From the Vaults

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Gene Vincent: Woman Love (1956)

13 Jun 2016  |  1 min read

When the late Ian Dury appeared on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs it was no surprise that he would pick a song by Fifties rock'n'roller Gene Vincent. The surprise was the song he chose as one of the eight to take to some isolated place. Dury -- who wrote the terrific tribute Sweet Gene Vincent -- hah had his life turned around when he heard Vincent in the film The Girl Can't Help It.... > Read more

Jerry Lee Lewis: Another Place, Another Time (1968)

23 May 2016  |  2 min read

By the end of 1967, Jerry Lee Lewis, one of the greatest -- and certainly the most outrageous -- stars of the rock'n'roll era was washed up. The times had changed. It was the world of peace and love and marijuana, a bad fit for a man tormented to his soul by Satan and booze . . .  but that wasn't it. His career had been a series of self-inflicted wounds, not the least when he -- at... > Read more

Murray McNabb: The Way Out is The Way In (2002)

25 Apr 2016  |  <1 min read

If the New Zealand Music Awards had a category for best reissue or best best archival release, the exceptional double vinyl The Way In Is The Way Out would be a shoe-in. Subtitled "The Music of Murray McNabb", this lavishly presented collection pulls together an impressive cross-section of jazz and improvised music by the late keyboard player/composer, most of it previously... > Read more

Ti L'Afrique: Soul Sok Sega (c1974)

18 Apr 2016  |  <1 min read

One of the things you can never explain to people who don't listen to music much -- and these sad types do walk among us -- is the thrill of discovery that songs can bring. Especially if you listen to what is broadly called world music. For example, who could have guessed that the sound of sega out of Mauritius -- a once marginalised style of folk brought by slaves from East... > Read more

Ebba Gron: We're Only In It For the Drugs (1979)

11 Apr 2016  |  1 min read

The Abba Museum in Stockholm is always worth a visit, even if the band didn't mean much to you. The costumes, interactive sections, mixing desk, photo opportunities and awards – as well as the new freakishly life-like, fife-size wax models – are all diverting. But their museum also houses a Swedish Music Hall of Fame which is worth the price of entry in itself. Although... > Read more

Frank Sinatra: Strangers in the Night (1965)

4 Apr 2016  |  1 min read

Frank Sinatra hated Strangers in the Night which he took to the top of the charts, shoving out the Beatles' Paperback Writer in the US. "He thought it was about two fags in a bar," said Warner-Reprise Records man Joe Smith  . . . and sometimes Sinatra would change the lyrcs, as he did at a concert in Jerusalem in '75. When he introduced it he said, "Here's a song I... > Read more

David Thomas and Two Pale Boys: Surf's Up (2001)

29 Feb 2016  |  1 min read

It's often said the Beach Boys' Surf's Up of '71 was the album that split the band with Brian Wilson's psyched-out personality at one pole and the conservative Mike Love at the other. And the title track – written and first recorded in '66 with surreal lyrics by Van Dyke Parks – was one of those polarising songs. It is an odd but undeniably beautiful song full of wistful... > Read more

Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon: Running the Risk (2012)

15 Feb 2016  |  1 min read

Recorded for the album YOKOKIMTHURSTON (shortly after Gordon and Moore of Sonic Youth separated), this typically demanding, poetic piece was -- at almost 10 minutes -- mostly improvised in studio. Also on the album was the 14-minute Early in the Morning which they recorded and released to raise funds for a home in Japan for those displaced by the 2011 tsunami. I don't imagine it brought in... > Read more

Nyabinghi chanters: Got to Move (1982)

22 Jan 2016  |  1 min read

In 1935, just before the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, an article apeared in the Jamaica Times -- penned by an Italian fascist propoganda outfit -- which alleged that Ethiopia's Haile Selassie was the head of a secret organisation which was plotting to overthrow and kill whites. This alarmist article about the "Nyabingi Order" (the name allegedly meant "death to whites")... > Read more

Chicago Transit Authority: I'm a Man (1969)

21 Jan 2016  |  1 min read  |  1

For a brief period before they shortened their name to Chicago and became boring -- and for my money it was very brief, and they became very boring -- this big group with an ever-changing but hardly memorable line-up were a tanked-up rock band. Their debut album in '69 was a double, they had a political edge as befitted the volatile times (they had formed in '67 in, yes, Chicago and moved... > Read more

