jimmy webb

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Richard Swift: Dressed Up For the Letdown (Secretly Canadian) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Richard Swift: Dressed Up For the Letdown (Secretly Canadian) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

The previous album by this Californian singer-songwriter -- actually a double disc collection of his previously released singles and EPs -- made an appearance on Elsewhere many months ago and I hailed it to the skies. And I've played it with alarming frequency ever since a first hearing. This is his fully-fledged debut album proper, and...

Co-Pilgrim: Pucker Up Buttercup (Rhythmethod)

Co-Pilgrim: Pucker Up Buttercup (Rhythmethod)

A few years ago there was a hopeful movement started in the UK: it came with the slogan "Quiet is the New Loud". Movements which get a slogan before a following are usually shortlived, and so it was with that one -- although to be fair a lot of pretty and quiet albums arrived subsequently, but most from bands we never heard of...

Willie Nelson: Moment of Forever (Lost Highway)

Willie Nelson: Moment of Forever (Lost Highway)

Whether he's singing sentimental songs (like the Kristofferson-penned title track here), evoking some kind of outlaw mentality or harking back to history (his take on Randy Newman's Louisiana here lightly updated to make it more relevant post-Katrina) there is still something magical about Willie's vocals. He slides behind a beat to give a...

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...

Wayne Mason and the Fallen Angels: Sense Got Out (Ode)

Wayne Mason and the Fallen Angels: Sense Got Out (Ode)

Singer-songwriter Wayne Mason may be best (and in some circles only) known as the guy who wrote the Kiwi classic Nature for the Fourmyula (later covered by the Mutton Birds). But that was almost four decades ago and he has spent the intervening period crafting equally excellent material for the Warratahs (until '94), and now delivers them on...

TOM RUSSELL INTERVIEWED: The stories he could tell

TOM RUSSELL INTERVIEWED: The stories he could tell

Julio Gonzalez was pumped up and crazy when he was tossed out of the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx in mid-March 1990. He was 36, unemployed and had been in the States for only 10 years after arriving with thousands of other Cubans in the Mariel boatlift. An argument with his former girlfriend who worked in the cloakroom, a couple of...

NEIL FINN INTERVIEWED (2001): Man alone

NEIL FINN INTERVIEWED (2001): Man alone

Neil Finn gives the impression he's happier than he has ever been. This year he's been around the country playing solo shows in small venues with contributions by ring-in local musicians, billing them as the Band of Strangers. Soon he starts a five-night stand at the St James in Auckland with a guest list that includes Eddie Vedder from...

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...

Jimmy Webb and the Webb Brothers: Cottonwood Farm (Proper/Southbound)

Jimmy Webb and the Webb Brothers: Cottonwood Farm (Proper/Southbound)

Anyone who has followed the career of the great songwriter Jimmy Webb (interviewed at Elsewhere here) will attest to two things: he crafts memorable material (all those hits for Glen Campbell, the gorgeous minimalism of The Moon's A Harsh Mistress made famous by Joe Cocker, the baroque McArthur Park) and he ain't much of a singer. Like...

GREG JOHNSON INTERVIEWED (2009): The song, not the singer

GREG JOHNSON INTERVIEWED (2009): The song, not the singer

The first call catches Greg Johnson and his wife Kelli somewhere in the empty landscape of Texas heading for Shreveport, Louisiana with a fuel gauge hovering near “Empty”. “We’re looking for gas at the moment,” he says slightly anxiously, and there follows a brief and fraught discussion in the front seat. They...

LARRY HENLEY INTERVIEWED (1993): The world beneath his wings

LARRY HENLEY INTERVIEWED (1993): The world beneath his wings

On this slightly hung-over weekday morning Larry Henley doesn’t look the kind of man whose words have touched a generation. He speaks with a quiet, modest and slow-drag Texas accent and seems too self-effacing for someone whose song lyrics have been recited at funerals and marriages, during intimate moments by way of love or apology,...

Peter Gabriel: Scratch My Back (EMI)

Peter Gabriel: Scratch My Back (EMI)

An album where an artist covers the material of others is hardly a new concept, but you can guess that Peter Gabriel -- the ever sensitive quality controller, with his first album in eight years -- brings something special to the table. Here he is on songs by those of his generation such as David Bowie (Heroes), Paul Simon (Boy in the...

Various Artists: The Gerry Goffin and Carole King Songbook (EMI)

Various Artists: The Gerry Goffin and Carole King Songbook (EMI)

While Carole King went on to greater fame, it is worth remembering that of the songs she wrote with her writing partner-then-husband Gerry Goffin in the early Sixties it was he who penned those memorable and often extremely adult lyrics: think of the pre-sex doubt in "will you still love me tomorrow", the post-sex pleasures of...

