Monday, 15 September 2008

News, Views and Music Issue 4 (Intro)

September 15:

The website is within a gnat’s crotchet of being uploaded now. Yay!!!  Of course, you’ll know that already if you’re reading these words because presumably the site will be finished by then but, well, never mind, we’re mildly excited all the same… Anyway enough of this babbling, onwards to events in the world of AAA groups this week…

The one musician you can always rely on to liven up an otherwise dull news week is Paul McCartney. And boy is he having an interesting week this week. Following on from his landmark gig in Russia, a country that only lifted their ban on Beatles and ex-Beatles’ music and rock concerts in general a few years ago, Macca has agreed to play a concert for the people of Israel. Alas, politics has yet again got in the way of good music and a Palestinian group are threatening to have Macca shot if he agrees to play there (just imagine the outcry in the country that would cause—Palestine wouldn’t have a hope of quelling the riots that event would bring about…) Hey, guys, music’s a worldwide language that’s meant to unite people not divide them—save your problems for when politicians come calling instead (let’s hope Bush pays a visit very soon. Not that he knows where Israel is of course - Israel doesn’t own enough oil). Let It Be, don’t Live and Let Die. On a happier note, Macca is appearing on the new series of ’later with Jools Holland’ this week, the first time we’ve seen him on our screens for ages, comparatively speaking (Macca’s rightly been on our screens a lot these last few years, given that we haven’t got many other AAA performers left touring regularly these days). On a sadder note, we’ll probably have to put up with another godawful duet between the host and Macca again this year (with all the decades of practice Jools has had learning his trade on our TV screens alone, why hasn’t he learnt to play the piano properly yet after all these years?!)

Last minute news/ Pink Floyd: David Gilmour’s celebratory tour farewell in Gdansk, Poland, was always due to be broadcast on BBC4 next Friday (26th September) as a ’trailer’ for Gilmour’s DVD set of the concert currently out. However, this concert now takes on a quite different light in view of the sad death of fellow Floyd and Gilmour band member Rick Wright who unfortunately died on Monday. This ‘farewell’ concert from 2006 is now a ‘farewell’ in quite a different sort of a way, as it was the last concert Rick ever played, as a member of Dave’s band. See the (rather lengthy) entry below for a full tribute to the sorely missed musician.

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!

Janis Joplin "I Got Dem Ol' Kozmik Blues Again, Mama!" (1969) (News, Views and Music 4)

Please visit for a longer and more detailed version of this review - the old copy of which is left here for arcjhval purposes!

An Old Favourite I’m Currently Grooving To:  I’ve known 7/8ths of it from various compilations for years, but I’ve finally got the whole of Janis Joplin’s lengthy titled third album ‘I Got ‘Dem Old Kozmik Blues Again Mama’ on CD. And very fabulous it is too—more polished than her ‘big brother and the holding company’ records but less polished than the rather sanitised posthumous album ‘Pearl’ (which everyone seems to love but for some reason is the only one of Janis’ short catalogue to leave me cold). I defy anybody not to get a chill when listening to the second side (in LP terms) all in one go, an emotional experience only recently rivaled by CSNY getting together again. Most loved moment: classic closer ‘Work Me Lord’, a recording that rivals only ‘Ball and Chain’ as being Janis’ most devestating and heartbreaking vocal, three parts isolation to one part despair and packed with an awful lot of genuine sounding heart-ache. The  short-lived Kozmik Blues band also show their potential best on this track, with the switch in keys from major to minor halfway through just when everything’s looking rosy again a classy bit of arrangement. Give that group a cigar! (or a mercedes benz, anyway).  Look out for the extended director’s cut version of the Woodstock film for an equally classy live version of this little-known song. Most reviled moment: nothing is bad, but Janis doesn’t kick in till a good halfway through the album’s most obscure track ’As Good As You’ve Been To This World’ and the Kozmik Blues Band are still a couple of bluesnotes away from gelling completely. Score / 10: ♫♫♫♫♫♫♫♫ (8/10)