From the Vaults

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Jerry Lee Lewis: The Return of Jerry Lee (1958)

11 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

When Jerry Lee Lewis arrived in Britain in May 1958 the rock'n'roll crown was his for the taking. He was the wildman at the piano with crazy stacked-up hair, had delivered seminal, sweat-inducing hits with Whole Lotta Shakin' and Great Balls of Fire, and he was repressed sex personified and unleashed. He may have been a country boy at heart but he was the pulse of rock'n'roll. Britain was... > Read more

Van McCoy: The Hustle (1975)

10 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

So how long does it take to write a song? James Taylor says he wrote Steamroller Blues in as long as it took to scribble the words down, but maybe that doesn't really count -- especially if you've heard Steamroller Blues. If you look at the credits on some current r'n'b songs and see the artist's name alongside that of the four producers (and the lyrics are "oh baby, give it up... > Read more

This Nation's Dreaming: Room Full of Clocks (1989)

15 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  3

It was a good idea at the time which turned into an even better one: follow the story of band playing its first public gig from their rehearsal room to that moment under the lights . . . or in this case on the grubby "stage" at the Rising Sun Hotel in Auckland. And by sheer chance -- and I cannot remember who suggested This Nation's Dreaming -- the people we picked were... > Read more

Bob Dylan: You Belong To Me (1994)

14 Dec 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

The idea of "possessing" your lover isn't a pleasant thought these days: the subtext is spousal abuse, just plain creepy stuff and not a few killings you read about on page five. But there are a few songs where that idea of possessive passion has a wistful, oddly lost and sympathetic quality on the part of the singer. At one end it is someone asking Ruby not to take her love to... > Read more

Groucho Marx: Churchill, Chicago critics (1972)

10 Dec 2010  |  <1 min read

The great Groucho has been so often copied (Alan Alda, Welcome Back Kotter etc) and parodied down the decades we forget how irreverent he was in his day. By the time of this recording however he was an old man and just five years away from his death at 86. Yet remarkably he undertook this stand-up show at Carnegie Hall and other venues where he told anecdotes (TS Eliot, Laurence Olivier and... > Read more

The Remains: Don't Look Back (1966)

8 Dec 2010  |  1 min read

Pub quiz time: Which four-piece Sixties group quickly became adept at wrting their own material, built a local following, eventually appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, hung out with the Byrds in Hollywood, listened to Indian music . . . and played their final concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on August 29, 1966 before a crowd of 55,000. Easy as, huh? It is of course, the... > Read more

U2: Mysterious Ways (The Perfecto Remix, 1991)

26 Nov 2010  |  <1 min read

U2 may have reverted to musical type with stadium anthems and those long chiming chords which roll towards singalong or bellicose choruses, but around the time of Achtung Baby and Zooropa they were a genuinely innovative band. And much of the music of that period lent itself to remixing and mashing.  Their fan magazine Propaganda issued a nine song remix collection in '95 entitled Melon... > Read more

Waylon Jennings and Steve Cash: They Laid Waste to Our Land (1978)

11 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

Melody Maker was blunt about the country music concept album White Mansions on its release in '78: "A dilemma -- on the one hand we have some exceptionally good music; on the other, a project of doubtful worth". Because White Mansions -- which featured Jessi Colter and her husband Waylon Jennings, John Dillon and Steve Cash with stellar help from Eric Clapton, Bernie Leadon, Henry... > Read more

Charles Amirkhanian: Just (1972)

11 Nov 2010  |  1 min read

Unless he was blessed with some weird insight, it's a fair guess that American sound-poet and composer Amirkhanian could not know how this text-sound piece would be heard in the wake of what happened in Auckland's harbour in 1985. One night in July as the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior was moored at a central wharf in downtown it was bombed -- one crew member killed -- and sunk by two... > Read more

Elton Motello: Jet Boy Jet Girl (1978)

3 Nov 2010  |  1 min read  |  2

Most people have heard Belgian faux-punk Plastic Bertrand's one-off single Ca Plane pour moi of '77 (see clip). Fewer will have heard this bastard half-sister version by the UK rock'n'roll punk band Elton Motello (also the adopted name of singer Alan Ward) out of South London around the same period. But the backstory is a little confusing.  Ca plane pour moi was actually recorded... > Read more

Lou and Simon: Converted Maori Car (1965?)

22 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

Lou and Simon (Lou Clauson and Simon Meihana) were one of the most popular and entertaining groups of the early Sixties. Like the Flight of the Conchords they were a kind of folk-comedy duo and very adept at parodies. The other side of this single is a medley which pokes fun at Les Andrews' then-current song Click Go the Tollgates (itself a knock-off of Click Goes the Shears), Jerry Lewis,... > Read more

James Blood Ulmer: Are You Glad To Be In America (1981)

12 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

For many of the open-eared among jazz listeners -- those who had grown up on rock guitarists and heard in Hendrix the vanguard of a fusion, followed Miles Davis through Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson, had albums by John McLaughlin and understood jazz-funk -- it seemed as if guitarist-singer James Blood Ulmer was going to deliver them from mediocrity. His pedigree was impeccable: anointed by... > Read more

John Lennon: I'm Losing You (1980)

11 Oct 2010  |  <1 min read

The remastered Lennon catalogue (released on the anniversary of what would have been his 70th birthday) naturally allows a reconsideration of some of his material. (See essay here.) This song -- when it appeared on Double Fantasy, see clip -- had a brooding quality and the anger seemed self-directed. But this version, taken from the Lennon Anthology set of 2003, reveals a very different... > Read more

Section 25: Looking from a Hilltop, Megamix (1980)

22 Sep 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

The jury is perhaps still out on Blackpool's Section 25: dismissed in some circles as a pallid version of Joy Division/New Order for their electronica dance music, hailed by others who heard in them an innovative band well in the vanguard of post-punk dance pop. Sharing a label with Joy Division/New Order and A Certain Ratio (also with whom they were also sometimes unfairly compared) as... > Read more

Various People: A crowd at the futbol in Buenos Aires

25 Aug 2010  |  1 min read

Okay, this is from the "Maybe you had to be there part" shelf in the Elsewhere vaults but . . . In Buenos Aires we went to a huge soccer ("futbol") match at Rio del Plata Stadium -- about 60,000 in the stadium where U2 filmed their U23D concert film -- between River and Arsenale. It was near the airport so planes would fly alarmingly (but further way than... > Read more

Crowd singing at Boca Stadium