patti smith

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Karen Hunter: Rubble (Monkey)

Karen Hunter: Rubble (Monkey)

The guy who wrote the liner notes for this long overdue album by Auckland singer-songwriter Hunter -- it was me actually -- says he can well remember the first time he saw her perform: it was over 15 years ago and she stood so far outside the self-proscribed parameters that most musicians put on themselves you couldn't help but be stunned....

Jesse Malin: Glitter in the Gutter (Shock)

Jesse Malin: Glitter in the Gutter (Shock)

With Malin sometimes sounding like a young Mick Jagger, mostly like a slurry and coked up Tom Petty (before he went soft-rock), and with the urgency of Springsteen's Born to Run period mixed with the Stones' It's Only Rock'n'Roll, this album fairly leaps out at you as Malin hauls in supporters such as Ryan Adams, Jakob Dylan, the Queens of the...

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...

Reb Fountain: Holster (Fountain)

Reb Fountain: Holster (Fountain)

This Auckland-based singer-songwriter impressed Elsewhere greatly with her debut Like Water, but this album is a real step up on every front, from the elaborate and evocative cover art, through the supportive musicianship from the likes of Sam Prebble (aka Bond Street Bridge), Dylan Storey, Simon Gooding and others. But with Fountain writing...

Alison Moorer: Mockingbird (New Line)

Alison Moorer: Mockingbird (New Line)

Moorer has quite some story: she is the younger sister of Shelby Lynne, was 14 at time of the murder-suicide of her parents, her ballad A Soft Place to Fall appeared in The Horse Whisperer and earned her a Grammy nomination, and she is the seventh Mrs Steve Earle (although to be fair to Steve he married Lou-Anne Gill twice) with whom she...

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...

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...

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...

LOU REED AND PATTI SMITH IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Patent pending

LOU REED AND PATTI SMITH IN THE 21ST CENTURY: Patent pending

When those archetypal New Yorkers Lou Reed and Patti Smith both released albums in the early days of 2000, it allowed anyone still interested in their careers the chance to consider their relative positions as they entered a new decade -- in fact a new century -- about 25 years (and more) on from their career defining best work. Neither of...

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

When Jim Carroll died in September 2009 at age 60, it went largely unnoticed by the rock culture which had once embraced him, and had spoken about this New York poet-turned-singer in the same breath as Patti Smith and Lou Reed. Carroll's rock career was admittedly short -- a few albums in the early Eighties and little else -- but his...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Television; Marquee Moon

THE BARGAIN BUY: Television; Marquee Moon

Because they only recorded this debut and the rather indifferent Adventure the following year before breaking up, you might expect this New York four-piece to not really have made a mark in the manner of their long-running peers the Ramones, Talking Heads and Blondie. But this debut album was so exceptional -- and so different from the...

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND; VANISHING POINT (Chrome Dreams/Triton DVD)

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND; VANISHING POINT (Chrome Dreams/Triton DVD)

Although this 90 minute film of the career of the Velvet Underground leaps in when Lou Reed met John Cale --as if nothing of consequence had happened in each of their lives prior to that -- what follows is an interesting (if much canvassed) doco about a band which changed the face of contemporary music. This chronological account is...

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...

Lou Reed: Families (1979)

Lou Reed: Families (1979)

Lou Reed never strikes you as having a sentimental streak, but this song (from his album The Bells) is as nakedly autobiographical and pained as John Lennon's Mother. It is the sounds of a son who knows he has disappointed the family but equally realises there is no way back. Interesting too is the tone of regret and sadness at what has...

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...

Various Artists: We Are Only Riders (Shock)

Various Artists: We Are Only Riders (Shock)

The recent reissue of Gun Club albums (Miami, Fire of Love and Death Party), Jack White's championing of their frontman Jeffrey Lee Pierce (who died in 1996), and the presence of kindred dark soul Nick Cave here should further draw attention to the profile of Pierce, a man possessed of an angry, urgent yet poetic and often melancholy streak....

Nikki Sixx: A very dim light (1991)

Nikki Sixx: A very dim light (1991)

To tell truth, out of the many hundreds -- indeed thousands -- of musicians I have interviewed very few have been downright stupid. Sure some fumbled for words, others said slightly silly things, and most just blathered on about The Album or whatever. But that's fine. We shouldn't ask anything of musicians other than they make...

John Cale: Mercenaries (1980)

John Cale: Mercenaries (1980)

Born of its political era and John Cale's peculiarly damaged consciousness at the time, this menacing live recording captures an embittered spirit, a rare rage and a grim humour. As Mikal Gilmore noted in Rolling Stone at the time, the Sabotage/Live album this comes from is "without apology, and more importantly, without ideology,...

