Saturday 20 March 2010

News, Views and Music Issue 56 (Intro)

♫ Hello everybody, did you miss us while we’ve been away? Well, probably not given the amount of news items that have been happening lately. Who’d have thought that just an issue ago Abbey Road was still safe, Dennis Wilson was still largely forgotten and you could watch the Winter Olympics without seeing Neil Young’s face everywhere. Meanwhile, we’ve had 845 visitors to the site, a three star rating on fan pop (well, it’s better than one star I suppose) and a huge backlog of correspondence that equates email. Please keep those suggestions and ideas coming and look out for our planned second April fool’s day edition in a couple of issues time after the huge success (well, two people liked it) of our first. Till then, happy reading!


Beach Boys News: Apologies for not telling you about the recent BBC4 Beach Boys night – it caught us all by surprise while we were away and we didn’t have time to add it to the last newsletter (which was, out of necessity, posted early). Anyway, the only ‘new’ item was a doc on Dennis Wilson entitled ‘Legends’ which is still being repeated regularly as we write and was well worth watching; Dennis’ sadly forgotten solo work was well overdue for an appraisal and its nice to see the amount of fuss generated by the first CD issue of ‘Pacific Ocean Blue’ and the first ever official issue of the unfinished ‘Bambu’ a couple of years back. Word has it that this documentary is far better than the ‘other’ official account – ‘Dennis Wilson Forever’ available in shops to coincide with the CDs – but for my money didn’t quite come up to the high standards of the Radio 4 Doc on the albums in 2008. Nice to see interviews with Dennis’ sons for the first time, though, and the second half of the programme, fully devoted to Dennis’ two albums, was excellent.

The other programme was a repeat of Brian’s you-had-to-be-there concert in 2004 premiering ‘Pet Sounds’ (The Wondermints are superb as ever and Brian’s on surprisingly enthusiastic form but this album is terribly over-rated in any form – see below). Most intriguingly of all, what happened to the plan repeat of ‘Beautiful Dreamer – The Making Of Smile’, which got pulled at the last minute and replaced by BBC4’s excellent ‘California Dreamin’ doc (which is on about its 12th repeat).  Did Mike Love get in a hoo-hah about people praising the project he hated once again? (this is, after all, the man who delayed the ‘Pet Sounds Sessions’ box set because it had too many mentions of composer, producer, singer and arranger Brian Wilson!) The documentary is out on the ‘Smile’ 2 DVD box set, by the way, and is a pretty good summary of one of the most confusing eras of any band, dissecting the myth and mystery without losing sight of the truly groundbreaking music.

Beatles News: As you’ve probably read by now, EMI are in big financial trouble (despite our plugging of last year’s Beatles box sets!) and are planning to sell off the legendary Abbey Road recording studios! There has, of course, been a huge outcry with DJ Chris Evans being the unlikely saviour of the moment and at the time of writing it looks hopeful that the National Trust will step in and save the building from any unsavoury owners who want to demolish it or anything awful (with or without a top up from Paul McCartney). Another possible beneficiary, God help us, is Andrew Lloyd Webber: I can just imagine what fellow recording star Roger Waters makes of that if his Lloyd Weber diatribe on his ‘Amused To Death’ album is anything to go by...

Onto slightly less essential news, Ringo has a new album out entitled ‘Y Not?’ I used to stick up for Ringo’s solo albums, especially in the 1990s when both ‘Time Takes Time’ and ‘Vertical Man’ easily beat both Paul and George’s contemporary efforts. But the last three albums now have been horrible and the recent storm in a teacup with Ringo rubbishing his home birthplace and Liverpool responding in kind is getting out of hand (latest rant from Ringo, included on the new album, ‘Liverpool is dark and damp, the only escape – 2 guitars, bass and amp’). For someone due to turn 70 in a few month’s time, this all sounds terribly childish.  

Belle and Sebastian News: More good news from the Belle and Sebastian camp – the band will be recording their new material for an album in LA next month, after the longest gap (nearly four years) in their career and the split from singer Isobel Campbell. They also announced their new touring plans this week, which mainly seem to be based in Scandinavia, but there are UK dates planned which should be announced in time for the next newsletter... 

Johnny Cash News: Our occasional AAA member Johnny Cash is at it again, with the arrival of his third posthumous release American VI: Aint No Grave. And very good it is too, with covers of The Byrds Satisifed Mind (alright, so it wasnt theirs originally, but thats how most AAA members probably know the song!) and a goodbye in Hawaiian. Listen out for the title track, too, which is a Johnny Cash original and like the others in The American series is a surprisingly stark religious take on Johnnys life.  

