From the Vaults

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Joanie Sommers: Johnny Get Angry (1962)

9 Oct 2012

While not quite in the league of He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss, this sliver of semi-innocent pop sounds slightly uncomfortable these days. Poor Joanie, just wanting to get a response from the meek boyfriend ("I want a brave man, I want a cave man") and hoping for a lecture from Johnny. She wants Johnny to be the boss, but wimpy Johnny sounds like his part could be played by... > Read more

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Soldier Blue (1971)

8 Oct 2012

The great Buffy Sainte-Marie has appeared at Elsewhere previously for her always timely song The Big Ones Get Away, but this exceptional piece deserves to stand in its own right. Part political activism, part patriotic American anthem and a powerful plea underlining it all, Soldier Blue was the title song to a film of the same name which goes largely unseen these days. The film -- by... > Read more

The Beatles: Love Me Do (1962)

5 Oct 2012

It was 50 years ago today . . . Half a century ago, the world was a very different place. Germany was divided, racial lines split South Africa and the Southern states of America, the world held its breath when the young US President JFK prevented Soviet ships from taking missiles to Cuba . . . In music the big hits of the day were jazzman Acker Bilk's clarinet ballad Stranger on the... > Read more

Leonard Cohen: Because of (2004)

4 Oct 2012

The equation seems simple: Leonard Cohen the self-described "ladies man" + women + bed = But of course nothing is ever quite that straightforward with a Jewish Zen Buddhist poet-cum-singer and unlikely sex symbol even his mid 70s. Here with amusing self-effacement he confronts aging, his reputation, plays with images of "naked" women bending over the bed . . . ... > Read more

Silk: Custody (1969)

3 Oct 2012

As those who visit these pages know, Elsewhere often buys albums on the basis of their covers (see these articles on Shameful Record Covers I'm Proud to Own). Some of those were bought for their tackiness, oddity or kitsch quality. A few others because a name in the band went on to do something more interesting, or worse. The sole album from Silk in '69 however puzzled me. The name... > Read more

Neil Colquhoun: Talking Swag (1972)

2 Oct 2012

For many years in the late Seventies/early Eighties, when working at Glenfield College in Auckland, I had no idea that the slight, quietly spoken music teacher Neil Colquhoun was the same person who had compiled an important collection of New Zealand folk songs for the book Song of a Young Country, and had subsequently produced a double album of the same name for Kiwi Pacific. On that album... > Read more

Tole Puddle: Frodo (1973)

1 Oct 2012

From the late Sixties and far too far into the Seventies, the world was awash with bands -- mostly British -- who were immersed in Tolkien lore. Some like Led Zeppelin and T. Rex managed to incorporate it into whatever else they did, others were so drippy hippie that it became a lifestyle where their cosmology was determined by hobbits. There were bands named for characters and animals in... > Read more

Willie Nelson: Healing Hands of Time (1961)

25 Sep 2012

By the time Willie Nelson laid down this demo of what is arguably one of the greatest songs of his pre-fame period, he had already written Family Bible (a top 10 country hit for Claude Gray although Nelson had sold the song outright so got no writing credit or cash) and Hello Walls (number one for nine weeks in '61 for Faron Young). Crazy, which he had also written, would become a huge hit... > Read more

Davy Graham: Maajun (1964)

24 Sep 2012

In his exceptional book Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music, the author and folk excavator Rob Young shines his astute and poetic spotlight on not only the more well known names in British folk -- Donovan, the Incredible String Band, Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Strawbs et al -- but traces links to William Morris, Ralph Vaughan Williams and gives equal time to the likes of... > Read more

Joe Medwick: Letter to a Buddie(1963)

21 Sep 2012    2

Soulful singer Joe Medwick coulda been a contender but somewhere along the way he lost many of the songs he wrote for the likes of Bobby Bland, and his own singles and albums didn't really get much attention. He also had a thing for the drink, and preferred to play bars and nightclubs around Houston than chance his arm on the wider circuit. He actually had what we might call a nightclub... > Read more

Psychic TV: Only Love Can Break Your Heart (1989)

