Absolute Elsewhere

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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

YOKO ONO REISSUED (2017): Back on plastic, Ono bands

25 Aug 2017  |  5 min read

In an off-the-record aside back in 94, the producer Bill Laswell – who recorded Yoko Ono's album Starpeace of '85 said to me she “sang in the key of flat”. He also admitted he'd only done the album for the experience and to see inside the Lennon-Ono Dakota apartment, and that he wouldn't comment on the album musically. Fair enough. Despite decent... > Read more

ELVIS PRESLEY REVISITED (2017): The kid who became King

31 Jul 2017  |  3 min read

The further we get away from Elvis Presley – he came to fame 60 years ago and has been dead for 40 – the harder he is to see. His career was, by current standards, quite short. Those who came to attention in the UK punk explosion around the time of his death have had careers twice as long. And immediately after his death at just 42 his legacy fell prey to... > Read more


STEVE HACKETT INTERVIEWED (2017): From Genesis to self-revelation

17 Jul 2017  |  9 min read  |  3

When rock encyclopedias describe Steve Hackett along the lines of “former guitarist with the British progressive rock band Genesis” they do him a disservice. Yes, Hackett was an integral member of the band between the Nursery Cryme album in '71 and Seconds Out ('77), the Peter Gabriel-into-Phil Collins years which most consider the band's finest period. But look at... > Read more

STEVE GUNN INTERVIEWED (2017): Know the past to know your future

19 Jun 2017  |  7 min read

Steve Gunn is a very nice guy to talk to . . . but he's a helluva hard guy to talk to. For the first five minutes of our scheduled conversation to him at home in New York, the Skype connection keeps dropping out. For all that time we get no further than, “Hi Steve and thanks for taking the time to . . .”. “Steve, I can't hear you and . .... > Read more

Full Moon Tide

CHUCK BERRY CONSIDERED (2017): He gave us that rock'n'roll music

16 Jun 2017  |  6 min read

There's a very easy case to be made that Chuck Berry – who died earlier this year at 90 – was Elvis Presley's equal in the emerging of rock'n'roll in the Fifties. And that he actually surpassed the King when it came to consolidating and embedding this exciting music in popular culture. As with Presley, Berry forged an amalgam of white country music and... > Read more

Big Boys

MALCOLM BRUCE INTERVIEWED (2017): Another spoonful of classic Cream

30 May 2017  |  7 min read

Malcolm Bruce is very much the son of his father the late Jack Bruce, best known as the bassist/singer and songwriter in Cream alongside drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton. That late Sixties supergroup, whose members came together with impeccable blues and jazz pedigrees, may have been short-lived – just a little over two years... > Read more

EVAN DANDO REVISITED (2017): It's a shame about Evan being bored with himself

29 May 2017  |  5 min read  |  2

When Evan Dando emerged on the cusp of the late Eighties/early Nineties in the Lemonheads he was the gift to the grunge era. He was very good looking, part slacker but undeniably smart, had impeccable taste in covers (on the Lemonheads ’90 EP Favourite Spanish Dishes he covered Mike Nesmith’s Different Drum, Glenn Danzig’s Skulls, the New Kids on the Block’s... > Read more

Sucker Punch

THE BEATLES . SGT PEPPER RECONSIDERED (2017): One more time with . . . remixing?

26 May 2017  |  12 min read  |  1

With the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and its inevitable reissue, the headlines are writing themselves: “We hope you have enjoyed the show”; “It was 50 years ago today”; “They loved to turn you on” . . . and any other variant of lyrics from that seminal and singular album.... > Read more

Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds (take 1)

PERE UBU REISSUED, PART THREE (2017): Unlocking the hinge, unhinging the rock

24 May 2017  |  4 min read

When Pere Ubu emerged out of Ohio in the late Seventies one British writer described them as “the sound of things falling apart”. But while that was true, they were always more than that: Their sound was immensely and deliberately unnerving. Frontman David Thomas yelped like a dog, barked like a madman or went so quiet and low – before yowling into the endless... > Read more

