From the Vaults

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

19 Jun 2023  |  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

The Embers: Planet 10 (1963)

5 Jun 2023  |  <1 min read

Auckland band the Embers had a residency at the Shiralee nightclub in the central city and were a go-to backing band for artists like Jimmy Sloggett, Ray Woolf, Lou and Simon and many others. There was certainly considerable talent in their revolving door line-up. At various times the great guitarist Doug Jerebine (aka Jesse Harper), bassist Yuk Harrison (too many bands to mention, but... > Read more

Brave Combo: My Girl Lollipop (1982)

25 May 2023  |  <1 min read

It was a brave combo indeed that took piano accordion polka-rock to the good people of Denton, Texas. But in the early Eighties this four-piece pulled together ska, Tex-Mex, rock, waltzes, rumba, zydeco and tango (with polka) and delivered their own versions of Hendrix's Purple Haze, Iron Butterfly's Inna Gadda Da Vida and The Twist, Perfidia and some mad originals. They played in... > Read more

Johnny Devlin: Matador Baby (1958)

25 May 2023  |  1 min read

It's widely known that Johnny Devlin was New Zealand's own Elvis Presley -- but unlike Elvis, Devlin wrote his own material. Certainly he covered the hits of the day -- Hand Jive, Wild One, Bony Maronie and so on. But he also wrote some creditable originals like Hard to Get, High Heeled Shoes, Nervous Wreck and so on -- which all were firmly within the genre of Fifties rock'n'roll as we... > Read more

Rufus Wainwright: Medley from Brian Wilson's SMiLE (2009)

22 May 2023  |  <1 min read

As most people who follow such things know, the album SMiLE was the one that broke the Beach Boys' composer Brian Wilson. After labouring over it for months and months -- his spirit increasingly battered by complaints about its complexity from within the band, issues with record company and an increasing intake of marijuana which didn't help -- the project was finally abandoned in '67.... > Read more

Odell Brown: Mellow Yellow (1967)

15 May 2023  |  <1 min read

The Chess label out of Chicago knew its way around the blues and funk so when swinging and finger-snap funk (like the Ramsey Lewis Trio's 1965 hit The In Crowd) was all over radio, the Chess brothers Leonard and Phil were onto it. The smart money was on songs with instant appeal, like Donovan's Mellow Yellow which organist Odell Brown and his band the Organ-izers -- tenor players Thomas... > Read more

Howard Morrison Quartet: Rioting in Wellington/Mori the Hori (1962)

30 Apr 2023  |  1 min read

Recorded live in concert in 1962, these two tracks by the enormously popular Howard Morrison Quartet show just how little things have changed in New Zealand, and how much they have. The reference to Aunt Daisy in Rioting in Wellington won't mean much to anyone who wasn't there, but it is a reference to a radio star making the move to television. Ironically in New Zealand any television... > Read more

Bill Haley and the Comets: Thirteen Women (1954)

3 Apr 2023  |  <1 min read

Talking to Memphis writer Robert Gordon about his 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 over to hear what was on the... > Read more

Bessie Banks: Go Now (1964)

26 Mar 2023  |  1 min read  |  1

Before they found fame in 1967 with their orchestrated pop on the album Days of Future Passed (and the hit single Nights in White Satin), the Moody Blues out of Birmingham, England were just another pleasant and servicable pop band of the Beatles era. On their debut album The Magnificent Moodies of '65 they had a stab at James Brown's I'll Go Crazy, the Berry-Greenwich tune I've Got A... > Read more

Billy Preston: All Things Must Pass (1970)

18 Mar 2023  |  <1 min read

It says much about George Harrison's generous spirit that he gave Billy Preston the chance to release versions of his songs My Sweet Lord and All Things Must Pass before he did so himself. Those two songs -- along with a Preston-Harrison co-write Sing One for the Lord and Preston's take on Lennon-McCartney's I Got A Feeling -- appeared on Preston's second album for the Beatles' Apple label,... > Read more

Asha Bhosle: Dum Maro Dum (1971)

