Absolute Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

DAVID BOWIE REINVENTED, AGAIN (2016): Out of the blue and into the blackstar

11 Jan 2016  |  4 min read  |  3

Although we shouldn't presume the “I” in any song belongs to the singer, it was widely taken that David Bowie was referring to himself in 1980 when he sang, “I've never done good things, I've never done bad things, I've never done anything out of the blue”. The song was Ashes to Ashes, his self-referential hit off the Scary Monsters album (“We know Major... > Read more


FLEETWOOD MAC, TUSK AGAIN (2016): Walk a tightrope line

11 Jan 2016  |  4 min read

When we take the long view on various artists' careers we can see the pattern. After the enormously successful album many artists consolidate to hold their ground – Michael Jackson's Dangerous after Bad, most things by Foo Fighters – or they can be courageous and put a stake in the ground and just say, “No”. As Bruce Springsteen did with Nebraska after The... > Read more

Tusk outtake

SEQUEL SONGS (2016): And you'll never guess what happened next . . .

11 Jan 2016  |  2 min read

In the late Fifties and early Sixties the idea of answer songs (Dodie Stevens' Yes I'm Lonesome Tonight for example) was pretty common, as were sequel songs. The most obvious sequel song was Peggy Sue Got Married by Buddy Holly and most in the genre were cash-ins, replication songs (Wanda Jackson's follow-up to Let's Have a Party was the photocopied Man We Had a Party) and pretty gimmicky.... > Read more

Man We Had a Party

ELTON JOHN REVISITED (2016): Once was a well-known gun

4 Jan 2016  |  2 min read

Elton John's new album Wonderful Crazy Night is his 33rd studio release . . . so speculating just for a moment that there are people out there who might say, "Yeah, heard of him but . . ." Let's help them out just a little by offering a few starting points into his vast and diverse catalogue. A kind of "how to buy Elton" as it were . . . or at least how to listen to... > Read more

THE BEATLES BEYOND 1 AND 1+: All you need is these

28 Dec 2015  |  3 min read

It's a safe bet a number of people knew what they wanted so bought their own Christmas present this past year. And that a whole bunch of others — maybe people getting it from parents or grandparents — got the same welcome gift: A copy of the Beatles' 1 CD and DVD collection. Very lucky people got the expanded 1+ edition which came with two DVDs of film clips.... > Read more


16 Dec 2015  |  5 min read

In 2003 when an all-star panel of musicians and critics got together to pick Bruce Springsteen's 40 greatest classics, four of the songs from his 1980 album The River – Independence Day, Hungry Heart, Stolen Car and the title track in at number three – were listed. That's 10 percent of the list and one in five of the River songs which were spread across the double album .... > Read more

Party Lights

FRANCOISE HARDY RECALLED (2015): Les chansons pour les jeunesse

7 Dec 2015  |  3 min read  |  1

Sometimes music just comes into your life and you can never remember exactly how or why it arrived. So it is with the debut album by French singer Francoise Hardy which came out in her motherland in late '62, a copy of which came into my possession somehow shortly thereafter. I seem to recall it being around at the same time as I was pinning up Beatles posters and images of... > Read more

Les temps de l'amour

BOB DYLAN: THE CUTTING EDGE, THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL 12 (2015): Mixing up the medicine

30 Nov 2015  |  5 min read

There's a widely held belief that most creative people do their best work in the matter of furious years of activity some time either side of their 20th birthday. The evidence for this can be compelling in pop and rock culture, although equally so we can cite many musicians – Nick Cave, Kate Bush, Leonard Cohen and others – who have continued to explore and present work which... > Read more

Highway 61 Revisited (alternate take)

THE KITCHEN CINQ REDISCOVERED (2015): Amarillo, California in the Sixties, y'all

27 Nov 2015  |  2 min read

In their photos, the Kitchen Cinq out of Texas in the mid Sixties don't look entirely promising, like buttoned-down high school seniors who have been given the afternoon off from library duties. And yet . . . The first thing to pique interest in the 28 song compilation When the Rainbow Disappears; A Drama Worthy of The Kitchen Cinq is that this band from Amarillo were on Lee... > Read more

Please Come Back

THE BEATLES 1 AND 1+ : The look and sound of a culture-changing band

6 Nov 2015  |  5 min read

Oddly enough, Elvis Presley's gold Cadillac was, if you will follow this thread, responsible for the rise of video clips. In 1966 when the Beatles -- weary of touring and battered by the deafening screams of Beatlemania – decided to pull back from live appearances, they found a way of having a presence for fans while they recorded and enjoyed some rare downtime. “We'd... > Read more

VAN MORRISON REISSUED (2015): A soul poet as his peak

4 Nov 2015  |  3 min read

By recent accounts Van Morrison isn't quite as grumpy as he once was. It's relative of course; when sent to interview him in the late Eighties, Spike Milligan surprised Morrison by wearing a large pink penis nose and managed to get a laugh. But the subsequent interview was a monosyllabic affair for the most part with Milligan trying his best to draw out the notoriously grumpy Irishman.... > Read more

Slim Slow Slider take 4

ANTON NEWCOMBE INTERVIEWED (2015): Communication breakdown.

