From the Vaults

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Texas Jim Robertson: The Last Page of Mein Kampf (1946)

20 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

Texas-born Jim Robertson was one of those who sang about the Second World War and knew what he was talking about. No stay-at-home, when he was rejected by the army he enlisted in the marines and saw action in the Pacific then ended up in Japan after their surrender. At almost two metres tall, he'd been raised on a ranch, learned guitar and banjo from his father, and in the late Thirties... > Read more

Jim Reeves: He'll Have To Go (1960)

19 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

One of the saddest songs ever penned, He'll Have to Go became a signature ballad for the man they called Gentleman Jim Reeves. Reeves (1923-64) had the vocal ease of Bing Crosby but with less of the Crosby's lower register scuff: if Bing was brown, Jim was tan. And there was something about his slow aching honesty that made him the perfect voice for songs about a man in love whose... > Read more

The Mystery Trend: Johnny Was a Good Boy (1967)

18 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

Just as DJs like to discover rare grooves to enhance their cachet as being cutting edge, so too the internet is full of sites where people haul out the most obscure Sixties garageband and psychedelic rock tracks . . . not all of it any good, of course. That's not the point though. The point is along the lines of, "I've heard this and you haven't so . . ." The Mystery Trend... > Read more

Cilla Black: Liverpool Lullaby (1969)

15 Feb 2013  |  3 min read

Liverpool today is a very different place from the tough port city it was in the years after the war: a world perhaps only familiar from documentaries about the Beatles' early years where bomb-scarred buildings still littered the landscape. That lost world is celebrated in song and commemorated in film.  Today, if nothing else, there are new architectural projects and civic... > Read more

The Off-Set: You're a Drag (1966)

14 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

When it came to forming groups in the Sixties, Don Sallah was a serial offender. Mostly studio-based, Sallah started the decade in Little Moose and the Hunters (he was the wee moose), recorded an all-instrumental album as The Pioneers and then formed the Emeralds, a vocal harmony group. With Hank Cardello from the Emeralds he then formed the Off-Set who hooked into the folk-rock thing for... > Read more

Ozzie Waters: A Rodeo Down in Tokyo and a Round-Up in Old Berlin (1943)

13 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

While we might agree that war brings out the best and worst in people, it undeniably brings out the utterly atrocious when it comes to patriotic songs. Most are sentimental, stridently nationalistic, simplistic to the point of insulting and largely forgettable other than for some unintentional humour in later years. At From the Vaults we have posted a few which fall into all of those... > Read more

The Rolling Stones: Continental Drift (1989)

13 Feb 2013  |  1 min read  |  2

For reasons which were never clear or explained, in 1989 the Rolling Stones included this interesting piece of rock exotica on their Steel Wheels album, which was otherwise business as usual in the riffery stakes (the most memorable track which appeared in subsequent concerts was Mixed Emotions). The album wasn't too bad at all actualy (a considerable improvement over its predecssor Dirty... > Read more

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes: Hearts of Stone (1978)

12 Feb 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

With his big band the Asbury Jukes (a 10-piece), Southside Johnny out of New Jersey could only ever run a distant second to his friend Bruce Springsteen as the Seventies unfurled. Springsteen had the impetus, the big label, smart management and a kind of destiny -- but they were pals and E Street guitarist Steven Van Zandt was a Juke in '74-'75. Van Zandt produced the first three SJ albums... > Read more

The Shangri-Las: I Can Never Go Home Anymore (1965)

11 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

The spoken-word song -- often with a moral or a message -- has rarely been as popular as it was in the early Sixties. Back then there were numerous examples and although only a few became hugely popular the idea was a legitimate form. The Shangri-Las -- better known for Walkin' in the Sand and their terrific Leader of the Pack among other widescreen hits -- weighed in with this... > Read more

Honeyboy: Bloodstains on the Wall (1953)

8 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

Not much is known about Honeyboy (Frank Patt) other than he was born in 1928 in Fostoria, Alabama -- and that this song, considered his finest outing on the Speciality label in the Fifties, sold around 50,000 copies. You can see why: Jimmy Liggins plays tense and moody guitar, Gus Jenkins offers similar low key piano . . . and the lyric about coming home to what must be a murder scene is... > Read more

Bonnie Jo Mason: Ringo, I Love You (1964)

