Up close and personal at a 72-track mixing desk in Abbey Road studios, London
Elsewhere by Graham Reid

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Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

bob dylan

Content tagged as bob dylan.

Various: Endless Highway, The Music of The Band (Shock)

Various: Endless Highway, The Music of The Band (Shock)

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...

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Levon Helm: Dirt Farmer (Vanguard) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

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...

Cat Power: Jukebox (Matador)

Cat Power: Jukebox (Matador)

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...

Jakob Dylan: Seeing Things (Sony/BMG)

Jakob Dylan: Seeing Things (Sony/BMG)

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...

Various: Albums from the Smithsonian Folkways series (Folkways/Southbound)

Various: Albums from the Smithsonian Folkways series (Folkways/Southbound)

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:  Life, Death, Love Freedom (Universal)

John Mellencamp: Life, Death, Love Freedom (Universal)

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: Songs of Freedom (1992)

Bob Marley: Songs of Freedom (1992)

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...

THE BAND; ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE BOX SET (1994): Genius all boxed up . . . or maybe not all.

THE BAND; ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE BOX SET (1994): Genius all boxed up . . . or maybe not all.

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 CONCERT REVIEWS 2003, 2007: The wayward prince

BOB DYLAN CONCERT REVIEWS 2003, 2007: The wayward prince

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

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...

THE BOB DYLAN ENCYCLOPEDIA by MICHAEL GRAY: More song and dance

THE BOB DYLAN ENCYCLOPEDIA by MICHAEL GRAY: More song and dance

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...

Woody Guthrie: Original Folk, The Best of Woody Guthrie (Music Club)

Woody Guthrie: Original Folk, The Best of Woody Guthrie (Music Club)

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...

HARRY SMITH'S LEGACY REVISITED 2007: His grave is being kept . . . clean?

HARRY SMITH'S LEGACY REVISITED 2007: His grave is being kept . . . clean?

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...

Patti Smith, Dream of Life DVD (Arthouse/Madman)

Patti Smith, Dream of Life DVD (Arthouse/Madman)

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...

Bob Dylan: Live 1966 (Sony)

Bob Dylan: Live 1966 (Sony)

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...

Various: The Best of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour (Chrome Dreams)

Various: The Best of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour (Chrome Dreams)

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...

PETE SEEGER PROFILED: The conscience of America

PETE SEEGER PROFILED: The conscience of America

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...

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: A Stranger Here (Anti/Shock)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: A Stranger Here (Anti/Shock)

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...

TONY PARSONS INTERVIEWED (2004): About a Man in the Family Way

TONY PARSONS INTERVIEWED (2004): About a Man in the Family Way

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...

TOM WAITS IN THE 21st CENTURY: Alice, Blood Money, Real Gone and Orphans

TOM WAITS IN THE 21st CENTURY: Alice, Blood Money, Real Gone and Orphans

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 Waits image. If there was a surprise about Waits' Mule...

JOE COCKER INTERVIEWED (2005): Up where he belonged

JOE COCKER INTERVIEWED (2005): Up where he belonged

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...

JABBERROCK: THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF ROCK'N'ROLL QUOTATIONS by RAYMOND OBSTFELD AND PATRICIA FITZGERALD

JABBERROCK: THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF ROCK'N'ROLL QUOTATIONS by RAYMOND OBSTFELD AND PATRICIA FITZGERALD

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Bob Dylan: Together Through Life (Sony)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Bob Dylan: Together Through Life (Sony)

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...

Neil Young: Fork in the Road (CD/DVD Reprise)

Neil Young: Fork in the Road (CD/DVD Reprise)

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...

Chuck E Weiss: Old Souls and Wolf Tickets (Ryko)

Chuck E Weiss: Old Souls and Wolf Tickets (Ryko)

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...

PAUL SIMON; THE SOLO YEARS: The boy out of his bubble

PAUL SIMON; THE SOLO YEARS: The boy out of his bubble

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...

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band: Outer South (UN SPK)

Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band: Outer South (UN SPK)

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...

