Essential Elsewhere

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The Replacements: Tim (1985)

5 Dec 2020  |  2 min read  |  1

The swaggering, often drunk Replacements hold such a firm place in many people's affections that singling out just one of their eight studio albums for attention is bound to irritate someone. Maybe many someones. But this ragged outing was their last with the original line-up and first for a major label, Seymour Stein's Sire, which made them labelmates with the Ramones, and Tommy Ramone... > Read more

The Replacements: Swingin Party

Paul and Linda McCartney: Ram (1971)

10 Aug 2020  |  5 min read  |  2

Sir James Paul McCartney has released around 50 albums under his own name  -- or that of Wings, with his late wife Linda, or under some other nom de disque -- since the break-up of the Beatles in 1970. That's about an album a year, and even if we take out live releases or compilations, his strike rate is astonishingly high -- although diminishing sales returns... > Read more

Paul and Linda McCartney: Back Seat of My Car

Various Artists: Take Me to the River; A Southern Soul Story 1961 - 1977 (2009 compilation)

31 Jul 2020  |  4 min read  |  1

In early 2009 at the Mojo Honours List celebrations, Yoko Ono and Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top flashed peace signs together, White Lies were acclaimed as the breakthrough act of the moment and the very late Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy was the recipient of the Icon Award. There was also an award for the best compilation of the previous year. Among the contenders were Dark Was the Night, a... > Read more

Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone, by Johnny Taylor

Malouma; Nour/Light (2007)

13 Jul 2020  |  1 min read  |  1

The shrink-wrap that this exceptional album came in provided the clue: "blues woman mauritanienne, transcende les frontieres musicales". And Amen -- or more correctly Allahu Akbar -- to all that. Malouma wasn't "blues" in the same way that say Etran Finatawa or Tinariwen were on a first encounter around the same time. If you were desperately looking for a connection... > Read more

Malouma: Nebine

Bunny Wailer: Blackheart Man (1976)

11 Jun 2020  |  3 min read

When the Wailers – Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Neville “Bunny” Livingston – split in 1974, each went on independent but obviously interrelated paths. Marley became the first Third World superstar and the global figurehead of reggae, Rastafarianism and ghetto politics, and Tosh remained a rebellious spirit. Although he flirted with mainstream success... > Read more


Matthew Sweet: Girlfriend (1991)

18 May 2020  |  3 min read  |  5

Bitter irony is how Matthew Sweet's small but devoted following might describe his profile and measure of success in the past decade. This gifted singer-songwriter, power-pop rocker and fine interpreter of a lyric gathered kudos for the Under the Covers albums he did with former Bangle Susanna Hoffs. Yes, it's good to know he's picking up change and the albums aren't without interest --... > Read more

Matthew Sweet: I've Been Waiting

John Prine: The Missing Years (1991)

29 Mar 2020  |  6 min read  |  2

Around the time in the early 90s when he went from cult figure to frontline, American singer-songwriter John Prine got a nice kiss-off line to his entry in the Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music: “His live solo act is spellbinding,” the final sentence of his brief career synopsis stated baldly. Well, he’d had plenty of years to get it right. For a couple of decades... > Read more

John Prine: Jesus, The Missing Years

Lucinda Williams: West (2007)

6 Jan 2020  |  2 min read

Although saturated in the sadness which had affected her in the years before this album's recording -- the break-up of a relationship, the death of her mother -- it would be unwise to presume that everything on West had turned on those events: Williams is too smart and too poetic a writer to be quite that literal. That said, she concedes the opener Are You Alright? was directed to her... > Read more

Lucinda Williams: Come On

R.E.M.: Murmur (1983)

11 Nov 2019  |  4 min read  |  1

R.E.M. didn't invent the genre known as alt.rock or give their music that name, but they – along with Violent Femmes and others in the early Eighties -- came to epitomise it at a time when the musical landscape was awash with studio polished songs by Hall and Oates (Maneater), Michael Jackson (Billie Jean, Beat It), David Bowie (Let's Dance) and the Police (who were everywhere). In... > Read more

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Coincidence and Likely Stories (1992)

7 Oct 2019  |  1 min read  |  1

There are three distinct but overlapping public faces of the great Native American singer/songwriter Buffy Sainte-MarieSainte-Marie: the woman who wrote and sang Universal Soldier and the theme to the film Soldier Blue in the Sixties; the permanent cast member of Sesame Street between '76 and '81; and a lifelong activist in the Native American movement. But there was always much more to... > Read more

