Something Elsewhere

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NEW ZEALAND MUSIC AWARDS 2014: You come a long way, baby

21 Nov 2014  |  5 min read

Here's something I sometimes tell the young students in my New Zealand Music Studies course at the University of Auckland: The first music awards show I went to in about 1988 was held in a small room in what is now the Langham Hotel. That room must have held maybe 60 people and my recollection was – aside from Herbs who made up quite a crew – there were... > Read more

BADFINGER and HARRY NILSSON: Without them, no Without You

3 Nov 2014  |  2 min read  |  6

Behind most hit songs -- perhaps even behind many songs -- there can be an interesting story. As songwriters tell us in the Famous Elsewhere Songwriting Questionnaire, very few songs dropped fully formed into an artist's lap. The story behind Harry Nilsson winning a Grammy in 1973 for Without You is interesting, but also comes with a patina of sadness. Badfinger were a British pop band... > Read more

BIEBER FEVER (2010): In defense of cheap pop

1 Oct 2014  |  3 min read

Police. Security. Screams. A singer comes to town. Because I've spent the past week immersed in a collection of essays and rants entitled Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth, I'm a bit bemused but increasingly annoyed by the babble from adults about tweenie star Justin Bieber. I heard him on radio dismissed with the self-damning line from a commentator, “I'd never heard of him... > Read more

ALL APOLOGIES: The insincerities of saying sorry

1 Oct 2014  |  2 min read  |  1

An apology means nothing if you do it on Facebook or You Tube. Or Twitter or e-mail or txt. Or a talk show. An apology by an actor who cries probably doesn’t mean much. These people are actors, they are trained to fake sincerity. An apology by a politician who appears contrite probably doesn’t mean much. These people are politicians, they are trained to fake... > Read more

BACK TO BLACK (2014): 12 inch vinyl, a Sign o' The Times

29 Aug 2014  |  11 min read  |  1

At last! Although seriously serious old Beatles' fans didn't have long to wait. Just fortysomething years after the band broke up . . . but a mere five years since their albums and singles were given long overdue remastered reissue, here it is. Mono Beatles at last on vinyl record again . . . a real back to the . . . Well, in truth, not "back to the... > Read more

Only a Northern Song (mono)

THE CORNERSTONE COLLECTION (2011): The 101 building blocks of any serious CD collection

9 Jul 2014  |  3 min read  |  6

In early 2011 I was invited by JB HiFi to collate -- for a giveaway booklet through their New Zealand stores -- the 101 albums I thought which should be in any serious music collection. That was the start and end of their input, they left me alone to deliver what I considered cornerstone albums ofr a broad-based collection. They also posted the selection on-line for comment and asked... > Read more

COLIN LINWOOD INTERVIEWED (2014): Keeping the records straight

30 Jun 2014  |  11 min read  |  1

The most extraordinary thing about the extraordinary Colin Linwood is just how ordinary he is. In his early 50s, he's married with children, has worked from the time he left school, is trim and in good condition, and when he walks into the lobby bar of the Heritage Hotel in Auckland for a chat, few in the room give him a second glance. He's an ordinary man . . . and at home he has . . .... > Read more

THE WORLD COMES TO SARAWAK (2014): The Rainforest World Music Festival

27 Jun 2014  |  3 min read

It's a happily weird thing, especially at this time of year, to listen to taonga puoro master Horomona Horo evoke the sounds of New Zealand bush and its native birds . . . then walk outside into the 36 degree heat and hot breeze. Even with the ocean on its doorstep and the towering jungle of Mt Santubong at its back, the Damai region of Sarawak – about 40 minutes from the city... > Read more

Bagun Wei

RADIO RADIO: Odd podcasts from Radio New Zealand's Concert Programme

25 Jun 2014  |  <1 min read

For many years now I have been contributing a 20 minute chat with music to Radio New Zealand's Upbeat segment on the Concert Programme. My brief has been broad, so broad that I might be best described as "contributor without portfolio" because I have covered world music (not just worthy ethnographic stuff, quite a lot of pop), Indian Bollywood psychedelic music, songs from the... > Read more

THE MYSTERY AND MUSIC OF OF MARGARET (2014): A photo, a cassette and a strange tale

26 May 2014  |  4 min read  |  11

Cassette tapes don't turn up in my letterbox that often these days. In fact not for at least a decade, maybe even much longer. They tell me there's a cult audience out there who like the idea of cassettes, but there's a cult audience for most things and tapes are damnably problematic because you can never find a track again, and they break. Remember the Seventies when the side of... > Read more

sample of music by Margaret (extract only)

