Absolute Elsewhere

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THE BEATLES' REVOLVER, REHEARSED AND REMIXED (2022): An album of endless invention

21 Nov 2022  |  5 min read

Four years ago the award-winning American composer Laurence Rosenthal, a self-described Beatles fan, said, “I am always fascinated by the fact of their endless creativity, their endless invention”. Rosenthal was 91 at the time and spoke of how the Beatles' music brought his young family together in the 60s “because I could unconditionally admire them”. With... > Read more

I Want To Tell You (rehearsal)

THE STATE OF THE NORTHWEST PACIFIC (2022): People, places and some capital songs

18 Nov 2022  |  5 min read

“Team One, your time starts . . . now! What is the capital of Washington state?” “Ummm . . . Seattle.” “That's incorrect. Team two, the question goes to you. The capital of Washington state is . . .?” “Vancouver?” Unless your specialist subject is American state capitals or the life of Kurt Cobain, the name of Washington state's... > Read more

Satan Made Him Do It

KĀREN HUNTER, AT AUDIOCULTURE (2022): The roads less travelled

10 Nov 2022  |  1 min read

Although many musicians often speak of their life and work as a journey, in truth most don’t stray too far from home base or an established style. Others however – like Tāmaki Makaurau-based singer-songwriter Kāren Hunter – frequently set off into different terrain, go down backroads and small corridors, usually picking up very different traveling companions along... > Read more

REISSUED ON RECORD (2022): Local artists on vinyl, vinylly

7 Nov 2022  |  2 min read

With the dearth of pressing plants and a backlog of yet another Bowie reissue to be run off, local artists often have a hard time getting their short-run needs met when it comes to having their album out on vinyl. Sometimes it is months after the album's release before it eventually appears on record. And parallel to that problem for newly released albums is the number of older albums... > Read more

THE ROAD TO THE REVOLVER (2022): Say you want a reinvention . . .

5 Nov 2022  |  3 min read  |  2

It's entirely possible that less than a year before they released Revolver, the album many consider a more enduring landmark album than Sgt. Pepper which followed it, the Beatles might simply have called it all off. Exactly a year before Revolver they had released the Help! album to coincide with their knockabout film of the same name – a kind of James Bond spoof as much as a Beatles... > Read more

Paperback Writer (backing track takes I and 2)

LIL' CHIEF RECORDS: TWO DECADES OF MUSIC AND ALBUM ART (2022): Cigarettes and cybernetics

18 Oct 2022  |  3 min read

Auckland's Lil' Chief label first came to attention 20 years ago with the debut album by the Brunettes, Holding Hands Feeding Ducks and the paired release of the Tokey Tones' Caterpillar and Butterfly albums. This was music which was poised, cool, enjoyably effete and well crafted. It was also music which ran against the tenor of the times in local music when garageband rock (the D4, the... > Read more

Bedroom Exotica, the Tokey Tones (2003)


16 Oct 2022  |  3 min read  |  2

There will always be those who announce, “I don't like the Beatles”. But that's like saying, “I don't like America”. Which America don't you like? Which Beatles? The moptop Fab Four, the baroque Beatles of Sgt Pepper, the stripped-back songwriting experimentalists, the slick MOR band of the Abbey Road period . . . As someone clever noted, saying you don't... > Read more


THE SYRIAN CASSETTE ARCHIVE (2022): Taped and bound

9 Oct 2022  |  1 min read

Despite the conspiracy idiots, people posting photos of dinner or their dog and the usual “me living my best life” photos, Facebook is useful for some things. Recently someone posted a link to the Syrian Cassette Archive which is a project to preserve to music of that beleaguered nation which had appeared on cassette in the years before we associated the country with... > Read more

FRAZEY FORD, INTERVIEWED (2022): When the work stopped, work started

9 Oct 2022  |  6 min read

Gabriola, a small island with a permanent population of fewer than 5000, is a 25 minute ferry trip from downtown Vancouver. This is where singer-songwriter Frazey Ford, who came to attention with the Canadian folk-country band The Be Good Tanyas in the early 2000s but has been on a soul music-inspired solo career for more than a decade, retreats “to... > Read more

THE BEATLES. IN MY LIFE, CONSTRUCTED (2022): The baroque way forward

10 Sep 2022  |  1 min read

When John Lennon wrote Help! in early 1965 (“and now my life has changed in oh so many ways, my independence seems to vanish in the haze”) he was feeling trapped by Beatlemania and the fame he had sought. As he would always say, it was true what he said in the lyrics, it was cry for help. And with that one song, more than any other to that point, he began to realise the... > Read more