Various: The Little Red Box of Protest Songs (Proper/Southbound)

Various: The Little Red Box of Protest Songs (Proper/Southbound)

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...

Rodriguez: Coming from Reality (Light in the Attic)

Rodriguez: Coming from Reality (Light in the Attic)

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...

Beck: One Foot in the Grave (XL)

Beck: One Foot in the Grave (XL)

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...

Tom Waits: Bone Machine (Island)

Tom Waits: Bone Machine (Island)

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,...

The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)

The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965)

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...

The Jayhawks: Anthology; Music from the North Country (American)

The Jayhawks: Anthology; Music from the North Country (American)

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...

The War on Drugs: Wagonwheel Blues (Longtime Listener)

The War on Drugs: Wagonwheel Blues (Longtime Listener)

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...

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs: Under the Covers Vol 2 (Shock)

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs: Under the Covers Vol 2 (Shock)

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 Duke and the King: Nothing Good Can Stay (Shock)

The Duke and the King: Nothing Good Can Stay (Shock)

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. The...

Kieran Kane: Somewhere Beyond the Roses (Shock)

Kieran Kane: Somewhere Beyond the Roses (Shock)

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Black Crowes: Before the Frost . . . Until the Freeze (Silver Arrow)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 The Black Crowes: Before the Frost . . . Until the Freeze (Silver Arrow)

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...

Chris Smither: Time Stands Still (Shock)

Chris Smither: Time Stands Still (Shock)

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...

Blitzen Trapper: Black River Killer (Sub Pop)

Blitzen Trapper: Black River Killer (Sub Pop)

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). They are...

Chris Prowse: Trouble on the Waterfront (Proco)

Chris Prowse: Trouble on the Waterfront (Proco)

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...

Warren Cate: The Reparation Tapes (Warcat)

Warren Cate: The Reparation Tapes (Warcat)

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...

EVAN DANDO OF THE LEMONHEADS INTERVIEWED (2004): Learning to crawl

EVAN DANDO OF THE LEMONHEADS INTERVIEWED (2004): Learning to crawl

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 INTERVIEWED (2000): This changing man

LLOYD COLE INTERVIEWED (2000): This changing man

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 years. With his American wife and two children, he lives in the wilderness three hours north of...

ONE FAST MOVE OR I'M GONE a film by CURT WORDEM (2009, Kerouac Films)

ONE FAST MOVE OR I'M GONE a film by CURT WORDEM (2009, Kerouac Films)

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...

Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (Sony CD/DVD)

Leonard Cohen: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 (Sony CD/DVD)

“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...

White Denim: Fits (Inertia)

White Denim: Fits (Inertia)

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...

Old Crow Medicine Show: Live at the Orange Peel and Tennessee Theatre (Shock DVD)

Old Crow Medicine Show: Live at the Orange Peel and Tennessee Theatre (Shock DVD)

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...

Bap Kennedy: Howl On (Lonely Street Discs)

Bap Kennedy: Howl On (Lonely Street Discs)

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...

Tom Petty: Chair man of the bored

Tom Petty: Chair man of the bored

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. But...

Helen Henderson: Twisting Wind (Ranui)

Helen Henderson: Twisting Wind (Ranui)

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...

Dave Rawlings Machine: A Friend of a Friend (Acony)

Dave Rawlings Machine: A Friend of a Friend (Acony)

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...

Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed (Epitaph)

Frank Turner: Poetry of the Deed (Epitaph)

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: Ida Con Snock (Gnomonsong)

Michael Hurley: Ida Con Snock (Gnomonsong)

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...

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone (New West)

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...

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

Various artists: Deep in a Dream (Stomp/Rhythmethod)

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...

BOB DYLAN SPEAKS, SAN FRANCISCO 1965 (Eagle DVD)

BOB DYLAN SPEAKS, SAN FRANCISCO 1965 (Eagle DVD)

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...

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: The Live Anthology (Universal)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: The Live Anthology (Universal)

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. Tom Petty...

Various artists: Crazy Heart soundtrack (New West)

Various artists: Crazy Heart soundtrack (New West)

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...

