From the Vaults

Keep up to date with RSS Feed iconRss or subscribe to my weekly newsletter.

Howard Morrison: Howie the Maori/Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town (1982)

21 Jun 2012

The late Sir Howard Morrison was a complex character. He was a master of self-placement in the public domain (at Michael Jackson's side when the singer visited) and although some skewered him for snuggling up to politicians and dignitaries, he was also a populist and popular figure, and someone who throughout his life quietly -- and sometimes overtly -- advanced various Maori causes. He... > Read more

Unknown soprano: The Goodness of Chairman Mao is Deeper Than the Sea (1967)

20 Jun 2012

While there is doubtless some historic or artistic merit in many of tracks posted at From the Vaults, sometimes we pick them just because we can. There may well be artistic merit of some kind in this song and there is certainly historic significance. Whether that's enough to make anyone want to listen is another matter. Yes, the old record is scratchy and yes, Chinese sopranos can be an... > Read more

Coast: Why; A Peace Medley (1970)

18 Jun 2012

The war in Vietnam threw up hundreds of songs -- taking about every political position imaginable -- but this track is interesting as an early example of a musical montage.  Not a "song" as such but a medley of vocal samples (including one from American Vice President Spiro Agnew), sound effects and hooks from anti-war songs by Neil Young and the Plastic Ono Band, this piece... > Read more

The Nu Page: When the Brothers Come Marching Home (1973)

15 Jun 2012

The Nu Page were a one-single group signed to the Motown subsidiary label MoWest which released songs by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Thelma Houston and Tom Clay (whose version of Abraham Martin and John/What the World Needs Now is Love gave them a top 10 hit). Of Nu Page very little is known but this song -- celebrating the closing overs of American involvment in Vietnam -- had some... > Read more

Bob Dylan:Belle Isle (1970)

14 Jun 2012

Because of the length and breadth of his catalogue, it is hardly surprising Bob Dylan should have appeared at From the Vaults from time to time (see here), not always with great, lost songs either. A few are real duds.  His myth-destroying Self Portrait double album of 1970 is one of those oddities you can return to and find the oddball rubbing shoulders with the truly awful and... > Read more

The Buckinghams: Foreign Policy (1969)

12 Jun 2012

Very few today would even remember the MOR group the Buckinghams from the late Sixties. Their big hit was Kind of Drag ("when your baby don't love you") -- although Hey Baby ("they're playing our song") got a little radio mileage. The Chicago-based Buckinghams (and think about that location in the late Sixties) were a close-harmony group like the the Ivy League out of... > Read more

Bike: Save My Life (1996)

11 Jun 2012    2

Unless you actually know Andrew Brough, he is one of the great lost figures in recent New Zealand rock. One of the songwriters in Straitjacket Fits alongside Shayne Carter, he jumped/was pushed in 1992 after their second album Melt and briefly re-emerged in the mid Nineties when he seemed to get the wind behind him with Bike which became a vehicle for his distinctive, melodic songwriting.... > Read more

Ariel: Yellow Submarine (1997)

8 Jun 2012

Another track from the often hilarious and sometimes worrying Plastic Soul Vol 4 album which is a compilation of mad Beatles covers, many from Russia. Ariel weigh in with two entries, A Little Help From My Friends and this tempo-challenging stab at Yellow Submarine which ends up waltzing down the Danube. The band – which these days seems to consist of five staid middle-aged... > Read more

John Giorno: Suicide Sutra (1973)

7 Jun 2012

An important warning before you listen: Do not push play if you are suicidal, off your medication or are having a really hard time of it right now. Especially don't push play if you have access to a firearm. This disturbing piece was written by New York poet John Giorno (born 1936) and appeared as a piece on his Dial-A-Poem phoneline which he founded in the late Sixties. People could ring... > Read more

The Inhalers: Nico on a Bike (1990)

6 Jun 2012    1

When Nigel Beckford of Wellington got in touch two years ago about the album by the band Sven Olsen's Brutal Canadian Love Saga, he opened a door into a very strange and wonderful world. That album Songs From the Bottom of a Hilltop went into our Best of Elsewhere 2010 list and has, as expected, become a collector's item. There were only 400 pressed and it was an elaborate package of two... > Read more

