Writing in Elsewhere

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TREASURES OF THE BEE GEES by BRIAN SOUTHALL (Carlton Books)

28 Sep 2011  |  2 min read

If the Beatles were the greatest songwriters since Schubert as William Mann, the chief music critic of The Times, once asserted (in the very early Sixties, they got better) then what is to be said about the Bee Gees? Brian Wilson's comment that they were "Britain's first family of harmony" when inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hardly seems adequate. That was just... > Read more

Alone

ARNOLD ZABLE INTERVIEWED (2011): Speaking for those who cannot

3 Sep 2011  |  3 min read

When the Australian writer Arnold Zable read Primo Levi's reference to “the eloquent episode” in prose he recognised immediately what was meant. His own short pieces, fiction and non-fiction, frequently have a memorable incident as an emotional or structural pivot. In each story of his non-fiction collection Violin Lessons – which reaches from experiences in Vietnam... > Read more

AMY WINEHOUSE: THE BIOGRAPHY 1983-2011 by CHAS NEWKEY-BURDEN

22 Aug 2011  |  2 min read

As with many of my acquaintance, when I heard of Amy Winehouse's death it was with mixed emotions: a gloomy sense of the inevitability of it, sadness and then anger. That weird anger we reserve for those who have committed suicide or gone out in the manner of so many talented people, before their time and by their own actions. Winehouse was too talented to go from us so soon. Billie... > Read more

Love is a Losing Game (demo)

45 SOUTH IN CONCERT by NEIL McKELVIE (Southland Musicians Club)

21 Aug 2011  |  3 min read  |  1

There are a number of big and ambitious books about New Zealand popular music (like Chris Bourke's Blue Smoke and John Dix's Stranded in Paradise) and then there are others which are smaller and more focused in their subject matter, like Roger Watkins' When Rock Got Rolling: The Wellington Scene 1958-70. But this book about music in Southland up to 2005 is a bit of both: it is focused into... > Read more

All New Zealand Heroes

DARK NIGHT: WALKING WITH McCAHON by MARTIN EDMOND

17 Aug 2011  |  2 min read

When Colin McCahon went to Sydney in 1984 to attend an exhibition of his work the attritions of alcoholism and that intensely personal religiosity he explored had taken their toll. He had given up any meaningful painting two years previous and was just three year short of death at age 67. In a bizarre but telling incident, he went into a toilet block in the Botanic Gardens and seemingly... > Read more

EVERY POSTER TELLS A STORY! 30 YEARS OF THE FRONTIER TOURING COMPANY edited by ELOISE GLANVILLE and SARAH MORGAN

15 Aug 2011  |  2 min read

Many people who have grown up in the rock era have band posters knocking about the house. Some of these are artistic (my framed one of Big Brother and the Holding Company with Moby Grape in San Francisco in '68) and some aren't that special but evoke a particular memory (mine of John Cale at the Gluepot in September '83). Posters can speak of an era -- compare brightly coloured late Sixties... > Read more

THE BEATLES Vs THE ROLLING STONES by JIM DeROGATIS and GREG KOT

8 Aug 2011  |  2 min read

At a first glance this lavishly illustrated and beautifully presented book -- with dozens of relevant, interesting and never before seen photos of the bands, and of period-piece memorabilia, movie posters and the like -- looks fairly lightweight. But fun. A quick read and you've got it: the two authors posit a rivalry between these two bands and in a series of themed conversations --... > Read more

Anytime at All

1950s RADIO IN COLOUR; THE LOST PHOTOGRAPHS OF DEEJAY TOMMY EDWARDS by CHRISTOPHER KENNEDY

5 Aug 2011  |  3 min read

Cleveland, Ohio has a formidable reputation as a rock'n'roll city -- today it is the home of the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and Museum -- but you'd have to guess there was more to it than just that old adage about "something in the water". Back in the Fifties there, as everywhere, the emerging musical culture was fed by radio, notably Alan Freed who kick-started rock'n'roll.... > Read more

Summertime Blues

TWO WALK IN EDINBURGH, photographs by Mari Mahr, poems by Gregory O'Brien. DEVONPORT: A DIARY by Bill Direen

22 Jul 2011  |  3 min read

As these two slim, hand-printed, limited edition volumes confirm, the necessaries of the poetic writer are observation and considered contemplation, and the words are vehicles which realise them. And for the photographer, close observation and an eye that edits intuitively come before the shutter opens and closes. Writer, poet and curator O'Brien has had a two decade-long association... > Read more

GREETINGS FROM ROUTE 66, edited by MICHAEL DREGNI

18 Jul 2011  |  2 min read

When, in 1946, Bobby Troup wrote what became his classic song Route 66, he could hardly have anticipated how popular it would become. After all, he'd really only written a few words and the hook (“get your kicks on Route 66”, which may have been his wife's suggestion) and after that he just filled the song up with the place names like Amarillo, Gallup, Flagstaff in Arizona... > Read more

