From the Vaults

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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

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

Chubby Checker: Mexican Hat Twist (1962)

12 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

It's entirely possible Chubby Checker knew his time was up when Parkway released his album Twist with Chubby Checker. On the back cover he looks alarmed. Maybe he'd seen the inner sleeve where five other of his Twist albums were advertised -- Your Twist Party with the King of Twist Chubby Checker, Don't Knock the Twist, Let's Twist Again, For Teen Twisters Only ("Adults Twist at Your... > Read more

Lenny and Squiggy: Foreign Legion of Love (1979)

8 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

You don't dig into From the Vaults looking for good taste or class, but you do find oddities like this which resonates on many levels throughout rock culture. Lenny and Squiggy were the dumbcluck characters in the television show Laverne and Shirley and had very little to recommend them as on-screen characters. They were hammy klutzes who were given terrible lines to deliver. So far, so... > Read more

Waylon Jennings: Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (1975)

5 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

Just from the repeated electric strum here, Waylon Jennings was announcing a different kind of country music: and its minimal sound threw even greater attention on his lyrics which questioned the whole country music establishment as epitomised by the smooth Nashville Sound, the Grand Ole Opry and the Music Row writers cranking out generic songs. Long hairs and post-hippies had started to... > Read more

Robert Plant: If It's Really Got to be This Way (1994)

4 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

When the unexpected, Grammy-grabbing album Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss arrived, it reminded many of what a great interpretive singer Plant could be outside of his throat-abusing belting in Led Zeppelin. Even within the mighty Zepp however he offered some exceptional interpretations (Gallows Pole stands out). Well before Raising Sand however, he appeared on a tribute to... > Read more

The Ugly's: Wake Up My Mind (1965)

3 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

Among the many unusual things about the story of the Ugly's is why a band (with an unnecessary apostrophe?) from Birmingham should have enjoyed a huge hit in Australia and New Zealand with this song, and not made a ripple back home. The Ugly's had emerged from the Dominettes which had been caught up in the skiffle boom of the late Fifties. But as they embraced r'n'b and had new members... > Read more

The Royal Punkharmonic Orchestra: Germ Free Adolescents (1995)

2 Aug 2011  |  1 min read

The recent death of Poly Styrene threw attention back onto her short career in the often interesting band X-Ray Specs where she was more adept at social comment than many of her phlegmatic punk peers. That was a trait she explored on her final if somewhat indifferent album also, Generation Indigo. One of X-Ray Specs' most memorable songs was the monotone Germ Free Adolescents and it is... > Read more