From the Vaults

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Souad Massi and Pascal Danae: Tell Me Why (2007)

24 May 2020  |  <1 min read

This delightfully trippy exotically psychedelic song sounds like it has been beamed back to us for the late Sixties but in fact was on the excellent Essential Elsewhere album Honeysuckle/Mesk Elil album by the Paris-based, Algerian-born singer-songwriter Souad Massi. On her subsequent album O Huria/Liberty she had Paul Weller as a guest and from that album's title you can guess she is... > Read more

Billy Butler and the Enchanters: I Can't Work No Longer (1965)

18 May 2020  |  <1 min read

It's only Monday but this title just about sums it up . . . Except? While this wonderful post-Sam Cooke soul ballad starts off as you might expect (want to get home, we ain't getting any younger) it does take a slightly darker and more interesting turn if you are prepared to hear it that way:  "I'm just another lonely man" . . . And there is another woman on the... > Read more

Willie Nelson: Healing Hands of Time (1961)

4 May 2020  |  1 min read

By the time Willie Nelson laid down this demo of what is arguably one of the greatest songs of his pre-fame period, he had already written Family Bible (a top 10 country hit for Claude Gray although Nelson had sold the song outright so got no writing credit or cash) and Hello Walls (number one for nine weeks in '61 for Faron Young). Crazy, which he had also written, would become a huge hit... > Read more

Queens of the Stone Age: Never Say Never (2011)

27 Apr 2020  |  <1 min read

Elsewhere always liked the Californian band Romeo Void – who sounded very New York/New Wave in the early Eighties – and especially on their sole hit Never Say Never. It was written by singer Debora Iyall and the come-on hook “I might like you better if we slept together” was written for the band's bassist Frank Zincavage, although she didn't tell him that... > Read more

Timothy Leary: You Can Be Anyone This Time Around (1970)

20 Apr 2020  |  <1 min read

Older, if not wiser, "heads" will know exactly who Dr Timothy Leary was -- an advocate of the widespread use of LSD to change cultural consciousness and to open individuals to the vastness of the cosmos within and without. Tune in, turn on and drop out became a mantra in the late Sixties. His album You Can Be Anyone This Time Around was one of the first cut'n'splice albums of... > Read more

Nina Simone: Alone Again, Naturally (1982)

18 Apr 2020  |  1 min read

Lord knows, Gilbert O'Sullivan's 1972 hit Alone Again, Naturally was one of the more depressing songs ever to top the charts around the world. Although the tune sounded almost jaunty the opening lyrics were, “In a little while from now, if I'm not feeling any less sour, I promise myself to treat myself and visit a nearby tower. And climbing to the top will throw myself off . . .”... > Read more

Asha Bhosle and Mohammad Rafi: Dekho ab to kisko nahin hai khabar (1965)

11 Apr 2020  |  <1 min read  |  1

Amazing what you find by accident on aircraft film channels if you forgo watching the US blockbusters or Lord of the Rings again. On a recent trip between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne - by Emirates whom I unequivocally recommend, and who mercifully don't have LOTR -- I was flicking through the hundreds of options on Emirates and came across a whole channel of Indian film clips which featured... > Read more

Psychic TV: Only Love Can Break Your Heart (1989)

23 Mar 2020  |  <1 min read  |  1

This post-punk British experimental/psychedelic/industrial outfit helmed by the late Genesis P. Orridge -- who died on March 14 -- once released more albums in a year than the Beatles did in their whole career. They were productive, worked under numerous disc pseudonyms and were still - in some form or other -- going until recently. Given the edgy nature of much of their material, it is... > Read more

Lou Christie: If My Car Could Only Talk (1966)

16 Mar 2020  |  1 min read

Elsewhere has previously essayed the delights and confusion that Lou Christie's career threw up: the darkly romantic older woman in his life (who was allegedly some gypsy mystic), the soaring falsetto, the camp melodrama, the windshield wipers beating out their sexual rhythm on Rhapsody in the Rain . . . Producer Jack Nitsche who was on hand for this slice of  . . . . whatever the... > Read more

Tom Waits: What's He Building? (1999)

6 Mar 2020  |  <1 min read

One of Tom Waits’ most eerie yet surprisingly popular songs is What’s He Building? which appeared on his very successful Mule Variations album. It possesses a spooky sound design entirely in keeping with the disturbing theme. A curious neighbour – and, by seduction, the listener – speculates about the odd nocturnal activities of the man next door: “He has... > Read more

