From the Vaults

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Allen Ginsberg: Dope Fiend Blues (1974)

26 Jul 2012    1

Jimi Hendrix said he believed he couldn't sing, until he heard the young Bob Dylan and thought, "Well, if he can do that . . ." As a poet drawn to song, Leonard Cohen thought much the same about Allen Ginsberg, a man who sang less like Pavarotti than a first round contestant in American Idol. Ginsberg sing? Not really. But Ginsberg, like Cohen a Jew drawn to Buddhism, knew... > Read more

Mark Dinning: Teen Angel (1959)

25 Jul 2012

When songwriter Jean Dinning died in 2011 at age 86, the obituary writers got the bare fact down straight. How she'd been reading about juvenile delinquents and someone had commented these kids weren't so bad and should be called "teen angels". Her then-husband Red Surry suggested that might be a good title for a song and so the two of them came up with the maudlin, sentimental... > Read more

Elton John: Madman Across the Water (1970)

24 Jul 2012    1

During the sessions for his excellent country-rock album Tumbleweed Connection (an Essential Elsewhere album, see here), Elton John recorded this nine minute version of the menacing and moody Madman Across the Water, but wasn't satisfied with it. He subsequently re-recorded it, and it became the title track to his next album. But this version isn't without interest, notably because it... > Read more

The Fair Sect Plus One: I Love How You Love Me (1967)

23 Jul 2012    1

Occasionally at the Herald, when I had written something about a Sixties rock band in New Zealand or a story about clubs of that era, one of the subs Trevor would come over for a chat. He was a man of few words most of the time but in these instances he'd have some wry observation or tightly delivered anecdote which made it clear he had been there at the time. Once, in passing in some... > Read more

Not Sensibles: I'm in Love with Margaret Thatcher (1979)

19 Jul 2012

In Giles Smith's hilarious book Lost in Music, he tells of forming a band with his brother. His mum suggest they call themselves . . . the Smiths. Cue laughter from the boys, comments like who would name a band that and so on. Not Sensibles out of Burnley, England got their name when guitarist Sage Harley's dad heard about him forming a band and - because none of them could play with any... > Read more

Aztec Camera: Jump (1988)

19 Jul 2012

By the time of their third album Love in 1987, Aztec Camera out of Scotland had effectively become just singer-songwriter Roddy Frame and whoever he chose to work with. Love was their/his most successful UK album and the single Somewhere in My Heart lifted from it went to number 3 on the British charts. The 12" remix of that single was more interesting when you flipped it over: the... > Read more

The Savage: Gimme Some Lovin' (1966?)

18 Jul 2012

No, this is not the Spencer Davis Group sped up but a Japanese group (person?) which appeared on the '91 album Slitherama; Psychedelic Tokyo 1966-1969, the third volume of Japanese garage bands on the Planet X label. And other than my copy came on white vinyl there is nothing more I can tell you about the album or the artists (who also included The Outcast, the Spiders, the Mops, the Jaguars... > Read more

The Church: The Unguarded Moment (2004)

17 Jul 2012

Most people know the Church's 1981 Unguarded Moment as a classic slice of paisley pop full of guitar jangle and a world-weary drone-meets-melody delivery (see the clip below). But the Liberation label offered "heritage acts" the chance to do acoustic treatments of their great songs on their Liberation Blue imprint, and there were any number of Austraian and New Zealand artists... > Read more

Graeme Gash: Watching Television (1981)

16 Jul 2012    6

Posting a From the Vaults song off the Waves album of 1975 (here) was almost more trouble than it was worth. There was so much off-line (ie. e-mail) traffic along the lines of, "Loved that album, why isn't it on CD?") that I even formulated a standard reply. It went along the lines of "Thanks for your interest, but I don't know why it isn't. It should be". Someone... > Read more

Brix E. Smith and Nigel Kennedy: Hurdy Gurdy Man (1991)

13 Jul 2012    2

Tribute albums can be dodgy: some are fun, and the more obscure the artists the better they get. But you are wise to avoid the Joy Division tribute A Means to an End which features those household names Honeymoon Stitch, Girls Against Boys, Starchildren and godheadSILO. Or any of those to Tom Waits. But how can you resist an album of Donovan songs sung by the likes of bands with names... > Read more

