Essential Elsewhere

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Small Faces: Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake (1968)

26 Nov 2012  |  2 min read  |  1

With Small Faces' brief catalogue of albums now remastered and reissued, their growth towards Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake -- famously in a round cover like a tobacco tin and with panels that opened out -- can now be traced to this, their finest moment. Singer/writer/guitarist Stevie Marriott was one the great British r'n'b singers and the band of singers/writers Ronnie Lane and keyboard... > Read more

Afterglow (US stereo mix)

Dennis Wilson: Pacific Ocean Blue (1977)

8 Sep 2012  |  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

Blue Cheer: Vincebus Eruptum (1968)

23 Aug 2012  |  2 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 (the... > Read more

Blue Cheer: Summertime Blues

Little Richard: Here's Little Richard (1957)

20 Aug 2012  |  4 min read  |  1

Among John Lennon's distinctive and funny drawings is a cartoon panel from '79 of him out walking with his son Sean. They encounter a character on the street who tells him "I've been getting in to jazz, man!". Lennon's witheringly funny reply is, "I've been trying to avoid it all my life". In his musical taste at least, Lennon was remarkably consistent. When he said... > Read more

Ready Teddy

Albert King: Born Under a Bad Sign (1967)

23 Jul 2012  |  3 min read

By the time Albert King started recording the music which would appear as his seminal Born Under a Bad Sign album, he'd been around and seen around for so long he'd reached a point – at age 43 – where he knew who he was and what his sound had to be. King's story until these sessions also mirrored the progress of the blues from its acoustic rural origins in the South to the... > Read more

The Hunter

Pere Ubu, The Modern Dance (1978)

14 Jul 2012  |  3 min read  |  1

It has become fashionable lately to speak of “post-rock” and cite bands such as Tortoise, Sigur Ros and Explosions in the Sky as being groups which use the tools of rock, but create music that isn’t identifiably within the rock genre. Of course nothing comes from nothing and there may just be precedents for post-rock -- such as Pere Ubu out of Cleveland who, in the mid... > Read more

Chinese Radiation

Downliners Sect: The Sect (1964)

24 Jun 2012  |  3 min read

Some people live interesting lives . . . but when it comes time to check out their timing is appalling: the author Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, The Doors of Perception) died the same day John F Kennedy was shot (you can guess who got the greater coverage) and Dean Martin checked out on Christmas Day which isn’t the best time to get a nice obituary. Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy also... > Read more

Downliners Sect: Be a Sect Maniac

Jon Hassell: Dream Theory in Malaya (1981)

30 May 2012  |  2 min read

When I imported this album in 1981 it was on the basis of faith: faith that the Melody Maker writer who had hailed it was on the money, that Brian Eno who appeared as a collaborator and on whose EG Music imprint it appeared was right, that it would be as good as their previous collaboration, and that it would arrive intact. My faith was vindicated on all counts and the album has proved a... > Read more

Jon Hassell

Merle Haggard: If I Could Only Fly (2000)

14 May 2012  |  2 min read

At the time of this writing in mid 2012, Merle Haggard is 73 and actually, against every preconception we might have about his tough, booze-afflicted life and hard travelling -- he' still looking pretty good. At least, when he appeared at the White House in 2010 to pick yet another well-deserved honour he scrubbed up pretty well. Stories about Haggard are legion and legendary -- we... > Read more

Crazy Moon

T.Rex: Electric Warrior (1971)

7 May 2012  |  2 min read  |  2

By the time of the Tanx album in 1973, things were starting to go sour for T.Rex's frontman Marc Bolan. He hadn't cared when his old champion John Peel had dismissed his glam pop for its shallowness, or that Bowie and others were starting to snap at his heels. He was in fact oblivious to it all, he was far too busy being the star he always wanted to be. So he perhaps never noticed that the... > Read more

T.Rex: Planet Queen

This Heat: This Heat (1979)

29 Apr 2012  |  4 min read

Understandably, many hail the Sixties as the greatest ever decade for popular music: the undeniable brilliance of the Beatles and what they spawned on both sides of the Atlantic, not to mention globally; the whole shift from pop to rock, and from singles to albums, which freed minds and arses that followed; the innovations of Hendrix, Cream and Pink Floyd; Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa; the... > Read more

