Writing in Elsewhere

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NO REGRETS; A ROCK'N'ROLL MEMOIR by ACE FREHLEY

7 Dec 2011

One of the more unusual and least played albums in my collection is Spaceways: A Salute to Ace Frehley from the mid Nineties on which people like Sebastian Bach, Gilby Clarke, Tracii Guns, Dimebag Darrell and others lined up to pay tribute to the original guitarist in Kiss. We say "original" because the Kiss story has seen him sidelined a few times, sometimes at his own volition.... > Read more

Take Me To The City

BULLFIGHTING by RODDY DOYLE

5 Dec 2011

A recent profile of the astonishingly productive British military historian Max Hasting – a few thousand words a day, almost every day it seems – must have come as depressing reading for anyone struggling for years over their first novel, or even just a volume of poetry. If so, then there is more bad news in that Ireland's 53-year old Booker Prize-winning Roddy Doyle has yet... > Read more

CLAPTON, THE ULTIMATE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY by CHRIS WELCH

28 Nov 2011    1

Open this handsome, cleanly presented, large format book at the midpoint of its 256 colourful pages and you learn much about its contents from just two words. The words are "Blind Faith", the name of the band Eric Clapton formed with drummer Ginger Baker, keyboard player Steve Winwood and bassist/violonist Ric Grech in 1969 and was launched by a debut concert in London's Hyde Park... > Read more

Hideaway

SPEAKING FRANKLY: THE FRANK SARGESON MEMORIAL LECTURES 2003-2010 edited by SARAH SHIEFF

27 Nov 2011

Get past the crushingly obvious title and the cheap looking cover, and inside this collection are eight provocative, interesting, idiosyncratic and insightful essays which speak not just of New Zealand's Frank Sargeson but in some instances of how we see ourselves and our writers. You might also need to skip the introduction which begins with the uninviting, “ '23 March 1903,... > Read more

THE COOKBOOK TOUR, EUROPE by FLIP GRATER

21 Nov 2011

Subtitled "Adventures in Food and Music", this substantial book is of reminiscences and vegetarian recipes gathered on a two month European tour by New Zealand singer-songwriter Flip Grater, and it follows her previous smilar volume of journeys playing and eating her way around New Zealand . . . playing and eating delicately we might hastily add. This also comes with a five-song... > Read more

THE BEST AUSTRALIAN SCIENCE WRITING, 2011 edited by STEPHEN PINCOCK

8 Nov 2011

Science is a problem for mainstream media. It isn't sexy, usually can't be reduced to a snappy headline or soundbite, progress is glacially slow in a fast-turnaround world, there are too many big words, and its practitioners are often more at home in the lab than blinking into the light of the public domain. Science takes its time. Darwin didn't exactly bolt into print with his... > Read more

TREASURES OF THE BEE GEES by BRIAN SOUTHALL (Carlton Books)

28 Sep 2011

If the Beatles were the greatest songwriters since Schubert as William Mann, the chief music critic of The Times, once asserted (in the very early Sixties, they got better) then what is to be said about the Bee Gees? Brian Wilson's comment that they were "Britain's first family of harmony" when inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hardly seems adequate. That was just... > Read more

Alone

ARNOLD ZABLE INTERVIEWED (2011): Speaking for those who cannot

3 Sep 2011

When the Australian writer Arnold Zable read Primo Levi's reference to “the eloquent episode” in prose he recognised immediately what was meant. His own short pieces, fiction and non-fiction, frequently have a memorable incident as an emotional or structural pivot. In each story of his non-fiction collection Violin Lessons – which reaches from experiences in Vietnam... > Read more

AMY WINEHOUSE: THE BIOGRAPHY 1983-2011 by CHAS NEWKEY-BURDEN

22 Aug 2011

As with many of my acquaintance, when I heard of Amy Winehouse's death it was with mixed emotions: a gloomy sense of the inevitability of it, sadness and then anger. That weird anger we reserve for those who have committed suicide or gone out in the manner of so many talented people, before their time and by their own actions. Winehouse was too talented to go from us so soon. Billie... > Read more

Love is a Losing Game (demo)

45 SOUTH IN CONCERT by NEIL McKELVIE (Southland Musicians Club)

21 Aug 2011    1

There are a number of big and ambitious books about New Zealand popular music (like Chris Bourke's Blue Smoke and John Dix's Stranded in Paradise) and then there are others which are smaller and more focused in their subject matter, like Roger Watkins' When Rock Got Rolling: The Wellington Scene 1958-70. But this book about music in Southland up to 2005 is a bit of both: it is focused into... > Read more

