From the Vaults

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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

Jerry Butler: Mr Dee Jay, I Got A Heartache (1968)

25 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

Jerry Butler, one of the greatest soul singers to emerge out of Chicago, came up through the usual route: gospel in church, inspired by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, formed a group (the Impressions) and recorded for Vee-Jay down on what was known as Record Row. "Record Row was the scene," he said. "It went from just south of the Loop all the way down to 23rd St where Chess... > Read more

Maxine Brown: Funny (1961)

24 Aug 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

There's something very satisfying about don't-care-anymore songs. The world is awash with the luvvy stuff but every now and again a song comes along which says, "Yep, but I'm over you". An Elsewhere favourite is Solomon King's exceptional Happy Again which really put that grand passion into perspective. Yeah, I loved and I lost and am hurt. But jeez, life goes on . . .... > Read more

Shoes: Tomorrow Night (1978)

23 Aug 2011  |  2 min read

In that great alphabet of power pop kicked off by the Beatles and which includes Badfinger, Big Star, Cheap Trick and so on, the Shoes out of Zion, Illinois are perhaps the least known today. That doesn't mean they are forgotten or won't be rediscovered however: the Elektra bio which came with their major label debut Present Tense noted that when their earlier, independently produced debut... > Read more

Joe Jones: You Talk Too Much (1960)

22 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

Sometimes there is an eloquence and directness in simplicity: "Wild thing, you make my heart sing . . ." Hard to improve on that. Or this blunt sentiment by Joe Jones, a rhythm and blues singer from New Orleans who once had the gall to claim he wrote the classic Iko Iko for the Dixie Cups whom he managed. Wasn't the first time Joe had been dragged into court for claiming he'd... > Read more

Green Jelly: Three Little Pigs (1993)

19 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

There just aren't enough fairy tales at From the Vaults. Only the clip of Sam the Sham and the Pharoah's Little Red Riding Hood as far as I can recall. Time then to resurrect this from the grunge era, the delightful Green Jelly (an umlat over the Y meant it was pronounced "Green Jello") with their update of the old story of the pigs and the big bad wolf. Green Jelly played... > Read more

The Supremes: Floy Joy (1972)

17 Aug 2011  |  <1 min read

In the mid Sixties when people were earnestly looking to Bob Dylan for answers, someone asked him who his favourite poet was. "Smokey Robinson," he replied. Fair call. Smokey's songs like Got a Job had wit and Tracks of My Tears had heart. You can't add or subtract a word from My Guy or You Really Got a Hold On Me. But even poets have their off days and you'd have to think... > Read more

Hotlegs: Neanderthal Man (1970)

16 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

It's not unusual for studio experiments to end up on records, less common that they become the record itself -- as was the case with this single. To backtrack a bit. The successful British songwriter Graham Gouldman who had penned hits for Herman's Hermits (No Milk Today), the Yardbirds (For Your Love, Heart Full of Soul, Evil Hearted You) and others hit a dry spell in the late Sixties. So... > Read more

(Warning, from vinyl so has enjoyable surface noise)

The Funky Kings: Singing in the Streets (1976)

15 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

So just how pervasive was Bruce Springsteen's influence? One listen to this track by the short-lived Funky Kings from LA would suggest that even by his second album he'd managed to infiltrate the consciousness of these guys. Well, maybe. But the Funky Kings, who only lasted one album, were a supergroup in reverse. Just about all of them went on to other things, or had come from some... > Read more