From the Vaults

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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

Tom Waits and the Kronos Quartet: Diamond in Your Mind (2007)

3 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

With a new Tom Waits album Bad As Me due in late October (his first studio album in seven years), it is timely to prime the pump with a little known item From the Vaults. In 2007 at a concert in New York's Avery Fisher Hal in the Lincoln Centre, Waits and the Kronos Quartet joined a line-up which included Anoushka Shankar, the Gyoto Tantric Choir, Native American flute player R. Carlos Nakai... > Read more

Jessi Colter: Diamond in the Rough (1976)

26 Sep 2011  |  1 min read

The sassy Jessi Colter was married to the late Waylon Jennings and was something of a rarity in the Seventies, she was a woman (and a confident, songwriting woman at that) and part of the almost exclusively male "Outlaw Movement" out of Austin. She had equal billing on that cornerstone Wanted! The Outlaws album in '76, appeared on the controversial White Mansions country-concept... > Read more

t.A.T.u.: All the Things She Said (2002)

23 Sep 2011  |  2 min read

This Russian duo of Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova might have been created and marketed by Moscow producer Ivan Shapovalov with all the ruthless and media-savvy smarts of Malcolm McLaren, but at least they were interesting. Photoshoots, handholding and interviews suggested the two young girls -- both in their early teens -- might have been lesbians . . . but they played it up with such... > Read more

Patti Smith: So You Want to be a Rock'n'Roll Star (1979)

19 Sep 2011  |  <1 min read

Although the Byrds' 1967 original of this much covered rock classic has a significant sarcasm to it, the lyrical bite was ameliorated by the Byrds' close harmony and airy delivery, and the patched-in screams which added a sense of excitement. By this time the Byrds had tuned in and turned on, and they were a little older than the stars coming up through the pages of Seventeen magazine so... > Read more

Elder Beck: Rock and Roll Sermon Part 2 (1956)

15 Sep 2011  |  <1 min read

Although some say the itinerant preacher Elder Charles Beck was a direct influence on the very young pre-fame Elvis Presley -- citing Beck's Jesus I Love You as a style which Presley would later imitate in his ballads -- the man was more likely to be calling down the spirit against rock'n'roll . . . as he does here. Beck, who played piano and trumpet, had a long recording career starting in... > Read more

Al Stewart: Clarence Frogman Henry, Audrey Hepburn and The Year of the Cat (1980)

14 Sep 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

He may be a bit of a bore in interviews (see here), but Al Stewart did tell a great shaggy-dog story in concert -- and of course wrote Year of the Cat among many other fine songs. So here you get both as he tells a bizarre story then swings into a sharp version of that huge hit live at the Roxy. You had to take your hat off to Stewart: it is a courageous man who would rhyme "cola .... > Read more

Flame: This Old Heart of Mine (1978)

13 Sep 2011  |  2 min read  |  1

Yes, just as the ad campaign said, "Blondie is a band", so we'd have to acknowledge that Flame were also a group -- but when a band is fronted by a vocalist as powerful as New York's Marge Raymond the five guys behind her would have known where the attention would fall. Like her contemporary Genya Ravan, Raymond could really rock and had a great set of pipes. Her delivery... > Read more

Bruce Springsteen: You're Missing (2002)

11 Sep 2011  |  1 min read

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11 there are the inevitable think-pieces and essays on how the world was changed by that astonishing act of terrorism. Do people in the West feel more safe for the "war on terror"? How do you measure success in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are civilians in those country more or less secure now? Everyone will have their own perspective but one... > Read more

The Pointer Sisters: How Long; Betcha Got a Chick on the Side (1975)

7 Sep 2011  |  <1 min read

Long before they became a smooth soul-pop machine in the mid Eighties and beyond, the Pointer Sisters (then a quartet of June, Bonnie, Anita and Ruth), delivered some slashing r'n'b funk such as this self-penned (Anita and Bonnie, with producer David Rubinson) single which went to number one on the soul charts and 20 on the main Billboard charts. A stunning all-in production of guitars,... > Read more

Wah! Heat: Hey Disco Joe (1980)

5 Sep 2011  |  1 min read

In the immediate post-punk era in Britain when the DIY culture meant bands could release singles faster than anyone could keep up with, it wasn't uncommon to see regional or themed compilation albums and cassettes. In 1980 freelance writer Nigel Burnham (aka Des Moines) from Leeds threw attention on the north west "to neutralise the incredible London bias of the music press as effected... > Read more

The Wonders: That Thing You Do! (1996/1964)

2 Sep 2011  |  1 min read

In his Grammy-grabbing career -- between Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan, You've Got Mail and The Green Mile -- Tom Hanks did a small, cute, mostly inconsequential and slight pop movie, That Thing You Do! Clearly this story of an imaginary one-hit wonder pop group from Pennsylvania in '64 was something close to his heart. He wrote the story and directed the... > Read more

John Lennon: Strawberry Fields Forever (1966, demo)

1 Sep 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

The working drawings of famous songs can often be as interesting as the finished product, although in this instance the final version of Lennon's psychedelic classic Strawberry Fields Forever of '67 takes some beating. But here, at home in Surrey after he had returned from Spain where he had been filming How I Won The War and had sketched out this reminiscence of his childhood, he starts... > Read more

Artists unknown: Bastille Rock (1962)

31 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

Curious what tourism authorities believe will attract people, or what methods they might use to achieve a result. Right now many New Zealanders are shaking their heads a little over the promotion of the Rugby World Cup (am I allowed to use that combination of words without permission?) but at least with the games we get tie-ins like that fascinating compilation album Rucks, Tries and Choruses.... > Read more

The Rolling Stones: Empty Heart (1964)

30 Aug 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

In June 1964, when Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were still only 20, the Rolling Stones took time out from their short American tour to head into the famous Chess studios at 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. With famed engineer Ron Malo, who had worked with many of the blues giants who had walked through Chess, they recorded five songs which appeared on the subsequent EP 5x5.... > Read more

The Flame: See the Light (1970)

26 Aug 2011  |  2 min read

Even during their lifespan there were always records which were attributed to the Beatles. The suggestion was that they might put out a single anonymously just to see if it would chart -- or there were the famous bootlegs of "the Beatles with Bob Dylan". After they broke up in 1970 there were any number of rumours that they had reformed under an assumed name. The most famous was... > Read more