From the Vaults

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Cream: Pressed Rat and Warthog (1968)

5 Oct 2019  |  1 min read  |  1

At the time of this writing the drummer Ginger Baker has just died. He was 80 and, if you know anything about his life, you might be amazed that he lived so long. In the obituaries or fan comments, some will hail hm as the greatest drummer in rock . . . but that's always going to be a debatable point. That he could play different but interlocking rhythms on all four limbs simultaneously... > Read more

Listening: Stoned Is (1968)

23 Sep 2019  |  <1 min read

You don't have to be too smart to figure out from the first 30 seconds that this track was recorded in '68. The surprise might be is the band didn't come from San Francisco but were out of Boston. The band only recorded one album for Vanguard – all tracks written by singer/organist Michael Tschudin, this one sharing a co-credit with one Gilbert Moses – but they... > Read more

The Cambodian Space Project: Whiskey Cambodia (2014)

2 Sep 2019  |  <1 min read

No, and thanks for pointing it out: We didn't go too deeply into the vaults for this one. It came out about five years ago on the album of the same name by this group which sometimes covers classic rock songs (Creedence's Proud Mary, House of the Rising Sun etc) in its own idiosyncratic style with Srey Thy singing in her native language. That's the gimmicky end of this group which was... > Read more

Hello: New York Groove (1975)

26 Aug 2019  |  1 min read

Interesting story here in that UK/European and US audiences probably know very different versions of this song which took short-lived (but inevitably resurrected) British glam-rockers Hello into the top 10 in Britain. The song, which is pretty simple, was written by Russ Ballard, formerly the guitarist in Argent (former Zombie-man Rod Argent's band). He'd previously provided Hello with... > Read more

Reuben Bell and the Casanovas: It's Not That Easy (1960)

12 Aug 2019  |  <1 min read

Recently we posted a fine but obscure track by Jimmy Conwell lifted from the recent compilation This is Lowrider Soul 1962-1970 (Ace through Border in New Zealand). That 24 song collection of mostly achingly sad and soulful black music as favoured by those in the lowrider car culture of Hispanic California is full of great songs by singers and groups who – aside from William Bell,... > Read more

Jimmy Conwell: Second Hand Happiness (1967)

5 Aug 2019  |  1 min read

Once a compilation was simply a collection of hits (and many misses) by a particular artist/group or a pulling together of songs in genre (Nuggets), a year or a series like Now That's What I Call Music! (today up to Vol 103). These days compilations are much more diverse: location (be it Portland or Manchester or the neo-psychedelic scene around Dunedin), genre (Southern country-soul,... > Read more

Steve Marcus: Half a Heart (1968)

29 Jul 2019  |  1 min read  |  1

There are so many urban myths surrounding the distinctive saxophone solo by Raphael Ravenscroft on Gerry Rafferty's global hit Baker Street we should get them out of the way . . . before picking up this slightly more interesting thread. It has long been said that session musician Ravenscroft (who died in 2014) got just a nominal payment for the riff which made the song so distinctive. In... > Read more

Gil Scott-Heron: Whitey on the Moon (1970)

18 Jul 2019  |  1 min read

Not everyone was ecstatic when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon in July 1969, 50 years ago as we write. The superb Apollo 11 doco is very much worth seeing for the visceral thrill of the event, an admiration for those who developed the technology and the courage of the men who went in that tiny capsule which was flung across deep space. Back on Earth of course life went... > Read more

Dion: Sisters of Mercy (1968)

15 Jul 2019  |  1 min read  |  1

Two parallel stories of birth here. Sisters of Mercy was on Leonard Cohen's debut album Songs of Leonard Cohen and thus was his birth – at 33 – as a recording artist. For Dion however, who'd had a lengthy career on the pop charts and was something of a teen idol, it was a rebirth when, at almost 30, he looked to songwriters like Dylan, Fred Neil, Joni Mitchell, Hendrix... > Read more

Walter Robertson: Sputterin' Blues (1955)

8 Jul 2019  |  <1 min read

When Roger Daltrey of the Who deliberately stuttered in My Generation it was in some sense to capture the frustration of youth, and also to add piquancy to what might come next when he sang "Why don't you all f-f-f-f ...." Bluesman Walter Robertson (sometimes Robinson) probably had no such intention on this song which is borderline tasteless and something of a novelty item.... > Read more

