The Album Considered

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

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

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

ERROL SCORCHER AND THE REVOLUTIONARIES: RASTAFIRE, CONSIDERED (1978): A long life after his death

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

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

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

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

SYBIL: SYBIL, CONSIDERED (1989): An album to walk on by

22 Mar 2021  |  1 min read

Pulling this album off the shelves at random has been an education. It is beautifully unplayed and of course there is no rational explanation for how it came to be on the sagging shelves at Elsewhere. But perhaps here might be an answer. This US r'n'b singer might not have done any serious chart damage in her homeland or the UK with this second album (#75 in the US, #21 in Britain) but... > Read more

JEAN-PAUL BOURELLY: JUNGLE COWBOY, CONSIDERED (1987): His avant-gotta direction debut album

15 Mar 2021  |  3 min read

In an interview with Elsewhere some years ago, Vernon Reid of the seminal black rock band Living Colour observed that once they got through the door of the hierarchy of the white rock critical community the access for other black rock bands slammed shut behind them. It was like, “We'll we've got our black rock band, why would we need another?” Something similar happened in... > Read more

GEORGE SHEARING AND MEL TORME: AN ELEGANT EVENING, CONSIDERED (1985): Moonbeams and dreams

8 Mar 2021  |  2 min read  |  1

In 1988 pianist George Shearing and singer Mel Torme appeared at the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts in Wellington. As a journalist I was there to cover it and scored interviews with everyone from David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet and Wynton Marsalis (the former I went on the town with, the latter I guided around the Michael Fowler Centre where he was to play) to Maxim... > Read more

ZAWINUL: DIALECTS, CONSIDERED (1986): Keyboard player speaking for himself

19 Feb 2021  |  2 min read

Keyboard player Joe Zawinul had recorded albums under his own name before this one, but the self-titled previous one had been in '71, 15 years back. In the interim he'd sprung to forefront of attention with Weather Report, the group he founded with saxophonist Wayne Shorter and bassist Miroslav Vitous which was not just in the vanguard of jazz-fusion in the Seventies but for many the... > Read more

REDD KROSS: RESEARCHING THE BLUES, CONSIDERED (2012): Power pop with attitude

15 Feb 2021  |  1 min read

There are always those artists you hold an unnatural affection for: Elsewhere's list includes Pere Ubu, the Dwight Twilley Band, the Unforgiven, Bob Seger (before he went soft), the Rolling Stones (in the Sixties), the Chills and Clean . . . And Redd Kross out of California who managed to weld power pop to indie-rock, like the Searchers or the Shoes on speed, urgency and the knowledge... > Read more

STEVIE WONDER: THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS, CONSIDERED (1979): Trimming and pruning required

8 Feb 2021  |  3 min read

Every now and again a book comes along and captures the imagination of many. Recently there has been the Oprah-approved The Secret and Eat Pray Love (“Now a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts!”). The late Sixties and Seventies seemed awash with popular books passed hand-to-hand: anything by Carlos Castaneda (drugs and enlightenment, man), Chariots of the Gods... > Read more