Kronos Quartet: Purple Haze (1986)

20 Jan 2016  |  1 min read

When the Kronos Quartet closed their first album for the Nonesuch label in '86 with this brittle version of Jimi Hendrix's '67 hit even liner note writer Gregory Sandow had to concede that, after a programme of works by Peter Sculthorpe, Aulis Sallinen, Philip Glass and Conlon Nancarrow, it had all the hallmarks of a built-in encore. Known for introducing works and commissions by cutting... > Read more

Otis Clay: Wild Horses (1997)

19 Jan 2016  |  1 min read

The recent collection of black artists doing Beatles' songs (Come Together; Black America sings Lennon & McCartney) rightly noted that many of these musicians found something in the Beatles' songbook which spoke to them, or that they could interpret. Makes sense too. After all, you only need to look at the American acts the Beatles covered (and insisted be on their tours) in the early... > Read more

Los Bravos: Black is Black (1966)

18 Jan 2016  |  <1 min read

People speak casually about the global village as if it had been invented by the internet, but how is this for an implosion of cultures? This song was written by a couple of British guys, was recorded by a Spanish group who had hooked in a German singer, the song was sung in English and went into the charts in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand -- as well as various European countries.... > Read more

Larry Williams: Bad Boy (1959)

15 Jan 2016  |  1 min read

In his exceptional study of the Beatles All These Years; Tune In – the first of three intended volumes, this only taking us to the start of '63 – Mark Lewisohn confirmed (via recordings unavailable to mere mortals) what most already suspected: that John Lennon was a natural born rock'n'roll singer and more than just an intuitive picker of songs but also an inspired one. In... > Read more

Dion: Born To Be With You (1975)

12 Jan 2016  |  1 min read

In the world outside the US, most people seem to only know Dion for a couple of classic hits like Runaround Sue and The Wanderer in '61. It appeared Dion and his kind had been washed away by the British Invasion -- but Dion made a return with the ballad Abraham, Martin and John in the late Sixties. American fans knew him for much more -- Dion and the Belmonts in the late Fifties and... > Read more

Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA demo (1982)

11 Jan 2016  |  1 min read

The recent box set The Ties That Bind; The River Collection showed how Bruce Springsteen was so prolific in the period when he was writing what became the double album The River. Once all those songs poured out -- about 60 in all -- and he'd done 18 months of touring on the back of the album he returned to his home studio trying to re-think what his phenomenal success meant. And what was... > Read more

George Harrison: Ding Dong Ding Dong (1974)

31 Dec 2015  |  <1 min read

When George Harrison released this well produced but lightweight song in December '74 on his album Dark Horse, he held great hopes that it would become a New Year's Eve anthem. He'd actually recorded it around the time of his previous album Living in the Material World and sent an early mix to David Geffen with a note which read, "It's one of them repetitious numbers which is gonna... > Read more

Teleclere: Steal Your Love (1983)

28 Dec 2015  |  1 min read

Say, "Seattle" and music people will say some variation of grunge or Nirvana. Pity. That's like thinking that Liverpool in the 21st century is still those black'n'white bomb-blasted streets that were imprinted in the collective imagination some half a century ago. Seattle and the Pacific Northwest had a whole lot more going for it before and after Nirvana -- as is... > Read more

Dread Zeppelin: All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth (1990)

25 Dec 2015  |  <1 min read

Christmas is upon us. And in the spirit of the day here is one of the funniest bands ever. Whoever thought pulling together reggae rhythms and Led Zeppelin riffery was an odd fish . . . but then they went one step beyond and fronted the band with an Elvis impersonator. This was classic rock-comedy . . . and their shows were hilarious. For this B-side however they went even beyond... > Read more

Becky Lamb: Little Becky's Christmas Wish (1967)

21 Dec 2015  |  1 min read

In 2003-04 John Michael Montgomery's Letters From Home was one of the biggest hits in America -- although its success there didn't translate internationally. But if you check the clip below -- not the official video, many people adopted it as their own and posted personalised You Tube versions -- you will see why: America was in a war and this sentimental but nonetheless strangely moving... > Read more