From the Vaults

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Aretha Franklin: Don't Play That Song For Me (1970)

22 Nov 2021  |  1 min read  |  1

It's a well established fact that some songs write themselves into our autobiographies: we remember our first love by our favourite song, can be taken back to exactly where we were and who we were with when a certain piece of music plays, songs conjure up time and place . . . Talkin' 'bout them Night Moves. The Classic Hits radio format plays on this fact, and rock'n'roll has become a... > Read more

Aretha Franklin: Don't Play That Song For Me

Peg Leg Howell: Please Ma'am (1928)

19 Nov 2021  |  <1 min read

Just as a lot of blues artists were “Blind” and there were a few “Peg Leg” characters out there. Georgia-born Josh Howell got his nickname after he lost a leg when he was shot by his brother-in-law. He'd already established a reputation as an excellent finger-picker but now, unable to work on the farm, he moved to Atlanta and became a street performer before he began... > Read more

The Louvin Brothers: Knoxville Girl (1956)

15 Nov 2021  |  <1 min read  |  1

In his autobiography Satan is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers, Charlie Louvin – who died in 2011 at 83, shortly after its competition – explains this traditional murder ballad. He said that he and his brother Ida (older, a violent alcoholic ladies man) had been performing this since they were kids on the farm in Alabama in the Thirties. “In the old country it... > Read more

Thin Lizzy: Whiskey in the Jar (1973)

8 Nov 2021  |  4 min read

By the time Thin Lizzy came to record their breakthrough single Whiskey in the Jar the band's singer/bassist Phil Lynott had been through half a dozen groups and Lizzy had recorded an EP and two unsuccessful albums. Even after the success of Whiskey they were a band in trouble: their next single crashed, they had line-up changes (guitarist Eric Bell bailing for the sake of his health, the... > Read more

Trio: Da Da Da (1982)

1 Nov 2021  |  <1 min read

The Eighties were no more weird than any other decade, although if you look at what sat around this one-off hit single by a German group produced by Klaus Voorman, who may have played in the band, you'd be forgiven for thinking that . . .  Around this time Frank and Moon Unit Zappa had a hit with Valley Girls, millions were buying Jane Fonda workout videos, Nancy Reagan was telling... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Clean Cut Kid (1983)

25 Oct 2021  |  1 min read

When he was recording the Infidels album with Mark Knopfler and Mick Taylor on guitars, Sly'n'Robbie (drums and bass) and Dire Straits keyboard player, Bob Dylan recorded this embittered rocker which has elements of a flip on Chuck Berry's celebration of American youth. Here the all-American boy is warped by his culture. “He's on the baseball team, he's in the... > Read more

Ray Charles: You Don't Know Me (1962)

18 Oct 2021  |  1 min read

The world is awash with sad songs, but most along the lines of “I love you/I miss you/come back” are very obvious and mostly only affect the listener going through something similar. The more subtle sad songs are those which invite empathy and take you to a place in outside of the obvious sentimentality. In Janis Ian's beautiful At Seventeen and the Veils' Us Godless... > Read more

Dinah Washington: Evil Gal Blues (1943)

11 Oct 2021  |  <1 min read

Written by Lionel Hampton and Leonard Feather, Evil Gal Blues perfectly captured the independent spirit of black women at the time, and was the first recording by Dinah Washington and started her short career. She was 19 when she sang this and died just 20 years later of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. In those two decades she recorded mainstream pop hits, jazz classics,... > Read more

The Boomtown Rats: I Don't Like Mondays (1979)

4 Oct 2021  |  2 min read

Many of us don't like Mondays, but we don't all . . . In 1979, Bob Geldof of Ireland's Boomtown Rats read about the 16-year old American girl Brenda Ann Spencer in San Diego who fired at a children's playground killing two adults and injuring eight children. She used the rifle her father had given her. When asked why she did it she said, "I don't like Mondays. This... > Read more

Sam Cooke: Feel It, Don't Fight It (1963)

27 Sep 2021  |  <1 min read

Although the great Sam Cooke is best remembered by radio programmers for smooth pop hits (Cupid, You Send Me, Bring It On Home To Me, Wonderful World) and his posthumous classic A Change is Gonna Come, he could also deliver a feisty rock'n'soul review show. But with his good looks and mainstream success, that aspect of style was often downplayed by his management and record company people.... > Read more