Donovan: Troubadour; The Definitive Collection 1964-76 (1998 compilation)

Donovan: Troubadour; The Definitive Collection 1964-76 (1998 compilation)

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...

Waylon Jennings: Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (1975)

Waylon Jennings: Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (1975)

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....

Ben Sidran: Dylan Different (Nardis)

Ben Sidran: Dylan Different (Nardis)

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...

Johnny Cash: Cash, American VI; Ain't No Grave (American)

Johnny Cash: Cash, American VI; Ain't No Grave (American)

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...

BRIAN AUGER INTERVIEWED (2002): Still on fire, still rollin down the road

BRIAN AUGER INTERVIEWED (2002): Still on fire, still rollin down the road

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...

Elvis Costello: Imperial Bedroom (1982)

Elvis Costello: Imperial Bedroom (1982)

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...

JUST KIDS by PATTI SMITH: Nourished by love and art

JUST KIDS by PATTI SMITH: Nourished by love and art

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...

Graham Parker: Imaginary Television (Bloodshot)

Graham Parker: Imaginary Television (Bloodshot)

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...

Fionn Regan: The Shadow of an Empire (Inertia/Border)

Fionn Regan: The Shadow of an Empire (Inertia/Border)

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: Arrows (Social End Product/Rhythmethod)

The Eastern: Arrows (Social End Product/Rhythmethod)

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...

John Hiatt: The Open Road (New West)

John Hiatt: The Open Road (New West)

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bruce Springsteen; Nebraska/The Ghost of Tom Joad

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bruce Springsteen; Nebraska/The Ghost of Tom Joad

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...

The Triffids and Guests: It's Raining Pleasure (Madman DVD)

The Triffids and Guests: It's Raining Pleasure (Madman DVD)

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...

JAKOB DYLAN INTERVIEWED (2002): Out of his father's long shadow

JAKOB DYLAN INTERVIEWED (2002): Out of his father's long shadow

You 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". You 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...

Jakob Dylan: Women and Country (Sony)

Jakob Dylan: Women and Country (Sony)

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...

NICK CAVE, THE SEEDY MIDDLE YEARS: From Tender Prey to Henry's Dream

NICK CAVE, THE SEEDY MIDDLE YEARS: From Tender Prey to Henry's Dream

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...

Harper Simon: Harper Simon (Liberator)

Harper Simon: Harper Simon (Liberator)

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...

FRANK TURNER: AUDIO INTERVIEW (2010): The documentarian of politics and the soul

FRANK TURNER: AUDIO INTERVIEW (2010): The documentarian of politics and the soul

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)...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

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, as well...

Riot 111: 1981! (1981)

Riot 111: 1981! (1981)

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...

JOAN BAEZ; HOW SWEET THE SOUND a documentary by MARY WHARTON (2009)

JOAN BAEZ; HOW SWEET THE SOUND a documentary by MARY WHARTON (2009)

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: Who Killed Davey Moore? (1963)

Bob Dylan: Who Killed Davey Moore? (1963)

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)...

TOWNES VAN ZANDT INTERVIEWED (1988): Say hello and wave goodbye

TOWNES VAN ZANDT INTERVIEWED (1988): Say hello and wave goodbye

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...

Villagers: Becoming a Jackal (Domino)

Villagers: Becoming a Jackal (Domino)

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...

BILLY BRAGG INTERVIEWED ABOUT WOODY GUTHRIE (1998): Woody'n'Wilco and rude'n'boozy songs

BILLY BRAGG INTERVIEWED ABOUT WOODY GUTHRIE (1998): Woody'n'Wilco and rude'n'boozy songs

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...

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, a documentary series by TONY PALMER (Isolde/Southbound DVD)

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, a documentary series by TONY PALMER (Isolde/Southbound DVD)

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 LIVE IN SYDNEY (2003): Normal transmission will be resumed shortly

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN LIVE IN SYDNEY (2003): Normal transmission will be resumed shortly

Bruce Springsteen won't forget his show at Sydney's Cricket Ground last Saturday. He said so repeatedly and meant it. 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?...

