WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . .

Strange, eccentric and sometimes mad people or unusual events in the music world.

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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . UTOPIA'S DEFACE THE MUSIC: So, ummm, that happened

25 May 2020  |  2 min read

It's a very odd thing to observe, but Utopia – the prog-rock band lead by Todd Rundgren from the mid Seventies – kind of did the Beatles' career in reverse gear. They went from ambitious and full blown stadium-sized prog on their debut as Todd Rundgren's Utopia – the opening Theme is over 14 minutes, The Ikon on the second side a tidy half hour – into small... > Read more

Everybody Else is Wrong

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . VIRGIN RECORDS: From prog to punk, Bells to Bodies

20 Apr 2020  |  3 min read  |  1

Although a considerable amount of other music happened in New Zealand during the Eighties – and some still feel aggrieved their effort and output goes under-acknowledged – there was a reason why the Flying Nun label dominates the conversation, then and now. Between its first singles in '81 (Pin Group, Clean) and the end of 1990, according to the label's founder Roger Shepherd in... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LIBBY HOLMAN: Sex, scandal, shooting and suicide

30 Mar 2020  |  3 min read  |  1

When they found singer Libby Holman dead in her Rolls Royce of carbon monoxide poisoning in 1971, her suicide brought an end to a life marked by scandal, sexual promiscuity, one dead husband and a murder trial, overt bisexuality, the death of a son, depression . . . and some pretty steamy blues songs, although among her repertoire was the uncharacteristically domestic Cooking Breakfast for the... > Read more

Why Was I Born?

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . FRANK ROSOLINO: The night the lights went out

9 Mar 2020  |  3 min read

He doesn't really deserve to be in the same company as the misfits, oddballs, eccentrics and the certifiably crazy-psychotic musicians in this on-going series We Need to Talk About . . . But the wonderfully expressive jazz trombonist Frank Rosolino is here because, in the early hours of November 26 1978, he did something so unexpected and unthinkable it shook the world, and most... > Read more

Twilight

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE COMFORTABLE CHAIR: Much admired but short-lived psychedelic folk

27 Jan 2020  |  3 min read  |  1

Let's throw around the names of a few fans of this band out of California in the late Sixties. First we might mention Jim Morrison of the Doors who “discovered” them. And famous producer Lou Adler was so keen that he signed them to his Ode label. They were also in-house artists at the Bliss production company formed by John Densmore and Robbie Krieger of the Doors who... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ABNER JAY: Play dem bones and skulls

15 Dec 2019  |  2 min read

There is an interesting photo of singer and one-man band Abner Jay in the late Seventies playing at what is described as a folk festival. As he pours his all into whatever song has captured him, by his side is a young girl playing the bones. That is, she has what looks like the skull of a horse or cow strung around her neck and she is playing it with what appears to be a femur. The... > Read more

My Testimony (1963)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE TRONS: Tune up, plug in and turn on

28 Oct 2019  |  2 min read

Some weeks ago Elsewhere posted a clip of this extraordinary and possibly unique band out of Hamilton (aka "The Tron") in New Zealand onto Facebook. They seemed to have disappeared so we asked: “What happened to this band? Musical differences?” The answers were interesting, someone suggested clashing egos, another thought power... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . PILOT: They're only the band the Beatles had once been

18 Oct 2019  |  4 min read

In the absence of the knock-about lovable mop top Beatles of A Hard Day's Night – who were moving on from Rubber Soul to Revolver, drugs, Sgt Pepper and moustaches – it was necessary to invent them again for a teeny-bopper audience. And so in '65 filmmakers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider did. Hence the Monkees. And when the... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . BARRY GOLDBERG: From lost in the basement to Light in the Attic

30 Sep 2019  |  4 min read

The cobwebs are brushed back to reveal a door with a rusty lock. It gives way to a hefty shove and the light from the flaming torch illuminates rows of dusty boxes and there in one way at the back – far behind records by Wendy Rene and Lewis and the Emersons – is an album in, appropriately, a sepia-toned cover. It shows a man standing on a wooden bridge in what looks like... > Read more

City Rain

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . BUTTERBEANS AND SUSIE: Dat ol' black magic?