HISTORY ACTUALLY REPEATS (2014): Rare, lost or out-of-print New Zealand music gets a second coming

21 May 2014  |  2 min read

This week I was invited to a function in Auckland hosted by The event -- at which Shona Laing and John Hanlon performed -- was entitled Tied to the Tracks, named after a rarely-heard Laing album which she had recorded in London at the dawn of her career. But in good news, this album is no longer rare or unavailable. Because the event -- in Tyler Street Garage, a bar and... > Read more

The White Rabbit

CANON MEDIA AWARDS (2014): A judge's comments

10 May 2014  |  5 min read  |  1

Some months ago I was invited to judge the Reviewer of the Year category for the Canon Media Awards. The awards ceremony was last night and I have been asked to post here the comments I wrote for the judging panel. I make some points about the reviewing process which may be of interest to general readers. It is common for judges of any award to note how difficult the decision was. Just... > Read more

THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF . . . (2014): Kiss pokes tongue at honour? No!

11 Apr 2014  |  6 min read

Trust Gene Simmons of Kiss to inject some controversy into the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today (April 10, US time). While so many others are happy to take the accolade, do the handshakes and attend the slap-up dinner, Simmons was blunt and got the headline. He recently told a US radio jock that hip-hop doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame, and nor do disco... > Read more

KYARY PAMYU PAMYU EXPLAINED, OR NOT (2014): It's the money-go-round

31 Mar 2014  |  4 min read  |  1

Like French pop, the mainstream pop music of Japan is largely a mystery to outsiders. If so much French pop is breathy or more like an innocous soundtrack to high-end visuals, Japanese pop can seem like cliches come to life. And J-pop works in an enclosed world. Japan and Korea were the only countries last year to have their end-of-year top 10 album sales made up entirely of local artists.... > Read more


FILM IT AND THEY WILL COME (2014): Movie and television tourism

23 Mar 2014  |  2 min read  |  1

Hamad suddenly pulls us aside in the canyon between towering rock faces and says, “See” as he points to a gap in the path ahead. “This is 'Wow', right? Indiana Jones, yes?” Well yes, it is wow and Indiana Jones because through the corridor of sheer stone we can see that breathtaking building carved from solid rock which appeared near the end of Indiana... > Read more

10 ALBUM COVER PARODIES: It looks familiar but . . .

17 Mar 2014  |  4 min read

There are any number of books dedicated to the art of the album cover, and at Elsewhere we've indulged ourselves in articles about 10 Shameful Record Covers I'm Proud to Own (four columns, see here) as well as an article on 10 Good Albums in Bad Covers. You could fill a handsome coffeetable book with parodies of Beatles covers alone (hmmm, that's an idea), especially Please Please Me, With... > Read more

A CRITIC INTERVIEWED (2004): Putting opinion in print

8 Jan 2014  |  <1 min read

A decade ago I was interviewed by Trevor Reekie of National Radio as part of his series about music writing and critics. I recently found the CD of it which he gave me -- the 30 minute un-editied version was very loose and funny and the anecdotes were obviously embellished -- but this edited seven minute version covers a fair bit of ground. The Mick Jagger story I mentioned is... > Read more

THE IDIOT BOY WHO FLEW: A story of saints, holy fools and Southern Italy

3 Jan 2014  |  32 min read  |  3

A strange journey begins with some good advice---the saint and storyteller---from Amalfi to ugly---the romance of Italy considered---a shocking discovery---the sad south---the idiot boy---the flying men of a faraway place---even more aerial saints---the hometown of the idiot boy---inflationary practices among the Catholics---once upon a time of miracles---the why and wherefore---a dark... > Read more

THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND, THIS LAND IS . . . (2011): New Zealand in the eye of the beholder

1 Oct 2013  |  3 min read

Some many decades ago, after my dad and I had returned from an extended overseas trip, we were having dinner with some friends of my parents. At some point one of the guests – perhaps annoyed we had been banging on about some interesting places we'd been – spoke up for the beauties of Auckland and said, “In what other city in the world can you be swimming in the... > Read more

MONEY DON'T GET EVERYTHING IT'S TRUE: What it don't get, I can't use

15 Sep 2013  |  2 min read

In a Mumbai bar a guy from Amsterdam tells me (from New Zealand), about an American television programme. Despite the cultural collisions of that, he's got a good story. Apparently the host – Jimmy Kimmel or maybe Conan O'Brien, he couldn't remember – went into the street and asked passers-by whose face was on the dollar bill. Rather than admit they didn't know – it's... > Read more