Various Artists: Got No Chains; The Songs of the Walkabouts (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

Various Artists: Got No Chains; The Songs of the Walkabouts (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

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...

Leonard Cohen: Because of (2004)

Leonard Cohen: Because of (2004)

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...

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Mojo (Reprise)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Mojo (Reprise)

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"...

Kris Kristofferson: Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Light in the Attic/Rhythmethod)

Kris Kristofferson: Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Light in the Attic/Rhythmethod)

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...

Crowded House and Roger McGuinn: Eight Miles High (1989)

Crowded House and Roger McGuinn: Eight Miles High (1989)

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...

CRAZY HEART, a film by SCOTT COOPER (Roadshow DVD)

CRAZY HEART, a film by SCOTT COOPER (Roadshow DVD)

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...

Phosphorescent: Here's to Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans)

Phosphorescent: Here's to Taking It Easy (Dead Oceans)

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...

Bob Dylan: Folksinger's Choice (Left Field/Triton)

Bob Dylan: Folksinger's Choice (Left Field/Triton)

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...

Willie Nelson: Rarities Vol 1 (Great American Music/Southbound)

Willie Nelson: Rarities Vol 1 (Great American Music/Southbound)

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...

Pete Molinari: A Train Bound for Glory (Clarksville)

Pete Molinari: A Train Bound for Glory (Clarksville)

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...

Blitzen Trapper: Destroyer of the Void (Sub Pop/Rhythmethod)

Blitzen Trapper: Destroyer of the Void (Sub Pop/Rhythmethod)

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: Back to the Island (1975)

Leon Russell: Back to the Island (1975)

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...

ROGER GUINN, BACK FROM RIO (1991): The return flyte

ROGER GUINN, BACK FROM RIO (1991): The return flyte

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...

Sebastian Cabot: Like a Rolling Stone (1967)

Sebastian Cabot: Like a Rolling Stone (1967)

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...

Hank Wilson: She Thinks I Still Care (1973)

Hank Wilson: She Thinks I Still Care (1973)

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...

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AT 60: Still running through America

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AT 60: Still running through America

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....

Johnny Cash: Understand Your Man (1964)

Johnny Cash: Understand Your Man (1964)

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...

Allen Ginsberg: Dope Fiend Blues (1974)

Allen Ginsberg: Dope Fiend Blues (1974)

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...

Dylan LeBlanc: Paupers Field (Rough Trade)

Dylan LeBlanc: Paupers Field (Rough Trade)

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...

Leonard Cohen: The Essential Leonard Cohen (Sony)

Leonard Cohen: The Essential Leonard Cohen (Sony)

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 Waits. “But have you ever heard the word...

John Prine: In Person and On Stage (Oh Boy)

John Prine: In Person and On Stage (Oh Boy)

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Black Crowes: Croweology (Silver Arrow)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 The Black Crowes: Croweology (Silver Arrow)

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 Chris...

THE NEO-FOLKIE BOHOS OF THE NINETIES: Talking New York City

THE NEO-FOLKIE BOHOS OF THE NINETIES: Talking New York City

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...

INVISIBLE REPUBLIC; BOB DYLAN'S BASEMENT TAPES by GREIL MARCUS:

INVISIBLE REPUBLIC; BOB DYLAN'S BASEMENT TAPES by GREIL MARCUS:

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...

JIMI HENDRIX, AN ESSAY: In my Life

JIMI HENDRIX, AN ESSAY: In my Life

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...

LEONARD COHEN PROFILED: Life of a ladies' man

LEONARD COHEN PROFILED: Life of a ladies' man

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 problem. "He is for most of us,” Iyer wrote in Sun After Dark, “a figure of the dark, sitting alone sometime after midnight and...

BOB DYLAN'S CAREER, AN OVERVIEW (2007): Yes, do look back

BOB DYLAN'S CAREER, AN OVERVIEW (2007): Yes, do look back

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...

ALL MY LOVING, a film by TONY PALMER (BBC DVD)

ALL MY LOVING, a film by TONY PALMER (BBC DVD)

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...

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

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

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...

Elvis Costello: National Ransom (Universal)

Elvis Costello: National Ransom (Universal)

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...