♫ CSN News: CSN are only playing two shows together this year but both will be at the Albert Hall! They must have got wind of my birthday as well because the shows are on July 4th and 5th. Thanks guys! In other news, Stephen Stills gets a mention in two consecutive articles in this month’s Mojo magazine: an interview with girlfriend Judy Collins (whose book ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ is due for release soon and is likely to have lots of Stills-heavy reminisces, from the title on down) and, less likely, a rambling interview with Hole singer and Curt Cobain’s widow Courtney Love who, when asked which singer she felt most ‘connection’ with, tells of how she ticked Kurt Cobain off for being rude to Stills once with the immortal lines ‘dude, you have to respect the Stills! The Buffalo Sprtingfield were the greatest live act of all time’ (even though she was all of three when the band broke up and no recordings exist!)

Otis Redding News: Following hot on the heels of the Jefferson Airplane and Starship 5 CD sets, Rhino have just re-released five classic Otis Redding albums at the surprisingly reasonable price of £15. Called ‘The Original Album Series’ the five albums include Otis’ Dictionary Of Soul, Otis Blue (see AAA review no 4), Pain In My Heart, Otis Sings Soul Ballads and The Soul Album. 

Neil Young News: I’ve given up being surprised by the things Neil Young does. Every so often, there he is in the most incongruous context possible and there he was again, performing at the closing ceremony of the Canadian Winter Olympics. In one sense it was terrific: after the huge mega epic goings on (including 30 foot beavers this year for some reason) the Olympic torch was snuffed out while...Neil shambled on stage alone with a guitar and yet I swear the crowd was more spellbound by him than any of the mega goings on of the past hour (except, possibly, the beavers). Alas his song choice, ‘Long May You Run’, was poor – see news and views no 33 for why I hate this song so much and he didn’t even have the grace to cut out the anti-beach boys verse! To be fair, though, how many other ‘famous’ songs could Neil sing in this slot? ‘Southern Man’ would have angered the Americans, ‘Let’s Impeach The president’ would have angered the Republicans, ‘Cortez The Killer’ would have angered the Spanish, etc. Oh and nice to see Neil in the crowd at the ice hockey semi-finals with a big grin plastered all over his face.     Well, strange as non-fans may have seen it, at least his appearance made more sense than Yoko Ono appearing at the Turin Winter Olympics four years ago!


ANNIVERSARIES: Lighting candles on cakes this week are (March 14th-20th): Phil Lesh bassist with The Grateful Dead 1965-95) turns the big 70 on March 15th; Mike Love (singer with The Beach Boys 1961-present) turns 69 on the same day and Paul Kantner (guitarist with Jefferson Airplane 1965-circa 73 and Jefferson Starship 1974-83) turns 66 on March 17th. Anniversaries of events include: A feat never likely to be surpassed – despite the millions of classy groups around in 1964, The Beatles still account for a record 60% of record sales in America for the week starting March 14th 1964; The Rolling Stones bid a temporary farewell to Britain with a gig at London’s Roundhouse Theatre before becoming French tax exiles for the next two years (March 14th 1971); Otis Redding comes to Britain as part of a ‘Stax Package’ (March 17th 1967); Ringo Starr films his bizarre T Rex concert film ‘Born To Boogie’ (March 18th 1972); The Beatles release the only single not to be recorded in part at least at Abbey Road Studios ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ (March 20th 1964), Janis Joplin scores her only #1 posthumously with a cover of Kris Kristofferson’s ‘Me And Bobby McGee’ (March 20th 1971) and finally, John and Yoko become johnandyoko after tying the knot in Gibraltar on  March 20th 1969, hot on the heels of paulandlinda. Oh and a very happy 28th birthday to AAA reader Lizzie who celebrates on March 15th. Hope you get the rest of those Beatles CDs!!
Getting out the fire extinguishers for candles on cakes the following week (March 21st-27th) are: Susanne Sulley (vocalist with The Human League 1981-present) who turns 47 on March 26th. Anniversaries of events include: Pete Best’s mum phones up Cavern Club DJ Bob Wooler and manages to get a slot for The Beatles to play at the venue that will forever be linked with their name (March 21st 1961); John and Yoko celebrate their honeymoon in true johnandyoko style, with a bed-in at the Amsterdam Hilton hotel promoting world peace (March 21st 1969); final Beatles single ‘Let It Be’ is released, a full year after it’s recording (March 21st 1970); the first batch of Beatles CDs are released and – unlike last year – hold down the first four spots on the US top 100 (‘A Hard Day’s Night’ is #1 by the way, March 21st 1987); The Rutles’ documentary ‘All You Need Is Cash’ is shown on television for the first time (March 22nd 1978); The Beatles are persuaded by Brian Epstein to drop their leather outfits for a gig at the Barnston’s Women’s Institute on March 23rd 1962 – they rarely use their old suits again; John Lennon’s first book ‘In His Own Write’ is published at the height of Beatlemania – Bless you, Lennon, you’ve got a lucky face (March 23rd 1964); Simon and Garfunkel release their latest single ‘Homeward Bound’, some three years after Paul Simon first composed it (March 24th 1966); The Who’s film version of ‘Tommy’ premieres 35 years ago (March 26th 1975) and finally, Ronnie Lane releases to the press the sad news that he is suffering with multiple sclerosis after checking into a Florida hospital for treatment (March 27th 1982).     uman HH      

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