From the Vaults

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The Chequers: Ask for Reggae (1973)

17 Nov 2011  |  <1 min read

The Chequers were a fairly minor league reggae outfit who quite quickly moved away from the template and into what some have called on-line "dodgy disco" (which is a little unfair, it was more Philly soul) and then they evolved into a soul-funk band. But certainly their star never rose very high although their version of Rudy's In Love (with Philly soul-strings) showed how smooth... > Read more

The Jiants: Tornado (1959)

15 Nov 2011  |  <1 min read

When the rock'n'roll wave hit Marion, Indiana in the late Fifties what else was a poor boy to do but play in a rock'n'roll band . . . The short-lived Jiants (1959-61) were an enthusiastic five-piece but their star was guitarist Jerry Hedges who on this, their local hit, worked a throbbing and twanging style which was such an aural fingerprint for many of the best acts of the era. And you... > Read more

Sagittarius: My World Fell Down (1966)

14 Nov 2011  |  1 min read

Elsewhere doesn't go much for conspiracy theories -- although I've been to the Texas Book Depository in Dallas and, hmmm. But here's one that might be of interest. LA musician/producer Gary Usher was working on the single My World Fell Down with a bunch of session musicians at the same time as Brian Wilson was meticulously crafting Good Vibrations for the Beach Boys. Usher and Wilson... > Read more

Bunny Walters: To be Free with Labour (year unknown)

9 Nov 2011  |  1 min read

Right now in New Zealand it is the run-up to the election and -- unlike in what some of like to call "the old days" -- none of the main parties seem to have a high-profile election song. There was always something pleasing about those sentimental, patriotic and reductive songs of yesteryear which played while the party leader posed alongside Kiwi cliches -- snow-capped mountains,... > Read more

The Beatles: I'm Down (1965)

7 Nov 2011  |  1 min read

When the Beatles played that historic concert at Shea Stadium, New York in August '65 before 55,000 screamers -- the biggest audience for a rock concert at that time -- John Lennon clearly enjoyed himself, no more so than during McCartney's rocker I'm Down where he played keyboards with his elbow and set Harrison and McCartney into fits of laughter. I'm Down -- another classic Beatles... > Read more

Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music (1975)

3 Nov 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Metal Machine Music is the Lou Reed album that even many Lou fans haven't heard -- or did hear and said, "Never again". Many who bought this double album at the time (which now fetches absurd prices on-line) returned it because not only does Reed not sing on it, but it has no songs (there are four pieces, each around 16 minutes long) and is a little over an hour of guitar feedback... > Read more

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Screaming Lord Sutch: Til the Following Night (1961)

28 Oct 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

In later years Screaming Lord Sutch was better known for being the founder of the Official Monster Raving Looney Party in Britain and standing in various electorates (from '63) in weird outfits. He's in the opening scenes of The New Statesman standing against Alan B'stard (Rik Mayall). In the Stones' Get Off Of My Cloud, Sutch was the "guy all dressed up like Union Jack". But back... > Read more

Glen Campbell, Freddy Fender, Michelle Shocked: Witchita Lineman (1997)

27 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read

With the release of his excellent, dignified final album Ghost on the Canvas, there has been attention understandably turned to his great period as a hit-maker with Jimmy Webb songs in the late Sixties. But here's a rare one, Campbell re-doing the Webb classic Witchita Lineman with Michelle Shocked on backing vocals and Freddy Fender sharing the lead. The band, the Texas Tornados,... > Read more

Koko Taylor: Wang Dang Doodle (1960)

25 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

Although you never need an excuse to play this strutting Willie Dixon-penned classic from Chess Records' studio with the great Koko Taylor growling her way through it, it does seem timely on this very day as Tom Waits' new album Bad As Me has a terrific track inspired in part by its raw spirit. Waits' Satisfied might nod to the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction in its lyrics when it names... > Read more

Bessie Banks: Go Now (1964)

24 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

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

Professor Longhair: Her Mind is Gone (1980)

21 Oct 2011  |  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 of... > Read more

Tommy Steele: What a Mouth (1960)

19 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

What You Tube allows us to see is how the Beatles in 1963 and early '64 -- as they were proving themselves and didn't quite have full career control -- were going down the same route as most British acts, that of being the "all round family entertainer". By appearing on populist television shows (Morecambe and Wise etc) and doing panto-like things (mock Shakespeare, see clip... > Read more

The Goldebriars: Sing Out Terry O'Day (1964)

18 Oct 2011  |  2 min read

One of the pleasures of digging around through old vinyl for Elsewhere's pages From the Vaults is in discovering the occasional overlooked classic, the rare or the just plain peculiar. Rummaging through discount bins takes time but there are often cheap rewards, in this case very cheap. What attracted me to this $3 album wasn't just the fact the two women were wearing kimonos and had... > Read more

The Contours: First I Look at the Purse (1965)

17 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

One of the first groups signed to Berry Gordy's Motown label, the Contours had a huge hit with the much-covered Do You Love Me ("now that I can dance") which was in the set of Beatles-era bands like the Dave Clark Five, the Hollies and the Tremeloes. After their next couple of songs failed to ignite it seems they were relegated behind the more successful Temptations, Smokey... > Read more

Green Pajamas: Just a Breath Away (2000)

12 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

Although many tried -- especially in the Britpop era -- to bottle the essence of the Beatles' music at the cusp of marijuana and LSD (Rubber Soul and Revolver), few managed it with as much maturity, sensibility and persuasive power of the song as Green Pajamas out of Seattle, and they frequently did it at the time when grunge affection was sweeping the planet. The Pajamas' mainman Jeff... > Read more

Ian and Sylvia: You Were On My Mind (1964)

11 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

When the British singer Crispian St Peters died in June 2010, many were shocked at his age. He was 71, and yet back when he was spinning hits like You Were on My Mind and Pied Piper in the mid Sixties he seemed so much younger than his Lennon and McCartney peers. His career was a short one, not helped by him publically denouncing the Beatles as "past it" (if memory serves... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Positively 4th Street (1965)

10 Oct 2011  |  1 min read  |  2

When you have guitar, a voice, a studio and an expectant audience -- and some degree of vitriol to be delivered -- why would you not fire off this bitter salvo at former friends you might feel (rightly or wrongly of course) who have betrayed you? Not many songs begin with such an arrestingly confrontational lines as, "You got a lot a lotta nerve to say you are my friend, when I was... > Read more

Genya Ravan: Junkman (1979

7 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

By the time New York singer Ravan got to her album And I Mean It, from which this track is taken, she'd already had a few careers: she'd been the singer in the Escorts in the early Sixties (the line-up included soon-to-be-producer Richard Perry); she was Goldie of Goldie and The Gingerbreads who scored a top 10 UK single with Can't You Hear My Heartbeat (produced by Alan Price of the Animals)... > Read more

Tupac Shakur: Picture Me Rollin' (1996)

6 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read

Is there a more sad song in the retrospect than this, after Tupac (assailants "unknown") was gunned down? The great poet of rap gets into a beautiful low, confidently cruising but melancholy groove while giving himself some big-ups because, after all, those punk police have passed on and now we need to picture him at the top of his game . . .  Yeah. Rolling . .... > Read more

Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse: Body and Soul (2011)

5 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

Yes, March this year doesn't seem to be digging too far back in the vaults . . . and maybe even that notion of "vaults" might seem a little distasteful to some given Amy Winehouse dying so recently. But here is a measure of the high regard in which she was held by someone who knows his way around a standard, 85-year old Tony Bennett, who paid the warmest and most intelligent... > Read more