The Ramones: Hey! Ho! Let's Go: Ramones Anthology (1999)

The Ramones: Hey! Ho! Let's Go: Ramones Anthology (1999)

Like many of my generation, I can remember exactly where I was when JFK, RFK and John Lennon were shot. And when Kurt Cobain proved, contrary to what he sang, he did have a gun. But with as much clarity I can also remember when I first heard the Ramones’ Sheena is a Punk Rocker. It came on a tape from a friend in London and I was...

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...

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Ramones; Anthology (Warners)

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Ramones; Anthology (Warners)

This is easy: any album which makes it into the Essential Elsewhere list is obviously recommended (for one reason or another, the list is absurdly diverse). But this one gets through on sheer firepower and pop value alone. Smarter than they looked and smarter than they sounded, the Ramones were the Bay City Rollers/Monkees of bratty NYC...

DEE DEE RAMONE INTERVIEWED (1998): Life in the grim lane

DEE DEE RAMONE INTERVIEWED (1998): Life in the grim lane

First, there is a moral here, honest. But there's a lot of drugs to get through first. So, let’s set the scene: the Chelsea Hotel on West Twenty Third, New York City, for decades home to the talented and the tragic. Within these thick walls Arthur Miller wrote three novels, a plaque outside acknowledges Dylan Thomas “from...

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...

JIM CARROL INTERVIEWED (1996): Writing the junk and Basketball Diaries

JIM CARROL INTERVIEWED (1996): Writing the junk and Basketball Diaries

Keep a diary and some day it’ll keep you. -- Mae West. The blizzard which has engulfed New York has abated a little although snow is still piled over parked cars and a flesh-freezing wind whistles between the tenement blocks. And Jim Carroll - former junkie and rock singer, writer, poet and most recently movie actor on the...

Charles Bukowski: I've Always Had Trouble with Money (1970?)

Charles Bukowski: I've Always Had Trouble with Money (1970?)

The notorious barfly-poet Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) lived longer than most of those who have been careful and healthy and, like Keith Richards, used his body as a laboratory (for booze in Bukowski's case). But he was no drop-down drunk (well, he was but . . .) and wrote often funny but moving prose poems and short stories. He inspired...

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Velvet Underground; White Light White Heat/Velvet Underground and Nico

THE BARGAIN BUY: The Velvet Underground; White Light White Heat/Velvet Underground and Nico

Brian Eno once said that there would come a time when the Velvet Underground were discussed in the same breath as the Beatles with regard to their influence and importance. He said that when very few people in rock culture had really given serious consideration to this band out of New York which recalibrated the coordinates of rock music....

Joan Baez: Simple Twist of Fate (1975)

Joan Baez: Simple Twist of Fate (1975)

In late '74 Joan Baez went into a studio with hot session musicians and jazz players (Jim Gordon, Larry Knechtel, Joe Sample, Larry Carlton, Wilton Felder), and she had been hanging around with her new friend Hampton Hawes. So jazz -- and Joni Mitchell -- was in the air, and Baez responded by delivering the album Diamonds and Rust which was...

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...

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...

I FELT LIKE A FIGHT, ALRIGHT? by RUTH CARR

I FELT LIKE A FIGHT, ALRIGHT? by RUTH CARR

While it seems to be going too far to suggest, as the reviewer of Radio NZ National did, that these "one-liners, poems, lyrics and tales" are "reminiscent of Cohen's mid-career poetry and writings" they are certainly more than merely diverting. The writer -- Ruth Carr of the band Minuit -- has some snappy aphorisms, odd...

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...

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: 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...

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,...

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...

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...

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...

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...

LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI INTERVIEWED (2000): The angry old man

LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI INTERVIEWED (2000): The angry old man

Lawrence Ferlinghetti sounds in feisty spirit. Indeed, my call to his famous City Lights bookshop in San Francisco finds the 81-year-old deeply irritated, if not to say downright angry.It's all because of the recently released album of him reading selections from his poem, A Coney Island of the Mind, his 42-year-old poetic meditation which has...

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...

Howard Devoto of Magazine: The floorboards creak . . .

Howard Devoto of Magazine: The floorboards creak . . .

Back at the dawn of time -- for two periods in 1980 and 1981 to be precise -- I had a programme on Radio Pacific on Saturday evening, sandwiched between the Rugger Buggers sports show and, of all people, Hollywood gossip David Hartnell. It was all free-format music (not a term used in radio these days, it means you could play what you liked)...

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