The Big Ones Get Away

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: The Ultimate Collection (1998 compilation)

17 Jun 2019  |  4 min read

Before the Supremes overtook them – on the charts and in Berry Gordy's affections – Martha Reeves and the Vandellas were the seminal girl group on Gordy's emerging Motown label out of Detroit. In '63 they had three singles on the US charts: Come and Get These Memories, Heatwave which went top 5 on the main charts and to the top of the R'n'B charts, and Quicksand which was... > Read more

My Bloody Valentine: Loveless (1991)

25 Mar 2019  |  2 min read

Some years ago at the invitation of JB Hi-Fi, Elsewhere was invited to create a list of 101 albums of the rock era for The Cornerstone Collection, a small format magazine given away through their stores. It was an enjoyable exercise but challenging because these weren't just my favourite albums – otherwise the list would have included Bob Seger, Dwight Twilley, left-field Neil Young... > Read more

I Only Said

Andrew Hill: Point of Departure (1965)

4 Mar 2019  |  3 min read

Blue Note's periodic reissue of its extensive catalogue ensures that it isn't too difficult to find their greatest albums – this being one of them – but with Point of Departure's reissue on vinyl (in late 2018, readily available on expanded CD with three alternate takes) we get the opportunity to point to it once more. In some ways it is the archetypal Blue Note album: cover... > Read more


Janet Jackson: Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

14 Jan 2019  |  2 min read

In February 2019, Janet Jackson – alongside Stevie Nicks as a solo artist, Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music, Def Leppard and the Zombies – will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an accolade long the preserve of white male guitar-rock artists. The irony of that is if you look at who is up for single and album of the year at the Grammy's: it is predominantly black... > Read more

Black Cat

Ennio Morricone: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)

19 Nov 2018  |  2 min read

The relationship between some movie directors and composers is so close that it is hard to imagine certain films without their soundtracks: Hitchcock had Bernard Herrmann's gripping scores for Psycho and North by Northwest and others; Werner Herzog with the German avant-rock band Popul Vuh providing the eerie music to Aguirre, Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo; and Sergio Leone's early spaghetti... > Read more

Ennio Morricone: La Carrozza dei Fanstasmi (Carriage of the Spirits)

XTC: Skylarking (1986)

5 Nov 2018  |  4 min read

Some time in the late Nineties my phone rang at the New Zealand Herald where I was a senior feature writer with specific interests and responsibilities in music. The young woman at the other end was from a record company with an interview request and seemed nervous, not because I ever made their lives particularly difficult but as the biggest paper in the country we would decline a chat... > Read more

David Sylvian: Gone to Earth (1986)

3 Sep 2018  |  3 min read  |  1

You never know quite how people are going to turn out: they find bodies under the floorboards in the house of that polite boy next door, the rebel girl in school becomes a nun, and David Sylvian . . . .? When David Sylvian (born David Batt in Kent, 1958) first appeared on the music scene it was as a member of the glam rock band Japan and it was said he'd adapted his surname from Sylvain... > Read more

David Sylvian: River Man

The Church: Priest = Aura (1992)

27 Aug 2018  |  4 min read  |  1

With the luxury of time, lowered expectation and some haze-inducing drugs, a kind of sublime, relaxed psychedelia can be the happy result.  As in the case of this album by one of Australia‘s finest bands of the Eighties and Nineties. When the Church emerged out of Canberra in the early Eighties they had some of the guitar jangle and post-punk Petty-cum-Byrds which later... > Read more

The Church: Ripple

Dave Brubeck: Indian Summer (2007)

23 Jul 2018  |  3 min read

In 2007 when he was 86, the great pianist-composer Dave Brubeck was honoured as a Living Jazz Legend at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC and received a standing ovation when he and Wynton Marsalis performed These Foolish Things. That was on a Saturday, the following morning he flew to Texas and that night sat on a bed in his hotel but there was no mattress where it could have been and a... > Read more

I'm Alone

Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (1967)

8 Jul 2018  |  5 min read  |  1

There are of course many albums by Bob Dylan which would immediately go into an Essential Elsewhere list: All of those in that remarkable 18-months recorded between January 1965 and July 1966 (Bringing It Al Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and the double album Blonde on Blonde); Blood on the Tracks ('74), “Love and Theft” and Modern Times in the early 2000s which signalled a new and... > Read more

All Along the Watchtower