From the Vaults

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Gil Scott-Heron: Whitey on the Moon (1970)

18 Jul 2019  |  1 min read

Not everyone was ecstatic when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon in July 1969, 50 years ago as we write. The superb Apollo 11 doco is very much worth seeing for the visceral thrill of the event, an admiration for those who developed the technology and the courage of the men who went in that tiny capsule which was flung across deep space. Back on Earth of course life went... > Read more

Dion: Sisters of Mercy (1968)

15 Jul 2019  |  1 min read  |  1

Two parallel stories of birth here. Sisters of Mercy was on Leonard Cohen's debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen and thus was his birth – at 33 – as a recording artist. For Dion however, who'd had a lengthy career on the pop charts and was something of a teen idol, it was a rebirth when, at almost 30, he looked to songwriters like Dylan, Fred Neil, Joni Mitchell, Hendrix... > Read more

Walter Robertson: Sputterin' Blues (1955)

8 Jul 2019  |  <1 min read

When Roger Daltrey of the Who deliberately stuttered in My Generation it was in some sense to capture the frustration of youth, and also to add piquancy to what might come next when he sang "Why don't you all f-f-f-f ...." Bluesman Walter Robertson (sometimes Robinson) probably had no such intention on this song which is borderline tasteless and something of a novelty item.... > Read more

The Roadrunners: LSD (1967)

20 May 2019  |  <1 min read

With British r'n'b rock legends the Pretty Things scheduled for a New Zealand concert (see interview with Dick Taylor here) in December 2012, it seemed timely to ressurect this obscurity from the vaults, a band from Lower Hutt just north of Wellington who named themselves after one of the Pretty Things' biggest hits and who here cover their '66 song, the ambiguously titled LSD (see clip below).... > Read more

Little Eva: The Trouble With Boys (1963)

13 May 2019  |  1 min read

When Little Eva died in 2003, most obituaries got in the story that she had been Gerry Goffin and Carole King's babysitter and, inspired by her odd dancing style, they penned The Locomotion for her, which was a massive hit in 1962. Little Eva -- born Eva Narcissus Boyd -- was 16 at the time.  That story seems unlikely or exaggerated, but it is true that Goffin-King also wrote... > Read more

The Fortunes: Laughing Fit to Cry (1965)

6 May 2019  |  1 min read

Britain's Fortunes cracked two exceptional singles in the Beat-pop era, You've Got Your Troubles and Here It Comes Again, both in 1965 and both featuring a natty spoken-word or double-lead vocal part. They had terrific harmony vocals and their lead singer Rod Allen could conjure up some fine white soul, as you can hear on their self-titled debut album which was rushed out to capitalise... > Read more

Delroy Wilson: Mash Up Illiteracy (1974)

29 Apr 2019  |  <1 min read

In Third World countries music is often the vehicle for social messages and political comment because it gets directly to people who may be unable to read a newspaper or otherwise have access to information. Reggae singer Delroy Wilson (who died in '95) was one of those who used songs to actually say something . . . although not always so positive. He did also deliver withering Lee Scratch... > Read more

Daniel Lentz: On the Leopard Altar (1984)

22 Apr 2019  |  <1 min read

To be fair to Paul McCartney, he's always said he can't pick a hit single and never knows if he's written one until people line up to buy it. Even so, when Mojo magazine asked him in '97 -- as part of their 100 Greatest Singles of All Time issue -- to name his favourite songs, and then one that should have been a contender he went for this odd item by the American contemporary classical... > Read more

Rufus Thomas: Itch and Scratch Part I (1972)

15 Apr 2019  |  <1 min read

One of the most natural funk artists this side of James Brown, Rufus Thomas struck gold with Walking the Dog and Do the Funky Chicken in the Sixties, but this song from just a little later captured him as a dance-floor filler with a Stax song which failed to chart. But it went on to be much sampled and he epitomised a specific Memphis sound at the time. He was also an unashamed... > Read more

Lowell Fulson: Tramp (1967)

8 Apr 2019  |  <1 min read

Written by singer/guitarist Fulson and pianist Jimmy McCracklin who were soul brothers in California, this short slice of soul-funk blues appeared on the Kent label, although the boss there Jules Bihari apparently hated . . . until it went top five on the r'n'b charts. It provided the title track for Fulson's album and even crossed over into the lower reaches of the pop charts, then Otis... > Read more

Duane and Gregg Allman: God Rest His Soul (1968)

25 Mar 2019  |  <1 min read

If anyone could sing Southern blues it was Gregg Allman and, with his brother Duane, – one of the greatest of rock guitarists – he understood the cross-cultural nature of music out of the South. In fact it would have been more of a surprise if the Allman Brothers Band hadn't had black members: drummer Jaimo Johanson a founder, bassist Lamar Williams who joined after the death of... > Read more

The Veils: Us Godless Teenagers (2011)

18 Mar 2019  |  <1 min read

For Elsewhere's money, with this singular song Finn Andrews – now a solo artist – captured something rare and insightful about the loneliness of being a teenager and the small comfort of friends when the outside world seems indifferent or critical. We see these kids everywhere, in parks and public transport, on street corners and sitting alone. Being a teenager is bad enough... > Read more

The Standells: Dirty Water (1966)

11 Mar 2019  |  1 min read

Before there was proto-punk there was raw and reductive r'n'b-based garageband rock and great bands like the Seeds, Count Five, early Them, the Downliners Sect, the Pretty Things and many more, some of whom enjoyed a long overdue acknowledgement when Lenny Kaye pulled together his first Nuggets collection, thereby setting of a revivalists search. Among the more recent collections was the... > Read more

Buffalo Daughter: Cyclic (2003)

4 Mar 2019  |  <1 min read

Sometimes the less you know about the musicians the more you can just accept the music for what it is. Like this 11 minute meltdown of minimalism, German prog-rock and Hawkwind-like space-rock. If those are acceptable sonic reference points it might then come as a surprise to learn that Buffalo Daughter are three Japanese women with half a dozen albums to their name and that they... > Read more

Lesley Gore: You Don't Own Me (1963)

25 Feb 2019  |  1 min read

For someone who was only semi-professional, tiny Lesley Gore (5' 2") was astonishingly busy in the Sixties: Between '63 and '69 she released 29 singles (19 of them went Top 100) and eight albums - outside of greatest hits packages. And she had some great hits: her first was It's My Party ("and I'll cry if I want to") when she was only 17. It was produced by Quincy Jones and... > Read more

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