Absolute Elsewhere

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JOE BOYD INTERVIEWED (2013): The Zelig of the zeitgeist

1 Jul 2013  |  13 min read

In 2005 Joe Boyd published his memoir, White Bicycles, of what he did in the Sixties. At the end he wrote; “I cheated. I never got too stoned. I became the eminence gris I aspired to be, and disproved at least one Sixties myth: I was there and I do remember”. Where he was and what he remembered was extraordinary. As an educated son of the American university system, he... > Read more

Teddy Thompson

BOBBY WHITLOCK CONSIDERED (2013): Sideman at centrestage

28 Jun 2013  |  5 min read

If rock listeners know keyboard player, guitarist and songwriter Bobby Whitlock at all, it's because he was in Derek and the Dominos, the band in which the Derek was Eric Clapton and delivered the exceptional album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs in 1970 . . . before drugs and disagreements saw them implode rapidly. On that album Whitlock co-wrote five of the 14 songs with Clapton, and... > Read more

A Day Without Jesus (with Harrison and Clapton)

CLASSIC GIRL GROUPS (2013): All the fine young elles

24 Jun 2013  |  3 min read

Even in a very long list of great groups there will be omissions. And today, despite constant reissue programmes, repackaging and a trawling of the backwaters of pop music's past, there can still be amnesia when it comes to some of the most important groups of an era. The Shirelles, for example, have gone woefully overlooked given how many hits they sprang, how they defined a sound and a... > Read more

Uptown

SLIM WHITMAN PROFILED (1923-2013): A song to save the world

20 Jun 2013  |  4 min read

In the early Eighties, the late Slim Whitman – who had recorded more than 65 albums -- still held down the record for the longest number one on the British charts, 11 consecutive weeks, a feat unmatched by Elvis or the Beatles. But back home in the States he was a singer without a song. He was a household name but few Americans could name a song by him. And despite that... > Read more

The Love Song of the Waterfall

ZZ TOP IN A BOX (2013): A whole lotta Top

17 Jun 2013  |  2 min read

When you hear the answer you'll go; “Oh yeah”. But you need to know the questions first: What would you get if you cross-bred the Ramones with denim-clad and simple-formula Status Quo, then brought the offspring up on a diet of Texas blues? Oh yeah: Z.Z.Top There's something in our genes which attaches itself to the simple stuff: dramatic Phil Spector pop, flat-tack Sex... > Read more

THE OUTER LIMITS OF THE HUMAN VOICE: That sound, it haunts me still!

12 Jun 2013  |  5 min read

Blame punk’s redrawing of the map - or Yoko Ono, or the much more irritating Celine Dion if you will -- but the limits of our tolerance to the human voice have certainly shifted over the past few decades. We can now listen with impunity to Natacha Atlas’ careening Arabic trip-hop as much as be in awe of Whitney Houston’s lung capacity, or delight in the qawwali music... > Read more

David Thomas: Who is it?

CAN, THE LOST TAPES 1968-1975: On the way to mother sky, again

10 Jun 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

Anyone who knows anything of Can, the German experimentalists who were post-rock before the term had been invented, knows the title of this three CD box set is perhaps a joke. Being efficient Teutonics, Can probably never lost anything in their collective lives but rather had everthing scrupulously catalogued, filed and numbered. Cross-referenced too, of course.  And in the... > Read more

Millionenspiel

BLACK SABBATH, AGAIN (2013): Back in black

10 Jun 2013  |  3 min read  |  1

One day in the late Nineties before a solo tour by Ozzy Osbourne, I phoned him for a chat. This was five years before the notorious television (un)reality family drama The Osbournes so I wasn't quite prepared. I only knew the history and the music, not the language. Ozzy and I chatted for half an hour and most of the time I just laughed and offered the next starting point for a... > Read more

Evil Woman

MIKE McGEAR'S VANISHED MASTERPIECE: Brother can you spare me the time?

