Something Elsewhere

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10 Apr 2013  |  7 min read  |  3

Further to previous confessional postings along these lines (here and here), this is another installment in albums bought on the basis of their cover art -- although "art" is perhaps far too lofty a word for most. Bought out of curiosity about their contents, might be a better way of putting it. And what better one to start with than this appropriately titled collection . . .... > Read more


SEDUCED BY SOUND: Let your passion be your passport

29 Mar 2013  |  3 min read  |  2

In his readable and funny Autobiography, Rod Stewart said when he was young his dad told him he needed three thing in life: a job, a sport and a hobby. Rod has singing, soccer and model railways: Done. When I read that I wondered what of them I had: None. As a freelancer writer there's no regular income, my idea of sport is seeing how fast I can go past it with the remote . . .... > Read more

THE CRITIC REVILED (2013): With Ringo and BB KIng reviewed

11 Feb 2013  |  5 min read

There are many perils in writing reviews: you might report a song title incorrectly, you might misname a member of the backing band, you might get abuse and threats in a bar afterwards . . . sometimes many years afterwards, especially from a musician who feels you didn't accurate report their particular genius. The internet has actually helped the hapless reviewer, people can now pour their... > Read more


25 Jan 2013  |  7 min read  |  2

As mentioned previously in regard to Record Store Day -- the day when artists release albums and singles on vinyl to encourage people back to the format and into record shops -- people who just download music are missing something. Quite a lot of something. Not just sound quality but that tangible object: the record cover. Not all album covers are works of art however, and there's... > Read more

A Mustache, a Derby, A Cane and a Cop

EVERYWHERE ELSEWHERE: Enter through the gift shop

30 Sep 2012  |  2 min read

Having paid our respects at Buddy Holly's grave in his hometown of Lubbock in west Texas, where the inscription takes the family spelling “Holley”, it was time to get serious. And shop. Back at the excellent Buddy Holly Center in town there was the inevitable gift shop and I had my eye on a bobble-head Buddy doll to match a Wonder Woman one I'd bought previously. These... > Read more

SPOTIFY'S HQ IN SWEDEN: The quiet revolution

19 Jun 2012  |  1 min read

The ambience of the Stockholm headquarters of Spotify – the world's fastest growing online music streaming service – isn't what you might expect. No skateboard-riding computer nerds giving high-fives and blasting some cutting-edge soundtrack as they chug energy drinks, no rowdy office banter around the coffee machine. If it weren't for a few handsomely framed photos of... > Read more

SPOTTED ON SPOTIFY: An endless stream of music

24 May 2012  |  2 min read  |  1

The hills – and elevators, supermarkets and doctors' waiting rooms – are alive with the sound of music. Yet despite being assailed by often unwanted Muzak, most of us still want music in our lives. And more of it judging by the success of iTunes, iPods and the download culture. You can add to that list a new player in the New Zealand market, Spotify, which brings you essential... > Read more


21 May 2012  |  6 min read

Further to the previous selection of bad taste or just plain awful album covers, comes this batch . . . kicking off with PIL playing the old Magritte card with their album That What is Not. Rene Magritte was the Belgian surrealist who painted a pipe and added the words "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a pipe), the point being it wasn't a pipe, but a painting of a pipe.... > Read more

Polar Bear Stomp

FISTFUL OF VINYL: Records ride back over the horizon

16 Apr 2012  |  4 min read  |  1

A true coincidence? Within half an hour of speaking with my son in London about some wonderful on-line world which allows streaming access to what seems like a billion songs, a familiarly shaped parcel arrived at my door . It was of the kind the iPod generation probably knows very little about. It was a 12'' record in a beautiful gatefold sleeve. This was music – the... > Read more

Maggie May

Scratching the surface: In praise of old time music

9 Mar 2011  |  3 min read  |  1

I confess to being a hoarder. Nothing embarrassing like bottles, matchboxes, or beer cans. I collect art objects. Well, records actually. Over the decades I've scrounged through junk shops and school fairs looking for that first Sadistic Mika Band album, things by Sam the Sham and Pharaohs, Japanese psychedelic rock from the early 70s, spoken word albums from the 40s, Gracie Fields' singles... > Read more

