Music at Elsewhere

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Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg (Light in the Attic)

14 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

Sex sells. It certainly sells the idea of maturity when former popettes decide to ditch the little sister look and get into barely-there leathers. Adults of course find this tasteless and the kids being manipulated, but it's nothing more than sex selling a product just like any other. Sex gets people hot under the collar (as in outraged) and you can guarantee to get a rise out of some when... > Read more

Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg: 69 Annee Erotique

Various Artists: The Rarest Rockabilly Album in the World Ever! (Chrome Dreams/Triton)

14 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

As with the blues, rockabilly is always out there, but only occasionally gets its time in the spotlight when artists such as the revivalist Stray Cats or -- more recently -- the great original Wanda Jackson get some serious attention. Expect then for rockabilly -- the up-tempo white country-based music which was a precursor to rock'n'roll in the mid Fifties -- to come to the fore then in... > Read more

Don Willis: Boppin' High School Baby

Mark Howden: Horizons (Waht)

14 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

Auckland singer-songwriter Howden appeared previously with two short albums: one of him in rock band mode, the other more of the acoustic persuasion, both under the name The Black Leaf. This new album (Horizons may be the title or the nom de disque) is an extension of the acoustic direction in dreamy, literate songs which recall the atmospheric folk-pop of Neil Halstead's wonderful... > Read more

Mark Howden: Pattern Blue

Greg Johnson: Secret Weapon (JMA)

14 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

That Greg Johnson seeded funding for this album by a pre-order subscription shows he has a loyal audience in this country – especially as he hasn't lived here for almost a decade and he's getting close to 10 albums under his own name, not counting a couple of best of/hits packages. In part that's because he's an endearing and often amusing entertainer whose shows are always worth... > Read more

Greg Johnson: No Weapons in the Bar

The Vaselines: Sex with an X (SubPop)

14 Nov 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

The little-known Vaselines out of Scotland got their sudden time in the spotlight when Nirvana covered a couple of their songs, notably Jesus Doesn't Want Me For a Sunbeam on their MTV Unplugged session. By that time ('93) the Vaselines - formed around Eugene Kelly and  Frances McKee -- had already broken up but they'd reformed to open for Nirvana in 1990. So that connection gets... > Read more

The Vaselines: The Devil's Inside Me

Paul McCartney and Wings; Band on the Run Remastered. (Universal)

8 Nov 2010  |  7 min read

It's sad in a way, but great albums often are a result of bad situations: death, divorce, betrayal, litigation and debilitating substance abuse seem to make for better and more interesting music than cheery times with the family on holiday. Think about it: Neil Young's Tonight's the Night (death, drugs); John Martyn's Grace and Danger (divorce, drink); Marvin Gaye's Here My Dear and In... > Read more

Paul McCartney and Wings: Picasso's Last Words

Elvis Costello: National Ransom (Universal)

8 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

The prolific Costello's last album – Secret, Profane and Sugarcane of last year – was his most interesting in years with its mix of rock, raw country, edgy ballads and bluegrass, all helmed by co-producer T Bone Burnett. Although Costello is not one to jog on the spot, this new one – in a cover by the same artist, Tony Millionaire – feels like a companion volume... > Read more

Elvis Costello: You Hung the Moon

Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Opal)

8 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

In the early Seventies the ambient albums by Brian Eno -- sometimes soundtracks for quiet, imagined films -- ushered in a kind of intelligent ambient music and the music on his Obscure label brought people like Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman and others to a wider audience than they might have otherwise enjoyed. Eno's own Music for Films series, later his Apollo soundtrack and even his... > Read more

Brian Eno: Lesser Heaven

The Puddle: Playboys in the Bush (Fishrider)

7 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

For those many of us who lost touch with Dunedin's the Puddle in the Nineties, last year's album The Shakespeare Monkey (a 2009 Best of Elsewhere album) came as quite a revelation for its literary lyricism and captivating alt.pop. This one might not have that same frisson of (re)discovery, but it is no less an album for that: there is a skewed angularity to the music (from mock-pop to bent... > Read more

The Puddle: Weight of the Stars

Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

7 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

After trying for the same late-career revival as Johnny Cash with producer Rick Rubin - to lesser commercial and critical success -- Diamond now delivers the album he has said he's always wanted to do: a collection of covers, including his own early song I'm A Believer made famously a hit by the Monkees. Diamond is a man who always seems to take himself, and a lyric, seriously and often... > Read more

Neil Diamond: Midnight Train to Georgia

Various Artists: Viva Elvis, The Album (Sony)

