Stained glass in First Church, Dunedin, New Zealand
Elsewhere by Graham Reid

music - travel - arts

Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

From the Vaults

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Joe Tex: I Gotcha (1972)

Joe Tex: I Gotcha (1972)

You could never say Joe Tex didn't live an interesting life, if being shot at by James Brown (who said Tex was copying his moves) constitutes something "interesting". Things weren't always quite so high profile and dangerous, none of his singles in his first decade caught the public's imagination but in the mid Sixties (after Brown had covered his Baby You're Right) he started to... more >>

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore: The LS Bumble Bee (1967)

Peter Cook and Dudley Moore: The LS Bumble Bee (1967)

From Stan Freberg and Peter Sellers through National Lampoon, the Rutles, Weird Al Yankovich and Spinal Tap, there has been a long tradition of skewering the foibles and excesses of pop culture. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore have appeared previously at From the Vaults with this song by Cook in which he nailed aloof and emotionally cold artists such as Lou Reed, Tubeway Army and Joy... more >>

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

When Jim Carroll died in September 2009 at age 60, it went largely unnoticed by the rock culture which had once embraced him, and spoken about this New York poet-turned-singer in the same breath as Patti Smith and Lou Reed. Carroll's rock career was admittedly short -- a few albums in the early Eighties and little else -- but his literary life was fascinating. And well known to the... more >>

The Herd: From the Underworld (1967)

The Herd: From the Underworld (1967)

It's not often Greek mythology cracks the top 10, but the Herd managed to do it with song from the autumn of love (September '67) which is based on the Orpheus and Eurydice story. After the death of Eurydice, Orpheus travels to the underworld and by using music he melts the hearts of the gods down there who agree to let the missus come back into life. The deal however is that she must walk... more >>

William Burroughs: What Washington? What orders? (1953)

William Burroughs: What Washington? What orders? (1953)

As guest writer Andrew Schmidt noted in his Other Voices Other Rooms piece on writer William Burroughs, his influence has been profound on many areas of the arts. We might also note that he had an astute and cynical eye and ear for global politics, as in this reading from his collection Exterminator! The idea of the hologram British royal family in a television serial/soap opera might... more >>

Roy Milton: The Hucklebuck (1949)

Roy Milton: The Hucklebuck (1949)

The career of band leader, jump jive and rhythm and blues singer Roy Milton (1907-83) is long and convoluted, and full of crossover chart hits in the Forties and Fifties. His story is best told here, so let's just focus on this song -- which New Zealanders will recognise because it was given an upbeat overhaul in 1965 and became a chart hit for the hugely popular sister duo The Chicks out... more >>

Howard Morrison Quartet: Rioting in Wellington/Mori the Hori (1962)

Howard Morrison Quartet: Rioting in Wellington/Mori the Hori (1962)

Recorded live in concert in 1962, these two tracks by the enormously popular Howard Morrison Quartet show just how little things have changed in New Zealand, and how much they have. The reference to Aunt Daisy in Rioting in Wellington won't mean much to anyone who wasn't there, but it is a reference to a radio star making the move to television. Ironically in New Zealand right now many... more >>

Broadcast: Chord Simple (2006)

Broadcast: Chord Simple (2006)

The British electronica band Broadcast were very big, in a quiet and inconspicuous way. And regrettably dogged by misfortune, if not tragedy. They formed in the mid 2000s, had a track on the first Austin Powers soundtrack (the somewhat forgettable Book Lovers), changed line-up a bit, and Simpsons' creator Matt Groenig had them on the bill for the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in... more >>

Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

When Nick Lowe sang this oldie in concert at the Powerstation recently (see review here), it's a fair bet many in the audience either didn't recognise it, or hadn't heard it in over four decades. Lowe's treatment -- slow, less dramatic -- made the lyrics act as a neat counterpoint to his own bitter I Trained Her to Love Me. But in McDaniel's hands this song he co-wrote with Burt Bacharach... more >>

Romeo Void: Never Say Never (1982)

Romeo Void: Never Say Never (1982)

The British label Stiff Records (which gave the world Jona Lewie, Lena Lovich and Wreckless Eric alongside Elvis Costello and Ian Dury, among others) said everybody had one good single in them. Romeo Void out of San Francsisco had Never Say Never, a smart sliver of New Wave pop which rode a relentless beat and was elevated not just by the ennui and indifference of singer Debora Iyall but by... more >>

Le Roi Jones: Our Nation is Like Ourselves (1970)

