Friday, 24 July 2009
♫ Welcome everybody to yet another issue of everyone’s favourite monkeynuts archives newsletter. Having taken my queue from the Kinks album reviewed below I thought I’d ask – how are you? Where are you? What are you up to? This site is meant to be yours as well as mine, remember, so please keep emailing me in with ideas and requests or post something on our guest book. The one thing that crops up occasionally from our readers is that the graphics could do with work – well, we’ve tried a few ways around this now and they all seem to cost too much or would take too long but rest assured we’re working on it. As you may have noticed we’ve already had a bit of a makeover recently courtesy of the new laptop that makes all these sort of things a bit easier and we’re hoping to use some website templates sometime soon to help with the web pages. We’ll let you know how we’re getting on next week. Meanwhile, on with the news...
♫ Beatles News: The cover artwork for the ‘Beatles Rock Band’ game has been released and features a distinctive cover of the fab four in the ‘Hard day’s Night’ period. The back cover, meanwhile, promises us entry to ‘all their definitive concert and television appearances plus sideways looks into their imagination and psychedelic worlds’. So that’s ‘I Am The Walrus’ taken care of, what about the rest?!
♫ CSN News: Hmm, things get even more mysterious concerning the whereabouts OF THE ‘Laurel Canyon’ DVD. It turns out that although Amazon themselves are no longer offering the set for sale, a handful of suppliers linked to Amazon are (though unfortunately the price has gone up a bit as a result). So keep searching if you want it, it is available out there somewhere (although the revelation that most of the rare bonus concert footage is silent does come as a bit of a blow, so be warned).
♫ Jefferson Starship News: We may be slightly late with this news so apologies if we are, but apparently there is a new acoustic DVD concert of starship on tour out on sale. Called ‘Soiled Dove’ (no, I don’t know why either before you ask) it features stripped-down versions of classic Airplane, Starship and solo Kantner songs although on the downside Marty Balin seems to have left the group since the last time I heard about them (the ‘Tree Of Liberty’ album last year) and so Paul Kantner is the only face traditional Jeffersonists may recognise.
♫ Rolling Stones News: And some more late news – the last batch of Stones re-issues are out now in re-mastered sound using new technology not around when the first CDs came out: ‘Steel Wheels’, ‘Voodoo Lounge’, ‘Bridges To Babylon’ and (how pointless is this? How much has technology really changed in the last three years?) 2006’s ‘A Bigger Bang’. All that remains now is the promised re-issue of ‘Exile On Main Street’ – alas there’s still no sign of any upgraded 60s Stones albums which are the ones that need re-mastering most.
♫ Neil Young News: Bloody hell. Well, it’s been out about a month or so now so I’m just going to have to accept that, gulp, the first volume Neil Young’s mammoth archives set is here at last. What a shame that he’s already released all the juicy bits down the years while filling in time for the set to come out. The Blu-Ray and DVD versions have access to future downloads, apparently, when Neil finally gets around to finishing the set and wants to add more to it, but for the moment the Neil Young fan community seem to feel it’s something of a damp squib after being promised it for the past 25 or so years. If Neil ever gets round to making a follow-up set (say, around 2034) though, it does promise to be better: the 1972-mid 80s years probably have more unissued material attached to them than any other Neil Young era.
♫Anniversaries: Happy birthday to those celebrating between July 18th and 24th – you share your birthday with the following AAA luminaries: Clarence White (guitarist with TheByrds 1969-72) would have been 65 on July 19th had he not died the week before his 29th birthday; Keith Godchaux (pianist with the Grateful Dead 1972-79) would have been 61 the same day had he not died the week after turning 31; John Lodge (bassist with the Moody Blues 1966-present) turned 66 on July 20th and Cat Stevens aka Yusuf Islam turned 62 on July 21st. Anniversaries of events include: Simon and Garfunkel re-unite for a short tour in 1983 that everyone expects to lead to a long-term reunion – instead all we get are some half-finished recordings and some very bad blood between the pair again (July 19th 1983); Paul McCartney and Jane Asher officially announce that their four-year long engagement is off (July 20th 1968); the Beatles play their first really big gig outside Merseyside – the seaside resort of Blackpool where 4000 fans unable to get tickets try to storm the theatre (to avoid the crush, the Beatles are flown in via the roof; July 21st 1963); the first, eponymously titled Dire Straits album is released (July 22nd 1978) and finally Jefferson Airplane receive the only gold album disc of their career for sales of their album ‘Surrealistic Pillow’ (July 24th 1967).