13 Mar 2023  |  <1 min read

The great Indian singer Asha Bhosle (89 at the time of this writing) has recorded more than 12,000 songs in her long career as a playback singer for films across many genres. Her sister Lata Mangeshkar (d 2022) was also an enormously prolific playback singer who recorded even more songs, and Bhosle's second husband was the famous songwriter/composer RD Burman (d 1994) who wrote the scores... > Read more

Toni Basil: Nobody (1982)

6 Mar 2023  |  <1 min read

Is there a more annoying song than Toni Basil's inanely catchy Mickey ("Oh Mickey you're so fine . . . hey Mickey" etc)? It's the kind of song you wake up with banging around inside your head and you spend the rest of the day wondering what you did in a previous lifetime to deserve such hellish punishment. It is in there with Racey's Some Girls ("some girls will, some... > Read more

Lewis: Like to See You Again (1983)

19 Feb 2023  |  1 min read

The story behind the obscure album L'Amour by a man known only as Lewis is as odd and out-of-sych as the cover photos. In '83 the handsome, well-groomed Lewis turned up at a rundown punk studio in LA, arriving in a white Mercedes convertible with his pretty surfer-girl girlfriend. He said he wanted to record an atmospheric album -- which he did -- and then he disappeared leaving barely... > Read more

Lightnin' Hopkins: Automobile (1949)

12 Feb 2023  |  <1 min read

Bob Dylan aficionados should get a copy of this on 33 1/3rpm record and play it at 45, or at about 40rpm. And lo! It sounds perilously close in many ways -- an inspiration if nothing else -- for Bob's Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat. Dylan had seen the great Lightin' Hopkins on television a few years before he [Dylan] arrived in New York to haunt the downtown folk clubs and soak up... > Read more

The Legendary Stardust Cowboy: I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship (1968)

5 Feb 2023  |  1 min read

Norman Odam – still alive at 75 – isn't a household name, unless your household is attuned to outsider artists like Jandek, the Shaggs, Daniel Johnston, Roky Erickson, Hasil Adkins and the like. But as The Legendary Stardust Cowboy – the name he appeared under – he might just be familiar to David Bowie fans, because it from him that Bowie borrowed the... > Read more

Teddy Bennett: The Life I Live (1962)

29 Jan 2023  |  2 min read

Unlike his lesser peer Ronnie Sundin who is reasonably well known in New Zealand rock'n'roll circles but a very limited talent, Teddy Bennett is harder to find information about. In fact, Elsewhere is prepared to admit that until lunch with a friend who had found a copy of Bennett's 1961 album -- the unpromisingly titled Where Were You On Our Wedding Day -- we'd never heard of him.... > Read more

Cracker: Movie Star (1993)

22 Jan 2023  |  1 min read

In some liner notes to the 1994 triple-CD box set compilation of tracks from the Virgin label, Martin Aston said of the American band Cracker “with their confidently ramshackle boho-pop they could be the Next Likely To from across the water”. However despite the critical and commercial success of their Kerosene Hat album – on which this was a track – there were... > Read more

Neil Young and the Bluenotes: This Note's For You (1988)

15 Jan 2023  |  1 min read

An artist, sportsperson or public figure who doesn't accept, let alone solicit, corporate money these days is a rarity, possibly even considered somewhat odd -- and maybe even suspect. But back when people like Michael Jackson and Madonna were lining up for Pepsi/Coke dollars and rap stars were schilling for shoes, Neil Young stepped out and said, "Ain't singin' for Pepsi, ain't... > Read more

The Beatles: 12 Bar Original (1965)

2 Jan 2023  |  <1 min read  |  1

On November 4 1965 when the Beatles were rushing to finish the Rubber Soul album they polished up a piece Lennon-McCartney had written more than two years previous and handed it to Ringo. It was What Goes On and Ringo was even given a co-credit for whatever contribution he made. That same day however they recorded this lengthy piece, their first instrumental during their EMI years and... > Read more

The Fab Four: Jingle Bells

24 Dec 2022  |  <1 min read

There are a lot of Christmas albums out there. But every now and again one comes along and you think . . . Yeah, why not? It's a bit of a wheeze but these guys make a fine fist of taking Tomorrow Never Knows into the Yuletide season. Enjoy. And enjoy Christmas. (Thanks for this Fred, another album in my massive pile of Beatle-related albums!)  . For more... > Read more