Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

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Brenda Lee, I'm Sorry (1960)

Brenda Lee, I'm Sorry (1960)

Little Brenda Lee -- who stood 4'9" -- was never a threat. Not to girls in her audience. "My image wasn't one of a heartbreaker," she once said. "I was the little fat girl your mother didn't mind you playing with." When Lee went to number one with this powerful and aching performance she was one of the few women -- she was 15 -- to crack the charts. Just two years... more >>

23 Aug 2012

Alfred E Neuman: It's a Gas (1963)

Alfred E Neuman: It's a Gas (1963)

There's the widely held if rather snooty view that fart noises and belching are only amusing to adolescent boys. This rather ignores the obvious: that there will always be adolescent boys, and even more people who have been adolescent boys. Which perhaps explains the enduring if low appeal of this outing by Mad magazine's Alfred E Neuman. Mad did a number of such spin-off projects (none... more >>

22 Aug 2012

Patrice Holloway: Those DJ Shows (2005)

Patrice Holloway: Those DJ Shows (2005)

Ridiculous to observe, but there was once a time when radio people weren't "shock jocks" (and ain't that the second easiest job in the world?) or "taking callers now." Once upon a time radio people actually played music they loved which was right-then/right-now important and they brought new sounds to their audience. Here's one stunt I fell for as a teenager. Radio... more >>

21 Aug 2012

Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels: Devil with the Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly (1966)

Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels: Devil with the Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly (1966)

Whatever the reason -- working class industrial, mix of races, impurities in the water -- Detroit has been a hotbed of great music. From Bill Haley and Hank Ballard in the Fifties through Motown, Bob Seger and the Stooges to the Dirtbombs, Eminem and the White Stripes, it just keeps coming. And let's not forget -- although many do -- the great Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels who cracked... more >>

20 Aug 2012

Hank Ballard: The Twist (1958)

Hank Ballard: The Twist (1958)

The Twist wasn't the first dance craze of the pop era but it was certainly the biggest -- and the last. When Chubby Checker demonstrated the dance on American television in mid 1960 -- "Just pretend you're wiping your bottom with a towel as you get out of the shower, and putting out a cigarette with both feet" -- the simple movements went around the globe from the White House to... more >>

The Twist

17 Aug 2012    2

Candi Staton: I'm Just a Prisoner of Your Good Lovin' (1969)

Candi Staton: I'm Just a Prisoner of Your Good Lovin' (1969)

Now in her early 70s, the great soul and gospel singer Candi Staton is still out there touring and speaking about the healing power of the gospel spirit. Back in the day, her voice was on dance and disco hits also (see below for a classic disco-era hit), but in the Sixties she was a young and often raunchy soul sister whose first r'n'b hit out of the Fame Studios in Alabama was I'd... more >>

15 Aug 2012

Eddie and the Hot Rods: Teenage Depression (1976)

Eddie and the Hot Rods: Teenage Depression (1976)

As their name suggests, Eddie and the Hot Rods were never really part of the UK punk scene although -- like fellow pub rockers Dr Feelgood -- they were often lumped in with it during the late Seventies. But their thing was old school rock'n'roll (on record they'd covered Sam the Sham's Wooly Bully before this single) although as the musical climate changed they revved up their act and rode,... more >>

14 Aug 2012

Elvis Presley: US Male (1968)

Elvis Presley: US Male (1968)

In '67-'68 very few people were listening to Elvis Presley in the way they once did. The mode of the music had changed, the musical cultures of London and San Francisco were dominant and the new heroes were the Sun Kings (the Beatles), Jimi Hendrix, psychedelic bands and so on. Tough minded rock'n'roll singles  -- aside from those by John Fogerty for Creedence -- weren't of as much... more >>

13 Aug 2012

Little Willie John: Let Them Talk (1960)

Little Willie John: Let Them Talk (1960)

One of Bob Marley's greatest and most pivotal songs was Soul Rebel, in the earliest version you can hear him moving away from the secular rude boy world into embracing the Rastafarian faith. He announces he is a "soul rebel", and while you can lock a rebellious man away, take his weapons and slander his name, if he is a rebel right from his soul he will never be broken. In... more >>

8 Aug 2012    2

The Chicks: The Rebel Kind (1966)

The Chicks: The Rebel Kind (1966)

New Zealand has no great tradition of political pop or rock. All those years of high unemployment during the Flying Nun heyday . . . and who mentioned it? Very few. Even the Springbok tour in '81 barely generated a whisper from musicians. (Riot 111 here being the noble exception.) And during the Vietnam period? Barely a dickey-bird . . .  aside from, oddly enough, mainstream pop... more >>

6 Aug 2012    2

Peter Sellers; The Trumpet Volunteer (1958)

