From the Vaults

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Ringo Starr: Elizabeth Reigns (2002)

13 Mar 2012  |  1 min read

Right now Britain is gearing up for the 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II which will be celebrated on June 2 with appearances by the great Sirs of her time . . . no. not Churchill et al but McCartney and Elton. Getting in with the mood early was Ringo -- who signs off here with "Well, there goes the knighthood" -- and this track from his 2002 album Ringo Rama,... > Read more

David Bowie: It's Hard to be a Saint in the City (1975)

12 Mar 2012  |  1 min read

Bruce Springsteen's song It's Hard to be a Saint in the City holds a very important place in his history. It was one of the songs he played at an audition for John Hammond at CBS which got him his recording contract, and before that it was the song that Mike Appel was so impressed by that he quit the day job to become Springsteen's manager. Springsteen has always had an affection for it... > Read more

Death Trash: Death Trash Rock and Roll (1988)

8 Mar 2012  |  1 min read  |  3

For their 1988 album The 10000 RPM Groove Orgy, the band Death Trash didn't hide their ethic. Tracks include Liquor Whore, Sexbeast, Now I Wanna Make Some Noise, Mind Trashed and Loaded, True and Wild, and Death Trash Rock and Roll. We get the picture . . .  .and if somehow you didn't then the album was "dedicated to the disciples of sleaze everywhere". Recorded in... > Read more

The Bassline Boys: Warbeat; Germany Calling (1989)

6 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read

Odd what turns up in a record collection left in my care. While moving a few boxes of old vinyl I found a swag of stuff my oldest son had left behind when he lit out for Over Seas. He has strange and eclectic taste. A Joey Travolta album alongside obscure Elvis, David Hasselhoff recorded in Auckland, classical albums, Thriller, BBC sound effects records . . . And this album which is a... > Read more

Jesus and Mary Chain: Surfin' USA (1988)

2 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read

Because it's hard to imagine William and Jim Reid from Glasgow would be enthusiastic surfers, we have to guess they chose to cover Brian Wilson's classic song for other reasons, like irony . . . or perhaps just because it was simple and they could imprint it with their aural fingerprint. This version turned up on their album Barbed Wire Kisses which was a collection of B-sides and other... > Read more

Bob Dylan: TV Talkin' Song (1990)

1 Mar 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

You can -- and people do -- fill page after page banging on about the genius of Bob Dylan. But the man has also been responsible for some real stinkers, especially in the Eighties. Perhaps his nadir was the album Under The Red Sky which featured Slash, David Lindley, George Harrison and many other luminaries. None of whom could salvage material as weak as Wiggle Wiggle, which Dylan... > Read more

Nick Smith: Requiem (1985)

27 Feb 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

Behind all the big names on the Flying Nun label -- the Bats, Chills, Verlaines, Chris Knox et al -- were a large number of artists who made fleeting flights, but don't deserve to be forgotten. Those who were there at the time hold special affection for the likes of Fatal Jelly Space, Marie and the Atom, Lee Harvey, the here'n'gone Stephen and Cake Kitchen, and . . . And lest we forget,... > Read more

Sonny Boy Williamson I: Good Morning Little School Girl (1937)

24 Feb 2012  |  <1 min read

When the Yardbirds covered yet another variation of this old blues song in 1964, first committed to record by harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson, it almost seemed . . . innocent? After all, at the time, British bands were "pulling the birds" and even in A Hard Days Night of the same year the model Pattie Boyd (soon to become Mrs George Harrison - then Mrs Clapton etc) and her... > Read more

Allen Ginsberg: Green Automobile (1953)

21 Feb 2012  |  <1 min read

Although there is a decent reading of this poem on the Ginsberg box set Holy Soul Jelly Roll; Poems and Songs 1949 - 1993, this rather poorly captured version is much more affecting and, in its closing passages, considerably more sad. Addressed to his friend Neal Cassady and mythologising him in much the same way as Jack Kerouac had (as Dean Moriarty in On the Road), it is Ginsberg... > Read more

Cowboy Junkies: State Trooper (1986)

16 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

When the world started becoming very noisy around the time of grunge, the Cowboy Junkies out of Canada had the oldest trick in any public speaker's book. When everyone else is shouting, you speak quietly and people will stop to try and hear what you are saying. The Cowboy Junkies' Trinity Sessions album -- recorded cheaply in a church -- was a whispery and atmospherically airy collection... > Read more