George Harrison: Horse to Water (2001)

20 Sep 2021  |  1 min read

As with many people who have a religion, faith or some kind of mainline on what they believe to be the truth, George Harrison wasn't short of moralising and a bit of finger-pointing with warnings. At their best (early in his solo career) his lyrics were measured but later on the dogma and judging seemed to emerge more. In this, the final song he recorded when he knew he was going to... > Read more

John Cale: Mercenaries (1980)

13 Sep 2021  |  1 min read

Born of its political era and John Cale's peculiarly damaged consciousness at the time, this menacing live recording captures an embittered spirit, a rare rage and a grim humour. As Mikal Gilmore noted in Rolling Stone at the time, the Sabotage/Live album this comes from is "without apology, and more importantly, without ideology, something of a rough and ready homage to the business... > Read more

(from vinyl, some enjoyale surface noise and pops)

The Pleasers: Move It (1964)

5 Sep 2021  |  2 min read

Cliff Richard and the Shadows' Move It of 1958 was widely considered by many (the young John Lennon among them) to be the first and most authentic British rock'n'roll hit. But when placed alongside this ripping version it sounds positively tame. The Pleasers lead by Roger Skinner – who had moved through skiffle and rock'n'roll into Merseybeat – were very much right... > Read more

Pete Shelley: Think For Yourself (2012)

29 Aug 2021  |  1 min read  |  1

George Harrison's Think For Yourself on the Beatles' Rubber Soul in '65 was very interesting for a number of reasons. First it was another sign that Harrison was getting a few more songs through the Lennon-McCartney net (on the album he also had If I Needed Someone) but also that he had a pretty dyspeptic nature. His first song on a Beatles album had been Don't Bother Me (on With the... > Read more

The Beatles: Revolution Take 20, 10 minutes long (1968)

25 Aug 2021  |  <1 min read

This 10 minute version of the John Lennon's Revolution ended up being cut up into the acoustic version of Revolution on The White Album and some of the last part became part of the sonic tapestry of Revolution 9. Whether it would have worked as it stands here on that album is open to debate, but it certainly would have pushed the boundaries of tolerance for some. An interesting... > Read more

Vera Lynn: Everybody's Talkin' (1970)

22 Aug 2021  |  <1 min read  |  1

Although knows as "the Forces' Sweeheart" for her songs during the Second World War, the great Vera Lynn -- who died in 2020 at age 103 -- subsequently had a successful career with hits in the Fifties and Sixties (although her Rock'n'Roll Party Hits album might not have been the strongest of ideas). In 1970 she released the album Hits of the 60's: My Way and although you might... > Read more

George Harrison: My Sweet Lord 2000 (2001)

15 Aug 2021  |  <1 min read  |  2

With the 50th anniversary edition of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass album remixed and re-released (51 years after its original release) in a slightly less Spectorised edition, it's worth remembering we have passed this way before. A decade ago the album was reissued on limited edition vinyl which replicated the original three-LP set. On the 30thanniversary of... > Read more

Tony and the Initials: Taboo (1961)

9 Aug 2021  |  1 min read

It's easy to forget just how popular guitar instrumentals were in the years before the Beatles, a band which did their own (Cry for a Shadow) when they got a chance to record in Hamburg. There were many threads to the instrumental genre also: surf, country, space-themed (Telstar leading the way) and of course ballads. This one by Tony Eagleton and his band doesn't easily conform to any... > Read more

Helen Reddy: Angie Baby (1974)

26 Jul 2021  |  1 min read

The damn fine Australian singer Helen Reddy could be convincingly MOR (I Don't Know How to Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar), kinda country (Delta Dawn) and standing proud (I Am Woman). But this song was just downright weird. It's one part odd fantasy and one part escapism then it gets very strange when the neighbour boy comes around and . . . Well, as the song says “it's... > Read more

The Honeycombs: Have I The Right (1964)

19 Jul 2021  |  1 min read  |  3

In the Beatpop boom which followed the Beatles, there were any number of great one-off hits (Concrete and Clay by Unit 4 Plus Two, and Wake Up My Mind by the Ugly's spring to mind). But few had less a one-off success and promise unfulfilled than the Honeycombs. Their simplistic but energetic Have I the Right was no less interesting -- better in fact -- than the tub-thumpy pop of the... > Read more