From the Vaults

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Son House: Levee Camp Moan (1970)

30 Jan 2017  |  1 min read  |  3

By 1964 when the British blues explosion was starting to take off, the great and tetchy Son House was living in retirement and spent most of days drinking. He hadn't played much since his friend Willie Brown had died more than a decade previous. He'd preached some but mostly got drunk, he hadn't played guitar in five years. But when his sessions from some 20 years previous were reissued... > Read more

Young John Watson: Space Guitar (1954)

27 Jan 2017  |  1 min read

It's become common to hail Fifties out-there guitarists like surf king Dick Dale, Link Wray and others . . . but the man who became the great Johnny "Guitar" Watson has been somewhat sidelined. In the mid-to-late Seventies this journeyman -- who had done the hard roads with Little Richard, the wonderful rock'n'roll/soul shouter Larry Williams, Johnny Otis and many other greats --... > Read more

The Merrymen: Saigon Girls (late Sixties/exact date unknown)

27 Jan 2017  |  1 min read

Anyone who has watched Armed Forces television broadcast to American military personnel abroad -- often conclaves of very young men and women on bases which are like gated communities with all the home-comfort US amentities from grocery stores selling candy bars to movie theatres screening the recent Hollywood movies -- will recognise the veiled fear and warning behind this song. The... > Read more

Roy Orbison: She Wears My Ring ( 1962)

23 Jan 2017  |  1 min read

If anyone could have the operatic reach for She Wears My Ring it was the big-voiced Solomon King who scored a hit with it in 1968. Trained as a cantor, King was a balladeer of the old style (although his Happy Again is hilarious, you could imagine Groucho Marx dancing along like a demented puppet). Elvis also covered the song in '73. Neither were the first to undertake it, and in... > Read more

Hank Williams Jr: Don't Give Us a Reason (1990)

20 Jan 2017  |  1 min read

War is good for business (if you are part of the military-industrial complex), but also a fine time for stay-at-home patriots to get bellicose . . . among them songwriters who can reduce heroism to cliches and danger to duty. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in '90 the American songs about it came thick and fast. Sometimes pretty thick. There was Penny Gilley's Line Drawn in the... > Read more

Elvis Presley: Edge of Reality (1968)

16 Jan 2017  |  1 min read

By the time Elvis Presley's execrable film Live a Little Love a Little – he plays a photographer/Lothario – was released in '68 he was a man rendered irrelevant by the rapidly changing times. The film attempted to get hip more than a year on from the Summer of Love and Sgt Peppers. While some people were tuning in, turning on and dropping out, Elvis was still doing his... > Read more

The Avengers: Waterpipe (1968)

5 Dec 2016  |  1 min read

Warwick Freeman's useful book New Zealand Top 20 Singles of the Sixties confirms – using his formula – that Wellington's Avengers were one of the most successful bands of the decade. They charted five top 10 singles, among them the number two hit Love Hate Revenge, and using Freeman's ranking system were one of only four local acts in the top 50 of the Sixties. With... > Read more

Bob Leaper, I Saw Her Standing There (1964)

27 Nov 2016  |  1 min read

It's not easy to find out anything about the British jazz arranger and big band leader Bob Leaper, other than he did the music for a couple of (awful-sounding) sitcoms in the late Sixties/early Seventies which starred the likes of Jimmy Edwards and doubtless involved catch-phrases. But what we can say on the basis of his album Big Band, Beatle Songs on the London label was that he was... > Read more

Milva: Chi Mai (1972)

7 Nov 2016  |  1 min read

On November 10, 2016, the great Italian  composer Ennio Morricone will be 88 and celebrating the day with his wife of 50 years. Both of those are remarkable achievements, and so is the breadth of his music career. Perhaps best known for his distinctive soundtracks to Sergio Leone's spaghetti Westerns of the Sixties -- by coincidence they were in the same class at primary school --... > Read more

April Young: Will You Ever Be My Steady Boyfriend (1964)

31 Oct 2016  |  1 min read

It's one of those factoid which floated into Elsewhere's orbit: a survey which found that only three percent of songs in the American charts in the Fifties were about sex. By the Seventies the figure had risen to 40 percent and in 2009 it was 92 percent. We can't vouch for any of this – it rather depends on how you define “sex”, if nothing else – but we could... > Read more