7 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

When the Beatles conquered the US in '64, there were literally scores of tribute songs, parodies and satirical pieces -- from the lament of The Beatles Barber to You Can't Go Far Without a Guitar (Unless You're Ringo Starr) and My Boyfriend's Got a Beatle Haircut. But few have gathered as much attention as this one. Not because it's any good (it isn't) but because of who sang it.... > Read more

Neil Young: Cocaine Eyes (1989)

5 Feb 2013  |  1 min read

Given his tendency to release as much music and as often as he can, it's increasingly hard to make the case for anything by Neil Young as being rare. His Archives Volume 1 scooped up vast tracts of early material, and when Vol 2 rolls around (no one would dare put a date on that, the first volume was spoken about for decades) then maybe songs like this one will be included. But for now... > Read more

Robin Zander: Fly Me to the Moon (2011)

4 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read  |  1

On the basis of recent evidence Robin Zander -- singer with the smarter-than-thou Cheap Trick -- has really lost it. Lost his cheekbones, his slim frame and, worst of all because those are forgivably inevitable with advancing years, his sense of taste. Perhaps it was having uber-brain Rick Nielsen helming Cheap Trick that allowed them to pull off three superb albums in a row -- and deliver... > Read more

Daniel Lentz: On the Leopard Altar (1984)

1 Feb 2013  |  <1 min read

To be fair to Paul McCartney, he's always said he can't pick a hit single and never knows if he's written one until people line up to buy it. Even so, when Mojo magazine asked him in '97 -- as part of their 100 Greatest Singles of All Time issue -- to name his favourite songs, and then one that should have been a contender he went for this odd item by the American contemporary classical... > Read more

Carl Perkins: Dixie Fried (1956)

31 Jan 2013  |  1 min read

Known mostly these days as the writer of Blue Suede Shoes (he sang it before Elvis' chart-topping cover), Carl Perkins was the man who was the most hillbilly cat of them all in the early rock'n'roll era. Looking like a cadaver with his sunken cheeks, and a heroic drinker, the married Carl was the Hank Williams of rockabilly . . . and Sam Phillips knew Perkins could be his next big star... > Read more

Dinah Washington: Big Long Slidin' Thing (1954)

30 Jan 2013  |  <1 min read  |  1

It's about a trombone player's instrument, of course. Well, of course it is . . . But the sexually voracious and seldom satisfied Washington (seven husbands, countless lovers) knows exactly what this is about and manages to milk the innuendo in her typically sassy way. Her real forte was torch songs and she crossed effortlessly between jazz, blues, pop and rhythm and blues -- and songs... > Read more

Cliff Richard: Schoolboy Crush (1958)

29 Jan 2013  |  1 min read

Although there is still some debate about which was the first rock'n'roll record, the critical consensus appears to have decided on Rocket 88 written by Ike Turner at the famous Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi. When it comes to the first British rock'n'roll record there is no doubt. It is Move It by Cliff Richard. Recorded at Abbey Road in July 1958 with entrepreneur Norrie... > Read more

? and the Mysterians: Can't Get Enough of You Baby (1967)

25 Jan 2013  |  1 min read

It's a common enough sentiment, but in the fast-changing world of pop "If it ain't broke, why try to fix it?" just doesn't work. That idea would have kept the Beatles singing variants of She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand for a few years and in all likelihood they would have become one of those rapidly redundant pop sensations remembered only for their Ed Sullivan Show... > Read more

Alberta Hunter: You Can't Tell the Difference After Dark (c1936)

24 Jan 2013  |  1 min read

When Alberta Hunter enjoyed a career revival in the late Seventies -- when she was in her mid 80s -- people who had forgotten her were scrambling to acclaim her saucy and sassy blues, and to look back at where she had come from all those decades previous. Hunter had been born in 1895 and wrote the classic Downhearted Blues in 1922. Her peers included Bessie Smith who had a hit with... > Read more

Maurice Rocco: Darktown Strutters Ball (1945)

23 Jan 2013  |  1 min read  |  1

No matter how innovative a musician can appear to be, you can almost always track down a predecessor. There usually seems to be someone who was doing something similar a little earlier, most often to no great acclaim. The impeccably attired boogie-woogie pianist Maurice Rocco from Ohio was, however, widely hailed for his lively style and he appeared in a number of movies (notably 52nd... > Read more