20 Sep 2012    1

With this week's Bargain Buy being that excellent set of Neil Young's first four albums, it is timely to haul this one out of the far reaches of the vaults: the post-punk British experimental/psychedelic/industrial outfit helmed by Genesis P. Orridge who once released more albums in a year than the Beatles did in their whole career. They were productive, worked under numerous disc... > Read more

Henry Phillips: The Bitch Song (1995)

19 Sep 2012

Not everything in life is serious and Henry Phillips takes a skewed view of the world. The title track of his album On the Shoulders of Freaks notes that all those great Greek philosophers "had a thing for little boys", that Katherine the Great enjoyed large animals, Hemingway put a bullet through his head, Salvador Dali's paintings were heaven sent even though he ate his own... > Read more

Elvis Presley: Always on My Mind (1972)

18 Sep 2012    2

Unlike the Beatles -- especially John Lennon and often George Harrison -- we rarely think of the Rolling Stones writing autobiographical songs, or lyrics which have come from some deep emotional place in their lives. And even less so with Elvis Presley who, after all, didn't write and would pick up anything from a Christmas carol to a raw blues and turn it into gold, or a very passable... > Read more

Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee: Screamin' and Cryin' Blues (1964)

17 Sep 2012

Although this song didn't appear in wide circulation until the Terry/McGhee 1964 compilation Pawnshop Blues, it seems to date back to the Thirties. Blind Boy Fuller recorded a version late in that decade (very similar, perhaps more considered) and as always with the blues, songs pass from hand to hand and down the decades. It seems likely however that blind harmonica player Terry picked... > Read more

Crowded House and Roger McGuinn: Eight Miles High (1989)

14 Sep 2012

Recorded live at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles when Crowded House met up with former Byrd Roger McGuinn, this song -- and their versions of Mr Tambourine Man and So You Want to be a Rock'n'Roll Star -- appeared on a '91 version of the CD single for Weather With You (other versions had live Crowdies tracks from the period). Not the most psychedelic guitar solo (Neil Finn could pull out... > Read more

Brave Combo: My Girl Lollipop (1982)

13 Sep 2012

It was a brave combo indeed that took piano accordion polka-rock to the good people of Denton, Texas -- but in the early Eighties this four-piece pulled together ska, Tex-Mex, rock, waltzes, rumba, zydeco and tango (with polka) and delivered their own versions of Hendrix's Purple Haze, Iron Butterfly's Inna Gadda Da Vida and The Twist, Perfidia and some mad originals. They played in prisons... > Read more

Johnny Ace: Pledging My Love (1954)

12 Sep 2012

And further to the now familiar story that death is good for a career . . . Johnny Ace had been enjoying a very good run of hits throughout the early Fifties, so much so that maybe he thought he was bulletproof. Literally. His story is well known, how on Christmas night in 1954, while at a gig in Houston he was fooling around with a gun (legend has a Russian roulette game but that has been... > Read more

Gene Pitney: A Town Without Pity (1961)

11 Sep 2012    2

Because many of us used to read album covers with something approaching an obsession when we were first buying records, we got to know the names of songwriters (Charles and Inez Foxx always sounded so mysterious when I found them on the first Downliners Sect album) and even producers. So imagine my confusion when I saw the name "Gene Pitney" credited with playing piano on Little... > Read more

The Beatles: Old Brown Shoe (1969)

10 Sep 2012

Although there's probably no such thing as an obscure Beatles' song, this one by George Harrison comes pretty close. It was the b-side to Lennon's Ballad of John and Yoko, and made it onto the second Past Masters compilation. But when the catalogue was remastered and reissued, it was pushed off the mono Past Masters in favour of another Harrison song, Ii's All Too Much (from Yellow... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Ballad in Plain D (1964)

7 Sep 2012    2

With a few exceptions (the song about John Lennon's murder on his new album Tempest), Bob Dylan's songs have long since ceased to be about anyone in particular. And there's a case to be made that perhaps many of those in the mid Sixties which seemed to have been aimed in particular directions (girlfriends Joan Baez, Edie Sedgwick and Suze Rotolo, running mate and fellow bear-baiter Bob... > Read more