Content tagged as bob dylan.
Tribute albums are, almost by definition, uneven. Some artists will be up to the challenge, others won't quite get inside the song.
This one however has a higher score card than most, largely because of the calibre of those on hand -- and of course the quality of the songs.
So here are appropriately enough are Guster and Gomez (both...
If anyone has won the right to sings songs of life on hard scrabble farms it is Levon Helm, the former drummer/singer/mandolin player in the Band who grew up on a cotton farm near a town called Turkey Scratch in Arkansas.
His group -- called for a time Levon and the Hawks -- backed Ronnie Hawkins, linked up with Bob Dylan and became simply...
Covers albums can be uneven and most often uncalled for: usually they represent some stopgap measure for an artist, and at their worst seem pretty pointless, like Patti Smith's recent Twelve in which she covered songs which had influenced her but she brought nothing to them other than her stylistic signature.
Or Bryan Ferry's recent...
This son of Bob will be 40 next year and has a substantial career behind him with the Wallflowers (five albums) plus some high-profile guest spots. But with this debut under his own name you have to ask, "Aren't you a bit young for this?"That's because the album is a stripped-back (mostly) solo affair produced by Rick Rubin who is...
The Smithsonian is one of those great American institutions which, if it says "we're here to help" actually is. In their Smithsonian Folkways collection they have short audio examples of 40,000 tracks and through their Global Sound website they are all available for download. And they have the original liner notes for the relevant...
John Mellencamp's last album Freedom's Road was so good -- a grounded, raw and uncompromising look at America in the hinterland and heartland -- that this similarly conceived new one should attract immediate attention.Mellencamp -- who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year -- somehow falls below the sight lines in...
Bob Marley was quite a man . . . nobody seems to have a bad word to say about him.
Oh sure, a few wacko reactionaries got het up over the dope thing and tossed him into the Godless Heathen Corrupting Our Youth basket. But here was one spliff smoker who would run 10km before breakfast, was always keen to play a game of soccer and knew more...
For the record, I turned off the Band around the period they hit the cover of Time magazine in January 1970 - which is to say I never really got into them.
This is no brag that when they went commercial I bailed out, more like that guy who yelled “Judas” at Bob Dylan when he plugged in. Just a case of woeful stupidity....
Bob Dylan, North Shore Events Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. February 2003
It's hard to know what to expect of Bob Dylan concerts these days: 40-something albums which range from the indispensable to the indifferent, wildly erratic shows which can include ancient folk-blues or covers of contemporary artists (he has recently included Warren...
BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008 Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs, Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006, The Bootleg Series Vol 8
After the less-than-essential Vol 7 which accompanied the brilliant Martin Scorsese Dylan-bioflick No Direction Home (if you got the DVD you could probably pass on the CD) this on-going series of unreleased/rare/alternative versions hits another peak with this exceptional collection.
There are a number of reasons for that: look at the period...
Writer Michael Gray is not backward about coming forward: he includes an entry on himself in this massive tome published in 2006 which is alternately illuminating, absurdly amusing, opinionated or a trainspotter’s delight depending on which of the more than 2000 entries you pick.
The author of the seminal Song and Dance Man study of...
Judging by the roar of approval when Steve Earle paid tribute to Pete Seeger at his Auckland concert, and the rediscovery of the earthy wisdom and political position of Woody Guthrie by another generation, this double CD of 50 songs (with minimal liner essay) is welcome.
Disappointingly it is the abridged version of The Land is Your Land...
In 1952, the 29-year old Harry Smith -- an archivist and film-maker whose innovative work bears comparison with the genius of Elsewhere favourite Norman McLaren -- selected 84 songs from his collection of thousands of fragile 78rpm discs and -- through Moses Asch of Folkways Records -- released them as three double albums on the then-new LP...
Few, if any, musicians have been as self-mythologising as Patti Smith, she has written her story with capitals: New Jersey, Piss Factory, New York, Mapplethorpe, William Burroughs, Keith Richards, Bob Dylan, Rimbaud, The Chelsea Hotel, CBGBs, Horses, Fred “Sonic” Smith, Detroit . . .
Yet Smith’s recorded reputation rests on...
Appropriately on the Columbia Legacy label, this double disc (Volume 4 in the on-going Bootleg Series) contains the whole of the famous "Royal Albert Hall" concert -- actually at the Manchester Free Trade Hall -- where a voice from the darkness yelled, "Judas." This is the stuff of legend, and the accusation from some...
Elsewhere readers would be familiar with Bob Dylan's extensive website (he's got another new album in April) and his radio programme and will have doubtless noted the many Dylan articles, music etc at Elsewhere, most recently the posting of the album Bob Dylan's Jukebox which was a compilation of songs which had influenced...
When I was growing up and the sound of the Beatles and the Stones was the soundtrack to my life, the folk movement out of the US just seemed quaint and grounded in another era. While artists such as Joan Baez and the young Bob Dylan made an impact, a bunch of buttoned-down college boys in sweaters singing "hang down your head Tom...
When the previous album by this one-time fellow traveller with Woody Guthrie and mentor to the young Bob Dylan arrived -- I Stand Alone of two years back -- I had to admit I thought Elliott had long since passed on.
But that album not only confirmed he was alive and well, but also pretty darned sprightly. This one produced by Joe Henry...
British author Tony Parsons used to take drugs with Johnny Rotten but now prefers taking his two-year old to the park and writing about families in the suburbs. He now lives the life of a best-selling author with blockbusters like Man and Boy behind him, and reflects with some wry amusement on his former life. Hello Tony, thanks for...
Think about it for a moment: "Stirring my brandy with a nail". Delivered in Tom Waits' oaken croak, it has everything: the mean spirit of drinking, the bitter taste of melancholy, the sheer aloneness of it all. It is a great Waits line.
But it was also a typical
If there was a surprise about Waits' Mule...
Even Joe Cocker finds it amusing he should be staying in his hotel in Denmark under an alias. After all, he’s hardly fan-bait as a crumpled 61-year old and, once out of his regulation black stage uniform, he can walk any street in most cities unrecognised.
“In the daytime when I’ve got my denim jeans on and a polo shirt I...
This lightweight but cheap paperback provides some funny observations (such as Elvis Costello's "Rock'n'roll is the lowest form of life known to man"), but mostly it proves we're lucky these people can sing, because their insights can be as shallow as a birdbath.
Rickie Lee Jones offers: "I never knew that life was so serious...
Bob Dylan doesn't exactly make easy listening music, but Together Through Life finds him in a musically mellow mood and although darkness lurks in the lyrics (guns, death, danger, songs of love and loss) there is something relaxed and almost settled about most of these 10 songs.
Where its superb predecessor Modern Times (his first...
The sometimes tetchy Neil Young has long lead his followers and record company on a merry dance: he has delivered some of the most exceptional albums in rock (Tonight's The Night, On the Beach which is an Essential Elswhere album, Arc-Weld, and Live Rust among them) -- but equally he has offered self-indulgent nonsense (the over-rated and...
Some people are more rewarded for what they don't achieve rather than what they do. There are politicians whose gift is to keep their heads down, make no mistakes but do nothing of consequence, and wait for a position on a board.
That's in the nature of self-serving politics, perhaps. However it's more unusual for musicians who are...
