From the Vaults

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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

Joe Harriott: Gana (1967)

23 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

Alto saxophonist Joe Harriott was not the first to take inspiration from Indian classical music (John Coltrane had looked across to it previously) but -- with violinist and harpsichord player John Mayer -- he was among the very first to record with Indian musicians and effect some jazz fusion. Around the time George Harrison was looking at a sitar on the set of Help! and thinking... > Read more

(Warning, some enjoyable surface noise in the transfer from vinyl)

Peter Cape: Coffee Bar Blues (1959)

22 Jun 2011  |  <1 min read

The idiosyncratic Peter Cape (1926-79) has appeared at Elsewhere's From the Vaults previously, with his Kiwi vernacular classic She'll Be Right (here). He wrote about things that ordinary jokers and sheilas could understand and were interested in: rural life, the All Blacks, the train on the Main Trunk Line (and the food), trams, beer and betting on the horses, small towns and so on. It... > Read more

Northside: Shall We Take a Trip (1990)

21 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

The difference between the American psychedelic experience of the Sixties and that of the British can be captured in two phrases: in the States Timothy Leary was telling people to "tune in, turn on and drop out" which clearly demanded some committment. In Britain however George Harrison -- on It's All Too Much -- was offering the more measured and slightly detached perspective of the... > Read more

The Unforgiven: All is Quiet on the Western Front (1986)

20 Jun 2011  |  2 min read  |  2

Some time in the early Nineties I met up with two of the guys from Cracker at a bar in New York, and towards the end of our conversation the talk turned to what they had done before their alt.rock incarnation. John Hickman said he'd been in another band . . . and after a long pause said they had been called the Unforgiven, but that I wouldn't have heard if them. Not heard of them?... > Read more

The Pretty Things: Don't Bring Me Down (1964)

17 Jun 2011  |  3 min read  |  2

Most people lie about their school days: no one wants to admit they were ordinary. Better to say you hung around behind the bike shed, that teachers and kids hated you for your music, clothes or whatever. Oh, and you smoked. Just makes you seem more cool and interesting -- and most people weren’t. One of the lies people who formed their musical taste in the mid Sixties... > Read more

Perry Como: (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66 (1959)

16 Jun 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

In the hands of Chuck Berry and the Rolling Stones, Route 66 became a classic rock song -- but its history goes further back and the song has been rendered in the styles of earlier eras. And later one too. Written in '46 by jazz pianist Bobby Troup -- who said he penned it after making the trip, got the chorus quickly but couldn't think of enough words so just put in the place names -- the... > Read more

Paul McCartney: Check My Machine (1980)

13 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

In the Seventies Paul McCartney enjoyed a remarkable revival of fortunes -- at the start of the decade the Beatles broke up, he released a couple of feet-finding solo albums, got the band Wings together and did a lowkey tour of the UK, delivered Band on the Run, conquered America and the rest of the world with hits singles then witnesed Wings slowly decline. In 1980 he went into a small... > Read more

Bunny Wailer:Amagideon/Armagedon (1976)

9 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

As Bob Marley was advancing a more light-filled, if still serious, face of Rastafarianism into the world, it fell to deep roots groups like Culture, the great Burning Spear and Bob's old bandmate in the original Wailers, Bunny Livingston (aka Bunny Wailer) to deliver the darker and deeper themes. The mighty Spear sang as if he had just been freed from the shackles of slavery in a voice like... > Read more

Rosalie Allen: Hitler Lives (1945)

6 Jun 2011  |  <1 min read

Because the name "Hitler" became such a signifier for all that was evil and his name a shorthand for the inhuman and demonic, it was inevitable that any portrayal of him as a mere man (albeit a very bad one!) was bound to offend many. Better to think of him as an aberration than a possibility. In this song by Rosalie Allen -- "The Prairie Star" who popularised the... > Read more

The Ivy League: Four and Twenty Hours (1966)

3 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

Britain's Ivy League were one of those bands which appeared in the wake of the Beat Boom and the Beatles and scored a couple of quick hits -- Funny How Love Can Be, then Tossing and Turning -- in '65. And that would seem to be it because a couple of key members left and . . . But there is more to their story that that. The band were Ken Lewis, John Carter and Perry Ford, and they... > Read more

Juanes: La Camisa Negra (2005)

2 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

Unless you follow Latin pop then La Camisa Negra/The Black Shirt might be the biggest hit you never heard by a global star don't even known about. Juanes from Colombia has sold 15 million albums, won 17 Latin Grammy awards and one Grammy. The album Mi Sangre (My Blood) which included La Camisa Negra (The Black Shirt) debuted at number one on the Latin Billboard charts, held that... > Read more

John Cale; Chinese Envoy (1982)

1 Jun 2011  |  1 min read  |  4

As with anyone who was there, I have a vivid memory of John Cale's show at the Gluepot back in September '83, and in fact I still have the poster ("Tickets sold! Limited door sales. Be early!") Cale's Sabotage/Live from '79 can't be topped for the sheer intensity he brings to material like the thrilling seven minute version of Mercenaries (play at full volume and then put on Pere... > Read more