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Bettye LaVette and Drive-By Truckers: The Scene of the Crime (Anti) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Bettye LaVette and Drive-By Truckers: The Scene of the Crime (Anti) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

This is an unexpected pairing: soul-singer LaVette with alt-country rockers Drive-By Truckers recording in Muscle Shoals in Alabama. A marriage made in heaven (or a somewhat hotter place) as it turns out: the band are edgy or supportive and nudge LaVette (who needs little prompting it must be said) through a collection of gritty songs which...

Joe Jackson: Rain (Ryko/Elite)

Joe Jackson: Rain (Ryko/Elite)

By the end of the first, somewhat leaden track Invisible Man, even longtime fans might be gulping hard. But things take off after that clunker (which is much better live as the DVD which comes with early copies of this album shows). Jackson's desperate sounding vocals and his exceptional piano playing get a long overdue showcase on this pared...

Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection (1970)

Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection (1970)

There are some images which are imprinted in my rock’n’roll memory -- one was when the young Elton John played at Auckland’s Western Springs Stadium in October 1971. That’s a long time gone so you have to remember the context: Elton wasn’t the glittery star he later became, in fact he seemed a pretty straight...

LONG JOHN BALDRY INTERVIEWED (2002): What becomes a legend most.

LONG JOHN BALDRY INTERVIEWED (2002): What becomes a legend most.

They didn't call him Long John for nothing. Standing more than 2m tall, John Baldry was a towering figure in British r'n'b during the 60s.  Alongside John Mayall, Long John Baldry was a kingmaker whose various groups included the young Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts, later of the Rolling Stones, and the 16-year-old Jimmy Page (Led...

Jim Capaldi: Oh How We Danced/Whale Meat Again (Raven)

Jim Capaldi: Oh How We Danced/Whale Meat Again (Raven)

Drummer, singer and songwriter Capaldi recorded these two solo albums in '72 and '74 when he was still a member of Traffic alongside Stevie Winwood, Dave Mason and Chris Wood -- all of whom appear here as part of a stellar cast which also includes the Muscle Shoals Horns, guitarist Paul Kossoff of Free, Rick Grech, drummer Gaspar Lawal, Jim...

Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Deluxe Edition (Universal CD/DVD)

Elton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Deluxe Edition (Universal CD/DVD)

Elton is like a kindly old uncle these days, giving big ups to Ryan Adams, throwing post-Oscar parties, behaving himself, turning up on Disney soundtracks, or rewriting one of his prettiest tunes for the funeral of a slightly wacky royal. And he got married (again, to a man this time though).  It's hard to remember that he was,...

Elton John: The Captain and the Kid (Mercury)

Elton John: The Captain and the Kid (Mercury)

By an odd coincidence I recently bought a battered vinyl copy of Elton John’s autobiographical 75 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. For some reason it had gone right past me and when I looked at the track listing it was hardly full of hit singles or even FM radio fodder. The only title I recognised was Someone Saved My...

Bettye LaVette: Interpretations; The British Rock Songbook (Anti)

Bettye LaVette: Interpretations; The British Rock Songbook (Anti)

Soul singer and Muscle Shoals veteran LaVette has enjoyed a revival recently: her 05 album I've Got My Own Hell to Raise put her back to the foreground; the excellent 07 Scene of the Crime teamed her with US alt.country rockers Drive-By Truckers; and last year she was at Barack Obama's inauguration and with the remaining Beatles at New...

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...

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...

Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union (Mercury)

Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union (Mercury)

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

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...

Leon Russell: Sweet Mystery (1979)

Leon Russell: Sweet Mystery (1979)

Careers rise and fall all the time in popular culture, but few with the perfect arc of Leon Russell's. In the mid Sixties he was an anonymous session pianist playing on albums by Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Herb Alpert and Gary Lewis and the Playboys, five years later he had two Beatles (George Harrison, Ringo), three Stones (Mick, Bill...

RAY CHARLES 1954-1960: A soul brother movin' on

RAY CHARLES 1954-1960: A soul brother movin' on

The word "genius" was used so often about Ray Charles that people probably ceased to believe it in this age where a minor sports figure is referred to as "an icon" and "awesome" has long since lost any meaning at all. But Charles was a genius -- "The only genius in our business," said Frank Sinatra --...

LADY GAGA, ONE SEQUIN AT A TIME, a doco by SONIA ANDERSON

LADY GAGA, ONE SEQUIN AT A TIME, a doco by SONIA ANDERSON

The famous British DJ Jimmy Savile wore a suit made of bananas when he was hosting a television show. Copying Lady Gaga's notorious "meat dress"? Not at all. Savile -- now Sir Jimmy -- wore his eye-catching clobber on Top of the Pops back in the Seventies. Visually striking and an icon she may be, but you certainly couldn't...

Little Feat: 40 Feat, The Hot Tomato Anthology 1971-2011 (Proper/Southbound)

Little Feat: 40 Feat, The Hot Tomato Anthology 1971-2011 (Proper/Southbound)

As with Amazing Rhythm Aces, Little Feat seem a band loyally followed by many . . . but largely overlooked by contemporary critics or those who never fell for their particularly imaginative gumbo of sleazy rock, New Orleans funk'n'voodoo, psychedelic country, dirty blues and whatever else made you feel good right at that moment. The drug...

Billy Joel: A New York state of mind

Billy Joel: A New York state of mind

Billy and I were introduced while he was having his lunch. He gestured for me to join him and help myself to the generous pile of sandwiches on the table, multi-level affairs held together by long plastic toothpicks with odd little flags on top. As we spoke Billy never even glanced at the spectacular vista of Sydney Harbour and the Opera...

THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST DVD REVIEWED (2007)

THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST DVD REVIEWED (2007)

If you want to capture the essence of the 70s in a word it's "hair". At the start of the decade there were Afros and cascades of curls halfway down backs (that's the men) and the long straight stuff with fringes (the women -- and Noddy Holder from Slade). By mid-decade there were dreadlocks, moustaches and big sideburns...

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