In October ‘93, when Paul Simon took up what amounted to a month-long residency at the Paramount Theatre in New York, it was billed with typical Nineties hyperbole as “The Concert of a Lifetime”
At this particular spectacular -- Art Garfunkel, Phoebe Snow, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and other Simon collaborators and friends...
You don't have to get too far into this album -- maybe just a few chords in fact -- to click that this isn't the Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes) of previous releases, the guy who started by juggling electronica dabbles with folksiness, then moved into alt.folk and bent pop.
This time out with a bunch of friends who share an affection for...
Perhaps this three-CD box set (with a DVD and booklet) might be subtitled "Songs for the New Recession" as the songs here have an almost alarming resonance, despite them being sourced from the Wobblies of a century ago and making their way into the contemporary world via Depression days and then the likes of Pete Seeger who has kept...
Seventies cult singer-songwriter Rodriguez appeared at Elsewhere when his terrific debut Cold Fact got a long overdue reissue. He's the kind of person you know and love, or simply don't get at all.
Oddly enough he was "got" in South Africa and Australia back in the day, although his two albums -- Cold Fact and Coming From Reality...
For a very brief period in the early Nineties Beck was hailed as the Dylan of his generation (another in the "new Dylan" lineage which began back with Donovan, Loudon Wainwright III etc in the mid Sixties) and it was because of music like this from '94, an indie album which was recorded before Mellow Gold but released after the success...
In the early Nineties Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead observed that Bob Dylan still wrote the most beautiful tunes . . . didn't always sing 'em of course, but the melody was in there somewhere.
With Bone Machine -- Waits' best album Rain Dogs in '85 and clear contender for album of the year in '92 -- Waits penned a a bracket of melancholy,...
While there are any number of Beatle albums which are essential, there is a case to be made that Rubber Soul -- which marked their transition from an increasingly banal and almost irrelevant pop band into a group which became adult, confident and inventive -- is currently the most ignored in their catalogue.
But before making the case for...
This influential alt.country/indie-rock band from Minneapolis has a long and slightly convoluted history: Mark Olson quit in '95 after a decade, but has latterly rejoined co-founder Gary Louris who had carried the band name into their slightly-delic pop-rock albums Sound of Lies and Smile, and the country-rock default position on Rainy...
Some music is purely functional: music in airports; massage music, Kiwi backyard-bbq reggae etc.
This one by a US band I know nothing about is driving music -- annoying inner city stop-start or highway freedom -- and comes off in places like amphetamine-fuelled and wordy Dylan '65 (or more correctly, Butch Hancock when he was doing that...
The previous album by this hugely underrated power pop/rock singer songwriter and the former Bangle was a snapshot of their favourite Sixties songs (by the Beatles, Dylan, Neil Young, Stone Ponies, Who and so on) under the banner of Sid'n'Susie.
Here they undertake the diversity of the Seventies which means power pop (a rather mundane...
The singer-songwriter behind this gorgeously tuneful, lyrically probing debut is Simone Felice of the terrific Felice Brothers, two times Best of Elsewhere artists (2007, 2008) for their amalgam of ragged-but-right country which owed huge debts to the early Band and country-styled Bob Dylan, but who put their own stamp on proceedings.
If nothing else, and there is a lot of "else" here, the instrumentation on this new album by the Nashville singer-songwriter Kane would be pretty arresting: drums, electric guitar, banjo and baritone sax, the latter from Deanna Varragona who has played with Lambcop.
It makes for a sound which can be sprightly (the banjo) but also...
After calling it quits in 2002, frontman Chris Robinson going solo, then their resurrection with Warpaint last year (which brought in guitarist Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars), the Black Crowes rarely sounded so on top of their game.
And they followed Warpaint with a double punch Warpaint Live (the album played live and...
As on his earlier Leave The Light On, this grizzled singer-songwriter now in his mid 60s, covers a Bob Dylan song, this time It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry.
He also adds in Mark Knopfler's Madame Geneva's and that's a more useful reference, because Knopfler explores roots music -- but Smither lives it. His low grumble isn't...
This sextet from the Pacific North West hasn’t made much of an impact here, despite three albums which have drawn critical comparisons with Neil Young (in his acoustic and rock personae), Fleet Foxes and Wilco (both of whom they have opened for), folky Dylan and even Rubber Soul-era Beatles (albeit with a country-rock skew).
The 1951 waterfront strike in Auckland (which lasted for five months but had repercussions for years, even decades, after) was one of the most significant flashpoints and dividing lines in New Zealand history, certainly as much as the Springbok tour three decades later.
The strike, lock-out, state of emergency, troops and farmers coming to...
Cate is what we might call an "occasional" rock'n'roll singer-songwriter: this is only his fourth album in about 14 years. He has a day job.
I recognise on his website some highly favourable comments (uncredited) from me down the years, and his music has always found a place on my Sunday afternoon Kiwi FM show. This album will...
You know how the arc of fame moves in the States: you have a minor career in rock, hip-hop or the movies so you take to drink, drugs or become addicted to pain-killers. (Who knew there was that much lower back pain in success?)
Then you spin out of control. You do silly things such as marrying in Las Vegas to someone you just met, date...
Lloyd Cole, the Derbyshire-born pop singer-songwriter who sprang to attention in
the mid-80s for his introspective literate lyrics with his band the Commotions,
quit Britain for New York in 1988 for six months - and has now stayed for 12
With his American wife and two children, he lives in the
wilderness three hours north of...
That Jack Kerouac's artistic life led to personal tragedy as much as literary triumph is evident to anyone who has read his searingly personal, dark then redemptive book Big Sur, a barely disguised "novel" of his brief time at Lawrence Ferlinghetti's remote cabin in Bixby Canyon near Big Sur.
By this time (1961) Kerouac had been...
“We have a fire on stage. If there’s any firemen in the area . . . “ This isn’t an announcement you hear too often at rock festivals -- but nothing was beyond possibility at the volatile Isle of Wight event in 70 when non-ticketholders stormed the site, the enraged promoter abused them for being ungrateful pigs and...
This three-piece from Austin were everywhere in the UK media when they were touring while I was in England and Scotland in the middle of the year -- and I kept missing them. And the more I read the more interested I became: no one seemed to have a clear bead on them and while some cited Hendrix (it's the wah-wah pedal, folks) others mentioned a...
The rocked-up country-cum-bluegrass outfit haven't ever fully convinced on CD, although the best of their previous outing Tennessee Pusher certainly explained why they are such a potent live act.
This DVD of shows filmed in Asheville, North Carolina and Knoxville, Tennessee capture them touring that album but generously throwing in some real...
After time in the Irish band Energy Orchard, Kennedy spent many years in the America he was obsessed with as a child. For this moving tribute to the America of his dreams -- and specifically the days of the Apollo Mission to the moon and Woodstock -- he gives concept albums a good name.
Now back in Belfast after his Nashville period, he...
They say you should never meet your heroes and so it has been for me and Tom Petty. In more recent years I did a numbingly boring phone interview with a man I took to be a numbskull and prior to that I had endured a dreadful concert when he and Dylan went out on the road, were clearly out of it and were rehearsing in public. Whadda shit.
Tough and often earthy blues rock/alt.country from a New Zealand-born LA raised singer-songwriter who here calls up some big names (guitarist Doug Pettibone, Spooner Oldham on keyboards) whose credentials (Dylan, Ronstadt, Neil Young, Lucinda Williams) adds lustre to what is a fine collection of self-produced, mostly original co-writes (with...