The Dream Academy: Life in a Northern Town (1985)

10 Feb 2020  |  1 min read

Although not quite a one-hit wonder (the follow-up to this, The Love Parade, got to 36 in the US), the Dream Academy probably deserved better just on the strength of this curious and clever debut single. It manages to be a lot of things in its 4.18 running time: part wistful nostalgia in the manner of Penny Lane, a nod to Nick Drake, references to Sinatra, JFK and the Beatles (cue... > Read more

Andrew Brough: Andy Dandy (2000)

4 Feb 2020  |  <1 min read  |  1

In a recent interview with Wellington singer-songwriter Charlotte Yates about her forthcoming Mansfield project (New Zealand musicians setting the poems of Katherine Mansfield to music), I asked her about Andrew Brough. He had appeared on her Baxter album in 2000, James K Baxter's poems to music by the likes of Dave Dobbyn, Greg Johnson, Mahinaarangi Tocker, Martin Phillipps, Emma... > Read more

Danny Winkle: Bad Luck (1961)

27 Jan 2020  |  1 min read

The line “if it wasn't for bad luck I wouldn't have no luck at all” (and its minor variants) has been a staple in the blues . . . but here country singer Danny Winkle from around Biloxi, Mississippi – who just went by “Danny” on his two singles – pulled it into his stab at kind of rockabilly r'n'b, complete with Sun Records-style echo. He'd held down a... > Read more

The Mighty Sparrow: Jack Palance (1956)

20 Jan 2020  |  <1 min read

Actually no, the great Trinidad calypso singer Mighty Sparrow isn't paying a tribute to the wonderful character actor Jack "pick up the gun" Palance (1919-2006). Rather, he is making a very unflattering comparison between the actor's rather battered looks and the faces of aging prostitutes: "Without any doubt they could be my granny but they walk around at night with their... > Read more

The Serpent Power: The Endless Tunnel (1967)

13 Jan 2020  |  1 min read

The cover of their sole album in 1967 on the Vanguard label told part of the story: psychedelic Californians with a female vocalist in the line-up. That much is clear, but the music added to much more to the Jefferson Airplane reference point. Songwriter-guitarist David Meltzer was a poet around San Francisco and his wife Tina was the singer. But then add in organ player John Payne... > Read more

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Plastic Bamboo (1978)

12 Jan 2020  |  <1 min read

A little over four decades ago the Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto of Yellow Magic Orchestra released his debut solo album Thousand Knives Of Ryuichi Sakamoto. It was at the time – but perhaps sounds a little less so today, vocoder is a bit passé – an innovative and ground-breaking collection of half a dozen pieces on multiple synthesisers (and some traditional... > Read more

James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad To Be In America (1980)

11 Jan 2020  |  <1 min read

For many of the open-eared among jazz listeners -- those who had grown up on rock guitarists and heard in Hendrix the vanguard of a fusion, followed Miles Davis through Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson, had albums by John McLaughlin and understood jazz-funk -- it seemed as if guitarist-singer James Blood Ulmer was going to deliver them from mediocrity. His pedigree was impeccable: anointed by... > Read more

The Vagrants: I Can't Make a Friend (1966)

6 Jan 2020  |  <1 min read

There are any number of bands called the Vagrants, but there is only one Vagrants and it was this garage-band out of Long Island who appeared on the original Nuggets compilation with their version of Otis Redding's Respect. Those few who heard their quite remarkable version loved it, but it was swamped when Aretha's seminal version was released at the same time. This second single has... > Read more

The Beatles: Yes It Is, demos (1965)

27 Nov 2019  |  1 min read

When the Beatles came together to record their innovative Ticket to Ride single (check the huge bass, McCartney was really getting on top of his game) they needed a b-side. Lennon's Yes It Is was but a working drawing at the time, and not that far from This Boy in its melodic construction. But Harrison was experimenting with a tone pedal... > Read more

Yes It Is, take 5

Jeff Daniels: Switch Blade Sam (1959)

11 Nov 2019  |  <1 min read

Rock'n'roll might have celebrated cars, dating, high school, the dance and other teenage concerns, but it also celebrated itself. Chief among those cheerleaders was Chuck Berry with songs like School Days (“hail hail rock'n'roll, deliver me from the days of old”), Roll Over Beethoven (“and dig these rhythm'n'blues”), Rock and Roll Music (“it's got a backbeat... > Read more