Absolute Elsewhere

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29 Nov 2017  |  5 min read

Sometimes in life the important stuff goes past you. No need to apologise for not knowing things like how that Balkan conflict started. You kinda had to be there as it unfolded and keep up. If you started tuning in a bit late it was so complex you'd be forgiven for changing the channel. When it comes to real serious stuff I'll confess. I missed Pink Floyd's... > Read more

Hotel California (live 1976)

BOB DYLAN: TROUBLE NO MORE; THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOL 13 (2017): Serving a new master

27 Nov 2017  |  7 min read

It is widely accepted that Bob Dylan's Eighties output – despite revisionist attempts to rehabilitate him during that largely dire decade – was a real career nadir. It was surprising, given how well he had revived himself in the mid-Seventies with the multi-layered Blood on the Tracks in '75 then the slightly lesser but still valid returns on Desire ('75) and Street-Legal... > Read more

Ain't Gonna Go to Hell for Anybody (live, Toronto, 1980)

LEE HAZLEWOOD REVISITED, AGAIN (2017): Requiem for an almost star

27 Nov 2017  |  6 min read

In the wider world of civilians, the reputation of Lee Hazlewood (who died a decade ago at age 78) rests on a couple of flimsy poles: Chief among them his work with Nancy Sinatra in the mid Sixties. Some may be familiar with him for an earlier association with guitarist Duane Eddy as producer of his classic instrumentals Peter Gunn and Rebel Rouser, or for his '63 Trouble is a... > Read more

I'd Rather Be Your Enemy

SHARON O'NEILL ACKNOWLEDGED (2017): This heart, this song, this legend

18 Nov 2017  |  4 min read  |  1

Sharon O'Neill – this year's inductee into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards – is a singular talent. And in the late Seventies and early Eighties she was an artist at the top of her game unlike any other: Three times best female vocalist at the New Zealand Music Awards ('78, '79, '80, the only person to win in three consecutive... > Read more

Danced in the Fire

HEATHER LEIGH PROFILED (2017): A very different kinda coal miner's daughter

14 Nov 2017  |  4 min read

Anyone who had the gut strength and emotional resilience to undertake German saxophonist Peter Brotzmann's astonishing, heroic, muscular and often sensitive solo performance in Auckland a few years ago (see a review here) will be thrillingly fearful in knowing this giant of free jazz -- and an utterly singular performer -- is returning for another short tour. But this time he brings... > Read more

All That Heaven Allows (Heather Leigh solo)

RICHARD X BENNETT REVISITED (2017): Halves of a whole full of spirit'n'soul

6 Nov 2017  |  3 min read

Four years ago Elsewhere received – possibly unsolicited – an album by New York-based pianist Richard Bennett . . . . Well, New York-based when he wasn't in Mumbai or Japan. That New York City Swara album immediately got Elsewhere's attention, not just for Toronto-raised Bennett's admirably unusual globe-trotting but for its rare co-joining of jazz... > Read more

The Camel, from the album What Is Now

THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH CONSIDERED (2017): Truth or consequences?

23 Oct 2017  |  5 min read  |  2

Unlike so many of their soul peers out of Motown like the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Supremes and many others, the Undisputed Truth never quite made the splash they perhaps should have. Or more correctly could have, if the planets had aligned differently. Very few of their songs were played on New Zealand radio, which was certainly keen on Motown and... > Read more

Law of the Land (1973 single version)

10 UNUSUAL 10 INCH RECORDS I'M SURPRISED I OWN: What's smaller than an album but bigger than an EP?

16 Oct 2017  |  8 min read  |  1

In the past Elsewhere has indulged itself with a column entitled promisingly 10 Shameful Record Covers I'm Proud to Own (and the there was 10 More and another 10 More and Another 10). Then there was 10 Shameful Records I'm Embarrassed to Own as well as 10 Album Cover Parodies and 10 Good Albums in Bad Covers. Oh, and 10 Odd Unplayed Albums in My Collection (and inevitably... > Read more

THE VODAFONE NEW ZEALAND MUSIC AWARDS 2017: But before we open the envelopes . . .

6 Oct 2017  |  7 min read

There were a few interesting things to observe about the recent APRA Silver Scrolls held in Dunedin. First they were in Dunedin and it seems a good thing to spread the ceremony around . . . although the sound on the broadcast suggested some people down south need to up their game for the demands and expectations of a 21st century audience. It allowed big city folk to say,... > Read more

SHEL TALMY CONSIDERED (2017): He really got them, oh yeah

2 Oct 2017  |  5 min read

Some record producers have a sound so distinctive that – like the names of John Wayne and Arnold Schwarzenegger on the marquee outside the cinema – they are the drawcard in themselves. Few but the most diligent rock scholars could name the various Checkmates, Shirelles or Ronettes, but everyone can recognise they were produced by Phil Spector. His “wall of... > Read more

Drowning in My Own Despair, by Oliver Norman (1967)

THE COUNTER-INTUITIVE TRUTHS OF CHUCK AND BOB (2017): Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan as others did them

2 Oct 2017  |  4 min read

Everywhere you turn these days someone is telling you that something is counter-intuitive; that the opposite of what you expect is actually what works or is true . . . Something like that. Now, it isn't really counter-intuitive to say that other people actually did the songs of Chuck Berry and Bob Dylan better than the songwriters themselves . . . but two albums... > Read more

JAY FARRAR/SON VOLT CONSIDERED (2017): The compass and the course

1 Oct 2017  |  3 min read

Back at the dawn of the Nineties critical consensus and discerning listeners were drawn towards the emerging alt.country/American sound coming out of the US. It wasn't new, it drew from old styles of country but placed them within a post-Band/ contemporary punk rock ethic. And one band became emblematic of the style: Uncle Tupelo out of Illinois. Their excellent if small-selling... > Read more

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