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, areas you might not have otherwise considered or enjoyed. Explore . . . and don't be afraid of going Elsewhere.

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Blue Cheer: Vincebus Eruptum (1968)

20 Nov 2023  |  3 min read  |  3

For many decades I kept a clipping about Blue Cheer and this particular album inside the record cover, and of course when I went to look for it recently it was gone. But the gist of it was this: Blue Cheer were the loudest band in the whole history of ever, according to the writer, and when they recorded this monster in a North Hollywood studio they blew out all the speakers or the desk... > Read more

Summertime Blues

Dennis Wilson: Pacific Ocean Blue (1977)

10 Sep 2023  |  4 min read  |  1

It was a tragic irony that Dennis Wilson, the only genuine surf-rat in the Beach Boys, should have drowned. But by 1983 when he died in the waters of Marina Del Rey, he was a spent force who had succumbed to alcohol, depression and cocaine -- and he'd only recorded one solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue in 1977. That was also a tragedy because POB suggested that if anyone could have carried the... > Read more

Dennis Wilson: Friday Night

Various Artists, Tommy Boy Greatest Beats Vol 1. 1981-96

14 Aug 2023  |  3 min read  |  2

Hip-hop is such an integral part of music today that it is hard to believe radio stations once proudly announced "no crap, no rap". Half a century on -- with everyone from classical quartets, gospel legend Mavis Staples, singer Steve Earle and stadium-shakers U2 using scratching and samples -- the tools of hip-hop have crossed genres and styles. Middle-class... > Read more

Everything's Gonna Be All Right, by Naughty By Nature:

June Christy: Something Cool (1955)

10 Jul 2023  |  4 min read  |  1

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)

Fripp and Eno: No Pussyfooting (1973) and Evening Star (1975)

18 Jun 2023  |  4 min read

Context is everything -- or almost everything -- at Essential Elsewhere, these being albums you can return to repeatedly so probably stand outside of time, yet are always born of a specific place and time. Even if they owe nothing to it. And these two albums seem to owe very little to their period. Which is what makes them special. If some Essential Elsewhere albums epitomise their time... > Read more

Fripp and Eno: Evening Star (from the album Evening Star, 1975)

Max Romeo: War Ina Babylon (1976)

17 Mar 2023  |  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

Tom Waits: Orphans; Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards (2006)

20 Feb 2023  |  2 min read  |  1

The American journalist Robert Wilonsky once observed of Tom Waits' music, either you like the sound of a barking dog, or you buy yourself a cat. Those of us who love and admire Waits' work live with the sound of the barking dog. Waits may have often made a beautiful noise, but it was a noise nonetheless. From a bohemian barfly poet with an affection for the Beat Generation, Frank... > Read more

Tom Waits: Road to Peace (from Brawlers)

Miklos Rozsa: The Lost Weekend (1945, soundtrack)

9 Jan 2023  |  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

Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come (1959)

12 Dec 2022  |  4 min read

Once I was asked if I would contribute a page to a monthly magazine on famous musicians I had met. That part was easy, I've met quite a few. But then the person said they would like to run the article with some photographs of me with such stars. "You must have hundreds," he said. I had to disappoint him: I always saw my role as that of a journalist, not a fan there to get photos... > Read more

Ornette Coleman: Lonely Woman

Dr Feelgood, Stupidity (1976)

5 Dec 2022  |  3 min read  |  1

In his superb single Cry Tough of '76, the American singer-guitarist Nils Lofgren (a member of Springsteen's E Street Band since '84) namechecked the British pub-rock outfit Dr Feelgood, showing an awareness few other Americans had. Dr Feelgood, from Canvey Island near Southend, at that time had released three albums in the UK and made a serious live impact for their gritty and energetic... > Read more

Dr Feelgood: I'm a Hog for You Baby

Tony Scott: Music for Zen Meditation (1964)

28 Nov 2022  |  3 min read

Vangelis had a pointed comment about the vacuous New Age music which emerged in the late Seventies and reached epidemic proportions in the Eighties. He said it “gave the opportunity for untalented people to make very boring music”. Many people said much worse about it because this was music which was often mere sound designed not to be listened to but just to offer some... > Read more

