From the Vaults

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Bob Dylan: The Usual (1987)

23 Jun 2014  |  1 min read

Although in these days of online-everything there could be very few Bob Dylan songs described as rare, this one isn't too readily available . . .  unless you have the soundrack to the Eighties film Hearts of Fire on which it appeared. The movie itself -- in which Dylan plays an elusive and reclusive rock star, in very bad Eighties clothes -- was widely disparaged and didn't even get... > Read more

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: Change Partners (1974)

6 Jun 2014  |  1 min read

Here's an early exclusive for you. In a month an album drawn from '74 concerts by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young will be released for the first time. It comes as a single disc (for the track listing see here), but also in a three CD and DVD format, and for the full track listing of that see here. (It's got Young's Revolution Blues on it, can't wait to hear that!) The release of this... > Read more

Tall Dwarfs: Ride a White Swan (1998)

4 Jun 2014  |  <1 min read

In the course of researching the folksy-hippie sound of Tyrannosaurus Rex of the late Sixties, before they morphed into the brilliant pixiefied glam rock of T. Rex, I was turning up some interesting oddities in their catalogue. But when I got to their pivotal song Ride a White Swan with which Marc Bolan announced a whole new Rex -- electric, poppy, teen-directed -- I stumbled on this... > Read more

Girlschool: Tush (1981)

30 May 2014  |  <1 min read

In the catalogue of hard rocking women, Girlschool out of Britain deserve to be counted in there alongside Joan Jett, the Runaways and a few select others. They arrived as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in the late Seventies alongside Saxon, Tank, Iron Maiden and others, but were most often associated with Motorhead as their mainman Lemmy was a great supporter of Girlschool.... > Read more

Gurus: Shelley in Camp (1968)

28 May 2014  |  <1 min read

The '68 film Wild in the Streets had a helluva cast: mad Shelley Winters as a hippie convert then chewing up the scenery, Hal Holbrook as a shrewd politico seething as only Hal could do; Richard Pryor, Ed Begley . . . Crazy story too: through the machinations of political manipulators a nation turns itself on its head and vote in a president who is a young rock singer who then legislates to... > Read more

The Queen Annes: You Got Me Running (1985)

26 May 2014  |  1 min read

Amazing, isn't it, how far a sound can travel? Like the sound of Mod England as epitmised by the Who reaching right into the heartland of Washington state in the US where, in the early Eighties, this band took it (belatedly) to heart. It would be an exaggeration to say the Queen Annes were one of the great undiscovered pre-grunge bands from Seattle, but on the evidence of a recent... > Read more

Solomon King: Happy Again (1968)

22 May 2014  |  1 min read

Solomon King -- not to be confused with the equally enormous late Solomon Burke -- was something of a one-hit wonder when his big voiced ballad She Wears My Ring went racing up the charts in the UK in '68. Like Engelbert Humperdink, King's style seemed to belong to an earlier era . . . and the album which accompanied the hit confirmed it: he covered the gorgeous Stranger in Paradise... > Read more

Tim Hollier: Full Fathoms Five (1968)

21 May 2014  |  1 min read

The title of this song by an obscure and unfairly overlooked British psych-folkie would be familiar to followers of New Zealand music, and those who know the works of the Bard. The line comes from Shakespeare's The Tempest and Don McGlashan deployed it as the opening words of his lovely Anchor Me. Here the Shakespeare -- it is Ariel's song -- is given a musical setting by Hollier,... > Read more

Jan Berry: The Universal Coward (1965)

20 May 2014  |  1 min read

Jan Berry was half of the surf pop group Jan and Dean, and he co-wrote this song with Jill Gibson as an answer to Buffy Sainte-Marie's Universal Soldier of the same year which had been covered by Donovan and Glen Campbell. His partner Dean Torrance – who had done an Army Reserve stint – wanted nothing to do with it. It's blunt! A real Cold War classic in a way.... > Read more

Grace Jones: Me, I Disconnect From You (1981)

15 May 2014  |  <1 min read

Before interviewing Gary Numan recently I put a call out on Facebook to anyone who had questions for the man they wanted answered. He was a delight to speak with (see here) and happy to take these random questions at the end, one being about great (and lousy) covers of his songs which he might have heard. He was very generous as you may see, but hadn't heard this recently... > Read more

The Martin Drew Band w. Brian Smith: Child is Born (1977)

