From the Vaults

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Fever Tree: I Can Beat Your Drum (1967)

15 Jan 2018  |  1 min read

Even in the day-glo Summer of Love there were still bands which were somewhere between garage-band r'n'b rock (like Them) and the usual truths of a suburban garage full of sexual frustration, male teenage hormones and guitars'n'drums . . . and not much further unless you consider the sexuality more overt. As with Fever Tree, an offshoot of the SanFan/Houston sounds of the little-known... > Read more

The Fab Four: Jingle Bells (date unknown)

2 Jan 2018  |  <1 min read

It may be a bit late now for this one, but the innovative and timeless John Lennon classic Tomorrow Never Knows began life in a very different form. With Christmas very recent in his drug addled memory (he was smoking LSD on a daily basis and was experimenting with injecting marijuana with his soon-to-be-wife Yokahama Mama) he wrote this very bizarre version of Jingle Bells. It wasn't... > Read more

Blind Gussie Nesbit: Pure Religion (1930)

11 Dec 2017  |  1 min read

The surprisingly good recent Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Volume 13; Trouble No More set – which was live material from his brief evangelical period but truly rocked that gospel rock'n'soul spirit – illustrated how sometimes the Lord could move troubled souls, non-believers and ne'er-do-wells alike. There was no room for the unfaithful, doubters or backsliders in Dylan's canon.... > Read more

Steve Young: Seven Bridges Road (1969)

27 Nov 2017  |  1 min read

When Steve Young died in March last year at 73, there were hardy headlines about it. Young's many albums – about a dozen more in all – had rarely been in any country collection but his passing certainly engaged a few writers who took the opportunity to essay this songwriter who put himself on the frontline of the Civil Rights movement (singing early and politically pertinent... > Read more

The Ramones: Spiderman (1995)

20 Nov 2017  |  <1 min read

Further proof that the Ramones' sound could be applied to almost any kind of B-grade pop and rock (and sometimes genuine platinum sounds) and always coming up sounding like itself. In '95, Ralph Sall of Bulletproof Recording had the idea of getting lots of alt.rockers to record songs which appeared on Saturday morning carttoons and kids programmes. And so you got an album Saturday Morning:... > Read more

Sam Gopal: Escalator (1969)

13 Nov 2017  |  <1 min read  |  1

Everyone has to start somewhere, and most diehard Motorhead fans can tell you their mainman, the legendary Lemmy, was in the psychedelic spacerock outfit Hawkwind before he was kicked out for lifestyle, not musical, differences. They were on acid, he was on speed. But even before Hawkwind, Lemmy was in another band -- and it was an equally interesting one. In the late Sixties, Sam... > Read more

The London Symphony Orchestra: Hey Joe (1979)

6 Nov 2017  |  <1 min read

It has always seemed very popular to create orchestral versions of rock songs. Way back Arthur Fiedler and his Boston Pops Orchestra played Beatles' songs, The London Symphony Orchestra released a couple of albums on the late Seventies and in the Nineties Jaz Coleman of Killing Joke delivered albums with symphonic treatments from the catalogues of the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd Led Zeppelin and... > Read more

Mandingo; Jungle Wedding (1973)

30 Oct 2017  |  1 min read

The original cover of Mandingo's album The Primeval Rhythm of Life was singularly unhelpful. It just had titles on the front, some brief liner notes which started "Thousand upon thousands of years ago Man discovered that hitting two sticks together again and again . . ." and a list of instruments played. And you knew from the first track that this wasn't an African band. The... > Read more

Sex Pistols: God Save the Queen (2002, dance mix)

23 Oct 2017  |  <1 min read

One of the more confusing and alarming posters I saw in Britain in 2012 was on a wall in Dover. It was this one, a DJ celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee -- and given the massive unemployment and fragile economic conditions, I couldn't help but reflect on that earlier Jubilee year when the young people of Britain (a significant number anyway) exploded with rage about the banners and... > Read more

Sam Dees: We Always Come Back Strong (1972 demo)

16 Oct 2017  |  1 min read

Southern soul songwriter Sam Dees was best known as the guy who penned hits and album tracks for the likes of Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and many others. But in the late Sixties/early Seventies he recorded his own material to some small success, then put the microphone aside for the backroom writing. But he was a fine interpreter of his own material and this demo... > Read more

Henry Phillips: The Bitch Song (1995)

