The Album Considered

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28 Aug 2021  |  4 min read  |  2

In the almost five decades since I bought this triple album by jazz composer/ keyboard player Carla Bley, lyric writer/conceptualist Paul Haines and Bley's Jazz Composer's Orchestra, I must have pulled it off the shelf at least half a dozen times. And never got as far as side five. This is a monster with a cast of dozens: Roswell Rudd, Gato Barbieri, Charlie Haden, Don Cherry, Jeanne... > Read more

JOHN COLTRANE. FIRST MEDITATIONS (FOR QUARTET), CONSIDERED (1965): Supreme love . . . and its consequences

23 Aug 2021  |  3 min read

It should be accepted without question that half a dozen John Coltrane albums – the list usually starting with A Love Supreme (1964) – belong in any serious jazz, or even general music, collection. If the majestic spirituality of A Love Supreme is someone's first taste of Coltrane they would most likely want to hear more from this giant of jazz who... > Read more

NGAIRE: NGAIRE, CONSIDERED (1991): When the singles have gone

13 Aug 2021  |  2 min read

Ngaire Fuata was a brief but bright comet across New Zealand radio in the early Nineties, as much on the strength of some canny song choices by her producers as for her gently soulful voice. Her producers (and sometimes songwriters) were Simon Lynch and Tony T (Tony Nogotautama) who recorded this sole Ngaire album at the Lab in Auckland. Their funky and percussive programmed rhythms... > Read more


26 Jul 2021  |  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

ELVIS COSTELLO. LOOK NOW, CONSIDERED (2018): Songwriter Elvis Bacharach meet bandleader Burt McManus

19 Jul 2021  |  2 min read

Falling between his innovative mash-up/mix-up Wise Up Ghost with the hip-hop group The Roots (and don't call it self-sampling) and his latest Hey Clockface with its spoken word passages, Middle Eastern allusions, a French ensemble and guitarist Nels Cline, this very recent double vinyl acquisition – pulled from the shelves at random -- found Costello back with his longtime... > Read more

Burnt Sugar is so Bitter

KOKO TAYLOR. THE EARTHSHAKER, CONSIDERED (1978): We gonna shake it Wang Dang Doodle . . .

12 Jul 2021  |  1 min read

The story of the great Koko Taylor – the “Queen of the Blues” who died in 2009, age 80 – is also the story of the blues: born poor in the South, migrated to the North and when in Chicago plugged in and got rowdy. Taylor who arrived in Chicago when she was 18, as she told Elsewhere in a wide-ranging interview in 1988, was spotted by Willie Dixon and she cut her... > Read more

VARIOUS ARTISTS. TASTY, CONSIDERED (1975): But it's strange and schizophrenic . . .

4 Jul 2021  |  1 min read  |  1

In those distant decades when vinyl was the only serious audio option, record companies large and small would often put out a budget-price compilation/sampler with a track each from their recent albums as a hook to get listeners into their artists. If the label had a kind of over-riding ethos – heavy prog for Vertigo, punky pop for Stiff – then the compilations had some kind of... > Read more

ELLEN SHIPLEY. ELLEN SHIPLEY, CONSIDERED (1979): I'll show you the hit, you show me the money

14 Jun 2021  |  5 min read

In 2009 when an American journalist wrote about corruption and bad practices in the music industry he was surprised that one of the feedback letters came from a Grammy-nominated songwriter who had penned a swag of hits, Heaven is a Place on Earth for Belinda Carlisle among them. The letter writer was singer-songwriter Ellen Shipley who first came to attention three decades previous with... > Read more

GERRY MULLIGAN. IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM, CONSIDERED (1965): Through the smoke rings of his mind . . .

5 Jun 2021  |  3 min read

When the much respected jazz writer Gene Lees asked the great baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan if he had any comments he'd like to make for the liner notes to this album Mulligan said, “No. I don't think so”. “I said what I have to say in the music. All I can tell you is to have fun writing [the liner notes]. “We sure had fun playing.” But did they... > Read more

THE BEATLES. LIVE AT THE STAR-CLUB, HAMBURG, GERMANY 1962, CONSIDERED (1977): Twist and shout, shimmy and shake

31 May 2021  |  4 min read  |  2

The recording is of ridiculously low quality – just a reel-to-reel tape set up on table in a club with a single microphone pointed at the stage – and there has always been some debate about whether it was legal to release it given the band onstage was already signed to a British label. But Ted “King Size” Taylor – who made the recording over a few hours... > Read more