A Quivering Leaf, Ask the Winds

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Way Down in the Rust Bucket (1990, released 2021)

7 Nov 2022  |  2 min read  |  3

Elsewhere readers will know we blow very hot and bitterly cold on Neil Young's output. So yet another album from his bottomless archive? Hmm. Let's be honest, there have been so many live and home-recorded albums just in the past few years pulled from dusty archives, most of which don't leave much of a lasting impression beyond their playing time. So when we are enthusiastic it is... > Read more

Over and Over

The Rolling Stones: Live at the El Mocambo 1977 (released 2022)

4 Nov 2022  |  2 min read  |  1

The recent reissue of the Clash's Combat Rock showed how damaging internal tension could be to a band's creativity – it's an indifferent and aimless album by a band pulling itself apart. The Rolling Stones however, who'd had punks snapping at their heel and barking in their faces in 1977 ("No Elvis, Beatles, or The Rolling Stones in 1977" shouted the Clash's Joe Strummer) ,... > Read more

All Down the Line

Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban: Mambo Sinuendo (2003)

3 Sep 2022  |  2 min read  |  4

Of all the Cuban albums which came roaring down the turnpike after Ry Cooder waved the starter's flag with the Grammy-friendly Buena Vista Social Club in '97, the most unexpected came from a group called Cubismo. Their lively self-titled album was a real cracker: vibrant rhythms, great horn section, joyousness and so on. All the hallmarks of classic Cuban pop music. Cubismo, however, were a... > Read more

Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban: Drume Negrita

Jackie McLean: Right Now! (1965)

24 Jul 2022  |  1 min read

The Reid Miles-designed cover of this album by altoist McLean is a Blue Note classic. The hammered-out typewriter font blown up large and the thump of the exclamation point hinted at - and the intense opener Eco confirmed - the tough music within. Altoist McLean, born in New York in 1932, studied with his neighbour Bud Powell and played with Thelonious Monk. By the time he signed to Blue... > Read more


Roky Erickson with Okkervil River: True Love Cast Out All Evil (2010)

17 Jul 2022  |  2 min read  |  3

In 2010, the most recent album by the emotionally damaged Daniel Johnston, Is and Always Was, found his often fragile and shaky acoustic pop placed in the context of a band -- and while it was fine to hear his songs that way (as he wanted) there was also a sense that their nakedness had been sacrificed. That wasn't the case on True Love Cast Out All Evil where Roky Erickson -- the battered... > Read more

Roky Erickson: Please Judge

Paul Weller: Wild Wood (1994)

20 Jun 2022  |  4 min read  |  1

By the time he came to releasing albums under his own name in the early 90s, Paul Weller had already had two separate careers: first in the Jam and then the Style Council. If the Jam had been quintessentially English and took its references from the Who, the Small Faces and Ray Davies as much as Mod culture and the rage of the punk years, the highly-political Style Council which followed... > Read more

Paul Weller: Can You Heal Us (Holy Man)

The Rolling Stones: Exile on Main St (1972, reissued 2010)

16 May 2022  |  4 min read  |  1

Few albums in rock have been so surrounded in dark mythology as this sprawling double album which was the last great gasp of the Rolling Stones. Certainly subsequent albums -- Goats Head Soup, It's Only Rock'n'Roll and Black and Blue particularly -- had their great moments but (aside from Jagger's embrace of New York dance and Richards' forays into reggae) they were mostly retracing... > Read more

Plundered My Soul (1971/2010)

The Kinks, Something Else (1967)

9 May 2022  |  2 min read

Anyone looking for that low door in the wall which allows entry into the distinctive garden of English pop-rock is, almost invariably drawn to the Kinks whose songwriter Ray Davies had a mainline into the Anglo-heartland for almost decade from the mid 60s. Davies' songwriting could sometimes be satirical or cynical, but more often than not he felt for his characters -- and his songs are... > Read more

The Kinks: Situation Vacant

Donna Summer, Bad Girls (1979)

11 Apr 2022  |  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