The Album Considered

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RICKIE LEE JONES: PIRATES, CONSIDERED (1981): Heartbreak, heroin and hope

13 May 2020  |  5 min read  |  2

Taken together with Tom Waits' Blue Valentine, Rickie Lee Jones' huge selling self-titled debut album of '79 – which sprung her top five hit Chuck E's in Love – recorded their love affair at it poetic peak. Waits sang her favourite song Somewhere from West Side Story on his for her. But the relationship dissolved quickly thereafter and, for her at least, painfully. Her... > Read more

JIMMY CLIFF: SPECIAL, CONSIDERED (1982): The harder they come the longer they run

11 May 2020  |  4 min read

Jimmy Cliff – arguably the most globally recognised Jamaican singer after Bob Marley – has been many things in his lifetime. Even before he broke through as the singer/star in Perry Henzell's exceptional 1972 film The Harder They Come, he had enjoyed success at the World's Fair in New York in '64 (with Derrick Morgan and Prince Buster). There he met Island Records' headman Chris... > Read more

CATE BROTHERS: IN ONE EYE AND OUT THE OTHER, CONSIDERED (1976): Southern soul brothers

7 May 2020  |  2 min read  |  1

You rarely find twins Ernie and Earl Cate, originally from Arkansas, in any recent rock or soul encyclopedias and reference books.  In fact, when Elsewhere went looking on our deeply bowed shelves they only appeared as a brief mention in an NME book from '78 between Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys (debut album produced by Jimi) and Harry Chapin. Fair enough, just four albums... > Read more

MILES DAVIS: ESP, CONSIDERED (1965): Old ways going in a new direction

3 May 2020  |  3 min read

The woman staring out of the cover of Miles Davis' 1965 album ESP was his wife Frances. It's an unusual cover: the photo by Bob Cato looks like a casual and informal snapshot with Miles on a recliner staring up at Frances almost quizzically and she engaging the observer/camera with a look of quiet surprise and a hint of fear. In his autobiography Davis says “[it] was taken in our... > Read more

TOMMY JAMES: MY HEAD, MY BED & MY RED GUITAR, CONSIDERED (1971): A walk in the spiritual country

29 Apr 2020  |  3 min read

Leaving aside the Mob connection for the moment, let's just acknowledge that Tommy James and the Shondells out of Michigan delivered a wedge of great danceable, pop-rock singles in the early Sixties (Hanky Panky, I Think We're Alone Now, Mony Mony) and some psychedelic pop in the latter part of that decade (Crimson and Clover, Crystal Blue Persuasion). Their story is confusing because... > Read more

THE OSMONDS: THE PLAN, CONSIDERED (1973): One way ticket to nowhere in particular

27 Apr 2020  |  4 min read

Even those who couldn't abide the idea of the Osmonds, let alone their music, had to concede their '72 single Crazy Horses was a pretty terrific slice of hard rock. And that the album of the same name -- if they heard it -- was much better than anyone might have expected from this family band which, flashing their teeth like grilles, took their brand of soft rock and teeny-bop pop into... > Read more

TONTON MACOUTE: THEIR SELF-TITLED DEBUT, CONSIDERED (1971): The jazz-rock classical connection

25 Apr 2020  |  3 min read

It's likely the most familiar name on the 1971 debut album by British jazz-rockers Tonton Macoute isn't that of any band member or even engineer Martin Rushent (who went on to produce the Buzzcocks, Stranglers and Dr Feelgood among many others). It was that of the sleeve designer. Keef – photographer/designer Keith McMillan – is known for his work for the Vertigo label, and... > Read more

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

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