From the Vaults

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Sylvester Weaver: Guitar Rag (1927)

16 Nov 2015  |  1 min read

Blues guitarist Sylvester Weaver was -- until someone finds another earlier -- the first man to have slide guitar recorded, and this tune -- along with his Guitar Blues laid down at the same time -- was one of the first blues instrumentals to be recorded. Born in Louisville, Kentucky some time before the dawn of the 20th century, he first recorded in '23 while in New York but his recording... > Read more

Dan Bao Vietnam: Rider in the Sky (date unknown, Nineties?)

12 Oct 2015  |  1 min read  |  1

The albums in the Rough Guide series can offer world music as a kind of portal into a very different culture and consciousness. And even when world music artists take on tunes which we might recognize -- perhaps even especially when this happens -- it can be like being beamed into an alternate reality. This piece -- a live treatment of Ghost Riders in the Sky as if re-imagined by the... > Read more

Julia Lee: Don't Come Too Soon (1950)

21 Sep 2015  |  <1 min read

Very soon Elsewhere is going to essay the life of Julia Lee, a Kansas City singer and pianist whose style roamed across boogie-woogie, rhythm and blues and downright dirty blues . . . as in the case of this innuendo-filled song whose origins and writer are lost in the mists of time. Lee enjoyed the double entendre -- and often the single entendre if there is such a thing -- and among her... > Read more

Louis Armstrong: Why Did Mrs Murphy Leave Town? (1970)

17 Sep 2015  |  <1 min read

At the very end of his long career the great Louis Armstrong seemed rather detached and indifferent to the material he was playing. He'd scored huge and cross-generational hits with Hello Dolly and Wonderful World and seemed to be searching for direction. After all, he'd done it all. You wonder who thought a country'n'western album was a good idea however -- but in '70 an album appeared... > Read more

Nina Simone: Cottage For Sale (1957)

15 Sep 2015  |  1 min read

At the very end of the Keith Richards' doco project about Chuck Berry, Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll, we see Chuck sitting quietly with his electric guitar (pianist Johnnie Johnson mostly off camera, see clip below) singing the beautifully wistful Cottage For Sale. It was a reminder of two things: That despite all the evidence which preceeded it in the film (and what you may know about his... > Read more

The Creeps; She's Gone (1986)

14 Sep 2015  |  1 min read

One of the chief pleasures of being a fan of garageband rock -- that retrogressive genre between primitive pop and raw rock -- is that you never have to be surprised. Garagebands sound much the same today as they did in the Sixties. If you loved the sound of the Sonics in the Sixties then Dead Moon in the Nineties were going to deliver up something familiar and equally enjoyable. That... > Read more

National Lampoon: A prog-rock epic (1975)

6 Aug 2015  |  <1 min read

If you enjoyed the parody of a feminist anthem Elsewhere posted some time back (the terrific I'm A Woman) then you've clearly got a sense of humour and might just be up for this. From the same album Goodbye Pop (which skewered drippy Neil Young, soppy soul and c'n'w) comes this stab at the pretensions of prog rock. If I recall the liner notes about this song (and you can guess it was... > Read more

Barbie Gaye: My Boy Lollypop (1956)

3 Aug 2015  |  1 min read

Because we are so used to hearing the most famous versions of songs -- like Blue Hawaii by Bing Crosby which pre-dated Elvis by more than two decades or Al Jolson's earlier version of Are You Lonesome Tonight  -- it can come as a surprise to hear the original song before a famous name or a freak hit took it into the wider domain. So it is with My Boy Lollypop which was a massive... > Read more

David Peel and the Lower East Side: Up Against The Wall (1968)

2 Jul 2015  |  1 min read

New York's David Peel was living proof of the adage, "It isn't what you know, it's who you know". And how you could milk that association -- however brief -- for all it's worth. He was also one of those "only in New York" guys. In the late Sixties when this insightful if reductive piece of political rhetoric was recorded, he was a street busker in the city who sang... > Read more

Eddie Bo and Inez Cheatham: Lover and Friend (1968)

1 Jul 2015  |  1 min read

When Cosimo Matassa died in September 2014 there were lengthy obituaries for a man whom many may never have been aware of. But as a record producer he defined the sound of his hometown New Orleans on recordings from the Forties onward and was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. He probably could have got in on just two songs alone, Fats Domino's The Fat Man and Little... > Read more

