Friday, 27 November 2009

News, Views and Music Issue 49 (Top Five): Youtube Videos

 And so to our farewell finale: the top five AAA Youtube clips not currently available in any other form. Now there were lots of competitors for this spot as I’m sure you can imagine (a special mention for the George Harrison-sung demo of Ringo’s song ‘It Don’t Come Easy’, an amazing vintage clip of the early 1964 vintage Hollies in the Willie Rushton film ‘It’s All Over Town’, an amazing collection of Dave Davies demos from the period of his ‘lost album’ 1968-69,a rare Manassas concert from 1972 that came out on DVD for about a week before being deleted, Johnny Cash duetting with Miss Piggy on ‘Jackson’ (technically not available till series 5 of The Muppets comes out – they’re up to series 3 at the moment!),  a good 50 Neil Young songs that are still unreleased even with the mammoth ‘Archives’ box set that came out this year and the rare 8-track cartridge version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Pigs On The Wing’ which features Snowy White bridging the gap between the two versions of the song (it makes it sound one hell of a lot better, actually!) But here on this list are the most unexpected treats – the ones I never thought I’d see in a million years...

5) The Hollies “Very Last Day” (Live In Sweden 1966). Next time some idiot of a music journalist writes that the Hollies were an OK band in the studio but couldn’t play live for toffee I’m marching right round to their house/office/mansion/cardboard box and showing them this magical clip of the band during one of their Scandinavian tours in 1966, their last full year of touring with the Graham Nash line-up. Fans have always rated ‘Very Last Day’ (originally recorded for the 1965 album ‘The Hollies’) very highly, which is suprising given how un-Hollies it sounds. Its nothing short of a Christian Armageddon protest song, telling everyone to mend their days because everybody’s going to be judged when the world ends. This live version is a killer in a very different sense of the word – Clarke and Nash sour to heaven with their harmonies whilst Bobby Elliott’s most out of control drumming yet truly does sound the last stirrings hell. Magic.

4) Paul McCartney and Wings “There’s A Morse Moose Coming Up” AKA “Coming Up (Remix)”. In which one bootlegger with a minute budget does better than the whole of the weird Apple/Beatles ‘Love’ remix album in one stroke! Two of Paul’s better solo songs – Morse Moose from ‘London Town’ and ‘Coming Up’ from ‘McCartney II’ are seamlessly woven together in a magical medley which takes the pounding beat of the former and the eccentric lyrics of the latter and turns it into a monster of a song. I’ve always adored both songs (each of them gets plugged shamelessly on this website as it is) so hearing the two together is fantastic. Look out too for the accompanying video: the already pretty spiffing promo for ‘Coming Up’ (featuring Paul in a variety of musical guises and characters playing in the same band) looks even better thanks to some fancy editing and some fun with the speed with which its played back. And I agree with John Lennon’s introduction (taken from one of his last interviews in 1980 – legend has it its ‘Coming Up’ that persuaded John to get back to recording again because his partner had ‘finally done something good!’) – I prefer the ‘freaky’ version too! The sort of thing you’ll never see anywhere else.

3) Grateful Dead “Mountains Of The Moon/St Stephen/Turn On Your Lovelight” (Live on Playboy After Dark 1969).This show is legendary in Dead circles – stuffy Playboy millionaire High Hefner playing host to one of the most ‘with it’ 60s bands of them all – talk about when worlds collide! Actually when you see the clip both sides are having fun with each other, with Jerry Garcia replying that they’d love to perform their latest single ‘absolutely...not’. Rumour has it all that awkward laughing came about because the Dead road crew spiked the TV crew and the extras with acid backstage...Even without the equal parts stilted, equal parts hilarious dialogue however, this clip is well worth watching for the three performances – perhaps the three best tracks the Dead were performing in 1969. ‘Mountains’ was hardly ever given a live reading and this fairly fast but still angelic version is well up there with the studio version; ‘St Stephen’ sounds magical in any version and is the perfect song to perform at a multi-generational show like this (see ‘news and views 20’ for my take on the song’s meaning) and ‘Turn On Your Lovelight’ sounds cracking...right up to the point two minutes in when the credits roll and the show ends. Ah well, two amazing pieces is still pretty good going.

2) The Kinks “A Soap Opera” (A Musical Play, 1974). Screened once and left to gather dust and cobwebs for 35 years, this is proof yet again of how important YouTube can be, reminding record companies that there is an interest in obscure shows that might never be seen again. Despite being slated at the time, ‘A Soap Opera’ stands up now as one of the very best of Ray Davies’ ‘concept’ ideas (with a ‘star’ infiltrating the home of a ‘nobody’ to get ideas for his songs before the boundaries blur and the star finds himself a nobody instead) and the TV show is heads and shoulders better than the record, trimming the album’s lesser moments and adding more story, humour and pathos to the work. Sure the rest of the band look deeply uncomfortable and the whole thing seems woefully under-rehearsed (Ray forgets his lines in a couple of places and has to cover by improvising lyrics – which to be fair sound better than the real thing!) – but watch this show in order (the full 40 mins are on YouTube) and its truly moving, especially when Ray slinks off the stage after performing his most unfairly forgotten song ‘A Face In the Crowd’ and takes a seat in the audience to cheer along to brother Dave’s performance of ‘You Can’t Stop The Music’. Well worth seeing for anybody even slightly Kinky.

1) Pink Floyd “Moonlandings” (1969). I thought these tapes had been wiped long ago – a section of the BBC’s coverage of the July 1969 moon landings, complete with ‘mood music’ from a then-forgotten group called Pink Floyd, caught halfway between their Syd Barrett hey-day and their resurrection with ‘Dark Side Of the Moon’. The track, dubbed ‘moon landings’, sounds completely unlike anything the band ever did again, led by Rick Wright’s hazy organ and some other-wordly licks from david Gilmour’s guitar, but is still recognisably Floydy. You even get the picture/sound of astronauts seemingly dancing to the song in the moon’s light gravity. Hmm, talk about the first band in space! And yes, OK, I do believe the moon landings were faked by the American Government and very badly too - thankfully the BBC rescued the day for posterity by getting the music right.

Well, that’s all for another week of archive treasure-hunting! If any of you are having problems searching for these clips just have a look for me at ‘alansalbumarchives’ – they are all saved in my ‘favourites’ list along with lots of other goodies (please send in more if you think I’ve missed anything as well...) Right, that’s it for now – until next week, keep rocking!   

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