Absolute Elsewhere

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WEST SIDE STORY. THEN, AFTER, NOW (2021): Something's coming, and it just kept on coming

24 Dec 2021  |  3 min read

In her 2021 autobiography Last Chance Texaco, Rickie Lee Jones wrote about her affection for the musical West Side Story, a film she saw when she was only nine. She loved the drama of the Jets and Sharks street gangs, from her Arizona-distance she was seduced by the romance of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet star-crossed young lovers relocated to tough inner-city New York, and found... > Read more

Maria, by PJ Proby (1965, from In Town, Elsewhere vinyl remix!)


20 Dec 2021  |  10 min read

What an odd year in music when the discussion points were the new chart-topping but mundane Abba album, something from Elton John again and the Beatles who – thanks to Peter Jackson – invited us in to their recording sessions 52 years ago. We just needed a new Sir Cliff album to have a retro-fitted villa full of period charm. Nice to have Adele and Tony Bennett back though.... > Read more


20 Dec 2021  |  8 min read

Yep, a lousy year for many, especially those like us who endured a seemingly endless and dull second lockdown in Auckland. But we should count ourselves lucky. Very few of our fellow citizens died and, although many fell ill, the message finally got out and people got vaxxed up to protect themselves and their families . . and by extension their fellow citizens. We also had books, TV and... > Read more


13 Dec 2021  |  9 min read

As we sometimes remind, we can blame or thank Bob Dylan perhaps, after all it was his five record, 1985 Biograph box set of rare tracks and unreleased material which alerted record companies and the marketplace there was interest in such things. Five years later the first of his Bootleg Series box sets confirmed it. Since then it has been open slather. Here Elsewhere picks the best... > Read more

THE AMA (NEW ZEALAND) HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES 2021: The five essential ingredients in a melting point of talent

12 Dec 2021  |  24 min read

There's a circularity about Annie Crummer, Dianne Swann, Margaret Urlich, Kim Willoughby and Debbie Harwood being inducted as legacy artists at this year's Aotearoa Music Awards. As the group When the Cat's Away in the late Eighties they enjoyed hits, tours, music awards, a best selling live album and an award-winning documentary. But as Urlich told the Listener in January 1990,... > Read more

WHAM BAM, THANK YOU GLAM, 1970-75 (2021): From pop music to Roxy Music

6 Dec 2021  |  7 min read  |  1

"the men don't know, but the little girls understand" -- from Back Door Man by Willie Dixon (sung by Howlin' Wolf, 1961) THE RISE OF GLAM ROCK Marc Bolan (T.Rex) "At nine years old I became Elvis Presley" -- Marc Bolan  "Long before David Bowie, Gary Glitter or even Alvin Stardust tightened a single pant, brushed on the first load of... > Read more


30 Nov 2021  |  1 min read

There's always been talk that the Beach Boys didn't mean that much after the seminal Pet Sounds and the lesser Smiley Smile in the late Sixties, and yes, they did seem a bit directionless. But by the early Seventies they were steering a more confident course through the Sunflower and Surf's Up albums which mixed pop and their signature harmonies with songs which had a... > Read more

THE BEATLES' GET BACK DOCUMENTARY (2021): The truth, the whole truth and nothing but another truth

22 Nov 2021  |  4 min read

When George Harrison quit the Beatles on January 10, 1969 it was surprisingly undramatic: “I'm leaving . . .” John Lennon stops playing guitar: “What?” “The band, now,” says Harrison, although adding waspishly on the way out the door later, “see you 'round the clubs”. That night he wrote in his diary, “Got up went to Twickenham... > Read more

JOHN HANLON, HARD, CRUEL AND NAKED TRUTHS (2021): No country for old men?

18 Nov 2021  |  3 min read

It's an interesting measure of the landscape of popular music that many -isms are called out (racism, sexism, etc) but older artists are marginalised, or worse, ignored completely. Yes, a few get through (Leonard Cohen, Bill Fay) and if 71-year old Tom Waits released a new album you know it would be reviewed. People remain curious and even keen to hear new music from Dave Dobbyn and Don... > Read more

Muriwai Road

NEAL CASAL, REMEMBERED IN TRIBUTE (2021): It feels just like a dream now . . .

17 Nov 2021  |  3 min read

When a depressed Neal Casal took his own life in August 2019 he was 50 and left a wide legacy of musical associations and compositions. Born in New Jersey, he came to attention during a four-year stint as the lead guitarist in the Southern rock band Blackfoot in the late Eighties/early Nineties. But it was his subsequent time in Ryan Adams' Cardinals (notably on the acclaimed albums... > Read more

KAITIAKI RECORDS, STRAIGHT OUTTA WANAKA (2021): In the jungle, the mighty jungle . . .

