From the Vaults

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Luke Leilani and His Hawaiian Rhythm: Hawaiian Holiday (1966)

21 Nov 2013  |  <1 min read

Although there is no shortage of albums by Luke Leilani (and his various groups), getting solid information about him is more difficult. He doesn't rate a mention in the thick Hawaiian Music and Musicians collection edited by George S. Kanahele which makes me think Luke might have been as about authentic a Hawaiian as the Waikikis (from Brussels, see here). I am happy to be proven... > Read more

RM Hubbert: Sunbeam Melts the Hour (2012)

20 Nov 2013  |  <1 min read

Okay, here's what you need to do. Just play the posted track, shut your eyes and try to pick where you think this piece might have come from. Don't read on. If you've done that and stabbed in the dark a bit then let's flip all the cards slowly and tell you this is from the album Thirteen Lost & Found which was produced by Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos. And the album is the... > Read more

Bill Haley and the Comets: Thirteen Women (1954)

11 Nov 2013  |  <1 min read

Talking to Memphis writer Robert Gordon recently about his forthcoming -- and excellent -- book on the famous Stax recording studio in his hometown, I was reminded of just how often hit songs were on the flipside of singles. Green Onions for Booker T and the MGs on Stax among them. Back in the days when disc jockeys had control over their own playlists they would frequently flip a record... > Read more

Blind Blake: He's in the Jailhouse Now (1927)

30 Oct 2013  |  1 min read

As with many blues artists of his era -- he died in 1934 in his late 30s - not too much is known about the early life of Arthur "Blind" Blake. And at the time of this writing there remains just the one photo of him. What we do know though is he accomplished a lot of firsts: it seems he was the first to mention "rock" in a song (West Coast Blues from '26); his song Come... > Read more

The Beatles: Ooh! My Soul (1963)

28 Oct 2013  |  1 min read

In a week the second installment of Beatles' sessions for the BBC will be released. And we might say belatedly because the first double CD came out in 1994. The Beatles made 275 recordings of 88 different songs for the BBC between 1962 and '65, an astonishing output and which reminds you again -- after those thousands of hours in Hamburg and the Cavern--  just how hard-working they... > Read more

Bud Shank: Blue Jay Way (1968)

24 Oct 2013  |  1 min read

The great jazz flute and sax player Bud Shank -- who died in 2009, aged 82 -- had some form in turning his hand to popular songs (that's his flute on the Mamas and Papas' California Dreaming) but he also worked with the late Ravi Shankar, notably recording the thrilling piece Fire Night for Shankar's 1962 album Improvisations. The Magical Mystery album from which this is lifted -- which... > Read more

Jonny Yen: Stage Struck and Take A Look At My Life (1979)

20 Oct 2013  |  1 min read  |  2

Do ya ken Jonny Yen? The other day at a long lunch the discussion was of obscure New Zealand artists and my friend -- who knows the dark corners and strange recesses of New Zealand pop and rock -- was telling me about some remarkable bands of the prog-rock era, most of whom I had never heard of. However we both knew of Aellian Blade from '79 who were signed to WEA. I recalled that they... > Read more

Jimmie Rodgers: TB Blues (1931)

17 Sep 2013  |  2 min read  |  1

Jerry Lee Lewis once said there were only three stylists in country music: Al Jolson, Jimmie Rodgers and, of course, Jerry Lee Lewis. Rodgers -- known as The Singing Brakeman after his time on the railroads -- brought black blues and yodeling into country music and created a sound which was at once unique, and created a template for others to draw upon. He had picked up the blues -- and... > Read more

Johnny Cash: Peace in the Valley (date unknown)

14 Sep 2013  |  <1 min read

Johnny Cash died 10 years ago and, as expected, there have been tributes and considerations of his long, diverse career. And of course his position as a Mt Rushmore-like figure in American music and cultural life. Let's just say Johnny was one of the Big Ones, and while we could skate through those American Recordings with Rick Rubin to find him covering material by Soundgarden, Tom... > Read more

Johnny Guitar Watson: Funk Beyond the Call of Duty (1977)

