Absolute Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

JONATHAN BESSER CONSIDERED (2018): Here, there and every which where . . .

12 Feb 2018  |  4 min read

While we can say with certainty there has never been such as things as a “typical Jonathan Besser album” we can still express a little surprise at the direction he has taken for his new Time Travels, recorded in New Jersey with his Besser 3 band. To recap though. Pianist/composer Jonathan Besser arrived in New Zealand in the mid Seventies, and shortly thereafter the... > Read more

No Laughing Matter

SEX, SELLING AND MELODY GARDOT (2018): Wearing your arse on your sleeve

5 Feb 2018  |  5 min read

Before we get to jazz chanteuse Melody Gardot (a previous Elsewhere favourite, starting with her major label debut a cdecade ago), just a digression here about using sex to sell a product. And some images to support that long established convention. In pop and rock, sexy images – and sometimes more pleasing and sensually suggestive art and music, as with Vanessa Daou –... > Read more

Who Will Comfort Me

AUCKLAND'S LANEWAY FESTIVAL CONSIDERED (2018): Hot town, summer in the city . . .

30 Jan 2018  |  7 min read  |  2

As happened in the Eighties, it has become fashionable again – especially among those who don't live here or recent refugees who've had some road to Damascus enlightenment about bucolic provincial life – to knock Auckland as a city where the traffic is terrible, houses are unaffordable, public transport is woeful and so on. Some of this is true . . . but it is a city with... > Read more

DODSON AND FOGG. ONCE MORE, AGAIN (2018): No sleep until . . .

22 Jan 2018  |  2 min read

As our heading here suggests, you have to run very fast just to keep up with Britain's Chris Wade who goes under the name Dodson and Fogg. But if you've followed how often Elsewhere has written about his albums (frequently suggesting you have to run very fast . . .) then you know what we mean by our repeated use of the adjective “prolific”. We could say... > Read more

Dressed for the Night

THE JAZZ BUTCHER REVISITED, PART I (2017): The Bonzo Dogs of post-punk

4 Dec 2017  |  5 min read

Recently when considering the first album in 16 years by the re-formed Britpop-era band Shed Seven, Elsewhere noted how many extremely good second-tier bands were around behind the big name players like Blur, Oasis, Pulp, the short-lived Placebo and others. The same was true in the post-punk era when bands like Magazine, PiL, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Gang of Four, the Cure... > Read more

Still in the Kitchen (from Distressed Gentlefolk)

THE EAGLES' HOTEL CALIFORNIA ENCOUNTERED (2017): The late check in

29 Nov 2017  |  5 min read

Sometimes in life the important stuff goes past you. No need to apologise for not knowing things like how that Balkan conflict started. You kinda had to be there as it unfolded and keep up. If you started tuning in a bit late it was so complex you'd be forgiven for changing the channel. When it comes to real serious stuff I'll confess. I missed Pink Floyd's Animals and... > Read more

Hotel California (live 1976)

BOB DYLAN: TROUBLE NO MORE; THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL 13 (2017): Serving a new master

27 Nov 2017  |  7 min read

It is widely accepted that Bob Dylan's Eighties output – despite revisionist attempts to rehabilitate him during that largely dire decade – was a real career nadir. It was surprising, given how well he had revived himself in the mid-Seventies with the multi-layered Blood on the Tracks in '75 then the slightly lesser but still valid returns on Desire ('75) and Street-Legal... > Read more

Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (live, Toronto, 1980)

LEE HAZLEWOOD REVISITED, AGAIN (2017): Requiem for an almost star

27 Nov 2017  |  6 min read

In the wider world of civilians, the reputation of Lee Hazlewood (who died a decade ago at age 78) rests on a couple of flimsy poles: Chief among them his work with Nancy Sinatra in the mid Sixties. Some may be familiar with him for an earlier association with guitarist Duane Eddy as producer of his classic instrumentals Peter Gunn and Rebel Rouser, or for his '63 Trouble is a... > Read more

I'd Rather Be Your Enemy

SHARON O'NEILL ACKNOWLEDGED (2017): This heart, this song, this legend

18 Nov 2017  |  4 min read  |  1

Sharon O'Neill – this year's inductee into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards – is a singular talent. And in the late Seventies and early Eighties she was an artist at the top of her game unlike any other: Three times best female vocalist at the New Zealand Music Awards ('78, '79, '80, the only person to win in three consecutive... > Read more

Danced in the Fire

HEATHER LEIGH PROFILED (2017): A very different kinda coal miner's daughter

14 Nov 2017  |  4 min read

Anyone who had the gut strength and emotional resilience to undertake German saxophonist Peter Brotzmann's astonishing, heroic, muscular and often sensitive solo performance in Auckland a few years ago (see a review here) will be thrillingly fearful in knowing this giant of free jazz -- and an utterly singular performer -- is returning for another short tour. But this time he brings... > Read more

All That Heaven Allows (Heather Leigh solo)

RICHARD X BENNETT REVISITED (2017): Halves of a whole full of spirit'n'soul

6 Nov 2017  |  3 min read

Four years ago Elsewhere received – possibly unsolicited – an album by New York-based pianist Richard Bennett . . . . Well, New York-based when he wasn't in Mumbai or Japan. That New York City Swara album immediately got Elsewhere's attention, not just for Toronto-raised Bennett's admirably unusual globe-trotting but for its rare co-joining of jazz... > Read more

The Camel, from the album What Is Now

THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH CONSIDERED (2017): Truth or consequences?