The quiet and often largely invisible power beside Gillian Welch, guitarist/singer-songwriter Rawlings here comes into the spotlight with a collection of folk-country and alt.folk-rock songs which would mostly not fit Welch's canon but here have an understated charm of their own.
They still possess some of that old time quality which has...
One part youthful Billy Bragg and another of very early Springsteen (the Asbury Park period) and a Pogues-styled energy propels this manic, politicised, wordy outing by this English post-punk folk poet who does a terrific line in taking down myths: "There's no such things as rock stars there's just people who play music, and some of them...
Michael Hurley's laidback style which bridges traditional and alt.country hasn't gone overlooked by his musical peers although their audiences seem a little slower to catch on: he has toured with Lucinda Williams, Bill Callahan, the Palace Brothers (aka Bonnie Prince Billy) and others, and he counts Cat Power and Vetiver among those who have...
Although his previous album This Old Road won some critical plaudits, it is hard to hear Closer to the Bone as much other than a collection of sentimental songs, some of which border on the trite.
Kristofferson, especially in recent years, has never been much of a singer (he concedes that) but here his voice really has lost most of its...
At some time in the mid Nineties I spent an afternoon in Melbourne talking with David McComb, the former singer-songwriter with the Triffids then Blackeyed Susans. He was as intelligent as I had expected given the depth of his lyrics in both of those bands, but he was also hesitant, slightly wary and gun-shy, and I left wondering how he might...
In December 1965 Bob Dylan -- with his "protest singer" days behind him, an electric guitar now his weapon of choice, the as-yet unnamed Band as his group and with Like a Rolling Stone redefining the parameters of pop and rock -- sat down for an hour-long, televised press conference in San Francisco.
Dylan would never do...
They used to say you could always judge a band by its covers. But today many bands write "originals" which sound exactly like their influences (like these people), or seem to be above such direct referencing. You suspect only the most confident of bands play other people's songs simply because they love and respect them.
This soundtrack album is from the excellent movie which has been picking up Jeff Bridges acclaim and awards, as it should. He does a terrific job as an aging country singer whose career has been derailed by booze and drugs and itinerancy. And who looks for all the world like Kris Kristofferson might have if he hadn't pulled himself up a notch or...
When I interviewed Donovan in 1998 -- mindful I might have to introduce him to a readership which had probably never heard of him -- I noted that even back in his heyday of the Sixties he'd been a hard one to figure out.
The "folkie" tag he'd been pinned with after the success of his first songs Colours and Catch the Wind (and his...
Just from the repeated electric strum here, Waylon Jennings was announcing a different kind of country music: and its minimal sound threw even greater attention on his lyrics which questioned the whole country music establishment as epitomised by the smooth Nashville Sound, the Grand Ole Opry and the Music Row writers cranking out generic songs....
There’s no shortage of Bob Dylan tribute albums but this is certainly different: pianist-singer Sidran takes his lowkey, jazzy speak-sing style to Dylan songs in the company of a small band and guests (among them Georgie Fame).
It doesn’t always work: he strips the menace and meaning out of Everything is Broken, Highway 61...
In recent years I have been lecturing in contemporary music (rock'n'roll to hip-hop) and it has been an insight for me. After showing clips of a young and wild Elvis for example some students will come to me afterwards and express surprise: they only knew him from parodies as that boring fat guy.
History is reductive: it's necessary to remind...
How's this as a measure of a man's modesty: it is only in the closing overs
of a lengthy conversation that Brian Auger mentions in passing he plays on an
album which is nominated for a Grammy in the contemporary jazz category.
And so, three decades after he took the sound of his rocking and swinging
Hammond organ into the vanguard of...
By the time Elvis Costello got to this remarkable, emotionally dense and astonishingly concise album (so many moods, styles and emotions in 50 minutes) he had become well separated from his post-punk peers.
By '82 -- and he had appeared just five years previous -- he had skirted off from punk-fuelled rock through country music and had...
In 2004 when Patti Smith released yet another predictable album, the critic Ian Penman correctly observed, "It sounds like she hasn't heard a single thing outside her own music for about 25 years".
Smith, acclaimed for her marriage of rock’n’roll and poetry in the late 70s, has been in a creative whirlpool the past four...
In Britain’s post-punk era Parker and the Rumour emerged with an urgent, often angry sound that owed as much to pub-rock and venomous Bob Dylan as it did to American soul, r’n’b and rocked-up country.
They were real contenders and their early albums still sound full of bile’n’fire. Parker’s solo career...
On the cover he may look like one of the more camp American Idol finalists, but Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan occupies that appealing musical territory between Dylan in '66, Pete Molinari and lo-fi Chris Knox with his urgent, lyrically twisting songs which are punctuated by ear and heart-gripping lines.
Catacombs here suggests a story...
The Eastern out of Christchurch are new to me although for the past few months their name has been mentioned a lot, always along the lines of, "Oh, you gotta hear the Eastern."
Now I have and I too am saying, "Oh, you gotta hear the Eastern".
Part arse-kickin' Steve Earle (for whom they have opened), part reflective old...
For my money John Hiatt never sounds better than when he gets a rocking band behind and sounds a little venomous or angry. The back-porch Hiatt never much appealed to me -- so this, his 19th album, suits me just fine.
With his tight little touring band and at age 57, he (mostly) writes about hitting the highway and some of the songs seem...
Elsewhere has already made the case for Bruce Springsteen's 1982 Nebraska as an Essential Elsewhere album. It was not only a great album but a turning point in his career: it allowed him to step away from the bombast and hype and become a singer of depth and longevity outside of rock's over-hyped expectation.
That he followed it up with Born...
Elsewhere recently noted the tribute CD to David McComb of the Australian band the Triffids who died in February 1999. That all-star concert released as Deep in a Dream was to help raise funds to complete a doco on McCombs' short and sometimes troubled life.
Now comes this film taken from four nights of shows (which pre-dated the Deep in a...
gotta feel sorry for the guy. He's 32 years of age, is now on his
fourth album with his band the Wallflowers, and still people want to
talk about what he politely calls "the peripheral stuff".
can guess what that might be when the guy's name is Jakob Dylan and
he was the youngest of five children growing up with their...
The previous solo album by Dylan, Seeing Things, confirmed that he had stepped well out of the shadow his famous father (and the Wallflowers band) and had found his own voice -- or at least Jackson Browne's by way of alt.country. And although he sounded wise beyond his years he was on the cusp of 40 so . . .
This time out with producer...
In the early Eighties the safe money would have been on Nick Cave -- then battling various demons and his elusive muse -- not making it much further. Yet here is Cave, now in his early 50s, dutifully going to the office every day to write songs, novels, screenplays and soundtracks, and curating arts festivals . . .
And seeing his...
Even on a blindfold test you'd probably only need the first few bars of the second song here -- after the traditional All to God -- to spot this is either Paul Simon, or someone very close to him.
Harper is the 37-year old son of Paul (and you'd have to say by association also of Garfunkel given his light, melodic voice) and he would also...
British singer-songwriter Frank Turner moves between many worlds with ease: he plays to hardcore audiences (and started his career in such bands) but also works the folk circuit. He also plays huge festivals and small clubs.
His music roams across politics (Thatcher Fucked the Kids), wry humour (I Don't Care What You Did in Your Gap Year)...
