Writing in Elsewhere

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FANTASTICA: THE WORLD OF LEO BENSEMANN by PETER SIMPSON (2011): A man apart

14 Feb 2011  |  3 min read

Shortly after Leo Bensemann's death in January 1986, Dennis Donovan wrote a tribute to him in Landfall, the magazine which the artist and graphic designer had long been associated with, and which he also edited for a period. Donovan's tribute was generous (“more than a genius – he was also a scholar, a learned man”) but focused only on Bensemann's graphic arts and his... > Read more

MORE MILES THAN MONEY: JOURNEYS THROUGH AMERICAN MUSIC by GARTH CARTWRIGHT

11 Feb 2011  |  3 min read  |  2

Writing about music is a sedentary affair today: CDs are reviewed at home, and artists are interviewed by phone, in a comfortable hotel or their record company office. Latterly, to my regret, it has been like that for me -- but not so for Cartwright whose previous book Princes Amongst Men saw him on the road in some bad and strange parts of Eastern Europe on the trail of various gypsy... > Read more

Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers: She's Gone

BUPPIES, B-BOYS, BAPS AND BOHOS by NELSON GEORGE: Life on the black planet

7 Feb 2011  |  2 min read

When Time magazine declared then New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani its "person of the year" for 2001 -- over Osama Bin Laden who, like it or not, appeared to have made a greater impact -- and Oprah's dubbed him "America's Mayor", you could reasonably feel the Big Apple had become the centre of the known universe. Certainly in the latter half of the past century... > Read more

RONNIE, an autobiography by RONNIE WOOD

31 Jan 2011  |  3 min read  |  1

This too slight, slightly self-justifying, frequently honest and altogether typically disappointing rock autobiography has taken on much more meaning since its 2008 publication, especially with Ronnie's new solo album in late 2010. In the closing chapters here especially he spends a lot of time proffesing his love for his wife Jo, how she rescued him, is his rock, how he is content as a... > Read more

Ronnie Wood: Why You Wanna Go Do A Thing Like That For (2010)

IN THE CITY; A CELEBRATION OF LONDON MUSIC by PAUL Du NOYER

24 Jan 2011  |  2 min read

Some cities are shaped and defined by their soundtrack: Salzburg and Mozart; Liverpool and the Beatles; Seattle and Nirvana . . .   But you don't envy anyone undertaking the task of writing about the music of London given the city's long musical history and its exceptional diversity. Is there a link between the barrow boys of the East End and the Small Faces, between Noel Coward and... > Read more

Noel Coward: London Pride

MICHAEL CHUGG INTERVIEWED (2011): Rock'n'roll never forgets

17 Jan 2011  |  11 min read

It would be a fair guess to say Michael Chugg has been at more shows than any musician you can name. Because when musicians take a break Chugg is at another show. Not that he actually sits down and sees them, as a promoter he's more likely to be backstage somewhere or, as at Gorillaz last year, just popping out to stand at the side of the stage for 10 minutes. Chugg –... > Read more

The Twilights: What's Wrong with the Way I Live? (1967)

JOHN LENNON, THE LIFE by PHILIP NORMAN (2008): Just gimme some truth

10 Jan 2011  |  8 min read  |  1

John Lennon -- who would have been 68, had he lived, at the time of this pubication -- did not have an unexamined life. In countless hours of drugs, meditation and therapy he analysed himself. Through many thousands of interviews -- some brutally honest, others self-mythologising -- he gave others material to scrutinise his life in intimate detail. He has been central in books by his... > Read more

THE RESTLESS GENERATION by PETE FRAME: Britain before the Beatles

29 Nov 2010  |  3 min read

There is a widely held view, especially amongst those who came of age in the Sixties, that nothing much happened in British music before the Beatles. Yes, there was Cliff Richard and the Shadows, and a few names like Marty Wilde and Billy Fury, and of course the Lonnie Donegan skiffle phase which lead into Tommy Steele . . . but really that was about it. Rock writer Frame -- well known... > Read more

Tommy Steele: Rock with the Caveman (1956)

LIFE by KEITH RICHARDS with JAMES FOX: Through the past cheerfully

22 Nov 2010  |  3 min read  |  3

Most reviews of this frequently funny, sometimes insightful and too often rambling autobiography -- Keith + tape recorder + ghost writer Fox -- have concentrated on the obvious: the sniping at Mick Jagger which occurs a little in the first three-quarters but reaches a peak in the final throes where the autobiography/chronological account runs out. Yes, he says Mick has a small todger, can... > Read more

Keith Richards: Make No Mistake (from Talk is Cheap, 1988)

SERIOUS FUN; THE MUSIC AND LIFE OF MIKE NOCK by NORMAN MEEHAN (VUP)

14 Nov 2010  |  3 min read

Alongside Alan Broadbent, Mike Nock has been New Zealand's most successful and visible jazz export. Like composer/pianist and Grammy-magnet Broadbent, Nock was lost to the country early. Both men won Downbeat scholarships to Berklee and were there before they were 21, Broadbent having played the clubs of Auckland and Nock by a rather more circuitous route. Nock -- born in Christchurch... > Read more