And for the following week (July 25-31st): Happy birthdays to Mick Jagger (singer and occasional guitarist with the Rolling Stones 1962-present) who turns 66 on July 26th and Rick Wright (keyboardist with Pink Floyd 1967-94 barring an absence from 1981-87) who would have been 64 had he not died so tragically last year. Anniversaries of events include: Brian Jones’ last concert with the Rolling Stones three years before his death (San Francisco, July 25th 1966); the Beatles and Brian Epstein all sign an infamous page advert in the Times calling for the legalisation of marijuana (July 25th 1967); Neil Young performs on stage with CSN for the first time – a scant month after the release of their debut LP (The Fillmore East, July 25th 1969); the Rolling Stones celebrate Mick Jagger’s 25th birthday by getting into trouble with record company Decca over their proposed front cover for the ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ LP (a picture of a toilet wall scrawled with graffiti; July 26th 1968); George Harrison announces plans for a series of concerts to benefit Bangladesh (July 27th 1971); John Lennon finally wins his ‘green card’ (which is actually blue), allowing him to become an American citizen after five years of hassle from the Nixon government (see news and views no 35 for more info; July 27th 1976); the biggest ever audience in history attends a rock concert at Watkins Glen, New York on July 28th 1973 where 60,000 people watch the Grateful Dead (among other bands); the Beatles premiere their film ‘Help!’ (July 29th 1965); the Rolling Stones premiere their film ‘Gimme Shelter’ (July 31st 1971) and finally, on the same day in 1964, the Stones play one of the shortest concerts in history in Belfast, getting through all of 12 minutes of their usual set-list before a riot breaks out and the police stop the performance.
♫ And to finish in this week’s top five: it’s the brightest, most colourful, mai nly psychedelic-era front covers ever issued. So put on your sun-specks and revel in our handy computer-sized guide to the five albums with the boldest primary colours...
5) Rolling Stones “Dirty Work” (1986). Bit of a cheat this one, seeing as the other four examples on our list are all paintings of one sort or another from the summer of love or thereabouts – the Stones are simply looking middle-aged and leaning on a couch. But get a load of those lycra leggings they’re all wearing! It’s so bright it hurts your eyes. Even Keith Richards, the man in rock surely at least in for a nomination as ‘least likely to succumb to 80s fashions and wear bright green leggings’ is in on the act. What was going on? This album should come with as health warning! And, despite being smaller, it all looks even brighter on the newly re-mastered CD (if you can find it that is, the Stones’ 80s output has disappeared even quicker than it did the first time round...)
4) The Kinks “Face To Face” (1966). The album is dark, brooding, mysterious. It features Ray Davies’ first real autobiographical out-pourings and for the most parts they picture a stark, monochromatic world full of endangered species animal and human or class structures rigidly in place in an uncaring, unfeeling drab world where it always rains. This record sounds not unlike a pen-and-ink drawing full of inky splodges. So what do the Pye artwork executives decide to do? Well, everyone else is going for colourful pictures in a big way so they decide to do the same and splash this album cover full of big butterflies in huge primary colours. If only the idea for the Beatles’ worthy but unsuitable cover for ‘Revolver’ had been swapped for this one it would have been perfect.
3) The Moody Blues “Days Of Future Passed” (1967). The Decca art department have gone even more over-the-top for the Moodies’, with their first ‘proper’ album cover by the ‘classic’ line-up depicting nothing less than spilt paint tins mixed together in a psychedelic frenzy and then plastered over the top with symbols relating vaguely to the album’s contents (time passing and days of the week if you didn’t know). Like the album (which mixes orchestra and rock for almost the first time) it should be a mess and yet...well, it’s still a mess, but it’s quite a distinctive-looking mess at least.
2) The Hollies “Evolution” (1967). If you want to know what psychedelia was all about then you could do worse than study this photograph for hours. The Hollies, never a band to let a fashion pass them by, are pictured in their best floral garb, dressed in beads and acting all summer-of-lovey for the cameras (especially Tony Hicks, surprisingly, given that he’s the one who hated this period of Hollies history more than the others). And Beatle/Apple-friends The Fool aren’t finished there – they top the picture off with overladen swirls that haven’t been seen since 1960s wallpaper went out of fashion and to top it all off even this album’s inner sleeve and back panel feature more psychedelic bright colours spinning off into infinity (or at least the centre of the picture). Evolution is the right word – how the hell did we go back to having front covers like ‘The White Album’ after this?!
1) The Beatles “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967). Say what you will about this album marking a huge step backwards for the fab four (and we’ve said plenty on this site already), Peter Blake’s seminal album cover remains one of the most distinctive, original and influential images of the whole 1960s. Not content with a simple painting or funny costumes the Beatles create a huge life-size pop-art collage featuring life-size blow-ups of many of their favourite celebrities, mystics, heroes and gurus (plus Hitler and Jesus, leaning against the back of the painting next to each other after the band decided that having them on the front cover might upset a few people...) plus Madame Tussaud waxworks of themselves (so bad are the waxworks – and so outdated are the costumes – that most newcomers assume it’s meant to be the Rolling Stones and ask what happened to Bill Wyman). Add a few plants and some exotic instruments and voila, a place at number one in our weekly top five is theirs.
That’s all for another week – we look forward to making your acquaintance again next week so, till then, goodbye!