Le Roi Jones: Our Nation is Like Ourselves (1970)

Recorded at Buffalo State University, Le Roi Jones -- aka Amiri Baraka -- wasn't taking any prisoners in this powerful reading where he was among the first to reclaim and redefine the "N" word and throw "motherfugga" into the public domain. It was also -- like the earlier work by The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron -- a call to arms, or at the very least a cry against... more >>

John and Jackie: Little Girl (1958)

John and Jackie: Little Girl (1958)

Simulated female orgasm on records isn't overly common, but there are certainly a few high profile examples. Counting back from Vanessa Daou's Zipless album (1994) and Donna Summer's Love to Love You Baby (1975) through Yoko Ono's moan-groan-screaming in the late Sixties/early Seventies (you wouldn't want to live next door let alone be in the next room) and the steamy Serge Gainsbourg's Je... more >>

Lee Harvey: Crawfish for Elvis (1991)

Lee Harvey: Crawfish for Elvis (1991)

Lee Harvey was, if I am not mistaken, Chris McKibbin who was briefly on New Zealand's Flying Nun label. So briefly I believe he only did the one EP entitled Security 198 and I seem to recall he went off to Ireland at some point thereafter. The latter may not be true, but his EP was certainly a very interesting one in that it roved from fairly straight acoustic ballads to experimental pieces... more >>

Bill Elliot and the Elastic Oz Band: God Save Us (1971)

Bill Elliot and the Elastic Oz Band: God Save Us (1971)

The problem with political songs is that so often they are merely sloganeering and headlines. Fine print and nuance can't make it into a three minute song. Still, there's nothing quite like a chant such as "power to the people" -- even if we are never quite sure which people should have the power. For a few years from the late Sixties, John Lennon's "political"... more >>

The Temptations: Message from a Black Man (1969)

The Temptations: Message from a Black Man (1969)

In its early days Motown didn't directly address political issues -- although there's a good case to be made that its very existence and popular success was, like rock'n'roll of the Fifties, a political act in itself. But as the decade rolled on and young black men were either being shipped off to Vietnam or getting edgy in the streets back home, it was hard to ignore the rise of the Black... more >>

Karen Dalton: God Bless the Child (1966)

Karen Dalton: God Bless the Child (1966)

The new wave of folk artists have belately come to Karen Dalton, who palled around in Greenwich Village in the early Sixties with the likes of the young Bob Dylan (who was hugely impressed with her singing and guitar playing) and Fred Neil. It's said that she is the subject of Robbie Robertson-Richard Manuel song Katie's Been Gone on the Basement Tapes with Dylan. She was also admired by... more >>

Eddie Hinton: I Want a Woman (1986)

Eddie Hinton: I Want a Woman (1986)

Alabama-born Eddie Hinton (1944-95) is hardly a household name but was one of the great Southern soul songwriters and sessionmen. As a Muscle Shoals musician he played guitar on scores of sessions (for everyone from Aretha Franklin to Boz Scaggs, Elvis to Solomon Burke) and was a prolific, if under-recorded, songwriter. His most notable hit was Breakfast in Bed, a co-write with Donnie... more >>

Peter Cook: Bedazzled (1968)

Peter Cook: Bedazzled (1968)

Although best seen in the context of the hilarious Bedazzled film -- where poor Dudley Moore is granted wishes by the Devil (the smarmy and petty Peter Cook) -- this song still resonates for its emotional coolness and distance. Some context then? Moore plays a nervous cook in a cheap London diner who is smitten with the beautiful waitress Eleanor Bron. He meets the Devil (in the guise of... more >>

Tintern Abbey: Vacuum Cleaner (1967)

Tintern Abbey: Vacuum Cleaner (1967)

Without a doubt one of the least promising song titles ever (were they announcing this sucked?) and the band's name similarly tapped into the obvious Anglo-fashionability of the period when the Beatles' Sgt Peppers album and shops like Granny Takes a Trip were London's cultural reference points. But, with lines like "fix me up with your sweet dose", the bent and careering... more >>

Will Geer: Reading Woody Guthrie (1947)

Will Geer: Reading Woody Guthrie (1947)

Will Geer (born William Ghere) enjoyed quite a remarkable acting career but was perhaps best, and possibly only, known by many for his role as Grandpa in the popular television series The Waltons. When he died in '78 his passing was written into the series -- and only when the tributes flowed and the obituaries were written did many fans of that show realise the kindly old actor was gay,... more >>