Mike Nock: Her (from the 1993 album Touch)

LIVE; GIGS THAT ROCKED NEW ZEALAND by BRUCE JARVIS AND JOSH EASBY

8 Nov 2010  |  2 min read  |  2

At a recent Paul Weller gig at the Powerstation -- me with a wide smile, it was thrilling -- I was reminded again just how many great concerts it has been my pleasure to have been at, and the collective power of music to bring people together for a shared experience. There are many of us who count milestones in our lives which have a great soundtrack: concerts by Bob Marley, Bowie, the... > Read more

LINTON KWESI JOHNSON INTERVIEWED 2OO4: The poet speaks of tings and times a-changin'

1 Nov 2010  |  8 min read

They were the happiest days of my life, the poet recalls as he sits in winter-blown London."I was born in a little town called Chapelton in rural Jamaica," he says with what could pass for wistfulness. "My parents were peasant farmers and my mother went to live in Kingston and eventually came here. During that time I stayed with my grandmother. I loved the country living. We... > Read more

LKJ: Come Wi Goh Dung Deh

NEIL YOUNG; LONG MAY YOU RUN, THE ILLUSTRATED HISTORY by DANIEL DURCHHOLZ and GARY GRAFF

4 Oct 2010  |  1 min read

Neil Young has hardly been short on books covering just about every aspect of his life: there have been biographies, his dad wrote a book about their relationship,  there is the collection of articles from the files of Rolling Stone . . . And the man has often beeen autobiographical in song. But this beautifully presented, full colour, 225 page hardback -- with exceptional photos,... > Read more

Neil Young: Cortez the Killer (from Weld, 1991)

LOST IN MUSIC, by GILES SMITH

27 Sep 2010  |  3 min read

Pop obsession can be tragic stuff: those long days in record shops searching for an obscure Flock of Seagulls 12-inch; the nights spent putting all your albums into alphabetical order (do solo projects by Roddy Frame go with Aztec Camera or get their own space?); the decisions to be made when moving in with someone (do you pool your records and trade in the duplicates? And if so, whose... > Read more

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOURS by TONY BRAMWELL: Not only a northern song

20 Sep 2010  |  3 min read

Tony Bramwell -- who sounds like great man to have a martini with -- has had an extrordinary life, and not just because he was a childhood friend of the Beatles, became their manager Brian Epstein's off-sider, and -- as their road manager and CEO of Apple Records and Films -- was one of a small inner sanctum around the band until they went their separate ways. His extraordinary life... > Read more

I WANT TO TAKE YOU HIGHER: THE PSYCHEDELIC YEARS 1965-69 edited by JAMES HENKE AND PARKE PUTERBAUGH

19 Sep 2010  |  5 min read

Somewhere among my old photographs at home is one of me standing beside John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls Royce. It was London in late ‘69 and -- aside from revealing the embarrassing affectation of a black cape -- it‘s most interesting for what is in the background: a Morris Minor of the kind that was considerably more common than Rollers painted like gypsy caravans. It all... > Read more

Notes from the Underground: Why Did You Put Me On (1968)

INVISIBLE REPUBLIC; BOB DYLAN'S BASEMENT TAPES by GREIL MARCUS:

12 Sep 2010  |  1 min read

When Bob Dylan skidded off his motorcycle in upstate New York in mid-1966, it allowed him an extraordinary career hiatus. Before his accident - which some Dylan bores still insist never happened - he’d been a Woody Guthrie wannabe, a folk troubadour and protest singer. Then, by plugging in an electric guitar and touring with a group which would later become the Band, he turned... > Read more

BLOOD & RAGE: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF TERRORISM by MICHAEL BURLEIGH: We who are about to die . . .

11 Sep 2010  |  3 min read

President Barack Obama’s recent speeches directed at the Islamic world – coded or clear – are an obvious attempt to defuse (or perhaps simply diffuse) the flashpoints between the West and the Muslim world. Many argue this overdue hand of friendship and a willingness to engage in dialogue will assuage the current climate of mistrust and fear which has lead to disaffected people... > Read more

Bruce Springsteen: You're Missing (from The Rising, 2002)

LISTENING TO VAN MORRISON by GREIL MARCUS

6 Sep 2010  |  1 min read  |  3

Music writer Marcus is so well ensconced in the pantheon of great rock writers that his books are universally hailed on publication. But this one -- a series of essays on Morrison's music which, confusingly, comes in the same cover photo as another similar Morrison book and appears in the US and UK entitled When That Rough God Goes Riding -- will be more frustrating than illuminating for... > Read more

ROCK ME AMADEUS by SEB HUNTER: One man's journey into classical music, and out again

5 Sep 2010  |  2 min read

For those who have grown up within rock culture, author Hunter is the courageous advance guard into the world of classical music. A self-confessed addict of popular music who buys rock magazines such as Mojo, Uncut, and Record Collector (and NME although he hides that inside the Guardian so people don’t think he’s a paedophile), the lank-haired and sartorially unfashionable Hunter... > Read more