The Album Considered

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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

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

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

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

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

WINGS: AT THE SPEED OF SOUND, CONSIDERED (1976): And now, some not so silly love songs?

20 Feb 2019  |  4 min read

Paul McCartney must have been livid with his record company in 1976. Consider: He'd been in the biggest and most culture-changing, money-making band of the century and along the way had written dozens of classic songs; a field-length list which included Yesterday, Penny Lane, Eleanor Rigby, She's Leaving Home and . . . Then when that band broke up he reinvented himself over a couple... > Read more

WINGS: WILD LIFE, CONSIDERED (1971): “And in the end . . .” there's a begin-again?

14 Dec 2018  |  5 min read

In the Beatles' Anthology DVD, their producer George Martin observed that no one – other than the four young men themselves – knew what it was like in the hurricane that was Beatlemania. They only had themselves to rely on for support, solace, humour and an understanding of the fear about what could possibly go wrong when the screaming turned to anger and disgruntled US fans... > Read more

Mumbo

THE ROLLING STONES: BEGGAR'S BANQUET, CONSIDERED (1968): A walking clothesline of styles

3 Oct 2018  |  8 min read  |  2

Half a century ago the Rolling Stones released their Beggar's Banquet album, widely considered a return-to-form after the debacle of their shapeless attempt at psychedelia on the largely unlistenable Their Satanic Majesties Request of December 1967, released some six months after the Beatles' Sgt Peppers. In a cover which referred to Pepper's glowing hippie-era colours, Satanic Majesties... > Read more

No Expectations