Absolute Elsewhere

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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

THE RETURN OF THE ROCK'N'ROLL STAR (2022): The unbearable triteness of Liam

20 Jun 2022  |  2 min read

In his candid and funny Rod, The Autobiography published a decade ago, Rod Stewart reflected on his wayward 1980s. “I never thought in this period that the 'being a rock star' aspect of being a rock star was beside the point, or even something I needed to apologise for. “If I hadn't considered the drinking/shagging/carrying-on to be at least... > Read more

CAPITAL THEATRE, INTRODUCED (2022): From ancient to the present, a rock epic

19 Jun 2022  |  7 min read

In early 2021 I was approached by the manager of an Auckland band I had never heard of. Not surprising, they hadn't played anywhere and at that point had released nothing. But they were an intriguing prospect because their debut album – which they had funded themselves – was a concept album and had been produced by the top LA producer Mike Clink, best known for work with Guns N'... > Read more

MID-YEAR REPORT, THE TOP 20 OF (2022): The taste of Elsewhere

17 Jun 2022  |  7 min read  |  2

It's the middle of the year and report cards are being sent out. As many of you know, in the first half of this year we were Elsewhere for three months (Sweden, England, Scotland and Singapore) and filed a weekly column for the Listener, which appeared the following week as Travels in the Time of Covid (and also travels in the time of Ukraine, rising prices and more!) That meant we had... > Read more

WILCO, THEN AND NOW (2022): What goes around comes around . . . to country

13 Jun 2022  |  2 min read  |  1

The idea that genres in popular music are immutable has long been eroded. Even by the mid-Nineties No Depression magazine – which took its name from an 1990 album by the band Uncle Tupelo – had as its remit to cover “alternative country, whatever that is”. No Depression would occasionally consider mainstream country artists but more often bands like Whiskeytown,... > Read more

TALL DWARFS, RESURRECTED AND REISSUED (2022): In their own write and draw

10 Jun 2022  |  2 min read

When Chris Knox suffered a debilitating stroke in 2009 it effectively ended much of the creative career for one of this country's most unique and diverse talents: Knox was an artist (with a keen eye for caricature), cartoonist (his Max Media strip ran every week in the Herald from 1987), cultural critic, music writer, television presenter and so much more. And most notably a musician whose... > Read more

Bee to Honey

THE CLASH, COMBAT ROCK + THE PEOPLE'S HALL (2022): Band on the stagger

6 Jun 2022  |  1 min read

Although there was a subsequent album – the awful Cut the Crap – Combat Rock in 1982 was the last Clash album anyone could take seriously. Which isn't to say it's any good. It arrived in a nondescript cover almost free of meaning, aside from the band members looking in different directions, and while the title resonated with their militant stance it could also have referred... > Read more

CATE LE BON, INTERVIEWED (2022): Living in time suspended

30 May 2022  |  4 min read

For the past two years, the life of the acclaimed British avant-pop singer-songwriter Cate Le Bon has been defined by disparate dots on the map, threads of friendship and 21st century technology. Just before lockdown in early 2020, the 39-year old Welsh-born Le Bon – who relocated to Los Angeles in 2013 – left her newly-purchased home in rugged Joshua Tree in southern... > Read more

THE RETURN OF UHP (2022): Look out, here comes the posse

9 May 2022  |  3 min read

That local reggae at the start of the Eighties and our first hip-hop statements at the end of that decade came from Herbs and Upper Hutt Posse respectively should not have been a surprise. In its original form as it appeared in the Seventies, reggae was rebel music, the voices of those outside mainstream culture (few were more outside Jamaican... > Read more


GOT TO HURRY RECORDS (2022): Sixties/Seventies stockist in central Stockholm

9 May 2022  |  5 min read

When Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love came to Bo Nerbe's tiny record story Got To Hurry in the old town of Gamla Stan in central Stockholm, he enthusiastically bought all three albums by the local band Stomachmouth, an Eighties garage-punk outfit. “I had released them on my Got To Hurry label and Kurt Cobain bought all three. And half a year later or so there was an American guy in the... > Read more

Got To Hurry, by the Yardbirds (guitar Eric Clapton)

JACK WHITE, RETURNS (2022): White, black and red, now blue

15 Apr 2022  |  2 min read

The free CD which comes with the current issue of Mojo, the British rock magazine, is Hello Operator: The Songs Jack White Taught Us. However many of the magazine’s readers would have been familiar with the songs by bluesmen Son House (his spooky Death Letter Blues), Blind Willie Johnson and Robert Johnson, as well as Johnny Cash’s Big River,... > Read more