Absolute Elsewhere

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

CHEAP TRICK CONSIDERED (2016): Famous for their powerful trickery

18 Apr 2016  |  5 min read  |  1

Unfortunately for Cheap Trick, by the time they got to record their album All Shook Up with former Beatles producer George Martin and their engineer Geoff Emerick in 1980, they were starting to pull apart and had run out of puff. And great songs. But the band from Illinois in the mid 70s — sometimes wrongly described as “America's Beatles”, but we'll see why soon... > Read more

Southern Girls

SONIC YOUTH REVISITED (2016): From sideline to frontline to fade away

18 Apr 2016  |  4 min read

When the married couple of bassist Kim Gordon and guitarist Thurston Moore in Sonic Youth separated in 2011, there was great sense of sadness, as Gordon would later acknowledge in her very interesting autobiography Girl in a Band. She quoted from Elissa Schappell's article in Salon which captured what many fans – and even just casual observers of the band – were thinking.... > Read more

Tuff Gnarl (from Sister)

THE PROCLAIMERS INTERVIEWED (2016): Still clocking up the miles

11 Apr 2016  |  9 min read

The problem is common enough: The artists continues to make important music and the audience just wants to hear the hit songs from decades ago. It does seem unusually cruel in the case of Scotland's Proclaimers – twins Charlie and Craig Reid, now 54 – because their latest album Let's Hear It For The Dogs not only contains some of their toughest and most incisive (and... > Read more

Tuesday Afternoon

MURRAY McNABB REISSUED (2016): Spirit having flown

7 Apr 2016  |  3 min read

When New Zealand composer and keyboard player Murray McNabb died in 2013 at age 66 it's a safe bet that more people had heard his music than they might have thought. Outside of his serious jazz work McNabb did serious commercial work, music for television commercials (the famous Crunchie and Mainland Cheese ads), movies (Once Were Warriors), television series (Greenstone) and much... > Read more

Mr Gone (w Space Case, 1982)

RAY COLUMBUS RETURNS (2016): Snap, crackle and rock

30 Mar 2016  |  5 min read  |  1

In his often courageously candid 2011 autobiography The Modfather – subtitled “the life and times of a rock'n'roll pioneer” and co-written with journalist Margie Thompson – New Zealand cultural legend Ray Columbus didn't exactly deal the dirt. But then Columbus always came across as a genial, generous professional and – given he lived straight during the... > Read more

Kick Me

SANTANA REVISITED (2016): From Woodstock to Devadip

28 Mar 2016  |  1 min read  |  1

Carlos Santana has been famous and prolific for over 45 years and his new album Santana IV finds him re-united with most of the original band. So, essential early albums by the band or from his own solo catalogue? Santana (1969): The debut which introduced Latin-infused jazz-rock to the audience which hadn't been there for the band's stunning debut at Woodstock earlier that month.... > Read more

Waves Within (from Caravanserai)

DAVE DOBBYN CONSIDERED (2016): Magic what he do . . .

21 Mar 2016  |  3 min read  |  2

When producer Sir George Martin died in March, much was made — quite rightly — of his long association with the Beatles. What wasn't made more clear to a couple of generations of people for whom the Beatles are a band from the distant past, was how unusual and almost unique that relationship was. Martin was there for just about every Beatle record over seven enormously... > Read more

Harmony House

PERE UBU REISSUED, PART TWO (2016): Deconstructing pop and language

14 Mar 2016  |  5 min read

When Elsewhere spoke with Pere Ubu's mainman David Thomas recently it was ostensibly to discuss the two box sets of the band's early recordings which have been reissued on vinyl (and download) through Britain's Fire Records. But as you may see from that lengthy conversation, many other topics were traversed and there was perhaps less about the reissues than expected because Thomas... > Read more

Petrified (from Song of the Bailing Man)

SIR GEORGE MARTIN INTERVIEWED (1998): The retiring knight of the round vinyl

10 Mar 2016  |  7 min read

Of all the knights of pop -- Sir Cliff, Sir Paul, Sir Elton -- it is Sir George Martin, famously known as the Beatles’ producer, who seems the most deserving of the accolade. It was November '95 when I met him in London at the launch of the Beatles’ Anthology albums. He was self-effacing, courteous and well-spoken. (At age 16 he'd heard his voice on tape and thereafter... > Read more

EILEN JEWELL INTERVIEWED (2016): Bringing it all back home

7 Mar 2016  |  10 min read

There's no category for Eilen Jewell's music: Some will call it country and some alt.country, but there is also a clear European jazz quality in many songs, she acknowledges Billie Holliday and Bob Dylan as early influences, does a sultry cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' 1960 hit Shakin' All Over and can break your heart with a straight-ahead ballad. Oh, and in 2010 she did a fine... > Read more