Waves: Arrow (1975)

15 Feb 2012  |  1 min read  |  24

Of the many New Zealand albums long overdue for a reissue, the sole album by the acoustic quartet Waves is among the most worthy. The band of Michael Matthew, Kevin Wildman, Graeme Gash and David Marshall were straight out of the post-Crosby Stills and Nash school of close harmony singing, acoustic guitars and some pointed electric playing when the moment demanded it. Their debut album... > Read more

Townes Van Zandt: Rake (1969)

13 Feb 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

Few of Townes van Zandt's dedicated followers would know that he once played Carnegie Hall in New York, an unlikely venue for a man who later had a reputation as a difficult, morose and poetically gifted singer-songwriter with multiple dependencies. But at 25 in late '69 he was on a bill at Carnegie Hall with a rock band called Mandrake Memorial and comedian Dick Gregory. Van Zandt had... > Read more

Chad Morgan: The Psychiatrist's Joy from Kingaroy (1960?)

10 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

As I write this, it is highly likely that the great Australian singer-songwriter Chad Morgan -- aka the Sheik of Scrubby Creek, named after one of his most popular songs -- is probably out on the road somewhere. As Tex Perkins said last year of Morgan, a doco about whom he narrated, “Chad's never really been embraced by the country scene but it doesn't do him justice to call him a... > Read more

Straitjacket Fits: So Long Marianne (1990)

8 Feb 2012  |  <1 min read  |  3

With Leonard Cohen much on our mind again with his new album Old Ideas, it was time to go to the vaults to find this version of his classic, as done by New Zealand's Straijacket Fits. This treatment appeared on their Hail album (and was on the flipside of the Hail 12"), and was the line-up which many considered the most musically interesting, with guitarist-singer-writer Andrew Brough... > Read more

Fats Waller: My Very Good Friend the Milkman Said (1935)

8 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

Paul McCartney covers this old Waller song on his album Kisses on the Bottom where he goes back to songs he knew fondly in his childhood (and isn't the first Beatle to do so, Ringo did a collection "for his mum" with his album Sentimental Journey in 1970). But here is Waller, a man whose career was cut tragically short when he died in '43 at 39. But then he did rather push... > Read more

George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

5 Feb 2012  |  1 min read

There has been quite a tradition in country music of complaining about how it has lost its roots, lost its way, been taken over by big business and stars selling out for the almighty dollar. Way back Waylon asked Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way? and ol' Hank Williams (something of a rebel himself, remember) seems to be the touchstone for authenticity and the pure strain of country --... > Read more

Barry Ryan: Eloise (1968)

1 Feb 2012  |  1 min read  |  1

In the late Sixties when this song appeared the rumour mill hit a peak. In the previous few years the twins Paul and Barry Ryan (who performed under that name) had clocked a steady string of decent, modest hits in Britain and - because they were only in their teens -- had graced the pages of many pop magazines at a time when the Beatles and the Stones were behaving in a far too adult a manner... > Read more

Oasis: The Shock of the Lightning (2003)

30 Jan 2012  |  <1 min read  |  1

With the Gallagher brothers Liam and Noel going their own ways, at least for the time being (and some might wonder why they hadn't split up previously), you could almost get nostalgic for the glory that was Oasis. Definitely maybe the Morning Glory years, and then by judiciously sampling from those albums in the Nineties which came with braggadocio but dimishing musical returns. However... > Read more

Pere Ubu: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1975)

27 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Truly terrifying music is rare: there aren't that many pieces which make the hair on the back of your neck prickle, fill you with a sense of impending doom, make you feel uneasy somewhere deep within a part of your brain where rational thought no longer works for you. Pere Ubu -- whose debut album The Modern Dance appears at Essential Elsewhere incidentally -- manage that kind of music with... > Read more

The Beatles: Three Cool Cats (1962)

26 Jan 2012  |  1 min read

Among the many odd things about the Beatles audition for Decca Records on January 1 1962 wasn't that the company's Dick Rowe famously turned them down saying they sounded too much like the Shadows and that groups with guitars were on their way out. On the evidence of the sessions the big question was, "What were the Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein thinking?" At the... > Read more