Essential Elsewhere

A selection of cornerstone albums to help you build an interesting collection of diverse Elsewhere  music. These essays will introduce albums which can lead you into whole threads of music -- be they power-pop, world music, European jazz, hip-hop, reggae, alt.country or just plain rock'n'roll. Areas you might not have otherwise considered or enjoyed.

Explore . . . and don't be afraid of going Elsewhere.

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Charles Lloyd: Lift Every Voice (2002)

13 Nov 2017  |  4 min read  |  1

It's a fair bet the average jazz musician earns considerably less than Lenny Kravitz, and probably works a darn sight harder.  Sales of jazz albums are modest – in the US 10,000 was considered a good seller – and not too many jazz musicians find their music used in Tom Cruise or J. Lo movies, let alone lucrative advertisements. Of course some jazz musicians have been... > Read more

What's Going On

Various Artists; Chicago/The Blues/Today! Vol 1 (1966)

30 Oct 2017  |  2 min read

With an American history over a century long, the blues isn't easy an easy journey to begin on: do you go at it chronologically from slave chants and field hollers, or work back from white popularisers like George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Led Zeppelin? Given that most people live in what we might call the post-rock era it might be easiest -- and is certainly rewarding -- to hit... > Read more

Junior Wells with Buddy Guy: Messin' With the Kid

Mantovani: A Lifetime of Music 1905-1980 (1980 compilation)

25 Sep 2017  |  4 min read  |  2

In later years he might have looked like an extra from The Sopranos (when smiling maybe a restaurateur, when sullen certainly a hit man) but orchestra-leader Annunzio Mantovani was one the most popular light entertainers of his era -- which was the period before rock’n’roll hit in the mid Fifties. Most people today would quickly dismiss his sweetly orchestrated albums -- yes,... > Read more

Judy Garland: Judy at Carnegie Hall (1961)

11 Sep 2017  |  4 min read  |  1

Many people who saw Judy Garland in the final weeks of her life in mid '69 described her in similar terms: That she looked like a sick bird, broken and unable to fly. She was battling a lifetime of debts, betrayals, pills, booze, chronic unhappiness, self-doubt . . . In one of her last interviews she said, “I've worked very hard, you know, and I've planted some of – I've... > Read more

Stormy Weather

Max Romeo: War Ina Babylon (1976)

24 Jul 2017  |  2 min read  |  1

When Max Romeo's Holding Out My Love to You album was released in '81 it came with heavy patronage: Keith Richards was a Romeo fan and had produced some of the tracks . . . so there was a cover sticker proclaiming "Featuring Keith Richards -- Free Colour Poster of Keith and Mick Inside". Romeo had moved from Jamaica to New York a few years previous (he wrote and starred in a... > Read more

Max Romeo: Uptown Babies

Irma Thomas, The Irma Thomas Collection (1996)

19 Jul 2017  |  3 min read

In music, titles are bestowed by The People rather than being handed down from above -- and they are so singular and specific that there can only be pretenders but no replacement figures. So there is only one King of Rock'n'Roll and that's Elvis, only one Queen of Soul and that will always be Aretha, and only James Brown will ever be considered The Godfather. And Irma Thomas will always be... > Read more

Irma Thomas: Wish Somebody Would Care

Dr John: Gris Gris (1968)

12 Jul 2017  |  3 min read

Long careers generally mean the raw and rough edges of the early days are smoothed out, and that audiences forget just how edgy and unusual the artist’s music actually was. So it is with Dr John whose career reaches way back to playing piano in bars as teenager in New Orleans during the 50s alongside legendary figures such as Professor Longhair and Huey Smith. The Dr -- Malcolm... > Read more

Dr John: Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya

Souad Massi: Honeysuckle/Mesk Elil (2007)

5 Jul 2017  |  <1 min read

On her two previous albums it was evident that Algerian-born Massi was never going to conform to the prevailing sounds of rai and pop of her homeland. And on this instantly engaging album she takes a step even further away and pulls in Latin sounds alongside her already established, if slightly unusual, blend of Algerian pop-folk with hints of Spanish flamenco music. At its best as in... > Read more

Tell Me Why

Young Marble Giants: Colossal Youth (1980)

5 Jul 2017  |  2 min read

Just as Dylan emerged in the middle of the day-glo psychedelic era on a quieter rural route with John Wesley Harding, and the Cowboy Junkies whispered their way to the foreground amidst the bellicose noise of grunge, so Young Marble Giants emerged in the post-punk era with something quieter and more considered than the jerky anger of bands like Public Image, Gang of Four and The Fall. Their... > Read more

Young Marble Giants: Include Me Out

The Tokey Tones: Butterfly, Caterpillar (2007)

