Friday, 20 February 2009
♫ Welcome to our slightly delayed issue of the AAA this week. You’re getting this ‘double bill’ edition slightly out of order this week, partly because there’s just so much going on we haven’t had time to write anything and partly because we’ve been engrossed in the new Graham Nash box set. Although we missed our valentine’s special last week (and very, err, ‘lovely’ it was too), we’re helping you get prepared for next year with our handy guide to the five best AAA songs about love you might not already know about! (no obvious choices for us because we’re assuming that if you’re reading our site you’ll already know about ‘Yesterday’, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘Nights IN White satin’ etc !) No, we’re not talking about the spice girls and their bank balances, not even George Bush and oil, but love in all its forms. So while the love birds circling round your head appear to be singing, why not get them to hum along with our latest top five. So even if everyone else seems to have forgotten you and your postman has delivered you yet more bills instead of valentines, remember this site loves you, dear readers! Now where are my cards and chocolates? (Heck, when did this date get so commercialised?)
Now, where was I? Oh yes, the website. We’re well past the 100 mark in terms of ‘hits’ to our site now (we’re probably not far off 100 hits in other senses as well in terms of what spice girls fanatics want to do to us…) and alphabet-wise I’m right up to the ‘rolling stones’ in my adding-our-site-to-every-possible-AAA-related-website-that-has-links efforts. ‘Hello’ to all our new members, ‘How are you?’ to all our old members and ‘Where have you been all my life?!’ to those who haven’t discovered us yet! That’s all for this week/ fortnight/ whatever it is – now onto the news…
♫ Johnny Cash news: Not much news to report this week, so imagine my excitement when I opened my latest non-AAA purchase – the first proper DVD dedicated to the early days of the fantastic children’s series of
Sesame Street – and discovered a rare Johnny Trash, err, sorry, Johnny Cash duet with Oscar the Grouch. For the Johnny Cash completists out there (and the under-fives) (or, quite possibly both) you might be interested to know that Johnny sings the rare folk song about the rotten and sneaky ‘Nasty Dan’ who falls in life with ‘Nasty Pearl’ and has a family of nasty children. Not quite sure what the moral of the song is (and, let’s face it, there’s a moral in every Sesame Street segment somewhere – although its usually along the lines of ‘don’t hit Big Bird with a spade’ or ‘stop annoying Bert, Ernie!’) – but so relaxed and consequence-free is this version that the man in black even gets to wish Oscar the Grouch a ‘very rotten day’. As for the performance, the song isn’t ‘trash’ at all and features the man in black only slightly past his top form (it was shown as part of the 1974 season and can be found on the ‘bonus features’ part of disc three of ‘Sesame Street – The Old School, Part One’).
♫ Lindisfarne News: The fourth and final Jack The Lad album ‘Jackpot’ will be back on catalogue in mid-March this year. Missing on CD for years and years, this last album by the
Lindisfarne spin-off group dates from 1975 and is set to include several unreleased tracks. Although by this stage only Ray Laidlaw remains from the original Lindisfarne band, the band retain more of the group’s old sound than the ‘Lindisfarne Mark Two’ line-up, as anyone who has read our review of the first Jack The Lad album (see review no 61) will know. The full track listing is as follows: Eight Ton Crazy (Fairweather-Low)/ Amsterdam (Mitchell)/ Steamboat Whistle Blues (Hartford)/ Walter’s Drop (Jack The Lad)/ We’ll Give You The Roll (Mitchell)/ Trinidad (Mitchell)/ You, You, You (Mitchell)/ Let It Be Me (Mitchell)/ The Tender (Trad)/ Take Some Time (Mitchell)/ Trinidad (alternate version)/ See How They Run (Cowe)/ Eight Ton Crazy (alternate version)/ Amsterdam (alternate version)/ Buy Broom Buzzems > The Tender > The Marquis Of Tullybardine (live medley)/ Will You Miss Me? (Guthrie)/ Hungry For Love (Mills).
Anniversaries #1: Many happy returns of the day to Yoko Ono, who turns 76 on February 18th and Alan Hull (Lindisfarne 1969-95) who would have been 64 on February 20th. Anniversaries of events this week include: the live premier of the seminal Pink Floyd epic ‘Dark Side Of the Moon’ (February 17th 1972), the release of The Who’s debut single ‘I Can’t Explain’ (February 18th 1965), Lulu gets married to Bee Gee Maurice Gibb (February 18th 1969), Wings’ ‘protest’ single ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ is banned by the BBC (February 19th 1972) and Simon and Garfunkel finally release their last and much-talked about LP ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ (February 21st 1970).
