From the Vaults

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Straitjacket Fits: So Long Marianne (1990)

8 Feb 2012  |  <1 min read  |  3

With Leonard Cohen much on our mind again with his new album Old Ideas, it was time to go to the vaults to find this version of his classic, as done by New Zealand's Straijacket Fits. This treatment appeared on their Hail album (and was on the flipside of the Hail 12"), and was the line-up which many considered the most musically interesting, with guitarist-singer-writer Andrew Brough... > Read more

Fats Waller: My Very Good Friend the Milkman Said (1935)

8 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

Paul McCartney covers this old Waller song on his album Kisses on the Bottom where he goes back to songs he knew fondly in his childhood (and isn't the first Beatle to do so, Ringo did a collection "for his mum" with his album Sentimental Journey in 1970). But here is Waller, a man whose career was cut tragically short when he died in '43 at 39. But then he did rather push... > Read more

Flow: Call (Neda) (2010)

7 Feb 2012  |  <1 min read

So, what are the first words which come to mind when you hear the word "Iran"? Probably not hip-hop, heavy metal, folk-rock or blues. Or Pink Floyd, as in this piece by the Iranian band Flow. This tribute is to the 26-year old music student Neda Agha-Soltan who was killed in student demonstrations in Tehran during June 2009 and became a symbol of resistance for young,... > Read more

George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

5 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

There has been quite a tradition in country music of complaining about how it has lost its roots, lost its way, been taken over by big business and stars selling out for the almighty dollar. Way back Waylon asked Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way? and ol' Hank Williams (something of a rebel himself, remember) seems to be the touchstone for authenticity and the pure strain of country --... > Read more

Barry Ryan: Eloise (1968)

1 Feb 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

In the late Sixties when this song appeared the rumour mill hit a peak. In the previous few years the twins Paul and Barry Ryan (who performed under that name) had clocked a steady string of decent, modest hits in Britain and - because they were only in their teens -- had graced the pages of many pop magazines at a time when the Beatles and the Stones were behaving in a far too adult a manner... > Read more

Oasis: The Shock of the Lightning (2003)

30 Jan 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

With the Gallagher brothers Liam and Noel going their own ways, at least for the time being (and some might wonder why they hadn't split up previously), you could almost get nostalgic for the glory that was Oasis. Definitely maybe the Morning Glory years, and then by judiciously sampling from those albums in the Nineties which came with braggadocio but dimishing musical returns. However... > Read more

Pere Ubu: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1975)

27 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Truly terrifying music is rare: there aren't that many pieces which make the hair on the back of your neck prickle, fill you with a sense of impending doom, make you feel uneasy somewhere deep within a part of your brain where rational thought no longer works for you. Pere Ubu -- whose debut album The Modern Dance appears at Essential Elsewhere incidentally -- manage that kind of music with... > Read more

The Beatles: Three Cool Cats (1962)

26 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Among the many odd things about the Beatles audition for Decca Records on January 1 1962 wasn't that the company's Dick Rowe famously turned them down saying they sounded too much like the Shadows and that groups with guitars were on their way out. On the evidence of the sessions the big question was, "What were the Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein thinking?" At the... > Read more

Pearl Bailey: A Man is a Necessary Evil (1956)

25 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Hard to believe, but Richard Nixon once appointed an "Ambassador of Love". It was 1970 (after Woodstock, but also after Altamont and the Tet Offensive) and more unbelievable was just who he appointed . . . the sassy, sultry and sometimes topless vaudeville and cabaret star Pearl Bailey who had recorded albums in the Fifties and Sixties "for adults only". The frequently... > Read more

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: I'm a Man (2006)

24 Jan 2012  |  <1 min read

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have not been short of greatest hits, collections, a bio-doco or a box set anthology. So in 2009 when the four CD set Live Anthology rolled around you might be forgiven for passing it by. Certainly there were flat spots in the running order which drew from three decades of shows, but the high points were many -- especially if you were a fan of the pre-Free... > Read more

John Lennon: Real Love (1979 demo)

