From the Vaults

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Otis Blackwell: Daddy Rollin' Stone (1953)

28 Nov 2022  |  <1 min read

Otis Blackwell is best known as a songwriter, and he was one the most prominent and best in the rock'n'roll era. Among his classics were Fever, All Shook Up, Don't Be Cruel, Great Balls of Fire, Return to Sender . . .  But he was, at the start of his career, a performer himself and the slinky Daddy Rollin' Stone was his single which influenced the likes of Leiber and Stoller.... > Read more

Professor Longhair: Her Mind is Gone (1980)

14 Nov 2022  |  1 min read

There are dozens of places you can start on a discovery of the genius of New Orleans' legendary pianist/arranger and songwriter Professor Longhair, the man Allen Toussaint called "the Bach of Rock". Dr John said Longhair "put the funk into music, he's the father of the stuff" and producer Jerry Wexler acclaimed him as "a seminal force, a guru, the original creator... > Read more

The Stardusters: Rock Around the Island (1956)

7 Nov 2022  |  <1 min read

Written by the American Ken Darby who also penned Love Me Tender, this engaging slice of pop captures the spirit of the Pacific (Hawaiian music was still enormously popular at the time and Bill Wolfgramm on steel guitar here was a master practitioner) and also the new fangled sound of rock'n'roll beaming in from the States. And a little smidgen of country music. The Stardusters were a... > Read more

Joe Tex: I Gotcha (1972)

31 Oct 2022  |  <1 min read

You could never say Joe Tex didn't live an interesting life, if being shot at by James Brown (who said Tex was copying his moves) constitutes something "interesting". Things weren't always quite so high profile and dangerous, none of his singles in his first decade caught the public's imagination but in the mid Sixties (after Brown had covered his Baby You're Right) he started to... > Read more

Dr Timothy Leary: from The Psychedelic Experience (1966)

28 Oct 2022  |  1 min read

The famed, some would say notorious, clinical psychologist at Harvard Timothy Leary had a colourful, some would say multi-coloured, life. As an advocate for the benefits of consciousness altering drugs, notably LSD, he became a key figure in the counter-culture of the late Sixties. These days he's been reduced to his injunction to “turn on, tune, drop out” but... > Read more

The Waterboys: I Can See Elvis (2014)

23 Oct 2022  |  1 min read

Name-checking Elvis, Memphis and Jesus in songs has been such as cliché as to be meaningless and mostly just a cheap reference for some kind of credibility. Singing about a girl in blue jeans in a pick-up who loves Elvis means . . . what exactly? But every now and again someone comes up with an Elvis reference which places The King in a new context and uses him as a cipher to... > Read more

Kyu Sakamoto: Sukiyaki (1963)

16 Oct 2022  |  1 min read

It wasn't really the name of the song that Sakamoto recorded, but that hardly mattered. When this catchy piece of MOR pop from Japan made it to the West it enjoyed enormous success. Sakamoto, who was 22, was the first and last Japanese artist to top the Billboard charts. It was also his first and last international success. Back home of course he wasn't a one-hit wonder, he was a... > Read more

Kyu Sakamoto: Sukiyaki (1963)

The Fair Sect Plus One: I Love How You Love Me (1967)

10 Oct 2022  |  1 min read  |  1

Occasionally at the Herald, when I had written something about a Sixties rock band in New Zealand or a story about clubs of that era, one of the subs Trevor would come over for a chat. He was a man of few words most of the time but in these instances he'd have some wry observation or tightly delivered anecdote which made it clear he had been there at the time. Once, in passing in some... > Read more

Marc Ribot: The Wind Cries Mary (1990)

3 Oct 2022  |  <1 min read  |  1

Marc Ribot has long been the guitarist of choice for Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and others, but he was also in a couple of interesting if not influential bands of his own. Before being one of the Lounge Lizards (alongside John Lurie), the New Jersey-born Ribot played in bands behind touring soul acts (Wilson Pickett etc) but it was his work with Waits from the mid Eighties which brought hm... > Read more

Paper Knife: title unknown (1996?)

