Friday 28 August 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 42 (Intro)

August 28:

Well, here we are again for our 42nd issue and the first of our second year. You may have noticed (and let’s be honest, it’s something you will most likely notice as you’ve found this article) that we now have a new homepage (it’s if you’ve still come across us from one of the links to our old site – we’ll wait for you here if you want to go and give it a look). We’ve been trawling through website templates and web hosts for months now, trying to find a site that will allow us to give full access to our work without costing the earth. We haven’t yet found a site that will allow us to add all our work on in full with nice graphics (we do go on a bit most weeks, it’s safe to say), so for the moment we’re still linking our new site back to our old home at Thanks to all those who’ve given us some positive feedback already – I shall get back to adding the new link to search engines soon and see if we can get some more readers interested. The best thing about our new home is the search engine which will allow you to search for articles or news items on all your favourite artists in both our reviews and newsletter sections – the worst is that we still can’t get our music section to work, so apologies if you’ve been trying to download our groovy tunes and are still finding problems. Anyway, there’s lots of sections for you to give us your input (although our old guestbook continues to run at **** ) so please, let us know what you think about our new look (or our old one) and what records you want to see reviewed (and ha ha ha to the friend of mine who suggested Michael Jackson’s Thriller and the Spice Girls’ Greatest Hits. She was joking, I think). In the meantime, after a quick chorus of ‘happy birthday to us’, let’s move on to the news – and what a busy week it’s been...


Beatles News: As the latest Beatles ‘B-Day’ on 09/09/09 gets ever nearer, Apple have released more news about their ‘Rock Band’ game and CD re-masters to excited fans across the globe. The first issue and remastering of the Beatles catalogue in 22 years contains some nice-looking packaging and, if you buy the complete ‘mono’ or ‘stereo’ boxes’, a limited edition DVD containing lots of unreleased Beatles song chatter recorded at Abbey Road between 1962 and 1969, plus old interviews rehashed from the Antghology series for the most part. Let’s hope they do it properly this time – fans won’t take much more sloppily-prepared material like the overblown ‘Anthology’ and the pointless ‘Love’. The chatter will also be heard in the game, depending on whether you manage to complete a song or fall apart somewhere before the end (we expect to hear lots of messages of ‘keep it together Ringo’ and ‘Paul’s broken a string’ before we might, possibly, get the Lennon admission ‘on behalf of the group and myself I hope we passed the audition!’) The game passes through 45 Beatle songs and several real-life Beatles surroundings (including the Shea Stadium and Ed Sullivan appearances) before passing through Abbey Road and lots of surreal pyschedelic landscapes (involving Sgt Peppers, Walruses and a Yellow Submarine, inevitably). Talking of submarines, the fab four’s fab film is to be re-made as a live-action by Disney and the director of the ‘Back To the Future’ series. We kid you not – without meaning to be mistaken for blue meanies, how exactly is that going to work without the Beatles there to play themselves?

Buffalo Springfield News: Two rare versions of an early Stephen Stills song get an airing this week. ‘Sit Down, I Think I Love You’ – which was released on the band’s first album ‘Buffalo Springfield’ – also spawned a hit version by the Mojos in 1966 and was out of print for a long time till re-appearing on one of the many Nuggets Various Artists sets a decade or so back. The Liverpool band, who sadly just missed the craze for all things Mersey, have a long-needed best of out – ‘Everything’s Alright’  - which includes the track. Meanwhile Stills and Richie Furay’s early demo for the song (which would, I think, be recorded in 1965) is out on the latest Nuggets 4CD spin-off set, ‘Where The Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-68’

Dire Straits News: We’ve made a few jokes on this website about Mark Knopfler’s slow rate of work (five years between Dire Straits records was the norm, even at the same age where others like Cat Stevens and Brian Wilson were churning out records every six months). But Knopfler has been writing faster than ever this decade – the forth-coming ‘Get Lucky’ is his third set since we started making this website! Word has it that it’s just as patchy as the rest of his solo work, although if it has as many highlights as ‘Sailing To Philadelphia’ we’ll be quite happy.

Grateful Dead News/Jefferson Airplane News: Billy Graham’s peculiar farewell film to the Fillmore East venue – the site that made legends out of The Doors, the Airplane and the Dead among others – ‘The Fillmore; The Last Days’ makes its long-awaited appearance on DVD. I haven’t seen my copy in a long time (its not the kind of film you watch too often if you can help it) but there’s something compelling about all the hippie chatter and the well-loved concert promoter’s obvious distaste for a lot of the actions taken by the fans in the name of hippiedom.For the record, both the Dead and the Airplane put in appearances to say goodbye, but neither the Dead’s ‘Casey Jones’ or the Airplane’s rare live reading of the swear-worthy ‘We Should Be Together’ are among either band’s best work. 

