From the Vaults

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Age of Consent: Fight Back Rap (1983)

19 Apr 2011  |  <1 min read

Who said the gay power movement lacked humour? Quite the opposite in fact, and humour is a powerful weapon. This one-off appeared on the Harvey Kubernick-curated double album English as a Second Language in 1983 on Freeway Records, another in his series of recordings of poets and spoken word artists from LA which included people like Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Wanda Coleman, Henry Rollins, Charles... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Jet Pilot (1965)

17 Apr 2011  |  <1 min read

Although things would come to a literal grinding halt in mid '66 when he was tumbled from his motorcycle -- and he used the break to recover from emotional exhaustion after his lightspeed career of the previous four years -- in '65 Bob Dylan was still enjoying his position as the man who was taking folk and smart words into rock. During the sessions for what would become the Highway 61... > Read more

Barry McGuire: California Dreamin' (1965)

15 Apr 2011  |  1 min read

After his growling and apocalyptic version of PF Sloan's Eve of Destruction in '65 the former folkie Barry McGuire -- who had been in the New Christy Minstrels and had co-written their big hit Green Green -- was looking for new material to include on his second album. Producer Lou Adler lined up a number of covers -- the Beatles' Yesterday and Dylanesque You've Got to Hide Your Love Away,... > Read more

LaVern Baker: Voodoo Voodoo (1961)

14 Apr 2011  |  1 min read

The sudden revival of Wanda Jackson's career - courtesy of Jack White and the album The Party Ain't Over in early 2011 -- has singled her out as a great female rock'n'roller at a time (the late Fifties) when she was out there on her own amongst all the boys. Not exactly true. There was also -- albeit briefly -- Janis Martin (whose hit My Boy Elvis she co-wrote with Aaron Schroeder... > Read more

Jelly Roll Morton: I'm Alabama Bound (date unknown)

12 Apr 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

The origins of jazz are lost in the mists and of course few would be so bold as to say it started on any particular date. One who did however was pianist Jelly Roll Morton who claimed to have invented jazz and was even happy to give a date when asked. Morton was, like so many blues players at the time, not averse to borrowing and adapting from others then claiming them as his own --... > Read more

Ronnie Ronalde: If I Were a Blackbird (1950)

11 Apr 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Roger Whittaker does it, and so does Bryan Ferry when he sings John Lennon's Jealous Guy. They whistle on stage, which isn't the easiest thing to do -- least of all if, as with Roxy Music playing in Auckland earlier this year, it's a breezy night and the wind is in your face. Whistling was once a commonplace and every now and again in the Eighties there would be letters to the New Zealand... > Read more

The Little Willies: Lou Reed (2005)

8 Apr 2011  |  <1 min read

The idea of the improbable is always enjoyable. It is the basis of Dada and Surrealism, not to mention a few good dreams and a whole lot of Monty Python-type humour. And so you can guess when this band -- Norah Jones, Lee Alexander, Richard Julian and others -- got together to indulge their love of country and alt.country music by playing material by Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams Jnr,... > Read more

Gary Lewis and the Playboys: This Diamond Ring (1965)

6 Apr 2011  |  2 min read

The offspring of Hollywood were just as swept up in Beatlemania as anyone. The two sons of comedian Soupy Sales -- Hunt and Tony, drums and bass respectively -- were in Tony and the Tigers who appeared on Hullabaloo and had a couple of records out . . . although went on to more interesting things later when they joined Todd Rundgren, Iggy Pop (on Lust for Life) then David Bowie in Tin... > Read more

The The: I'm a Long Gone Daddy (1994)

5 Apr 2011  |  1 min read

Any number of country artists have lined up to pay tribute to the great Hank Williams whose career was cut short in 1952 at age 29 when he was found dead in the back of his car through a combination of drugs, alcohol and his lifestyle. In six short years Williams wrote songs which went from hoe-down party music (Jambalaya, Hey Good Lookin') to deep melancholy (Cold Cold Heart, Your Cheatin'... > Read more

The Soft Boys: That's Where Your Heartaches Begin (1978)

4 Apr 2011  |  <1 min read

How about these for song titles? It's Not Just the Size of a Walnut; Wading Through a Ventilator; Have a Heart Betty, I'm Not Fireproof; I Want to Be an Anglepoise Lamp; Sandra's Having Her Brain Out; The Yodelling Hoover . . . They all sound very Frank Zappa, but in fact came from the slightly strange mind of Robyn Hitchcock, the singer-songwriter for Britain's Soft Boys, a band which... > Read more

