From the Vaults

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Candi Staton: I'm Just a Prisoner of Your Good Lovin' (1969)

15 Aug 2012  |  <1 min read

Now in her early 70s, the great soul and gospel singer Candi Staton is still out there touring and speaking about the healing power of the gospel spirit. Back in the day, her voice was on dance and disco hits also (see below for a classic disco-era hit), but in the Sixties she was a young and often raunchy soul sister whose first r'n'b hit out of the Fame Studios in Alabama was I'd... > Read more

Eddie and the Hot Rods: Teenage Depression (1976)

14 Aug 2012  |  <1 min read

As their name suggests, Eddie and the Hot Rods were never really part of the UK punk scene although -- like fellow pub rockers Dr Feelgood -- they were often lumped in with it during the late Seventies. But their thing was old school rock'n'roll (on record they'd covered Sam the Sham's Wooly Bully before this single) although as the musical climate changed they revved up their act and rode,... > Read more

Elvis Presley: US Male (1968)

13 Aug 2012  |  1 min read

In '67-'68 very few people were listening to Elvis Presley in the way they once did. The mode of the music had changed, the musical cultures of London and San Francisco were dominant and the new heroes were the Sun Kings (the Beatles), Jimi Hendrix, psychedelic bands and so on. Tough minded rock'n'roll singles  -- aside from those by John Fogerty for Creedence -- weren't of as much... > Read more

Little Willie John: Let Them Talk (1960)

8 Aug 2012  |  1 min read  |  2

One of Bob Marley's greatest and most pivotal songs was Soul Rebel, in the earliest version you can hear him moving away from the secular rude boy world into embracing the Rastafarian faith. He announces he is a "soul rebel", and while you can lock a rebellious man away, take his weapons and slander his name, if he is a rebel right from his soul he will never be broken. In... > Read more

The Chicks: The Rebel Kind (1966)

6 Aug 2012  |  1 min read  |  2

New Zealand has no great tradition of political pop or rock. All those years of high unemployment during the Flying Nun heyday . . . and who mentioned it? Very few. Even the Springbok tour in '81 barely generated a whisper from musicians. (Riot 111 here being the noble exception.) And during the Vietnam period? Barely a dickey-bird . . .  aside from, oddly enough, mainstream pop... > Read more

Peter Sellers; The Trumpet Volunteer (1958)

3 Aug 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

There has been a long tradition of mocking the pretentions of rock and pop singers, which isn't that hard. Many of them take themselves very seriously. When National Lampoon for example got stuck into a Pink Floyd-like musician who wanted to create a massive rock opera (on their '75 album Goodbye Pop, helmed by Christopher Guest of Spinal Tap) they were just part of a long lineage of... > Read more

The Trumpet Volunteer

The Electric Prunes: I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night (1966)

2 Aug 2012  |  <1 min read

Recorded at the end of 1966 and almost tipping into the US top 10 in January of the following year, this implosion of garageband rock, backwards guitar and tripped out intentions ushered in a year which was going to be full of such stoner delights. But the Prunes -- like New York's Blues Magoos -- had always been more raw rock than some of their colleagues although, as with so many bands at... > Read more

Walter Robertson: Sputterin' Blues (1955)

1 Aug 2012  |  <1 min read

When Roger Daltrey of the Who deliberately stuttered in My Generation it was in some sense to capture the frustration of youth, and also to add piquancy to what might come next when he sang "Why don't you all f-f-f-f ...." Bluesman Walter Robertson (sometimes Robinson) probably had no such intention on this song which is borderline tasteless and something of a novelty item.... > Read more

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