14 Nov 2021  |  3 min read

About five months ago, the newly formed Jungle label Kaitiaki Records in Wanaka began its ambitious project of bringing distinctive local artists to attention through a series of EP releases on bandcamp. As label founder Tom Zeinoun says on the label's website: “Kaitiaki Records started off as an idea when I came down to Wanaka seeing all the great talent we have around here.... > Read more

ABBA IN THE 21st CENTURY (2021): On a voyage to nowhere

5 Nov 2021  |  5 min read

In the Abba museum in Stockholm, visitors can experience a disconcerting Dorian Gray moment. Here you stare into the twinkling eyes of the band who stand, life-size, as mute as wax and preserved just as they were at the height of their fame four decades ago. In a flip to the other side of Oscar Wilde's mirror we imagine the lustrous but reclusive Agnetha – now 71, blond hair flecked... > Read more


25 Oct 2021  |  4 min read

There are two ways of considering the Beatles recording sessions in January 1969 when, very much nudged by Paul McCartney, they convened – just months after The White Album had been released and two days into the new year – in a bleak Twickenham film studio to ostensibly rehearse, record and then perform an album of all new material. As an idea it was interesting, innovative and... > Read more

All Things Must Pass rehearsal

SHIHAD AND ALIEN WEAPONRY ALBUMS, REVIEWED (2021): Significant sound and fury?

23 Oct 2021  |  3 min read

It has been more than 15 years since Dave Dobbyn sang Welcome Home, a song that spoke to our better selves as a people prepared to make a space for new migrants, many of whom had come from dire situations and had been confronted by racism here. As he noted, “out here on the edge, the empire is fading by the day” and that erosion of loyalty to Britain and the Commonwealth has... > Read more

THE BEATLES' GET BACK BOOK (2021): The words around the music

18 Oct 2021  |  5 min read

As some wag noted on Facebook recently about the title of this large format hardback: “Did we ever leave?” We did not . . . Because the period these transcripts cover – January 1969 when the Beatles came together with the vague idea of being filmed recording an album and then performing it live somewhere – is replete with unfinished business. The resulting... > Read more

Across the Universal, rehearsal and jamming

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO, A TRIBUTE ALBUM (2021): Another look in the art-rock mirror

9 Oct 2021  |  4 min read

Has there even been an album whose cultural influence far outstripped it's commercial impact more than the debut by New York's Velvet Underground? Their 1967 The Velvet Underground & Nico – in that famously provocative banana cover by the band's champion and nominal “producer” Andy Warhol (a phallic pink banana revealed when the skin was peeled back) – arrived... > Read more

IT'S ALL IN THE GAME, CONSIDERED (2021): The singers and the song

6 Oct 2021  |  1 min read

In 1911 a guy called Charles Dawes -- who later became the US vice president -- wrote a very simple melody one afternoon at home and it was subsequently published as sheet music. It was entitled Melody in A Major. And it became very very popular indeed. But first let's talk about Dawes, baby. Born in 1865, he was of that type for whom everything was to be explored: he qualified... > Read more

DINNER WITH THE WAINWRIGHTS (2021): Loudon, Rufus and Martha giving thanks

4 Oct 2021  |  3 min read

American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III – among many hailed as “the new Dylan” in the early 70s – has never been short of subject matter, be it high-minded or mundane. He wrote and performed songs about national and social issues regularly for National Public Radio, but also explored being lonely on the road, groupies, the murder of John Lennon, his... > Read more

BOB DYLAN , CHANGING SOMEONE TO A TIGHT CONNECTION (2021): His songs they are a changin'

3 Oct 2021  |  3 min read

Once again an instalment of the on-going Bob Dylan Bootleg Series throws the spotlight on how he changes his songs, not just lyrics but arrangements and tone. The current Bootleg Series Springtime in New York offers yet more takes of his '83 song Someone's Got A Hold of My Heart (an outtake from the Infidels sessions) and what it became, Tight Connection to My Heart (Has Anybody Seen My... > Read more

REB FOUNTAIN RETURNS (2021): Iris in the spotlight

2 Oct 2021  |  3 min read  |  1

Despite Covid-19 roadblocks – and it being the year of Benee and the Beths – for many 2020 belonged to Reb Fountain. She was nominated for three music awards (best album, solo artist and alternative artist) and her album, being self-titled, seemed to announce Fountain's emergence as a different kind of artist, and one signed to Flying Nun. With critically acclaimed previous... > Read more