All New Zealand Heroes

DARK NIGHT: WALKING WITH McCAHON by MARTIN EDMOND

17 Aug 2011

When Colin McCahon went to Sydney in 1984 to attend an exhibition of his work the attritions of alcoholism and that intensely personal religiosity he explored had taken their toll. He had given up any meaningful painting two years previous and was just three year short of death at age 67. In a bizarre but telling incident, he went into a toilet block in the Botanic Gardens and seemingly... > Read more

EVERY POSTER TELLS A STORY! 30 YEARS OF THE FRONTIER TOURING COMPANY edited by ELOISE GLANVILLE and SARAH MORGAN

15 Aug 2011

Many people who have grown up in the rock era have band posters knocking about the house. Some of these are artistic (my framed one of Big Brother and the Holding Company with Moby Grape in San Francisco in '68) and some aren't that special but evoke a particular memory (mine of John Cale at the Gluepot in September '83). Posters can speak of an era -- compare brightly coloured late Sixties... > Read more

THE BEATLES Vs THE ROLLING STONES by JIM DeROGATIS and GREG KOT

8 Aug 2011

At a first glance this lavishly illustrated and beautifully presented book -- with dozens of relevant, interesting and never before seen photos of the bands, and of period-piece memorabilia, movie posters and the like -- looks fairly lightweight. But fun. A quick read and you've got it: the two authors posit a rivalry between these two bands and in a series of themed conversations --... > Read more

Anytime at All

1950s RADIO IN COLOUR; THE LOST PHOTOGRAPHS OF DEEJAY TOMMY EDWARDS by CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY

5 Aug 2011

Cleveland, Ohio has a formidable reputation as a rock'n'roll city -- today it is the home of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and Museum -- but you'd have to guess there was more to it than just that old adage about "something in the water". Back in the Fifties there, as everywhere, the emerging musical culture was fed by radio, notably Alan Freed who kick-started rock'n'roll.... > Read more

Summertime Blues

TWO WALK IN EDINBURGH, photographs by Mari Mahr, poems by Gregory O'Brien. DEVONPORT: A DIARY by Bill Direen

22 Jul 2011

As these two slim, hand-printed, limited edition volumes confirm, the necessaries of the poetic writer are observation and considered contemplation, and the words are vehicles which realise them. And for the photographer, close observation and an eye that edits intuitively come before the shutter opens and closes. Writer, poet and curator O'Brien has had a two decade-long association... > Read more

GREETINGS FROM ROUTE 66, edited by MICHAEL DREGNI

18 Jul 2011

When, in 1946, Bobby Troup wrote what became his classic song Route 66, he could hardly have anticipated how popular it would become. After all, he'd really only written a few words and the hook (“get your kicks on Route 66”, which may have been his wife's suggestion) and after that he just filled the song up with the place names like Amarillo, Gallup, Flagstaff in Arizona... > Read more

Route 66

LOST IN SHANGRI-LA by MITCHELL ZUCKOFF

17 Jun 2011

As with many of his generation, American president Franklin D. Roosevelt had been taken by the idea of “Shangri-La”, that tolerant refuge from a troubled world James Hilton had written about in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon and which Frank Capra had adapted four years later for his enormously popular film of the same name, released as the world was tumbling towards another great... > Read more

BLUE SMOKE: THE LOST DAWN OF NEW ZEALAND POPULAR MUSIC 1918-1964 by CHRIS BOURKE

12 Jun 2011    3

In the introduction to Stranded in Paradise, his 1987 survey of New Zealand rock'n'roll from 1955, John Dix addressed the question he had been constantly asked, “What's happening with the book, Dix?” Doubtless Chris Bourke – a former Rip It Up editor, longtime music writer and author of the Crowded House biography Something So Strong – faced the same question... > Read more

Jack Thompson with George Campbell (bass) and Alan Siddall (drums): 12th Street Rag (1960)

JIM DeROGATIS INTERVIEWED (2011): Nothing if not critical

23 May 2011

Rock critic, writer and most recently university lecturer Jim DeRogatis doesn't pull his punches, but keeps a sense of humour, about his music and its stars. With Gregg Kot, he has hosted Sound Opinions on Chicago Public Radio since '99 (“the world's only rock'n'roll talk show”) and they banter about fallen heroes, overlooked albums, overrated classics and discover... > Read more

The Rolling Stones: 19th Nervous Breakdown

CUBA; THE SIGHTS, SOUNDS, FLAVORS AND FACES by PIERRE HAUSHERR AND FRANCOIS MISSEN

5 May 2011

With the geriatric Fidel Castro literally shuffling off the stage leaving it to his brother Raul and a cadre of elders, these look like the end days of the Cuba which has existed in proud but imposed Leftist isolation and has stared down an American trade and cultural boycott for decades. This has come at a price for Cubans who enjoy high literacy and endure poor living standards, but also... > Read more

Emiliano Salvador: Nueva Vision