Willie Nelson makes so many albums these days
– from Western Swing with Asleep at the Wheel and Tex-Mex to jazz stylings with Wynton
Marsalis – that it's helpful this title is a product description.
So here's Willie – now 77 – going
back to songs by Ernest Tubb, Doc Watson, Hank Williams and others,
New Zealand has no great popular history of topical, political songs -- and the few that there are tend toward the humorous (My Old Man's An All Black with its reference to no Maori being allowed into South Africa in our representative rugby team during the apartheid era, or Click Go The Toll Gates about tolls on the newly constructed Auckland...
Time to flip all the cards and say that until recently I was never as smitten with Joan Baez as so many people were. Certainly the purity of her voice was striking and when I started discovering Dylan in his early days she seemed to be that dark angel hovering in the wings -- but none of her folk music really stuck with me.
I never much...
Bob Dylan's Hurricane in '75 is one of the best known songs about a boxer -- but very early in his career Dylan also sang another about a boxer, the fighter Davey Moore who was knocked out by Mexico-based Sugar Ramos from Cuba during a bout in March 1963, spoke to the media afterwards (the illustration is taken from a famous post-fight photo)...
You hate to say lt, but Townes Van Zandt had probably already written his own obituary - many times. Try this as a sample of his cut-to-the-bone, white knuckle lyrics: “There ain’t much I haven’t tried -- fast llvin’, slow suicide, I try to tell myself I’m fine but it just aln’t so.”
Van Zandt has...
Engrossing though the clear, strong voice of Conor J O'Brien out of Dublin is -- the chief feature of this quietly gripping album -- it is the insistent, poetic first-person, image-carving narratives which become irritating at times.
O'Brien frequently writes songs from that perspective of what I call The Knowledgeable One and he will...
From the rollicking singalong which opens the new Mermaid Avenue album by Billy Bragg, you know something is different. There’s Bragg and the American band Wilco in a swaggering tale of looking for booze and, to put it delicately, female companionship.
From there on it’s a strange trip with Bragg and the band: an old man’s...
These days there are any number of documentary flms about music: Ken Burns' Jazz series, Martin Scorsese's series about the blues, country music dealt to in Lost Highway, the excellent History of Rock'n'Roll . . .
Individual artists are also getting their due: the Beatles' Anthology; various Elvis docos; Scorsese on early Dylan in No...
Bruce Springsteen won't forget his show
at Sydney's Cricket Ground last Saturday. He said so repeatedly and
Losing power in a show can never be
discounted as a possibility. But losing it twice would suggest
alarmingly bad luck or poor technical support. Losing your stadium
rock thump four times in the first hour, however?...
The Walkabouts have -- for 25 years -- been the vehicle for songwriter Chris Eckman (see here) and Carla Torgerson who have been mainstays in a band with a revloving door membership.
Some might push the Walkabouts into the broader indie-rock or alt.country category, but as this tribute illustrates, their songs are so malleable that they...
The equation seems simple: Leonard Cohen the self-described "ladies man" + women + bed =
But of course nothing is ever quite that straightforward with a Jewish Zen Buddhist poet-cum-singer and unlikely sex symbol even his mid 70s.
Here with amusing self-effacement he confronts aging, his reputation, plays with images of...
My take on Tom Petty -- most of whose albums in the first decade or more I cherished with a passion, but had misfortunes with the man -- is that when he hooked up with the Traveling Wilburys he became prematurely geriatric and he lost his rock edge.
This is a theory which doesn't bear much serious scrutiny perhaps (I was "wrong"...
Elsewhere agrees with itself that Willie Nelson makes too many albums these days (although the last one Country Music was excellent). But the collection to return to repeatedly is Classic and Unreleased, a '95 Rhino box set of Willie's early years.
In it you can hear the gifted songwriter that everyone recognised, and the utterly personal...
Recorded live at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles when Crowded House met up with former Byrd Roger McGuinn, this song -- and their versions of Mr Tambourine Man and So You Want to be a Rock'n'Roll Star -- appeared on a '91 version of the CD single for Weather With You (other versions had live Crowdies tracks from the period).
Not the most...
As in rock‘n‘roll, country music
has its casualties, like Hank Williams who died at age 29 in the back
of his chauffeur-driven Cadillac on the way to a gig.
Others make a longer crawl to the
bottom through years of drink, dope, one-night stands in cheap bars
where they stagger through versions of their hits with a local...
The last album by this band -- the vehicle for Matthew Houck -- was their tribute to Willie Nelson, but this time out it is all original material and the energy levels are kicked up, notably on the Band/Black Crowes/E Street opener It's Hard to be Humble (When You're From Alabama).
Rolling steel guitars and a country-rock mood propel Nothing...
One of the revelations of the first of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series was the maturity of his voice for one so young. Songs like Moonshiner showed a wisdom and understanding well beyond his years.
And this remarkable, and previously rare, album confirms that point -- and many more about the young Dylan and how he saw himself. Not as a...
Another week, another Willie album? (Previously here the joke was another month, another Willie but . . .)
So it has seemed lately -- but this isn't new material: here are songs by Willie from betweeen 1959 and '65, 11 of them just solo with guitar, the rest with a small band.
The solo pieces -- only one breaking the two minute mark...
English music magpie Molinari's previous
two albums alerted you to a folk-driven singer-songwriter who was
unashamed of wearing influences but bringing a neat twist to them:
his Walking off the Map in '06 cheerfully plundered Hank
Williams and pre-66 Bob Dylan (and delivered a beautiful new standard
in Indescribably Blue); his follow-up A...
More so than their previous releases, this band from the Pacific Northwest seem to ladle in dollops of trippy glam-adelica in the opening overs of this thoroughly enjoyable outing. It's as if a thinking person's band from the late Sixties or mid Seventies has beamed down into the post-grunge pop world (or vice-versa) of Portland and whatever the...
Leon Russell is like the Kevin Bacon of rock: there are six degrees of separation between him and anyone else. Actually, that's not true. There are about three.
Leon to the Beatles? Well he was at Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh so that takes care of that one . . . and opens enormous doors to others.
And Leon to Dylan? Same gig, more...
When Jim McGuinn changed his name to Roger in ’67 during a period of chaos without and within for The Byrds, there were those who thought it was an elaborate hoax.
Jim had taken off to Rio and been replaced by his lookalike brother, said Paul-is-Dead paranoids and conspiracy theorists. Hence the wry in-joke title on his album Back...
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...
Back in '99, the country singer Garth Brooks adopted an alternate persona as the Australian-born pop singer "Chris Gaines" and released an album under that name. The idea was that Gaines was a real characterand Brooks would be playing him in a bio-pic to be called The Lamb.
The line between fact and fiction was to be so blurred...
Sometimes we forget just how huge Bruce
Springsteen has been: between '75 and '85 alone he sold in excess of
50 million albums (one of them, The River, was a double) and
although he deliberately turned from mainstream success with low-key
albums like Nebraska (in '82) and The Ghost of Tom Joad
('95) that has hardly stopped his juggernaut....
The friendship and mutual admiration in the late Sixties between Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan has been well documented: they did some sessions together in '69 (their duet on Girl From the North Country appeared on Dylan's Nashville Skyline), and Cash subsequently invited Dylan onto his television show as a guest.
But their friendship went back...