BRUCE COCKBURN PROFILED (2010): Poet with a rocket launcher

BRUCE COCKBURN PROFILED (2010): Poet with a rocket launcher

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...

IN FROM THE COLD; THE WORLD OF RICHARD BURTON, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint/Triton DVD)

IN FROM THE COLD; THE WORLD OF RICHARD BURTON, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint/Triton DVD)

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Bruce Springsteen: The Promise (Sony)

“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...

Fistful of Mercy: As I Call You Down (Hot)

Fistful of Mercy: As I Call You Down (Hot)

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 to Waste...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bruce Springsteen; Born to Run (Sony)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bruce Springsteen; Born to Run (Sony)

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...

Barry Saunders: Far As The Eye Can See (Ode)

Barry Saunders: Far As The Eye Can See (Ode)

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...

THE JAM and TOM PETTY in '79: Two bands separated by a common language

THE JAM and TOM PETTY in '79: Two bands separated by a common language

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...

Bob Dylan: You Belong To Me (1994)

Bob Dylan: You Belong To Me (1994)

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...

Odetta: A legend ignored

Odetta: A legend ignored

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,...

ODETTA INTERVIEWED (1989): The human touch

ODETTA INTERVIEWED (1989): The human touch

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,...

JOE COCKER INTERVIEWED (2010): The school and sound of hard knocks

JOE COCKER INTERVIEWED (2010): The school and sound of hard knocks

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 66-year...

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

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 two...

LISTEN TO THIS by ALEX ROSS

LISTEN TO THIS by ALEX ROSS

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...

MICHAEL CHUGG INTERVIEWED (2011): Rock'n'roll never forgets

MICHAEL CHUGG INTERVIEWED (2011): Rock'n'roll never forgets

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...

Joe Cocker: Hard Knocks (Sony)

Joe Cocker: Hard Knocks (Sony)

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...

Kid Rock: Born Free (Atlantic)

Kid Rock: Born Free (Atlantic)

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....

DAVID CROSBY INTERVIEWED (2007): Survivor stories

DAVID CROSBY INTERVIEWED (2007): Survivor stories

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...

BOB DYLAN, AND DA PENNEBAKER INTERVIEWED (2007). Looking back on Bob

BOB DYLAN, AND DA PENNEBAKER INTERVIEWED (2007). Looking back on Bob

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: The Edge of the World (Arch Hill)

Andrew McKenzie: The Edge of the World (Arch Hill)

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...

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

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...

The Savage Rose: A Girl I Knew (1968)

The Savage Rose: A Girl I Knew (1968)

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...

Bob Dylan: Copper Kettle (1970)

Bob Dylan: Copper Kettle (1970)

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Lucinda Williams: Blessed (Lost Highway)

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...

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

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...

The Baseball Project: High and Inside Vol. 2 (YepRoc/Southbound)

The Baseball Project: High and Inside Vol. 2 (YepRoc/Southbound)

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...

JOHNNY CASH; THE MAN IN BLACK (Xelon/Southbound DVD)

JOHNNY CASH; THE MAN IN BLACK (Xelon/Southbound DVD)

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...

JOHNNY CASH REMEMBERED 2006: Solitary, and singular, man

JOHNNY CASH REMEMBERED 2006: Solitary, and singular, man

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...

LEON RUSSELL INTERVIEWED (2011): Ever the journeyman

LEON RUSSELL INTERVIEWED (2011): Ever the journeyman

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Tom Paxton; Original Album Series (Rhino)

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...

Richard Harris: A Tramp Shining (1968)

Richard Harris: A Tramp Shining (1968)

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...

Chris Hurn: Too Busy Dreamin' (Monkey)

Chris Hurn: Too Busy Dreamin' (Monkey)

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...

Ben Ottewell:Shapes and Shadows (Shock)

Ben Ottewell:Shapes and Shadows (Shock)

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 country. With a sound as distinctive...

The The: I'm a Long Gone Daddy (1994)

The The: I'm a Long Gone Daddy (1994)

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')...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Paul Simon: So Beautiful Or So What (Hear Music)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Paul Simon: So Beautiful Or So What (Hear Music)

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...

