From the Vaults

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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

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

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

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone (1978)

12 Feb 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

With his big band the Asbury Jukes (a 10-piece), Southside Johnny out of New Jersey could only ever run a distant second to his friend Bruce Springsteen as the Seventies unfurled. Springsteen had the impetus, the big label, smart management and a kind of destiny -- but they were pals and E Street guitarist Steven Van Zandt was a Juke in '74-'75. Van Zandt produced the first three SJ albums... > Read more

The Shangri-Las: I Can Never Go Home Anymore (1965)

11 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

The spoken-word song -- often with a moral or a message -- has rarely been as popular as it was in the early Sixties. Back then there were numerous examples and although only a few became hugely popular the idea was a legitimate form. The Shangri-Las -- better known for Walkin' in the Sand and their terrific Leader of the Pack among other widescreen hits -- weighed in with this... > Read more

Honeyboy: Bloodstains on the Wall (1953)

8 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

Not much is known about Honeyboy (Frank Patt) other than he was born in 1928 in Fostoria, Alabama -- and that this song, considered his finest outing on the Speciality label in the Fifties, sold around 50,000 copies. You can see why: Jimmy Liggins plays tense and moody guitar, Gus Jenkins offers similar low key piano . . . and the lyric about coming home to what must be a murder scene is... > Read more

Bonnie Jo Mason: Ringo, I Love You (1964)

7 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

When the Beatles conquered the US in '64, there were literally scores of tribute songs, parodies and satirical pieces -- from the lament of The Beatles Barber to You Can't Go Far Without a Guitar (Unless You're Ringo Starr) and My Boyfriend's Got a Beatle Haircut. But few have gathered as much attention as this one. Not because it's any good (it isn't) but because of who sang it.... > Read more

Dinah Shore: The Gypsy (1946)

6 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

Here's a pub quiz question for you: What was so remarkable about the song The Gypsy in the year 1946? And the answer isn't that it's sentimental pop. That was an odd year in American popular music. The war had just ended and people went back to work, including the musicians who had been on strike until late '44. But you'd have to also say there was no great spark of... > Read more

Neil Young: Cocaine Eyes (1989)

5 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

Given his tendency to release as much music and as often as he can, it's increasingly hard to make the case for anything by Neil Young as being rare. His Archives Volume 1 scooped up vast tracts of early material, and when Vol 2 rolls around (no one would dare put a date on that, the first volume was spoken about for decades) then maybe songs like this one will be included. But for now... > Read more

Robin Zander: Fly Me to the Moon (2011)

4 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read  |  1

On the basis of recent evidence Robin Zander -- singer with the smarter-than-thou Cheap Trick -- has really lost it. Lost his cheekbones, his slim frame and, worst of all because those are forgivably inevitable with advancing years, his sense of taste. Perhaps it was having uber-brain Rick Nielsen helming Cheap Trick that allowed them to pull off three superb albums in a row -- and deliver... > Read more

Daniel Lentz: On the Leopard Altar (1984)

1 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

To be fair to Paul McCartney, he's always said he can't pick a hit single and never knows if he's written one until people line up to buy it. Even so, when Mojo magazine asked him in '97 -- as part of their 100 Greatest Singles of All Time issue -- to name his favourite songs, and then one that should have been a contender he went for this odd item by the American contemporary classical... > Read more