Monday, 16 March 2009
♫ Welcome everybody to the 25th issue of everybody’s favourite musically monkeynuts newsletter, news views and music. Wow – 25 issues, shouldn’t we be getting a gold record for that or something? Come on Paul McCartney, you must have a few to spare! And how do our beloved AAA groups celebrate this momentous occasion? Err, by being quieter than ever before, annoyingly. So not much news to report this issue and things seem to be more normal than a flop Spice Girls reunion. So for this issue Mr Tambourine Man is out singing with the Byrds, Mr Pleasant and Mr Big Man are keeping Ray Davies company, Miss Amanda Jones has been partying with the Stones and Mr Soft has been stopping at traffic lights with Oasis (‘but only when they’re green’). Website wise many thanks to regular reader Lizzie for plugging us so nicely on the ‘fanpop’ website (hope you had a good birthday on Sunday by the way) and just to prove what an absolute anorak I really am check out the ‘Beatles Quiz’ leaderboard on that site where at the time of writing I am currently 1st in the world with 187 correctly answered questions (Yes! I even won a virtual carrot!)
♫ Oasis News: Three bits of news from the world of Gallagher this week. The first is that the third single from latest album ‘Dig Out Your Soul’ is released this week and finally they’ve chosen the best song. The Noel-sung ‘Falling Down’ was our pick of the pops when the album came out (see newsletter 8a) and if you own this and the other two singles you don’t really need to buy the album at all. Second bit of news is that Oasis were plugging the new single on this year’s ‘Comic Relief’ via a very welcome one-off Top Of The Pops Special (what with the seven TOTP2s over Christmas, it seems as if our favourite weekly pop programme has never been away!) Interestingly, Liam G was missing – OK, so it’s a Noel-sung song so he didn’t need to be there, but its not like Liam to miss out on a charity event (despite his rock and roll image!) Have the brothers really fallen out irreparably this time as rumours keep insisting?, is Liam worried that the new Oasis single might beat sales for his own song ‘I’m Outta Time’? (To be fair, that was more the fault of the lack of band unity and promo activities than the fault of the song)
Was Liam just fed up and decided to go awol as he did a la ‘Oasis Unplugged’ when Noel had to take over vocals at the last minute? More evidence came with our third bit of news this week – an 11-track Noel Gallagher acoustic concert that came free with the Sunday Mail, recorded for Roger Daltrey’s ‘Teenage Cancer Trust’. Hmm, there’s something very odd about giving away the soundtrack of benefit concerts for free when they could have raised lots of money as a limited release Grateful Dead style, but at least it added a few tracks that weren’t on the televised concert (including two with guest Paul Weller - one a cover of Lennon evergreen ‘All You Need Is Love’). Shame about the terrible drumming though – Terry Kirkbride only seems to know the 4/4 ‘common time’ signature and sadly most of Noel’s songs played here don’t use it.
♫ And very hippy birthdays this week go to AAA artists Paul Kantner (guitarist and vocalist with Jefferson Airplane 1965-73 and Jefferson Starship 1973-84) who turns 65 on March 17th and Hollies collaborator (and next-door-neighbour of Tony Hicks!) Kenny Lynch, who turns 70 on March 18th. Anniversaries of events this week seem to be heavily Beatlesified and include: the release of Beatles evergreen ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ (March 20th 1964), the 40th anniversary of the marriage between John Winston Lennon and Yoko Ono in Gibraltar on March 20th 1969 (the only country willing to marry two divorced people at the short notice the Ono-Lennons wanted), John and Yoko’s infamous Bed-In during their honeymoon at an Amsterdam hotel (March 21st 1969), the first appearance of the Beatles at the venue that’s about to become ‘their own’ – Liverpool’s Cavern Club (March 21st 1961) and finally, this week also sees the birth of the Rutles, the legend that lasted a lunchtime and the group the Beatles could have been (but thankfully weren’t), thanks to the screening of Eric Idle’s TV special ‘All You Need Is Cash’ on March 22nd 1978.
