From the Vaults

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Bob Dylan: Take Me As I Am (1970)

22 Jul 2013  |  2 min read  |  3

It's now been confirmed that the next installment in Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series -- due August 23 -- finds him revisiting the Self Portrait period (and a few years either side it would seem). This is interesting and perhaps even courageous since that double album from 1970 was met with critical derision ("Greil Marcus' Rolling Stone review famously opened with "What is this... > Read more

John Lennon, Child of Nature (1968)

15 Jul 2013  |  <1 min read

Give them credit, the Beatles were always incredibly productive and even on their holidays -- like the six weeks that Lennon and Harrison spent in Rishikesh with the Maharishi -- they were frequently writing. Not everything was a masterpiece of course, and this demo by Lennon betrays a bit too much of the hippie communing with the world around him. It was a few months after the Summer of... > Read more

World Party: You're All Invited to the Party (1990)

8 Jul 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

Because he wrote She's the One which became a hit for Robbie Williams in 1999 -- and more so because he was sidelined for four years by a brain aneurysm in 2000 -- little has been heard of Karl Wallinger (who is the sole constant in World Party) since his creative peak in the mid Nineties. At that time he'd cracked the Grammy-nominated album Goodbye Jumbo and followed it up with the equally... > Read more

Ian Dury: Razzle in My Pocket (1977)

2 Jul 2013  |  1 min read  |  2

With Will Birch's biography and the film of his life Sex and Drugs and Rock'n'Roll (Andy Serkis as Ian), there was something of a revival and re-appreciation of Ian Dury recently, a bit more than a decade after his death at age 57. Dury came to the punk era as someone more than a decade older than most performers, and he had considerable stage experience: his band Kilburn and the High Roads... > Read more

Ian Dury: Razzle in My Pocket

The Fleetwoods: Runaround (1960)

1 Jul 2013  |  <1 min read

It was disappointing to see a blurb on the top of an article about Dudley Benson repeat the hoary line that he "bridges the gap between the pop music of Kylie Minogue" and  . . . in this case . . . the waiata of Hirini Melbourne. The Kylie reference -- something I suspect Benson made some years ago -- was utterly irrelevant with regard to his exceptional new project Forest (see... > Read more

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

21 Jun 2013  |  <1 min read

It's Friday and 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 other... > Read more

Anna Russell: Folk Songs (1952)

20 Jun 2013  |  <1 min read

With her beautifully modulated tones and remarkable voice -- which went from a soprano squeal to a screech quite effortlessly -- Anna Russell was an enormously popular comedy-cum-classical act in the Fifties. She would poke fun at Wagner and contemporary classical music equally: of the latter she said it was music for the singer who was tone deaf, because in a contemporary song it's very... > Read more

Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs: Wooly Bully (1964)

19 Jun 2013  |  1 min read

When this out-of-the-blue single raced around the globe at the height of Beatlemania it sounded like a typically gimmicky hit of the period. The band name, Sam wearing a turban and the group dressed like Arabs didn't exactly deny it. You might have expected them to disappear immediately. But they didn't. They came back with a slightly sleazy slice of rough garageband rock on... > Read more

Willie Nelson: Nite Life (1962)

18 Jun 2013  |  1 min read

For many folks, Willie Nelson's wonderful album of standards Stardust, in the late Seventies, was a revelation . . . and unexpected. By then he had been so long associatied with the Outlaw movement in modern country -- and been adopted as the dope-smoking Red Headed Stranger by post-hippie adults -- that him singing standards like the title track, Blue Skies and Moonlight in Vermont... > Read more

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