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.
From the understated openers with their gentle backbeat, soft organ and steel guitar, LeBlanc -- barely 21, out of Louisiana -- announces himself as part of a long lineage which stretches back to the country-soul out of Muscle Shoals studio (where his dad was a session musician) and the country-rock of the early Band, but which also...
The British rock writer Nigel
Williamson, considering the career of Leonard Cohen, recently
observed, “We often describe singer-songwriters as being
'Dylanesque', a band with great harmonies you might describe as
'Beatlesque'. We even talk about someone being 'Waitsean', after Tom
“But have you ever heard the word...
The great John Prine falls somewhere between folk and country, but also has a rare downbeat sense of humour and his wry observations have always elevated his albums.
Here on a collection of live tracks -- essentially a greatest hits by a man who has rarely had a hit -- he has some grin-inducing anecdotes at times which are kinda...
Two decades ago when the Black Crowes
launched their career with the swaggering Shake Your Money Maker
they came off as a version of Rod Stewart and the Faces with a little
of the Allman Brothers thrown in: theirs was party-style
rhythm'n'booze played out in front of a marijuana leaf banner.
But more recently – with vocalist
In the early Nineties – three decades
after the original urban folk movement in Downtown – there was a whole new neo-boho scene
in New York. Michelle Shocked was just the first and copped the
publicity but behind here were Kirk Kelly, Roger Manning and Cindy
Lee Berryhill - all of whom dressed like fashionable...
When Bob Dylan skidded off his
motorcycle in upstate New York in mid-1966, it allowed him an
extraordinary career hiatus.
Before his accident - which some Dylan
bores still insist never happened - he’d been a Woody Guthrie
wannabe, a folk troubadour and protest singer. Then, by plugging in
an electric guitar and touring with a...
For a man who changed the landscape of rock -- and not so coincidentally my life -- his last resting place looks extremely modest. It is late 2002 and I am standing at a simple plaque in the grass with only a single glass of fading flowers on it. There are no visitors here other than me and my companion Tommy, a Norwegian music journalist from...
Even the writer Pico Iyer, who knows him
better than most, concedes Leonard Cohen – so melancholy he used to
be referred to as “a one man Joy Division” – presents a
"He is for most of us,” Iyer
wrote in Sun After Dark, “a figure of the dark, sitting
alone sometime after midnight and...
At 66, Bob Dylan has been through many musical changes in the course of his career, from fresh-faced young folkie to senior statesman of his generation. He's been folk, what we now call alt.folk, folk rock, psychedelic rock, rock’n’roll, country, alt.country, troubadour, country and western . . .
And he made movies, changed hats...
At the time when this film screened on television in 1968 -- after the Epilogue, the last offical programme every night in Britain in those days, as director Palmer notes in the interview footage added to the DVD edition in 2007 -- pop music was widely spoken of as the new classical music.
It was in those day-glo days when classical music of...
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 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...
Most people looking at the life of
Bruce Cockburn come away saying the same thing: “You mean he made
music as well?"
Canadian singer-songwriter Cockburn has
his biography punctuated by stories about being in Mozambique while
snipers were out, getting drunk in Kathmandu, travels through nervous
Central and South American...
The great actor Sir John Gielgud used to shake his head in wonder at the towering talent of Richard Burton and say that "he came from nowhere, from nowhere". Which isn't true at all, he came from a very significant somewhere -- and in this insightful, honest and probing documentary by Tony Palmer -- that place was writ large right...
“You know kids
go, 'Hey, when are you gonna make a record?',” Bruce Springsteen
said in March 77, “I say, 'One of these days'.”
And they were
difficult days for the man they call The Boss.
After his breakthrough album Born to
Run in '75 – which sold around 10 million globally and took him
to the covers...
Further proof – if required – that
something less than a supergroup can deliver something considerably
less than super. And this group – Ben Harper, the far-too-prolific
singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur and Dhani (son of George) Harrison –
come up so far short on every front that their folksy I Don't Want
It's commonly enough noted that this was the album which got Springsteen onto the covers of Newsweek and Time in the same week in October 1975.
But looking at the size of those magazines today -- thin, articles of almost haiku length -- it is hard for many to understand now what that actually meant. They were massive-selling and influential...
More than just a compilation of tracks from his various albums and radio sessions (including some from his excellent Zodiac album), this collection of songs by country-inflected singer-songwriter Saunders was a prompt for various painters and visual artists.
Wellington curator Ron Epskamp of Exhibitions Gallery (here) invited 14 artists to...
At the fag-end of the Seventies, the sound of
the Sex Pistols explosion in Britain had faded and in the place of
furious punk anger came the more intellectual and cooler sound of
post-punk: bands like Magazine, Wire and Joy Division.
Across the Atlantic the Ramones'
flat-tack energy was faltering and the names to note were Talking...
In late '74 Joan Baez went into a studio with hot session musicians and jazz players (Jim Gordon, Larry Knechtel, Joe Sample, Larry Carlton, Wilton Felder), and she had been hanging around with her new friend Hampton Hawes.
So jazz -- and Joni Mitchell -- was in the air, and Baez responded by delivering the album Diamonds and Rust which was a...
The idea of "possessing" your lover isn't a pleasant thought these days: the subtext is spousal abuse, just plain creepy stuff and not a few killings you read about on page five.
But there are a few songs where that idea of possessive passion has a wistful, oddly lost and sympathetic quality on the part of the singer. At one end it...
To be honest, I had largely forgotten about Odetta until she died in 2008 at the age of 77. I imagined her as much older actually as she seemed to have been around since Biblical times, or at least all of my life.
The great folk singer and activist had been an influence on the young Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, had sung in small halls and cafes,...
Folk singer Odetta has kept her sense
of humour about the 15 year lull in her recording career.
“I’ve just been practicing,"
she says, but is delighted by at last having another record out there
in the marketplace.
Despite her acclaim by audiences as far
spread as Russia and Nigeria and accolades by Yale University,...
It's a trick question, but see how you
go: Who's the odd one out in this list; Hannah Montana, Britney
Spears, Joe Cocker or Justin Bieber?
The answer is, of course . . . the
Bieber boy. He's the only one who hasn't had a song written for him
by former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi.
But the real question is, what is
The truth about Billy Joe Shaver is
much more interesting than anything anyone might make up about the
guy. Shaver has lived on the hard edge of life.
Born in Corsicana in Texas in late 1941
or '39 depending on where you read it (“just a cotton-gin town, the
same one Lefty Frizzell came from") and raised in Waco, he lost
One of the many funny lines in the
profanity-strewn satirical film In the Loop came from the
character Jamie Macdonald, the senior press officer in 10 Downing
Street and the “angriest man in Scotland”.
On hearing opera he bellowed, “It's
just vowels! Subsidised, foreign fucking vowels!”
The New Yorker music...
It would be a fair guess to say Michael
Chugg has been at more shows than any musician you can name. Because
when musicians take a break Chugg is at another show. Not that he
actually sits down and sees them, as a promoter he's more likely to
be backstage somewhere or, as at Gorillaz last year, just popping out
to stand at the side of the...
Cocker at 66 is candid enough to say that the idea behind this album was to get him on radio because -- good though his last one Hymn For My Soul was -- it didn't sell as expected.
That meant bringing in another producer (Matt Serletic who had done good work for Collective Soul and Matchbox 20), getting the word out for radio-friendly...
