From the Vaults

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The Music Convention: Bellyboard Beat (1968)

7 May 2012

Some years ago while researching and writing the liner notes to a series of New Zealand psychedelic collections put together by Grant Gillanders, I came upon this track . . . and just kept playing it. In '68, the Music Convention seemed trapped between two eras, the surf-rock guitar of the early Sixties and the psychedelic movement with its sitars and mind-bending possibilities. Rather... > Read more

The Tigers: Red Dress (1980)

5 May 2012

As the Warratahs embark on a 25th anniversary tour, it is timely to look back at this New Zealand band which brought country music into fashionable rock circles, and connected with that mysterious place known to city folk only as "the heartland". But why not look back further? Back to a band which had future Warratahs' singer-songwriter Barry Saunders and bassist-songwriter... > Read more

The J Geils Band: No Anchovies, Please (1980)

4 May 2012    2

The J Geils Band out of Massachusetts is best known for their terrific single Angel in a Centrefold (aw, c'mon, it's great, in a rock'n'roll Benny Hill way . . . see clip below) and Freeze Frame -- and in this country probably not a lot else. No one I know has ever had a J Geils Band album -- or has admitted to as much. I do. Just the one. It is Love Stinks (from the year before the... > Read more

The Flying Burrito Brothers: Wild Horses (1970)

3 May 2012

Few Rolling Stones songs have had such an interesting history -- right up to Susan Boyle's recent interpretation -- as this one. Keith Richards has always claimed the title was his; Mick Jagger insists the song came from the first words Marianne Faithfull said when she came arround from a failed suicide attempt in '69: "Wild horses wouldn't drag me away from you". The Stones... > Read more

The Tickle: Subway (1967)

2 May 2012

These none-hit wonders have quite a remarkable claim to fame, if fame can be reduced to a footnote in rock history. The Tickle from Hull were the backing band on the debut album of a guy called David Bowie. Doubtless they got the gig playing with an unknown singer through producer Tony Visconti who twiddled the studio knobs here. They were certainly up to the task of sounding prematurely... > Read more

Joe Tex: I Gotcha (1972)

1 May 2012

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... > Read more

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

27 Apr 2012

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... > Read more

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

26 Apr 2012    1

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... > Read more

The Herd: From the Underworld (1967)

25 Apr 2012

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... > Read more

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

24 Apr 2012

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... > Read more

Roy Milton: The Hucklebuck (1949)

23 Apr 2012

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... > Read more

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

21 Apr 2012

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... > Read more

Broadcast: Chord Simple (2006)

20 Apr 2012

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... > Read more

Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

19 Apr 2012

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... > Read more

Romeo Void: Never Say Never (1982)

18 Apr 2012    1

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... > Read more

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

17 Apr 2012

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... > Read more

John and Jackie: Little Girl (1958)

16 Apr 2012    1

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... > Read more

Lee Harvey: Crawfish for Elvis (1991)

14 Apr 2012

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... > Read more

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

12 Apr 2012

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"... > Read more

The Temptations: Message from a Black Man (1969)

11 Apr 2012

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... > Read more