The Album Considered

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JOHN COLTRANE/JOHNNY HARTMAN: THE MASTER SESSIONS, CONSIDERED (1963): The gifted at their ease

22 Apr 2020  |  2 min read

When the famous “lost” album Both Directions At Once by saxophonist John Coltrane was discovered and issued in 2018, what was only mentioned in passing – as it was in Elsewhere's piece – was why Coltrane's group was even in Rudy Van Gelder's New Jersey studio on that day in May '63 anyway. It was because the group – Coltrane... > Read more

DUSTY SPRINGFIELD: FROM DUSTY WITH LOVE, CONSIDERED (1970): Not really a brand new Dusty

20 Apr 2020  |  3 min read

In 1970, when Dusty Springfield released the follow-up album to her classic Dusty in Memphis -- recorded with the crack production team of Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd, as well as superb session musicians -- it was met with critical indifference. In part that was because it wasn't Dusty in Memphis II, perhaps. Well, it was certainly not that because, if nothing... > Read more

DANGER MOUSE: THE GREY ALBUM, CONSIDERED (2004): Looking through a glass prism

17 Apr 2020  |  4 min read

When DJ Danger Mouse's innovative and crafted The Grey Album – a clever melange of Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' The White Album – appeared in early 2004 Britain's Mojo magazine was unimpressed. Under the heading “Let's Mock!” with a sub-head which read “bootleggers and imposters roam the land. What happened to keeping it real?” Mojo... > Read more

99 Problems

COUNTRY JOE AND THE FISH: ELECTRIC MUSIC FOR THE MIND AND BODY, CONSIDERED (1967): Psychedelic politico-pop

13 Apr 2020  |  4 min read

Vanguard Records out of New York was one of those courageous independent record labels where the owners – brothers Seymour and Maynard Solomon – recorded what they wanted and liked. In the Fifties and early Sixties that meant classical, blues and folk artists. On their roster were Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Mimi and Richard Farina from the folk end, and great blues... > Read more

GAVIN BRYARS: THE SINKING OF THE TITANIC/JESUS' BLOOD NEVER FAILED ME YET, CONSIDERED (1971): Music of ghosts gone by

8 Apr 2020  |  3 min read

The problem with Tom Waits singing on the 1993 recording of Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet (with the orchestra arranged by Gavin Bryars) is that it is Tom Waits singing. Waits has such a distinctive voice that it is always going to be Tom Waits – in his tramp mode – that you hear. For the full melancholy and true religious import of the piece you need to go back to the... > Read more

JUDY MOWATT: BLACK WOMAN, CONSIDERED (1979): A woman's strength in the concrete jungle

6 Apr 2020  |  3 min read

When the great reggae singer Judy Mowatt toured New Zealand's North Island under her own name in 1990, she was surprised to be greeted by local members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel at the airport. But after the death of Bob Marley, reggae had become embedded in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Twelves Tribes (named for the descendants of Jacob in the Old Testament) were a significant and... > Read more

THE BEE GEES: ODESSA, CONSIDERED (1969): All at sea in separate lifeboats

30 Mar 2020  |  4 min read  |  1

In 16 months from early 1967 when they returned to Britain after a trip back home to Australia, the Bee Gees cracked out a remarkable six hit singles and three albums. Their writing, recording and touring schedule was extraordinary, perhaps only matched by the Beatles' work ethic who were for a time their real chart rivals. But for a group which crafted tight radio pop there was a... > Read more

THE MOTORS: APPROVED BY THE MOTORS, CONSIDERED (1978): They had the look, unfortunately

27 Mar 2020  |  3 min read

You gorra feel sorry for the Motors. Although owing a debt the genre, this British band weren't really “pub-rock” in the manner of, say, Dr Feelgood or Ian Dury's Kilburn and the High Roads. They were more pop-rock – strong on melody, hooks and choruses – but they formed in '77 when the spirits of pub-rock and then punk were abroad. Their origins had been in... > Read more

BOB DYLAN: DESIRE, CONSIDERED (1976): To the valley below . . . and beyond

21 Mar 2020  |  5 min read

In the collective memory, Bob Dylan's Desire album of '76 comes between the exceptional Blood on the Tracks and is sandwiched between the two legs of his Rolling Thunder Review of late '75 and early '76. Desire came out before that second (and less happy) part of the Thunder tour but he'd already taken the songs – notably Hurricane about the boxer Rubin Carter, One More Cup of Coffee... > Read more

RINGO STARR: BEAUCOUPS OF BLUES, CONSIDERED (1970): From Abbey Road to Music Row

18 Mar 2020  |  4 min read  |  1

An amusing irony after the Beatles broke up in 1970 was that the one who didn't write any songs (two in more than seven years hardly counts) and was the fourth best singer in the band should, for a time, have the most commercial – and sometimes critical – success. Ringo Starr's string of singles in the early Seventies – It Don't Come Easy, Back Off Boogaloo, Photograph and... > Read more

THE ROLLING STONES: BETWEEN THE BUTTONS, CONSIDERED (1967): A laugh turned to farce?

