Absolute Elsewhere

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PITCH BLACK INTERVIEWED (2000): Lightning striking again and again . . .

8 Oct 2008  |  5 min read

Lightning sears the walls, neon tubes dance along the screen, mobile tie-dye patterns hover in the mist. And all the while, pulsing, ever-changing electronic music triggers the images, ebbs and flows, and engages the ear as the visuals entrance the eye. Welcome to the world of Pitch Black, where light and sound collude to infiltrate the brain. “Why not? We are multi-sensed... > Read more

GILLIAN WELCH INTERVIEWED (2004): That ol' time contemporary music

7 Oct 2008  |  3 min read

For someone whose stark songs sound like they have come from the impoverished rural underbelly of Depression-era America, Gillian Welch seems as lively as a June-bug. She laughs readily and doesn't come across as a woman who sings death ballads and has the signature song Orphan Girl. But Welch surprises on many levels. Those who have heard her spare singing on the soundtrack to O Brother,... > Read more

AMERICA'S DEWEY BUNNELL INTERVIEWED (2007): Upstarts up the charts

2 Oct 2008  |  4 min read

Among people whose musical credentials you wouldn’t question would be the Beatles’ producer George Martin. Or if you want a more contemporary reference maybe alt.country rocker Ryan Adams, James Iha of Smashing Pumpkins, or guys from the indie bands My Morning Jacket and Nada Surf. And the link -- possibly the only one -- between these diverse people is an unexpected one:... > Read more

MUSIC IS MY MADNESS: Ego, drugs and minor chords, musicians who lost the plot

1 Oct 2008  |  9 min read  |  1

The world of music is populated by creative people -- and those around them who offer musicians absurd amounts of money, pampering for their inflating egos and medication for their every ailment, real or imagined. The surprising thing is that more musicians don’t follow Elvis, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty into that netherworld of self-delusion, eccentricity and... > Read more

DAVID BOWIE INTERVIEWED (1993): Black tie, white noise and the duke bounces back

29 Sep 2008  |  9 min read

David Bowie is a pain. Or more correctly perhaps, “his people” are. Eighteen months ago, when he was keen to plug his uneven, already forgotten but not uninteresting Tin Machine II album (the follow-up to what we might have charitably called “a side project” in a long career) he was a pushover. Oh, just wait by the phone “his people” said and... > Read more

THE DOORS, ON AND OFF THE RECORD: Still opening and closing

29 Sep 2008  |  4 min read

I only saw the Doors once, in a packed club on Sunset Strip. That was five years ago. Jim Morrison had been dead 35 years but there they were -- or at least an excellent replica -- going through their hits as the leather-clad singer exuded menace, animal sexuality and seduction. The crowd -- mostly people not born when the Doors peaked in the late 60s -- included other Morrison... > Read more


27 Sep 2008  |  10 min read

Rock stars shouldn’t talk this way, not in these well-rounded vowels and carefully constructed, oh-so English sentences. But then, this is David Gilmour from Pink Floyd – and as rock bands go Pink Floyd are no ordinary band at all. Here is the band which presents astonishingly visual concerts, every couple of years unleashes a monster of an album and then disappears into silence... > Read more

TOM RUSSELL INTERVIEWED: The stories he could tell

25 Sep 2008  |  4 min read

Julio Gonzalez was pumped up and crazy when he was tossed out of the Happy Land Social Club in the Bronx in mid-March 1990. He was 36, unemployed and had been in the States for only 10 years after arriving with thousands of other Cubans in the Mariel boatlift. An argument with his former girlfriend who worked in the cloakroom, a couple of bouncers heavying him into the streets, a short walk... > Read more

A Dollar's Worth of Gasoline

ROD STEWART INTERVIEWED : Too often the singer, not the songs

25 Sep 2008  |  10 min read

In typically witty cover notes to the six-album Storyteller anthology released two years ago to celebrate 25 years in music, Rod Stewart appended something interesting after his signature...”Stewart’s the name, singing’s the game.” And that’s worth remembering.  Fashions may change (and with Stewart every debauched or debonair picture tells a story),... > Read more

WIRE INTERVIEWED (2004): From garages to galleries, the rise and re-rise of art-rock

19 Sep 2008  |  5 min read

You need a little patience when trying to get a handle on the career of the four-piece British art-punk band Wire, who emerged in the late 70s at the start of punk. But first let's establish that Wire were Colin Newman, Bruce Gilbert, Graham Lewis and Robert Gotobed. The early-90s line-up, wittily named Wir, was the same guys, but without drummer Gotobed. That’s reasonably simple... > Read more

