Friday, 28 August 2009
♫ 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 www.alansalbumarchives.moonfruit.com 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 www.alansarchives.t35.com. 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).
♫ We had a grand total of one email about our ‘greatest moments’ over the past year, but AAA member Lizzie very kindly took a break in her busy schedule listening to ‘Deep Purple’ albums to list the, err, 5 things from this site that she could remember without having to look them up. Or four anyway, so I’ve added one of my own. And I’m ignoring the last entry too, by the way (‘’the week you were away’ – charming!)
1) Lulubelle III (the cow on the front cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Atom Heart Mother’ LP) writes her own review of the album (as discovered buried under a broken-down record player left in a hedge in 1971). “Because I found it weirdly mooooving and I haven’t laughed that long in ages – not since you started doing impressions of George Bush auditioning for Deep Purple”. The cow found the record a bit of a mouthful (in more ways than one if the bit of paper we discovered is in anything like the same condition) but largely came out in favour of the record. Now that we know how popular it is (well, with one person at least) expect some more cover-related reviews in the months to come (the statue on the front of ‘The Division Bell’ for instance, now there’s a chap who could tell a tale or two – just as soon as I work out what its actually doing on that cover in the first place). news and views 18 - january 19.doc
2) Our April First ‘TimeTravelling’ Issue. “OK So I have laughed that long – I’d forgotten about this issue. Loved the gag about the Human League. When do I get to go to Hellosphere? And what formats do they play their records on? I think we should be told”. It’s Green-Ray, Lizzie, the format we’ll get in about 15 years’ time when everything has been released on CD, DVD and Blu-Ray. This is the issue where I found out that, against all the odds given the zillions of problems we’ve had already in our first year, we’re still going strong in 25 year’s time – so strong in fact that we become the 73rd most influential website in our section of the galaxy. So that’s nice to know. news and views 1255 - april 1 2034.doc
3) The Rick Wright tribute special. “I’ve never much liked Pink Floyd but reading this article made we wish I did. Coming so early on in the history of your website it kind of made the rest of the records you’re keeping more important somehow. It even made me try some of their records, but I still hate them I’m afraid.” Well, that’s half our goal achieved I suppose. Sadly Rick died just four issues into our website newsletters but luckily writing obituraries didn’t become as regular a feature as I’d feared – and even more luckily, Lizzie never actually got round to sending me the £2 bill she got for buying ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ from a charity shop. Darn, that’s just reminded her now... 4a newsandviewsspecial -rickwrighttribute.doc
4) The existential Top Five. “I’m surprised how little philosophy there’s been on the site to be honest knowing you as I do – although last week’s morbid ‘Flowers In The Dirt’ review seemed to be heading that way [SIC – its actually two weeks back if you go looking for it]. This bit was hilarious and thought-provoking all at once, not to mention very very weird – three adjectives that you’ve always been something of a specialist in”. Thanks. I think. Anyway, expect more navel-gazing and needle-glinting in the issues to come. newsandviews15 - December 8.doc
5) Lizzie had ran out by the time she came to think of number five, so here’s my option – and there’s no link for it I’m afraid, for a very good reason. I’d come up with what seemed an absolutely amazing how-did-I-come-up-with-that? Review for the Human League’s under-rated ‘Romantic?’ album and was on the last paragraph when the computer decided to seize up and go doo-lally (well, even more doo-lally than normal). Hopefully some day I shall retrieve it, most likely to cringe in agony at how bad it is and how much my memory of it has changed over the past few months, so watch this space.
Well, that’s it. The days of future are passing overhead, the sands of time have filled Cat Stevens’ eyes and the birthday cake has all been eaten in a Godley and Creme ‘snack attack’, so it just remains for me to say thankyou for supporting the website through thick and thin, website crashes and visitor statistic highs (our record was 11 people on November 7th by the way and only one of them was me, honest) – lets’ hope the next few years are a) quite a lot quieter but b) just as full of great music as the last 12 months have been. From all of us at the AAA, keep rocking and see you on issue 43!