Montana (from Raygun Suitcase)

JANIS JOPLIN . PEARL REVISITED (2017): Getting it while she could

15 May 2017  |  3 min read  |  1

Aside from Beth Hart – who played her in a stage production – it is hard to think of any female singer today with the vocal power and authority of Janis Joplin. Although she has been hailed as the first female superstar of the rock era, Joplin – who died in October ’70 at the age of 27 – left a very small recorded legacy. In her lifetime there were the... > Read more

Move Over (alternate version)

PAUL WELLER, IN HIS REAR VIEW MIRROR (2017): It still is a tight ride

8 May 2017  |  3 min read

It may have been “fake views”, but internet gossip said when Paul McCartney recently collaborated with Kanye West, some of Kanye's fans on-line asked who that other guy was. And to big-up their man for helping the Old Fellah's career. Teenagers – especially if their interest is in another genre – are allowed not to know what someone has done before their... > Read more

VERNON REID OF LIVING COLOUR INTERVIEWED (2017): Matters of colour and Colour

29 Apr 2017  |  10 min read  |  1

Donald Trump's makeover of the American political landscape was always going to come up in the conversation. And as an articulate voice on black issues Vernon Reid – guitarist with Living Colour – has an amusing if bewildered take on it. “You know, I'm a huge science fiction and horror fan and this is like living in that. You accept it because it's a reality . . . but... > Read more

Cult of Personality

NICK CAVE AND HIS BAD SEEDS IN REARVIEW (2017): The dark, the light and the spiritual love

27 Apr 2017  |  2 min read  |  1

For those who couldn't afford the excellent Nick Cave reissue series, the three CD set (covering 1985 - 2013) plus a 38-clip DVD of interviews and videos -- under the title Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Lovely Creatures, The Best of CD/DVD set (BMG) -- is as good as it gets. Released on May 5, Lovely Creatures is presented as a slim hardback book... > Read more

Come Into My Sleep

BLONDIE RECONSIDERED (2017): The tide coming in, again.

24 Apr 2017  |  2 min read

More than four decades after their self-titled debut album, Blondie return with a new album Pollinator with songs written by TV on the Radio's David Sitek, Sia, Johnny Marr and others, including original members Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. But let's cherry-pick their back catalogue. Plastic Letters (1978) As with their promising debut of two years previous – and... > Read more

THE FACE OF LATE FIFTIES POP (2017): Where the pretty boys were

10 Apr 2017  |  7 min read

Between the deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens (the first Hispanic rock'n'roll star) and the Big Bopper in February 1959, and the emergence of the Beatles four years later, popular music was adrift. Certainly there were surf bands and Motown, Phil Spector, doo-wop singers and girl groups, as well as marginal movements like gravedigger rock, rockabilly rebels and greasers,... > Read more

Blue on Blue, by Bobby Vinton

PAUL McCARTNEY'S FLOWERS IN THE DIRT REISSUED (2017): Putting on a brave face again

3 Apr 2017  |  8 min read

The Eighties was a tough decade for many artists who'd made their name in the Seventies, and more especially those holdovers from the Sixties. Dylan was adrift, and while the Stones started the decade with hit albums they suffered diminishing artistic and commercial returns . . . then Jagger started a solo career to Keith Richard's chagrin. The Who called it a day... > Read more

So Like Candy (demo w Elvis Costello)

GOLDFRAPP CONSIDERED (2017): It used to go like that, now it goes like this . . . and this'n'that

3 Apr 2017  |  3 min read

Let's give British singer Alison Goldfrapp and synth/composer Will Gregory – who perform as Goldfrapp – their due. If nothing else, they always made their career an interesting and unpredictable ride for us these past 17 years. They might have started life working the area between ambient, electronic and cinematic sounds with their still impressive debut Felt Mountain,... > Read more