From the Vaults

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Ma Rainey: Toad Frog Blues (1924)

30 Jul 2012  |  1 min read

Few would have described Ma Rainey (1886 - 1939) as one of God's finest creations. Her pianist Thomas A. Dorsey said charitably "I couldn't say that she was a good looking woman". In Francis Davis' The History of the Blues; the Roots, the Music, the People from Charlie Patton to Robert Cray he writes, "everyone else who knew Ma Rainey described her as pug ugly, a short and... > Read more

Sebastian Cabot: Like a Rolling Stone (1967)

28 Jul 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

Portly English actor Sebastian Cabot was best known for his role as Mr Giles French, the "gentleman's gentleman" (butler etc), in the long-running late Sixties US sitcom Family Affair alongside Brian Keith (as his master). With his commanding English accent he was also in demand for voice-over work and -- like David Niven before him -- became the go-to guy when Hollywood needed... > Read more

Rochelle Vinsen: I Wanna Swim With Him (1965)

27 Jul 2012  |  2 min read

For those with a long memory, Wellington's Rochelle Vinsen is but a footnote in New Zealand pop history, the girl who gained some minor attention with My Boyfriend's Got a Beatle haircut in early '64 and . . . Hmmm. That might be about it? In fact, she also recorded with Christchurch's rocking Castaways and on this B-side displays some real teen-pop girl group-style chops. ... > Read more

Allen Ginsberg: Dope Fiend Blues (1974)

26 Jul 2012  |  1 min read  |  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  |  1 min read

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 min read  |  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 min read  |  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  |  <1 min read

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  |  <1 min read

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  |  <1 min read

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  |  <1 min read

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  |  1 min read  |  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  |  1 min read  |  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  |  <1 min read

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  |  1 min read

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 min read  |  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  |  2 min read  |  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  |  1 min read

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  |  1 min read

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 min read  |  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