15 Sep 2022  |  1 min read

At some time in the mid Nineties while in Tokyo I ambled through Yoyogi Park where the Fifites rock'n'roll stylists slick back their hair and dance to old Elvis, and girls and boys alike dress like manga-mad characters. It is a vibrant and slightly circus-like atmosphere -- and that was where I saw Paper Knife, two young and slightly uncomfortable guys with guitars and a beat box of drum... > Read more

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Something in the Air (1993)

5 Sep 2022  |  <1 min read

The late Tom Petty knew a lot of rock history, having been inspired by the blues and the British Invasion in addition to Southern rock. Which is why on the four CD Live Anthology released in 2009 we find covers of I'm a Man, Diddy Wah Diddy, I Just Want to Make Love to You, Grateful Dead's Friend of the Devil, Green Onions, Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well and the theme to Goldfinger. And this very... > Read more

The Rolling Stones: 20 Nil (1997, bootleg)

29 Aug 2022  |  <1 min read

This was one of the songs the Stones recorded in Ocean Way Studio in Los Angeles for what became their Bridges to Babylon album. It was an interesting, late career album -- and not just because they worked with the Dust Brothers, Don Was and others as a production tag-team. The single Anybody Seen My Baby? actually got serious radio play, the excellent video featured Angelina Jolie as a... > Read more

Sebastian Cabot: Like a Rolling Stone (1967)

22 Aug 2022  |  <1 min read  |  2

Portly English actor Sebastian Cabot was best known for his role as Mr Giles French, the "gentleman's gentleman" (butler etc), in the long-running late Sixties US sitcom Family Affair alongside Brian Keith (as his master). With his commanding English accent he was also in demand for voice-over work and -- like David Niven before him -- became the go-to guy when Hollywood needed... > Read more

Joel Grey: White Room (1969)

15 Aug 2022  |  <1 min read

Actor Joel Grey won a best supporting actor Academy Award in '72 for his role as the MC in the Liza Minnelli vehicle Cabaret, following his hugely successful portrayal of the character in the Broadway musical which had won him a Tony award. After that however his successes and appearances were fewer and of lesser consequence (he appeared in Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a season) and often... > Read more

The Viscounts: Harlem Nocturne (1959)

8 Aug 2022  |  <1 min read

In the final month of the Fifties, the Viscounts covered this piece which Ray Noble and His Orchestra had introduced two decades previous. But to it the Viscounts brought a sleazy menace in the simple bass line and shimmering guitar behind a saxophone sound which comes at you from a shadowy back alley. It reeks of film noir sensibility. This moody track was included on the excellent... > Read more

Gene McDaniels: Tower of Strength (1961)

23 Jul 2022  |  1 min read  |  1

When Nick Lowe sang this oldie in concert at the Powerstation (see review here), it's a fair bet many in the audience either didn't recognise it, or hadn't heard it in over four decades. Lowe's treatment -- slow, less dramatic -- made the lyrics act as a neat counterpoint to his own bitter I Trained Her to Love Me. But in McDaniel's hands this song he co-wrote with Burt Bacharach is a very... > Read more

Hancock, Carter, Williams, McFerrin: Chan's Song, Never Said (1986)

18 Jul 2022  |  1 min read

When it comes to movies about jazz, the jazz audience is almost impossible to please. Every detail – even in fictions – must be authentic, or at least ring true to the art, the artists, the milieu, the audience . . . Tough call, and why Clint Eastwood's Bird was often curtly dismissed despite its many strengths (however replacing the original musicians behind Charlie Parker's... > Read more

The Flying Pickets: Get Off Of My Cloud (1983)

11 Jul 2022  |  <1 min read

Songs by the Rolling Stones have suffered a number of indignities -- usually when an orchestra is involved -- but few have been made over in a humorous way, as was done by this British a cappella outfit in the early Eighties which enjoyed a number one Christmas single in '83 with their version of Yazoo's Only You. The group -- mostly theatre and stage singers -- took their name from the... > Read more

Bob Marley and the Wailers: Let the Lord Be Seen in You (1965)

4 Jul 2022  |  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

Jacqueline Taieb: 7 heures du matin (1967)

27 Jun 2022  |  <1 min read

The attractive young Taieb (who had been born in Tunis) was one of the generation of "ye-ye" girl singers which emerged in France in the Sixties as the Beatles swept through. The French took to the hip fashions and Carnaby Street style with a passion and Talieb was an overnight sensation at 19 with this cool, slightly detached song which was her first, biggest and last hit under... > Read more