Monday, 20 October 2008

News, Views and Music Issue 9 (Top Five) Self-Puncturing Classics

And the latest in our series of top fives: in honour of Ringo’s latest PR teeth-grinding gaffe, here are the five greatest self-puncturing star-killing moments from AAA artists, all dating at a time when they were worried that their big heads were getting in the way of their sales...:

5) “Ditty Diego–War Chant” (The Monkees/ HEAD, 1968): ’A manufactured image with no philosophies’ runs this ditty, but its blatantly not true. By 1968 and their sole feature film, the Monkees have one over-riding philosophy—puncturing their image in as many ways as possible and celebrating breaking out from the teeny bopper prison of their first handful of records. (See review number 27 for more). 

4) “The Fame” (Oasis/ B-side to ‘All Around The World’, 1997): A rare but typically glittering Noel Gallagher-sung B-side which, unheralded, started the elder brother’s penchant for writing songs that asked whether fame was all it was cracked up to be. The narrator may think he’s famous, but not two minutes later everyone around him has forgotten his name and the realisation ‘hits you like a hurricane’. Cue classic Oasis harmonies and a welcome glimpse into Noel’s real feelings on a song that accompanied one of Oasis’ perfectly crafted but rather formulaic A-sides. 

3) Starstruck (Kinks/ Village Green Preserrvation Society, 1968): Ray Davies had problems with fame from the beginning—there’ shardly a Kinks album that doesn’t touch on the theme somewhere (1973’s ‘A Soap Opera’ takes a whole record to ask why some ‘ordinary’ people become stars and not others). This flop single warns against being seduced by ‘bright city lights’ that dazzle with their glare and, like many other tracks on Village Green, sounds like a lesson learned the hard way.

2) Mr Soul (Buffalo Springfield/ Buffalo Springfield Again, 1968): Neil Young’s first milestone in composing terms, this self-deprecating song lays down the guitarist’s career-long anti-fame mantra even though Neil wasn’t actually that famous at the time—the only Springfielder anyone had taken notice of was ’For What It’s Worth’ creator Stephen Stills. Ironically, this caustic song, about being ‘raised by the praise of a fan who said I upset her’, played a big part in creating Neil’s soon-to-be-famous sound. (See review number 17 for more).

1) Star (Hollies/ Write On, 1976): This late-period Hollies album is full of side-swipes at a fickle music business and sober reflections on how one day you’re up and the next you’re down. Best of all, however, is the bouncy opening track which has singer Allan Clarke as a rock star used to getting his own way trying to seduce a girl at a party with talk of his fame—only to discover that she’s a celebrity more famous than he is.

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