From the Vaults

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

Dinah Washington: Evil Gal Blues (1943)

11 Oct 2021  |  <1 min read

Written by Lionel Hampton and Leonard Feather, Evil Gal Blues perfectly captured the independent spirit of black women at the time, and was the first recording by Dinah Washington and started her short career. She was 19 when she sang this and died just 20 years later of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. In those two decades she recorded mainstream pop hits, jazz classics,... > Read more

The Boomtown Rats: I Don't Like Mondays (1979)

4 Oct 2021  |  2 min read

Many of us don't like Mondays, but we don't all . . . In 1979, Bob Geldof of Ireland's Boomtown Rats read about the 16-year old American girl Brenda Ann Spencer in San Diego who fired at a children's playground killing two adults and injuring eight children. She used the rifle her father had given her. When asked why she did it she said, "I don't like Mondays. This... > Read more

Sam Cooke: Feel It, Don't Fight It (1963)

27 Sep 2021  |  <1 min read

Although the great Sam Cooke is best remembered by radio programmers for smooth pop hits (Cupid, You Send Me, Bring It On Home To Me, Wonderful World) and his posthumous classic A Change is Gonna Come, he could also deliver a feisty rock'n'soul review show. But with his good looks and mainstream success, that aspect of style was often downplayed by his management and record company people.... > Read more

George Harrison: Horse to Water (2001)

20 Sep 2021  |  1 min read

As with many people who have a religion, faith or some kind of mainline on what they believe to be the truth, George Harrison wasn't short of moralising and a bit of finger-pointing with warnings. At their best (early in his solo career) his lyrics were measured but later on the dogma and judging seemed to emerge more. In this, the final song he recorded when he knew he was going to... > Read more

John Cale: Mercenaries (1980)

13 Sep 2021  |  1 min read

Born of its political era and John Cale's peculiarly damaged consciousness at the time, this menacing live recording captures an embittered spirit, a rare rage and a grim humour. As Mikal Gilmore noted in Rolling Stone at the time, the Sabotage/Live album this comes from is "without apology, and more importantly, without ideology, something of a rough and ready homage to the business... > Read more

(from vinyl, some enjoyale surface noise and pops)

The Pleasers: Move It (1964)

5 Sep 2021  |  2 min read

Cliff Richard and the Shadows' Move It of 1958 was widely considered by many (the young John Lennon among them) to be the first and most authentic British rock'n'roll hit. But when placed alongside this ripping version it sounds positively tame. The Pleasers lead by Roger Skinner – who had moved through skiffle and rock'n'roll into Merseybeat – were very much right... > Read more

Pete Shelley: Think For Yourself (2012)

29 Aug 2021  |  1 min read  |  1

George Harrison's Think For Yourself on the Beatles' Rubber Soul in '65 was very interesting for a number of reasons. First it was another sign that Harrison was getting a few more songs through the Lennon-McCartney net (on the album he also had If I Needed Someone) but also that he had a pretty dyspeptic nature. His first song on a Beatles album had been Don't Bother Me (on With the... > Read more

The Beatles: Revolution Take 20, 10 minutes long (1968)

25 Aug 2021  |  <1 min read

This 10 minute version of the John Lennon's Revolution ended up being cut up into the acoustic version of Revolution on The White Album and some of the last part became part of the sonic tapestry of Revolution 9. Whether it would have worked as it stands here on that album is open to debate, but it certainly would have pushed the boundaries of tolerance for some. An interesting... > Read more

Vera Lynn: Everybody's Talkin' (1970)

22 Aug 2021  |  <1 min read  |  1

Although knows as "the Forces' Sweeheart" for her songs during the Second World War, the great Vera Lynn -- who died in 2020 at age 103 -- subsequently had a successful career with hits in the Fifties and Sixties (although her Rock'n'Roll Party Hits album might not have been the strongest of ideas). In 1970 she released the album Hits of the 60's: My Way and although you might... > Read more

George Harrison: My Sweet Lord 2000 (2001)

15 Aug 2021  |  <1 min read  |  2

With the 50th anniversary edition of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass album remixed and re-released (51 years after its original release) in a slightly less Spectorised edition, it's worth remembering we have passed this way before. A decade ago the album was reissued on limited edition vinyl which replicated the original three-LP set. On the 30thanniversary of... > Read more

Tony and the Initials: Taboo (1961)