23 Sep 2019  |  4 min read

These days we are used to artists taking a few years between albums – although some were surprised Blue Nile took seven years between Hats and Peace at Last. But for the Vaudeville comedy/song-and-dance duo of Butterbeans and Susie it was a full 30 years between their last songs for Okeh in 1930 (You Dirty Mean Mistreater among them) until their return to the studio in 1960. And... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LIZZY MERCIER DESCLOUX

16 Sep 2019  |  3 min read  |  2

So who was it rocked into downtown New York in the mid Seventies with her head full of Rimbaud? Who fell in with the CBGB crowd, had Richard Hell as a partner who saw her as his muse, and whose aesthetic ran from poetry and music to art and film? And who wasn't Patti Smith? Lizzy Mercier Descloux from Paris arrived in New York when the city was – unbeknownst to itself at... > Read more

Tso Xin Yu Xin

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HASIL ADKINS: Howling at the night

27 May 2019  |  2 min read

Whatever his style was, fame had no interest in embracing it. The closest this rockabilly blues screamer -- who started in the mid Fifties -- came to wider recognition was when the Cramps covered his song She Said and some of his music appeared in the film White Lightin'. But for Hasil (pronounced "hassle"), he just had to make do with juke joints and bars, and being a punk rocker... > Read more

She Said (1955)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . SPELLING ON THE STONE: The King is dead, long live the king?

20 May 2019  |  1 min read

Of the innumerable "Elvis is Alive" hoaxes, the song Spelling on the Stone of 1989 has to count as having one of the best/funniest back-stories. So let's get this right: Elvis wanted you to believe he was just pretending to be dead . . . but he really wanted you to know he was alive by singing this song? That just like, sooooo, doesn't work. Right?  Good song though:... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LA MONTE YOUNG AND HIS WELL TUNED PIANO: The master of minimalism, and more

15 May 2019  |  5 min read

When John Cale went to New York from Wales in the early Sixties it wasn’t with the intention of meeting up with Lou Reed to form the Velvet Underground, but to study under a pianist/composer who had literally been “born in a log cabin” in the small community of Bern, Idaho. By the late Sixties that composer, La Monte Young, was in the vanguard of the minimalist movement... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . MARZETTE WATTS: Everywhere I hear the sound of . . .

22 Apr 2019  |  4 min read  |  1

Should anyone doubt the close connection between American free jazz and the rise of radical black politics in the Sixties they only need to look to the life of saxophonist Marzette Watts. However Watts -- who died in early '98 a week short of his 50th birthday -- gets barely a footnote in any jazz histories. His name is usually just as part of a list which includes Ornette Coleman, Marion... > Read more

Geno

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . DON CUNNINGHAM'S SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: Exotic and erotic lounge-jazz in a Playboy world

8 Apr 2019  |  3 min read

Some albums come with a great back-story. There have been books written about Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. The recording of a Britney Spears album might not be quite so interesting, although the picture book or dress-me-up doll might have some market value. And as Britney proves, you cannot judge the quality of an album by the enticement of its... > Read more

Don Cunningham Quartet: Quiet Village

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HELEN SHAPIRO: And the next stop from pop?

1 Apr 2019  |  5 min read  |  1

Neil Sedaka saw his career over within weeks: "The mood was new music. I'd just had five years of top-10 records all over the world, and then . . . I thought my career was over. I was 23." For Tony Orlando the news he was finished came abruptly after two huge pop hits in '61: “I was in an elevator listening to one of my songs on the radio and I hear the DJ say, ‘That... > Read more

Walkin' Back to Happiness

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JOE MEEK'S I HEAR A NEW WORLD: Checked out in a moonage daydream

18 Mar 2019  |  5 min read

Right up until the time he redecorated his recording studio-cum-living room with the contents of his skull after a self-inflicted shotgun blast in 1967, British producer Joe Meek heard the world differently. In the late Fifties and early Sixties most British producers were just technicians who pushed “record” once the artist was in front of the microphone. Certainly Phil... > Read more

Glob Waterfall

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE PIPKINS: From the people who brought you . . .

4 Feb 2019  |  3 min read

You are allowed to smirk in contemptuous admiration at British popular taste, it knows no depths to its shamelessness. This is the nation which gave us Carry On films, cringe-inducing television (Mind Your Language, On the Buses) and thinks nothing of putting gimmick songs and weak humour to the top of its charts (Benny Hill to Bob the Builder). This from a country which gave us the... > Read more

The People Dat You Wanna Phone Ya

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . Z'EV: He bangs the drum, and then some

2 Jan 2019  |  3 min read

When a couple of writers from the then-recently launched Re/Search tabloid went to visit the experimental percussionist known as Z'EV in 1981, the conversation was esoteric and philosophical. The fact Z'EV banged on odd objects to make a noise hardly entered the discussion. Re/Search – which was founded by V. Vale in San Francisco after his influential punk rock mag Search and... > Read more

Piece H, from My Favourite Things