Essential Elsewhere

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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

Debashish Bhattacharya/Bob Brozman: Mahima (2003)

2 Jul 2018  |  1 min read  |  1

The late American guitarist and raconteur Brozman was one of the unexpected delights at the 2003 Womad, where he appeared with Takashi Hirayasu playing Okinawan folk songs which they took off into the realms of Delta blues, soul funk, punk and boogie. Brozman was one of those irritatingly gifted performers who seemed to acknowledge no boundaries between cultures and styles and immerses... > Read more

Debashish Bhattacharya/Bob Brozman: Maa

Charles Mingus: Thirteen Pictures, The Charles Mingus Anthology (1993)

25 Jun 2018  |  6 min read

Like Duke Ellington -- with whom he is most frequently (and fairly) compared for the vastness, depth and diversity of his recordings -- no single album could stand as emblematic of Charles Mingus, although many are certainly essential. In fact after The Wire magazine offered its primer on Mingus albums in early 2004 (14 albums under his own name, a Columbia Records compilation and a... > Read more

Charles Mingus: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat (1959)

Smokey Robinson: Being With You (1981)

11 Jun 2018  |  4 min read

Michael Jackson sometimes said that Smokey Robinson – 18 years his senior at Motown – was the one who showed him that it was permissible for a male to sing high. When Jackson started at Motown of course he had little choice as he was a pre-teen (just listen to I'll Be There in '70 when he was 12 – but after puberty he continued to develop the top of his range like Smokey... > Read more

If You Wanna Make Love (Come 'Round Here)

The The: Soul Mining (1983)

8 May 2018  |  4 min read  |  2

Although British punk fury exploded during the Labour government of James Callaghan (who succeed another Labour leader Harold Wilson, giving them about five years as an increasingly beleaguered minority government) the anger really became focused when Margaret Thatcher's hard-right Conservatives took over and unemployment rose, the recession bit hard, there were strikes and closures in... > Read more

Uncertain Smile

Public Enemy: It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

7 May 2018  |  3 min read  |  1

By the late Eighties when this announced itself like a live album with stadium sound from the audience and a siren wail, hip-hop had sprung past the sampling innocence and good times of its early period in Stateside inner-city block parties and cheap steals from bits of vinyl. Within the first few minutes of this confrontational, sometimes annoying but often brilliant album, the global... > Read more

Public Enemy: Show 'Em What You Got

Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection (1970)

31 Mar 2018  |  4 min read  |  1

There are some images which are imprinted in my rock’n’roll memory -- one was when the young Elton John played at Auckland’s Western Springs Stadium in October 1971. That’s a long time gone so you have to remember the context: Elton wasn’t the glittery star he later became, in fact he seemed a pretty straight rock’n’roller with only two creditable... > Read more

Elton John: Burn Down the Mission

JPS Experience: Bleeding Star (1993)

26 Feb 2018  |  3 min read  |  3

Because – as Elsewhere's favourite philosopher Ken Nordine put it -- “We all see the world from our own disadvantage point”, – we understand there are those who don't see the world from our perspective. So we can happily accept that in Grant Smithies' excellent book Soundtrack: 118 Great New Zealand Albums – to which Elsewhere contributed some pieces... > Read more


Charles Lloyd: Lift Every Voice (2002)

13 Nov 2017  |  4 min read  |  2

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

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