As for the following week, many hippy hippy happy birthday shakes to George Harrison who would have been 66 on February 25th, Johnny Cash who would have been 79 on February 26th, Brian Jones (Rolling Stones 1962-69) who would have been 67 on February 28th and Roger Daltrey (The Who 1965-83 plus several re-unions) who turns 65 on March 1st. Anniversaries of events this week include: the Byrds fly away after a farewell performance in New Jersey on February 24th 1973, the first Beatles single is released in America by Vee Jay Records (‘Please Please Me’ on February 25th 1963, with the band mis-spelled ‘The Beattles’ on the sleeve), the original Cavern Club in Matthew Street, Liverpool closes on February 28th 1966 with debts of £70,000 and The Moody Blues release their first album with the ‘classic’ line-up – ‘Days Of Future Passed’ (March 1st 1967).
♫ And now, as promised, here’s the reminder of all the things you should have done on valentine’s night – our handy pocket sized (if you have big enough pockets for a laptop) guide to AAA artist romantic odes you might not know:
5) ‘Something So Right’ (Paul Simon/ There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, 1973): Paul’s love-lorn narrator skirts around every subject he can think of in this ode to his fiancé, quietly hinting at his growing feelings of love for his partner in lines simply thrown away in parts of this song. The lines tell us about his reticence to open up and his old belief that he would never be in love – and yet, just as in 10cc’s more famous classic ‘I’m Not In Love’ – we know from these clever little lines that the narrator is besotted. Half romantic ode, half apology, this song tells us that ‘when something goes wrong I’m the first to admit it, but the last one to know – but when something goes right it’s likely to lose me, its out to confuse me because its such an unusual sight and I can’t help it with something so right’. Lovely.
4) ‘Coming Back To Me’ (Jefferson Airplane/ Surrealistic Pillow, 1967): This is the song that nobody knows from the album that everybody knows, or something like that anyway. Sandwiched between the two hit singles of ‘Somebody To love’ and ‘White rabbit’ and the histrionics of the change-the-world-and-make-it-quick rockers that made tha band’s name was this gorgeous Marty Balin ode to a lost love. Accompanied throughout by just his own acoustic guitar and Grace Slick’s eerie recorder, Marty’s narrator lets us listen in to his daydream which finds him peeking through the curtains longingly because he thinks he just saw an old girlfriend’s silhouette coming up the drive to see him just as in days of old. ‘The summer hadn’t hailed and held its breath too long, sleepy music and suddenly you’re gone, and through the window where no curtain hung I saw you, yes I saw you coming back to me…’ Hmm, delicious. Marty’s ‘Today’ from the same album is shorter but just as gorgeous and both songs are well worth seeking out.
3) ‘Cuddle Up’ (Beach Boys/ Carl and the Passions-So Tough, 1972): Dennis Wilson at his romantic best, accompanied by nothing more than a Mantovani-like orchestra and one of the most amazing Beach Boys choirs on record. Like an early prototype for his solo records, this is Dennis at his most bare and honest, passing up his more usual rough and ready rocker image with a yearning melody that wouldn’t have been out of place in the canon of his brother Brian. ‘Your love for me is so warm and good for me, growing every day, honey, honey, I’M IN LOVE!!!!! Ooooh’, err sorry, got a bit carried away along with Dennis there. The demo for the song with alternate lyrics (‘Barbara’, released on the Beach Boys rarities set ‘Endless harmony’ in 1998) is even more moving when stripped bare of its passion-filled accompanied and stapled instead to a simple piano rhythm (and if that last sentence doesn’t get me into Private Eye’s ‘pseud’s corner’, nothing will!)
2) ‘Love Is the Thing’ (The Hollies/ Write On, 1976): A latter-day Hollies classic – possibly the last Hollies classic depending on what fan you are speaking to – filled with a tremulous Allan Clarke at his ‘Air That I Breathe’ best, a subtle synthesiser melody and a choral section that seems to burst into full flower out of nowhere. The first time those classic Hollies harmonies kicks in full of yearning and wonder at the narrator’s memories of his first love still takes me by surprise now and it shouldn’t – I’ve heard the thing hundreds of times. ‘They say you can’t forget your first taste of love, memories…’ Interesting how many of these songs are about people’s first loves by the way – my first love was The Hollies or have I already told you that? (Err, maybe this musical obsession might explain why my first love was a group – its not too late! Honest! You wait till next valentine’s day! (err didn’t I say that last year?))
1) ‘For My Lady’ (Moody Blues/ Seventh Sojourn, 1972): Hidden away quietly on the last ‘proper’ Moodies album is this fantastic Ray Thomas ode to love and all that it has done for him. Never mawkish, never obvious, this simple song with its carnival funfair-riff is a delightful tribute to love in its many guises and its ability to right wrongs and provide stability and comfort, no matter how many obstacles you have to travel over to get there first. ‘Sail on shifting seas, battle oceans filled with tears, at last my port’s in view, now that I’ve discovered you’. Ahh. There are many lovely romantic ballads in the Moodies’ large and varied canon, but this one wins by a furlong.
More for you next week (or 10 days or whatever it is) – see you then!