From the Vaults

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Jimmy Patton: Okies in the Pokey (1959)

1 Aug 2011  |  <1 min read

Jimmy Patton (1931-89) was never really a rockabilly singer although this, his biggest hit, was certainly a rave-up in that style. But Patton's heart had always been in hillbilly country, right up until Elvis came along. Like so many others he grabbed a backbeat and made the shift sideways into rock'n'roll, and specifically the rockabilly end of it. For Okies in the Pokey he had help... > Read more

Superman is Dead: Kuta Rock City (2003)

29 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read

Those who head to Bali for some r'n'r and an escape from stress (as I did, see here) will probably come back with the memory of quiet ambient gamelan music which drifted from speakers in the restaurant or by the pool. Lovely. There is however a whole lot of other music in Bali, not the least of it coming from this long-running post-punk trio whose rock credentials probably aren't... > Read more

Sunidhi Chauhan and Vishal: Naa Puchho (2007)

28 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read

More scenes from the global village? While walking through Kuala Lumpur's Little India I heard this track rocking out of the speakers in a small record shop. I was transfixed: urban, English language in place, Hindi in others, samples from car horns, block rockin' beats, rock guitars, hip-hop in the house . . . As it turned out this was from the soundtrack to a Bollywood blockbuster... > Read more

Sunidhi Chauhan and Vishal: Naa Puchho

Riot 111: 1981! (1981)

26 Jul 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

New Zealand has no great popular history of topical, political songs -- and the few that there are tend toward the humorous (My Old Man's An All Black with its reference to no Maori being allowed into South Africa in our representative rugby team during the apartheid era, or Click Go The Toll Gates about tolls on the newly constructed Auckland Harbour Bridge). Perhaps it is because folk... > Read more

Cilla McQueen: Crikey (2006)

22 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read

Today -- Friday July 22, 2011 -- being New Zeaand National Poetry Day it seems only right we should acknowledge it. It would be easy to go to the collection Contemporary New Zealand Poets in Performance for some Very Serious Poetics or link back to our particular favourite Selina Tusitala Marsh, but this being Elsewhere -- the place where music is important -- this one by Cilla McQueen... > Read more

The Archies: Sugar Sugar (1969)

20 Jul 2011  |  2 min read  |  1

Okay, it's irritating rot-your-teeth bubblegum . . . but wait, there is more to this than you might think -- and remember it came out in the year of Altamont, Hendrix, the Manson murders and so on. The Archies weren't a proper group of course, they were actually singer Ron Dante, session musicians and the great Toni Wine (more of her shortly). At the time this song was selling millions,... > Read more

Stan Freberg: Rock Island Line (1956)

19 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read

Because a parody only works if you know the original it might be useful to check out the video clip here (kinda cute in its own way) before playing American comedian Freberg's poke at it. The original of Rock Island Line was by Leadbelly in the Thirties but Donegan's version of 1955 was emblematic of the skiffle era in Britain where young white guys with acoustic guitars, home made... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Dirge (1974)

18 Jul 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

While flicking the pages of a rock magazine the other day I came on an interview with a young musician who cited among his current favourite listening Bob Dylan's Planet Waves. When that album was released it was met with polite but hardly laudatory reviews, and even the enormously successful and highly profitable tour with the Band (Dylan's first since '66 during which many of the... > Read more

Bo Diddley: Say Man (1958)

15 Jul 2011  |  1 min read

The late Bo Diddley was perhaps best known for that distinctive self-titled riff that he bequeathed to rock. He used it on a number of songs -- Hey Bo Diddley, Pretty Thing, Hush Your Mouth and others -- and it came into rock with Buddy Holly's Not Fade Away, the Downliners Sect's Be A Sect Maniac and Sect Appeal and many others. Bo referred to it as his "shave and a haircut, six... > Read more

Clem Tholet: Rhodesians Never Die (1973)

14 Jul 2011  |  1 min read

Aside from songs about dance crazes, the most immediately redundant songs in popular music are those which attach themselves to a political cause. Times change quickly and today's patriotic or revolutionary song can just sound plain quaint if not simplistic within a year or two. And because political songs can't deal in nuance or contradiction, they tend to be little more than slogans . . .... > Read more

Mr and Mrs Mattis: I'll Never Move Again (date unknown, 1970s?)