The Castiles: Baby I (1966)

23 Oct 2016  |  1 min read

If Bob Dylan accepts his Nobel Prize for Literature (and at the time of writing he still has made no comment) then it is just another award to be added to a long list. At some point it might be useful to also acknowledge his services to marketing of music. With his Biograph five-record compilation in '85 he virtually invented the idea of a box set (it contained unreleased material... > Read more

The Valli Boys; Night Hawk (1966)

17 Oct 2016  |  1 min read

Quite where Frankie Valli's solo career emerged separate to the Four Season's discography is hard to discern. Before and during the Four Seasons era of the early Sixties he appeared simply as a member of the band, sometimes they were billed as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and even when singles appeared under just his own name there were frequently various Seasons on the session.... > Read more

Jay and the Americans: Tomorrow (1962)

26 Sep 2016  |  1 min read

Although they hit their peak when the American bands fought back against the British Invasion in the mid Sixties, Jay and the Americans always seemed like a band from an earlier era with their big ballad hit Cara Mia.  In fact they were, they'd been around since the late Fifites in some form or other and their sound was rooted in Italian ballads and the close harmony style of the Four... > Read more

Liquid Generation: Quarter to Zen (1984)

19 Sep 2016  |  1 min read

Elsewhere has frequently written unapologetically about the thrill of garageband rock'n'roll from the likes of Dead Moon, the Seeds, early Troggs, the Sonics, Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Standells and all those groups on the famous Nuggets collection (and its various spinoffs). The joy of garageband rock'n'roll is it rarely springs surprises -- it's cheaply realised, fast pop with... > Read more

Nina Simone: Backlash Blues (1967)

12 Sep 2016  |  <1 min read

Nina Simone was a rare one: she was classically trained, a political activist, furiously intolerant and increasingly strange and self-serving as her life rolled on. And that's just the broad strokes. She was also something of a genius when it came to marrying blues, politics, soul, gospel and jazz. It is hard to think of anyone who has followed in her footsteps. This song from the late... > Read more

Eddie Vedder, Neil and Liam Finn: Not Given Lightly (2009)

22 Aug 2016  |  <1 min read

After Chris Knox suffered his massive stroke in June 2009, there was an understandable outpouring of support from friends and fellow travellers who knew him, although it's fair to say not many understood just how debilitating and on-going that event in his life would be. It changed everything. Everything, for him and his family and those closest to him. As with a divorce or... > Read more

Chuck Berry: La Juanda (Espanol) (1957)

15 Aug 2016  |  <1 min read

Long before Paul McCartney wrote his slightly twee ballad Michelle for the album Rubber Soul, Nat King Cole and Chuck Berry were also addressing the problems across langauge barriers. But while McCartney lamented his inability with French and could say little more than his schoolboy "Michelle, ma belle, sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble" to his intended lover, Chuck used... > Read more

Blind Willie Johnson: I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole (1927)

18 Jul 2016  |  1 min read

Last year as part of a short series on blues artists we profiled the remarkable Blind Willie Johnson whose music is out there in the endless cosmos on board Voyager 1. Johnson possessed an astonishing voice, full of the pains of sin, the hope for redemption and an earthiness which seemed to come from the soil beneath his feet. The piece -- one of only a couple of dozen songs he recorded... > Read more

Jim Carroll: People Who Died (1980)

11 Jul 2016  |  2 min read  |  1

When Jim Carroll died in September 2009 at age 60, it went largely unnoticed by the rock culture which had once embraced him, and had spoken about this New York poet-turned-singer in the same breath as Patti Smith and Lou Reed. Carroll's rock career was admittedly short -- a few albums in the early Eighties and little else -- but his literary life was fascinating. And well known to the... > Read more

The Beach Boys: Wouldn't It Be Nice (vocals only, 1966)

4 Jul 2016  |  <1 min read

In our recent interview with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their classic Pet Sounds album, we noted that while accepting he was the genius in the band he also needed the other Beach Boys at that time. Various members of the famous Wrecking Crew may have provided the instrumental backings and helped Wilson realise his expansive vision of cosmic... > Read more