23 Oct 2017  |  5 min read  |  2

Unlike so many of their soul peers out of Motown like the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes and many others, the Undisputed Truth never quite made the splash they perhaps should have. Or more correctly could have, if the planets had aligned differently. Very few of their songs were played on New Zealand radio, which was certainly keen on Motown and... > Read more

Law of the Land (1973 single version)

10 UNUSUAL 10 INCH RECORDS I'M SURPRISED I OWN: What's smaller than an album but bigger than an EP?

16 Oct 2017  |  8 min read  |  1

In the past Elsewhere has indulged itself with a column entitled promisingly 10 Shameful Record Covers I'm Proud to Own (and the there was 10 More and another 10 More and Another 10). Then there was 10 Shameful Records I'm Embarrassed to Own as well as 10 Album Cover Parodies and 10 Good Albums in Bad Covers. Oh, and 10 Odd Unplayed Albums in My Collection (and inevitably... > Read more

THE VODAFONE NEW ZEALAND MUSIC AWARDS 2017: But before we open the envelopes . . .

6 Oct 2017  |  7 min read

There were a few interesting things to observe about the recent APRA Silver Scrolls held in Dunedin. First they were in Dunedin and it seems a good thing to spread the ceremony around . . . although the sound on the broadcast suggested some people down south need to up their game for the demands and expectations of a 21st century audience. It allowed big city folk to say,... > Read more

SHEL TALMY CONSIDERED (2017): He really got them, oh yeah

2 Oct 2017  |  5 min read

Some record producers have a sound so distinctive that – like the names of John Wayne and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the marquee outside the cinema – they are the drawcard in themselves. Few but the most diligent rock scholars could name the various Checkmates, Shirelles or Ronettes, but everyone can recognise they were produced by Phil Spector. His “wall of... > Read more

Drowning in My Own Despair, by Oliver Norman (1967)

THE COUNTER-INTUITIVE TRUTHS OF CHUCK AND BOB (2017): Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan as others did them

2 Oct 2017  |  4 min read

Everywhere you turn these days someone is telling you that something is counter-intuitive; that the opposite of what you expect is actually what works or is true . . . Something like that. Now, it isn't really counter-intuitive to say that other people actually did the songs of Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan better than the songwriters themselves . . . but two albums... > Read more

JAY FARRAR/SON VOLT CONSIDERED (2017): The compass and the course

1 Oct 2017  |  3 min read

Back at the dawn of the Nineties critical consensus and discerning listeners were drawn towards the emerging alt.country/American sound coming out of the US. It wasn't new, it drew from old styles of country but placed them within a post-Band/ contemporary punk rock ethic. And one band became emblematic of the style: Uncle Tupelo out of Illinois. Their excellent if small-selling... > Read more

THE QUIET DRAMA OF BARK PSYCHOSIS (2017): The spell and the curse of the Hex

11 Sep 2017  |  4 min read  |  1

Most dictionaries will tell you that a “hex” can be a benign spell at one end of the description but a curse at the other. It can also be a verb and a noun, so you can hex someone with a hex. And that makes “Hex” an appropriate title for the sole album by the British band Bark Psychosis. (An aside here, no dictionary will have an entry for “bark... > Read more

The Loom

REB FOUNTAIN CONSIDERED (2017): Arrows from and to the heart

5 Sep 2017  |  4 min read  |  2

Although this essay is about New Zealand singer-songwriter Reb Fountain, we need to start by acknowledging her friend Sam Prebble who died with tragic suddenness in 2014. Prebble was a gifted songwriter, an intelligent and likeable man. And, for me, that genuine rarity: a gentleman. Elsewhere had frequently praised his work when he appeared and recorded... > Read more

Annie V (from Little Arrows)

RATTLE RECORDS' RECENT RELEASES (2017): And the hits just keep coming

28 Aug 2017  |  5 min read

The Auckland-based Rattle label has now passed 25 years of recording cutting edge contemporary classical music, magisterial projects such as Michael Houstoun's Beethoven complete piano sonatas, albums featuring taonga puoro, commissions for New Zealand classical performers, electronica-influenced studio works, an imprint of Rattle Jazz and so much more. The rewards have been in the... > Read more