28 Jun 2017  |  5 min read  |  2

It’s a common occurrence: just when popular music has got up a head of steam, some supportive critical consensus, and is charging off in a particular direction along comes something which, by going the opposite way, captures the imagination. At the height of Day-Glo acid-dropping hippiedom along came the Velvet Underground in all their monochrome gloominess singing about heroin and... > Read more

Tokey Tones: Yoghurt and Vinegar (from Butterfly)

Drive-By Truckers: Brighter than Creation's Dark (2008)

24 Apr 2017  |  2 min read  |  2

Now more than two decades into their impressive career -- and with more than two dozen live and studio albums behind them -- the Drive-By Truckers out of Athens in Georgia  inspire passionate loyalty for their Southern-framed country rock'n'roll and literate, sometimes provocative, lyrics. They often make you want to crack the top off a beer and kick back, but the words touch some deep... > Read more

Daddy Needs A Drink

The Undertones: The Undertones (1979, reissue 2009)

10 Apr 2017  |  4 min read  |  1

It's a measure of how obsessed rock music is with the present tense that in 1979 Paul Morley in the NME would proclaim, "The Undertones have created the greatest pop of this age and thus every age". That use of "thus" there says so much about the pressing immediacy of the punk era in Britain. New and urgent was what mattered. The Undertones out of Derry, Northern... > Read more

The Undertones: Here Comes the Summer

Donna Summer, Bad Girls (1979)

20 Mar 2017  |  5 min read

In musical arguments, as with political ones, the area of grey between the black and white can be as big as the other two combined. History books say you were either a Beatles or a Stones fan, but my friends and I liked them both -- and the Four Tops, the Dave Clark Five, Lou Christie, Sam the Sham, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Roy Orbison and Dusty Springfield.  Sensible people... > Read more

Dim All the Lights

Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers: Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers (1971)

27 Feb 2017  |  4 min read  |  3

Although the blues can be a sophisticated music, there's something more earthy, vibrant and appealing about it when it is played from somewhere further south than the cerebral cortext. Hound Dog Taylor played from a point somewhere between the heart, the gut and the groin -- and made the most thrilling music to come out of the Chicago blues scene in the late Sixties/early Seventies. The... > Read more

Phillips' Theme

The Sorrows: Take a Heart (1965)

16 Feb 2017  |  5 min read

Just as the Beatles '64 album With the Beatles defined the sound of Beatlemania, so too its album cover became iconic and an emblem of the era. Those half-lit faces on the cover were shot by Robert Freeman but perhaps had been prompted by Lennon's appreciation of Astrid Kirchherr's similarly lit photos taken of him, Harrison and Stu Sutcliffe in Hamburg. And that arty look was seen... > Read more

Teenage Letter

June Christy: Something Cool (1955)

30 Jan 2017  |  4 min read

Although for casual listeners the title of Miles Davis' 1957 album Birth of The Cool gave its name to the movement, it largely fell to others to define and refine the territory and sound of “cool jazz”. Notable players in this genre which turned down the energy of bebop in favour of a more gentle, laid back and quietly exploratory style were Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan,... > Read more

The Night We Called It A Day (mono 1954)

Marvin Gaye: Trouble Man (1972)

9 Jan 2017  |  5 min read

In the sales charts, music history throws up some wonderful anomalies, like the Beatles' innovative double A-side single Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever being kept off the top spot by Engelbert Humperdinck's ballad Release Me in early '67. And that Marvin Gaye's aching lament for his nation and the troubling times of the early Seventies, What's Going On, was kept off the number... > Read more

Poor Abbey Walsh

Yoko Ono: Plastic Ono Band (1971)

21 Nov 2016  |  6 min read

Elsewhere has been of the unwavering opinion, ever since this album was released, that is one of the great avant-garde rock'n'roll albums. That's not an opinion widely shared and indeed from the time of its release most others have roundly damned it as being unlistenable. Well, they said that about a lot of great albums so . . . Released as a companion to John Lennon's... > Read more

Why?

Vanessa Daou: Zipless (1994)

18 Jul 2016  |  2 min read  |  2

There is sexy music and there is sex music. And there can be quite a difference between the two in execution. Prince made a lot of sex music but slightly less sexy music; Donna Summer and Jane Birkin brought orgasms to music -- and so did Yoko Ono who screamed it to the ceiling and beyond. Ono was sex, the other two sexy. Sometimes Grace Jones could be both. Sexy music -- the... > Read more

The Long Tunnel of Wanting You

Ennio Morricone: Crime and Dissonance (2005)

11 Jul 2016  |  3 min read

The great Italian composer, arranger and conductor Ennio Morricone will be 88 later this year, but he is still as productive as ever. And in February he conducted a concert of his music at London's O2 for which he had on stage the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the Csokonai National Choir, soprano Susanna Rigacci and the Kodaly Choir. Oh, and a rock band. Right there you get... > Read more

Spiriti