Peter Sellers; The Trumpet Volunteer (1958)

There has been a long tradition of mocking the pretentions of rock and pop singers, which isn't that hard. Many of them take themselves very seriously. When National Lampoon for example got stuck into a Pink Floyd-like musician who wanted to create a massive rock opera (on their '75 album Goodbye Pop, helmed by Christopher Guest of Spinal Tap) they were just part of a long lineage of... more >>

The Trumpet Volunteer

3 Aug 2012    1

The Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night (1966)

The Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night (1966)

Recorded at the end of 1966 and almost tipping into the US top 10 in January of the following year, this implosion of garageband rock, backwards guitar and tripped out intentions ushered in a year which was going to be full of such stoner delights. But the Prunes -- like New York's Blues Magoos -- had always been more raw rock than some of their colleagues although, as with so many bands at... more >>

2 Aug 2012

Walter Robertson: Sputterin' Blues (1955)

Walter Robertson: Sputterin' Blues (1955)

When Roger Daltrey of the Who deliberately stuttered in My Generation it was in some sense to capture the frustration of youth, and also to add piquancy to what might come next when he sang "Why don't you all f-f-f-f ...." Bluesman Walter Robertson (sometimes Robinson) probably had no such intention on this song which is borderline tasteless and something of a novelty item.... more >>

1 Aug 2012

Ma Rainey: Toad Frog Blues (1924)

Ma Rainey: Toad Frog Blues (1924)

Few would have described Ma Rainey (1886 - 1939) as one of God's finest creations. Her pianist Thomas A. Dorsey said charitably "I couldn't say that she was a good looking woman". In Francis Davis' The History of the Blues; the Roots, the Music, the People from Charlie Patton to Robert Cray he writes, "everyone else who knew Ma Rainey described her as pug ugly, a short and... more >>

30 Jul 2012

Sebastian Cabot: Like a Rolling Stone (1967)

Sebastian Cabot: Like a Rolling Stone (1967)

Portly English actor Sebastian Cabot was best known for his role as Mr Giles French, the "gentleman's gentleman" (butler etc), in the long-running late Sixties US sitcom Family Affair alongside Brian Keith (as his master). With his commanding English accent he was also in demand for voice-over work and -- like David Niven before him -- became the go-to guy when Hollywood needed... more >>

28 Jul 2012    1

Rochelle Vinsen: I Wanna Swim With Him (1965)

Rochelle Vinsen: I Wanna Swim With Him (1965)

For those with a long memory, Wellington's Rochelle Vinsen is but a footnote in New Zealand pop history, the girl who gained some minor attention with My Boyfriend's Got a Beatle haircut in early '64 and . . . Hmmm. That might be about it? In fact, she also recorded with Christchurch's rocking Castaways and on this B-side displays some real teen-pop girl group-style chops. ... more >>

27 Jul 2012

Allen Ginsberg: Dope Fiend Blues (1974)

Allen Ginsberg: Dope Fiend Blues (1974)

Jimi Hendrix said he believed he couldn't sing, until he heard the young Bob Dylan and thought, "Well, if he can do that . . ." As a poet drawn to song, Leonard Cohen thought much the same about Allen Ginsberg, a man who sang less like Pavarotti than a first round contestant in American Idol. Ginsberg sing? Not really. But Ginsberg, like Cohen a Jew drawn to Buddhism, knew... more >>

26 Jul 2012    1

Mark Dinning: Teen Angel (1959)

Mark Dinning: Teen Angel (1959)

When songwriter Jean Dinning died in 2011 at age 86, the obituary writers got the bare fact down straight. How she'd been reading about juvenile delinquents and someone had commented these kids weren't so bad and should be called "teen angels". Her then-husband Red Surry suggested that might be a good title for a song and so the two of them came up with the maudlin, sentimental... more >>

25 Jul 2012

Elton John: Madman Across the Water (1970)

Elton John: Madman Across the Water (1970)

During the sessions for his excellent country-rock album Tumbleweed Connection (an Essential Elsewhere album, see here), Elton John recorded this nine minute version of the menacing and moody Madman Across the Water, but wasn't satisfied with it. He subsequently re-recorded it, and it became the title track to his next album. But this version isn't without interest, notably because it... more >>

24 Jul 2012    1

The Fair Sect Plus One: I Love How You Love Me (1967)

The Fair Sect Plus One: I Love How You Love Me (1967)

Occasionally at the Herald, when I had written something about a Sixties rock band in New Zealand or a story about clubs of that era, one of the subs Trevor would come over for a chat. He was a man of few words most of the time but in these instances he'd have some wry observation or tightly delivered anecdote which made it clear he had been there at the time. Once, in passing in some... more >>

23 Jul 2012    1