CAROLE KING AND JAMES TAYLOR INTERVIEWED (2010): Attitudes and platitudes

CAROLE KING AND JAMES TAYLOR INTERVIEWED (2010): Attitudes and platitudes

Carole King and James Taylor hardly need an introduction. For 40 years -- more in King’s case, she started writing the music for Gerry Goffin‘s lyrics in the early 60s -- their songs and lives have been public property. No classic hits station (or student flat in the early 70s) could be without a copy of Taylor’s Sweet Baby...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Boz Scaggs; Silk Degrees

THE BARGAIN BUY: Boz Scaggs; Silk Degrees

These days singer/songwriter Boz Scaggs is more of a jazzman -- as witnessed by his album Speak Low of 2008. But in the mid Seventies, in those days just before disco started turning into a formula and a cliche, he made some beautifully soulful dance-pop which was not only radio-friendly but was subtle, understated and tasteful. He'd come a...

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: James Taylor; Sweet Baby James (Warners)

THE BARGAIN BUY: James Taylor; Sweet Baby James (Warners)

After his brief signing to the Beatles label Apple and his self-titled debut in '69 (which included a song entitled Soemthing in the Way She Moves which Harrison also used), Taylor moved over to Warners as Apple broke up and delivered this album which really launched his career -- and gave impetus to the whole sensitive singer-songwriter...

Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

Neil Diamond: Dreams (Sony)

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

Greg Johnson: Secret Weapon (JMA)

Greg Johnson: Secret Weapon (JMA)

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

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...

JIMMY WEBB INTERVIEWED (2005). The songwriter's songwriter

JIMMY WEBB INTERVIEWED (2005). The songwriter's songwriter

When Jimmy Webb, one of the most sophisticated and successful songwriters of his generation, speaks of making music it is like eavesdropping on genius. And that is what he is considered to be by his peers and those who have followed his long career. Before he was 21 Webb had already written some of pop’s most enduring songs, including...

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...

DENNIS LECORRIERE INTERVIEWED (2003): Is there a Doctor in the house?

DENNIS LECORRIERE INTERVIEWED (2003): Is there a Doctor in the house?

Dennis Locorriere spends most of the hour laughing and is more amused than irritated that many people mistake him for someone else. Locorriere - with slight streaks of silver at his temples and celebrating his 54th birthday on this day - is the voice of Dr Hook. But he wasn't the face of that Seventies hit-making machine which cluttered...

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...

Frank Sinatra: High Hopes (1960)

Frank Sinatra: High Hopes (1960)

When the handsome young John F Kennedy ran for the US presidency in 1960 (and beat Richard Nixon), there were planty of people weighing in with support. And one of his biggest fans was Frank Sinatra who courted JFK and brought his high profile friends in the Rat Pack, as well as other Hollywood types, into the spotlight in support....

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Carole King: Tapestry Legacy Edition (Sony)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Carole King: Tapestry Legacy Edition (Sony)

The literary term "roman a clef" refers to a novel which is a thinly disguised story based on real events, and maybe we could also use it in the context of film and telelvision. Certainly the '96 movie Grace of My Heart by Allison Anders -- which starred Illeana Douglas as a jobbing songwriter turned solo singer -- followed fairly...

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...

PAUL SIMON INTERVIEWED (2000) The Attraction of Opposites

PAUL SIMON INTERVIEWED (2000) The Attraction of Opposites

Paul Simon calls from New York 15 minutes early, polite and apologetic. He needs to put the kids to bed -- his three children aged 7, 5 and 2 with his third wife, 34-year-old singer-songwriter Edie Brickell -- and read them stories. Could he call back in maybe an hour and a quarter?And, as you might expect from the man's almost obsessive,...

RANDY NEWMAN INTERVIEWED: What's the Buzz? (1999)

RANDY NEWMAN INTERVIEWED: What's the Buzz? (1999)

Randy Newman is a problem in popular culture, a man misplaced into the rock textbooks simply because there's nowhere else to put him. He's part of rock culture by association (his albums are reviewed in rock magazines) but more correctly he's an ironic, acerbic songwriter who has populated his songs with an extraordinary collection of bigots,...

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...

Larry Henley: A very rich man indeed.

Larry Henley: A very rich man indeed.

Ray Columbus seldom rang me at the Herald unless he had something to say. I liked him for that, he wasn't a time waster. But once he called and said he had an American friend in town that I might like to meet, the guy who was the lead singer for the one-hit wonder 60s band the Newbeats. Before we go any further let me tell what I know about...

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