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BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James Hunter: The Hard Way (Universal)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: James Hunter: The Hard Way (Universal)

This Englishman with an unexpectedly soulful voice was one of the first artists posted at Elsewhere back in mid 2006 and that astonishing album People Gonna Talk was easily among the best of that year. But in this country with very little publicity (I saw none) it rose without a trace. Still, those who heard it got a wonderful slice of...

ARETHA FRANKLIN, THE QUEEN OF SOUL: Oh, how the mighty have risen

ARETHA FRANKLIN, THE QUEEN OF SOUL: Oh, how the mighty have risen

When American critic Dave Marsh complied his The Heart of Rock and Soul in the early 90s -- a free-swinging personal recount of the “1001 greatest singles ever made” from doo-wop Moondogs (1955) to dance floor Madonna (1985) -- one name turned up repeatedly. For those who nostalgically put Abba up the charts again (and again)...

ROD STEWART INTERVIEWED : Too often the singer, not the songs

ROD STEWART INTERVIEWED : Too often the singer, not the songs

In typically witty cover notes to the six-album Storyteller anthology released two years ago to celebrate 25 years in music, Rod Stewart appended something interesting after his signature...”Stewart’s the name, singing’s the game.” And that’s worth remembering.  Fashions may change (and with Stewart...

OTIS REDDING: The lost legacy of a soul genius

OTIS REDDING: The lost legacy of a soul genius

The life and death of Otis Redding is replete with ironies. The man who displaced Elvis in the British magazine Melody Maker as top male vocalist in ’67 – knocking off the King after an eight-year straight residency – could barely crack the top 10 in his homeland. Yet after his death in December that year – his...

Ray LaMontagne: Gossip in the Grain (SonyBMG)

Ray LaMontagne: Gossip in the Grain (SonyBMG)

Frankly, after his last album - the excellent Till the Sun Turns Black which was acclaimed at Elsewhere and probably elsewhere - this is a little disappointing, but not in the way you might think. Where Sun was a muted and often melancholy affair which in places sounded close to Nick Drake and an early but glum Van Morrison, this one goes the...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Aretha Franklin; The Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Aretha Franklin; The Original Album Series (Rhino)

It's widely acknowledged that Columbia really didn't know what to do with the young Aretha Franklin -- although it is a convenient myth that she didn't record much for them worth hearing. But it is certainly true that when she moved to Atlantic in '66 at age 24 and came under the tutelage of Jerry Wexler she found her voice as the finest...

Angelique Kidjo: Oyo (Razor and Tie/Shock)

Angelique Kidjo: Oyo (Razor and Tie/Shock)

When singer Kidjo from Benin emerged in the early Nineties it seemed to me she got more mileage than she deserved, largely on the back of her story and looks rather than the music. Her early albums prior to and including Aye ('94?) really did nothing for me and so I tuned out for a while. But then it became increasingly clear that Kidjo was...

SAM COOKE, GOSPEL INTO POP: The change was always gonna come

SAM COOKE, GOSPEL INTO POP: The change was always gonna come

At this distance, we can’t be expected to understand what the death of Sam Cooke in the sleazy Hacienda Motel in ’64 meant to black Americans. The former gospel singer was found slumped against a wall – naked except for an overcoat and one shoe, gunned down by the motel owner after a woman he’d picked up in a bar...

Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It (Capitol)

Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It (Capitol)

The previous album by this white boy singin' soul music -- Roll With You -- was considered a Best of Elsewhere 2008 release but didn't quite make it into mainstream media or thinking. This time around, for a slightly lesser album, he's been picking up big press . . . and again he certainly deserves it. He may have come from Boston but he...

Eddie Hinton: I Want a Woman (1986)

Eddie Hinton: I Want a Woman (1986)

Alabama-born Eddie Hinton (1944-95) is hardly a household name but was one of the great Southern soul songwriters and sessionmen. As a Muscle Shoals musician he played guitar on scores of sessions (for everyone from Aretha Franklin to Boz Scaggs, Elvis to Solomon Burke) and was a prolific, if under-recorded, songwriter. His most notable hit...

Van Morrison: On Hyndford Street (1991)

Van Morrison: On Hyndford Street (1991)

By the time Van Morrison released his double album Hymns to the Silence in '91, many of his longtime followers had moved on -- some disappointed by so many uneven albums, some just having enough Van in their lives. Over two discs, Hymns to the Silence was just too much Van, and even the most generous reviewers had to note many songs were not...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Adele: 21 (XL)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Adele: 21 (XL)

Adele's debut album of two years ago -- 19, when she was 19 -- announced the arrival of a great British soul voice even if some of her original material wasn't quite as strong as it could have been. Still, she was only 19 -- but she hardly deserved to be lumped in with the new breed of British women singers coming through (notably Amy...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Wilson Pickett; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Wilson Pickett; Original Album Series (Rhino)

For many people their sole knowledge of Wilson Pickett might be as the guy who did/didn't turn up at the end of The Comittments, the invisible inspiation for that band. A few might know of his great song Land of 1000 Dances which -- ironicaly, like the Beatles' Twist and Shout -- came right at the end of the so-called dance craze era, or...

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Eli Paperboy Reed

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Eli Paperboy Reed

Long an Elsewhere favourite, Eli Paperboy Reed's 2008 album Roll With You made the list of Best of Elsewhere for that year, and his follow-up Come And Get It of 2010 also got very favourable notice. Reed is a conduit for the great soul voices of the past -- Sam Cooke, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and others -- but he brings deep...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Margie Joseph; Original Album Series (Atlantic/Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Margie Joseph; Original Album Series (Atlantic/Rhino)

The point of the on-going weekly Bargain Buy suggestion is not just to direct readers to fine music going cheap, but to also encourage you to take a chance on an unknown or only vaguely familiar name because the album(s) recommended are . . . yes, cheap. A perfect example is this five CD set by Margie Joseph out of Mississippi whose pedigree...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Charles Bradley: No Time for Dreaming (Daptone)

The title here is certainly true: 63-year old Florida-born Bradley -- an exceptional soul singer who sounds like a distillation of James Brown, aching Otis Redding, the troubled Marvin Gaye, searching Al Green and the much overlooked Sonny Charles of the Checkmates -- has barely had a chance to dream in a hard-working life. Bradley seems to...

Jerry Butler: Mr Dee Jay, I Got A Heartache (1968)

Jerry Butler: Mr Dee Jay, I Got A Heartache (1968)

Jerry Butler, one of the greatest soul singers to emerge out of Chicago, came up through the usual route: gospel in church, inspired by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, formed a group (the Impressions) and recorded for Vee-Jay down on what was known as Record Row. "Record Row was the scene," he said. "It went from just south...

Rod Stewart: Singer, believe it or not

Rod Stewart: Singer, believe it or not

When Rod Stewart came to New Zealand in 1992 he wasn't doing any interviews. He was sick of questions about his then-wife Rachel Hunter. And so the shutters went up. I spoke with him. It was easy. I simply let it be known I couldn't give a toss about his wife, I wanted to talk to him as a singer and songwriter (an aspect of Rod which is too...

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