This Heat: The Fall of Saigon

Burning Spear, Marcus Garvey/Garvey's Ghost (1975)

25 Feb 2012  |  2 min read  |  1

In Ted Bafaloukos' '78 film Rockers -- a lightweight comedy but excellent quasi-doco about the world of Jamaican music with a stunning cast of reggae luminaries -- there are any number of remarkable scenes: the lead character is a drummer (played by Leroy "Horsemouth" Brown) who puts a down-payment on a motorbike with the idea of selling cheap records into shops all over the island.... > Read more

Burning Spear: Slavery Days

Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble: Mnemosyne (1999)

2 Feb 2012  |  2 min read


When jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek teamed with the classical vocal group the Hilliard Ensemble for the warm yet glacial holy minimalism of Officium in 1994, not even ECM label boss Manfred Eicher - whose idea it was - could have predicted its crossover success. It became the banner album in ECM's already excellent 10-year-old label for contemporary classical recordings, ECM New... > Read more

Remember Me My Dear

Nick Lowe: Dig My Mood (1998)

16 Jan 2012  |  3 min read

It is coming up close to two decades since Nick Lowe -- once a laddish and witty figure in British rock in the immediate post-punk days -- decided to take the long view on his career and reposition himself. As he told Elsewhere late last year, “Back when I first got noticed in the Seventies it was for being rather irreverent and popping bubbles, and I was a bit cheeky. A certain... > Read more

You Inspire Me

Paul Revere and the Raiders: Greatest Hits (1967)

8 Nov 2011  |  4 min read

Yes, a greatest hits collection does look a bit like cheating for an Essential Elsewhere album. But wait, there’s a good reason. Back in the mid-Sixties after the Beatles breakthrough when groups were popping up everywhere from Seattle to Sheffield, few record companies -- let alone the bands themselves -- expected they might make more than a single. So if a band cracked a hit it... > Read more

Paul Revere and the Raiders: Just Like Me (1965)

Peter Gabriel: Peter Gabriel (1980)

15 Aug 2011  |  6 min read

When Peter Gabriel released his third solo album -- the third to simply be entitled "Peter Gabriel" although widely known as Melt after its Hipgnosis-designed cover image -- it was met with almost unanimous and unequivocal approval. Even the notoriously hard to please punk and raw rock advocate Nick Kent, writing in NME, hailed "the sheer ferocious power of conceit, vision... > Read more

And Through the Wire

Various: Get a Haircut compilation (2007)

7 Aug 2011  |  3 min read

Back in the mid Sixties Auckland’s Fair Sect Plus One -- originally an all-girl band called the Fair Sect who adopted the new name with the arrival of their male drummer -- released a terrific single with a raging bagpipe solo. At least I think it was terrific, I can’t say for certain. I only heard it once -- on a transistor radio in Allan Parson’s car while careering... > Read more

Social End Product

Magazine: Real Life (1978)

1 Aug 2011  |  3 min read

If there was a godfather of the Manchester scene in the Eighties there's a good case to be made that it wasn't Tony Wilson (who founded the Hacienda and Factory Records) but that it was Howard Devoto, singer and songwriter for Magazine, the band he formed in 1977. In that crucial year Devoto promoted the two local concerts by the Sex Pistols (poorly attended but hugely influential) and had... > Read more

Shot by Both Sides (single version)

Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban: Mambo Sinuendo (2003)

11 Jul 2011  |  2 min read  |  2

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

Can, Tago Mago (1971)

2 Jul 2011  |  3 min read  |  2

Only a rare band could count among its admirers and proselytisers the young Johnny Rotten, David Bowie and Brian Eno, eccentric UK rocker Julian Cope, and Bobby Gillespie of Primal Scream. Oh, and various contemporary classical composers, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, and post-hippie rock fans. But then, Can from Germany were a rare band indeed. Because the albums recorded in... > Read more

Oh Yeah