From the Vaults

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The Mighty Sparrow: Jack Palance (1956)

17 Jun 2013  |  <1 min read

Actually no, this great Trinidad calypso singer 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 face like jack... > Read more

Roger Waters: Money, demo (1972)

7 Jun 2013  |  <1 min read

One of the most interesting aspects of popular music reissues is when an expanded edition of a classic album (or artist) offers working drawings of songs which became -- usually much embellished or in some later form -- massive hits. Back in the Eighties Pete Townshend of the Who began offering his double-vinyl home demo albums under the banner Scoop, the Beatles' Anthology had some... > Read more

Japan: Don't Rain on My Parade (1978)

6 Jun 2013  |  <1 min read

Way back before singer David Sylvian came over all Eno, European and arty. And before bassist Mick Karn (who died in January 2011), drummer Steve Jansen and keyboard player Richard Barbieri (now in prog-rockewr Porcupine Tree) lit of out for territory which was sometimes on the border of jazz, they were in the louche, sometimes funky and new wave Japan where they dressed like the New York Dolls... > Read more

Annie Ross: Twisted (1952)

5 Jun 2013  |  <1 min read  |  1

Annie Ross -- who at the time of this writing is still alive and 82 -- had an extraordinary career for a kid born Annabelle Short into a family of vaudevillians in London. When she was four, the family migrated to New York and by the time she was 15 she'd performed with Paul Whiteman, moved to Los Angeles, played Judy Garland's younger sister in the movie Presenting Lily Mars and had changed... > Read more

Big Boy Groves: Bucket o Blood (1962)

4 Jun 2013  |  <1 min read

Most songs inviting you to club promise a great night with dancing and drinking and fun times to be had. Ervin Groves from San Diego promising nothing of the sort with this song. In fact this is one club which sounds like it would be a must to avoid because of the bodies stacking up. The mention in the opening lines to the Chicken Shack is a reference to a song by Chris Kenner called I... > Read more

Arthur Russell: Another Thought (1985)

22 May 2013  |  1 min read

Curiously, it has only been in recent years that the British music press "discovered" Arthur Russell. But maybe not so curious: Russell died of Aids-related illnesses in '92 and although he left behind literally many hundreds of reels of recordings (everything from disco through experimental pop to Russell singing with just his cello for accompaniment) his work was little known beyond... > Read more

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

17 May 2013  |  <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

Bernard Butler: Woman I Know (1998)

16 May 2013  |  <1 min read

Was it Bob Dylan who said something to the effect, "amateurs borrow, professionals steal"? Not to encourage plagiarism, but Bernard Butler certainly took a leaf or two -- if not a whole chapter -- from the Book of Fleetwood Mac for this track which uses Albatross as it's starting point -- but then doesn't go too far with it. This was the opening track on Butler's solo album... > Read more

Marilyn Monroe: You'd Be Surprised (1956)

15 May 2013  |  <1 min read

Although it's hardly surprising that Marilyn Monroe would sing a song as suggestive as this interest alights on who wrote it. Yep, the man also responsible for such classics as Blue Skies, White Christmas, God Bless America, There's No Business Like Show Business (from Annie Get Your Gun) and hundreds of other songs imprinted in the collective memory of Americans and large portions of the... > Read more

Rufus Wainwright: Medley from Brian Wilson's SMiLE (2009)

13 May 2013  |  <1 min read

As most people who follow such things know, the album SMiLE was the one that broke the Beach Boys' composer Brian Wilson. After labouring over it for months and months -- his spirit increasingly battered by complaints about its complexity from within the band, issues with record company and an increasing intake of marijuana which didn't help -- the project was finally abandoned in '67.... > Read more

Eden Kane: Boys Cry (1964)

6 May 2013  |  1 min read  |  3

When Peter Sarstedt had his smash hit single Where Do You Go To My Lovely? in '69 some unfairly asked . . . where did his brother Richard go? Richard, who used the stage name Eden Kane, had enjoyed some chart success in those pre-Beatle days (hence the name change, he was in there with Adam Faith, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury et al) but had largely disappeared after his one last flash, the... > Read more