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

BOB DYLAN IN THE 21st CENTURY: And the road shall not weary him

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...

Bob Dylan: Jet Pilot (1965)

Bob Dylan: Jet Pilot (1965)

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. During the...

HOWE GELB INTERVIEWED (2011): The price and pay-off of the path less traveled

HOWE GELB INTERVIEWED (2011): The price and pay-off of the path less traveled

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 release Alegrias). And there...

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

Joan Baez: Play Me Backwards (Proper)

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...

BOB DYLAN OFF THE BARRICADES (2011): The China syndrome

BOB DYLAN OFF THE BARRICADES (2011): The China syndrome

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. The song...

The Felice Brothers: Celebration, Florida (Spunk)

The Felice Brothers: Celebration, Florida (Spunk)

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...

ROY ORBISON 1960-65: The years of monumental pop

ROY ORBISON 1960-65: The years of monumental pop

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...

Bob Dylan: In Concert, Brandeis University 1963 (Sony)

Bob Dylan: In Concert, Brandeis University 1963 (Sony)

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...

Bob Dylan: The Very Best of Bob Dylan's 80s (Sony Legacy)

Bob Dylan: The Very Best of Bob Dylan's 80s (Sony Legacy)

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...

L/O/N/G: American Primitive (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

L/O/N/G: American Primitive (Glitterhouse/Yellow Eye)

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...

John Hiatt: She Loves the Jerk (1983)

John Hiatt: She Loves the Jerk (1983)

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...

Jim James and Calexico: Going to Acapulco (2007)

Jim James and Calexico: Going to Acapulco (2007)

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Howe Gelb and a Band of Gypsies: Alegrias (Fire)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Howe Gelb and a Band of Gypsies: Alegrias (Fire)

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...

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

Kurt Vile: Smoke Ring For My Halo (Matador)

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'...

Giant Sand: Center of the Universe (Fire)

Giant Sand: Center of the Universe (Fire)

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...

NICK CAVE, FROM OUTSIDER TO AUTEUR IN THE NINETIES: Let Love In to No More Shall We Part

NICK CAVE, FROM OUTSIDER TO AUTEUR IN THE NINETIES: Let Love In to No More Shall We Part

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,...

Steve Earle: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (New West)

Steve Earle: I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (New West)

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: Small Source of Comfort (True North)

Bruce Cockburn: Small Source of Comfort (True North)

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,...

TEX PERKINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Cash money and black is back

TEX PERKINS INTERVIEWED (2011): Cash money and black is back

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 morning-after”. “Yeah, very Johnny Cash,” says Tex Perkins, the room's slightly disheveled occupant, in a husky and weary voice. The...

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)

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...

Known Associates: Penny Love (Warcat)

Known Associates: Penny Love (Warcat)

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...

Mickey Newbury: An American Trilogy (Saint Cecilia Knows/Southbound)

Mickey Newbury: An American Trilogy (Saint Cecilia Knows/Southbound)

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 others. Often spoken of...

Neil Young and the International Harvesters: A Treasure (Reprise)

Neil Young and the International Harvesters: A Treasure (Reprise)

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...

BOB DYLAN'S HIGHWAY REVISITED AT 33, 45 AND 70: Back to mono

BOB DYLAN'S HIGHWAY REVISITED AT 33, 45 AND 70: Back to mono

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...

Bob Dylan: Dirge (1974)

Bob Dylan: Dirge (1974)

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...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB (2011): The Dylan tribute albums

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOB (2011): The Dylan tribute albums

Bob Dylan's 70th 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. Some got in early – like Ben Sidran whose Dylan Different arrived before...

NO DIRECTION HOME a film about Bob Dylan by MARTIN SCORSESE (2005)

NO DIRECTION HOME a film about Bob Dylan by MARTIN SCORSESE (2005)

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. But...

HOWL, a film by ROB EPSTEIN and JEFFREY FRIEDMAN

HOWL, a film by ROB EPSTEIN and JEFFREY FRIEDMAN

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....