5 Jun 2013  |  3 min read  |  2

Perhaps "masterpiece" is too strong a word, but the singer-songwriter Mike McGear -- a member of Liverpool's poetry/music group the Scaffold who scored the '68 hit single Lily the Pink -- did crack quite a remarkable album in 1974, which seems to have disappeared entirely. Simply entitled McGear, it was originally released on Warners and in 1991 given CD reissue by Rykodisc. The... > Read more

The Man Who Found God on the Moon

BERNARD STOLLMAN INTERVIEWED (2013): Lawman with ESP for new music

31 May 2013  |  12 min read  |  1

For a large part of his adult life, Bernard Stollman was just one of those New Yorkers in a suit going to work. He had an honorific title as an assistant attorney-general in New York City – “one of 600” – and an office on the 46th floor of the World Trade Center. As a lawyer, he represented the interests of patients in psychiatric facilities across the state.... > Read more

Marion Brown Quartet

KIKI GYAN (1957-2004):From dancefloor to death's door

30 May 2013  |  2 min read

Although we can agree there are certain qualitative assessments which can be made about disco tracks, at core the function of the music was clear: get people on the dancefloor and keep them there. In that sense anything in the world of disco with a beat which moves a crowd could be considered successful. Which may also explain why, when hip-hop was getting out of the starting gates at rent... > Read more

Sexy Dancer

R.E.M. GREEN REISSUED (2013): This is a call . . .

27 May 2013  |  2 min read  |  2

When Green was released in late 1988, Allan Jones in Melody Maker said he was reminded “how much REM are the group that U2 so deafeningly want to be: visionary, bold and lucid, prophets of the slipstream, our first line of defence against the mediocre”. That observation was itself lucid and bold, but you only needed to look at the relative positions of both bands at the... > Read more

Hairshirt

JOSH RICHARDSON OF FLAVOR CRYSTALS INTERVIEWED (2013): And the dream goes on

13 May 2013  |  5 min read

There's something important we need to know from Josh Richardson of the Minneapolis psyche-rock band Flavor Crystals: Is that square where Mary Tyler Moore threw her beret in the air during the opening credits of her famous television show still there? Like, can we go there and throw our caps up as a homage to her? “Oh yeah,” laughs the singer-guitarist, “Where's... > Read more

Blue Haiti

SWAMP DOGG PROFILED (2013): Covering up his talents

6 May 2013  |  3 min read

The world of popular music is populated by lost prophets, wandering souls, damaged geniuses and those taken too young. There are also musicians who couldn't handle the sudden fame thrust upon them, and those who couldn't handle it when fame never knocked on their door or suddenly abandoned them. This is a world of venal villains (record companies, managers and lawyers usually) and... > Read more

Predicament #2

THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION (2013): Flights of the phoenix

24 Apr 2013  |  2 min read

The name, even now, is a little odd: The Phoenix Foundation. It sounds like some right-wing think-tank, or a high-profile business whose directors appear in court for fiddling the books. You can imagine the logo of a stylised bird rising from flames on the front of the company prospectus. And oddly enough Wellington's Phoenix Foundation – which has spawned a number of side... > Read more

Corale

THE BUZZCOCKS (2013): A Different Kind of Punk

22 Apr 2013  |  2 min read

Even in the white-heat of the moment when it was happening, you just knew some of Britain's punk and post-punk bands weren't going to last. The Sex Pistols were always destined to burn out fast in a fire fueled by public outrage, politics and Malcolm McLaren, and bands like GBH, Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds, the Ejected and Undead just didn't have the depth to go much beyond a few... > Read more

Orgasm Addict

STEVE EARLE PROFILED (2013): Only the strong survive

15 Apr 2013  |  2 min read  |  1

Few musicians have gone as far and as wide in their career as Steve Earle. These days we know him as an actor (notably in the tele-series The Wire and Treme), playwright, novelist, short story writer and a political activist. Not to mention being married seven times (twice to Lou-Anne Gill, he's now with songwriter Allison Moorer) and doing record production. He's just signed a book... > Read more

Calico County

BONNIE RAITT INTERVIEWED (2013): To everything, there is a season

29 Mar 2013  |  8 min read  |  1

When Bonnie Raitt's most recent album Slip Stream – her first in seven years – picked up a 2013 Grammy for best Americana album, it was yet another rung on her increasingly high ladder. Her 10th Grammy in fact. At the previous year's awards she had paid tribute to the late Etta James performing with Alisha Keys, and her signature song I Can't Make You Love Me has most... > Read more

Marriage Made in Hollywood

THE HENDRIX PERPLEX (2013): How to buy Jimi

29 Mar 2013  |  3 min read  |  3

In a recent conversation about the “new” Hendrix album People, Hell and Angels with Eddie Kramer (see here) -- Jimi's longtime engineer and behind a number of posthumous Hendrix releases since the guitarist's death more than 40 years ago – I asked the obvious: What next? Kramer said People, Hell and Angels – which followed South Saturn Delta and Valleys of... > Read more

Drifter's Escape

PAUL SIMON; GRACELAND, AGAIN (2012): We can all be received . . .

22 Mar 2013  |  4 min read  |  1

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 guitars and echoes between Christianity and the... > Read more

Under African Skies