Having always been a fan of Bob Seger in that classic period in the mid Seventies (especially the Stranger in Town album) it was a real pleasure to shove this disc in the car player and crank it up . . . because by halfway through the first track I was thinking this was the great and largely forgotten Bob accidentally put in a Kid Rock cover....
The life of 65-year old David Crosby is an open book. In fact, it is two open books.
In the late 80s Crosby wrote his autobiography Long Time Gone which, in compelling detail, outlined his career from a Greenwich Village folk singer to being a founding member of the Byrds, his friendships with the Beatles and Bob Dylan, being fired...
Fortysomething years ago the New York filmmaker DA Pennebaker received an offer he couldn’t refuse -- and which would subsequently define the genre of rock documentaries, rockumentaries if you will.
The phone call came from Albert Grossman, the most important manager in music at the time after the Beatles’ Brian Epstein. Grossman...
Andrew McKenzie is the singer-guitarist in the New Zealand band Grand Prix which has long delivered a very pointed kind of slightly snarling alt.country with a rock'n'roll heartbeat and a dark, unsettling edge.
For this album under his own name McKenzie (who plays almost everything from drums and bass to harmonica and sitar) mines some of...
These are more good days for Lucinda
Williams: happily married and comfortable, a Grammy nomination for
Kiss Like Your Kiss (best song in a film or television series, it
appeared in True Blood) and acclaim from her peers, critics and an
increasing fan base.
And she has a new album out, Blessed
which was produced by Don Was, her husband...
Since Richie Unterberger wrote Unknown Legends of Rock'n'Roll: Psychedelic Unknowns, Mad Genuises, Punk Pioneers, Lo-Fi Mavericks and More in 1998, many of the artists he unearthed (Wanda Jackson, the Chocolate Watch Band, Roky Erickson, Can etc) have enjoyed some considerable cult -- and sometimes even mainstream, success.
Jeez, Sandy Denny...
When Bob Dylan's 10th album -- the double vinyl Self Portrait -- was released in 1970 it was received with bewlidered or damning reviews, the most notable being Greil Marcus in Rolling Stone who began his abrasive review with "What is this shit?"
Fair call perhaps, because this mish-mash of odd covers (a ragged treatment of Paul...
Although Lucinda Williams admits things are going well in her life (see interview here), she also adds that no one is ever permanently happy and she lives in this world with all its sadness and misery.
And she has had a few encounters with those things herself, notably the estrangement of her brother after the death of their mother, and the...
Following Cash's Personal File: Bootleg Vol I -- and of course the Dylan bootleg series, Kris Kristofferson's Austin Sessions and demoes, George Jones' Great Lost Hits and various Willie Nelson issues of early demos and sessions -- there is no shortage of material for scholars researching these artists.
This Johnny Cash double disc from his...
A power pop supergroup of sorts -- Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Gutterball), Scott McCaughey (Fresh Young Fellows, REM), Peter Buck (REM) and Linda Pitmon (Golden Smog) -- here continue their passion for baseball after their similarly conceived debut project Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails.
You probably don't need to know too much about the...
Despite it's promising subtitle "A Documentary", this 90 minute overview of Johnny Cash's career is little more than a Reader's Digest synopsis where much is glossed over (just why was the death of his older brother so traumatic?) and important events are left hanging or unexplored.
It is also scrupulously free of a single note of...
The last photographs of Johnny Cash told their own story: the thinning grey hair, the once tough jaw bent out of shape by years of painful dental surgery, the lines which spoke of a world-weariness. And the ineffable sadness in those dark eyes as if he was looking into the beyond where he would once again be with his wife June, who died just...
When Leon Russell left his home in
Tulsa for Los Angeles after having played in teenage rock bands, a
career in music wasn't what he was expecting. But in a couple of months he will receive two major awards: he will be inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of Fame and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.
Russell – now 68 --
spent time as...
In the late Seventies, Tom Paxton was still appearing in rock encyclopedias. It was a time when rock was still close enough to some of its folk roots (post-Dylan) for him to still be relevant.
These days Paxton -- now in his early 70s and still performing -- may seem just a footnote in rock (usually mentioned in passing with regard to...
Because there is a such a lot of great music about these days -- and of such overwhelming diversity -- you'd sound like you were wallowing in nostalgia if you suggested things were better in the old days. But in one way they were.
Look at the singles charts.
Once upon a time you got magnificent oddities being played on rapid rotate...
While owing a clear debt to Paul Simon, the young Dylan, early Donovan and others in the acoustic singer-songwriter category, this young guy from Lower Hutt just north of Wellington, New Zealand brings a pop sensibility to his writing (the openers here Watch Got and Only One I Need hook you immediately) and often a deliberately light touch...
The name might not be familiar but from
the first bar the voice certainly is. It belongs to that rusty
balladeer in Gomez who here steps out with a classy, soulful solo
debut of originals co-written with Sam Genders of the rather bent UK
alt.folk outfit Tuung who have barely raised a ripple in this
With a sound as distinctive...
Any number of country artists have lined up to pay tribute to the great Hank Williams whose career was cut short in 1952 at age 29 when he was found dead in the back of his car through a combination of drugs, alcohol and his lifestyle.
In six short years Williams wrote songs which went from hoe-down party music (Jambalaya, Hey Good Lookin')...
One of the things Paul Simon is seldom given credit for is his sense of humor. He too often comes off the kind of earnest New York Jewish singer-songwriter you imagine reads Dostoevsky at night but listens to doo-wop and old soul because he thinks it might be good for him.
Yet this is the man who did that clip for You Can Call Me Al with...
In his recent collection of essays
Listen to This, the New Yorker music critic Alex Ross
has an interesting and provocative piece on Bob Dylan. It opens,
“America is no country for old men. Pop culture is a pedophile's
delight” then he ask what – in this world of manufactured teen
pop – we are to do with “a...
Although things would come to a literal grinding halt in mid '66 when he was tumbled from his motorcycle -- and he used the break to recover from emotional exhaustion after his lightspeed career of the previous four years -- in '65 Bob Dylan was still enjoying his position as the man who was taking folk and smart words into rock.
Howe Gelb of Tucson, Arizona is one of
the long distance runners. He's been in for the long haul with his
band Giant Sand (two dozen albums since the mid Eighties) and diverse
solo projects under his own name (around 18 which range from gospel
in Canada to flamenco desert-rock in Cordoba, Spain on his new
Joan Baez has never had her rediscovery by a
new generation, but this reissue of her excellent folk-rock album of ' 92 –
with an extra disc of demos including Dylan's early Seven Curses
which only appeared on his recent Witmark Demos 1962-64
– is a smart starting place as it found her back in Nashville after a 20 year absence and...
In 1971 -- at the height of the war in Vietnam, the rise of Black Panther activity and the revolutionary spirit sweeping across the US and Europe -- Joan Baez stepped onto a stage in New York and sang a new song. It put her old lover Bob Dylan right in the cross-hairs for him abandoning the peace movement and any political activity.
While it's interesting to read in a promo slip that this new album by the so-far fascinating Felice Brothers "casts scenes of dreamy characters and stories interwoven like a block of primetime TV", this is promo-hype.
It presumes you will actually be engaged enough to listen with unswerving intensity through the sonic haze of...