23 Jan 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

When, in early 1994, the remaining Beatles (aka the Threetles) got together to work on the demo of the late John Lennon's Free As A Bird they at least had the bare bones of a vaguely interesting, if somewhat stodgy, song. Lennon's widow Yoko Ono had previously given McCartney three Lennon home demos at the induction of Lennon into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, and with the Beatles Anthology... > Read more

Peter Dawson: If In The Great Bazaars (date unknown)

20 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

So who sold a lot of records then? Oh yeah Rihanna, right? And the Beatles and Elvis? And, of course, Peter Dawson. Peter Dawson? Yep, according to the liner notes on the (possibly) mid-Seventies album this track is lifted from, Dawson -- born in Adelaide in 1882, died Sydney in 1961 -- sold at least 14,000,000 records in his long career. His career reached from cylinder discs with the... > Read more

Rachel Sweet; Stranger in the House (1978)

18 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

While no one actually used the word "jailbait" at the time, you can bet the idea passed through a few music writers' heads when the photos of Rachel Sweet came across their desks from Stiff Records. Actually, that's not entirely true: Stiff used the word about their young signing. Sweet -- from Akron, Ohio -- was just 16 when she broke through in Britain. But in the States she had... > Read more

The Checkmates: Love is All I Have to Give (1969)

13 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

It is widely believed that crazy Phil Spector "retired" from pop production in '66 because he had been broken by Ike and Tina Turner's River Deep Mountain High -- what he considered his finest "wall of sound" production -- not going to the top of the charts. Certainly after it failed to be embraced by DJs and the American public he shut down his Philles label -- but as... > Read more

The Adverts: Gary Gilmore's Eyes (1977)

12 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

A noble entry in the "one-hit wonder" category, this punk era single by London's Adverts had all the key elements of the genre: short and buzzy, sounding just enough like the Damned et al to be recognisably punk, and also a subject matter that seemed to provoke. Ironically for the Adverts this was almost their second "one hit wonder" because their first single was in... > Read more

Sonny Boy Williamson: Your Funeral and My Trial (1958)

11 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

By the time he went to Britain in the early Sixties and toured (and recorded) with the Yardbirds and the Animals, the career of Sonny Boy Williamson II was still at something of a peak, unlike many other blues artists like Howlin' Wolf who went to Britain in their declining years. Williamson had toured with Elmore James and Big Joe Williams, and he was a direct and clear link back to the... > Read more

John and Jackie: Little Girl (1958)

5 Jan 2012  |  <1 min read  |  2

Simulated female orgasm on records isn't overly common, but there are certainly a few high profile examples. Counting back from Vanessa Daou's Zipless album (1994) and Donna Summer's Love to Love You Baby (1975) through Yoko Ono's moan-groan-screaming in the late Sixties/early Seventies (you wouldn't want to live next door let alone be in the next room) and the steamy Serge Gainsbourg's Je... > Read more

Little Esther Phillips: Hound Dog (1953)

12 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

Although Big Mama Thornton was the first out of the block with Leiber and Stoller's Hound Dog -- subsequently a hit for Elvis Presley -- Thornton wasn't the only one to hear its bluesy potential. Esther Phillips -- later to find fame in the disco era with her cover of Dinah Washington's What a Diff'rence A Day Makes (see here) -- almost got it to the charts before her. Little Esther as... > Read more

Lee Dorsey, Yes We Can (1969)

8 Dec 2011  |  <1 min read  |  2

From regional hits then through increasing international success on the back of songs like Ya-Ya, Ride Your Pony and Working in a Coal Mine, Lee Dorsey -- a childhood friend of Fats Domino -- exported the sound of New Orleans. He was produced by Allen Toussaint, had the Meters back him on albums and singles in the late Sixties (they are on this cut), and had a natural gift for putting the... > Read more

Kurt Vonnegut, Simon Heselev: Tock Tick (1973/2003)

6 Dec 2011  |  1 min read

Kurt Vonnegut seems an unlikely collaborator with a jazz bassist from Melbourne -- but that is what happened in 2003 when the famous author allowed Australian musician and studio engineer Heselev to put music to his '73 reading of a section from his famous book Slaughterhouse Five. Heselev takes up the story about how, after graduating from Berklee in Boston and doing studio work in LA with... > Read more