From the Vaults

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Hep Stars: No Response (1965)

27 Jan 2014  |  1 min read  |  1

At the Abba Museum in Stockholm -- more correctly Abba The Museum and The Swedish Music Hall of Fame -- you should save time for the last rooms, the bit after the Abba part. There you'll find an outline of Swedish popular music which doesn't shy from how racist some music writers were towards black artists in the Thirties (Louis Armstrong described in horrific terms) and just how everything... > Read more

Asha Bhosle and Mohammad Rafi: Dekho ab to kisko nahin hai khabar (1965)

20 Jan 2014  |  <1 min read  |  1

Amazing what you find by accident on aircraft film channels if you forgo watching the US blockbusters or Lord of the Rings again. On a recent trip between Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne - by Emirates whom I unequivocally recommend, and who mercifully don't have LOTR -- I was flicking through the hundreds of options on Emirates and came across a whole channel of Indian film clips which featured... > Read more

The Monkees: Can You Dig It? (1968)

19 Dec 2013  |  1 min read

Just as Bob Dylan tried to demolish the myths which had built up around him with his Self Portrait album in 1970, so too the Monkees tried -- with even greater success than Dylan -- to shake off the pop image they had when they released their movie Head in '68. Helmed by Bob Rafelson (who co-produced it with Jack Nicholson), Head was a surreal, fragmented, Pythonesque series of skits,... > Read more

Big Joe Turner: Honey Hush (1953)

5 Dec 2013  |  <1 min read

When white artists discovered the vast catalogue of black rhythm and blues and began to cover many of the songs -- thus giving birth to rock'n'roll in the mid Fifites -- it was to Big Joe Turner that many went. Bill Haley had a decent sized hit with his cover of Turner's Shake Rattle and Roll, and Johnny Burnette picked up on Honey Hush, a song which starts off good humoured but ends with a... > Read more

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