Vera Lynn: Everybody's Talkin' (1970)

12 Jul 2012

Although knows as "the Forces' Sweeheart" for her songs during the Second World War, the great Vera Lynn subsequently had a successful career with hits in the Fifties and Sixties (although her Rock'n'Roll Party Hits album might not have been the strongest of ideas). In 1970 she released the album Hits of the 60's: My Way and although you might have expected she'd cover the... > Read more

Mr Lee Grant: Tabatha Twitchit (1968)

11 Jul 2012

New Zealand's Mr Lee Grant enjoyed a short but high profile career in the late Sixties on the back of his big voice (and distinctive hairstyle which was very Mary Quant). But Grant's voice wasn't big and rounded like his peers Tom Jones, PJ Proby, Englebert Humperdink etc, and nor did he have an emotional range like Scott Walker or Roy Orbison. Because he came up through the television... > Read more

Luv: You're The Greatest Lover (1978)

10 Jul 2012    1

Next month -- August 2012 -- marks a sad day in global pop. On August 12 the off-and-on group Luv will play their final ever performance. If that means little to you it is perhaps because you weren't tuned in to bland, efficiently produced Abba-style dance pop in the late Seventies and early Eighties when this trio were at their peak. Perhaps more photogenic than musical, Luv were one... > Read more

Bob Dylan: George Jackson (1971)

9 Jul 2012    1

Even before he plugged in an electric guitar and changed the landscape of rock possibilties in the mid Sixties, Bob Dylan had left behind overtly political music and his "protest" period. As the reluctant "spokesman for a generation" however many people's eyes still turned to him for inspiration and, worse, guidance. Even friends like Joan Baez urged him to make some... > Read more

The King: Come As You Are (1998)

6 Jul 2012

Although there aren't Elvis sighting in gas stations and supermarkets any more -- Presley would be in his late 70s -- there is still no shortage of lookalikes and impersonators around. While there seems no great call for Kurt Cobain and Mama Cass impersonators, those who swish their hair back and sneer a little seem to be always out there. One week I interviewed two of them and within... > Read more

Donovan: Season of the Witch (1966)

5 Jul 2012

When the world was getting very mellow in the mid Sixties, Donovan -- who would subsequently sing Mellow Yellow and had already embarked on a folkadelic path --recorded the dark side of the changing world in this prescient single which seemed, in retrospect, to anticipate Charles Manson and Neil Young's Revolution Blues. It would be a year before George Harrison went to San Francisco and... > Read more

Unknown Artist: Celebrate Dayton (1990)

4 Jul 2012    1

These days when cities want to "put themselves on the map" they tend to get behind big spectacle events (which almost invariably run over budget, don't make the promised returns and gouge rate payers for decades afterwards). However in 1990, Dayton in the Miami Valley had another idea. Put out an album in which the city's history and achievements were enumerated and have the story... > Read more

Dion: Lonely Teenager (1960)

3 Jul 2012

Marketing unhappiness to teenagers isn't exactly hard or innovative. Just obvious really. And so way before grunge angst and the miserablism of Morrissey there were songs which aimed straight at a teenager's heart . . . and wallet. Dion -- who is still recording today, but as a very different artist -- must be one of the luckiest men in show business. With his band the Belmonts back in the... > Read more

Chris Clark: I Want To Go Back There Again (1967)

2 Jul 2012    1

Of the few white acts on Berry Gordy's Motown label, Chris Clark -- with platinum blonde hair, pale skin and a kind of Marilyn Munroe appeal -- was undoubtedly the whitest. "Getting my singles played on radio was difficult," she said later. "Once [DJs] found out I was white they thought Motown had tried to trick them. "I always hesitate to say any of that, or that... > Read more

The Wailers: And I Love Her (1965)

27 Jun 2012

Although Bob Marley came to prominence in, and dominated, the Seventies, we often forget he was an exact contemporary of the Beatles in the Sixties. When they were in Abbey Road recording Can't Buy Me Love, the Waliers were in Studio One in Kingston asking the rude boys and razor gangs running wild in the streets to Simmer Down. Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingstone were also... > Read more