Gomez: Whatever's On Your Mind (Shock)

Gomez: Whatever's On Your Mind (Shock)

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...

BOB DYLAN; 1990-2006: THE NEVER ENDING NARRATIVE (Chrome Dreams DVD)

BOB DYLAN; 1990-2006: THE NEVER ENDING NARRATIVE (Chrome Dreams DVD)

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...

Giant Sand: The Love Songs (Fire)

Giant Sand: The Love Songs (Fire)

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...

BOB DYLAN'S LIKE A ROLLING STONE by GREIL MARCUS (2005): All things considered . . .

BOB DYLAN'S LIKE A ROLLING STONE by GREIL MARCUS (2005): All things considered . . .

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...

The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)

The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient (Secretly Canadian)

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. And Philadelphian songwriter Adam Granduciel's has seriously...

BOB DYLAN, ON FILM: Acting on the margins

BOB DYLAN, ON FILM: Acting on the margins

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...

Jerry Jeff Walker: Jerry Jeff Walker, Expanded Edition (Raven)

Jerry Jeff Walker: Jerry Jeff Walker, Expanded Edition (Raven)

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. In...

BOB DYLAN at 60: The road goes on forever (2001)

BOB DYLAN at 60: The road goes on forever (2001)

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bob Dylan; Time Out of Mind (Sony)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Bob Dylan; Time Out of Mind (Sony)

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)...

Various Artists: How Many Roads, Black America Sings Bob Dylan (Ace)

Various Artists: How Many Roads, Black America Sings Bob Dylan (Ace)

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Glen Campbell: Ghost on the Canvas (Inertia)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Glen Campbell: Ghost on the Canvas (Inertia)

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...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Blitzen Trapper: American Goldwing (Sub Pop)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Blitzen Trapper: American Goldwing (Sub Pop)

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...

BOB DYLAN'S THEME TIME RADIO HOUR: Turn your radio on

BOB DYLAN'S THEME TIME RADIO HOUR: Turn your radio on

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...

The Contours: First I Look at the Purse (1965)

The Contours: First I Look at the Purse (1965)

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...

PATTI SMITH INTERVIEWED (1998): On the road again

PATTI SMITH INTERVIEWED (1998): On the road again

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...

Nick Lowe: Dig My Mood (1998)

Nick Lowe: Dig My Mood (1998)

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...

PAUL SIMON; GRACELAND, AGAIN (2012): We can all be received . . .

PAUL SIMON; GRACELAND, AGAIN (2012): We can all be received . . .

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 rage. Strange, when you listen to magical songs like the buoyant title track which shimmers over mercury smooth...

BOB DYLAN, THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOLUME 1-3 (1991): A man out of time?

BOB DYLAN, THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOLUME 1-3 (1991): A man out of time?

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...

ROCK'N'ROLL NEVER FORGETS: A journey back through time

ROCK'N'ROLL NEVER FORGETS: A journey back through time

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Neil Young; Official Release Series Discs 1-4 (Reprise)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Neil Young; Official Release Series Discs 1-4 (Reprise)

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. But...

New York, USA: Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning

New York, USA: Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning

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...

Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville Cats

Nashville, Tennessee: Nashville Cats

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...

Bob Geldof: Which one do you want?

Bob Geldof: Which one do you want?

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...

Roger McGuinn: The Byrd who can't fly from his past

Roger McGuinn: The Byrd who can't fly from his past

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. I avoid...

Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (1988)

Steve Earle: Copperhead Road (1988)

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...

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: I Stand Alone (EMI)

Ramblin' Jack Elliott: I Stand Alone (EMI)

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; Modern Times (Sony/BMG) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

Bob Dylan; Modern Times (Sony/BMG) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2006

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...

The Louvin Brothers: My Baby's Gone 1955-64 (Raven/EMI)

The Louvin Brothers: My Baby's Gone 1955-64 (Raven/EMI)

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...

Karen Dalton: In My Own Time (Light in the Attic/Global Routes)

Karen Dalton: In My Own Time (Light in the Attic/Global Routes)

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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