Golden Harvest: Give a Little Love (1978)

5 Jun 2012    7

In the late Seventies, Golden Harvest from Morrinsville were briefly riding a wave of success. Their song I Need Your Love (see clip below) had been a huge hit and won them single of the year, and their self-titled debut album -- recorded at Stebbings by Rob Aickin with Ian Morris engineering -- delivered on their promise. With the exception of Dylan's All Along the Watchtower delivered... > Read more

Screamin' Jay Hawkins: Monkberry Moon Delight (1972)

4 Jun 2012    1

With Paul and Linda McCartney's Ram album being given the reissue treatment -- and album critically derided on release in '71 but a longtime Essential Elsewhere album and now picking up highly favourable reviews -- it is timely to post this track by the great Screamin' Jay Hawkins (who is interviewed here). Throughout his career McCartney to that point had drawn on interesting source... > Read more

Johnny Cash: The Chicken in Black (1984)

3 Jun 2012

Fortunately for Johnny Cash he didn't die around the time he hit rock bottom in the mid Eighties. If he'd gone then -- before his career resurrection through the American Recordings and the Walk the Line film -- he might not have been remembered as the man-mountain solid rock of country, the troubled man of faith or the middle-finger rabble-rousing guy of that famous photo. Imagine if The... > Read more

The Flys: Love and a Molotov Cocktail (1978)

29 May 2012

1977 was a confusing year in Britain: pub-rockers Dr Feelgood were at an all-time peak, the Sex Pistols, the Clash and others advanced the punk agenda, and off on the margins were power-pop bands which hadn't quite seen the changes coming. The four-piece Flys out of Coventry -- a little distant from the London scene -- were in the latter category, they knew a power pop-cum-New Wave riff but... > Read more

Red Hot Peppers: Witchwood (1976)

28 May 2012    2

New Zealand's short-lived but impressive Red Hot Peppers in the Seventies revolved around multi-instrumentalist Robbie Laven (originally from Holland) and singer-guitarist Marion Arts. Laven was quite a musical threat, he could apparently play about 50 instruments and on their debut album Toujours Yours he plays guitars, sitar, fiddle, lyre, qin, sax, dobro, banjo, mandolin, flute . . .... > Read more

Elmer Fudd: The Fool on the Hill (1995)

22 May 2012

There have been thousands of covers and interpretations of Beatles' songs -- from the refined (orchestral and chamber groups) to the ridiculous (dogs barking out She Loves You), from jazz and Hawaiian (by way of Belgium see here!), from reggae to trip-hop and . . . well, then there were the Rutles (whose parodies were also covered). There are also these exception and bizarre collections... > Read more

Bertha Lee Patton: Mind Reader Blues (1934)

21 May 2012

The last wife of Charley Patton, Bertha Lee was a fine singer in her own right -- and she probably had plenty of reasons to sing the blues. She was only married to Patton for about four years -- he died in 1934 -- but by all accounts their relationship was a volatile one. Honeyboy Edwards said, "Charley always had a lot of women. Men didn't like him much because all the women was... > Read more

Leon Russell: Back to the Island (1975)

18 May 2012

Leon Russell is like the Kevin Bacon of rock: there are six degrees of separation between him and anyone else. Actually, that's not true. There are about three. Leon to the Beatles? Well he was at Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh so that takes care of that one . . . and opens enormous doors to others. And Leon to Dylan? Same gig, more and different doors opening. To Elvis? He... > Read more

Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan: Jimmy Berman (1971)

17 May 2012

Given they had so much in common -- a love of words, counterculture cachet, Jewish upbringing and so on -- it is a surprise poet Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan didn't write and record together more often. There was a session with poet Anne Waldman in 1968 (which had Arthur Russell on cello), others in '71 with a similar group (and a sitar player) and another in '81. Oddly enough it seems... > Read more

The Viscounts: Harlem Nocturne (1959)

16 May 2012

In the final month of the Fifties, the Viscounts covered this piece which Ray Noble and His Orchestra had introduced two decades previous. But to it the Viscounts brought a sleazy menace in the simple bass line and shimmering guitar behind a saxophone sound which comes at you from a shadowy back alley. It reeks of film noir sensibility. This moody track was included on the excellent... > Read more