Essential Elsewhere

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Black Sabbath, Paranoid (1970)

11 Sep 2008  |  4 min read  |  1

There has always been an enjoyable if largely pointless debate about just who invented heavy metal: with Link Wray with The Rumble in ’58 or the Beatles with Helter Skelter a decade later? Blue Cheer for their classic album Vincebus Eruptum of ‘68? Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple? The answer is obvious, it really doesn’t matter. The fact is that heavy metal -- which a Creem... > Read more

Black Sabbath: Iron Man

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bayou Country (1969)

1 Sep 2008  |  3 min read

Consider the landscape of rock in 1969, the year of Woodstock and flower power. The big names were Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead; Led Zeppelin had arrived with two thumping albums; there were supergroups (Blind Faith, CSN&Young) and Jimi Hendrix was channelling lightning. Radio had moved to playing album tracks, many long and sprawling, and it wasn’t uncommon for an... > Read more

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Proud Mary

Liz Phair: Exile in Guyville (1993)

20 Aug 2008  |  3 min read

Tribute albums are far from uncommon these days. In fact when you see there are tributes to a band that never existed (The Rutles) and The Muppet Show you could argue this one has run its course. But still they come. Tribute albums to albums are rather more rare -- although there was the all-star collision (Celine, Rod, Faith Hill) on Tapestry Revisited which even had exactly the same... > Read more

Liz Phair: Glory

Genesis: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)

20 Aug 2008  |  5 min read

While the jury will probably always be out on what was the first concept album in popular music -- a strong case has been made for Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours of 1955 -- the critical consensus about the first concept album in rock has formed around the Pretty Things’ SF Sorrow (’68) which predated the Who’s Tommy by a few months. Of course the Who had previously... > Read more

Genesis: The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging

Various: Sideways (2007)

10 Jun 2008  |  3 min read

From Loxene Golden Disc Award albums in the 60s through the Class of 81 and the Dunedin Double (82), and the South Auckland Proud collection of 94, the breadth and texture of Kiwi music has often been represented on compilations. And, on reflection, those mentioned also defined their period. The Sideways collection of electronica, bossa-lounge, ambient grooves, scratching and charming... > Read more

SJD: Gigawati

Jacques Brel, Infiniment (2004 compilation)

20 Apr 2008  |  4 min read

Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in ... Well, back in his hometown of Brussels, funnily enough. This is odd because Brel (1929-78) was ambivalent about Brussels. "Everyone has to come from somewhere," he would sardonically remark. And Brussels has seemed a bit iffy about him. The great singer-songwriter, who made his home in Paris, called one of his daughters... > Read more

Jacques Brel: L'amour est mort

Paul Weller, Wild Wood (1994)

10 Nov 2007  |  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)

Joni Mitchell, Blue (1971)

24 Oct 2007  |  4 min read  |  1

In his 2006 book The Seventies -- excellent digressive but interlocked essays about the cultural and social movements of that volatile decade -- the London-based writer Howard Sounes namechecks singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell any number of times.As he should. Mitchell's albums helped define the Californian singer-songwriter movement which emerged at the tail end of the 60s and introduced the... > Read more

Joni Mitchell: Carey

Motian/Lovano/Frisell; Time and Time Again (2007)

19 Aug 2007  |  4 min read

Because jazz is -- as the critic Leonard Feather noted in the closing overs of the last millennium -- the classical music of the 20th century, in it you can hear the human condition reflected. Or in other words, each generation creates the jazz it requires. In the post-war period things adopted a cooler and more sophisticated mood (less dancing, more sitting around thinking, smoking and... > Read more

Motianj/Frisell/Lovano: Wednesday

Brian Eno, Before And After Science (1977)

25 Jun 2007  |  1 min read

Of the many dozens of diverse albums by Brian Eno -- who flared onto the music scene for the first two glam-louche Roxy Music albums -- this is the best window into his remarkable career. As a producer he was pivotal in the work of David Bowie, Devo, Talking Heads, U2 among many others. But he also created seminal albums of ambient music (music as ignorable as it is enjoyable), helmed his... > Read more

Brian Eno: Here He Comes

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

25 Jun 2007  |  3 min read

Recently 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... > Read more

Ornette Coleman: Lonely Woman