SHAYNE CARTER, DIMMER AND A STAR TURN (2021): Groove is in its heart

10 Sep 2022  |  2 min read  |  1

About seven or eight years ago when Shayne Carter and I were sharing caregiver duties with Chris Knox – who had had a debilitating stroke in 2009 – our paths would sometimes cross. On one particular afternoon he was very engaged in telling me about Marvin Gaye's Here My Dear – Gaye's acrimonious divorce album – of 1978. I knew of it more than I knew its contents,... > Read more

All the Way to Her

JACKSON BROWNE, INTERVIEWED (2022): The world still in motion

28 Aug 2022  |  8 min read

A year ago when American singer-songwriter Jackson Browne released his 15thstudio album Downhill from Everywhere, the British rock magazine Uncut proclaimed it “as insightful, melodic and artfully measured as anything Browne has done in the past 25 years”. Despite that assessment – Mojo according it four stars – the album didn't sell anything like the quantities of... > Read more

ORNETTE COLEMAN, INTERVIEWED (1996): The gentle genial genius in conversation

22 Aug 2022  |  27 min read  |  3

This interview took place on 26 April '96 in the studio of photographer Austin Trevitt, 241 West 36th Street, in the same midtown building as one of Ornette's studios. . For a man who's had his lights punched out, was reviled by critics and audiences, often ignored and -- in latter years -- belatedly recognised as a genius, Ornette Coleman is remarkably slight. Even with his hat on... > Read more

Turnaround (from Sound Grammar, 2006)

ALEC BATHGATE OF TALL DWARFS, INTERVIEWED (2022): Something has happened.

13 Aug 2022  |  14 min read

Alec Bathgate – one half of this country's most idiosyncratic alt.pop group Tall Dwarfs with Chris Knox – is charmingly bashful when talking about the project which has occupied him for almost two years. It is Unravelled: 1981 – 2002, a loosely chronological box set of 55 Tall Dwarf songs spread over eight sides of vinyl. It arrives in a slipcase with a 20-page booklet of... > Read more

Cruising with Cochran

AUGUST 18 1962, WHEN THEY BECAME THE BEATLES (2022): One night in Port Sunlight

24 Jul 2022  |  3 min read

There had been Beatles before August 18 1962, of course. But on that night at Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight, south of the River Mersey, they became the Beatles as we know them. That was the night, before a small but enthusiastic audience, Ringo Starr made his official debut with the group. Two days before Peter Best had been fired. Ringo had met them in Hamburg and in March had... > Read more

EMILY MEET MATTHEW, MATTHEW MEET EMILY (2022): The poet mystic and the pop musician

12 Jul 2022  |  2 min read

At a time when local culture is increasingly self-obsessed and seduced by the idea of our exceptionalism, Matthew Bannister – swimming against the current tide – looks out the window rather than in the mirror. His “lockdown album” as One Man Bannister, The Saddest Noise, isn't some morose bedroom pop born of isolation but rather an exploration of the works of... > Read more

TALL DWARFS, REISSUED (2022): At last, something's going to happen

10 Jul 2022  |  2 min read

After his debilitating stroke in 2009, Chris Knox slowly fell from public consciousness: credible book proposals covering his artwork languished for lack of funding; the reissue of his solo albums and those with Alec Bathgate as Tall Dwarfs fell over . . . And Knox – unable to make music, who couldn't paint until he retrained himself to use his left hand – became more spoken... > Read more

The Severed Head of Julio

1972: THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS (2022). Half century ago in the telescope

4 Jul 2022  |  3 min read

Occasionally -- out of boredom, to wind people up or simply make quick money from a book -- a writer will settle on year and proclaim it the most important in popular music. It's an enjoyable but pointless exercise because if they chose, say, 1964 for the the excitement of the British Invasion many will immediately point out the following year was much more interesting musically with albums... > Read more

Madman Across the Water

THE TALE OF TWO SONGS (2022): Stranger things and strangers meeting

27 Jun 2022  |  2 min read

Stranger things have happened on the music charts, but when Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) recently appeared in the new season of the Netflix series Stranger Things, the song suddenly topped the charts, 37 years after it first appeared. The urgently dramatic electro-pop of Running captures the character Max's desperation, her fear and impending death in a psychotic... > Read more

CONOR McPHERSON INTERVIEWED (2022): Taking Bob Dylan to Broadway doubters

26 Jun 2022  |  5 min read

Even Conor McPherson, writer and director of the award-winning musical Girl From The North Country, acknowledges it's a hard one for people to get their heads around. “I can truthfully say,” he says from his home in Dublin, “if someone had said, 'Hey, you want to see a Bob Dylan musical?' my response would've been 'No'. “So I recognise it's a tough sell... > Read more