Looked at one way, the great Roy Orbison (who died in late '88) had five separate careers, but he only ever changed musical direction once.
"The Big O" -- or "the Caruso of Rock" -- as he was known, had long periods away from the spotlight and it would be fair to observe his defining work was done in an exceptional period...
As has been noted here, there is a lot more of Bob Dylan's past out there in the world than there ever was -- and of course he has quite some past.
This from the very distant days in May '63 was recorded at the peak of his politicised folk period (the anthems Blowing in the Wind and Masters of War, the former not here, would be on his album...
As it was happening, Bob Dylan's Eighties seemed somewhat of a wasteland only sparsely populated by songs which had any great resonance. And many which did -- Brownsville Girl co-written with playwright Sam Shepard for example, on the largely awful Knocked Out Loaded in '86 -- weren't sympathetically produced.
Certainly songs like Jokerman...
Those with passion for edgy alt.country
and Neil Young in vinegary acoustic-rock mode need only know Chris
Eckman (the Walkabouts, the innovative Sahara blues-influenced band
Dirt Music) is one of those behind this occasionally churning,
electro-rock outing with musicians from Slovenia where he now lives.
The other prime mover is Rupert...
Songs of spousal abuse or domestic violence are never going to be pretty or common, in fact on a countback the most outstanding one prior to this by Hiatt was probably the gloomy and dark He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King in the early Sixties.
They'd heard from Little Eva (who'd had a chart hit with...
Acapulco in Mexico is widely known as a party destination for many Americans, but in Bob Dylan's Goin' to Acapulco -- which appeared on The Basement Tapes -- the mood is anything but celebratory, party-on-dude and joyous.
Dylan and the Band drag their way through the lyrics as if the weight of the world was on their shoulders, and the idea...
The enormously prolific Howe Gelb (interviewed here in depth) is
behind the Tucson band Giant Sand (from which Calexico became a more
commercially successful split-off) and has also recorded a dozen
albums under his own name.
And as a reissue programme of about 30
Sand/Gelb albums starts to filter through he also releases this, a...
The captivatingly named rock troubadour
Vile from Philadelphia offers a kind of alt.folk-cum-indie rock skew
which refers to Cohen as much as Cobain.
But he also has an ear
for a mainstream rock melody (Puppet the the Man here with AOR
guitars behind his echoed alt.rock vocals) and recently said his
current listening includes the Stones'...
In an in-depth interview with Elsewhere, Howe Gelb of Giant Sand was asked which album he would single out for anyone coming to the massive reissue programme of a couple of dozen Giant Sand albums and a dozen release under his own name.
His answer was immediate. He picked Center of the Universe from '92.
"It was the only time I was...
From the early Nineties, Nick Cave -- ever so
slowly -- ceased to be a preoccupation of those who immersed themselves
in the gloom of his raw and dirty blues-based music and became a
respected, almost mainstream figure.
You could mention him in most
conversations and people would know who you meant.
Songs like Straight To You,...
Perhaps because there is already so much Steve Earle in the world -- this is his 14th studio album by my account -- there is very little frisson of delight or surprise coming from this album.
Little Emperor would seem to be addressed to George W Bush ("no pomp and circumstance, no more shock and awe, you're just a little emperor that's...
Bruce Cockburn – whose sole skirmish with
chart success was Wondering Where The Lions Are in 1980 – is
the Richard Thompson of Canada. And if you don't get the reference
that's the point.
Both are respected and influential folk-rock
songwriters/guitarists, but their gifts go largely unacknowledged
beyond admiring musicians,...
The hotel's drawn blinds shut out the
mid-morning Auckland sun, pills are scattered on a table, the remains
of takeaway food are on another and there's a pervasive air of “the
“Yeah, very Johnny Cash,” says Tex
Perkins, the room's slightly disheveled occupant, in a husky and
When this Willie Nelson song started to get a bit of attention around the time of the movie Brokeback Mountain, many people -- myself included -- assumed it had been prompted by that film.
But the story of it goes back quite a way and the song's writer Ned Sublette tells it in his excellent book The Year Before the Flood about his time in...
Auckland singer/writer/guitarist Warren Cate of Known Associates has made some fine and deliberately unpolished rock albums under his own name in the past but here, with a team of equals who hunkered down for weekly sessions last year to toughen themselves up and work out material, he excels himself.
Cate always possessed a slightly...
Not many people know about Texan Mickey
Newbury, who died almost a decade ago, age 62. Maybe it's enough
Elvis (who made Newbury's medley An American Trilogy a
cornerstone of his latter performances) did. And that Mickey's songs
were covered by Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez and dozens of
Often spoken of...
While many of us would wish Neil Young release the next long-awaited installement of his Archives series (ho ho ho, like that'll happen any time soon), in his wilful and non-chronological release schedule it was almost expected a follow-up to the terrific and raw Le Noise would be . . . a country music album.
But even so, A Treasure is a...
When it was announced Bob Dylan had recorded an MTV Unplugged session in late '94, a wag within earshot guffawed and said, "But wasn't he always?" Which was sort of true.
There are any number of people across a few generations who have imprinted in their consciousness the image of the impossibly young Dylan, acoustic guitar in...
While flicking the pages of a rock magazine the other day I came on an interview with a young musician who cited among his current favourite listening Bob Dylan's Planet Waves.
When that album was released it was met with polite but hardly laudatory reviews, and even the enormously successful and highly profitable tour with the Band...
birthday in June 2011 hardly went unobserved in the world – you couldn't turn around without bumping into profiles, reconsiderations, essays and the like – and nor was it
coincidence that many artists lined up for tribute albums.
got in early – like Ben Sidran whose
Dylan Different arrived before...
Against expectation, 2005 was a rare year for 64-year old Bob Dylan, especially since he hadn’t had an album of new material out in four years. Yet Dylan seemed to be everywhere in 2005, and it announced his rehabiliation for casual listeners -- and prepared the ground for his critically acclaimed 2006 album Modern Times.
The three parallel, intercutting narratives here in this story of Allen Gisnberg's famous, half-hour poem Howl and the subsequent obscenity trial can be off-outting at first, and in truth don't serve the film or poet especially well. But for those new to the subject its slightly racy, post-modern attitude is bound to have considerable appeal....
Split between the UK and USA, seven
studio albums into their career and with songwriters Ian Ball and Ben
Ottewell having released solo albums (rusty voiced Ottewell's being
the excellent alt.folk Shapes and Shadows) hardly seems to
have damaged Gomez, who started on a career high when they won
the '98 Mercury Prize for their Bring It On...
Although Bob Dylan closed his shapeless and directionless Eighties with the acclaimed Oh Mercy album produced by Daniel Lanois, no one would really have considered him ripe for a career reinvention.
And Under the Red Sky of the following year -- a cast which included Slash, Bruce Hornsby, George Harrison and numerous others on material as...
One of the most interesting (and lengthy) interviews at Elsewhere this year has been with Howe Gelb of Giant Sand. During that long and digressive conversation I asked Gelb which albums of the massive reissue campaign of his 25 year career he would recommend to newcomers.
He singled out Center of the Universe of '92 saying it was the...
When Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone snarled out of radios more than 40 years ago, its compelling sound grabbing the attention for the duration of its ground-breaking six minutes. Even today it is extraordinary.It begins with what sounds like a pistol shot -- not the first to do so but the most memorable - then organ, guitars, and piano enter...