Route 66

LOST IN SHANGRI-LA by MITCHELL ZUCKOFF

17 Jun 2011  |  2 min read

As with many of his generation, American president Franklin D. Roosevelt had been taken by the idea of “Shangri-La”, that tolerant refuge from a troubled world James Hilton had written about in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon and which Frank Capra had adapted four years later for his enormously popular film of the same name, released as the world was tumbling towards another great... > Read more

BLUE SMOKE: THE LOST DAWN OF NEW ZEALAND POPULAR MUSIC 1918-1964 by CHRIS BOURKE

12 Jun 2011  |  4 min read  |  3

In the introduction to Stranded in Paradise, his 1987 survey of New Zealand rock'n'roll from 1955, John Dix addressed the question he had been constantly asked, “What's happening with the book, Dix?” Doubtless Chris Bourke – a former Rip It Up editor, longtime music writer and author of the Crowded House biography Something So Strong – faced the same question... > Read more

Jack Thompson with George Campbell (bass) and Alan Siddall (drums): 12th Street Rag (1960)

JIM DeROGATIS INTERVIEWED (2011): Nothing if not critical

23 May 2011  |  12 min read

Rock critic, writer and most recently university lecturer Jim DeRogatis doesn't pull his punches, but keeps a sense of humour, about his music and its stars. With Gregg Kot, he has hosted Sound Opinions on Chicago Public Radio since '99 (“the world's only rock'n'roll talk show”) and they banter about fallen heroes, overlooked albums, overrated classics and discover... > Read more

The Rolling Stones: 19th Nervous Breakdown

CUBA; THE SIGHTS, SOUNDS, FLAVORS AND FACES by PIERRE HAUSHERR AND FRANCOIS MISSEN

5 May 2011  |  2 min read

With the geriatric Fidel Castro literally shuffling off the stage leaving it to his brother Raul and a cadre of elders, these look like the end days of the Cuba which has existed in proud but imposed Leftist isolation and has stared down an American trade and cultural boycott for decades. This has come at a price for Cubans who enjoy high literacy and endure poor living standards, but also... > Read more

Emiliano Salvador: Nueva Vision

FRANK: THE VOICE by JAMES KAPLAN

29 Apr 2011  |  2 min read

When he died, Time ran an eight-page tribute and put him on the cover with a simple tag-line: “Francis Albert Sinatra 1915 – 1998”. They might have added “The Voice”, “Old Blue Eyes”, “He Did It His Way” or some other catch-phrase, but none could have encompassed the complexity of Frank Sinatra's life, to some a decadent symbol... > Read more

THE COMMONPLACE BOOK by ELIZABETH SMITHER

25 Apr 2011  |  2 min read

Some years ago I was walking down Queen St in central Auckland and stopped outside the Body Shop. There, along an exterior wall, was written one of those thought-provoking and inspirational quotes which are designed to prod the conscience, in this instance about the fragility of Mother Earth. Or maybe it wasn't a quote. It was in quotation marks, but is an unattributed quote still... > Read more

A MICRONAUT IN THE WIDE WORLD; THE IMAGINATIVE LIFE AND TIMES OF GRAHAM PERCY by GREGORY O'BRIEN

4 Apr 2011  |  2 min read

Perhaps because he is a poet and curator, Gregory O'Brien here approaches the life of the New Zealand-born artist Graham Percy with an eye for subtle (and sometimes strong) artistic connections more than strict chronology. And this is a fitting approach to an artist whose work slipped easily between many styles and practices, from typography and moody ink drawings, to bright... > Read more

I FELT LIKE A FIGHT, ALRIGHT? by RUTH CARR

14 Mar 2011  |  1 min read  |  1

While it seems to be going too far to suggest, as the reviewer of Radio NZ National did, that these "one-liners, poems, lyrics and tales" are "reminiscent of Cohen's mid-career poetry and writings" they are certainly more than merely diverting. The writer -- Ruth Carr of the band Minuit -- has some snappy aphorisms, odd and dark poems and some very refined writing.... > Read more

Minuit: The Sum of Us (2004)

THE BOB DYLAN ENCYCLOPEDIA by MICHAEL GRAY: More song and dance

2 Mar 2011  |  2 min read

Writer Michael Gray is not backward about coming forward: he includes an entry on himself in this massive tome published in 2006 which is alternately illuminating, absurdly amusing, opinionated or a trainspotter’s delight depending on which of the more than 2000 entries you pick. The author of the seminal Song and Dance Man study of Dylan and his lyrics published the mid 70s (updated... > Read more

LISTEN TO THIS by ALEX ROSS

21 Feb 2011  |  2 min read

One of the many funny lines in the profanity-strewn satirical film In the Loop came from the character Jamie Macdonald, the senior press officer in 10 Downing Street and the “angriest man in Scotland”. On hearing opera he bellowed, “It's just vowels! Subsidised, foreign fucking vowels!” The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross – author of the insightful... > Read more