Monday 1 December 2008

News, Views and Music Issue 14 (Intro)

December 1:

That was the week that was, it’s over let it go…to be forever immortalised in the annals of the AAA Archives. Not a vintage week this week, either for the website or for the lives of the people celebrated within it, but there’s still plenty of goodies for you to gawp at in between all the important jobs in life, such as visiting car boot sales and charity shops and lining your CDs up in alphabetical order. We’ve now reached a record (for us) 47 hits this week. Hello to the three of you I don’t think I know (judging by my ‘statistical demographic’ or whatever the heck it is that tells me where you all live) – hope you’re enjoying yourselves and didn’t just stumble onto this site because you thought it would help you get cheaper car insurance or wean you off the booze. Anyway, on with the news…and the first news is that, for the first time ever in these newsletters, there is no Beatle-related news to tell you. Get a move on, Paul and Ringo, how else am I going to fill these pages?!

♫/ Byrds/CSNY/Neil Young News: For those who hadn’t already seen it via BBC 4 during any of its four repeats this year….Wasn’t ‘Hotel California: From The Byrds To The Eagles’ documentary good?! Well, it was if you were a CSN fan anyway – if you tuned in for any other artist (except Joni Mitchell perhaps) you might have felt short-changed – especially if you tuned in to see either of the two groups in the title who were quietly dispatched within about 10 minutes at the beginning and the end of the programme respectively. And why no mention of the Mamas and Papas, who wrote perhaps the ultimate ‘California’ song? (‘That’s ‘California Dreaming’ I meant, not ‘Monday Monday’. Although for all I know, that song might be an even better fit). Still, these quibbles are of minor importance when you consider what we got about some of the other groups, which was everything a documentary should be – famous, well loved footage to interest the newcomers, rare and hardly seen footage to keep the monkeynuts fans like me (and possibly you if you’re still reading this) happy and new and exclusive interviews, including some particularly revealing David Crosby comments this time around, a definite plus for the collector. Why this rockumentary didn’t receive a BBC2 airing long before this I’ll never know.


Dire Straits/ Pentangle news: Talking of documentaries, thankyou too BBC for this little gem (or for 8 minutes of it anyway). ‘Guitar Heroes At The BBC’ (which was on last Saturday) was like those good old 1980s documentaries, back in the day when people didn’t need some Z-list celeb linking a lot of un-related music videos (or – even worse – Steve Wright’s fatuous remarks on TOTP2) and would look to captions for information instead. The Dire Straits footage (taken from a 1978 edition of the much-missed ‘Old Grey Whistle Test’) is one of the earliest clips of the band that exist – it’s so early on in their career Mark Knopfler still has hair! This clip is also one of the best ‘live’ versions of ‘Sultans of Swing’ around, so it was great to see again – even if it has been on a few other documentaries in the past and isn’t particularly rare. The Pentangle clip - a performance of ‘Blues In Time’ - wasn’t as impressive musically but is much much rarer than the Knopfler video, with guitarists Jansch and Renbourn putting on their best moody rockstar expressions (although the latter seems to be putting more effort into smoking his cigarette than actually playing!) It’s a shame this wasn’t a track with vocalist Jacqui McShee taking part though – indeed, while we’re on the subject, there was a distinct lack of female guitarists all round (no Chrissie Hynde, for one – though I can see why they didn’t use any of those hideously dated Suzi Quatro clips). Still, this programme was a nice excuse to chuck some old clips together and a welcome diversion from the usual horrors of Saturday night viewing.

Hollies news: The good news is…the Hollies are making a new album!

The bad news is…it’s with the same line up as 2005’s ‘Staying Power’, one of the most distressingly, disturbingly poor AAA-related albums I have ever bought. The other good news however…original members Tony Hicks and Bobby Elliott are still there, so let’s just hope that the pair are used in the music a lot more than they were last time (some original songs, perhaps – Hicks in particular is a very under-appreciated writer). This news was from a Hollies fansite by the way and I haven’t read it anywhere else yet, so it looks like the band have just started recording, rather than news that a release is imminent. More news on this new release when we have it.

Lulu/ Monkees news: Lulu and Davy Jones were featured in their 1960s prime in during the first episode of an interesting series ‘Sex , Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll – The Sixties Revealed’ (a very channel five title that!) These old, unseen interviews from early 1968 came from an unfinished and unscreened documentary being made by Bernard Braden, a name well known to documentary-watchers of the 1960s. The footage was then shown to several 60s icons as they are now, a hit-and-miss concept that was still strangely moving in parts. Davy Jones (the 1968 version) says that the Monkees will always be together doing something – a nostalgic Davy Jones (in a 2008 incranation) then tells us how the rot began to set in directly after this interview. Surprisngly, Lulu was the artist who got most emotional, telling us how lonely her younger self looked on cscreen and how her posh accent and her comments showed her ‘trying to put on a brave face’. If only more of the original footage had been used this could have been a great documentary rather than merely a good and bitty one  – but as a curio it was still great to see after all these years. Other artists featured on the first episode included Cilla Black (ironically telling us how she hated Tom Jones’ ‘nose job’, which is alarming given how much her own strong voice faded after having hers done), Tom Jones (who came over as a nice guy made lucky, like he usually does), TV presenter Simon Dee (who was by far the most eloquent guest interviewed) and fashion designer Ossie Clark. Alas, next week the series moves onto actors so there’s nothing more to tell you on the AAA front. .

Oasis news: OK, so the few of you who saw it probably don’t care by now, but I’ve just come across my sheet of paper for the Oasis Electric Proms gig that was screened in October. It runs as follows: Rock ‘n’ Roll Star/Shock Of The Lightning/ Ciggies and Alcohol/ Meaning OF Soul/ Morning Glory/ Wonderwall/ I’m Outta Time/ Don’t Look Back In Anger/ Falling Down/ Champagne Supernova/ I Am The Walrus.

We also had a repeat (if it was a repeat – I never noticed it first time around!) of the recent Oasis concert ‘Standing On The Edge Of Noise’. Shorter and less interesting than the other recent ‘electric proms’ gig, this was basically the new Oasis album with a few old friends like ‘Songbird’, ‘Supersonic’ and ‘Slide Away’ thrown in. Set highlight: a surprisingly emotional acoustic arrangement of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ played as a slow passion-burning ballad.

Anniversaries: Chris Hillman (The Byrds 1964-68; Manassas 1972-73) turns 66 on December 4th and Jim Messina (Buffalo Springfield 1968) turns 61 on December 5th. Events this week: In 1967 The Monkees break the record for most American number one albums in a single year (four) with the release of ‘Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones Ltd’. For some unknown reason the record is delayed till January 1968 in Britain (December 2); A typically extravagant Keith Moon party ends up causing $6000 of damage to a Montreal hotel, landing the band in prison overnight (December 2 1973); the Beatles release ‘Rubber Soul’, slightly later than their traditional Christmas market releases which usually came out mid-November (December 3 1965); the Rolling Stones hold a press party for the release of their album ‘Beggars Banquet, an event that infamously turns into a messy food fight between the band and leading rock journalists of the day (December 5 1968); four members of the audience die during the awful mess that was the Rolling Stones’ Altamont Festival, also attended by CSNY, the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane (December 6 1969) and finally Graham Nash officially announces in the NME that he is to leave the Hollies to work with David Crosby and Stephen Stills (December 7 1967).     

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