From the Vaults

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Paper Knife: title unknown (1996?)

18 Apr 2013  |  1 min read

At some time in the mid Nineties while in Tokyo I ambled through Yoyogi Park where the Fifites rock'n'roll stylists slick back their hair and dance to old Elvis, and girls and boys alike dress like manga-mad characters. It is a vibrant and slightly circus-like atmosphere -- and that was where I saw Paper Knife, two young and slightly uncomfortable guys with guitars and a beat box of drum... > Read more

Lucille Bogan: Shave 'Em Dry II (1935)

17 Apr 2013  |  <1 min read  |  2

In these days of earnestly crotch-thrusting young women on video clips you long for something which has that long forgotten ingredient: wit. Old time blues is ripe with innuendo, downhome analogies and suggestive lyrics. When Lonnie Johnson sings of being the The Best Jockey in Town he doesn't mean he brings home the winners. Lil Johnson in the Thirties delivered a line of sexually... > Read more

Noel McKay: Sweater Girl (1963?)

16 Apr 2013  |  <1 min read

Noel McKay had a drag act in New Zealand in the early Sixties (and lesserly so into the Seventies) but always walked both sides of the line. He released albums in covers with him in drag but also had a series of EPs on the Viking label entitled Party Songs; For Adults Only which were directed at the straight audience. These included mildly risque songs such as Loretta the Sweater Girl... > Read more

The Gun: Race with the Devil (1967)

15 Apr 2013  |  2 min read  |  1

In the age of Cream (mid '66 to late '68), Blue Cheer and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the power trio became an established form and this group from Buckinghamshire -- two brothers and another -- took the hard rock, guitar pyrotechnics sound to the top of the British charts with this single. And that was about it for them. That's actually not entirely true, but there is a back-story and a... > Read more

The Beatles: I Saw Her Standing There (1963)

3 Apr 2013  |  1 min read

Half a century ago the Beatles' debut album Please Please Me was released. Legend has it that it took only 16 hours to record, the final song being Twist and Shout, for which Lennon -- suffering from a cold and drinking sweet tea -- roared through in a searing performance. The album contained their earlier minor hit Love Me Do and chart topper Please Please Me alongside Arthur... > Read more

Steeleye Span: Cam Ye Oer Frae France (1973)

28 Mar 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

As with Fairport Convention (which included Richard Thompson), Steeleye Span were in the vanguard of the British folk-rock movement of the late Sixties. Unlike Fairport however, Steeleye Span didn't move as often and as far from the roots of folk and frequently drew on Francis Child's text The English and Scottish Ballads for inspiration and source material -- a book which has more recently... > Read more

Gary US Bonds: Quarter to Three (1961)

27 Mar 2013  |  2 min read  |  2

In the DVD doco accompanying the box set version of The Promise -- the songs recorded while waiting to start a new album after Born to Run -- Bruce Springsteen talks about how he was a product of Top 40 radio, those great three minute songs which set you free just for that moment in time. And E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt later says that Springsteen could have been one of the great... > Read more

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