From the Vaults

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The Beatles: I'm Down (1965)

7 Nov 2011  |  1 min read

When the Beatles played that historic concert at Shea Stadium, New York in August '65 before 55,000 screamers -- the biggest audience for a rock concert at that time -- John Lennon clearly enjoyed himself, no more so than during McCartney's rocker I'm Down where he played keyboards with his elbow and set Harrison and McCartney into fits of laughter. I'm Down -- another classic Beatles... > Read more

Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music (1975)

3 Nov 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

Metal Machine Music is the Lou Reed album that even many Lou fans haven't heard -- or did hear and said, "Never again". Many who bought this double album at the time (which now fetches absurd prices on-line) returned it because not only does Reed not sing on it, but it has no songs (there are four pieces, each around 16 minutes long) and is a little over an hour of guitar feedback... > Read more

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Screaming Lord Sutch: Til the Following Night (1961)

28 Oct 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

In later years Screaming Lord Sutch was better known for being the founder of the Official Monster Raving Looney Party in Britain and standing in various electorates (from '63) in weird outfits. He's in the opening scenes of The New Statesman standing against Alan B'stard (Rik Mayall). In the Stones' Get Off Of My Cloud, Sutch was the "guy all dressed up like Union Jack". But back... > Read more

Glen Campbell, Freddy Fender, Michelle Shocked: Witchita Lineman (1997)

27 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read

With the release of his excellent, dignified final album Ghost on the Canvas, there has been attention understandably turned to his great period as a hit-maker with Jimmy Webb songs in the late Sixties. But here's a rare one, Campbell re-doing the Webb classic Witchita Lineman with Michelle Shocked on backing vocals and Freddy Fender sharing the lead. The band, the Texas Tornados,... > Read more

Koko Taylor: Wang Dang Doodle (1960)

25 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

Although you never need an excuse to play this strutting Willie Dixon-penned classic from Chess Records' studio with the great Koko Taylor growling her way through it, it does seem timely on this very day as Tom Waits' new album Bad As Me has a terrific track inspired in part by its raw spirit. Waits' Satisfied might nod to the Rolling Stones' Satisfaction in its lyrics when it names... > Read more

Tommy Steele: What a Mouth (1960)

19 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

What You Tube allows us to see is how the Beatles in 1963 and early '64 -- as they were proving themselves and didn't quite have full career control -- were going down the same route as most British acts, that of being the "all round family entertainer". By appearing on populist television shows (Morecambe and Wise etc) and doing panto-like things (mock Shakespeare, see clip... > Read more

The Contours: First I Look at the Purse (1965)

17 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

One of the first groups signed to Berry Gordy's Motown label, the Contours had a huge hit with the much-covered Do You Love Me ("now that I can dance") which was in the set of Beatles-era bands like the Dave Clark Five, the Hollies and the Tremeloes. After their next couple of songs failed to ignite it seems they were relegated behind the more successful Temptations, Smokey... > Read more

Green Pajamas: Just a Breath Away (2000)

12 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

Although many tried -- especially in the Britpop era -- to bottle the essence of the Beatles' music at the cusp of marijuana and LSD (Rubber Soul and Revolver), few managed it with as much maturity, sensibility and persuasive power of the song as Green Pajamas out of Seattle, and they frequently did it at the time when grunge affection was sweeping the planet. The Pajamas' mainman Jeff... > Read more

Ian and Sylvia: You Were On My Mind (1964)

11 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

When the British singer Crispian St Peters died in June 2010, many were shocked at his age. He was 71, and yet back when he was spinning hits like You Were on My Mind and Pied Piper in the mid Sixties he seemed so much younger than his Lennon and McCartney peers. His career was a short one, not helped by him publically denouncing the Beatles as "past it" (if memory serves... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Positively 4th Street (1965)

10 Oct 2011  |  1 min read  |  2

When you have guitar, a voice, a studio and an expectant audience -- and some degree of vitriol to be delivered -- why would you not fire off this bitter salvo at former friends you might feel (rightly or wrongly of course) who have betrayed you? Not many songs begin with such an arrestingly confrontational lines as, "You got a lot a lotta nerve to say you are my friend, when I was... > Read more

Tupac Shakur: Picture Me Rollin' (1996)

6 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read

Is there a more sad song in the retrospect than this, after Tupac (assailants "unknown") was gunned down? The great poet of rap gets into a beautiful low, confidently cruising but melancholy groove while giving himself some big-ups because, after all, those punk police have passed on and now we need to picture him at the top of his game . . .  Yeah. Rolling . .... > Read more

Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse: Body and Soul (2011)

5 Oct 2011  |  1 min read

Yes, March this year doesn't seem to be digging too far back in the vaults . . . and maybe even that notion of "vaults" might seem a little distasteful to some given Amy Winehouse dying so recently. But here is a measure of the high regard in which she was held by someone who knows his way around a standard, 85-year old Tony Bennett, who paid the warmest and most intelligent... > Read more

Tom Waits and the Kronos Quartet: Diamond in Your Mind (2007)

3 Oct 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

With a new Tom Waits album Bad As Me due in late October (his first studio album in seven years), it is timely to prime the pump with a little known item From the Vaults. In 2007 at a concert in New York's Avery Fisher Hal in the Lincoln Centre, Waits and the Kronos Quartet joined a line-up which included Anoushka Shankar, the Gyoto Tantric Choir, Native American flute player R. Carlos Nakai... > Read more

Jessi Colter: Diamond in the Rough (1976)

26 Sep 2011  |  1 min read

The sassy Jessi Colter was married to the late Waylon Jennings and was something of a rarity in the Seventies, she was a woman (and a confident, songwriting woman at that) and part of the almost exclusively male "Outlaw Movement" out of Austin. She had equal billing on that cornerstone Wanted! The Outlaws album in '76, appeared on the controversial White Mansions country-concept... > Read more

t.A.T.u.: All the Things She Said (2002)

23 Sep 2011  |  2 min read

This Russian duo of Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova might have been created and marketed by Moscow producer Ivan Shapovalov with all the ruthless and media-savvy smarts of Malcolm McLaren, but at least they were interesting. Photoshoots, handholding and interviews suggested the two young girls -- both in their early teens -- might have been lesbians . . . but they played it up with such... > Read more

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