Monday 9 March 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 24 (Top Five): Other BBC Session Sets

♫ As promised, here is opur latest top five – a handy laptop-computer-sized guide to the other five AAA-related BBC recording sets you might want to own.

5) The Animals ‘Complete BBC Sessions’ (released circa 1996). OK, so the Animals aren’t official AAA members, but that’s because in their short lifespan they never quite managed to achieve an album that was amazing all the way through. Out of all their releases I have to say the Animals’ BBC set might well be the closest to a ‘definitive’ Animals record. All the great songs are here without too many of the lacklustre covers, covering all periods of the Animals’ history (even their under-rated psychedelic years!) Highlights include a sprightly version of pop classic ‘Monterey’ (with lyrics about the 1967 festival, please somebody invent a time machine so I can go back and visit it PLEASE!! Oh sorry, got carried away there…), a chilling version of Eric Burdon’s best-ever song ‘When I Was Young’ – the perfect stepping stone between the downtrodden working classes of the band’s early singles and their loud, proud and battle-scarred voice-of-a-nation selves circa the third line-up 1967) and a fantastic bluesy reading of ‘Hey Gyp’, a Bo Diddley-like bonanza with psychedelic swirls. Recommended – overall rating 7/10.

4) Dire Straits ‘Live at the BBC’ (released circa 1996). Alas the Dire Straits only ever made BBC recordings in the late 70s and so this set loses points for being 1) ridiculously short and 2) only containing tracks from the band’s first eponymous album. But for those who like their Dire Straits bright and early this set makes for a fine alternative listen to the first album, with the changes subtle enough to be interesting but not different enough to sound daft. Mark knopfler, as ever, plays a mean guitar solo and is obviously thriving playing live in this period – what a shame the band didn’t record a live album till the second-half of their careers when they were already partway towards stadium-induced anonymity. Highlights: a moody ‘Down To The Waterline’ and the most confident version of ‘Sultans Of Swing’ you’ll ever hear. Good if you like that sort of thing - overall rating 6/10.

3) Moody Blues ‘At The BBC’ (2005). I’d have killed for this release any year previous to 2003 (but didn’t, I hasten to add, just in case someone’s tapping my website) – 40 Moody Blues recordings with their ‘classic’ line-up, full of stripped-down alternate versions of their usually terribly-polished songs. Alas back in 2003 the band started re-issuing all of their albums in ‘deluxe’ format’ and had already cherry-picked the best recordings by the time this set appeared. It really isn’t worth digging out this set if you already own the Moodies’ albums with bonus tracks (and if you don’t, then buy the Moodies’ CD reissues with bonus tracks rather than this muck). The star of the show is undoubtedly Mike Pinder – how he ever got his mellotron to play in tune, in synch with the rest of the band and against the ever-present BBC time limit qwhen most musicians couldn’t get the darn thing to work with endless hours of studio time I’ll never know. Highlights include a barn-storming version of one of the band’s few all-out rockers ‘Peak Hour’, a delightful breathless jig through Ray Thomas’ witty ‘Dr Livingstone’, a lovely ethereal take on the dreamy ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ and a delightful version of Justin Hayward’s exquisite ballad ‘Never Comes The Day’. Buy it if you don’t have it already, but be warned about duplicates - overall rating 4/10.

2) The Kinks ‘BBC Sessions’ (2000). A generous 2-CD issue that, like the Beatles’ set, is a highly welcome set that nevertheless barely touched the surface on what recordings exist and all too often uses the wrong stuff. Like many a BBC set, the best stuff is tucked away early on disc one with the 1964 line-up of the band thrust into the limelight out of nowhere after their ‘surprise’ hit with ‘You Really Got Me’ and having to adjust their setlist and personalities accordingly. The interviews are, if anything, even more enlightening than the Beatles’ set – a 19-year-old Ray Davies delivers his serious take on successful songwriting (It’s got to be sincere! That’s the main thing!) while 16-year-old Dave mucks around. Musical highlights include an unreleased cover (Dave Davies doing ‘Good Luck Charm’, which would have been a fine addition to his proposed but never-released solo album in the 60s), an eventful cover of ‘C-A-D-I-L-L-A-C’ and a lovely highly different arrangement of ‘Demolition!’, the finale to the first act of Preservation. The absolute highlight though – and this would be a highlight on nearly all the Kinks’ 60s recordings – is a punk-like speeded up version of Dave’s ‘Love Me Till The Sun Shines’, with Dave singing from the heart on this tale of lost girlfriends and desperation to be needed. Worth the price of the set alone - although why there are so many poor 1970s recordings on here (including two almost identical versions of ‘Money Talks’) and a full hour of space that could have been used despite the fact that there are dozens of superior recordings left in the vaults I’ll never know. You might chunter a bit, but BUY BUY BUY! This is the best BBC set after the Beatles one! Overall rating 7/10.

1) The Who ‘BBC Sessions’ (1999). This archive set was very badly reviewed when it came out, but I’ve no idea why. There’s a handful of rarities here (covers of ‘Good Loving’, ‘You And Me, Darling’, ‘Dancing In the Street’, ‘Man With Money’ and – until the deluxe Live At Leeds came out – the only place you could hear the popular live medley of ‘Shakin’ All Over’ and ‘Spoonful’) and the track listing isn’t as obvious as it might have been (we get a fine and rare hearing of the EP-only ‘Disguises’ and an alternate version of lengthy ‘mini opera’ A Quick One’ for starters). There’s even an emphasis on 1960s recordings with only four tracks coming from a later vintage – unlike both the Moodies and Kinks sets. Perhaps it’s just that the Who never really got to grips with this recording lark, unlike their one-take contemporaries which seems surprising given the band’s live prestige. But then again it’s the lack of an audience and the unfamiliar settings that account for most of this record – reduced to recording to set time lengths quickly the Who were never going to shine. Nevertheless there’s lots of good things here – highlights include a chilling version of ‘The Good’s Gone’, a powerpop ‘Run Run Run’, a hilarious ‘Boris The Spider’ and a spiffing re-recording of under-rated single ‘Relay’. Not the Who’s greatest, but a generous proportion of rarities make this more than justa  curio – overall rating 6/10.

That’s all for another week – we’ll just leave you with these fine words from our resident know-all Philosophy Phil. ‘If you knock on every door and they still won’t let you in, go build your own door!’ See you next time!  


A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock


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