27 Oct 2015  |  3 min read

Okay, the heading there is utterly misleading because, only briefly, was Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre interviewed. Some things are just not meant to be. The first call to him at his home in Berlin – to discuss his interesting recent albums and the new mini-album Thingy Wingy released in advance of his New Zealand tour (dates below) – begins well and... > Read more

Leave It Alone

FLEETWOOD MAC, A USER'S GUIDE (2015): Long distance players

27 Oct 2015  |  3 min read

With the old gang back on the block and touring, maybe it's time to look at the vast back-catalogue of Fleetwood Mac. But given the big Mac family tree has many branches and short blooming buds (the Bob Welch years) it's hard to whittle their vast catalogue down to essentials. But here goes. Then Play On (1969) The third album as a British blues band and the last with... > Read more

JOHN LENNON REISSUED ON RECORD (2015): Going solo in the Seventies

9 Oct 2015  |  4 min read  |  2

Had he lived, John Lennon would turn 75 on October 9. Which means – because he had 17 years on the world stage before his murder in 80 – that he's been dead twice as long as he was alive and famous. Recently Paul McCartney noted that Lennon's death turned him into a martyr, and its also true that – perhaps largely through Lennon and Yoko Ono's self-mythologising... > Read more

Old Dirt Road

QUEEN REVISITED, AGAIN (2015): It's yesterday once more

5 Oct 2015  |  6 min read

Some years ago a friend of mine worked for a major international record company. At the time we had lunch in an early November, with the downturn in CD sales and the constantly shifting ground of the internet, things were getting tougher. So as the second bottle arrived only just in time we were talking about this situation in somewhat glum terms. But, I said cheerily, at least they... > Read more

I Want It All

LUKE BUDA INTERVIEWED (2015): Phoenix changes the Foundations

22 Sep 2015  |  8 min read

The phone call catches Luke Buda of the Phoenix Foundation at halftime in the All Blacks' unconvincing opening match of their Rugby World Cup campaign. I've seen the game against Argentina play out on an earlier broadcast so we agree he needs to watch the second half. I call back later and naturally the conversation turns to rugby and we agree the team needed this shake-up in their... > Read more

Playing Dead

SIMON THACKER INTERVIEWED (2015): The intercultural explorer on six strings

4 Sep 2015  |  9 min read

When Simon Thacker was growing up outside a small village some distance from Edinburgh in Scotland, the rest of the world seemed a very long way away. But as an aspiring guitarist he connected to it through music by exploring the blues, classical music, folk and more. He found his way to Indian and Spanish music and so these days the world doesn't so much come to him but –... > Read more

Nada-Anada: Joy. Simon Thacker and the Nava Rasa Ensemble

NWA; BACK OUTTA COMPTON (2015): The return of the original gangstas

31 Aug 2015  |  4 min read

When Ice-T boldly announced that gangsta rap was the CNN of the ghetto suburbs, one wit hit back saying — given the cliched posing with guns and chains and the sneering attitude — that it was actually more like the Cartoon Network. Of course things change fast in popular culture and before long the writer Ned Sublett in his excellent book about New Orleans and the hip-hop... > Read more

Deep Water (Kendrick Lamar, Justus, Anderson.Paak)

KARIN KROG CONSIDERED (2015): A rare voice from the north

17 Aug 2015  |  2 min read

Because no sensible soul would come to a website called Elsewhere to hear just the familiar, we can confidently speak about the extraordinary, often uncategorisable Norwegian jazz singer Karin Krog who is now in her late 70s and has been around since the Sixties when she emerged a jazz-pop singer. She first came onto the Elsewhere radar a few decades ago when she recorded with John Surman... > Read more

Maiden Voyage

PETE TOWNSHEND REPEATED (2015): Who loves who the most?

20 Jul 2015  |  4 min read

A few years ago before Christmas I bought two rock autobiographies to read over the break. One was Rod Stewart's Rod which was howling funny and charted the life of a man for whom booze, blondes and a bloody good time were written into the contract of being a rock star. So he obliged. The other could not have been more different, it was Pete Townshend's earnest Who I Am which read... > Read more

My Baby Gives It Away by Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane