From the Vaults

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Nils Lofgren: Valentine (1991)

14 Feb 2019  |  1 min read  |  2

Some would say Nils Lofgren never fulfilled his early promise. Certainly his band Grin were pretty good but then he scored with a couple of excellent solo albums. His self-titled album in '75 was terrific and contained his plea to an increasingly drug-abusing Keith Richards in Keith Don't Go, a fine version of the Goffin-King classic Goin' Back and flash originals such as If I Say It It's So,... > Read more

Hank Williams: The Funeral (1952)

11 Feb 2019  |  1 min read

The great country singer Hank Williams died a rock'n'roll death, in the back of a car from a heart attack brought on by too much booze and too many pills somewhere between gigs. They don't write endings much better than that. Unfortunately as with most such deaths, it came far to early. He was only 29. Williams' music provided a cornerstone for country music in his barndance songs (Hey... > Read more

The Wedge: So Long Marianne (1969)

4 Feb 2019  |  <1 min read

Two decades before Straitjacket Fits did their version of this Leonard Cohen classic – which ended up as the b-side to their single Hail and on their Hail album – Wellington's The Wedge had a big horny crack at it. Produced by the very reputable Alan Galbraith (formerly of Sounds Unlimited and who became an in-house producer at EMI), the Wedge had some of the cream of the... > Read more

Candi Staton: I'm Just a Prisoner of Your Good Lovin' (1969)

28 Jan 2019  |  <1 min read

Now in her late 70s, the great soul and gospel singer Candi Staton was until recently still out there touring and speaking about the healing power of the gospel spirit. Back in the day, her voice was on dance and disco hits also (see below for a classic disco-era hit), but in the Sixties she was a young and often raunchy soul sister whose first r'n'b hit out of the Fame Studios in... > Read more

Millie Jackson: Never Change Lovers in the Middle of the Night (1978)

21 Jan 2019  |  1 min read

Here is a guess, most people only know of soul-funk singer Millie Jackson for one album cover. Maybe a few know of her for album titles like Feelin' Bitchy, Live and Uncensored, For Men Only, Live and Outrageous Rated XXX and so on. Her last album was in 2001 as far as I can tell and it was Not For Church Folk! and the lead-off track was Butt-A-Cize. Yes, Millie Jackson was pretty... > Read more

Buddy Holly: Blue Days Black Nights (1956)

14 Jan 2019  |  1 min read

In the year before he became famous with the hit That'll Be the Day in mid '57, Buddy Holly – who was killed in that plane crash 60 years ago in February – unsuccessfully recorded a number of songs in Nashville. Signed to record deal he and his ring-in band went to that hub of conservative country to try to record music which was part-country but influenced by the rise of Elvis... > Read more

Jimi Hendrix: Little Drummer Boy/Silent Night/Auld Lang Syne (1969)

24 Dec 2018  |  <1 min read  |  1

"And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?" Time for reflection amidst (hopefully) enjoying family and friends . . . and we will all do that in our own way. Jimi did it this way. This was part of some long studio jamming, the first two songs here were recorded in December '69 with drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox in the Record Plant in New York and... > Read more

Nina Simone: Backlash Blues (1967)

17 Dec 2018  |  <1 min read

Nina Simone was a rare one: she was classically trained, a political activist, furiously intolerant and increasingly strange and self-serving as her life rolled on. And that's just the broad strokes. She was also something of a genius when it came to marrying blues, politics, soul, gospel and jazz. It is hard to think of anyone who has followed in her footsteps. This song from the late... > Read more

Jack Scott: The Way I Walk (1959)

3 Dec 2018  |  1 min read

With his sullen and sneering good looks -- he might have been a truck driver in Memphis like the pre-fame Elvis or a member of the Clash -- Jack Scott was briefly a big star, and at the time in the late Fifties one of the biggest to come out of Detroit where he grew up (after being born in Canada). Scott clocked up hit after hit in the late Fifties (half of the 12 songs on his debut album... > Read more

Ronnie Spector: Girl from the Ghetto (2006)

19 Nov 2018  |  1 min read  |  1

Revenge is a dish best served cold -- and with a pointed, fuckin' still-angry-at-you-bastardfucker lyric. And Ronnie got her chance when her former husband Phil Spector was facing a murder charge. Ronnie Spector, the voice of the classic girl group the Ronettes of the Sixties which Phil produced, married the mad boss and spent years as a virtual prisoner in his mansion. She escaped and told... > Read more

