Monday, 15 September 2008

News, Views and Music Issue 4 (Top Five): Autumn

And finally, as the UK passes (dis)gracefully into autumn (albeit an autumn that, despite centuries of tradition, seems to be hotter than our summer this year) here is the latest in our series of top fives celebrating all things seasonal:

5) ’Autumn Stone’ - The Small Faces celebrate the dying end of a relationship (possibly the end of the band’s relationship with each other; see review no 28 for more) with a lovely lilting acoustic ballad with one of Steve Marriott’s  career-best vocals. Find it on the Small Faces’ album of the same name.

4) ’Changes’  - A short history of the seasons from the Monkees (or Davy Jones at least, the only Monkee who appears on this originally unreleased track). ’It’s been quite a good year’ sings Davy, even though the troubled, doom-laden orchestral arrangement seems to suggest quite the opposite. Find it on the impressive out-takes set ’Missing Links Volume Two’.

3) ’Autumn Almanack’ - Wanting something special for the Kinks’ last single of 1967, Ray Davies gave up on the song he’d beern writing and started playing it backwards to see if it sounded any better. With a few minor variations, ’Autumn Alamanack’ was born, the bittersweet inversion of Waterloo Sunset and Sunny Afternoon’s glorious sunshine, with a sense of the cold and monochrome beginning to creep back into the Kinks’ work once again. Reminiscing about his upbringing in Muswell Hill, Ray tells us that he’s ’always going to stay here, if I live to be 99’ - in actual fact, he’d moved out of his family neighbourhood a good three years before this classic single came out but that makes no difference to this heartfelt song celebrating the simple things in life. Find it on any good Kinks hit compilation (it never did appear on an album at the time).

2) ’Nature’s Way Of Saying Goodbye’ - ’All around me seems to be in sympathy’ sings a despondant Allan Clarke during one of his sabbaticals from his band The Hollies, reflecting on how the passing seasons mirror a dying relationship. Given a few weeks I’m sure we’ll all be joinging in with the narrator’s wish to wave the weather ‘goodbye’ for good. You’ll have problems finding this track, but if you know a similarly monkeynuts Hollies collector they might be kind enough to let you borrow Clarkey’s rare first album ‘My Real Name Is ’Arold’, where this forgotten gem ended the first side.

1)    Forever Autumn — Well, there wasn’t much of a summer this year was there, so maybe this is what we’ve got in store instead. The Moody Blues’ Justin Hayward solo (though most casual fans assume its by the group together so similar is the sound), this song was part of Jeff wayne’s War of The Worlds’ project and accompanied the narrator’s grief at being parted from his beloved in the confusion of an, err, alien invasion. You don’t need to know that to enjoy the song, though, which makes no mention of evil tripods from Mars singing ‘ulla’ at every possible opportunity like it does on the album and as a single in its own right is as refreshing and reastorative as a toasted crumpet by the fire. Find it on any of the half a dozen ’war of the worlds’ variations out on the market (original/highlights/remixed/ live/anniversary remix/ six cd box set version etc) and any comprehensive Moody Blues hits compilation.                                                  

      That’s all for this week once again —see you next time!

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