Jefferson Airplane News: It’s a busy month for those who buy their Airplane tickets fan-class, as the band are getting in on the current Woodstock nostalgia craze and re-issuing their set in full (the news came just too late to be included in last weeks’ ‘Woodstock special’, sadly). We discussed then how great this ‘dawn breakfast’ set was so it’s nice to hear it all together – just to reiterate, ‘Volunteers’ (a new song back then) rattles along nicely and is spot-on for the Woodtsock vibe, ‘Somebody To Love’ sounds very different to normal but still very good, ‘White Rabbit’ is more or less the same with Grace Slick on good form, ‘3/5s Of A Mile In 10 Seconds’ is screechy, scary and scatterbrainedly impressive, ‘Uncle Sam’s Blues’ is a rare once-in-a-lifetime-appearance Jorma Kaukanen song and ‘Won’t You Try?/Saturday Afternoon’ is the icing on a lovely love-in cake.  

Janis Joplin News: Janis, too, gets the Woodstock treatment with the whole of her set exhumed and polished for shining CD in the festival’s 40th anniversary year. We can only tell you about the tracks we’ve heard before but ‘Piece Of My Heart’ is faster and more energetic than usual, a horn drenched ‘Ball And Chain’ isn’t one of the best versions Janis ever did but still hits the spot, ‘Try’ is a brave stab at a difficult soul-rocker and ‘Work Me Lord’ (as seen in the director’s cut of the film) is stunning, one of the best live recordings of Miss Joplin around. 

Yoko Ono News: Yoko’s 70th decade seems to have been not only her busiest but her most successful. Hot on the heels (well, by Yoko’s standards) of ‘Rising’, ‘Blueprint For A Sunrise’ and the remixes/guest stars project ‘I’m A Witch’ comers the first record credited to the Plastic Band since 1973. ‘Between My Head AndThe Sky’ features son Sean Lennon and members of the ‘modern’ bands (ie we haven’t heard of them either) Ciba Matto and Cornelius. It’s meant to be one of Yoko’s angriest, least compromising sets yet – bet Lennon’s dead proud.

Simon and Garfunkel News: Larry Knechtel, the session musician who invented and played the distinctive opening to ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ has died at his home age 69 from a suspected heart attack. Simon and Garfunkel were reportedly so enamoured with his intro to the song that the duo considered giving him a co-writing credit for his part in creating the song, which Knechtel also played with them during the pair’s last concerts together 1969-70.  


♫ Anniversaries (August 28th-September 3rd): Happy Birthday to us, of course, as we turned a year old on August 25th and also to Al Jardine (guitarist with the Beach Boys 1962-3/65-92) who turns 67 on September 3rd. Anniversaries of events even older than our website include: the Rolling Stones signing with Allen Klein – an event that will have almost as many repercussions for the band as when he signs with three of the Beatles in 1969 (August 28th 1965 – they end up suing him for misrepresentation on September 1st 1972); Cat Stevens scores his biggest hit in four years with the release of his single ‘Moonshadow’ (August 28th 1971); George Harrison officially joins his school-friend Paul McCartney and a loudmouth rebel named John Lennon in a band then known as The Quarrymen 51 years ago this week (August 29th 1958); Eight years later to the day the Beatles play their last ever live show (barring the Rooftop Concert) at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park; John and Yoko play practically their only full show together on stage at a ‘One To One’ charity for New York’s Willowbrook Hospital (August 30th 1972 – when’s this well-regarded video coming out on DVD?); Denny Seiwell becomes the second member to quit Wings (in just a month, too) (August 30th 1973); George Harrison is found guilty of plagiarising The Chiffons’ ‘He’s So Fine’ in his #1 hit ‘My Sweet Lord’ during a, quite frankly, stupid waste of time in a court-room (August 31st 1976 – if George borrowed anything surely it was the song that inspired it: ‘Oh Happy Day’ by the Hawkins Singers); 10cc release their first album titled, err, 10cc (September 1st 1973); Keith Richards’ home, known as ‘Redlands’, is badly destroyed by a fire – but luckily the singer isn’t home at the time (September 2nd 1982) and finally, The Hollies finally score their big American breakthrough after three years of trying with a cover of Graham Gouldmann’s ‘Bus Stop’ (September 3rd 1966).    

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