16 Mar 2020  |  4 min read

The shorthand for the Rolling Stones' recording career before Exile on Main Street is usually reduced – even by Stones' fans – to something like this: some blues and r'n'b covers albums with a few originals thrown in, Aftermath in '66 where they wrote everything themselves and so is a classic (it's not, it's flawed like most Stones' albums), the substandard foray into Pepper-style... > Read more

My Obsession

GEORGE MARTIN: OFF THE BEATLE TRACK, CONSIDERED (1964): From him to you

8 Mar 2020  |  4 min read

It can't be denied that George Martin was indispensable to the Beatles in the studio for his arranging, orchestration and playing skills. It's hard to imagine if we'd ever have heard Yesterday, In My Life, Eleanor Rigby, Strawberry Fields Forever, I am the Walrus and many other classics in the same manner if it hadn't been for his input. His pre-Beatle work with sound and tape effects for... > Read more

NILS LOFGREN: THE EARLY CAREER, CONSIDERED (1975/1976): Head over heels for Nils

24 Feb 2020  |  6 min read

It's likely that most people who know Nils Lofgren for his brief periods with Neil Young (After the Goldrush, Tonight's the Night, Trans) and his long tenure in Springsteen's E Street Band would also be aware of his parallel solo career. But many might not be familiar with this talented singer, songwriter, guitarist and trampolinist and some excellent albums under his own name in the... > Read more

PETER GREEN: IN THE SKIES and LITTLE DREAMER, CONSIDERED (1979/1980): The slight return in the late Seventies

17 Feb 2020  |  4 min read

The sad story of Sixties singer-guitarist and songwriter Peter Green (born Peter Greenbaum in 1946, of Bethnal Green) probably needs little repeating but the bare facts look like this. After playing in a few local groups as a bassist (one featuring drummer Mick Fleetwood and briefly singer Rod Stewart), he emerged as one of the great blues guitarists in the mid... > Read more

PAUL McCARTNEY: PIPES OF PEACE, CONSIDERED (1983): Must try harder, lacks effort in class

30 Jan 2020  |  4 min read

By the mid Eighties, albums by Paul McCartney were becoming surplus to requirements. It wasn't just that people by that time had about all the McCartney in their life that they needed, but that there was a very discernible drop off in quality and effort, albeit on albums which were highly polished. Yes, he still cracked out popular singles. But... > Read more

YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND: BETWEEN MY HEAD AND THE SKY, CONSIDERED (2009): And Yoko got the band to play

7 Oct 2019  |  3 min read

When Yoko Ono released her artistically packaged Onobox in 1992 -- a six CD retrospective of a solo career which had ceased in the mid Eighties -- that would seemed to have been it from the most famous widow in the world. She was almost 60; had stopped recording because as she wryly noted "there seemed no great call" from the public for any more albums by her; and her attention... > Read more

Higa Noboru

YOKO ONO: TAKE ME TO THE LAND OF HELL, CONSIDERED (2013): As ever, Yoko is as Yoko does

9 Sep 2019  |  3 min read

As endearing as it is idiosyncratic, as brilliant as it is bonkers, Yoko Ono's 2013 album Take Me to The Land of Hell (with the Plastic Ono Band) mostly served to remind what a unique artist she has always been . . . whether you like what she does or simply never listened. After the forgettable aural postcards with her husband John Lennon in the late Sixties when they were clowns for... > Read more

PAUL McCARTNEY: AMOEBA GIG, CONSIDERED (2007/2019): That was him standing there

5 Aug 2019  |  5 min read

In the decade after he disbanded Wings at the end of the Seventies, Paul McCartney's recording career on albums offered diminishing returns outside of a string of mostly vacuous chart hits. It wasn't until Flowers in the Dirt in '89 – and even that pulled its punches too much – you felt he still had something serious to offer. The Eighties were tough times for Sixties stars... > Read more

YOKO ONO: FEELING THE SPACE, CONSIDERED (1973): Singing on the feminist frontline

12 Jul 2019  |  5 min read

Put aside Yoko Ono's contributions to the silly audio-verite and self-centred avant-garde albums (“French for bullshit,” John Lennon had said just a few years previous) with Lennon in the late Sixties: the two Unfinished Music volumes Two Virgins (more famous for its cover than its contents) and Life with the Lions, and the vanity project Wedding Album. Take all of them them out... > Read more

Woman Power

THE STAIRS: MEXICAN R'N'B, CONSIDERED (1992): Through the past, smartly

11 Mar 2019  |  3 min read

And suddenly, they they were, all The Definite Article bands. After years of single-name grunge outfits (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Tad etc) the post-Britpop groups appeared with “the” in front of their names. This wasn't new, of course, but in that Brit-pride world which had musically looked back to the Sixties for reference points (the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who, the... > Read more

Flying Machine