Writing in Elsewhere

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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

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  |  1

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