14 May 2014  |  1 min read

For many decades Martin Drew - who died in 2010 -- was the go-to drummer in Britain. A partial list, which he drew up himself, of the people he'd played with included Lee Konitz, Woody Herman, Paul McCartney, Dexter Gordon, Chico Freeman, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Warren Vache, Oscar Peterson (in whose band he was), Chet Baker, Chico Freeman . . . Most of those jazz players he... > Read more

Diane Hildebrand: You Wonder Why You're Lonely (1969)

6 May 2014  |  1 min read

The recent Record Store Day made a major gouge in my bank account, but even so there were some accidental bargains in my bag. While waiting in the queue at Southbound Records with some pricey gems I found myself by their discount bin and so, idly flicking through the selections, I . . . Yes, the album by Diane Hildebrand made itself known to me for a number of reasons: first because I'd... > Read more

Art Pepper: Smack Up (1960)

5 May 2014  |  <1 min read

Art Pepper hardly hid his dependency, so he must have been amusingly drawn to the title of this piece by Harold Land. Pepper had already served time for heroin possesion but after the sessions for the album of this name he would be in and out of San Quentin on almost consecutive terms for a long time. It would be almost 15 years before he made any kind of serious comeback to jazz -- on... > Read more

Martha Reeves and the Vandellas: I Should be Proud (1970)

30 Apr 2014  |  1 min read

On Anzac Day I was invited onto National Radio to talk about songs from the era of the Vietnam conflict and rather than going for some of the more obvious ones (Universal Soldier and so on) I picked some of the more vehemently pro-American and patriotic ones (Universal Coward by Jan Berry about draft dodgers). Then I moved from the truly creepy Letter to a Buddie and into songs which didn't... > Read more

Massiel: La La La (1968)

29 Apr 2014  |  1 min read

In 1968 middle-class, middle-aged (and some kids) Britain held a collective breath. That year the Eurovision Song Contest was being hosted at the Royal Albert Hall, after a bare-footed Sandie Shaw had won it the previous year with Puppet on a String. This time success was assured because the committee had put up Britain's favourite pop star Cliff Richard . . . and the song chosen was... > Read more

Lawrence Arabia: Eye A (2009)

28 Apr 2014  |  1 min read

In a long and interesting interview with Elsewhere, Lawrence Arabia spoke about his past, his present, his doubts and hopes. But also about the forthcoming concerts in which he will be playing his three albums -- Lawrence Arabia, Chant Darling and The Sparrow -- in their entirety at concerts in Auckland and Wellington (see poster). Obviously some of these songs he would not have played... > Read more

Joan Baez: Simple Twist of Fate (1975)

25 Apr 2014  |  <1 min read

In late '74 Joan Baez went into a studio with hot session musicians and jazz players (Jim Gordon, Larry Knechtel, Joe Sample, Larry Carlton, Wilton Felder), and she had been hanging around with her new friend Hampton Hawes. So jazz -- and Joni Mitchell -- was in the air, and Baez responded by delivering the album Diamonds and Rust which was a step well away from her folkie image. But... > Read more

World Saxophone Quartet: Take the A Train (1986)

24 Apr 2014  |  <1 min read

One of the most innovative and sometimes daring jazz groups around, World Saxophone Quartet was an implosion of individual talents: Julius Hemphill (alto), Oliver Lake (alto), David Murray (tenor) and Hamiet Bluiett (baritone). Each of them had come into jazz from an angle of post-bop and often free playing, and their subsequent careers took them in very different directions again, notably... > Read more

Tony Lambrianou: Product of the Environment (1999)

23 Apr 2014  |  <1 min read

Gangsta rappers may bang on about putting "a cap in yo ass" (trans: a bullet in your bottom) but much of that is posturing. The London 'ard men on the album Product of the Environment (1999, produced by Tricky's offsider Gareth Bowen) were the real thing: safe-breakers, hitmen, mad (Frankie Fraser certified mad three times), mates with the Krays . . . The album has 11 gangsters... > Read more

Park/Kaiser/Moyes: OO-AA-YI (1984, extract only)

21 Apr 2014  |  <1 min read

Does anyone release albums like Invite the Spirit, from which this extract is lifted, anymore? This expansive double album came through Celluloid out of New York and was a live recording of improvisations by Korean gayageum player (and vocalist)  Sang-Won Park, avant-guitarist Henry Kaiser and percussion player Charles K. Noyes (who also plays saw). That's not the kind of line-up... > Read more