Essential Elsewhere

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

18 Nov 2010  |  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)

The Master Musicians of Jajouka: Brian Jones presents The Pipes of Pan at Jajouka (1971)

1 Nov 2010  |  3 min read

Some albums have auspicious beginings and a messy legacy. So it is with this album recorded in Morocco in 1968 by Brian Jones, then of the Rolling Stones. By the time the album was released Jones had been dead a year -- he drowned a year after his trip to Morocco and was no longer a Stone -- and a shadow was cast over its mesmerising music. When it was reissued in '95 by Point Music it... > Read more

The Master Musicians of Jajouka: Take Me With You My Darling, Take Me With You

Matthew Sweet: Girlfriend (1991)

25 Oct 2010  |  3 min read  |  5

Bitter irony is how Matthew Sweet's small but devoted following might describe his recent profile and measure of success: this gifted singer-songwriter, power-pop rocker and fine interpreter of a lyric is currently gathering kudos for the Under the Covers albums he has been doing with former Bangle Susanna Hoffs. Yes, it's good to know he's picking up change and the albums aren't without... > Read more

Matthew Sweet: I've Been Waiting

The Rolling Stones, The Unstoppable Stones (1965)

23 Oct 2010  |  3 min read  |  1

The early albums by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones appeared in different versions in Britain and the States. New Zealand being a colony thankfully got the UK versions for the most part, just as the gods intended. But in some instances we got something different from both -- and in this case, better. The album The Unstoppable Stones only ever appeared in Australia and New Zealand... > Read more

The Rolling Stones: You Can't Catch Me

King Sunny Ade: Synchro System (1983)

18 Oct 2010  |  2 min read

Given the long (and often shameful) history Britain has had with various parts of Africa from colonial times, it comes as a surprise that this album -- from 1983 no less -- was the first pop album to be recorded by an African musician in London. In the early Eighties there was surge of interest by the UK music press in certain African artists, notably Fela Anikulapo Kuti from Nigeria whose... > Read more

King Sunny Ade: Mo Ti Mo

The Kinks, Something Else (1967)

4 Oct 2010  |  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 very... > Read more

The Kinks: Situation Vacant

Joe Ely: Live at Antones (2000)

27 Sep 2010  |  3 min read

After Joe Strummer's terrific showing at the Big Day Out in 2000, albums by his old band the Clash got a fair thrashing round my way, especially their sprawling three-album set from 1980, Sandinista! Over six sides of vinyl, they dragged together garage-trash rock and dub reggae, power pop and rockabilly, and most points in between. Strummer said he hoped people would just bang... > Read more

Joe Ely: Gallo del Cielo

The Replacements: Tim (1985)

13 Sep 2010  |  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

Neil Young: On the Beach (1974)

11 Sep 2010  |  3 min read  |  2

By consensus the idealism of the 60s was dealt two fatal blows in late '69: the first in August when the victims of Charles Manson's murderous family started turning up in flash Hollywood homes; then at the Rolling Stones' free concert at Altamont in December when Hells Angels took control of the crowd by means of billiard cues and blades. In a world of peace, flowers and waterbeds the bad... > Read more

Neil Young: Revolution Blues

Paul and Linda McCartney, Ram (1971)

11 Sep 2010  |  5 min read  |  1

Sir James Paul McCartney has released around 40 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

Frank Sinatra: In the Wee Small Hours (1955)

9 Sep 2010  |  5 min read  |  1

Some may remember it, that strange time when we were told that Tony Bennett was hip with the grunge crowd. It seemed unlikely (I doubted it) but it at least gave me the opportunity to interview him and he was, of course, positively charming as you might have expected. Quite why anyone would prefer Tony Bennett over Frank Sinatra was always the question, especially the so-called dissenting... > Read more

Frank Sinatra: Ill Wind

Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection (1970)

2 Sep 2010  |  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

John Martyn: Solid Air (1973)

1 Sep 2010  |  2 min read  |  1

When the great British singer-songwriter John Martyn died in January 2009 there was initially very little media coverage -- and then people realised the significance of this innovative and creative artist whose work had rapidly outgrown its folk origins in the late Sixties. Martyn's life was undeniably messy -- he was self-destructive, addicted to alcohol and drugs, depressive, erratic and... > Read more

John Martyn: I'd Rather Be the Devil (album version)

U2: Achtung Baby (1991); Zooropa (1993)

22 Aug 2010  |  6 min read  |  2

Bono from U2 tells a good story. In fact Bono has a lot of good stories but this one is revealing . . . It seems that backstage at some gig in the mid Eighties Bob Dylan was playing an acoustic guitar and handed it to him. Dylan asked him to play one their songs. Bono said he realised in that moment that they didn’t have any real “songs”. They had plenty of stadium-shaking... > Read more

U2: The Fly (from Achtung Baby)

Elvis Presley, The Memphis Record (1969)

17 Aug 2010  |  3 min read

The consensus on Elvis Presley's genius among rock critics settles on two periods: his Sun Studio days in the mid 50s when he fused black blues and white country, and his famous '68 television special when he appeared wrapped in leathers for a menacing and sweaty performance which proved, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he still had the magic. Go beyond critics however and... > Read more

Elvis Presley: Long Black Limousine

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

2 Aug 2010  |  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 - the first "pair" of Essential Elsewhere albums -- seem to owe very little to their period. Which is what makes them very,... > Read more

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

Dr Feelgood, Stupidity (1976)

19 Jul 2010  |  3 min read

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

David Sylvian: Gone to Earth (1986)

7 Jul 2010  |  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 Ramones: Hey! Ho! Let's Go: Ramones Anthology (1999)

1 Jun 2010  |  4 min read  |  1

Like many of my generation, I can remember exactly where I was when JFK, RFK and John Lennon were shot. And when Kurt Cobain proved, contrary to what he sang, he did have a gun. But with as much clarity I can also remember when I first heard the Ramones’ Sheena is a Punk Rocker. It came on a tape from a friend in London and I was driving when this blast of wonderful noise... > Read more

Sheena is a Punk Rocker

Various Artists: The History of Rhythm and Blues 1952-1957 (2010 collection)

24 May 2010  |  3 min read  |  1

The first two volumes in this 4-CD series which traces the history of old style r'n'b have already been acclaimed at Elsewhere here and here respectively. These multi-genre, colour-blind, cross-label and highly inclusive collections not only cherry pick the most significant artists and songs in the growth of r'n'b but also intelligently include extensive selections from other genres (the... > Read more

Ruth Brown: Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean (live in '56)