9 Oct 2017  |  1 min read

Not everything in life is serious and Henry Phillips takes a skewed view of the world. The title track of his album On the Shoulders of Freaks notes that all those great Greek philosophers "had a thing for little boys", that Katherine the Great enjoyed large animals, Hemingway put a bullet through his head, Salvador Dali's paintings were heaven sent even though he ate his own... > Read more

Big Walter and the Thunderbirds: Watusie Freeze Part 1 (1959)

2 Oct 2017  |  1 min read

As with most sensible people, Elsewhere has long enjoyed music which isn't. The comedic noise of Spike Jones, the Goons, Spinal Tap, the exotica of Martin Denny, Esquivel, the outer space sounds of weird electronica and so on . . . all get airplay around our way. As do early Captain Beefheart, spoken word albums, soundtracks from disturbing movies (A Scanner Darkly most recently, always... > Read more

The Shangri-Las: I Can Never Go Home Anymore (1965)

25 Sep 2017  |  1 min read

The spoken-word song -- often with a moral or a message -- has rarely been as popular as it was in the early Sixties. Back then there were numerous examples and although only a few became hugely popular the idea was a legitimate form. The Shangri-Las -- better known for Walkin' in the Sand and their terrific Leader of the Pack among other widescreen hits -- weighed in with this... > Read more

Halim el-Dabh: Leiyla and the Poet (1959)

18 Sep 2017  |  1 min read

One of the less recognised figures in the genre outside the inner circle of electro-acoustic pioneers, Halim el-Dabh was in the vanguard of the using the emerging electronic equipment and instruments such as the synthesiser. In the mid Forties he experimented with, and composed on, tape which he manipulated to create the cornerstone piece The Expression of Zaar which included a... > Read more

Peter Cook: Bedazzled (1968)

11 Sep 2017  |  1 min read  |  2

Although best seen in the context of the hilarious Bedazzled film -- where poor Dudley Moore is granted wishes by the Devil (the smarmy and petty Peter Cook) -- this song still resonates for its emotional coolness and distance. Some context then? Moore plays a nervous cook in a cheap London diner who is smitten with the beautiful waitress Eleanor Bron. He meets the Devil (in the guise... > Read more

Boyd Rivers: Fire Shed in my Bones (1985)

21 Aug 2017  |  <1 min read

Not a lot is known about the Mississippi-based country-blues and gospel singer Boyd Rivers who died in '93, but his growling voice seems to belong to a much older time. He was born near the town of Pickens in December '43 and after being injured at his casket-making job in '72 he lived off his music and the pay-out. He was also a Reverend. And that's about it. Oh, and he seems to... > Read more

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)

14 Aug 2017  |  1 min read

When this Willie Nelson song started to get a bit of attention around the time of the movie Brokeback Mountain, many people -- myself included -- assumed it had been prompted by that film. But the story of it goes back quite a way and the song's writer Ned Sublette tells it in his excellent book The Year Before the Flood about his time in New Orleans before Katrina and the flooding.... > Read more

The Quarrymen/Silver Beatles; Cayenne (1960)

31 Jul 2017  |  <1 min read

The QuarrymenSilver /Beatles at the time of this recording in Liverpool included bassist Stu Sutcliffe and (absent) drummer Pete Best. And all of them -- Lennon, McCartney who most likely wrote this, and Harrison who was also absent for this tape recording – were all shy of being 20. Best information on this says it was recorded in early 1960 and was part of about a 40... > Read more


Mamie Van Doren: Separate the Men From the Boys (1958)

31 Jul 2017  |  1 min read

Mamie Van Doren's not inconsiderable assets -- big breasts, bleached blonde hair and a breathy speaking style -- served her well for a career in cinema and self-promotion when she emerged as a kind of second-tier Marilyn Munroe in the Fiftes. She, of course, always denied being a mere copyist ("I have never been a Marilyn Munroe wannabe, I have always been happy in my own skin")... > Read more

Mavis Rivers: Farewell Samoa (1950)

29 Jul 2017  |  2 min read  |  1

Because her career as singer was mostly in the United States -- where Sinatra apparently called her the purest voice in jazz -- Mavis Rivers was for many decades after 1953, when she made the first move from Auckland, more respected in New Zealand than actually heard. Yet in her brief period in Auckland -- the family originally from Apia, Samoa arrived in Auckland in 1947 when she was in... > Read more