Hambone Willie Newbern: Roll and Tumble Blues (1929)

30 Jun 2015  |  1 min read

The provenance of some blues songs is so obscure as to be impenetrable. Many would know Rollin' and Tumblin' from the rock version by Cream in the late Sixties where the credits simply had it as "Trad". The song -- in various versions -- dated back four decades prior to Cream when Roll and Tumble Blues was recorded by Willie Newbern during his sole recording session in 1929. He... > Read more

Grady Martin and the Slew Foot Five: Bimbo (1954)

29 Jun 2015  |  1 min read

Having your own website like this is to some extent a vanity project. And it also allows for some personal indulgences, like posting this throwaway by the great Grady Martin. People of certain advance years may remember this song becase it was a regular on the childrens' session on Sunday morning wireless. I seem to recall there may also have been a version by Doris Day or someone like... > Read more

Blue Jeans: Reflections of My Life (1988)

15 Jun 2015  |  1 min read

Does anyone buy CDs for their covers? Hmm. I've certainly bought more than a few records (more than a few score at a guess) for the cover art, whether it be funny, bizarre or just plain cool. The reward is that when you play the albums you always find one thing which has been worth it (because, let's face it, you never pay more than $10 for these things found in dump bins). I can't... > Read more

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here with Stephane Grappelli (1975)

5 Jun 2015  |  1 min read  |  2

If the recent reissue of Led Zeppelin albums proved something less than interesting, let alone exciting, in the "bonus tracks' department, the same couldn't be said for the Pink Floyd reissue of a few years ago. Without going the whole Pete Townshend into demos and second thoughts, the previously unreleased tracks on many of the Floyd discs were interesting for being expansive live... > Read more

Little Willie John: Leave My Kitten Alone (1959)

1 Jun 2015  |  1 min read

R'n'b singer/songwriter Little Willie John -- born in Arkansas in '37, raised in Detroit and perhaps best known for his crossover hit Fever which Peggy Lee famously covered -- clocked up more than a dozen songs on the US Billboard charts in his short recording career which effectively only ran for about five years until the very early Sixties. Booze was his downfall and in '66 he was... > Read more

Billy Fury: I'm Lost Without You (1965)

21 May 2015  |  1 min read

One of the most interesting songs on Marlon Williams' debut album -- and certainly the least expected from someone whose forte is along the folk/country axis -- is his heavily orchestrated cover of the old Teddy Randozzo song I'm Lost Without You. Randozzo was one of those classic Sixties songwriters who also wrote Gonna Take a Miracle (covered by Laura Nyro), Hurt So Bad (covered by Linda... > Read more

Al Jolson: Are You Lonesome Tonight? (1950)

13 May 2015  |  1 min read

It's widely accepted that after he came out of the army in Germany, Elvis Presley's career quickly went on the skids with lousy movies and soft songs. Well, not quite. His first album when he came back to the States -- entitled somewhat obviously Elvis is Back! -- was an interesting collection, at a pinch you might even call it his Rubber Soul (although there would be no... > Read more

Blitzen Trapper: To Be Young (2014)

11 May 2015  |  1 min read

There are some beautifully simplistic but uplifting songs about being young between Cliff Richards' Young Ones in the early Sixties and Supergrass' Alright ("we are young, we run free") in the Nineties. It's not all running free as a teenager however (just check out Janis Ian's pained At Seventeen) and there is quite a body of work about that too, Quite what Ryan Adams was... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Who Killed Davey Moore? (1963)

4 May 2015  |  4 min read  |  1

Bob Dylan's Hurricane in '75 is one of the best known songs about a boxer -- but very early in his career Dylan also sang another about a boxer, the fighter Davey Moore who was knocked out by Mexico-based Sugar Ramos from Cuba during a bout in March 1963. Moore spoke to the media afterwards (the illustration is taken from a famous post-fight photo) but then complained of headaches, slipped... > Read more

Carole King: Pleasant Valley Sunday (1966)

13 Apr 2015  |  1 min read

There's something to be said for getting up and going to work each day. If it is doing something you love -- and maybe even if it isn't -- you do get good at it, if nothing else. Songwriting is no different than playing an instrument: the more you do the more you learn and the better you get. The Beatles -- by writing and singing their own songs -- may have been the death knell for Tin... > Read more