Johnny Cash: Understand Your Man (1964)

29 Apr 2013  |  <1 min read

The friendship and mutual admiration in the late Sixties between Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan has been well documented: they did some sessions together in '69 (their duet on Girl From the North Country appeared on Dylan's Nashville Skyline), and Cash subsequently invited Dylan onto his television show as a guest. But their friendship went back even further and Cash was an early supporter of... > Read more

Joe Boot and the Fabulous Winds: Rock and Roll Radio (1958)

25 Apr 2013  |  <1 min read

From The Ventures (Walk Don't Run) and the Kingsmen (the garageband classic Louie Louie of '63, see clip) through Jimi Hendrix, the grunge bands (Nirvana, Mudhoiney, Pearl Jam etc) to the Posies, Sleater-Kinney and Modest Mouse, the Pacific Northwest has been a breeding ground for rock'n'roll. It's fitting that it should be the home the EMP (Experience Music Project), a terrific museum of... > Read more

Steve and Eydie: Black Hole Sun (1997)

24 Apr 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

The fad for lounge music in the late Nineties was amusing enough, but inevitably most of what emerged was forgettable. (Although who could expunge this from the memory.) Still, groups like Pizzicato Five were kind of amusing, and it was good to hear the great Esquivel and Martin Denny's names being mentioned in hip'n'fashionable circles even if you suspected most people didn't... > Read more

Graham Parker: Between You and Me (1975)

23 Apr 2013  |  <1 min read  |  5

It's all every well to ridicule Dick Rowe of Decca Records for turning the Beatles down after an audition in '62 ("Not to mince words, Mr Epstein, we don't like your boys' sound. Groups are out: four piece groups with guitars particularly are finished"). But if he had just addressed the music he was probably right. The Beatles' Decca audition was hardly promising, largely... > Read more

Paper Knife: title unknown (1996?)

18 Apr 2013  |  1 min read

At some time in the mid Nineties while in Tokyo I ambled through Yoyogi Park where the Fifites rock'n'roll stylists slick back their hair and dance to old Elvis, and girls and boys alike dress like manga-mad characters. It is a vibrant and slightly circus-like atmosphere -- and that was where I saw Paper Knife, two young and slightly uncomfortable guys with guitars and a beat box of drum... > Read more

Lucille Bogan: Shave 'Em Dry II (1935)

17 Apr 2013  |  <1 min read  |  2

In these days of earnestly crotch-thrusting young women on video clips you long for something which has that long forgotten ingredient: wit. Old time blues is ripe with innuendo, downhome analogies and suggestive lyrics. When Lonnie Johnson sings of being the The Best Jockey in Town he doesn't mean he brings home the winners. Lil Johnson in the Thirties delivered a line of sexually... > Read more

Noel McKay: Sweater Girl (1963?)

16 Apr 2013  |  <1 min read

Noel McKay had a drag act in New Zealand in the early Sixties (and lesserly so into the Seventies) but always walked both sides of the line. He released albums in covers with him in drag but also had a series of EPs on the Viking label entitled Party Songs; For Adults Only which were directed at the straight audience. These included mildly risque songs such as Loretta the Sweater Girl... > Read more

The Gun: Race with the Devil (1967)

15 Apr 2013  |  2 min read  |  1

In the age of Cream (mid '66 to late '68), Blue Cheer and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the power trio became an established form and this group from Buckinghamshire -- two brothers and another -- took the hard rock, guitar pyrotechnics sound to the top of the British charts with this single. And that was about it for them. That's actually not entirely true, but there is a back-story and a... > Read more

The Beatles: I Saw Her Standing There (1963)

3 Apr 2013  |  1 min read

Half a century ago the Beatles' debut album Please Please Me was released. Legend has it that it took only 16 hours to record, the final song being Twist and Shout, for which Lennon -- suffering from a cold and drinking sweet tea -- roared through in a searing performance. The album contained their earlier minor hit Love Me Do and chart topper Please Please Me alongside Arthur... > Read more