7 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

Let's be very clear here, this astonishingly awful album has very little to do with Elvis Presley -- the man, as these people have forgotten, who recalibrated popular music and culture. This has a whole lot to do with a Cirque du Soleil show which sampled Elvis' vocals and then pasted them over backings which, in most instancers, sound like they have been created by someone with a Sandy... > Read more

Elvis and others: Blue Suede Shoes

Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union (Mercury)

7 Nov 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

The story of how much Elton has admired Leon Russell for many decades (and who was a profound influence on his playing in the early Seventies) is well known, as is how Russell's star fell slowly from that peak when he was helming Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, then appearing with George Harrison, Dylan and others at the concert for Bangladesh. Russell delivered some terrific... > Read more

Elton John and Leon Russell: Gone to Shiloh

Various Artists: . . . Featuring Norah Jones (Blue Note)

7 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

Those who dismiss Norah Jones as some kind of aural wallpaper clearly aren't listening carefully enough. Her albums have been quietly progressive as they step deftly betwen lounge jazz and -- and the lady constantly defies expectation. Not the least by putting herself about a bit, in a professional way. This 18 track album may be something of a stop-gap as it collects some... > Read more

Norah Jones and Q-Tip: Life is Better

Black Country Communion: Black Country Communion (J and R/Southbound)

7 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

Some don't fall too far from the tree that Led Zeppelin planted, and this outfit -- a kind of second tier hard-rock supergroup -- certainly reference Jimmy Page's riffery and powerhoue attack. And the drummer is Jason Bonham, son of the late John from Zeppelin. But with guitarist Joe Bonamassa, keyboard player Derek Sherinian (Alice Cooper) and singer/bassist Glenn Hughes (Black... > Read more

Black Country Communion: No Time

Bob Dylan: The Witmark Demos 1962-64 (Sony)

1 Nov 2010  |  5 min read

There's a case the most important person in Bob Dylan's early career wasn't his inspiration Woody Guthrie (the folk singer he traveled to New York to meet and whose style he adopted), nor Suze Rotolo (his girlfriend who appeared on the cover of The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in '63 ) or even Joan Baez (his muse, lover and champion). The key figure – until they bitterly parted... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Ballad For a Friend

Emma Paki: Trinity (Heartmusic)

1 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

It has been an astonishing decade and a half (and a bit) since Emma Paki's remarkable System Virtue, Greenstone and her debut album Oxygen of Love. And since then mostly silence on the recording front. And she's in no hurry to rush back, this EP is just three songs in acoustic versions (two produced by Bic Runga), then mixed and remixed by various people (including Bryson Campbell of Dam... > Read more

Emma Paki: Century Sky (acoustic version)

Belle and Sebastian: Write About Love (Rough Trade)

1 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

There is perhaps little point in tryin to "sell" Belle and Sebastian, a Scottish group which has appeared at Elsewhere a couple of times (here), because their deft and literate pop has now been spread over almost 10 albums . . . so you've either got them, or not. And the album title here perhaps won't have wide appeal (didn't they always, in some form or another?) But rather... > Read more

Belle and Sebastian: Write About Love

The Soft Boys: A Can of Bees and Underwater Moonlight (both Yep Roc/Southbound)

1 Nov 2010  |  2 min read

When Robyn Hitchcock sang "I wanna destroy you" on the band's second album -- to a power pop riff that wouldn't have disgraced a Cheap Trick album -- you knew he didn't mean he'd be coming with a gun or a bomb, Hitchcock was out to kill with criticism, wit and satire. After all here's a man who launched his band with the first track on their first album A Can of Bees (1979) with... > Read more

The Soft Boys: Sandra's Having Her Brain Out

Bilders: Mindful and Mean Time (both Powertools)

1 Nov 2010  |  2 min read

Bilders (sometimes Bildrine) is the nom de disque of Bill Direen -- and that French there is not being pretentious as Direen spends much of his time in France, and the Mean Time album was largely recorded in Paris this year. The Mindful album was recorded in Berlin in 2008 as an art collaboration between singer/guitarist Direen and Jon Evans (keyboards), Fred Morvan a French DJ and others.... > Read more

Bilders: Fewer Than Few

Edith Piaf: Live at Carnegie Hall 1957 (Fantastic Voyage/Southbound)

31 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

Those who are used to hearing "The Little Sparrow" in aching, melancholy mode will be surprised by this historic concert at Carnegie Hall where she appeared with a full orchestra and choir, and that on ocassion she speaks and in English. After the success of the Piaf film (with Marion Cotillard), interest in Piaf has seldom been higher and those who perhaps picked up a single disc... > Read more

Edith Piaf: C'est a Hambourg