2

Del Shannon -- who died in 1990 age 55 -- is best and perhaps only remembered for the great chart-topping single Runaway of '61, even now a thrilling slice of energetic pop. But far from a one-hit wonder as classic hits radio would have you believe, he also did top 10 business with Hats off to Larry and Little Town Flirt -- and he was smart enough to feel the winds of change blowing in the... > Read more

Sex Pistols: God Save the Queen (2002, dance mix)

25 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

One of the more confusing and alarming posters I saw in Britain in 2012 was on a wall in Dover. It was this one, a DJ celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee -- and given the massive unemployment and fragile economic conditions, I couldn't help but reflect on that earlier Jubilee year when the young people of Britain (a significant number anyway) exploded with rage about the banners and... > Read more

David Bowie: This Is Not America (1985)

22 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

Accidentally catching David Bowie in Labyrinth on television recently reminded just how much he put himself about for a while there. Recording Peter and the Wolf, singing the Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby, strutting with Mick Jagger for Dancing in the Street, the Absolute Beginners and When the Wind Blows soundtracks, knocking off stuff for Labyrinth which allowed him to dance in very... > Read more

Texas Jim Robertson: The Last Page of Mein Kampf (1946)

20 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

Texas-born Jim Robertson was one of those who sang about the Second World War and knew what he was talking about. No stay-at-home, when he was rejected by the army he enlisted in the marines and saw action in the Pacific then ended up in Japan after their surrender. At almost two metres tall, he'd been raised on a ranch, learned guitar and banjo from his father, and in the late Thirties... > Read more

Jim Reeves: He'll Have To Go (1960)

19 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

One of the saddest songs ever penned, He'll Have to Go became a signature ballad for the man they called Gentleman Jim Reeves. Reeves (1923-64) had the vocal ease of Bing Crosby but with less of the Crosby's lower register scuff: if Bing was brown, Jim was tan. And there was something about his slow aching honesty that made him the perfect voice for songs about a man in love whose... > Read more

The Mystery Trend: Johnny Was a Good Boy (1967)

18 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

Just as DJs like to discover rare grooves to enhance their cachet as being cutting edge, so too the internet is full of sites where people haul out the most obscure Sixties garageband and psychedelic rock tracks . . . not all of it any good, of course. That's not the point though. The point is along the lines of, "I've heard this and you haven't so . . ." The Mystery Trend... > Read more

Cilla Black: Liverpool Lullaby (1969)

15 Feb 2013  |  3 min read

Liverpool today is a very different place from the tough port city it was in the years after the war: a world perhaps only familiar from documentaries about the Beatles' early years where bomb-scarred buildings still littered the landscape. That lost world is celebrated in song and commemorated in film.  Today, if nothing else, there are new architectural projects and civic... > Read more

The Off-Set: You're a Drag (1966)

14 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

When it came to forming groups in the Sixties, Don Sallah was a serial offender. Mostly studio-based, Sallah started the decade in Little Moose and the Hunters (he was the wee moose), recorded an all-instrumental album as The Pioneers and then formed the Emeralds, a vocal harmony group. With Hank Cardello from the Emeralds he then formed the Off-Set who hooked into the folk-rock thing for... > Read more

The Rolling Stones: Continental Drift (1989)

13 Feb 2013  |  1 min read  |  2

For reasons which were never clear or explained, in 1989 the Rolling Stones included this interesting piece of rock exotica on their Steel Wheels album, which was otherwise business as usual in the riffery stakes (the most memorable track which appeared in subsequent concerts was Mixed Emotions). The album wasn't too bad at all actualy (a considerable improvement over its predecssor Dirty... > Read more

Ozzie Waters: A Rodeo Down in Tokyo and a Round-Up in Old Berlin (1943)

13 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

While we might agree that war brings out the best and worst in people, it undeniably brings out the utterly atrocious when it comes to patriotic songs. Most are sentimental, stridently nationalistic, simplistic to the point of insulting and largely forgettable other than for some unintentional humour in later years. At From the Vaults we have posted a few which fall into all of those... > Read more