Ronnie Spector: Girl from the Ghetto (2006)

ZZ Hill: Someone to Love Me (1965)

11 Nov 2018  |  1 min read

Although he came to greater attention in the Eighties before his early death in '84, the great soul-blues singer Arzell Hill delivered some achingly beautiful songs right through the Sixties before his career started to slide in the Seventies. He came out of the gospel tradition in Texas but – like his role model Sam Cooke – he shifted to secular music while bringing that... > Read more

Yoko Ono: Imagine (2018)

5 Nov 2018  |  <1 min read

Let it be said straight off, there is a lot of Yoko Ono that Elsewhere plays (in private of course) and actually enjoys. Her Plastic Ono Band album is an Essential Elsewhere album and quite a number of her most demanding albums are very rewarding. But her very recent Warzone -- where she revisits some of her past -- ends with this treatment of a song which she now enjoys a co-write credit... > Read more

John Lennon: Gimme Some Truth, take 4, raw mix (1971)

23 Oct 2018  |  <1 min read

One of the outtakes on the expansive Imagine box set, this may have a couple of bum notes from the period (“son of Tricky Dicky”, a reference to Nixon) but there are plenty of people around right now in these post-truth days – where lies and not denied but doubled-down on – for whom this will strike a chord. With the slide guitar overdubbed by George Harrison, this... > Read more

El Hula: When the Devil Arrives At My Door (2003)

17 Sep 2018  |  <1 min read

Expat Kiwi Blair Jollands has just released a new album under his own name, 7 Blood. It is musically diverse and because he has been in London for so long that his name is barely known back here in his homeland. It's a struggle to get people to listen to an album by an unfamiliar name, let alone one where the tracks are so very different, and it is even harder if he isn't around to promote... > Read more

Bonnie Jo Mason: Ringo, I Love You (1964)

16 Sep 2018  |  1 min read

When the Beatles conquered the US in '64, there were literally scores of tribute songs, parodies and satirical pieces -- from the lament of The Beatles Barber to You Can't Go Far Without a Guitar (Unless You're Ringo Starr) and My Boyfriend's Got a Beatle Haircut. But few have gathered as much attention as this one. Not because it's any good (it isn't) but because of who sang it.... > Read more

Bob Dylan: All American Boy (1967)

7 Sep 2018  |  1 min read

American country-rocker Bobby Bare scored an unlikely hit with All American Boy back in '58 when his demo of the song for a friend Bill Parsons was chosen by the record company over Parson's version. Bare wrote it but Parsons got the credit, however what is of interest is how it was a kind of early run at songs which were cynical about success and fame. Bare's song – see the clip... > Read more

Nico: I'll Keep It With Mine (1967)

3 Sep 2018  |  1 min read

When the statuesque Nico was introduced into Velvet Underground by Andy Warhol, she was fresh from a relationship with Bob Dylan and was keen to record this song he had written. However she fell between the egos of Lou Reed and John Cale who were advancing a very different agenda, and it didn't include covers . . . even a good one written by Dylan. As Clinton Heylin notes in his... > Read more

Jimi Hendrix: Drifter's Escape (possibly 1970)

27 Aug 2018  |  <1 min read

Not only can we not tell you the date on this Jimi Hendrix cover of a Dylan song off his John Wesley Harding album but have no idea of any other details on it. It is known Hendrix recorded Drifter's Escape (maybe this version, maybe not) in May 1970 around the time he was working through Dolly Dagger, Freedom and others songs (including his own ballad Drifting which appeared on the... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Why Try to Change Me Now (2015)

13 Aug 2018  |  1 min read  |  1

We didn't go too far back into the Vaults for this one by Bob Dylan, it is from his excellent Shadows in the Night covers album, but of course the song goes way, way back. It was written by Cy Coleman (music) and Joseph McCarthy (lyrics) in 1952 and was recorded by Frank Sinatra later that same year, apparently among his last songs for Colombia before departing for Capitol. What Sinatra... > Read more

Jose M Bandera and Mario Montoya: Jumping' Jack Flash (2008)

10 Aug 2018  |  <1 min read

This being the 50thanniversary of the Rolling Stones' single Jumpin' Jack Flash which took them back to their tough r'n'b roots (along with nudges to county and folk on the subsequent Beggar's Banquet album) we go here – without making any claims – to a version of JJFlash. It was recorded for the project Stones World by saxophonist Tim Reis who pulled in artists from across the... > Read more