HARRY NILSSON, PROFILED (2008). The fire this time

18 Sep 2008  |  4 min read

The too-short life of the greatly under-appreciated singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson (1941-94) was full of bitter ironies: not the least was that this gifted songwriter's biggest hits were written by others. His memorable Without You was penned by Pete Ham and Tom Evans from the Beatles-blessed power poppers, Badfinger; and although Nilsson's  beautiful original song I Guess the Lord... > Read more

SCOTT WALKER INTERVIEWED (2006). Loneliness is a cloak you wear

16 Sep 2008  |  15 min read  |  3

No one could accuse reclusive songwriter and singer Scott Walker of haste. In the time between Walker's last album Tilt and his latest The Drift in May 2006, film director Peter Jackson delivered The Frighteners, his Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong. Van Morrison coughed up 11 albums, and Oasis -- despite fraternal bickering, divorces and finding a new line-up -- managed to record four.... > Read more

MIRACLE MILE PROFILED: Beauty in search of an audience

16 Sep 2008  |  2 min read

Some years ago when I was at the Herald yet another CD for review arrived in the post and took its place on the huge pile of "discs to be listened to". I have no idea why out of the stack of worthies I picked up the album by Miracle Mile laterand played it one night at home when no one was around: but I am glad I did because I was smitten immediately. The cover had on it... > Read more

Miracle Mile: Seven Bells (from Alaska, 2003)

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE'S 1993 BOX SET: Fasten your seat belts

14 Sep 2008  |  2 min read

History’s such fun. Here are some lyrics from the past to think on: “We are all outlaws in the eyes of America/in order to survive we steal, cheat, lie and [inaudible]/ we are obscene, lawless, hideous, dangerous, dirty, violent and young . . . we are forces of chaos and anarchy.” The singers then toss in the Price noun, and it isn’t calling someone a “sexy... > Read more

BETH ROWLEY INTERVIEWED (2008): From Bristol to the Big Time

9 Sep 2008  |  9 min read

UK singer-songwriter Beth Rowley is one of those 10-year in the making overnight sensations. Her debut album Little Dreamer has won her wide acclaim -- “the next big thing", said the Independent, “destined for number one” weighed in the Sunday Times -- but because she has worked her way up from small pubs she seems very grounded, smart and focused. This phone interview... > Read more

JAMES BROWN: THE ONE AND ONLY GODFATHER OF SOUL (1992): Star time . . . all the time

8 Sep 2008  |  6 min read

“The artistry of James Brown is epitomised by the guttural grunt (uh,uh) or the equally familiar cry of ‘oo-wee’ that punctuates practically ever young he has recorded. In those simple primal utterances Brown comes nearer his poetic goal than in any of his more elaborate lyrics. For there, he is not singing about black life – he is black life.” - Mel Watkins,... > Read more

The Payback

THE BEATLES IN PRINT, HAMBURG DAYS (2002): Before the whirlwind

8 Sep 2008  |  4 min read

The oldest wasn't yet 20, but they were drunk, pilled to the eyeballs and doing what they loved best: playing rock'n'roll. In black leather, hair greased back Elvis-style, they pumped out primal versions of Little Richard hits to the drunken sailors, pimps and prostitutes who jostled in the beer-stale club, the sweat dripping down on them as it accumulated on the low ceiling. The air was... > Read more

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON INTERVIEWED (2005): Rebel with a scholarship

2 Sep 2008  |  7 min read

Before he was 40 Kris Kristofferson -- now in his 70s -- had lived enough to fill the pages of at least a couple of wild novels. And the real craziness was still to come. In the 80s Kristofferson greeted a journalist with, “Let’s have some dope”. The interviewer reported she remained high just by breathing his exhaust. Born in Texas, he was a smart kid and won a Rhodes... > Read more

ARETHA FRANKLIN, THE QUEEN OF SOUL: Oh, how the mighty have risen

2 Sep 2008  |  4 min read

When American critic Dave Marsh complied his The Heart of Rock and Soul in the early 90s -- a free-swinging personal recount of the “1001 greatest singles ever made” from doo-wop Moondogs (1955) to dance floor Madonna (1985) -- one name turned up repeatedly. For those who nostalgically put Abba up the charts again (and again) that name may seem surprising -- but here was someone... > Read more

Aretha Franklin: When the Battle is Over

WARREN ZEVON INTERVIEWED (1992): Tales from the dark side

1 Sep 2008  |  9 min read

The various encyclopaedias of rock don’t do justice to Warren Zevon. He got a snippy microscopic reference in the 91 New Illustrated Rock Handbook (“well-established but usually hitless”) and a massive tome from the same period by Phil Hardy and Stephen Barnard didn’t mention him at all.  A few others get to the usual stuff. That he played piano for the Everly... > Read more