13 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read

Here is a real mystery single: on the Narrow Way Gospel "label" out of Jamaica (crudely hand-printed, with a quote from Isaiah) comes this oddity which is clearly Jamaican singers but has a peculiar Pacific feel to it in the guitars. Another one-off bought in Brixton just simply because it sounds so good -- but whoever Mr and Mrs Mattis are might remain unknown . . . unless you... > Read more

The Pictones: Hashish (1962)

11 Jul 2011  |  <1 min read

Not a lot is known about New Zealand's Pictones out of Levin, an instrumental group who delivered a nice line in country'n'western rock'n'roll on their 1961 single Pistol Packin' Mama which opened with galloping hooves, a whip cracking and a whinny. (The flipside of which was My Bonnie, recorded around the same time as the Beatles did it in Hamburg.) Unusually however, they named this... > Read more

Ira Cohen: Ornette Comes Home (1994)

8 Jul 2011  |  1 min read

The late poet/filmmaker and documentarian Ira Cohen (who died in April 2011 age 76), was one of those rare voices from that co-joining of the Beat Generation of the Fifties and the Sixties counter-culture. He lived for many years in North Africa and India where he sampled the earthly and esoteric delights, and raised his consciousness through spiritual ceremonies and mind altering... > Read more

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

5 Jul 2011  |  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 singin'... > Read more

The Rainmakers: Let My People Go-Go (1986)

4 Jul 2011  |  1 min read

Bob Walkenhorst of Kansas City's Rainmakers had a good line about his fellow Americans' willingness to get out of it. "The generation that would change the world is still looking for its car keys." The smart line came from the song Drinkin' on the Job off the band's self-titled, major label album in '86 ("Everybody's drunk, everybody's wasted, everybody's stoned and... > Read more

Tom Waits: Mr Henry (1980)

30 Jun 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

Here's a beautiful old rare one -- with surface noise included -- taken from that period when Waits was writing barfly short stories in song. This outtake from the Heartattack and Vine album of 1980 only ever appeared on an Asylum compilation Bounced Checks ('81) and that record hasn't been released on CD. So here is Waits from three decades ago, sitting at the piano and telling a story... > Read more

Lil Johnson and Black Bob: Press my Button, Ring My Bell (1932)

29 Jun 2011  |  <1 min read

When Anita Ward scored a big disco hit with Ring My Bell in '79, the saucy yet somewhat lyrically bland song was in a long tradition of "ring my bell" metaphors in popular music. As far back as '32 the raunchy Lil Johnson -- about whom little is known other than her catalogue of songs about sex, getting drunk, sex and more sex -- was singing "press my button, give my bell a... > Read more

Ernest Tubb: It's America, Love It or Leave It (1965)

27 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

The great patriot Tubb has appeared at From the Vaults before with his mind-numbingly awful It's For God and Country and You, Mom written by Dave McEnery. Ernest clearly like to keep things simple and the same year he recorded this little pearler by Jimmy Helms which became adopted as a satirical statement by those hippie draft-card (and school) burners who objected to America'... > Read more

The Beatles: And Your Bird Can Sing (1966)

25 Jun 2011  |  2 min read  |  4

If you are reading this on June 25, 2011, then I'm probably listening to this by a pool in a tropical place where geckos crawl up a white wall and the ceiling fan turns slow. I will have a drink in my hand and my beautiful wife will be by my side. I hope so. And yes, I do expect I will be listening to this.  For me, And Your Bird Can Sing is the most perfect piece of trippy,... > Read more

William S. Burroughs: The Mummy Piece (1981)

24 Jun 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

Even if you know nothing about William Seward Burroughs (1914-97), when he read from his novels a chill might run down your spine. His slewed, acidic, vitriolic and downright nasty style added an extra dimension of menace to his disturbing visions where heroin, politics, mythology, guns, the CIA and cheap detective stories were cut up and shuffled, and then spat out. He is best known for... > Read more