9 Aug 2021  |  1 min read

It's easy to forget just how popular guitar instrumentals were in the years before the Beatles, a band which did their own (Cry for a Shadow) when they got a chance to record in Hamburg. There were many threads to the instrumental genre also: surf, country, space-themed (Telstar leading the way) and of course ballads. This one by Tony Eagleton and his band doesn't easily conform to any... > Read more

Helen Reddy: Angie Baby (1974)

26 Jul 2021  |  1 min read

The damn fine Australian singer Helen Reddy could be convincingly MOR (I Don't Know How to Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar), kinda country (Delta Dawn) and standing proud (I Am Woman). But this song was just downright weird. It's one part odd fantasy and one part escapism then it gets very strange when the neighbour boy comes around and . . . Well, as the song says “it's... > Read more

The Honeycombs: Have I The Right (1964)

19 Jul 2021  |  1 min read  |  3

In the Beatpop boom which followed the Beatles, there were any number of great one-off hits (Concrete and Clay by Unit 4 Plus Two, and Wake Up My Mind by the Ugly's spring to mind). But few had less a one-off success and promise unfulfilled than the Honeycombs. Their simplistic but energetic Have I the Right was no less interesting -- better in fact -- than the tub-thumpy pop of the... > Read more

Curtis Mayfield: Hard Times (1975)

11 Jul 2021  |  <1 min read

Few artists captured the feelings of loss, discomfort, urban troubles and spiritual hope better and more consistently than Curtis Mayfield. This subtle slow-burner is lifted from his album There's No Place Like America Today, released in the same period Stevie Wonder was addressingg similar ideas on Livin' For the City (1973), Gil Scott Heron was speaking of revolution (The Liberation... > Read more

Lula Reed: I'll Drown in my Tears (1952)

28 Jun 2021  |  <1 min read

Although Ray Charles took a version of this soul classic to the top of the charts in 1956, this earlier version by Lula Reed (1921-2008) is the one to return to. A sassy and soulful r'n'b singer who was discovered singing in a church choir by gospel singer Harold Boggs, she took this version to the top five on Bilboard's r'n'b charts but, despite her penetrating and unwavering vocal style,... > Read more

Joanie Sommers: Johnny Get Angry (1962)

21 Jun 2021  |  1 min read

While not quite in the league of He Hit Me and It Felt Like a Kiss, this sliver of semi-innocent pop sounds very uncomfortable these days. Poor Joanie, just wanting to get a response from the meek boyfriend ("I want a brave man, I want a cave man") and hoping for a lecture from Johnny. She wants Johnny to be the boss, but wimpy Johnny sounds like his part could be played by Gene... > Read more

Southern Tones: It Must Be Jesus (1954)

20 Jun 2021  |  <1 min read

Anyone wondering why Ray Charles copped such a backlash from black preachers and congregations in the late Fifties/early Sixties need only listen to this song by a Southern gospel group and Charles' I Got a Woman released the same year. You can hear quite clearly where he got the idea from. He'd heard to song on the radio and loved its drive and passionate intensity... > Read more

Dalvanius: Chudka Popoy Ugh Cha Cha (1993)

4 Jun 2021  |  1 min read

Here is further proof – if any more were needed – of what a musical genius Dalvanius Prime was. Perhaps best (and only known?) by hundreds and thousands of New Zealanders for Poi E by Patea Maori Club, there was so much more to the man, not the least his Sydney-based showband Dalvanius and the Fascinations. And by chance this 12” single was pulled from the shelves... > Read more

Genya Ravan: Junkman (1979)

31 May 2021  |  1 min read

By the time New York singer Ravan got to her album And I Mean It, from which this track is taken, she'd already had a few careers: she'd been the singer in the Escorts in the early Sixties (the line-up included soon-to-be-producer Richard Perry); she was Goldie of Goldie and The Gingerbreads who scored a top 10 UK single with Can't You Hear My Heartbeat (produced by Alan Price of the Animals)... > Read more

Jim Reeves: He'll Have To Go (1960)

24 May 2021  |  1 min read

One of the saddest songs ever penned, He'll Have to Go became a signature ballad for the man they called Gentleman Jim Reeves. Reeves (1923-64) had the vocal ease of Bing Crosby but with less of the Crosby's lower register scuff: if Bing was brown, Jim was tan. And there was something about his slow aching honesty that made him the perfect voice for songs about a man in love whose... > Read more