BOB DYLAN. PLANET WAVES, CONSIDERED (1974): Twilight on the frozen lake of cooling emotions

21 May 2021  |  5 min read

While there is no such thing as a “lost album” by Bob Dylan, if Planet Waves in 1974 hadn't included the enduring and sentimental Forever Young, it might qualify. Falling between the folk-country New Morning and the Famous Return To Form that was Blood on the Tracks, the water around Planet Waves was muddied by Dylan's departure from his longtime label Columbia for David... > Read more

MARK WILLIAMS, SWEET TRIALS, CONSIDERED (1976): It was drag, and a drag

17 May 2021  |  2 min read

A bit later in life Mark Williams, originally from near Dargaville, could accept that the way he dressed – feminine clothes he'd made himself, eye-liner and make-up beneath a teased Afro bouffant – “almost looked like drag". "It was drag actually”. But that was later. At the time in the early Seventies when he started having hits, was on TV and... > Read more

Sweet Wine

MILTOWN STOWAWAYS, TENSION MELEE, CONSIDERED (1983): Forget about heat, feel the beat

10 May 2021  |  2 min read

Auckland's Unsung label, on which this album appeared, had previously released adventurous, category-defying and often very interesting left-field albums by Big Sideways and Avant Garage, and the 3 Voices album. The first two of those were loose ensembles which included musicians from classical, jazz, blues and rock backgrounds (and futures). 3 Voices was saxophonist David Bowater... > Read more

DAN FOGELBERG. PHOENIX, CONSIDERED (1979): Truer than any tree that every grew. Really?

3 May 2021  |  3 min read

Even after a long lifetime of following music – often down blind alleys or into unnerving places – it always surprises me how many albums, artists and genres went past me. I got the whole Kraftwerk, Can, Neu! and Popul Vuh thing with diversions into Cluster and so on – but Sparks and Yellow Magic Orchestra went right on by. I have more albums by Supertramp, who I don't... > Read more

MINNIE RIPERTON: PERFECT ANGEL, CONSIDERED (1974): La la la la da da bee doo . . .

26 Apr 2021  |  2 min read

When Minnie Riperton died in 1979 many were shocked, and not just that she should be taken so young at 31. Nor was it that she looked so full of cheeky life on the cover of her hit album Perfect Angel which contained the extraordinary single Lovin' You. It was that she died of breast cancer which was probably the first time many of her young soul/r'n'b followers had encountered that.... > Read more


19 Apr 2021  |  1 min read

Jamaican DJ Errol Scorcher (born Errol Archer in the parish of St Catherine in 1956) wasn't much known outside of the hardcore reggae audience in the world beyond his homeland. However back in JA he enjoyed a number of hits and was a staple on the sound systems. But although his song Peace Truce celebrated the stand down between political rivals which lead to the famous One Love Peace... > Read more

DORY PREVIN, REFLECTIONS IN A MUD PUDDLE, CONSIDERED (1971): Death, pain, disasters and really nice songs

12 Apr 2021  |  4 min read

Any number of women artist from the Sixties and Seventies – Vashti Bunyan, PP Arnold, Doris Troy and others – have undergone a career revival or rediscovery in recent years. But Dory Previn – who died in 2012 aged 86 – still seems to be overlooked. Could it be because she wrote lyrics which even by today's hip-hop and r'n'b standards would be considered... > Read more

ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN, CROCODILES, CONSIDERED (1980): We're going up up up, again

5 Apr 2021  |  3 min read

Almost 20 years after the Beatles brought the spotlight and microphones to their hometown, Liverpool was once again the sight-lines of the music world. A 1980 UK compilation of Northern bands, Hicks From the Sticks, singled out Nightmares on Wax, Modern Eon and Wah! Heat from Liverpool. Of them Wah! Heat (subsequently Wah!, the Mighty Wah! And other variants) were the most... > Read more


4 Apr 2021  |  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

RAS KIMONO, WHAT'S GWAN, CONSIDERED (1990): The conquering lion of Lagos

29 Mar 2021  |  2 min read

Known as the Nigerian rub-a-dub master, Ras Kimono -- sometimes Raz Kimono -- came to attention in reggae circles with his first two albums Under Pressure (1988) and this follow-up two years later. Distributed by PolyGram meant that he got more of a foothold than many African reggae artists and his likable boasting on Rub-A-Dub Master on this album became his signature, following Rum-Bar... > Read more