From the amusing band name (yep, the
bad guys won that particular war, bro) through their swooning
post-REM pop-rock, this fine and play-loud album so adeptly juggles
Tom Petty/Byrds, slacker alt rock and post-grunge 90s pop (Evan
Dando/Buffalo Tom) you can't help but like it.
songwriter Adam Granduciel's has seriously...
Somebody at the University of Applied Narcotics in San Francisco has probably written a thesis about Bob Dylan's bizarre film career. Like Neil Young, Dylan appears in movies which make little sense to anyone, possibly even himself.
Yet it all started so well.
The terrific doco Don't Look Back, by Don Pennebaker, of Dylan's brief British...
First released in 1972 and only now available on CD (here expanded with five extra songs including a 2002 version of his classic Mr Bojangles), this album was one which introduced Texan Walker as part of the left-field non-Nashville country acts of the day alongside Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Guy Clark and Waylon Jennings.
The guitarist G. E. Smith must have great stories to tell. For a little over two years in the late 80s he was, for want a better description, Bob Dylan's band leader.During those difficult years when Dylan was emotionally adrift, Smith would audition players and introduce them to a repertoire of well over 100 songs, and replace members as some...
After his erratic recordings of the Eighties -- redeemed only perhaps by Oh Mercy ('89) produced by Daniel Lanois -- Bob Dylan entered a new decade looking like a long-spent force. The impressive three CD set The Bootleg Series Vol 1-3 in '91 only served to re-enforce what a spendthrift of genius he had been.
With Good As I Been to You ('92)...
Further to the previously posted collection of black artists singing the music of Lennon and McCartney (here) and posting Gary US Bonds singing Dylan's From a Buick 6 at From the Vaults, we should throw the spotlight on this 20-song album which came out a year ago.
Dylan's early material -- Blowin' in the Wind especially -- found...
Alongside his Alzheimer's diagnosis and
a farewell tour comes this self-announced “final studio album” by
the 75-year old legend whose career spans from LA session guitar work
in the late 50s as one of the famous Wrecking Crew on Phil Spector
productions, to being a touring Beach Boy, solo hits with Jimmy Webb
songs and movies...
Still sounding like they were
breast-fed equal parts Grateful Dead, early Neil Young, White
Album-era Beatles and Elton John's country-flavoured Tumbleweed
Connection-gone-grunge, Blitzen Trapper -- an always interesting outfit from
Portland -- constantly defy expectation but shift easily from songs
about drinkin' whisky in a car to...
In the excellent DVD doco The Never Ending Narrative, a legion of rock writing worthies line up to discuss Bob Dylan's remarkable late-career reinvention.
Nigel Williamson is both amused and slightly annoyed that not only did Dylan start making some of the best music of his career, but he also took on Williamson's area and proved to be one...
One of the first groups signed to Berry Gordy's Motown label, the Contours had a huge hit with the much-covered Do You Love Me ("now that I can dance") which was in the set of Beatles-era bands like the Dave Clark Five, the Hollies and the Tremeloes.
After their next couple of songs failed to ignite it seems they were relegated...
The first phone call to Patti Smith at home in New York catches her weary and breathless. She's apologetic but disarmingly courteous. It's been quite a few years since I've been called "sir" and never, that I recall, by someone from rock'n'roll culture. But it is also an inconvenient time to talk she says. She's been...
It is coming up close to two decades since Nick Lowe -- once a laddish and witty figure in British rock in the immediate post-punk days -- decided to take the long view on his career and reposition himself.
As he told Elsewhere late last year, “Back when I first got noticed in the Seventies it was for being rather irreverent and...
Hard to believe
from this distance of some 25 years, but Paul Simon's award-winning
and much loved Graceland album of 1986 – which went on to sell
around 15 million copies – was once a flashpoint for protest and
Strange, when you
listen to magical songs like the buoyant title track which shimmers
over mercury smooth...
Public figures in a nation at war can scarcely be expected to behave rationally, but the sight of star after megastar pumped up on religion and patriotism at this year’s Grammys made you wonder if rock and the entertainment industry harboured any notion of dissent, heresy or rebelliousness any more.
Oddly enough the sole dissenting...
As an example of cosmic symmetry it could hardly be improved on: my 13th birthday, the Beatles playing in Auckland, and my Dad offered two free tickets. It was only many years later my older sister told me about the free tickets – and that Dad had declined them.
I guess that was why, long after the Beatlemania screaming had...
Just as you could argue that on his debut album Are You Experienced, Jimi Hendrix sketched out the map of sounds and styles he would explore in his short career, so you could make the case that on his first four albums Neil Young did much the same for his long career.
With the obvious exception of the electro-pop Trans, of course.
Stanley liked to talk but, to be fair, he had a lot to talk about.
Stanley -- portly, smiling, intense -- was the manager at New York's famous, notorious even, Chelsea Hotel at 222 West 23rd St.
He had inherited the position from his father David Bard who bought it in 1940, and Stanley had grown up in the corridors of this building which...
The cliche and joke about Nashville, the country music capital of the world, is that every bus driver, real estate agent, waitress and desk clerk is an aspiring songwriter. Spend more than a minute in their company and they will be pressing their demo tape on you just in case you can be useful to their career.
I'm not sure what Roger thought...
It is sometimes easy to forget -- and you suspect at times he does too -- but Bob Geldof is actually a musician. He was in musician mode when he came to town in April 91 because he'd released an album called The Vegetarians of Love which had enjoyed favourable reviews --- but suffered from abysmal sales.
And so Bob was out on the road...
The backstage meet'n'greet is usually an uncomfortable if not dire affair. Record company types, tour managers, promoter's flunkies and various levels of B-grade guests -- such a myself -- mill around waiting for that quick handshake with someone whose music you might like, and whom you'd probably not want to invite home for dinner.
Of all the artists to emerge in the past two and a half decades, you can effortlessly make the case that Steve Earle has moved the most. With confidence, and often great success, he has worked within genres we might define as country, folk-blues, alt.rock, bluegrass, country-rock . . .
Earle has been a provocative political voice...
To be honest, I thought he'd died years ago. Most people who influenced Bob Dylan back in New York in the early 60s -- like Woody Guthrie who mentored Elliott -- are long gone.
But not Jack, it seems.
For one of Dylan's first gigs he was billed as "the son of Jack Elliott" (who was born Elliot Adnopoz 75 years ago) because...
Bob Dylan's 31st studio album in the 44 years since his self-titled folkie debut -- confirms his status as one of the great songwriters whose powers are undergoing a late-career reinvigoration.
Lyrically this is a dense album -- a beautiful song like When the Deal Goes Down edges its way between the spiritual and the secular -- yet Dylan has...
About 15 years ago (at least) I saw a short-lived Auckland band The Dribbling Darts of Love which was fronted by Matthew Bannister, formerly of Sneaky Feelings. I'd always liked Matthew's music and this outfit -- with his wife Alice on cello -- were excellent.
He played one song that I asked him about afterwards and he said it was by the...
Dalton, who died in 93, was one of the leading lights in the New York folk scene in the early 60s and was much admired by Bob Dylan.
The track Katie's Been Gone on Dylan and the Band's Basement Tapes is allegedly about her, and Nick Cave's When I First Came To Town was inspired by her.
Cave, neo-folkie Devendra Banhart, Fred Neil and many...
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