My Hometown

JAMES MACKINTOSH OF SHOOGLENIFTY INTERVIEWED (2016): From the Scottish Highlands to northwest India

2 Mar 2016  |  10 min read

Percussionist James Mackintosh sees the irony. When he was a teenager growing up in the picturesque Scottish Highlands at Fort William he was in a spiky-haired punk band playing Clash covers. It was only when he went to the big smoke of Edinburgh – once nicknamed Auld Reekie for the smoke from coal fires – that he started to play traditional Scottish music. These days,... > Read more

The High Road to Jodhpur/Am Bothan a Bh'aig Fionnghuala

DAVID THOMAS OF PERE UBU INTERVIEWED (2016): Walking with noise and ghosts

26 Feb 2016  |  19 min read

David Thomas is his customary garrulous, funny but incisive and sometimes his visibly irritated self . . . at least he would be if we could see him on this Skype call to his home in England. Somewhere behind the screenshot of his much younger self there is muttering and mumbling as someone, who I take to be his partner, laughing and telling him to push connections. “He's... > Read more

All The Dogs Are Barking (alt mix)

VIOLENT FEMMES REVISITED (2106): Gone baby gone . . . but back?

24 Feb 2016  |  3 min read  |  1

Having witnessed the adoration New Zealanders were prepared to pour on the Violent Femmes, Elsewhere would frequently joke that they -- like Cheap Trick -- could turn up in Auckland tomorrow and fill the Town Hall with sweaty, party-ready fans from across at least two generations. They made the kind of singalong, acoustic-rock music we liked . . . and we proved it by being the first country... > Read more

Country Death Song

JOHN CALE RECONSIDERING (2016): The new society still ain't pretty

15 Feb 2016  |  3 min read  |  2

Most musicians in rock culture establish their sound and reputation over a few early albums and consolidate both if their careers are of any length. The late Lemmy and Lou Reed for example released albums which became their hallmarks, and their personae – wildman Lemmy and pugnacious Reed – became our enduring image of them. That said, in each case there were frequently... > Read more

Library of Force (from M:FANS)

PERE UBU REISSUED, PART ONE (2016): On a thin wire dancing above the abyss

15 Feb 2016  |  6 min read

In his 1974 philosophical narrative Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the American author Robert M. Pirsig writes of being at the home of some friends where there is a constantly dripping tap. “If you try to fix a faucet and your fixing doesn’t work then it’s just your lot to live with a dripping faucet,” he writes. “This made me wonder... > Read more


LANCE FERGUSON INTERVIEWED (2016): Bringing back an exotic personal and popular past

8 Feb 2016  |  9 min read  |  1

Lance Ferguson is among New Zealand's most successful, hardest working but perhaps the least known of our musical exports. The grandson of Tongan-born, New Zealand lap steel legend Bill Wolfgramm (who enjoyed a friendly rivalry with the more successful Bill Sevesi from the Forties onward, and who died in 2003), Lance Ferguson left New Zealand 20 years ago. In Melbourne he founded... > Read more

The Kava Diary

SHOEGAZE CONSIDERED (2016): Trippin' back in time and feelin' fine

5 Feb 2016  |  4 min read

It was a British music writer, of course, who first coined the term “shoegaze”. Writing a mid-'91 review in Sounds of the band Moose, Andy Hurt encapsulated the look – if, unhelpfully, not the sound – of many bands which, heads bowed, explored a kind of widescreen pop irradiated by wide swathes of guitar noise, sometimes droning vocals and dreamy psychedelia.... > Read more

Godlike, by the Dylans

THE AUCKLAND LANEWAY FESTIVAL (2016): Shall we talk about the weather . . .

2 Feb 2016  |  5 min read

At some level, the weather for an Auckland Laneway Festival is as much discussed as the music. Since the festival moved from the inadequate make-do sites behind Britomart and then Aotea Square to the flatland of Silo Park – little shade, the main stages on an asphalt carpark – the heat has often been the memory many take away. So it was almost like good news that this... > Read more

Cheap Beer (by Fidlar)

THIS HEAT REISSUED (2016): An uncommon collusion

28 Jan 2016  |  4 min read

It has long been accepted that much of the music which came out of the British punk explosion in the mid-late Seventies was the least of. Alongside songs and albums which were often inchoate noise and anger broadcasting a narrow political or social agenda were the more important aspects of punk: the DIY ethic which gave the marginalised and disenfranchised a game-plan to get their... > Read more

Makeshift Swahili

LINK WRAY REISSUED (2016): Ragged but right country

25 Jan 2016  |  5 min read  |  2

Mention the name “Link Wray” these days and most people will draw a blank. A few might confidently say, “Rumble” – the gang-fight title of his raw, distorted guitar instrument from '58 – but after that things might get murky. Link Wray – born Fred Lincoln Wray -- died in late 2005 age 76, and is frequently confused with other guitar twangers of... > Read more

La De Da