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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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

John Mayall with Eric Clapton; Blues Breakers (1966)

20 Jun 2016  |  3 min read

For an album which is a cornerstone in any serious consideration of the British blues boom of the Sixties, the Blues Breakers record -- John Mayall with Eric Clapton -- of July '66 hardly had an auspicious gestation. In March '65 Mayall and the Blues Breakers had been dropped by their label Decca after just one album (a live outing, John Mayall Plays John Mayall) and across on the other... > Read more

All Your Love

Split Enz: Mental Notes (1975)

6 Jun 2016  |  3 min read  |  1

In 2000, when Rip It Up magazine (now in the responsible hands of Simon Grigg of audioculture.co.nz) collated votes to determine the top 100 New Zealand albums in the most recent-whenever, it was inevitable Split Enz' dramatic 1975 debut Mental Notes would come out at the top. Such lists are often compiled with little sense of history beyond last year's last-thought . . . but Rip It Up's... > Read more

Stranger Than Fiction

Miklos Rozsa: The Lost Weekend (1945, soundtrack)

19 May 2016  |  2 min read

The Hungarian-born composer Miklos Rozsa -- who died in '95 -- has a rare accolade in his long career as a composer of film soundtracks: when his music for the Hitchcock film Spellbound won an Oscar, he beat out two other scores, both of which he had also written. Those two were the music for A Song to Remember (about Chopin) and The Lost Weekend (about an alcoholic). For both... > Read more

Bottle is Discovered

Prince: Around the World in a Day (1985)

26 Apr 2016  |  6 min read

Even before he was cremated a few days after his death, the world was abuzz with how much previously unreleased music Prince Rogers Nelson – aka Prince – had left behind. Those who had seen it spoke of a massive vault of recordings and, tantalisingly, among them were probably the sessions he did with Miles Davis. That said, the reason they remained in Prince's vault... > Read more

Tambourine