♫ While we bang on about Record Companies ripping ioff both bands and fans a lot on this site, some have been very impressive indeed. Capitol may have been the most demanding, least loyal company of all in the 1960s, but 30-40 years on the label are looking like one of the nicest, what with their lovingly compiled two-fer-one-with-bonus tracks CDs that are still available at budget price today if you look hard enough. Alas, the Beach Boys’ later companies haven’t been quite so generous and an alarming amount of tracks are yet to get their first CD release. So for this week here is your handy guide to the five biggest Beach Boys rarities not included in any of the Beach Boys’ superlative re-issues series – and we’re not talking alternate mixes or longer fade-outs here but five major additions to the Beach Boys’ catalogue (well, OK, four…):
1) ‘Pamela Jean’/ ‘After The Game’ (released under the pseuodonym ‘The Survivors’, 1964). Despite being the hardest working band in showbusiness, Brian Wilson’s friends and family were told by capitol in early 1964 that they were releasing too many singles, something that might interfere with their strong sales record. Undeterred, Brian Wilson stuck out his new song ‘Pamela Jean’ under a different name, gave the record no publicity whatsoever and, intrigued to see if he really did have the midas touch he kept being told he had, sat back to see what would happen. It sank like a stone. However, the song was recycled as the better known ‘Car Crazy Cutie’ on the ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ album, but strangely this very BeachBoysy song about cars didn’t even begin to match the quality of the original BeachBoysy song about girls. The B-side ‘Playing The Game’ is an instrumental, a fact that probably has most collectors of early Beach Boys running for the hills (their second album had no less than five instrumentals, all of them poor) but its actually one of the most exquisite pre-Smile tracks Brian ever wrote, an orchestral epic that sets the tone for ‘Pet Sounds’ two years down the line. This song has been all but forgotten and it shouldn’t have been – other than a late 70s re-issue (which is in itself a rarity these days) this song has never been heard since the day it came out.
2) ‘It’s A Beautiful Day’ (film soundtrack 1979). The best Beach Boys release for years and the band leave it off any ‘proper’ albums. How very Beach Boys – and how typical that, after including it on a 2 LP compilation album, it’s the full edit of that song that goes missing come CD re-issue time. A Jardine-Love collaboration, this is about the last time the Beach Boys mined their old fun and sun-loving image and sounded like they meant it. Give the collector a break, stick it on the end of the ‘MIU/LA light’ CD re-issue where it belongs!
3) ‘Here Comes The Night’ (edited version issued as a single, 1979): OK, so there’s an extended 12-minute version of this track available on the LA light Album, so why would you want to buy an edited 3-minute version? Because this is the version that was the top 40 hit that’s why – the one that, you know, actually did quite well in the charts before some idiot of a music critic decided he didn’t like it and everyone followed suit. In many ways it’s more enjoyable than the album version (and no, not because its nine minutes shorter!) – the mix is punchier, there’s less time waiting for those glorious harmonies to kick in and the song feels like a minor revelation rather than a heavy slog in between the ballads that make up most of the LA Light LP. Again, there’s ten flipping minutes of space on the MIU/LA Light CD, use it!!!
4) ‘Happy Endings’ (duet with Little Richard, spin-off single taken from the film ‘The Telphone’, 1987). A whole missing song and one dominated by Carl Wilson, no less! (Although weirdly he sounds so close to Little Richard on this record it’s hard to tell where the two swap over vocals). A sweet sugary ballad written by Bruce Johnston for a film that died almost as much of a death as the song, this is a curio indeed. For all its faults, though, this song at least sounds like the Beach Boys, which is more than you can say of the ‘Still Cruising’ and ‘Summer in
Paradise’ albums. Again, both of those records and the earlier ‘Beach Boys’ have plenty of space intact (‘Cruising’ even features two straight re-issues of 1960s classics out on CD hundreds of times, which must surely count as one of the biggest ways of ripping off the fans to date).
5) ‘Wipeout’ (duet with the Fat Boys, 1989). OK< so you don’t actually need this one unless you’re a) an early 90s rap lover b) a keen surfer with a sense of irony or c) one of the Fat Boys’ mothers, but it still seems surprising that this hit – which reached #2 in the UK charts, the Beach Boys’ most successful in 20 years – isn’t as yet available on a Beach Boys CD. I(t may be on a Fat Boys CD but something tells me that even if it is I won’t be buying it. Still, if you do happen to find this cheap (mine’s a charity shop copy bought for 50p) it is sort of funny (once, at a push) and the Beach Boys are – for the very last time – dominated by Brian Wilson’s vocals. Unlike most of the band’s 80s and 90s recordings, he actually sounds as if he wants to be there –maybe somebody told Brian he was taking part in a true cover of The Surfari’s classic and didn’t know he was going to be backing singer for two overweight comedians!
Well, that’s it for another week. And remember, as Philosophy Phil tells us ‘too much haste sets the soles of your shoes on fire’. Unless of course you spot a CSN album in the sales, in which case you can never run fast enough. See you next week!