Nick Lowe: Basing Street (1979)

1 Apr 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Nick Lowe's remarkable career to a kind of alt.American balladeer today began way back in UK pub rock with Dave Edmunds in the band Rockpile, a band dubbed "Dad's Army" in the late Seventies because they were all past 30. But their fired-up rock also caught the attention of the post-punk crowd, Lowe was a producer in demand for the likes of Elvis Costello ("bang it down and... > Read more

Geeshie Wylie: Skinny Leg Blues (1930)

31 Mar 2011  |  <1 min read

Blues singer Geeshie Wylie -- probably not her real name, more likely a nickname because she was of the Gullah people of South Carolina and Georgia -- recorded even fewer songs than Robert Johnson. Just six known recordings and no photograph of her exists either. She may have been with a traveling medicine show in the Twenties but, other than her recordings in an 18 month period, not... > Read more

The Easybeats: Sorry (1966)

29 Mar 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

In 1980 EMI released an excellent double vinyl on the Joker imprint entitled The Easybeats: Absolute Anthology 1965-69. It might well have been titled The Rise and Fall of a Pop Group because across 43 tracks in chronological order it traced Australia's Easybeats from their first tentative attempts at being the antipodean Beatles, through their classic singles and radio hits -- Friday on My... > Read more

The Easybeats: Sorry (1966)

Frank Sinatra: High Hopes (1960)

28 Mar 2011  |  <1 min read

When the handsome young John F Kennedy ran for the US presidency in 1960 (and beat Richard Nixon), there were planty of people weighing in with support. And one of his biggest fans was Frank Sinatra who courted JFK and brought his high profile friends in the Rat Pack, as well as other Hollywood types, into the spotlight in support. Sinatra also produced the inaugural ball for JFK.... > Read more

Richard Harris: A Tramp Shining (1968)

25 Mar 2011  |  1 min read

Because there is a such a lot of great music about these days -- and of such overwhelming diversity -- you'd sound like you were wallowing in nostalgia if you suggested things were better in the old days. But in one way they were. Look at the singles charts. Once upon a time you got magnificent oddities being played on rapid rotate radio. And I don't mean Bob the Builder or Rolf Harris'... > Read more

The Great! Society: Somebody to Love (1966)

24 Mar 2011  |  1 min read

There were at least three different versions of this psychedelic classic which is best known in its third incarnation by Jefferson Airplane. But the song dated back to before that '66 single/album track -- back to the band that singer Grace Slick was in before she joined the Airplane. Her previous group -- with her husband Jerry and his brother Darby, who wrote this -- was The Great!... > Read more

Bill Haley and His Comets: Oriental Rock (1958)

22 Mar 2011  |  <1 min read

There are a few views of rock'n'roll pioneer Bill Haley whose Rock Around the Clock provided the revolutionary soundtrack to the '55 Glenn Ford movie Blackboard Jungle: that he was the rebel voice of a post-war generation . . . or that he was the accidental John the Baptist to Elvis' rock'n'roll Jesus. There is the view that Haley -- who looked like your receeding-hair uncle who was... > Read more

Portia Faces Life and Dr Paul (from the Fifties)

19 Mar 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

It seems peculiar to state the obvious, but there is at least one generation which may not know this: before television people listened to radio. And not just for music and news, radio was the home of drama and for decades people tuned in to hear the on-going melodramatics of Britains' The Archers (which started in 1950 and still runs today), the Australian comedy show Life with Dexter, the... > Read more

Dean Martin: My Rifle, My Pony and Me (1959)

13 Mar 2011  |  1 min read

As Nick Tosche revealed in his remarkable biography Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams, Dean Martin didn't have to try hard at anything: he was good looking, could sing whatever was put in front of him, was a natural straight man and comedian, and he'd just turn up on a movie set and do his lines with charm, ease and utter indifference. No, Dean didn't have to try -- so... > Read more

Renee Geyer: You Broke a Beautiful Thing (1999)

11 Mar 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

Lord knows some artists can be "difficult" -- and many of those who have tried to interview Australian Renee Geyer (never my doubtful pleasure) have returned chastened, frustrated and sometimes downright angry. It was hardly surprising then when Paul Kelly produced an album for her entitled Difficult Woman in '94. Her 2000 autobiography was Confessions of a Difficult Woman.... > Read more