From the Vaults

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Byron Lee and the Dragonaires: Elizabethan Reggae (1969)

20 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

Long before the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra of the late Eighties/early Nineties, Jamaican musicians were appropriating classical music and turning it around over ska and reggae rhythms. The provenance of this particular hit is perhaps a little muddied: it is variously attributed to (singer/bassist) Boris Gardiner of the Upsetters, and also to producer Byron Lee and his studio band the... > Read more

Larry Williams: Slow Down (1959)

19 Jan 2011  |  1 min read

R'n'b/rock'n'roll singer-songwriter Williams didn't have a particularly long time in the spotlight -- he appeared in '57 and was effectively gone from the charts within three years -- but his small catalogue influenced a generation of British singers, among them John Lennon who was a huge fan. In fact the Beatles covered three Williams' songs in their early career -- Bad Boy, Dizzy Miss... > Read more

Chicago Transit Authority: Free Form Guitar (1969)

19 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

This band -- who later shortened their name and became simply "Chicago" -- have appeared at Elsewhere previously with their thunderous and extended version of the old Spencer Davis Group hit I'm a Man (here). The point was made then that after a fine start as an underground and somewhat radical band -- their debut double album from which this and I'm a Man come from had recordings... > Read more

The Beatles; You Know My Name (Look Up the Number) (1970)

13 Jan 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

The 2009 remastering of the Beatles' catalogue allowed listeners not only the chance to reassess their sound, but also the breadth of their musical reach. Here was a band which created great pop, beautiful ballads, economic psychedalia (Strawberry Fields, Walrus, Lucy in the Sky and others barely broke the 4.00 mark), raga pop and had a sense of humour. How few bands today would dare do... > Read more

The Beatles; You Know My Name (1970)

Victor Borge: Phonetic Punctuation (1955)

13 Jan 2011  |  <1 min read  |  1

Denmark-born pianist Victor Borge was a child prodigy who could have had a distinguished career playing concert halls. Fortunately for us he chose another direction. Born to Jewish parents in 1909, he studied and played the classics, but in his late teens began adding stand-up comedy to his repertoire. He married an American (Elsie Chilton) in 1933 and when the Nazis invaded Denmark they... > Read more

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  |  2

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

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 they... > Read more

Crowd singing at Boca Stadium