4 Sep 2013  |  1 min read

By the time Johnny Guitar Watson made the album of which this was the title track, he was 42, had been on about 15 different labels and had really paid his dues: he'd started recording at 17, been something of an r'n'b star in the Fifties and by the Seventies had edged his way to streetcorner funk. He pioneered feedback on Space Guitar in '54, was the original Gangster of Love (in 1958, a... > Read more

The Sound Symposium: It Ain't Me Babe (1969)

3 Sep 2013  |  1 min read

In his liner essay to the new Bob Dylan Bootleg Series collection Another Self Portrait, the writer Greil Marcus makes a disparaging comment about the string arrangement on the original version of Copper Kettle which appeared on Dylan's Self Portrait collection in 1970. He jibes that while the song stood out on that album, the strings sounded like The  Longines Symphonette Society Does... > Read more

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

2 Sep 2013  |  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

Roy Hall: Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On (1955)

29 Aug 2013  |  1 min read

The origins of some songs are lost, but often a definitive version will stand out. So it is with Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On which exists in the minds of most as the Jerry Lee Lewis hit in '57. Most would even think that Lewis wrote it. He didn't, although his whipped-up version is almost a different song than the one which existed previously. Roy Hall always insisted that he co-wrote it... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Day of the Locusts (1970)

26 Aug 2013  |  2 min read

In anticipation of the forthcoming set in Bob Dylan's on-going Bootleg Series -- Another Self Portriat which collects material from 1969-71 -- it has been interesting to re-explore not just the songs from this era, but what Dylan was saying about his life at this time. In his autobiographical Chronicles Vol 1 (can we expect Vol 2 soon, this one is almost a decade old now) he writes about he... > Read more

Dierks Bentley: What Was I Thinkin' (2003)

23 Aug 2013  |  4 min read

One of the features of country music which make it a great soundtrack when driving is that the songs often tell stories. Sometimes those narratives are maudlin and sentimental, sometimes they really hit a spot in the heart -- and sometimes they are just kinda dumb fun. Like this one. In '04 while driving across the Southern states, this song by Bentley -- his major label debut single... > Read more

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Let the Lord Be Seen in You (1965)

22 Aug 2013  |  1 min read

Bob Marley only had about seven high-profile years between No Woman No Cry and Redemption Song, about the same length of time the Beatles had between Please Please Me and the break-up. But of course, like the Beatles, there was Bob before and after that. After that was, notably, the posthumus album Confrontation in '83 which contained Buffalo Soldier, one of his greatest songs. And... > Read more

The Incredible String Band: No Sleep Blues (1967)

21 Aug 2013  |  1 min read

In a recent interview with Elsewhere the great producer Joe Boyd spoke about the Incredible String Band whom he had worked with -- until they got into Scientology and then things went rather odd in the ISB camp. From hippies to thrusting self-interested capitalists. Just like that. And the music went a bit lousy too. Boyd also noted that although had great success at the time, these... > Read more

The Buggs: Liverpool Drag (1964)

20 Aug 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

Elsewhere takes no end of cheap delight in unearthing various Beatles tributes (by dogs, by the soon-to-be Cher), copyists, weird cover versions and so on. But to find the Buggs' sole album for a mere $5 in a secondhand record shop was a discovery of the first order. This group from Liverpool cashed in on the Beatles songs (they cover I Want to Hold Your Hand and She Loves You) but also... > Read more

Unknown artist: The Spelling on the Stone (1989)

16 Aug 2013  |  1 min read

Of the innumerable "Elvis is Alive" hoaxes, this song has to count as having one of the best/funniest back-stories. So let's get this right: Elvis wanted you to believe he was just pretending to be dead . . . but he really wanted you to know he was alive by singing this song? That just like, sooooo, doesn't work. Right?  Good song though: the lyrics refer to the... > Read more

Flesh D-Vice: Legend of Lugosi (1989)

14 Aug 2013  |  1 min read

This is just here for those of us old enough -- and perhaps dumb enough -- to remember the sheer visceral power and life-threatening live shows that this band (from Palmerston North? I will stand corrected) delivered. They were in . . .  yoooooooour face. I have a few blurry and rather damaged memories of Flesh D-Vice . . . one of them most certainly involves a jug (for overseas... > Read more

Legend of Lugosi