GETTING OLDER (2010: A greybeard still here

15 Aug 2010  |  5 min read  |  1

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to the movies and, for the first time, I took advantage of what I am calling “Senior Discount”. The polite young man behind the counter laughed when I went to get out my driver's license as proof of age and said, “Nah, it's all right. You don't look it, but I believe you.” This was flattering on the one hand, but of... > Read more

Trade . . .Me? A story of failed entrepreneurialism

5 Jul 2010  |  3 min read  |  1

The new poster boy for entrepreneurs is 26-year old Canadian Kyle MacDonald: he’s the guy who traded a red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen, then traded that for a doorknob, that for a barbeque and so on. He’s still trading up and some weeks ago looked set to get a house out of his on-line trading skills. My negotiating abilities are such that the other day I was prepared... > Read more


8 Jun 2010  |  6 min read  |  1

It has been some time since I had hate mail, and while I can't say I miss it I always used to read the letters with interest and thought about what the people had to say. Then I chucked them away. Hate mail wasn't that common when I was at the Herald, but every now and again someone would fire something off, usually intemperate and you felt you could smell the wine on their hot breath as... > Read more

PAULY FUEMANA REMEMBERED (2010): Once in the land of plenty

31 Jan 2010  |  5 min read

I wish I wasn’t writing this. I wish it wasn’t humid and raining. I wish I could bring myself to put his album on right now. But – and I really don’t know why – I am overwhelmed by grief to learn that Pauly Fuemana has died. Many, many others knew him – or will now claim to know him – better than I. In truth I did not know him at all... > Read more

The Nightmare from Down Under: Paying the price for gluttony

5 May 2009  |  1 min read

The small city of Melaka two hours south of Kuala Lumpur is considered the cuisine capital of Malaysia, and my happy task there for a few days was to sample then write about the various foods -- notably the highly-spiced Baba-Nyonya style for which Melaka (aka Malacca and other variants) is renown. But with so many styles still to be sampled I decided to stay on longer and, to save money,... > Read more

Looking at Ourselves: the film New Zealand, in cinemas now

23 Dec 2008  |  3 min read  |  2

I honestly thought that the new Keanu film The Day The Earth Stood Still was the worst movie I had seen in decades, then last night we saw Australia. Far be it from me to be a spoiler -- and please go see it, if you must -- but we thought it the most trite, sentimental, predictable, cornball, overblown epic ever. And I've seen some clunkers from the Fifties -- which stand up better... > Read more

Life in a leaky building: a survivor's tale

26 Oct 2008  |  3 min read  |  1

Just before Christmas 2005, we fell victim to the pandemic sweeping across Auckland. You know how it is: you always think it’ll affect someone else and you’ll be okay. So we were ill-prepared. We had just carried on as if nothing would ever happen to us. And anyway, we are people who like to think of ourselves as survivors. We have lived through the Y2K scare, SARS... > Read more

Come, feel the noize: A true story from the suburbs

23 Oct 2008  |  2 min read  |  3

A question: is female orgasm the satisfied whimper at the end, or the 40 minutes of moaning and groaning which my neighbour does loudly at 2am? Or at 6am. Living in a block of townhouses brings with it a certain unwanted knowledge of your neighbour's intimacies, although I am a little unsure as to whether they are unhappy about us knowing. She once said, "you've probably heard... > Read more

More to life than cars and girls?

29 Sep 2008  |  5 min read  |  1

A couple of weeks ago a strange sound came from our modest Mazda Demio so I confidently popped the bonnet. As I stood looking at the unfamiliar coils of metal and rubber it occurred to me it had been over a year since I had needed to peer into that mysterious engine -- and probably four decades since I knew what I was looking for in there. When I was at school -- approximately the time... > Read more

Stayin' Alive: The fitness phase (2005)

26 May 2008  |  2 min read

When you are over 50, becoming fanatical about exercise won't undo years of happy hedonism. For a year I have occasionally waddled to the nearby Health and Fitness Centre (their description, not mine) and – alongside lithe young bodies, walking-wounded Blues players and sometimes monstermen like the Tuaman – I have worked out. More correctly, I have ridden a bicycle to nowhere... > Read more