The Roadrunners: LSD (1967)

20 May 2019  |  <1 min read

With British r'n'b rock legends the Pretty Things scheduled for a New Zealand concert (see interview with Dick Taylor here) in December 2012, it seemed timely to ressurect this obscurity from the vaults, a band from Lower Hutt just north of Wellington who named themselves after one of the Pretty Things' biggest hits and who here cover their '66 song, the ambiguously titled LSD (see clip below).... > Read more

Little Eva: The Trouble With Boys (1963)

13 May 2019  |  1 min read

When Little Eva died in 2003, most obituaries got in the story that she had been Gerry Goffin and Carole King's babysitter and, inspired by her odd dancing style, they penned The Locomotion for her, which was a massive hit in 1962. Little Eva -- born Eva Narcissus Boyd -- was 16 at the time.  That story seems unlikely or exaggerated, but it is true that Goffin-King also wrote... > Read more

The Fortunes: Laughing Fit to Cry (1965)

6 May 2019  |  1 min read

Britain's Fortunes cracked two exceptional singles in the Beat-pop era, You've Got Your Troubles and Here It Comes Again, both in 1965 and both featuring a natty spoken-word or double-lead vocal part. They had terrific harmony vocals and their lead singer Rod Allen could conjure up some fine white soul, as you can hear on their self-titled debut album which was rushed out to capitalise... > Read more

Delroy Wilson: Mash Up Illiteracy (1974)

29 Apr 2019  |  <1 min read

In Third World countries music is often the vehicle for social messages and political comment because it gets directly to people who may be unable to read a newspaper or otherwise have access to information. Reggae singer Delroy Wilson (who died in '95) was one of those who used songs to actually say something . . . although not always so positive. He did also deliver withering Lee Scratch... > Read more

Daniel Lentz: On the Leopard Altar (1984)

22 Apr 2019  |  <1 min read

To be fair to Paul McCartney, he's always said he can't pick a hit single and never knows if he's written one until people line up to buy it. Even so, when Mojo magazine asked him in '97 -- as part of their 100 Greatest Singles of All Time issue -- to name his favourite songs, and then one that should have been a contender he went for this odd item by the American contemporary classical... > Read more

Rufus Thomas: Itch and Scratch Part I (1972)

15 Apr 2019  |  <1 min read

One of the most natural funk artists this side of James Brown, Rufus Thomas struck gold with Walking the Dog and Do the Funky Chicken in the Sixties, but this song from just a little later captured him as a dance-floor filler with a Stax song which failed to chart. But it went on to be much sampled and he epitomised a specific Memphis sound at the time. He was also an unashamed... > Read more

Lowell Fulson: Tramp (1967)

8 Apr 2019  |  <1 min read

Written by singer/guitarist Fulson and pianist Jimmy McCracklin who were soul brothers in California, this short slice of soul-funk blues appeared on the Kent label, although the boss there Jules Bihari apparently hated . . . until it went top five on the r'n'b charts. It provided the title track for Fulson's album and even crossed over into the lower reaches of the pop charts, then Otis... > Read more

Duane and Gregg Allman: God Rest His Soul (1968)

25 Mar 2019  |  <1 min read

If anyone could sing Southern blues it was Gregg Allman and, with his brother Duane, – one of the greatest of rock guitarists – he understood the cross-cultural nature of music out of the South. In fact it would have been more of a surprise if the Allman Brothers Band hadn't had black members: drummer Jaimo Johanson a founder, bassist Lamar Williams who joined after the death of... > Read more

The Veils: Us Godless Teenagers (2011)

18 Mar 2019  |  <1 min read

For Elsewhere's money, with this singular song Finn Andrews – now a solo artist – captured something rare and insightful about the loneliness of being a teenager and the small comfort of friends when the outside world seems indifferent or critical. We see these kids everywhere, in parks and public transport, on street corners and sitting alone. Being a teenager is bad enough... > Read more

The Standells: Dirty Water (1966)

11 Mar 2019  |  1 min read

Before there was proto-punk there was raw and reductive r'n'b-based garageband rock and great bands like the Seeds, Count Five, early Them, the Downliners Sect, the Pretty Things and many more, some of whom enjoyed a long overdue acknowledgement when Lenny Kaye pulled together his first Nuggets collection, thereby setting of a revivalists search. Among the more recent collections was the... > Read more